Biblical vs Eastern Meditation?

This lent, as suggested in Ps 1, we will meditate upon Scripture.

In the Old Testament, two Hebrew words are translated “meditate.” One suggests a low pitch muttering sound; the other means to be taken up or absorbed with something. Taken together, we get the idea of someone pondering a biblical text, quietly vocalizing it repeatedly. The focus of meditation is on God, His glory and majesty, His ways and works in the world. Its intended effect is to shape one’s inner life and outward behavior. Theologian J.I. Packer describes it this way:

Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God… It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God. (1)

In other words, meditation is a devotional practice that we engage in with God’s help to know Him better, love Him more, experience closer communion with Him, and live for His glory.

This definition illustrates the great difference between Eastern meditation and biblical meditation. As Peter Toon says,

The simplest way to highlight the difference is to say that for the one meditation is an inner journey to find the centre of one’s being, while for the other it is the concentration of the mind/heart upon an external Revelation. For the one revelation/insight/illumination occurs when the inmost self (which is also the ultimate Self, the one final Reality) is reached by the journey into the soul, while for the other it comes as a result of encounter with God in and through his objective Revelation to which Holy Scripture witnesses.

We'll be exploring Biblical Mediation on Shrove Tuesday 1st March, from 7pm in our auditorium. Why not come down from 5pm and have Pancakes for dinner as well!

Rev David Rietveld

Senior Minister

(1) Taken from CS Lewis Institute: Biblical Mediation.


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