Concerning the 19th Annual National Conference on Preaching (NCP) Jim Luppachino of Watcher’s Lamp has written a timely piece called James Emery White’s Purpose Driven Mysticism. Now in this article Apprising Ministries examines the issue further and shows you beyond the shadow of a doubt that White is indeed promoting Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism.

I hate those who regard vain idols, But I trust in the LORD. (Psalm 31:6, NASB)

If It Reads Like Mysticism, And If It Uses Mystic Practices, It’s Mysticism

Senior Pastor at Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, James Emery White, was one of the speakers at the NCP. AM is glad that Luppachino took the time to bring out something which is very important as we watch seeker sensitive postevangelcialism continue turning its back on the Reformation to re-embrace apostate Roman Catholicism along with its Church Growth Movement counterpart, the postliberal cult of the Emergent Church.

Luppachino has quite correctly drawn attention to White, formerly president at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary—itself a financial supporter of Emergent Village—promoting a reintroduction into the Body of Christ of Roman Catholic so-called “Christian” mysticism, which is also known as “spiritual formation.” And this White is clearly doing in a column at Pastors.com—Ministry Toolbox—of Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren called Pastors need solitude, refreshment to prepare for ministry.

As one who has closely investigated the Mystic Monk Thomas Merton I can tell you that I was astonished to see White write:

In his catalog of wisdom from the desert fathers of the fourth century, Thomas Merton tells of a certain brother who went to Abbot Moses in Scete and asked him for a good word. The elder said to him, “Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.” The power of silence and solitude has been recognized throughout the history of spiritual formation. (Online source)

Is he serious; apparently so. It would seem that White thinks Merton had a “catalog of wisdom” which he gleaned from fellow apostate “desert fathers”. Without a doubt years of study, along with practicing Contemplative/Centering Prayer [i.e. transcendental meditation in Christian imagery], did give Thomas Merton much respect for, and wisdom in, pagan Eastern religions—most notably Zen Buddhism and Sufi Islam.

However, this Roman Catholic monk wouldn’t have known Jesus Christ if he had fallen over him, instead of having Christ fall on him (see—Luke 20:18). As I pointed out in Thomas Merton and the Buddhas, when this mystic fool’s life was terminated he had essentially become a Buddhist himself. And in the aforementioned piece by White he also tells us:

To gain this silence requires a companion discipline — solitude. Though often marked by physical isolation, the goal is not so much a place as it is a state of mind, one where there is — in the ancient Celtic sense — an “inner attentiveness to God” alone…

But silence, not to mention the solitude necessary to bring it to life, does not naturally present itself. These times and spaces must be created, beginning with a daily time with God. Often called devotions or quiet times, these daily withdrawals form the basis for the solitude on which a spiritually formed life is founded. From such times we should “gather a little devotional bouquet,” suggests Francis de Sales.

He was referring to how, when walking through a garden, it is not uncommon to gather into our hands four or five flowers to smell and keep for the rest of the day. “In the same way, when our soul has carefully considered by meditation a certain mystery we should select one, two, or three points that we liked best and that are most adapted to our improvement, think frequently about them, and smell them spiritually during the rest of the day.” (ibid., emphasis mine)

So-Called Christian Mysticism Has No Basis Whatsoever In Holy Scripture

Men and women, as I research the New Spirituality slithering into the American Christian Church I have had much opportunity to study the theology of these mystic meditators. And I can tell you with certainty that their use of “silence and solitude” is absolutely not about sitting in a quiet place reading Scripture and consciously praying to God. No, their use of silence and solitude—as evidenced by de Salle above—is referring to the pagan practice of transcendental meditation, which John Cassian (who advanced semi-pelagianism) culled from apostate desert monks and monkettes in the East and brought back into the Western Church.

You need to know that there is absolutely no historic record whatsoever of Jesus practicing the kind of mediation these mystics are talking about. You see these neo-Gnostic mystics actually got this type of transcendental meditation coated in Christianese from “interspiritual” dialogues they would have with those practicing pagan religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. Begin to sound a little familiar?

As correctly pointed out elsewhere in an excellent article called The New Mystic Youth: No Longer Just Pulp Fiction:

[Mike Yaconelli of Youth Specialties says,] “While biblical prayer is vocal, mental, rational, thoughtful, and reflective, contemplative prayer [of mystic meditation] is wordless, mysterious, filled with silence and a loss of feelings, mental images, and concepts, and even the ability to meditate”… [Yaconelli and other mystics] assure us that centering [contemplative mystic] prayer is “time tested” and “is a summary of various silent prayer practices that can be traced back to the very beginning of Christianity.”

