The Soul Journey
Kent & Katie Philpott
Earthen Vessel Publishing
Star Rating: 4
There is, in contemporary society, a heightened interest in spiritualities of every stripe. This was brought home to me on a recent visit to Los Angeles, where spiritism and mysticism were in the forefront of Venice Beach’s boardwalk.
In Malibu there stands a temple for self-realisation which embraces meditation and religion of all kinds. This fascination has endured since the Beatles popularised aspects of eastern religion in the 1960s.
The soul journey presents connections between seemingly disparate spiritualities, ranging from Shamanism (‘the underlying mystical worldview of many of the world’s primitive religions’; p.191), Santeria (‘a religion originating in Africa … [that] involves mysticism, spiritism, animism, and various rituals including animal sacrifice’; p.191), Wicca (‘a witchcraft religion whose origins are in England’; p.194) and Charisma (‘a term, when interpreted in the Christian sense, related to receiving and expressing the gifts of the Holy Spirit’; p.181).
The connection between them all is an ‘altered state of consciousness’. In the first three the trance state is achieved by various means, including drugs, alcohol, incantations, loud repetitive music and dance.
The Charismatic Christian may achieve a similar state through ‘soaking prayer’ (‘a mystical activity involving meditation and a trance state’; p.192) and ‘Sozo prayer’ (‘a prayer … wherein a mediator/guide encourages the subject to enter a mild trance and leads the subject to connect with his or her own deep feelings … experiencing contact with the Holy Spirit’; p.192).
The emphasis is on emptying the mind. The author’s reasonable conclusion is that the individual thereby encounters demonic spirits, most often unwittingly. There are obvious warnings to be made to those seeking after God in the wrong direction.
I formed the impression that Kent and Katie Philpott were a safe pairs of hands. Kent has been on something of a soul journey himself. Once an Arminian and Charismatic Baptist pastor during California’s hippie and ‘Jesus people’ scene in the 1960s, he now holds to a ‘cautious, but open’ view of the Charismatic gifts and to a Reformed theological position.
Over 50 years ago, Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his article ‘Conversions: psychological and spiritual’, warned evangelicals of the dangers of ‘creating an atmosphere’ supposedly conducive to spiritual activity. This included using mood music, subdued lighting, endless repetitions and anything bypassing the mind, and appealing directly to the feelings or the will.
In truth, of course, the Holy Spirit requires no stage management. Mainstream Christian meditation focuses on the Scriptures and Christ.
This is an unusual book, with an important warning for today’s church. It also has a salutary message, particularly for Christian leaders. It is a slightly disjointed read, however, having started life as a series of disparate articles.
One also hopes that no one reading this book would ignore the warnings and become fascinated by the occult. Nevertheless, our young people need to be aware of the alarming dangers of experimenting in false spiritualities.