There are those who have been offended that I dared enter the Contemplative Temple and touch their “anointed” Buddha Thomas Merton. But here is another example of the reimagined Gnostic mysticism currently being taught to your pastor through Living Spiritual Teacher and “Christian” Roshi Richard Foster. Through his books the Guru of Contemplation has introduced Evelyn Underhill as an expert witness on the subject of alleged “Christian” mysticism. Therefore we have just as much right to read and interpret her materials as Foster himself does.

In fact here’s what Foster has said about Underhill in Renovare’s Devotional Classics:

Few women of the twentieth century have done more to further our understanding of the devotional life than Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941). Her scholarly research and writing have helped saints and skeptics alike in the study of religion and spirituality. Her highly praised book Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Man’s Spiritual Consciousness has gone through many editions and continues to be a foundational text for all students of spirituality. (94)

Heady praise indeed from Foster and In her book The Mystics of the Church Underhill is discussing instances in history where she sees a great “upward surge” of “a public which craves for the mystic’s message.” One such surge she says was during “the first Christian mystical period…recorded in the New Testament, and is dominated by the experiences of St. Paul and the Fourth Evangelist.” So Paul was a mystic and Underhill shows her affinity for liberal theology by using the term “the Fourth Evangelist” instead of John. Underhill then informs us that from this alleged first period of Christian mystics:

comes one of the two great streams of tradition which have nourished the secret life of the Church. We can trace in the early Greek Fathers–especially Clement of Alexandria (c.150-220) and his pupil Origen (c.183-253), the approximate contemporary of Plotinus–the beginnings of the second stream of tradition; that of Christian Neoplatonism (54,55, emphasis mine).

For those who wish to know more about Plotinus and neoplatonism I refer you to my article The Emergent‘ONE’. What should be of great concern here is that Richard Foster himself, as a Quaker mystic, is very acquainted with mystic Meister Eckhart’s work of an alleged “great underground river” of divinity inside of mankind. Undoubtedly Guru Foster is also well versed in the mystic musings of George Fox who started the Quakers. Fox also taught about this “great underground river” present within all men, although he called it the “Inner Light.”

As a matter of fact in his book Streams Of Living Water (SLW) Guru Foster discusses what we might call his generous ecumenicism as he enlightens us that various faith traditions allegedly flowing from Christ are coming together now in one mighty river of the Spirit. Further, Ray Yungen points out in his own work A Time for Departing that in SLW:

Richard Foster emanates his hoped-for vision of an “all inclusive community that he feels God is forming today. He sees this as “a great, new gathering of the people of God.”

On the surface this might sound noble and sanctifying, but a deeper examination will expose elements that line up more with Alice Bailey’s vision [of the New Age] than with Jesus Christ’s. Foster prophesies:

I see a Catholic monk from the hills of Kentucky standing alongside a Baptist evangelist from the streets of Los Angeles and together offering up a sacrifice of praise. I see a people.

The only place in “the hills of Kentucky” where Catholic monks live is the Gethsemane Abbey, a Trappist monastery. This also, coincidentally, was the home base of Thomas Merton (130).

And even Evelyn Underhill, Foster’s own expert authority on mysticism, also alludes to the same concept of a unified people, in her case all of mankind itself, through this false idea that God dwells within all humanity. I have previously pointed out that on page 31 of his own book Celebration of Discipline Foster quotes from Underhill’s book Practical Mysticism (PM). We now turn our own attention to my copy of Underhill’s PM. While describing “The Mystical Life,” with no mention whatsoever of any commitment to Christ, she says:

Do you proclaim by your existence the grandeur, the beauty, the intensity, the living wonder of that Eternal Reality [God] within which, at this moment, you stand? Do your hours of contemplation and of action harmonise? (sic)

If they did harmonise (sic)–if everybody’s did–then, by these individual adjustments the complete group-consciousness of humanity would be changed, brought back into conformity with the Transcendent; and the spiritual world would be actualizsed (sic) within the temporal order at last. Then, that world of false imagination, senseless conflicts, and sham values, into which our children are now born, would be annihilated.

