You have abandoned Your people, the house of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans. (Isaiah 2:6)

Something Looks Spiritually Rotten In The SBC

This is a follow up piece to the Apprising Ministries article Prayer Is News In The Southern Baptist Convention—But What Type Of Prayer? On a tip from my friend Jim Luppachino of Watcher’s Lamp I draw your attention to a story called “INDY: Fulfilling the Mission” in the Baptist Press. It tells us about:

An intensified focus on prayer will be another feature of the convention. In addition to the prayer room, signs will be posted around the convention center to help messengers make a “prayer journey” for the annual meeting. A virtual prayerwalk will be available at for people who can’t attend the convention. Information for those interested in volunteering to intercede for the annual meeting is available on that site as well. (Online source)

The terms “prayer journey” and “virtual prayerwalk” highlighted above sent a red flag up because it made me think of the current infatuation within evangelicalism for labyrinths so I went to the Crossover ’08 website. As we click on the “Prayer Link” we are then taken to a section with a blog format concerning the subject of prayer. Beside a nebulous “admin” I wasn’t able to ascertain who it is that wrote the posts themselves on this SBC website.

Please understand that I happen to be one who has studied the seriously spurious “spiritual disciplines” spewed out as so-called “spiritual formation” by Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster for years now. This puts me in a good position to tell you there is solid evidence of influence here of the neo-pagan Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism  (CSM) infecting evangelicalism which I have been exposing to the Body of Christ.

In fact, as we look at an article called “Learning to Pray” we read, “Jesus embodied love and lived with a deep connection to God. How might they experience the presence of God in their life?” (Online source) You need to know that “coming into the presence of God” is an oft-used phrase by so-called “Christian” mystics within this spiritually corrupt CSM.

So I decided to investigate further to see if there were any more indications of CSM, and sure enough in “Getting Your Prayer Life Started” we find the following probable allusions to the Contemplative/Centering Prayer of CSM:

• Begin your prayer times by slowing down and quieting down.
When we come to prayer agitated and stressed, it is especially difficult to hear God’s voice and to sense God’s presence. Spending a quiet minute or two focusing and breathing deeply can help quiet our minds and spirits and make two-way prayer more probable. Allow for some silence in your life. This silence doesn’t have to be long. It can be as short as 30 or 60 seconds to begin with and then gradually extend it to longer times as you get more comfortable with silence and waiting and listening for God.

… Slowly read a single verse or short passage two or three times. Pause for some silence in between each reading to allow God’s word to sink deeply into your heart and mind.

All of Scripture does not speak equally to us. Pick out those verses that mean the most to you. Put yourself in the Biblical story and ask God what God might be saying to you about yourself, your life, your priorities, your relationships, your time, your money management – you. (Online source, emphasis mine)

I will resist the temptation to wrestle with the snake here concerning the subjective neo-orthodox approach to Scripture we have just read above. There is also a quote from the neo-orthodox Dietrich Bonhoffer as well in a piece called “What Is Fasting?” which I’ll cover in a moment. For now I will simply point out that 1) God thinks all Scripture is important (see—2 Timothy 3:16), and 2) it is highly irresponsible to encourage anyone—let alone our youth—to arbitrarily choose from the Bible “those verses that mean the most to you.”

As finite and sinful people—whose hearts are corrupt (see—Jeremiah 17:9)—it is spiritual suicide to think that in our fickle human natures we know which parts of the Bible speak more than others. If we’re honest we’ll admit that we will most likely choose those verses which tell us what we want to hear and then ignore others requiring us to live sacrificially as aliens and pilgrims in hostile enemy held territory. And how can one be so certain that in “silence” what they are hearing is actually God’s voice?

By the way, for the uninitiated “silence” is often combined with “solitude” and this is how contemplative mystics refer to their so-called discipline of “Christian” meditation, which is really transcendental meditation lightly sprayed in Christian terms. In the same corrupt vein you’ll also hear references to “contemplation,” “cultivating the inward life,” and “centering down” as well.

The Pseudo-Christianity Of Neo-Orthodox Theology

In his book Celebration of Discipline Guru Foster tells us with words reminiscent of those we’ve just read on the Crossover website:

Christians throughout the centuries have spoken of a variety of ways of listening to God [in silence], of communing with the Creator of heaven and earth, of experiencing the eternal Lover of the world… Deitrich Bonhoeffer says, “just as you do not analyze the words of someone you love, but accept them as they are said to you, accept the Word of Scripture and ponder it in your heart, as Mary did. That is all. That is meditation.” (29)

The idea expressed above by Bonhoeffer of accepting Scripture subjectively as spoken to you is completely in line with the flawed view of the text of the Holy Scripture spread by neo-orthodox theologian Karl Barth. In neo-orthodoxy the Scripture only becomes the Word of God when the Holy Spirit illuminates it. We can sum up this wrong idea this way: “The Bible is a divine mailbox in which we receive letters from Heaven.” But no, it isn’t. The Bible itself—in full—is the letter, the message, from God.

