Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Recently we all witnessed the crashing and burning of the powerful evangelist, Todd Bentley. In reaching for an explanation of what happened to himself, he claimed he was “passing through the Dark Night of the Soul.” Then person in charge of his rehabilitation, Rick Joyner, of Morningstar Ministries, trying to help people understand what was happening, picked up the same term: “the Dark Night of the Soul.”. All of which prompted me to write the following letter: to Joyner,

Dear Rick,
You wrote in your newsletter, that Todd Bentley is suffering the Dark Night of the Soul. The reason I am writing this to you is to say that we in the medical profession, know that wrong diagnoses result in wrong treatments. Our friend is the least likely person I know to suffer what St. John of the Cross means in his classic “Dark Night of the Soul.” If you read on, I will explain.

(At the same time, included in my reason for writing this, is to protect St. John of the Cross’ Dark Night of the Soul from being misunderstood and dummied down. Both Christians and New Agers alike are casually tossing the term around, emptying it of its profundity.)

One of the best ways to approach St. John is to come at him first from other systems of mysticism. What mystics of all faiths have discovered is that, before you can enter the mystic realm, the cognitive system must shut down. In Zen for example, an unsolvable Koan (sound of one hand clapping, etc.) brings the discursive mind (the intellect) to its knees, causing it to flat line. With the discursive mind out of the way, the psyche can enter the mystic realm. In Hinduism, some meditation systems accomplish this state by overloading the discursive processes. Others under load them. Islamic Sufi’s dance and twirl. The outcome is the same. The cognitive processes flat line and the person breaks through into direct encounters of the mystical experience.

St John has given us the Christian way of accomplishing this entrance into the mystic realm. True to our belief system, it is God Himself (not our meditation efforts)Who does the work. He achieves this by challenging the discursive system to the point it accepts that reaching the mystic realm is above its pay grade.

St John includes in the discursive system, the “understanding,” the will,” and “the memory”–all our mental processes except “the intuitive”. He uses the words “soul” and “sense. (I translated “soul” as “psyche”*) St. John writes:

“. . . .it is God Who is now working in the psuche; He binds its interior faculties, and
allows it not to cling to the understanding, nor to have delight in the will, nor to reason
with the memory. For anything that the psuche can do of its own accord at this time serves only, . . . .to hinder inward peace and the work which God is accomplishing . . . .
p. 67

Thus, the Dark Night is actually a negative experience only from the point of view of one’s intellect. This darkness is not a pleasant experience for the intellect which believed itself capable understanding everything. St. John explains:

. . . .the Divine wisdom is not only night and darkness for the psuche, but is likewise, affliction and torment . . . because of the height of Divine Wisdom, which transcends the talent of the soul and in this way is darkness to it. p. 100

Most of us have had the experience of our mind hurting when it works on an unsolvable math problem. Most of us are also aware of how our mind annoyingly intrudes into our quiet times with God which it can’t understand. St. John was describing the mental anguish that comes as the mind is being forced to surrender. His fellow monks were straining with every technique they had been taught to reach God. He was teaching them to let go and let God take the mind into darkness. Those who rely on their intellects would never make such a journey.

On the other hand, from the point of view of the entire psychological system, The Dark Night is a positive experience and has a happy outcome.

“When God leads the soul into this night of sense in order to purge the sense of its lower part and to subdue it, unite it and bring it into conformity with the spirit, by setting it in darkness and causing it to cease. . . . He brings it into the night of the spirit, and (although it appears not so to it) the soul gains so many benefits that it holds it to be a happy chance to have escaped from the bonds and restrictions of the senses of its lower self. . . .” p. 74

Of all the people on this planet, Todd is the least likely to be suffering from St. John’s Dark Night of the Soul. More than most people, he has poked through the mental cloud of unknowing into that mystical realm--to paraphrase Star Trek “where no mind has gone before.”

What many who are suffering what they want to call a dark night is more likely what we psychologists diagnose as Dysthymia. Some of the depression can result from an intense overload of emotions which can knock neurotransmitters out of whack.

Another possibility is what I am seeing in all the Charismatic leaders with whom I interact. Agnes Sanford observed years ago, that when the Holy Spirit pours through a person, any glitches will be blasted out into the open. The more powerfully the Spirt moves, the more any blockages can expect to be dislodged. She wrote:“ The subconscious will not peaceably store memories which are contradictory to the nature of God. Attention is constantly drawn back to these unstored memories. If unattended, these memories become problematic.”

As I travel among Charismatic leaders, I see a lot of unexamined pathology. The higher the power of the Spirit works through them, the more these unacknowledged glitches are going to flush up.

So to conclude, please don’t let St. John of the Cross’ great contribution to Christian experience be depreciated.


