As pointed out previously in James Emery White Teaching Contemplative Mysticism here at Apprising Ministries a couple of anonymous commenters claiming to be students of White’s whined in the comments section at Watcher’s Lamp that he was mischaracterized and insisted White does not promote Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism.

Really; then they need to seriously consider what will follow from White’s book Serious Times (ST). For those who don’t know:

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina; President of Serious Times, a ministry which explores the intersection of faith and culture; and professor of theology and culture on the Charlotte campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. (Online source)

In his chapter “Deepening Our Souls,” which is already the language of classic so-called “Christian” mysticism, evangelical “Protestant” professor White discusses “Spiritual Direction”:

“Do you seriously wish to travel the road to devotion?” asked [Roman Catholic mystic] Frances de Sales. “If so, look for a good man to guide and lead you. This is the most important of all words of advice.” Many words have been used to describe life-on-life instruction: discipling, mentoring, coaching. The more time-honored description, and the one that points to the most compelling of the relational practices, is spiritual direction. (88,89)

We’ll come back to Francis de Sales, but first let’s fill you in a bit more about the supposed “time-honored” and “compelling” practice of “spiritual direction.” And we’ll let Thomas Merton, who White tells us possessed a “catalog of wisdom” (85), do the honors. After all, Merton was a Roman Catholic trappist monk who devoted his entire life to the practice of Gnostic neo-pagan contemplative mysticism.

The below comes from Merton’s small book called Spiritual Direction & Meditation where the Mystic Monk informs us:

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 from this from Merton we see White is actually mistaken when he implies that this monastic concept, which “was unnecessary until men withdrew from the Christian community,” should be confused with the Biblical concept of discipling. Yet in ST White still tries to pass off spiritual direction as being consistent with historic orthodox Christianity. White writes, “Such direction is found throughout the Bible—Moses to Joshua, Elijah to Elisha, Elizabeth to Mary, Paul to Timothy.” (89)

Indeed it is, but what White isn’t telling you is that none of these people above knew anything about contemplative mystic practices. But as he goes on White himself ends up admitting that the function of mystical spiritual director was indeed a monastic concept when he goes on to say:

and in the history of the early church, John Cassian (c. 350-435), influenced by the earliest Egyptian ascetics, put each of his novices under the care of an older monk. Benedict absorbed Cassian’s practice into his famed rule. By the end of the seventh century, spiritual direction was a deep and abiding practice of Western monasticism. With the emergence of the Dominican order of itinerant friars in 1216, spiritual direction left the monastery and entered the wider Christian world. Celtic Christians called such persons anamchairde (soul friends).

The term refers to an intimate spiritual friendship that involved both spiritual direction and mentorship in the context of trust and love. Eugene Peterson describes spiritual direction as taking place “when two people agree to give their full attention to what God is doing in one (or both) of their lives and seek to respond in faith.”
(ibid., italics his, bold mine)

White then explains more about his understanding of this extrabiblical spiritual direction as he also tells us about some of the “spiritual directors” he personally uses:

It can take years to find such men and women for your life, but they need not all be living. A vibrant source is the great cast of saints who have gone before us, the “cloud of witnesses” the author of Hebrews speaks of. While some see such “historical” direction as a decided disadvantage, particularly in relation to that aspect of direction that involves discerning where God is leading, I confess that some of my most significant spiritual directors died long before my adult life.

I have drunk deeply from the intellectual well of C.S. Lewis, been counseled on numerous occasions by Francis de Sales, allowed my innermost feelings to be probed and prodded by Henri Nouwen, and had the contours of my life shaped by St. Benedict. But there is little doubt that they supplement living directors who are journeying through life by my side. (89,90)

Space only allows a look at two of White’s deceased directors of corrupt contemplative mysticism. First, we introduce you to universalist Henri Nouwen (1932-1996) who has “probed and prodded” White’s “innermost feelings.” Nouwen was a Dutch Roman Catholic priest and mystic who personally practiced this corrupt contemplative spirituality while authoring many books on the subject.

In a very aptly titled book Henri Nouwen: A Spirituality of Imperfection, which allegedly brings out “the dynamic of Henri Nouwen’s spiritual formation and his lived spirituality” (1), Wil Hernandez uses the language of classic mysticism as he tells us of “Nouwen’s inward longing to find himself and enter into union with God.” (103) Below is where his Contemplative Meditation and “longing” led Nouwen as he would write:

Today I personally believe that Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her way to God. (Sabbatical Journey, 51)

And in closing, we now meet James Emery White’s “counselor” Francis de Sales, who was yet another apostate Roman Catholic priest and mystic who was known as the “Gentle Christ of Geneva; the Gentleman Saint.” We are further aware that De Sales, in fact, denied the Gospel of Jesus Christ whereby man is saved through God’s grace alone; by faith alone, in Christ alone because De Sales’ “simple, clear explanations of Catholic doctrine, and his gentle way with everyone, brought many back to the Roman Church” (Online source).

Then the Roman Catholic encyclopedia New Advent (NA) informs us that De Sales struggled with “a terrible and prolonged temptation to despair,” which was “caused by the discussions of the theologians of the day on the question of predestination.” However, NA then tells us that the Virgin Mary came to his rescue and De Sales:

was suddenly freed as he knelt before a miraculous image of Our Lady at St. Etienne-des-Grès, he made a vow of chastity and consecrated himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1588 he studied law at Padua, where the Jesuit Father Possevin was his spiritual director. He received his diploma of doctorate from the famous Pancirola in 1592… Claude de Granier, Bishop of Geneva, obtained for Francis, on his own initiative, the position of Provost of the Chapter of Geneva, a post in the patronage of the pope. It was the highest office in the diocese, M. de Boisy yielded and Francis received Holy Orders (1593).

From the time of the Reformation the seat of the Bishopric of Geneva had been fixed at Annecy. There with apostolic zeal, the new provost devoted himself to preaching, hearing confessions, and the other work of his ministry. In the following year (1594) he volunteered to evangelize Le Chablais, where the Genevans had imposed the Reformed Faith,… Risking his life, he journeyed through the entire district, preaching constantly; by dint of zeal, learning, kindness and holiness he at last obtained a hearing… He confuted the preachers sent by Geneva to oppose him; he converted the syndic and several prominent Calvinists. (Online source)

Men and women, all of this mystical mumbo jumbo you have read here has zero place in the life of the Christian; and in fact, this antibiblical corrupt contemplative spirituality is what is at the root of the current reversal of the Reformation in rapidly apostatizing evangelicalism. As a former Roman Catholic graciously delivered into the glorious liberty of the sons of God from the slavish spiritual bondage of apostate Roman Catholicism, I can tell you that this corrupt antibiblical mysticism is what would ultimately lead to the Reformation in the first place.

Don’t you be fooled by these contemplative fools.

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