Postmodernism has rejected doctrine in favor of experience, as Julie Sevig has written:
- Post-moderns prefer to encounter Christ by using all their senses. That’s part of the appeal of classical liturgical or contemplative worship: the incense and candles, making the sign of the cross, the taste and smell of the bread and the wine, touching icons and being anointed with oil. (The Lutheran, “Ancient New,” Sept. 2001)
Are these really ways to “encounter Christ?” How do we know this? If so, why doesn’t the Bible specify these things? Are we even supposed to be seeking to “encounter Christ?” For many, these questions don’t even seem to matter. Instead, it’s a matter of the experience.
Meanwhile, the Christian faith suggests that if we “encounter” Christ, it is through His Word:
- Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:2-3)
Nevertheless, techniques, not Scripture knowledge, abound which purport to get us into contact with Christ. One of the many is the prayer labyrinth walk. Lauren Artress is credited with reviving this technique:
- For her, the labyrinth s for the “transformation of human personality in progress” that can accomplish a “shift in consciousness as we seek spiritual maturity as a species”…She calls her discovery of the labyrinth…one of the “most astonishing events of my life.” For her, the labyrinth is a “spiritual tool meant to awaken us to the deep rhythm that unites us to ourselves and to the Light that calls from within.” (Faith Undone, Roger Oakland, 68)
If the labyrinth is essentials for the “transformation of human personality,” why isn’t it ever mentioned in Scripture? Instead, Paul has written that Scripture contains everything we need for spiritual growth:
- All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
To claim that the labyrinth is essential, is to add to Scripture! This is something that Scripture warns against:
- I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Rev. 22:18-19)
I don’t mean to pick on the labyrinth. There is certainly nothing wrong with walking in circles when you pray. (I even enjoy walking as I pray!) The problem with the labyrinth is not the labyrinth or even the action. Instead, as with the many other mystical techniques promising a “connection” with Christ, it is a matter of what we believe – where we place our faith.
To believe that the labyrinth as an essential part of the Christian life is to believe in a different God, one who cares more about learning various mystical techniques than what He specifies in His Word – righteousness, holiness, peace, faith, repentance and obedience.
In fact, nowhere in Scripture are such techniques specified. Instead, God warns against rituals, even those He specifies, when they are not accompanied by true piety:
· Then the Lord said to me, "Do not pray for this people, for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence." (Jeremiah 14:11-12)
Jesus insisted that believers “must” worship God in truth (John 4:22-24)! Why? Any relationship must be founded on truth. If my wife discovered that I love her because she reminds me of my first fling, our relationship is doomed.
Instead, belief is foundational to experience. I used to feel that God condemned me. I was rescued by the truth that “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Rom. 8:1). This enabled me to reject the feelings of condemnation and to love God.