”Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading.” (Lamentations 2:14)

The CSM Of Spiritual Formation Breeds Deception

Following in this Apprising Ministries piece we’ll give you another look at where the kind of corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) right now slithering into your local churches under the guise of Spiritual Formation will eventually take everyone who partakes of these alleged “ancient practices” long enough. For our example here we take “radical” Emergent Evangelical Prophet Tony Campolo who we’re also told is “Progressive” [read: postliberal].

In doing so let’s take a look at a few things he says in an interview at Beliefnet. First of all, this is a website where:

Our mission is to help people like you find, and walk, a spiritual path that will bring comfort, hope, clarity, strength, and happiness.

Whether you’re exploring your own faith or other spiritual traditions, we provide you inspiring devotional tools, access to the best spiritual teachers and clergy in the world, thought-provoking commentary, and a supportive community… (Online source)

We at Beliefnet are acutely aware that for several millennia far greater minds, and holier souls, have struggled to help people meet their spiritual needs. Our mission is to try, with humility, to help you find and walk a spiritual path that provides comfort, inspiration, clarity, meaning, strength, and happiness. (Online source)

For the “Christian” who wishes to be accepted here the bold above translates into having to avoid anything controversial in their “inspiring devotional” message. And so you need to understand that what someone might then say will also have be so benign that the offense of the Cross is carefully edited out until nary a splinter of it is left to find. In this interview with Beliefnet Campolo will share some “insights” gleaned from his experience in the “Christian” transcendental meditation of Contemplative/Centering Prayer.

He begins by sharing some background about how he came to desire the practice of CSM:

during times of reflection I sensed that believing in Jesus and living out His teachings just wasn’t enough. There was a yearning for something more, and I found that I was increasingly spiritually gratified as I adopted older ways of praying—ways that have largely been ignored by those of us in the Protestant tradition.
(Online source)

Now mystics feel that worshiping God through His prescribed method of study in His inerrant and infallible Word—the Bible—as well as in conscious prayer just isn’t good enough so they instead turn to their own individual methods centered on the self. If you’d like a good scholarly Biblical look into this type of spiritual suicide I refer you to Contemporary Christian Divination: The False Claims and Practices of Christian Mystics by Bob DeWaay. Here I will briefly unpack Campolo’s statement, “I adopted older ways of praying” which are supposedly “ignored” by those of us who adhere to the historic orthodox Christian faith.

The CSM Of Spiritual Formation Always Attacks The Reformation

What Campolo is talking about will become a bit clearer for you as he tells us:

Counter-Reformation saints like Ignatius of Loyola have become important sources of help as I have begun to learn from them modes of contemplative prayer. I practice what is known as “centering prayer,” in which a sacred word is repeated as a way to be in God’s presence. (ibid)

The “older ways of praying” are drawn from romanticizing the ruminations of teachers in apostate Roman Catholicism, in this case Ignatius of Loyola, founder of a religious order within the Roman Catholic Church called the Jesuits. However, far from bring “ignored by” Bible-believing Christians, this spurious CSM was rightly rejected by the Protestant Reformers whom Jesus had raised up to return His Church to a proper spirituality.

And it is beyond question that Jesus Himself never practiced or taught CSM and neither did His Apostles. Nevertheless Campolo goes on to tell us more about his own CSM practice of Contemplative/Centering Prayer:

I’ve got to push everything out of mind save the name of Jesus. I say His name over and over again, for as long as fifteen minutes, until I find my soul suspended in what the ancient Celtic Christians called a “thin place” — a state where the boundary between heaven and earth, divine and human, dissolves. You could say that I use the name of Jesus as my koan. (ibid)

Again we have an appeal to other apostates which those in this postliberal Emergent rebellion against the Bible idealize and then just arbitrarily accept as Christians within their own current counter-Reformation. But how does Campolo know that his soul is “suspended” in some imaginary “thin place?” Answer: He doesn’t. Reality check: The Bible knows nothing of such a place; and, this “state” or “boundary” separating the “divine and human” actually harkens back to the classic idea within mysticism of some supposed “spark of the divine” within all mankind.

I have already covered this erroneous idea in Understanding the New Spirituality” God Indwells Mankind. Campolo then continues, “Once I’ve entered ‘the thin place’ with its profound stillness, I ‘wait patiently for the Lord’ (Psalm 40:1) to invade me. In quietude, I surrender to an invasion of the Holy Spirit.” Again, how can Campolo be so sure that what he subjectively “feels” invading him really is God the Holy Spirit? He will answer below with the typical response of the existential [i.e. feelings-oriented] religious pragmatist:

When I am asked how I know that such mystical infillings of the Holy Spirit aren’t the result of simple “feel good” techniques that sometimes mark the ecstasies of New Age practitioners, I have an answer. I explain that these experiences generate within me an intensive passion for telling others about Jesus. Along with that powerful evangelistic drive, His Spirit also creates within me a compassion for the poor and oppressed, and I am driven to respond to their pleas for help and justice. (Online source)

On the surface this sounds good to those who haven’t researched these issues surrounding mysticism. However, of vital concern is: What are we telling people about Jesus with this “intensive passion” that generates a “powerful evangelistic drive” which also creates such “compassion for the poor and the oppressed”? The fact is that everything Campolo has just said could have also come from e.g. someone in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). So in reality this doesn’t actually prove anything.

