Occultists Come to Church

By Brannon S. Howse

Although what I’m about to share flies in the face of Rick Warren’s immense popularity, it is important to be clear that Rick Warren is a false teacher. I believe he has no real commitment to biblical theology and doctrine but is above all committed to the communitarian church growth movement. His goal is to add numbers to his church and convert the congregation to his brand of communitarianism and pagan spirituality. (Since his mentor, Peter Drucker was committed to pagan spirituality, should we be shocked that Warren has also promoted pagan spirituality and the occult?) 


Even many who now doubt Warren’s commitment to biblical Christianity believe he remained biblically sound until after the release of his blockbuster book, The Purpose Driven Life. However, this book itself was filled with unbiblical material. In The Purpose Driven Life, Warren positively quotes no less than nine individuals who promote mysticism:

Thomas Carlyle (page 27),
Bernie Siegel (page 31),
Henry David Thoreau (page 32),
Brother Lawrence & Benedictine monks (page 88-89),
Gary Thomas (page 102-103),
St. John of the Cross (page 108),
Henry Nouwen (page 108, 269),
Madame Guyon (page193),
William James (page 285).


On page 88, Warren writes, “The classic book on learning how to develop a constant conversation with God is Practicing the Presence of God.” Yet Brother Lawrence, the author of that book, was a monk who lived from 1614 to 1691 and believed God is in all things. This is panentheism, and it is a major doctrine of spiritual evolution, foundational for the globalist and communitarian worldview. So Warren believes a book that promotes the mysticism of contemplative prayer is a Christian classic. 


Warren has revealed his commitment to the “do whatever it takes to bring in new customers” agenda. For pastors committed to Warrenology, this includes carrying out a marketing strategy that will bring goats into the sheepfold. The plan might include raffling flat-screen TVs or automobiles on any given Sunday morning. In Warren’s case, his 2011 scheme to attract more goats was to create a diet and exercise program featuring three doctors known for promoting the occult. The Daniel Plan, as it is called, was discussed in an article in The Orange County Register: 


Pastor Rick Warren will host three health experts—including the star of the “Dr. Oz Show” —at Saddleback Church on Saturday to launch a yearlong, church-wide fitness plan. Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardiac surgeon and TV show host, Dr. Mark Hyman, an expert in metabolism, and Dr. Daniel Amen, a bestselling author and clinical professor of psychiatry at UC Irvine, will help Warren kick off “The Daniel Plan.” The effort is part of Saddleback’s Decade of Destiny—a 10-year plan to expand the ministry….The plan will include a 52-week customized program, a curriculum for small groups, an interactive website with a meal menu, exercise and shopping tips. There will also be monthly conference calls for encouragement. Warren also encouraged his congregation to get the word out to friends and neighbors….“This is the greatest opportunity for you to introduce friends to Saddleback Church through a non-threatening event.” Medical professionals will also be on hand to take measurements, conduct weigh-ins and take before and after photos. 


Do we see anywhere in the biblical model of the New Testament Church that we are to turn our church into the local health club, to provide exercise and shopping tips, or host weight loss programs hosted by doctors who promote the occult? Obviously not. 


Note that The Orange County Register quoted Warren as saying, “This is the greatest opportunity for you to introduce friends to Saddleback Church through a non-threatening event.” I would contend, though, that you could bring any unsaved friends to any Saddleback church service led by Rick Warren, and it won’t be threatening. I do not believe Warren would be giving a solid, clear Gospel. 


So how does a pastor grow a church biblically? Acts 2:47 says, “And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.” How do you grow the Church? You preach the Gospel, the Holy Spirit convicts hearers of their sin, they repent, are saved, and are then brought into the church to be discipled. You don’t add to your church by marketing schemes to bring in unbelievers. You certainly do not bring in speakers who embrace the occult.


The November/December 2007 issue of Spirituality and Health featured an article written in part by Dr. Oz, one of Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan fitness experts. In the article, Dr. Oz reveals why he follows the cult of Dr. Emanuel Swedenborg:


Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg …I later learned, was a scientist and theologian….In his mid-fifties he came into an altered state of awareness in which he experienced a simultaneous dual consciousness of this life and the afterlife. His emphasis on overcoming the delusion of the self and on the profound interdependence of all things in both the spiritual and natural worlds aligns so closely with Buddhist thought that the Zen master D. T. Suzuki referred to him as “the Buddha of the North.” According to Swedenborg, heaven and hell are not merely places but spiritual states. We do not “go there” when we die. We are already there. By choosing a life of good will and devotion, we build heaven in our hearts. This place within us then becomes our eternal home. After death, the veil that separates the spiritual from the material world is lifted, and we continue as our true selves—either angels or evil spirits, depending on whether we have internally made a heaven or a hell for ourselves while living here. I have always had trouble with the idea of selective redemption. How could a compassionate God condemn his children for nothing more than being born into the “wrong faith”? How could an all-loving God choose to extend that love to only a select few? Swedenborg taught that God loves us all, and the various religions allow us to approach him in the way best suited to our needs. He argued that we are all born for heaven, and that it is what we love that determines our fate, not what we profess to believe….Further, Swedenborg claimed that God never judges us….Angels as described by Swedenborg aren’t a separate species but people who are regenerate—literally, reborn humans. Swedenborg saw the Bible as…a detailed metaphor for the human condition.


Swedenborg was a cult leader who mocked the Word of God and the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. He dismissed the idea of God’s judgment on those who do not repent and place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Why would Rick Warren allow such a false teacher onto his church platform to deceive both the saved and unsaved at his church? 


