Book Review - A Time of Departing
The silence. This book is all about the silence. Whether that silence is part of the religious practice of Buddhists, Hindus, Sufi Muslims, New Agers or Contemplative Christians, Ray Yungen, author of A Time of Departing argues convincingly that it is all one and the same. As the subtitle suggests, a universal spirituality is changing the very face of Christianity. This universal spirituality is born from the religions of the East and is slowly infiltrating the Christian church, primarily through the New Age movement. Ray Yungen has studied this religious movement extensively and writes this book in response. It is an alarm sounded by one with a deep love for the church. “This book is not just another attempt to explain the New Age, but rather, an alert to the church of how and through whom New Age thinking is currently creeping into our pulpits, Sunday school classrooms, prayer groups, and Bible studies.” The primary way the New Age has joined with the evangelical churches is through mysticism and contemplative prayer.
Contemplative prayer has been practiced by professed Christians since the early days of the church. Once a practice known only to a few Catholic mystics, today it is quickly gaining popularity in both Catholic and Protestant circles. Many prominent Protestant leaders have endorsed the practice, either explicitly or by declaring their respect for those who teach it. Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and Robert Schuller, leaders of the church growth movement have all spoken favorably of it and have been involved in conferences where it is taught and practiced. The leaders of the Emergent church endorse the practice as a way of drawing closer to God. Many youth leaders and organizations have begun teaching it to children and teens. Catholic teachers such as Henri Nouwen and Brennan Manning, following in the footsteps of Thomas Merton, teach the value of the practice and are respected by Protestants and Catholics alike. Because of its increasing popularity, Christians need to educate themselves about the meaning and source of this practice.
In the introduction Ron Comer writes, “like two rivers merging together, Easter and Western religious thought are joining together, thus gaining momentum towards a one world religion in which all paths lead to God. A person who understands the unfolding of this new paradigm is Ray Yungen.” (Page 15) Sure enough, contemplative prayer is a practice derived from the Eastern religions and is entirely foreign to Scripture. Those who practice it, allowing their minds to enter the silence of contemplation or meditation, open themselves to a practice that is foreign to the Bible, and even more serious, is completely opposed to biblical Christianity.
These words are from the author’s conclusion. “Let us be mindful that deception is subtle, and we must be alert. All of life and truth are resting on what God has proclaimed in the Scriptures. Any teaching not supported by the Bible is not of God. May you know in your heart and mind that you are not one of the deceived, and may you, with all your heart, show your love for God by loving His Living Word. And finally, may you press on towards the upward call of God and be found ready - for there will indeed be a time of departing! This book will prepare you to avoid deception and will sharpen you, that you may not be one who departs from the faith. It is short, at 137 pages, and is easy to read. Perhaps its greatest quality is that it is biblical, continually turning to the Scriptures to allow God’s Word to bear witness against Contemplative practices. It is alarming without being alarmist. I recommend it to all believers - those involved in these practices and those who would like to know more about the dangers.