Karen Winterburn

From: Gary Bogart 
Subject: CRI-ARTICLES : Winterburn Testomony: Ex-Occultist (TEXT)

Copyright 1994 by the Christian Research Institute.
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"Delivered from Twelve Years of Occult Bondage" (an article from
the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 3: Number 2, 1990) by
Karen Winterburn.
    The editor of the Christian Research Newsletter is Ron Rhodes.

    Although my family did not practice any religion, I decided at
age 14 to join the Catholic church. I quickly developed a strong
appetite for the Word of God. In fact, I had such a strong
attraction to the Scriptures that I bought three different
translations of the Bible -- all of which I read regularly.

    But my life soon took a turn for the worse. Following my high
school graduation, I entered a very liberal convent. I immersed
myself in liberal theology, existential philosophy, and the
sociology of religion.

    I no longer read Scripture without being armed with my liberal
"debunking tools," and prayer became less and less personal
communion with God and more of a general meditation -- until even
that disappeared. I had turned my back on the Lord and the
Christian life.

    I left the religious order and for the next four years tried
out Marxism, hedonism, and humanism -- in that order. But none of
them filled the void created in my heart by turning away from the
living God. None of them helped me explain the residual nagging
sense of the presence of God. God refused to leave me, but I
persisted in looking for an alternative explanation for Him. And I
found one (so I thought) -- the occult!

    People I talked to -- non-Christians, Christians, and even
clergy -- called my dabbling in the occult my "spiritual journey"
or "pilgrimage." Everyone seemed to romanticize it. But this
"spiritual journey" didn't turn out to be as purposeful and
exciting as it had first promised to be. I found myself longing to
find my way back to true spiritual reality. The problem, however,
was that I had developed serious doubts about the credibility of
Christianity (an outgrowth of my liberal education).

    So, for twelve long years, I remained deeply entrenched in the
occult. I was a professional astrologer the whole time -- teaching,
doing conferences, and counseling.

    I was also a trance medium for 16 months. I have over one
hundred pages of transcript material from this period -- much of
which was generated (through me) while working with a scientific
team in Chicago: a psychologist, a physician/psychiatrist, a
physicist, and a parapsychologist. This team tested me, hypnotized
me, and worked with the material I produced while in an altered
state of consciousness. I explained and discussed issues in
subatomic physics that were "right on target," according to the
physicist. I clarified problems in the psychologist's research on
brain waves and biofeedback without even knowing he was doing this

    None of this scientific material originated in me. I knew that
very well, but didn't want to believe it, preferring instead the
message I was getting from my inner "source": this knowledge was
being generated by my own "expanding consciousness." I was in touch
with my "higher self," my "God self," my "Christ consciousness" --
and believed this expansion of knowledge and awareness could
continue indefinitely.

    Besides being a trance medium, I worked a lot with different
methods of divination: numerology, psychometry, I Ching, and Tarot
cards. I practiced and taught visualization techniques -- working
from the Western Kabbalah and Eastern yogas, modern inner-healing
therapies, and guided meditations.

    Over the last five years of this twelve-year period, I was
involved in a syncretistic cult: Church Universal and Triumphant
(CUT). This cult integrates several world religions and many
strands of occult tradition. It's an outgrowth of the "I AM"
movement of the 1930s and the Theosophical movement before that.

    CUT presents itself as the religion of the New Age: _ushering
out_ the "Age of Pisces" under the leadership and authority of the
"Ascended Master" Jesus Christ and _ushering in_ the "Age of
Aquarius" under the authority of Saint Germain -- whom CUT leaders
believe to be an even greater Ascended Master. My earlier trance
medium experience had prepared me to accept in detail the message
and gestalt of this bizarre group.

    While involved with this group, I tried defining my
Christianity (with which I was still very uncomfortable) through
"Christian metaphysics": a baptized version of the positive
thinking schools and self-help technologies, and founded squarely
on the philosophy and method of mental sorcery. I thoroughly
absorbed the writings of Emmet Fox during this time.

    Over this twelve-year period, I shut out the Lord and
worshipped every false god I bumped into along the way: Gautama
Buddha, Lord Maitreya, Hindu gods, Greek gods, Roman gods, Egyptian
gods, Chaldean gods, the Cosmic Christ, the Solar Logos, the
Ascended Masters, the Divine Mother, the Nameless Void -- and
finally my "higher self," my "Christ self," and my "God self."

    "Are you the one?" I would ask. They all answered, "yes."

    During this time, it became increasingly clear to me that
spiritual growth was not something I'd been _enhancing,_ but
_preventing._ For three months I forced myself to face this issue.
Over the years I'd had many interesting spiritual experiences, but
there had been _no spiritual growth_ or life. I realized I had been
turning circles and was no closer to the truth now than when I
first started searching for it.

