The burning passion of Travers' heart was to give a clarion call to the Church that he saw falling in line with Gnosticism and leaving the simplicity of the Word of God.
In severe pain he preached his last message on the subject of mysticism. After his departure from this life, the following definition was found in his jacket pocket, in his handwriting:
"Mysticism: The timeless quest for higher/hidden truth, spiritual experiences and knowledge of God by using imagination, intuition, so-called 'Holy Spirit revelations' and subjective feelings rather than fact, reason and the undistorted Word of God."
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10)
Some books are written before their time. This is one such book. It was never our privilege to know Travers van der Merwe but we had heard of his exemplary walk before God and man while on Earth. While battling cancer, a painful ordeal that lasted for many years, Travers and his wife Jewel penned this book. He saw an ancient heresy arising in the modern Christian church and it weighed heavily on his heart.
After the book was completed, it lay dormant for several years. In the meantime much was happening in the Christian church nationally and internationally to confirm that there was a revival going on - not accompanied by repentance and a turning away from dead works - but of Gnosticism.
Gnosticism has a chameleon-like ability to appear like the genuine article, true Christianity, and thus has managed to transform itself to fit the times in countless new wrappings over the centuries. It particularly adapts itself to that place where the ideas of the east and west meet. Whenever eastern mysticism and western rationalism collide, one can find there the seedbed for a pseudo-Gospel that mimics the real thing.
Gnosticism is fool's gold, shiny and beckoning on the surface, yet phoney. Modern Saints are poorly equipped to recognise the counterfeit. Much Gnosticism enters the Church via the popular Christian media, where the real and the false get mixed up in a garbled soup of doctrines and teachings. The rise of the New Age movement, and the extent to which it has permeated Christian thinking, further clouds the issue. How is a Christian to sort out these strange teachings?
When Jewel first sent us the unpublished manuscript for the book it was because we had been asking her for more information about the rise of modern Gnosticism. The book, she said, would answer many of our questions. Indeed, it did. So many, in fact, that we then began pressing her to let us publish the book. We believed that it should be widely disseminated and read by Christians who were seeking to understand their growing uneasiness with the "new" moves of God, signs and wonders, "laughing revivals", and ecumenical unity.
Strange Fire is a brief, easy-to-understand book that explains how to tell the Truth from the Lie. It doesn't dwell on the spectacular manifestations, but concisely illustrates modern Gnosticism. The real gold of the Gospel is presented in such a way that it outshines the fool's gold of Gnosticism. Readers will have no doubt as to which is which. This handy tool enables even the unlearned to discern Gnosticism the next time they encounter it.
This is one little book that may save many a soul from walking into the error and falsehood so prevalent in our time.
Lynn & Sarah Leslie; December 1995