As for others on Warren’s platform: Dr. Daniel Amen is author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, in which he has stated:


In my book, The Brain in Love, I wrote about tantric sexual practices. I was fascinated by the concept. I wanted to experience it for myself, and thought it would be a wonderful way to embrace my relationship with my wife Hannah. Tj Bartel became our teacher. I felt as if I had to share his knowledge with everyone I knew.


When I read this, I had no idea what tantric sex was, so it wouldn’t surprise me if you don’t either. Christian author and New Age expert Ray Yungen explains this strange practice:

Tantra is the name of the ancient Hindu sacred texts that contain certain rituals and secrets. Some deal with taking the energies brought forth in meditation through the chakras and combining them with love-making to enhance sexual experiences.


In another of his books, Making a Good Brain Great, Dr. Amen recommends “an active form of yoga meditation called Kriya Kirtan. It is based on the five primal sounds saa, taa, naa, maa, aa.” Dr. Amen suggests doing this for 12 minutes, but make no mistake: this is nothing less than a mantra for the purpose of entering into an altered state of consciousness. 


Yoga is a form of meditation and self-hypnosis by which one can indeed encounter a spirit or master guide, but these guides are actually demons. The word “yoga” means “yoke or union” with a Hindu god in Sanskrit. So “Christian yoga” is an oxymoron, like saying someone is a Christian Satanist or that there is such a thing as a Christian Ouija Board. For a more detailed explanation of the dangers of yoga and the difference between Eastern meditation and biblical meditation, Worldview Weekend offers a one-hour DVD by Ron Carlson. (The DVD, entitled Confronting the Spiritual Confusion in the Church, is available in our bookstore at worldviewweekend.com.) 


Yoga has taken hold in this country largely through the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who is credited with being the founder of the transcendental movement in America. Through meditation and other means, New Age followers are encouraged to get in touch with “the masters,” better known to Christians as demons.

In his book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, Dr. Amen calls Ekhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now, “extraordinary.” Ekhart Tolle has been a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show many times and, with Oprah, taught an online course in which a million people reportedly took part. Eckhart, like many New Age spiritualists, quotes the Bible completely out of context. In The Power of Now he explains his version of Jesus: 


Christ is your God-essence or the Self, as it is sometimes called in the East. The only difference between Christ and presence is that Christ refers to your indwelling divinity regardless of whether you are conscious of it or not, whereas presence means your awakened divinity or God-essence.

Eckhart is telling people that they are god; Dr. Amen calls Eckhart’s book extraordinary, and Rick Warren brings him to his church anyway.


You’ll recall that Dr. Mehmet Oz was there, too. For more about what he stands for, take note of this excerpt from a press release distributed by the public relations firm PR Web on January 9, 2010:


Reiki Masters across America and the world had cause for celebration on January 6 when Dr. Mehmet Oz revealed his Ultimate Alternative Medicine Secrets for 2010 during his nationally broadcast afternoon talk show. He ranked Reiki #1. Dr. Oz said, “Reiki is one of my favorites, we’ve been using it for years in the Oz family, and we swear by it.”


What is Reiki? A pro-Reiki book entitled The Everything Reiki Book reveals:


During the Reiki attunement process, the avenue that is opened within the body to allow Reiki to flow through also opens up the psychic communication centers. This is why many Reiki practitioners report having verbalized channeled communications with the spirit world.


Yes, the spirit world—demons again. And who is promoting this? Dr. Oz. And who had Dr. Oz at his church as a part of the 52-week Daniel Plan? Rick Warren.


But wait, as they say, there’s more! The book, The Instruction: Living the Life Your Soul Intended, written by Ainslie MacLeod, is endorsed by Dr. Oz: “I recommend this book to those who seek greater spiritual well-being and a better understanding of their life’s purpose.”


What is it that Dr. Oz is recommending when he recommends The Instruction? The book’s Amazon.com product description explains: 


Have you ever sensed that your life has a deeper, more meaningful purpose—but don’t know what it is? If so, you’re not alone. To help you and the millions like you, psychic Ainslie MacLeod’s spirit guides have given him a systematic approach to uncovering who you really are—and the life your soul has planned for. They call it The Instruction. Now, for the first time, this unique teaching is offered as a step-by-step program for realizing personal fulfillment.

The Instruction will take you through 10 “doorways” to unveil the life plan your soul created before you were even born, including: 


Your Soul Age: Determining how it shapes your beliefs and behaviors

Your Soul Type: Are you a Hunter? Thinker? Creator? What your Soul Type reveals about your true self

Your Powers: Connecting fully and permanently with your spirit guides to create your destiny


Your Talents: Using your past lives to enhance the present


Connecting with your spirit guides? This author is teaching how to connect to a demon. “Using your past lives to enhance the present” is a reference to reincarnation. Is not Dr. Oz’s appearance at Rick Warren’s church a religious Trojan horse for the New Age movement? Although Warren has been dubbed “America’s pastor,” I submit that a more accurate title would be “America’s false teacher.” 


Remember the declaration on Bob Buford’s Leadership Network website that “the mission of the Leadership Network is to accelerate the emergence of the 21st-century church….This new paradigm is not centered in theology”? Well, Rick Warren’s promotion of Oz and the like is what you get when you do not center on biblical theology in a church. The church ends up promoting whatever it takes to appeal to the unsaved world and to attract more customers—even if it means promoting the doctrines of demons! 

Copyright 2012 ©Brannon Howse. This content is for Situation Room members and is not to be duplicated in any form or uploaded to other websites without the express written permission of Brannon Howse or his legally authorized representative.