Chicago Megachurch Pastor Promotes Eastern Meditation

Jarrett Stevens, pastor of the Soul City Church in Chicago, claims he and his church are evangelical. He claims they believe in and teach the essential doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, he is promoting Eastern mysticism in the form of Eastern meditation as found in the false Eastern religions of Hinduism and Buddhism (see ¶5 at this link) in his new book, Praying Through: Overcoming the Obstacles That Keep Us from God.

To promote the book, he wrote an article on February 11 for Religion News Service claiming that he turned to Eastern meditation when he and his wife suffered “spiritual exhaustion” after starting their church a few years ago while also being full time parents. He says they had done the typical praying, reading, singing, and journaling, but were still left “undone” because “none of them worked” to “spiritually revive myself.” So he searched for something different and says he discovered that Eastern meditation practices “have always been a part of [Christian] tradition” since Jesus in the gospels was said to have gotten away from all the crowds and noise to be alone in silence with God.

As part of his regular meditation, Stevens says he closes his eyes, plants his feet to the floor, places open hands in his lap, slows his breath, and settles his thoughts on the “horizon” of his mind. He goes on to say, “I don’t open my Bible, I don’t play music, I don’t listen to a spiritual podcast, and I don’t speak any words” because “they can so easily distract me…” Stevens believes all of this has helped renew him spiritually for the past few years and assures believers that “looking eastward might just be what helps you look upward.”

Nevertheless, if you are familiar with God’s word and what is said about real, godly meditation, you can quickly see how spiritually off-kilter Stevens is in embracing Eastern meditation. For example, he starts off with the wrong premise about meditation when he says he had to look to Eastern religions to discover proper meditation. If he had been praying, singing, reading, and journaling properly to begin with, he would have automatically known about biblical meditation and how it is starkly different from Eastern meditation. The Holy Spirit would have also given him this timeless command from Jeremiah 10:2–“Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen…”

Bible meditation

Stevens also contradicts himself in his article when he states the Psalms were his pattern for meditation. If the Psalms were really his pattern, he would know that his refusal to open the Bible, or play godly music, or speak any words is contrary to what the Psalms teach. God gave us those things to help enhance meditating on him. Here are some examples:

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. Psalm 1:2 (The godly man’s meditations are focused on God’s law.)

Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation. Psalm 5:1

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Psalm 19:4

O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Psalm 119:97

I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. Psalm 119:99

Additionally, in the New Testament we are commanded to embrace godly music to strengthen ourselves spiritually. It’s not a distraction as Stevens falsely claims with his refusal to incorporate music in his false meditations. Here’s the proof:
18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord… Ephesians 5

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16

Since Jesus Christ is part of the Godhead and, therefore, inspired these words in his word, he would have done all of these things in his meditations. If that’s the case, then why would Stevens refer to the meditations of Jesus while refusing to do the things Jesus taught regarding meditation? Here’s what we know about how Christ meditated:

And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. Matthew 14:23

In conclusion, it’s obvious that Jarrett Stevens is yet another megachurch pastor teaching things contrary to God’s word because he is either woefully spiritually immature or is a wolf in sheep’s clothing intending to deceive. Why are all these people following him?

Source: Jarrett Stevens, How a Western megachurch pastor fell in love with Eastern meditation, Religion News Service, February 11, 2020.

(Featured image by Marco Verch of Grant Park and Chicago skyline from Flickr, used under CC2.0 license.)

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