The whole race, not merely a few of its noblest, most clear-sighted spirits, would be “in union with God”; and men, transfused by His light and heat, direct and willing agents of His Pure Activity, would achieve that completeness of life which the mystics dare to call “deification.” This is the substance of that redemption of the world, which all religions proclaim or demand: the consummation which is crudely imagined in the Apocalyptic dreams of the prophets and seers. It is the true incarnation of the Divine Wisdom:… (164,165, emphasis mine)

Spiritual Teaching From Apostates And Heretics

I’ve received quite a bit of consternation from “Christian” mystics who are upset that I have so brazenly dared to touch the anthropocentric theology of Thomas Merton, one of the prized Buddhas in Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism, but you will recognize the same themes in Underhill’s own mystic musings above. To better understand what she is teaching us here it is critical for you to understand Underhill herself was a liberal Anglican who allegedly “converted” to apostate Roman Catholicism.

As such it is clear in her writings that she rejected the historic orthodox Christian position of the verbal plenary inspiration of Holy Scripture. In Underhill’s theology there is no infallibility and inerrancy of Holy Scripture so her understanding of the Bible was actually quite allegorical. By the way this is not unlike Richard Foster’s own Quaker view of Scripture, so we should not find it surprising that he continually appeals to apostates and heretics in attempting to teach his unbiblical and antichrist views of spirituality.

What should shake us to our souls however is the absolutely inexcusable lack of discernment from our leaders within the Body of Christ! And worse, the few that may possibly see through this mystic “Cloud of Unknowing” continue in their timid silence while it spreads through our Lord’s Church as spiritual wildfire. In the first paragraph from Underhill we see emerging the idea of “the divine spark” from Gnostic mysticism that mankind is already indwelt by God. Next we move to a very direct reference that through Contemplative Prayer mankind can solve the world’s problems, and then into classic Gnosticism: “the spiritual world would be actualizsed (sic) within the temporal order at last.”

In line with Gnostics of the first century Underhill is telling us the material world is evil and must be overcome by the higher purely spiritual world. One would have to be blind spiritually not to see these things in the quote from Underhill’s book. And then finally we arrive at the reason The Ecumenical Church Of Deceit in postevangelicalism is busy seeking common ground through contemplative spirituality (transcendental meditation for the Christian) with other religions. First Underhill tells us that through this mysticism of Contemplative Prayer: “The whole race,…would be ‘in union with God’; and men,…would achieve that completeness of life which the mystics dare to call ‘deification.’ “

Next we see the foundation laid for the belief that all religions are sincerely seeking God in their own way because “the substance of that redemption of the world, which all religions proclaim or demand” is this goal of being “in union with God.” This “completeness of life,” or the enlightenment that all men already have God dwelling within them, is thought to be arrived at through this mystic meditation. This is exactly what Emergent prophet Tony Campolo means in his book Speaking My Mind when he asks concerning Sufi Muslims, “Could they have encountered the same God we do in our Christian mysticism?” (150)

And at last we see how this contemplative spirituality inevitably leads to denying Christ Himself. Mystic Underhill has explained the classic goal of contemplative mysticism is overcoming the material world and coming into “union with God.” She tells us in essence this is what “all religions proclaim” and that this is “the consummation which is crudely imagined… It [union with God] is the true incarnation of the Divine Wisdom.” Underhill has just denied the uniqueness of Christ Jesus of Nazareth– the God-Man–Who alone is the incarnation of “Divine Wisdom,” and is telling us instead that through Contemplative Prayer we can all realize “the completeness of life” and be one with God.

Men and women, this kind of New Light skubalon of Quantum Spirituality is already being taught in the new evangelicalism through false prophets like Leonard Sweet. And Guru Richard Foster will not far behind him because in Fox’s Quaker theology the Holy Spirit is not a Person but an “it.” We already know that as a longtime Friend Foster interprets the Bible in light of his mystic flights of fancy. The question of this late hour is: Why is this obvious Gnostic mysticism being allowed to be openly taught in evangelical seminaries and colleges?

Now if you still think this doesn’t have anything to do with you, literally as I type this I received an email from a man who writes me shocked that in his local SBC church just last night he heard the youth minister telling the young people about what “Richard Foster, a contemporary theologian says…” And if you were to just go ahead and ask your pastor if you can take a look at his bookshelf, there you’ll very likely see the enemy’s spiritual time bomb “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster an Encyclopedia of Theological Error.

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