Apprising Ministries continues to warn you about the corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) ala the Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster and his spiritual twin, Southern Baptist minister Dallas Willard, slithering around—even within the young, restless, and reformed camp.

I’m showing you that the prolonged practice of spurious CSM always ends up blurring doctrinal lines—at best—and—at worst—even ends up attacking the Gospel itself. You also need to know that its spread within Protestant evangelicalism is heavily contributing to increasing syncretism.

Following up on Tim Keller And Contemplative Spirituality and Tim Keller On Greatest Names In Praying And Spirituality we continue our look at Gospel Coalition Council member Dr. Tim Keller and his Redeemer Presbyterian Church (RPC).

If I were you, I would make a point to look at the evidence and think this through, and not confuse my work with “angry bloggers” who have no business doing discernment work. I’m not saying anything at all about Dr. Keller personally or speaking to his motivations for what appears as his recommending CSM.

A main issue is this: Those of us who hold to Reformation theology should agree that the Protestant Reformers were moved by God to break away from an apostate Roman Catholic Church, which would then go on to place its own—never changed—anathema upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ itself.

Here, see for yourself from official RCC sources in Has The Roman Catholic Church Really Changed? In his article Thoughts on the Conflict over Justification the late Dr. Carl F.H. Henry, a leading evangelical Protestant theologian, brings out the critical point when he says:

In the doctrinal decrees of the Council of Trent (1545–1563) the Roman church officially approved and canonized the doctrine of justification by faithandworks, and thus condemned what had earlier been one strand in its own message, justification by faith. (Online source, emphasis added).

Then in their informative little booklet The Facts On Roman Catholicism respected evangelical Protestant apologists Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon are absolutely correct when they inform us:

In essence, the decrees made by the Council Of Trent on justification remain the standard of Roman Catholic theology. These decrees have never been modified, altered, or rescinded by Rome. [1]

In fact, because of its degrees by their supposed infallible popes, the Church of Rome has completely backed itself into a theological corner from which there isn’t any return. Indeed, these dogmas of Roman Catholicism cannot be changed; unless they will finally admit their popes were in theological error.

Those who think that’s going to happen are foolish dreamers. Please stop and think here: The mystical practices within the monastic traditions of the RCC throughout many centuries, which form the basis of what’s now essentially a cult of Foster-Willardism, are what would end up producing its corrupt theology.

Why do you think Jesus moved His Reformers to return us to the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scripura? I’ll tell you; because when one wishes to be sure they’ve heard from God we go to the only place we know God has spoken. This is in holy Scripture; anything else is truly subjective guess-work.

Here I’ll respectfully ask again: Why would a Reformed pastor like Dr. Tim Keller tell his flock:

we’ve got at least two other streams of that are filled with good, helpful material on meditation – the Catholic stream and the Quaker stream that are not primarily based on meditating on the Scripture.

With all due respect, both of these are apostate organizations practicing Counter Reformation spirituality and both are actually hostile to sola Scriptura as well. I’m truly surprised more people don’t get it: If this is what the fruit of CSM has clearly produced, then why would Protestants even want to return to it?

After-all, Jesus says:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.”

“A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-20)

I suggest it’s time for people to take a real long look at the fruit of Richard Foster and Dallas Willard; like all who persist long enough in CSM, they are both way closer to Counter Reformation mystics than they are to Protestant Reformers. This would place them drawing their spiritual sap from a diseased tree.

This is important background because today under Recommended Resources in the Prayer section at Dr. Keller’s RPC we find: 

(Online source)

Back in 2008’s Learn Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) The SBC Way With Baptist State Convention Of North Carolina And Spiritual Director Jan Johnson, and then again in Priscilla Shirer Promoting Contemplative/Centering Prayer, I introduced you to Jan Johnson, a leading teacher of CSM.

Johnson (video below) tells us that she is, “a writer, speaker and spiritual director in southern California.” [2] And interestingly enough under Teaching at Johnson’s website we find out that she’s been:

Leaving aside Lectio Divina, if you don’t know, The Renovaré Institute for Christian Spiritual Formation where Johnson is “Senior Teaching Fellow and Formation Coordinator” is the home base for Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. So quite obviously, Jan Johnson is steeped in Foster-Willardism’s CSM.

I say those at The Gospel Coalition should wonder, to further instruct his flock on the critically important subject of Biblical meditation, among the means of grace God has given His Christians, why didn’t Dr. Keller’s RPC find a Reformed Protestant source rather than choose CSM instructor Jan Johnson?

We do have every reason to ask what prompted RPC, and/or Dr. Keller himself, to make the decision to use this woman’s sinfully ecumenical work in the first place. At her website below you’ll see she encourages people to have unbiblical Christian fellowship with apostate Roman Catholic mystics.

For example, she tells us that:

(Online source)

You need to know that “silence and solitude” is CSM-speak for the practice of its crown jewel, a form of meditation in an altered state of consciousness commonly known as Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP). Did you catch what “spiritual director,” in other words guru, Johnson told us about CCP?

The guru says it’s “so formative in connecting with God.” Now here’s what you need to ask yourself: If so, why didn’t Jesus teach it? Remember when His disciples watched Him in prayer one time; and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1).

Here’s the perfect opportunity for the Master Teacher of Christian spirituality to reveal the great importance of this “wordless inner prayer” of CCP. But Jesus doesn’t; note carefully what God in human flesh teaches — And he said to them, “When you pray, say” (Luke 11:2). We must go with Scripture here.