Donald L. Clark, EdD, FAACoP
Board Certified Psychologist
Emeritus Professor of Psychology

*(In order to keep any reader from putting his or her own unique meanings into the word “soul,” I have substituted the Greek word ‘psuche” to keep the purity of St. John’s use of the word. In addition, psuche is closer to our word psyche or the psychological system.)

Reference: St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul, N. Y.: Image Books Doubleday (Translation 1990)

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Thank You Lord For Giving Us Trump


This election year has been unimaginable stressful.  From the day that Donald Trump came down that escalator and announced his candidacy for president, I felt he was God’s choice for our time.  However, holding that faith all year was exacting.  

In my lifetime I had never known such irrational rage against a public figure.  Of course, such

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Most Important Book I Ever Read

   In Dr. Heiser’s new book, he has revealed the Bible as one coherent story. It has changed the way I look at everything. This post will be a simple outline. Hopefully, many of you will read the book available on Kindle.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Answering a Question From a New Christian

A new Christian calling herself "Confused in Montana,"   Confused in Montana   asks "how can I know what God wants me to do for him in my life?" Well first of all, congratulations! You are now where life starts becoming exhilarating?" 

You should soon discover that one of the greatest benefits that comes with having invited the Holy Spirit to set up His throne in the core of your personality, is that He can now communicate directly with you. First of all I suggest you click on  the following link:      hearing from God

Some, who are fortunate, begin to learn to hear Him quickly. For others it takes time.

As the speaker in the second link teaches, we have three voices inside vying for our attention. First, is the voice of the enemy. Second, is our own voice. Third is our Lord’s voice. Our work is to learn to discern.

The enemy’s voice often has a discomforting sound about it. Your own voice often just ruminates over many trivial things and mine is very boring to me. Our Lord’s voice "is so sweet the birds hush their singing (as the old hymn goes).

As to psychics, my experience with them is they are being used to channel the enemy but don’t know it. Some of the early things said to you are like the shining bait on a fisherman’s hook. Then zap! You are hooked in and you discover that too late.

My final advice is to pray every day, that God will send a Christian prophet into your life. You will know if he or she is the real thing, first by their good track record and secondly the Holy Spirit will find a direct way to confirm it. Secondly, get in a good Spirit Filled church, and as you grow in your ability to hear the Spirit you will begin to determine if your minister is for real. Also, ask God to send you a good prayer partner. Mine is my wife who gets more awesome every day in her ability to know when I am hearing from God or just listening to the voice of my own ego. 50 years we have been married, and she has now grown so much spiritually, that she has a 100% track record.

Be patient. I have been on this walk for almost 90 years. God has lead me at every turn including several times that I thought it was Him and it wasn’t and I almost really messed up. But bless Him, He grabbed me back at the last minute.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Brief History of God's Communication Programs

  God’s Communication Program 1.0 Creating a special place, He fellowshipped with us. We blew it. "So the LORD God banished them from the Garden of Eden" (Gen 3:23) Communication severed.

God’s Communication Program 2.0  Selecting a few exceptional people "the Sovereign LORD never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7) Israel  blew that.

God’s Communication Program 3.0 (Pentecost)  "In the last days,' God says, 'I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy." (Acts 2:17) "you have received the Holy Spirit, and He lives within you, (1 John 2:27) so you don't need anyone to teach you what is true."

So far, so good with 3.0. (It busted out of Israel and circled the globe.) The only glitch in this program is in receiving messages. Some receive better than others but there is a lot of noise. Messages gets corrupted. Then there are charlatans who pretend they hear. Then there is hacking by the enemy.

4.0 Maybe after God hits the delete button He then fellowships with us in Heaven

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Letting Him Know We Believe

Me at March on Washington
   This morning I heard a preacher quoting John 3:16 "For this is how God loved the world: He gave his unique Son so that everyone who believes in him might not be lost but have eternal life." It was the word "believes" that caught my attention. Searching it out I found this or similar phrases used 35 or 40 times or more. 

I began to ask the Lord how might someone let Jesus know he or she believed in Him. At least four ways popped into my head.

1. If I spend time in fellow shipping with Him. You don’t use up your valuable time talking back and forth with your imagination. That gets quickly weird.

2. If I spend my time worshiping Him when I have so much else to do.

3. If I spend my valuable time trying to learn as much about Him as possible from the Book and listening to people who know Him.

4. If I go around quoting Him.

(I am certain He also knows when I tell Him I do)

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Saturday, June 7, 2014


The following is a rewrite of an earlier post of how, in 1980, I began to speak in tongues. Since writing that, I have looked at many blogs on the subject. Some are distressing because they ridicule this fastest growing group of Christians in the world. Because I am a Board Certified psychologist I feel it is important for people to know that Christians who speak in tongues are not nuts. Actually, research indicates that in many cases those speaking in tongues are more emotionally healthy than the general public.

