Book Review - Running Against The Wind
Brian Flynn is the founder and director of One Truth Ministries and leads “Now Age” seminars before churches and groups around the United States. But long before he felt such love and concern for the church, he was a psychic medium who hated Christianity with every fiber of his being. Running Against The Wind is the story of his radical transformation.
The book begins as an autobiography. Through the first five chapters Flynn traces his life. He was born into a Roman Catholic family, but one which soon gave up on the Church. When he was a child he developed a fascination with Tarot cards and experimented with Ouija boards - his introduction to the occult. As he grew up, he became increasingly disillusioned with Christianity, soon identifying himself as an agnostic Catholic. He joined the Air Force and his life began to spiral out of control as he dabbled in drugs, Transcendental Meditation and the rock and roll lifestyle. After leaving the Air Force he decided to become a psychic medium and enrolled in a year-long program under the tutelage of a spiritual advisor. He writes about meeting and communing with the spirit guides who helped provide him the information he needed to make accurate assessments during his psychic readings. At this point in his life he was sinking deeper and deeper into the occult.
But God saw fit to save Brian from the midst of this occult world. Through a series of events in his life, Brian was radically saved.
The day after professing faith in Christ, Flynn did something he had never done before in his life - he rented some pornographic videos. He spent that evening in his apartment getting drunk and watching pornography. The next day he was so hung-over that he called in sick for work, but then rented more pornography and spent another day drinking. All the while his spirit guides were taunting him, telling him how this proved that he was not a Christian. He writes, “And then I saw it! The answer came to me in an instant. As if a veil was lifted from my eyes, I saw something I had never seen before. The reason they were resisting me was because they were opposed to Him. They hated Jesus…I realized my guides were opposed to Jesus because they were demonic. They did not want me to become a Christian, because they were not of God. Satan, in his attempt to keep me where I was, revealed who he was! In order to stop me, he had revealed himself to me. He was now exposed.” He emerged from this crisis of faith with knowledge of who the lord of the occult and New Age really is.
Having been saved from such a lifestyle, imagine the betrayal Flynn felt when he learned that many practices with roots in the occult and New Age had made their way into the church. One particularly foundational moment is when he was teaching a class in his church, warning against the inroads of mysticism, only to learn that across the hall another leader was helping people explore contemplative prayer practices through the teachings of Richard Foster. Flynn was eventually forced by the leadership to leave that church.
At this point the biographical portion of the book ceases and the author turns instead to a description and evaluation of various occult and New Age practices. He writes about astrology, yoga, reiki, labyrinths and more. Many of these practices are increasingly accepted in Christian circles. He introduces many of the men and women who have introduced these practices to Christians, focusing particularly on Thomas Merton, Brennan Manning and Richard Foster. He also warns about spiritual directors such as Ruth Haley Barton (until recently a staff member with Willow Creek Community Church) and Tilden Edwards. The book concludes with a chapter entitled “New Church on the Horizon” where the author expresses concern with Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Church, Rick Warren and Saddleback, and the Emergent Church, each of which is promoting various aspects of Christian mysticism.
Running Against The Wind is a valuable contribution to the church's understanding of the inroads of New Age teachings into Christianity. Who better to warn Christians about this than a man who was once committed to these very teachings? Flynn, along with others (A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen, available from the same publisher is an excellent companion volume) have sounded the alarm and shown the very real dangers in allowing occultic, New Age practices to infiltrate Christianity. I pray that the church will heed these warnings.