But when Yaconelli footnotes this statement [in his book Contemplative Youth Ministry] he takes us back to the “Desert Fathers and Mothers”…not to the “very beginnings of Christianity.” There were, in fact, some mystics prior to the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation of [the 14th and 15th centuries], but they were few and mysticism was not a mainstream Christian practice.

And when we examine the “true beginnings of Christianity” as found in the New Testament nothing resembling [this contemplative mysticism] can be found… The modern mystical movement has no roots whatsoever in God’s Word. Rather, it is drawn from the corrupt doctrines and practices of medieval Roman Catholicism. (Gary Gilley, Brian Gilley, The Quarterly Journal of Personal Freedom Outreach, VOL. 27, NO. 4, p.9)

Turning To Apostate Roman Catholics Denying The Gospel Of Jesus Christ

Notice in James Emery White’s article for Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox he quotes from a Roman Catholic contemplative by the name of Francis de Sales. It’s little wonder because in an interview White was asked, “Who are some of the writers who have been most influential on your thinking?” He then tells us:

C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer. In terms of spiritual formation, Francis de Sales has been important to me in my spiritual life. G.K. Chesterton. (Online source, emphasis mine)

That’s right; you have just read a non-protesting Protestant evangelical tell you he has turned to “St.” Francis de Sales, an apostate, and very devout, Roman Catholic priest to help him in his spiritual life. For more on Francis de Sales I refer you to my article “Protestant” Pastor Rick Warren Continues Recommending the Roman Catholic Church.

Suffice to say he was made “Doctor of the [Roman Catholic] Church”:

Writers who received this title from the [Roman Catholic] Church, owing to their eminence in theology and holiness. They are extolled by the [Roman Catholic] Church not primarily as witnesses of her faith (as are the Fathers), but on account of their brilliant exposition and skilful defense of [Roman] Catholic doctrine. Unlike the titles of Doctor subtilis, Doctor resolutissimus, Doctor irrefragabilis, which enthusiastic scholars of the Middle Ages bestowed on renowned professors, this title is official. (Online source)

And de Sales is also revered in the Roman Catholic Church as “Francis de Sales, Gentle Christ of Geneva; the Gentleman Saint” (Online source). It is beyond question that de Sales, in fact, denied the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ whereby man is saved through God’s grace alone; by faith alone, in Christ alone. This is obvious by de Salle being given the official title “Doctor of the Church” and because his “simple, clear explanations of [Roman] Catholic doctrine, and his gentle way with everyone, brought many back to the Roman Church” (ibid, emphasis mine).

In closing, White is quite correct when he says this “power of silence and solitude has been recognized throughout the history of spiritual formation.” But what he isn’t telling you is where this so-called spiritual formation—advanced by Living Spiritual Teacher Richard Foster—also known as “spiritual direction” originally came from. As we have already mentioned it isn’t found in the ministry of Christ Jesus; nor is it anywhere in the teachings of His Apostles—aka the New Testament.

So at this point let’s bring in the “wisdom” of Thomas Merton and we’ll let him tell you where this counterfeit Christian contemplative mysticism actually originated. The following comes from Merton’s book Spiritual Direction & Meditation (SDM), which I discuss further in Do You Know Where Your Mystic Teaching Comes From: Thomas Merton. By the way, this is the man that Quaker Richard Foster told us earlier possessed “priceless wisdom for all Christians who long to go deeper in the spiritual life.”

I find it interesting that Foster’s words certainly do recall those of James Emery White himself in his comment above about the mystic Thomas Merton. Could it be that another spiritual influence upon White may have just become emergent? In SDM Merton will tell us how it is this spiritual direction/spiritual formation/contemplative spirituality/mysticism first developed.

Sharing his firsthand expert testimony on the subject the Mystic Monk explains that the:

original, primitive meaning of spiritual direction suggests a particular need connected with a special ascetic task, a peculiar vocation for which a professional formation is required. In other words, spiritual direction is a monastic concept. It is a practice which was unnecessary until men withdrew from the Christian community in order to live as solitaries in the desert.

For the ordinary member in the primitive Christian community there was no particular need of personal direction in the professional sense. The bishop, the living and visible representative of the apostle who had founded the local Church, spoke for Christ and the apostles, and, helped by the presbyters, took care of all the spiritual needs of his flock (11, emphasis mine).

So now let us circle up the evangelical wagons and follow the Emerging Church as they all hurry into the Ancient Future. For men like James Emery White and our Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren are reversing the Reformation and leading you right back into the religious bondage of the long apostate Church of Rome.

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