Here is my story followed

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Friday, June 6, 2014


Right after my experiences of tongues began, I wrote down some ideas as a psychologist on the subject. The following is what I wrote at the time.

I wonder how surprised my printer would be if it could be aware that it is not creating these words on this page by itself. Perhaps it would be no more surprised than I was when words from an unexplained source came out of me.

As to my printer, if it could reflect on its own inner workings self-consciously as I can, it might try to explain to itself this unexpected discovery of words already formed somewhere in its circuitry. The words were there for a few moments before in some inner labyrinth. Deeper still, and even more impatient to get on with matters, are the ideas which I am now placing into the printer’s circuits. My printer would be quite humbled to learn that it is not creating these words. Rather, it has become an outlet for phrases and ideas already present.

Now, back to me. As I reflect inwardly, like the printer, I find a similar situation. As I focus, I soon discover words and phrases, already existing within me. To my fascination, language and thoughts are right there, waiting for my typing fingers, or for my vocal cords to give them an outlet. I sense that I possess a great deal more words and ideas than I can express. In addition, any problem of expression I have, lies merely in bringing to the surface already existing sounds, words, and phrases within me.

The whole process of speaking and writing, actually seems to be more an act of focusing awareness and then giving vent to what is already there. It is less of an act of self-consciously creating the thoughts I speak. The process is much like Plato’s metaphor of the bird cage full of birds. We reach in and release them. Thus the word “educe,” meaning to “pull out.” From educe, comes the word “education.”

One day, I discovered an entirely new language system within me that I did not know was there. That was the day, I spoke in tongues.

Pentecostals then informed me that what I was hearing within, was the Holy Spirit forming those words. The mind-blowing thought was that He had probably been carrying on that praying in me from the time, as 12-year-old youth, I had invited him to indwell me. HE HAD BEEN THERE ALL THE TIME JUST WAITING FOR ME TO DISCOVER HIM! When I finally did, He erupted like I had hit an oil well. He has been erupting ever since. (continued on next three threads)

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Thursday, June 5, 2014


Days followed my first experience of speaking in tongues with many thrilling events. We laid hands on a woman who had congenital heart disease from birth, and she was healed. A few sundays later, a group of us laid hands on a man with prostate cancer. He was healed and the healing was certified by his Urologist.

I began to notice changes in me. I could not get enough of reading the Bible. I would lock myself in my office and read for hours.

Like many people, I had suffered from what I called the Paranoia of

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Southern Baptist Can't Pray in Tongues RePosted

I notice that at a recent convention, Southern Baptists are still fighting over speaking in tongues. Originally, I was ordained a Baptist minister. Though I am now a liturgical/sacramental priest, I do like to look in on my Baptist friends from time to time.

Two Christian writers can help shed light on Southern Baptists’ problem

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Sunday, May 4, 2014


Originally, I was ordained a Baptist minister. Though I am now a liturgical/sacramental priest, I do like to look in on my Baptist friends. I wrote a post on the Baptists’ problem with speaking in tongues. It became my most read post. Meanwhile, the issue became hotter, so I decided to revise the article and print it again with some of the good comments added. Basically, the problem involves the intellect vs the spirit.

Two Christian writers can help shed light on Southern Baptists’ (as well as others’) problem with “tongues”. One is the Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross, and the other, St. Paul. Both of these men recognize they possess two mental systems. Paul uses the word “understanding” (in Greek, the intellect) to describe one of the systems. He uses the word translated as “spirit” for the other system. We hear him describing how he works with his two systems in 1 Cor 14:15 “I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also...I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also”. In other words, he is fully aware that he is using two distinct “mental” systems in his spirituality.
St. John of the Cross, similarly describes two systems. He uses the word “sensual” (the understanding, will, and memory) for one system and “spirit” for the other.

Both men were conscious that the two systems had real problems with one another. For more on this. St. Paul describes the problem as follows: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him.”1Co 2:14) St. John of the Cross describes this same problem as follows: "The sensual part of a man has no capacity for that which is pure spirit.” (Bk. 1 IX 4). . St John goes further: “For anything that the soul (the intellect) can do of its own accord at this time (i.e. when God has infused Himself), serves only, to hinder inward peace and the work which God is accomplishing in the spirit.” (Bk. 1 IX) The intellect is getting in God’s way.

For St. John, God communicates directly with the spirit mind, outside the intellect’s capabilities. God even deliberately “binds (the intellect's) inner faculties and allows it not to cling to the understanding, nor to have delight in the will, nor to reason with the memory. When once the soul (intellect) begins to enter therein (arrive at that state), its inability to reflect with the faculties grows ever greater.”Bk. (1 IX 4) At some point, the soul can go dark ( flat line). Thus, the title of St John’s book is: "Dark Night of the Soul”. Flat lining is a positive thing spiritually, but intolerable to the intellect.

