There are a number of spiritual practices accepted in the church these days that authorities admit originated in Eastern religions or occult ritual. But we’re assured that the questionable aspects have been removed—and now the practice is OK for Christians.
Hmm. Let’s say that some Hindu worshippers are gathered. The leader says, “Today we’re celebrating the Lord’s Supper.” One member objects: “Wait. That’s a Christian observance.” But the leader counters, “Oh, it’s OK. I took the Christianity out of it.” One might ask just how he accomplished that. But if he did somehow remove the body and blood of Christ (or whatever he thought was Christian) from the Lord’s Supper, then it really isn’t the Lord’s Supper anymore, is it? Why would he call it that?
Maybe we should be a little more savvy (and demand a little more honesty) when we’re being initiated into things like mindfulness, Zen, reiki, yoga, visualization . . . and are being told that the Buddhist/Hindu/occult aspects have been “taken out.”
Let’s take another example. Webster’s defines Zen as “a Japanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism that aims at enlightenment by direct intuition through meditation” (that is, bypassing words/logic/thought). One so-called Christian Zen website says, “Jesus was divine, but no more so than we all are.” Another promoter says, “Zen simply doesn’t address the subject of God.” But adds, “Zen is a practice that deepens and compliments our practice as followers of Christ.”
Actual Zen can’t mesh with Christianity (because in Zen, knowing God isn’t an essential factor), so the term Christian Zen is wobbly at best. And if, somehow, the Buddhism has been taken out of what the group leader is offering, then it isn’t Zen anymore, is it? Why call it that?
Back to our Hindu friends above: I can understand why they’d go searching within another religion for something that might prove better, real, true—something that works. But I have trouble coming up with a good reason for a follower of Jesus to search for spiritual help in systems that are at odds with the Lord and his Word.