Now you know why there was no so-called “contemplative tradition” within the visible Christian community until heretical hermits and hermettes left it to go live in the desert of Egypt circa late third century at the earliest. History shows they borrowed transcendental meditation from pagan religions.

The work from spiritual guru Jan Johnson that’s recommended at the RPC of Dr. Tim Keller is actually called Meditation: Not So Mysterious. Now let’s be clear here: You need to understand that the ones who are sowing all the confusion concerning meditation are the CSM mystics of Foster-Willardism.

No one credible is saying that mindful meditation upon the Biblical text where one contemplates, as is in thinks deeply seeking the illumination of God the Holy Spirit, is wrong. The problem is, often with no differentiation, Foster-Willardites will also use the word meditation in referring to their mindless CCP.

In fact, concerning this type of meditation, Richard Foster himself tells us:

Contemplative Prayer immerses us into the silence of God. How desperately we in the modern world need this wordless baptism… Contemplative Prayer is the one discipline that can free us from our addiction to words. Progress in intimacy with God means progress toward silence… It is recreating silence to which we are called in Contemplative Prayer…

A Warning And A Precaution

At the outset I need to give a word of warning,… Contemplative Prayer is not for the novice. I do not say this about any other form of prayer… Contemplative prayer is for those who have exercised their spiritual muscles a bit and know something about the landscape of the spirit. In fact, those who work in the area of spiritual direction always look for signs of a maturing faith before encouraging individuals into Contemplative Prayer…

I also want to give a word of precaution. In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as a supernatural guidance. While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on that, there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way! … But for now I want to encourage you to learn and practice prayers of protection. [3]

As I pointed out elsewhere, this really couldn’t be any clearer that what we’re actually dealing with here is a new form of Gnosticism. Can you see; above we have the truly spiritual “initiated” and “enlightened” ones who are the superior Christians in the “know,” because they “work in the area of spiritual direction.”

Then they are looking for those disciples “who have exercised their spiritual muscles” enough for initiation as this CCP—even though supposedly necessary for “intimacy with God—still “is not for” every Christian. This is but a return to Romanist religious bondage; and an asceticism-lite form of Pietism.

By the way, you may be interested to know that the above quote comes from a book, which you yourself can find right now in the online library of the Bethlehem Baptist Church of Dr. John Piper, New Calvinist mentor and fellow Gospel Coalition Council member with Dr. Tim Keller:

(Online source)

In closing this, for now, notice the following from guru Johnson’s article at Dr. Keller’s RPC:

(Online source)

As Johnson herself tells you, Inigo Lopez de Loyola (1491-1556) was indeed founder of the Society of Jesus—spiritual Gestapo of the Counter-Reformation—aka the Jesuits, who tell us they are the only monastic order which swears specifically to obey the pope:

(Online source)

Not surprising since Ignatius of Loyola taught his followers to have blind obedience to the Roman Catholic Church:

(Online source

From the time frame in which he lived, you can see that Ignatius was a major figure in the Counter Reformation of the Roman Catholic Church where he was extremely instrumental in defending the doctrines of demons advanced by seducing spirits in the Church of Rome against the Lord’s Reformers.

In the preface to “The Vintage Spiritual Classics Editon” of The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Avery Dulles, himself a Jesuit, tells us these exercises recapitulate (briefly restate):

some of the finest fruits of medieval spirituality and stands at the opening of a new age. It thus marks a crucial turning point in the history of [Roman] Catholic spirituality. St. Ignatius, as much as any individual, might be said to represent the transition from medieval to modern [Roman] Catholicism.

He and his companions, even before they became aware of the Reformation as a threat, were at work revitalizing the [Roman Catholic] faith in southern Europe. In the mid-sixteenth century they vigorously opposed the tide of the Reformation in regions such as Austria, Bavaria, the Rhineland, and Poland.

They [the Jesuits] struggled mightily to recapture England and Scotland for the [Roman] Catholic faith. They spearheaded the [Roman Catholic] Church’s missionary thrust to the New World of the Americas as well as to Northern Africa, India, and East Asia.

Favoring the growing centralization of the Church, they worked closely with the popes, as have their successors even to our own generation. In all these endeavors they used The Spiritual Exercises as their handbook. [4]

This is absolutely the fruit produced through the mysticism of men like Ignatius. Yet Dr. Keller would still tell us:

So, in the Counter Reformation, right after the time of ah Luther and Calvin, ah, was a flourishing of Catholic spirituality. And so many of the greatest names in, ah, praying and spirituality—ah, St. Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, St Francis de Sales, Ignatius of Loyola all lived around the same time. [5]

Yes, it is true that those words were spoken circa 1999; however, if you’re tempted to think that somehow Dr. Keller’s changed his views, remember that the Jan Johnson article is at the RPC website right now. And again, I think the critical question must become: Is the Gospel Coalition really ok with all of this?

End notes:

Back to note 1 — John Ankerberg, John Weldon, Doug Burroughs  The Facts On Roman Catholicism [Eugene: Harvest House, 2009], 39,40, emphasis added.

Back to note 2 — http://www.janjohnson.org/index.html , accessed 9/18/11.

Back to note 3 — Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding The Heart’s True Home [New York: Harper Collins, 1997], 155, 156, 157.

Back to note 4 — St Ignatius Loyola,  (Author),  John F. Thornton (Editor), The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius [New York: Random House, 2000], xiii, xiv.

Back to note 5 —  Dr. Tim Keller, Meditation – How to Start.

See also: