Mark Driscoll's Critique of Prayer Labyrinths
Some churches have something called a labyrinth- a prayer labyrinth. We don't have one, never will, not as long as I'm breathing. Because here's the point of the labyrinth- it's not Christian, it comes from paganism- and it's walking in a circle. I know: it's not as exciting as some would say- I don't understand. And the whole point of walking around the prayer labyrinth in a circle is to walk into the center and be by yourself. And the teaching therein is that the goal of true spirituality is to go into oneself to find answers, light, and truth. That's exactly the opposite of what we [Christians] believe. If I ever find a prayer labyrinth, I'm going to start in the middle and walk out as an act of protest because I'm a Christian. The answer's in Him, not in me; my goal is not to close in on myself, but to turn from myself, and outward to Jesus.
So things like that [like prayer labyrinths]- people say, 'Oh, it's very cool.' No, it's very pagan; it's very demonic. It's physically, with your body, saying something that is contrary to the Bible.
That prayer labyrinths are so popular with the ECM is especially interesting in light of the common critique from ECM leaders that the church in America is infected by the philosophy of Platonism. For example, Doug Pagitt berated Todd Friel of The Way of the Master Radio, calling him a Platonist and saying the following:
...what you're articulating here is a Platonic understanding of the cosmos... what you're into here is some kind of dualistic, Platonic understanding of the cosmos...
Pagitt, one of the founders of Emergent Village, advocates the practice of walking prayer labyrinths, writing:
… walking a prayer labyrinth, going on pilgrimage, and making the sign of the cross have served to connect the physical body to the life of faith through the centuries. [Doug Pagitt. BodyPrayer: The Posture of Intimacy with God. Page 4]
Yet labyrinth-walking portrays a neo-Platonic, rather than a Christian, view of salvation. The neo-Platonists, influenced by the writings of Plato, as interpreted by the teaching of Plotinus and others, believed that a person must turn from the material world and turn inward in order to find the reflection of God within oneself. While the Bible does teach that we are all created in God's image, it also teaches that this image of God has become corrupted due to sin. To look within oneself to find a reflection of God, and thus come to know God, one will inevitably be led astray. Rather, we must look to the God's revelation of Himself in the Bible, which "is perfect, restoring the soul" (see Psalm 19:7-11). This written revelation brings knowledge of Jesus, who alone gives eternal life (see John 5:39-40).
To paraphrase a statement made by Dr. Albert Mohler at the 2006 Together for the Gospel Conference: 'We tend to think that our problem is outside of ourselves, and we must turn inside for the solution; in reality, our problem is within and salvation must come from outside of ourselvesy.' We need something- Someone- from outside ourselves to save us from our internal corruption; we need a Savior; we need Jesus. And our worship practices should reflect this reality.