    Having exhausted all these alternatives to Jesus Christ and
coming up so short of the glory of God, I began to panic. I went
through a week of pure hell that seemed like a lifetime. God had
suddenly become so "other" to me. The only thing I began to see
clearly about God that week was that He is utterly _holy_ and
_righteous._ No other god even makes a pretense at being holy and
righteous. At this time, the consciousness of personal sin
reentered my life -- what a nauseating, embarrassing, and defeating
reality! Seeing myself in this honest light was a shattering
experience for me.

    Then I remembered a verse I'd read somewhere in the Bible: "The
LORD is my righteousness." I began to see -- possibly for the first
time -- that the very holiness that must in justice _consume_ me,
can be _imputed_ to me as a gift from God! What an incredible
realization this was. This was utterly against every principle and
tenet of New Age spirituality.

    During this time, a verse I did not even know I had memorized
came to my mind: "There is salvation in no one else, for there is
no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be
saved" (Acts 4:12). I felt a combination of relief and terror at
this memory. How could all my twelve years of occult involvement
have been a spiritual placebo, I wondered?

    Revelation 3:20 surfaced in my mind the same way: "Behold, I
stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the
door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with Me." Jesus
Christ was alive and well and knocking at my door! And this was
most assuredly not the Ascended Master Jesus Christ. This was the
real live Person! I was now willing to dismantle my altars to false
gods; to put away _The Bhagavad Gita_ and the I Ching.

    "Lord," I asked, "what do you want me to do now?" After asking
this question, I remember opening my Bible to Acts 9:6 where Paul
had fallen to the ground when Jesus appeared in a blinding vision
to him on the road to Damascus: "Now get up and go into the city,
and you will be told what you must do," Jesus said to him. When
Paul arrived at this city, the disciple Ananias helped him. I
applied this verse to my situation, and took it to mean that I
should just put myself "out there" and assistance would be

    Little did I know I would soon meet my own "Ananias." I had on
my laundry room table several stacks of graduate school bulletins
and catalogues. During the last year of my spiritual "pilgrimage,"
I had somehow gotten the idea that I'd understand everything a lot
better if I just had a doctorate in theology. So I had sent away
for catalogues from every school of theology within a 50-mile

    Then I realized I had some preliminaries to settle first, such
as, _which_ theology? Buddhist? Unitarian? Catholic? Church
Universal and Triumphant? One evening I absentmindedly paged
through one of the catalogues: Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
I immediately noticed the statement of faith. What an odd thing to
put in a school catalogue, I thought to myself. I read it and had
two distinct and warring reactions. One part of me said, "No one
with half a brain could assent to this. Throw this into the
fireplace and forget it!" The other part of me said, "Thank God
someone still believes." I read through the catalogue and it became
increasingly clear to me that the commitment to scholarship was
equaled by a corporate commitment to a life devoted to Jesus Christ
as God and Savior.

    The thought occurred to me that I should talk to someone from
Trinity. "But who?" I asked myself. I decided to scan through the
list of faculty in the catalogue and my finger stopped on the name
of Dr. John Feinberg. I called Dr. Feinberg and told him I had
gotten his name in a round-about way and needed to talk to him
about "church membership."

    When I arrived at Dr. Feinberg's home, I opened two doors: his
as well as the one I had closed on the Lord years ago. He opened
the Scriptures with me and helped me understand myself and my
experience in the light of what they said. He confirmed the
exclusivity of the claim of Christ on my life. He also directed me
to a good church that remains to this day my spiritual home. The
worship, study, and fellowship at this church have been my major
source of growth since my deliverance from occultism.

    My restoration to the Father through trusting in Jesus Christ
has been the most invigorating, eye-opening, and healing event in
my life. I really know what it is to be "bought" with a price, to
have someone else foot the bill for my rebellious and disobedient
squandering. Jesus paid that price.

    I can't praise and thank God enough for what He has done for
me. When you're finally convinced of the hopelessness of your own
efforts -- when you realize that you're as powerless as you are
rebellious -- that your Creator is sovereign and that you, a
creature, can't restore yourself to Him -- and then _He reaches
down_ and digs you out of the heap, scrubs you off, and brings you
home -- I can only respond, "What a Father!"

    In this earthly pilgrimage, we might not be sure of the
terrain, and the environment is definitely hostile. But as
Christians, we know where we've come from, we know where we're
going, we know how we're getting there, and we've got hold of the
hand that is taking us! _Praise God for this wonderful thing He's

*Editor's Note:* Karen Winterburn is the director of the Chicago
and Suburban Branch of Mt. Carmel Outreach, P.O. Box 6407,
Evanston, IL 60202.

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