In his book Reckless Faith Dr. John MacArthur hits the target dead on as he shows you why neo-orthodoxy is a perfect fit for CSM as well as why it’s a necessity for it to flourish:

Neo-orthodoxy is the term used to identify an existentialist variety of Christianity. Because it denies the essential objective basis of truth—the absolute truth and authority of Scripture—neo-orthodoxy must be understood as pseudo-Christianity… Neo-orthodoxy’s attitude toward Scripture is a microcosm of the entire existentialist philosophy: the Bible itself is not objectively the Word of God, but it becomes the Word of God when it speaks to me individually…

Thus while neo-orthodox theologians often sound as if they affirming traditonal beliefs,…they relegate all theology to the realm of subjective relativism… [Contemplative] Mysticism is perfectly suited for religious existentialism; indeed, it is the inevitable consequence. The mystic disdains rational understanding and seeks truth instead through the feelings, the imagination, personal visions, inner voices, private illumination, of other purely subjective means. (26,27)

You’ve also just read the heart of the belief system of the Emergent Church. In any event, from the posts I have just cited above on this prayer blog by the Southern Baptist Convention I recognized that whoever wrote them shows strong evidence of neo-orthodoxy as well as the influence of the sordid spiritual formation of CSM. Next, because I noticed even more language consistent with that of The Cult of Guru Richard Foster, I decided to look at that post called “What Is Fasting?” (WiF) which I mentioned before.

In WiF we read, “At its roots, fasting is a spiritual discipline… Fasting is a spiritual discipline between the individual who fasts and God!” (Online source) The use of the words “spiritual discipline” is unnecessary because e.g. one could just as easily that fasting is an offering we make to the Lord in gratitude. Then in words reminiscent of Emerging Church icon Rob Bell we’re told:

The basic Christian understanding of life is summed up in the answer of the lawyer who quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18) that we were created to live in a relationship with God and the whole of creation. (ibid.)

Relationship with God, yes; but with creation, no. On what basis can one have a “relationship” with something which is inanimate? This faulty idea of pantheism is not found in Scripture. It was imported from Eastern religions through the CSM that flowered in the antibiblical monastic traditions of apostate  and slithered into the postliberal cult of the Emergent Church which is busy spreading the spiritual cyanide of CSM.

Turning To An Apostate Ecumenical Interfaith Coordinator For “Wisdom”

Laboring along the Internet front of this Truth War for a few years now I sometimes feels as though I’ve seen it all, but I have to admit here that the following quote in WiF from “Father” Thomas Ryan did actually take me a bit by surprise:

If fasting is doing its work of liberating our focus from self-preoccupation, this will manifest itself in mercy and compassion toward those around us. We will be moved from within to give what we are receiving from God . . . Our lives will be marked by concrete caring responses for others. Fasting must deal with reality. It does not skirt issues. It is not an interior escape (Thomas Ryan, Fasting Rediscovered, New York, Paulist Press, 1981, p. 119). (ibid.)

This is the clearest evidence that the author of WiF is at best sympathetic to highly ecumenical CSM. Are we serious? On an SBC website, which is allegedly an evangelical “Protestant” denomination, we had to use a quote about fasting from a quasi-Hindu Roman Catholic priest!? I have already introduced people to Thomas Ryan before in my article Emergent Interfaith Compromise, but for those who don’t know:

Fr. Thomas Ryan,CSP,a catholic priest and certified Kripalu yoga teacher,coordinates ecumenical and inter-religious relations for the paulist community in the U.S. and Canada. His nine books include Reclaiming the Body in Christian Spirituality; The Sacred Art of Fasting; Four Steps to Spiritual Freedom; Prayer of Heart and Body; Meditation and Yoga as Christian Spiritual Practice; and Disciplines for Christian Living: Interfaith Perspectives.(Online source)

You should know that in the Roman Catholic Church “CSP” stands for the religious order “Congregation of St. Paul, Paulists.” The back cover another book Ryan wrote called Disciplines For Christian Living: Interfaith Perspectives informs us that he “is Coordinator/Ecumenical Officer of Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations for the Paulist Office of Ecumenism.” It’s beyond the scope of this article to cover Ryan further so in closing I’ll just show that he has a DVD based on another of his books called “Yoga Prayer”:

For centuries, yoga has been used to prepare the body for meditation and communion with the divine. Now, with Yoga Prayer, Thomas Ryan offers an embodied practice to renew and invigorate your connection to God…teaching you the postures employed in the yoga prayers,… (Online source)

And Ryan also:

spearheaded the founding of Unitas in Montreal, an ecumenical center for spirituality and Christian meditation co-sponsored by eight different denominations. He served as its director for five years prior to answering the call of his community in January of 2000 to set up and develop the Paulist Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations. (Online source)

And this apostate is the best we could do for a teaching on fasting? Well, it looks to me like whoever wrote this post on fasting either has an agenda to open to the door wider to CSM within the Southern Baptist Convention itself, or they have precious little discernment. It’s no wonder that someone like me, whom God so graciously saved and delivered from the religious bondage of the Roman Catholic Church into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, laments that my denomination is Slowly Becoming Catholic.