I mentioned yesterday, in discussing an article in Baptist News Global, the dangers of rejecting God’s revelatory light. Another recent article from that same publication shows the danger in stark relief. “Can God be found outside Christianity?” asks Amber Cantorna—and her answer is yes.
Cantorna wants to encourage readers to have an openness to other religious traditions, such a the Buddhist “energy workshop” she recently participated in. She describes the skepticism of her conservative upbringing towards such practices, with its rejection of non-Christian religions, as “arrogant and elitist”:
“We believed we were God’s chosen ones and that it was our duty to inform every other person in the world of how they, too, could join this elitist God-club. I knew nothing of diversity, nothing of respect for other people’s cultures or beliefs, nothing about the true core tenants of other faiths like Hinduism or Buddhism. We proclaimed that our God was “mighty to save” yet the door for salvation was so narrow that only a few could find it and squeeze through. Yes, our world was very small, very certain, and very safe. And we liked it that way.”
Well, it is good to respect other people and to know what other religions believe. But that’s not the same as rejecting the necessity of faith in Christ, and it doesn’t justify her scornful description of “this elitist God-club”. Respect might include conservative Christians too; and it just might be more arrogant to go your own way than to humbly accept that what God says is true. It was Jesus who said, “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:14, ESV).
In any case, Cantorna has been on a journey…
“I’ve been deconstructing those harmful binaries of belief and healing from religious trauma, purity culture and a borderline cult-like environment for more than a decade now. While the process has at times felt messy and confusing, it continues to make me more and more free. However, letting yourself explore new ideas, ask hard questions and admit doubts and uncertainties can feel daunting for one whose certainty was everything.”
…a journey described in various catch-phrases of the religious left, from ‘deconstruction’ and ‘harmful binaries’ to the embrace of ‘messiness’ and the glorification of doubt. So, she continues, she’d opened herself up to paganism. Or, as she puts it, she’s “begun to shed the dogma of my past and open my mind to new ways of being”. Specifically, she’s opened herself up to pseudo-scientific eastern mysticism:
“Learning about the different chakras in our body and how energy works and flows illuminated my understanding of this previously taboo practice. It tore down myths and preconceived ideas and gave me an opportunity to expand my understanding. I was unaware how much simply focusing on energy and vibrations in the body can heal us from the inside out.”
It gave her good feelings—so it must be true? Do we not see how the locus of authority has shifted to the self? The end result is that she offers this as one of (presumably numerous) other paths to God. Well, this is a path, and paths lead somewhere; but does it lead to the true God? No, it appears to lead to panentheism, which is just what we should expect of (post)modern narcissistic ‘spirituality’:
“If we open our minds and our hearts to discovering God outside our religious box, might we find that God is in everything, everywhere, all around us? We don’t have to be in a church to discover God. We can discover God simply by sitting in the forest, or listening to a song on the radio, or having a meaningful conversation with a friend … and yes, even in meditation and Buddhist energy work.”
Thus, God ceases to be truly personal—another interesting connection with the article discussed yesterday. But our stories are never merely concerned with beliefs and ‘spiritual’ experiences. It is possible that a large part of Cantorna’s story, with her rejection of true Christianity, is alluded to in the biographical note at the end, and especially the little phrase, “…now lives with her wife…”
Our hearts are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9), and we are inclined to look for our own way instead of accepting that God’s way is true. But the fact is, not all paths lead to God. There is one way to God, and that is Jesus Christ, who Himself testified, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).Instead of brazenly suggesting that every lie may be a highway to heaven, we should gratefully receive the word of grace: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).