In closing, more and more in the Emerging Church and postevangelicalism are heading deeper into these neo-pagan “spiritual disciplines” supposedly rediscovered by Quaker mystic and Living Spiritual Teacher Richard Foster. And for all who persist, in a fulfillment of 2 Timothy 3:2 — men will be lovers of self, they will also inevitably receive a delusion causing them to follow the false and deceptive visions from their own minds (see—Jeremiah 14:14) in various attempts at uniting all of mankind in order to create some kind of a “Global Family” that they will think is of God.

At Its Core The CSM Of Spiritual Formation Attacks The Gospel

The lie begins with the “enlightenment” aka “transformation” expressed below by a true Golden Buddha of CSM, Thomas Merton, who would have us deny the doctrine of original sin. And instead Merton will attempt to get us to believe that there’s really a divine spark of God already present within unregenerate mankind:

Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed….I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other. But this cannot be seen, only believed and “understood” by a peculiar gift.

Again, that expression, le point vierge, (I cannot translate it) comes in here. At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak His name written is us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billion points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely….I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere. (Conjectures Of A Guilty Bystander, 158, bold added)

Roshi Richard Foster then shows us how this plays out within the so-called “traditions” of Christianity as he shares the following delusion from his own fertile imagination in Streams of Living Water:

Everything I have shared with you in this book grows out of a deep conviction that a great, new gathering of the people of God is occurring in our day. The streams of faith that I have been describing—Contemplative, Holiness, Charismatic, Social Justice, Evangelical, Incarnational—are flowing together into a mighty movement of the Spirit. They constitute, as best I can understand it, the contours and shape of this new gathering.

Right now we remain largely a scattered people. This has been the condition of the Church of Jesus Christ for a good many years. But a new thing is coming. God is gathering his people once again, creating of them an all-inclusive community of loving persons with Jesus Christ as the prime sustainer and most glorious inhabitant. This community is breaking forth in multiplied ways and varied forms… I see a people… I see a people…even though it feels as if I am peering through a glass darkly. (273)

It becomes quite obvious from the above that Foster is correct, he is peering in the dark. As is Tony Campolo whose CSM has now led him to be willing to include practicing members of the Christ-hating religion of Islam, who do not worship God, but rather offer sacrifices to demons (see—1 Corinthians 10:20) as his “brothers.” You may recall also that in Shane Claiborne and the Gospel of Goodness I previously brought out Campolo’s own delusion has now grown to the point where he speculates in his book Speaking My Mind that:

a theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam. Both religions have within their histories examples of ecstatic union with God, which seem at odds with their own spiritual traditions but have much in common with each other. I do not know what to make of the Muslim mystics, especially those who have come to be known as the Sufis. What do they experience in their mystical experience? Could they have encountered the same God we do in our Christian mysticism? (149,150, emphasis mine)

CSM Is The Bridge For The Coming Global Family

And do you still think there’s no spiritual danger in allowing this lunacy in the Lord’s Name to be considered evangelical Christianity? Then you’d better think again because such will be the legacy of all who persist in this practice of divination repackaged as the CSM of spurious Spiritual Formation currently crippling the advance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The reason being, as we enter this hazy world of quasi-universal spirituality we’re told that in “the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God.”

This “gospel” here is offering the false hope for mystics of any “spiritual path” that somehow they can find this place by going within and discovering their True Self. Campolo himself is coming to the conclusion—at least as far as Sufi mystics—that even though they deny Christ is Savior “mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam.” His subjective feeling tells him that this is because “both religions have within their histories examples of ecstatic union with God.” And if this is so, then according to Campolo—as well as other mystics—these Muslims practicing CSM might also be able to know “the same God we do in our Christian mysticism.” O, they will Tony; the god of this age. (see—2 Corinthians 4:4)

Then what about the Roman Catholic Church, which has placed its own anathema on God’s genuine Gospel of salvation by grace alone; through faith alone, in Christ alone and was thereby labeled apostate by the Protestant Reformers? Well, within The Cult of Richard Foster the delusion is that the Reformation is now reversed and the Church of Rome is once again to be considered Christian. So out goes the need to preach to the millions—of which I was once one—who believe its antibiblical non-gospel of baptismal regeneration through its sacramental system. But without hearing the real Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them then the sinners for whom Christ died will remain trapped within it and are thereby condemned to an eternity apart from God.

So maybe now you are starting to see just who it is that is actually behind the Spiritual Formation of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism slowly snaking its way throughout the seminaries of your mainstream evangelical denomination…