ZEN  Unzipped


Eastern religions have built their societies on the premise that people will be more likely to behave themselves if they have a hightened sensitivity to 'Honour and Shame'.

Paradoxically, these religions have also produced a whole range of ideas, philosophies and practices to relieve people of the negative effects of feeling shame! This is where the therapies of Yoga, Meditation,  Mindfulness, Hypnosis and Trances have come from. They are all from Eastern religions, designed to make people feel better about themselves. They often call this soothed state of mind - Zen.

They do not acknowledge the existense of sin or of a Holy God. So we see here the vast difference between their beliefs and Christianity. The honour and shame culture is concerned with how you feel about yourself and how you cope with what others feel about you. There are therefore no absolutes about what is good or evil. They clearly believe in a conscience, but that itself has no clearly identified morality. They assume we can create our own consciences by what pleases or displeases us.


The overall description of these eastern ideas is very Humanistic. Western society is now riddled with Humanism and many of the famous dark and destructive philosophers were Humanists. Many of them say that there is no future, no hope, and existence itself is only an illusion. You can see why the Honour and Shame culture is so readily accepted by the modern mindset. 

Be careful what you say!

As Christian’s we need to be careful that the word ‘Zen’ does not get into our vocabulary. In John 14 : 27, Jesus says ‘My peace I give you, not as the World gives...' we must be careful to keep God’s peace and Zen well separated. I once heard a Christian woman say that Christianity is so Zen!

In contrast Christianity has the big three letter word SIN. Sin is not how we feel about ourselves, but how a Holy God sees us! The message of the Bible is that there is a moral law and it has enduring standards and that we as humans, without exception, fall short of these God made laws.

Romans 3:23-24

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

So in fact the Bible is not a negative or oppressive book, because it offers salvation and forgiveness and a clean conscience through faith in Jesus death on the cross, in exchange for our repentance and the acknowledgment of our sinfulness.

The Eastern religions deny the existence of sinfulness as defined by God's laws, and replaces sin with the very vague notion of a personally calibrated feeling of shame. This replacement in fact also denies the existence of Truth as an absolute.

Therefore the current popular challenge to our faith by Eastern religions is motivated by Spiritual forces that undermine our basic Biblical Christian beliefs.

Why am I mentioning all this?

The fact is that on a worldwide scale the Church is submitting to these non-Christian ideas. They describe themselves as "Post Modernists plus'. Our true belief in SIN and forgiveness is being watered down by modern thinkers. In fact I know Pastors who preach a gospel that replaces the word SIN with the word SHAME. Jesus death deals with our SHAME they say. In other words Jesus came and died to make us feel better about ourselves. This heretical belief opens the door to all the occult practices which aid a feeling of well-being or ZEN.

I personally know of churches where they practice Yoga, Meditation, Mindfulness, psychological therapies and trances as a replacement for the power of the Gospel to save us from SIN.

There are important reasons why these eastern practices have no place in the Church. The main reason is the person of the Holy Spirit.

Listen to Jesus own words about the purpose of the Holy Spirit:

John 16 v 7-13

Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

  1. One purpose of the Holy Spirit is to reveal and convict of sin. His conviction produces a very uncomfortable feeling of guilt and shame. This discomfort is the result of the Trinity being Holy. God sees our problem as SIN because it comes between us and Him. If when we approach God, we aren't aware of our sin, we need to ask ourselves is this really God?
  2. The use of Yoga, Meditation, Mindfulness, psychology and induced trances etc. Undermines the Holy Spirits efforts to reveal SIN because it makes people feel good about themselves, instead of acknowledging their guilt. In fact some churches are now treating people for the conviction of the Holy Spirit, rather than preaching sin and salvation.
  3. The Holy Spirit declares truth, but the thinking behind the Eastern philosophies denies that truth exists! Therefore this means that the Holy Spirit doesn't exist because He is the Spirit of Truth, which in turn means that the Trinity doesn't exist either. 

We need to stick with the truth of the Bible to define what sin is and the power of the Gospel of Salvation if we are to see people truly brought into relationship with God. There is an eternity at stake here.

To look at what I've said in a positive and motivating way, we need to realise that as Christians there are some things we can do.

Firstly, if we take these things seriously, we can understand the world out there better, and realise where they are coming from. We must take on board, that we have to present them with truth but at the same time make it understandable to a humanistic culture. 

Secondly, we have to be watchful, because the subtle infiltration of these occult ideas is fooling many Christians and many Church leaders. The bait is enticing we are being offered a gospel that doesn't make people feel uncomfortable and this is filling some churches.

Thirdly, We must be watchful and protective of our own belief in Scripture. Watch out that we do not accept a sinless Gospel. We need to be warned that when we hear the repeated use of the word SHAME rather than the word SIN, the preacher is a heretic.

Finally We must use prayer more often as a weapon to defeat our enemy.

Rom 10 v 11 if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.

When our SINS are forgiven, it certainly deals with our SHAME. But SHAME itself is only a symptom of an underlying disease, the real disease Jesus rescues us from is SIN.

Martyn Cunnington

© Martyn Cunnington revised 2021