I knew without a doubt that it was the same presence I had felt in the garden as a child and things were okay. – Rifqa Bary
Roman Catholic mysticism, long abhorred by Evangelicals and Protestants, is a form of “white magic” that basically mixes pagan witchcraft with Christianity, giving the outward appearance of being of God. Often times it is reported that contact has been made with benevolent entities, who claim to be Jesus, Mary, or some other angel of light, when in reality, these beings are of darkness. The Bible strictly forbids any form of contact with the spirit world, outside of direct prayer to God alone, and God’s specific revelation through Scripture alone. (Lev 19:31, etc.) However, mystical experiences are becoming more and more popular as we approach the Lord Jesus’ inevitable return.
Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short! – Revelation 12:12
There are a number of Muslims who, in recent years, are reporting to have dreams, visions, or other mystical experiences with Jesus, and claim to be led to and converted to Christianity on count of these experiences. Christianity Today interviewed former Muslim Naeem Fazal, now pastor of Mosaic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, on his mystical experience he claims “changed the course of his life.” He was asked, “What were the key factors God used in drawing you to faith in Christ?”
First was community … Second was spiritual environments … The third factor was certain people in my life … Last, it was the Holy Spirit—the power and the presence of God. I had a supernatural interaction one night in which I experienced Jesus in my room. That encounter forever shifted the course of my life.
Notice he places the highest emphasis in his supposed conversion on this mystical experience he had with “Jesus.”
This is very similar to a more recent episode, now being promoted by Lifeway, an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention. On June 15, David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church, Orlando, dedicated his time allotted for preaching the Word of God to interviewing the subject of a highly questionable and unbiblical mystical experience with “Jesus.” (Click here for video) He interviewed former Muslim Rafiq Bary, who moved to the United States from Sri Lanka as a child, after several unfortunate and traumatic experiences left her emotionally, and physically wounded. While as a child, she says her family was devoutly Muslim, however, she questioned her religion. Regarding her conversion, she states:
The earliest memory I have of Jesus, and I didn’t realize it was Jesus meeting me, was when I was about 12 years old–2 years old, and I was playing in the garden, and I felt this strong presence, and I would keep turning back, as a little girl, and that memory was imprinted into my spirit. I remember feeling so safe and loved and cherished, and I kept looking back, but I just knew that someone was there, and it was so big, and that day that I went into the church building, I knew without a doubt that it was the same presence I had felt in the garden as a child and things were okay.
Again, she claims that it was this mystical experience that she had that led to her conversion. The Bible teaches us that it is the Word of God that has the power to save us (Romans 1:16). Scripture nowhere teaches us that mystical experiences play any role in our faith. John 20:29 clearly teaches that physically seeing Jesus is not part of coming to true faith. Faith does not come to us through dreams and visions, it comes to us through the preaching of the Gospel.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. – Romans 10:14-17
But this type of experience appears to be identical to the experiences Catholics claim to have with apparitions of Mary. Multitudes of Catholics have claimed to come to faith in Christ through visions of Mary. Most of these experiences entail a form of private revelation by the contacted spirit. These experiences are held in high regards, and many officially recognized by the Vatican as real, and trustworthy. But most of these “private revelations” entail a message that is contrary to the written Word of God.
So then why is the Southern Baptist Convention now embracing this mysticism? Because leadership has failed, the Word of God is not revered as authoritative and sufficient, and there is no accountability within the convention. David Uth, as a representative of thousands of church members from his megachurch, and many other followers who hold him in high regard, sat there and nodded his head, and affirmed Ms. Bary’s mystical experience she claims to have had. Sadly, by doing so, he affirmed to millions of Southern Baptists and other evangelicals that it’s okay not to hold to the sufficiency of Scripture, or the authority of God’s Word. And not a single person held him accountable for it. This is beyond sad, it’s completely tragic.
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