St. Paul also wants to flatline the intellect, but unlike St. John of the Cross who lets God do it, St. Paul works on the experience himself: He tells us how he does it. 1Co 14:4 “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself (in Greek: “is a house builder,”, i.e. “building up his house”). He describes then how this gets his intellect to “go dark.”. “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding (intellect) is unfruitful (Greek: “barren,” not producing intellectual fruit”).(1 Co 14:14).

Today, if you read the attacks on “speaking in tongues”, you will quickly discern the resistance of the intellect to “go dark”, “to be unfruitful”, to enter “The Dark Night of the Soul”. Some attackers are appalled by an intellect becoming unfruitful. Others, only mock what they see or hear. In our present age of reason, most intellects struggle furiously to maintain domination over the consciousness. The word hegemony is useful. Hegemony is used to describe the dominance of one state over another. It is mostly used about political states, but it can be used with states of consciousness. The intellect demands hegemony in the modern mind. The idea of losing your mind temporally for the sake of making direct contact with God is unacceptable to most. See another take.

Which brings us back to the Southern Baptists. Baptists have two historical forces at work that give them problems with “tongues”. Fundamentalists among the Baptists get their title as the guardians of the fundamentals of the faith, i.e. correct theology. Guarding the fundamentals is a cerebral activity.

Secondly, Baptists got their name for their insistence upon reaching an age of accountability before being baptized -- believers baptism. Psychologists attribute this age of accountability which occurs around puberty, as resulting from the interconnections of the brain’s neurons reaching a level of maturity which makes rational thought possible. In other words, a core Baptist belief is the demand that you must be capable of understanding what you are doing. Spirituality as rational.

Following is a thoughtful comment received:
Anonymous said...
Fr Don has demonstrated something I have observed about the evangelical mind. Movie and TV often portrays evangelicals as emotional or simple-minded. In fact, behind some of the emotions of conversion is a tremendous rationality. Rather than conversion being a matter of emotion, Baptist theology tends to cast it as an act of the mind or will - the opposite of many of the images that are used to slam evangelicals like Southern Baptists.

I am wondering about the origins of this intellectual view of faith. The Baptist opposition to speaking in tongues seems rooted in their public embracing of dispensationalism. Rather than asking how to do the works of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, their rational theology reasons that the absence of those works today is proof that they were temporary gifts given to establish the Church until the canon of scripture was set. This position leads them to misinterpret Paul's state about spiritual gifts ceasing when that which is perfect is come (1 Corinthians 13). Clearly Paul is envisioning the coming of Christ and the life of the kingdom of God when partial revelation will give way to the fullness of God's presence and relationship with us.

In his books, "Surprised by the Power of God" and "Surprised by the Voice of God", former Baptist theologian Jack Deere shares a compelling account of his shift from dispensationalism to embracing the power and gifts and the Holy Spirit as described in the bible. I have come to a place where I cannot preach about a Jesus who cannot, or will not, do today all that the bible says he will do. This has not been a rational change and much as a change of heart. Speaking in tongues has become a wonderful means of prayer that helps me go beyond the limitations of my intellect. The child-like faith I exercise in praying from my born-again spirit through the power of the Holy Spirit helps me open up to God's ability to do beyond my wildest dreams. Like others, I constantly fall short of the fullness that is truly available - and is what I believe to be God's highest will for us. But I can't rationalize that reality away based on my short-fall because I have tasted enough of the real to know that there is gold in those hills that is worth the effort to mine it.

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Friday, January 31, 2014

My Epiphany in 2013!

    Following is a letter I sent to Dr. Michael Heiser after listening to his lectures on You Tube.

Dr. Heiser, I am a big believer in letting people know when they have blessed their life. So this note is to express my sincere gratitude for your work. I am 87 years old and have studied the Bible all my life, informally and formally in a Southern Baptist seminary and later under tutelage as an Anglican priest. I am also a retired Professor of Psychology.

Last Fall, God took me to your You Tube lectures and I had an Epiphany. Two important areas

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Weighing in on Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson

From Conservative Blog

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Friday, February 1, 2013

The earth is the Lord's dejure. The earth is the evil one's defacto

We are told I John 5:19 that “the whole earth lies in the power of the evil one.” Then again, we are told in Psalm 24:1 that “The earth is the Lord’s, and all that it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.” So the earth is presently in the power of the evil one, but it belongs to the Lord.   The earth is the Lord's dejure.  The earth is the evil one's defacto

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Why Do They Hate Christmas?

An increasing number of grinches are trying to steal Christmas.  This post is to open the discussion of explanations of why people would

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