We’ve written previously on the highly popular Bible Project which is operated by Tim Mackie. Despite the increasing popularity in his YouTube short clips explaining passages and books of the Bible, Mackie takes a theologically liberal approach to Scripture and much of his explanatory videos include bad or even blatantly false teachings.
But we should also be conscious of the fact that Mackie, who markets himself to children and other Bible newcomers in these videos has embraced a number of heretical views and teachings that should be considered spiritually dangerous, poisonous, cult-like, and outside of the bounds of orthodoxy.
Among them is his recent endorsement of Thomas Keating, contemplative prayer, and various practices associated with Eastern mystic religions. In a recent sermon, Mackie explains how he learned a lot about prayer from Catholic mystic, Thomas Keating, and how he endorses the practice of contemplative prayer calling it the “ego-level consciousness.”
“But there is something that happens when all of our guards are down,” Mackie said, “and this especially happens when we’re asleep. Are you with me right when we’re asleep? Because you’re still conscious, but you’re working on a different your body is working on a different, different level.”
“It’s like it’s soul level. It’s being level consciousness. And somehow, when you’re in that vulnerable state, human beings are open to reality in a way that we are fully guarded against when we’re in our ego-conscious moments.”
He then goes on to suggest that even Jesus practiced this form of what he admits is Eastern Mysticism.
“But first of all, let me just respond and then hopefully in a non snarky way as I can for someone who’s like this sounds like Eastern mysticism or something like that,” Mackie continued, “let us just remember where did the Jesus movement originate?”
“It originated in the east. And I really don’t think Jesus was just reciting Bible verses all night long like on the mountain. I’m sure that he was reciting whole psalms and that those psalms were sending his consciousness, traversing the universe with his father in prayer.”
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Thomas Keating (1923-2018) was a Catholic monk, priest, and spiritual teacher who played a significant role in promoting contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition, particularly through his work on Centering Prayer.
Centering Prayer is a form of Christian meditation that involves silently repeating a sacred word or phrase, such as “Jesus” or “Lord have mercy,” as a way of letting go of distracting thoughts and opening oneself to the presence of God. Keating, along with two other Trappist monks, developed this method of prayer in the 1970s as a way to make the contemplative tradition more accessible to laypeople.
Keating also wrote extensively on contemplative spirituality, including several books such as “Open Mind, Open Heart,” “Intimacy with God,” and “The Human Condition: Contemplation and Transformation.” He founded the organization Contemplative Outreach, which promotes the practice of Centering Prayer and other contemplative practices.
Keating’s teachings and work have had a significant impact on the development and popularization of contemplative prayer within some theologically progressive Christian circles and he is considered one of the most influential figures in this area. These practices have become popular practices in recent years, with many people turning to these spiritual traditions as a means of seeking enlightenment and spiritual growth. However, as Christians, it is important to understand that these practices are incompatible with biblical Christianity.
One of the primary concerns with these practices is their non-Christian roots. While some may argue that these practices can be adapted to fit within a Christian framework, the reality is that they are fundamentally different from the teachings of the Bible and as Christians, we are called to follow Jesus Christ and seek our spiritual growth and enlightenment through Him alone. Contemplative prayer places a strong emphasis on the self rather than on God leading to a sense of self-reliance and a belief that people can achieve spiritual growth and enlightenment through their own efforts, rather than through God’s grace.
But worse, contemplative prayer can open us up to the danger of spiritual deception or even demonic influence—spiritual forces or experiences that are contrary to biblical teaching and truth—leading to confusion and harmful theological beliefs. Contemplative prayer and even the santized Eastern mystic practices place too little emphasis on Scripture and too much emphasis on subjective experiences leading to a reliance on personal experiences over and above God’s word.
Contemplative prayer and Eastern mysticism promote a form of syncretism, the blending of different religious beliefs or practices, leading people to adopt beliefs or practices that are not consistent with biblical teachings and can ultimately lead them away from a true relationship with Jesus Christ.
In light of these concerns, as Christians, we must be resolute in our commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to seek our spiritual growth and enlightenment through Him alone. We must be discerning about the spiritual practices we engage in and ensure that they are consistent with the teachings of the Bible. Let us trust in God’s grace and mercy for our spiritual growth and enlightenment, and let us focus on studying and applying the truth of His Word to our lives. And we must most certainly be discerning about who we listen to and follow as Bible teachers. And clearly, on that needs to be avoided at all costs, is Tim Mackie.