This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you. (Galatians 2:4-5)

Heading Out Upon The Emergent Sea Of Contemplative Spirituality

As I said when I started this AM Mailbag section I wanted to give a voice to readers and also have the chance to share a representative sample of the kinds of letters we receive here at Apprising Ministries daily. The letter which will follow gives even more indication of the further drift toward apostasy within the Southern Baptist Convention. A while back I began looking into some of the books available at Lifeway Christian Stores (LCS) in my articles An SBC Pastor Investigates Emergent and Contemplative within the SBC – Part One and in Part Two.

This would also lead a piece called SBC Embraces Emergent Church and Contemplative Spirituality where I listed a number of questionable books written by authors who are in the neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church and/or who are involved in the heretical practices of Contemplative Spirituality. Finally I felt led to make my best effort to be as obvious and blunt as I possibly could in The Southern Baptist Convention: Whatever Happened to the Reformation? And even this is being ignored due to perhaps some of the worst spiritual denseness in the history of the Church.

Contemplative Spiritual Formation From Apostate Rome

Before we get to the letter from an AM reader about how they’ve witnessed this drifting in Lifeway for quite some time now, I will give you a quick example of the anti-Reformational teachings available in books at the SBC’s LCS. So I decided to get myself a copy of When The Soul Listens: Finding Rest And Direction In Contemplative Prayer by Jan Johnson. The back cover tells us Mrs. Johnson “is a spiritual director and retreat speaker.”

As “A NavPress Spiritual Formation Book” it has a general introduction from one Dallas Willard, who along with his trusty sidekick Living Spiritual Teacher Richard Foster, is a “key mentor” in the Emergent Church according to Guru Brian McLaren. In fact on page 9 Spiritual Director Willard informs us that:

Each book in this [Spiritual Formation] line is designed to contribute to this renewed [read: reimagined] vision of Christian spiritual formation and to illuminate what apprenticeship to Jesus Christ means within all specific dimensions of human existence.

Men and women, as I have said before once we start hearing about spiritual directors and gurus and living spiritual teachers and this type of contemplative so-called spiritual formation we have left the historic orthodox Christian faith. For those who wish to investigate this further I refer you to my article Meditating on Contemplative/Centering Prayer. But for now we leave you with this letter from an AM reader who is seeing these doctrines of devils taught by seducing spirits slithering right through the SBC’s Lifeway Christian Stores and on into their local church:

Hi Pastor Ken,

Have you seen the new issue of Homelife magazine published by Lifeway? The cover story is on Erwin McManus and his family. It is written by Tobin Perry who is the managing editor for Rick Warren’s online “Ministry Toolbox”. My church gets copies of a few Lifeway magazines and gives them out for free which is how I found out about it.

We’re members of a Southern Baptist church and although I cannot imagine emergent/contemplative practices coming into my church, I have to wonder how long ANY Southern Baptist church will be able to stand firm on the Gospel when our convention is forcing emergent and contemplative authors, pastors and ideas down our throats. The article in Homelife magazine is an example of pure propaganda aimed at people like me, and others in my church. When you read it, you will see that the McManus family appear to be completely orthodox in their beliefs and practices.

The article reads like postmodern-talk, but the average uneducated-to-emergent person wouldn’t notice. There are references to “engaging the culture”, “being on mission”, “spiritual passion”, “passion for Christ” and “revolution” throughout the article. McManus clearly emphasizes experience over scripture in quotes like this, “Being around the poverty in Indonesia did more to shape Mariah’s heart than all the Bible studies we could have exposed her to.” He says of his family, “We’re not always doing the right thing, but we’re trying to do something!”

I have another concern regarding Lifeway. We teach in this church and we are using the Lifeway curriculum. It was not our choice to use this material. I am concerned about this greatly because I am already seeing some subtle influences of teachers like Beth Moore and others in some of the lessons. There is talk about “praying God’s word” as a “powerful way to pray”, and the script for one lesson told me to say “During a quiet time, it is good to spend time listening for God to speak to you as well.”

I know that this curriculum is written by several different authors who write lessons at home and then go to Nashville to combine them into one big package. Because of this, there is no way to determine what theology might be included in individual lessons. It is assumed that ALL the writers will be scripturally accurate. No one in my church suspects that any Lifeway material would contain unbiblical elements.

I am VERY concerned about the false teaching that is now permeating the SBC and Lifeway. How are we supposed to protect our kids and our churches from false teaching when it is so rapidly and forcefully becoming the norm in our convention? Soon, I fear, it will permeate all the curricula and materials we order from Lifeway and it will be impossible to escape. It’s very strange that things are occurring out in the open with the SBC now. This emergent/contemplative has been under the surface for awhile, and present in other denominations for some time, but it has sort-of visibly exploded through Lifeway in the past year.

For those of us who try to warn our friends, deacons and pastors, it’s going to be a very hard thing since Lifeway has been sugar coating and propagandizing it. They make it seem mainstream, so that objectors will be seen as “straining at a gnat”. That’s the way I feel when I try to explain it to people. They just cannot believe that someone would say the concept of Hell raises questions about God’s inherent goodness (McLaren—heard it with my own two ears), or that some have special messages from God because they practice contemplative prayer.

Thanks for your recent articles about the SBC. Please keep being bold on this issue. If the SBC falls into this false teaching, most Protestants in our country will no longer be practicing Biblical Christianity.

In Christ,

Concerned Christian