Apprising Ministries draws to your attention a story in The Leaf Chronicle of Clarksville, TN; yes, that Clarksville, concerning the way more and more who profess Christianity are currently becoming involved with the corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) at the heart of spurious Spiritual Formation snake-oil sold by Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster.

Given a veneer of scholasticism by Foster’s spiritual twin Dallas Willard, at its rotten ecumenical core is Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP) such as that practiced by one of most highly prized Golden Buddhas of CSM Trappist monk Thomas Merton. In this piece reporter Bonna Johnson begins by telling us:

Like many churchgoers in the Bible Belt, Kristy Robinson teaches Sunday school with her husband and helps prepare communion at their Episcopal church in Franklin, Tenn. She rounds out her church- and prayer-filled life with another spiritual practice that’s not quite as familiar: meditation. “I’ll see a difference in my day if I don’t,” says Robinson, who opens each day with 20 minutes of absolute silence. (Online source)

Notice above meditation is “20 minutes of absolute silence.” Correct; here God is humbling the “wise” who try and tell us that when these practitioners of CSM refer to silence they mean simply sitting without saying anything. One wonders if these evangelicals e.g. like Chuck Swindoll and David Jeremiah, who praise apostates (at best) such as universalist Henri Nouwen along with hermits and hermettes from the Eastern desert, really are that spiritually obtuse.

But Johnson is dead on target when she explains that “meditation has gone mainstream and been embraced by suburban moms and busy people.” For a couple of years now I’ve been researching for this CSM slide within alleged Protestantism back to practices that flowered in the antibiblical monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism and which have now slithered their way deep into evangelicalism from the den of CSM in the Emergent Church.

So I can tell you that it might even be a bit conservative when Johnson tells us about a “report released this year [that] showed an astonishingly high number of Protestants—nearly half—say they meditate at least once a week.” She then goes on to say:

Younger generations get an introduction in yoga classes, careerists escape on meditation retreats and boomers seek tranquility in meditation gardens. Meditation, it seems, is no longer associated as a counterculture activity made hip by The Beatles and favored by flower children.

Some approach meditation through Buddhism or other Eastern religions; more and more Christians meditate through the ancient ritual of centering prayer; while others develop their own style, whether it’s patterned after the breathing techniques of popular guru Deepak Chopra or not.

Most sit still, usually focusing on a mantra or on their breathing, but you can even clear your mind while walking around, tending a garden or through movement-based activities, such as tai chi. (Online source)

In Origin of Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP) it’s the same thing. The truth is this alleged “ancient ritual” of CCP was not part of orthodox Judaism at the time of Christ, it wasn’t practiced by Jesus, nor was it taught by His Apostles in the New Testament. But rather, as Emergent Chuch theologian Tony Jones explains in his book The Sacred Way, CCP actually:

grew out of the reflections and writings of the Desert Fathers. John Cassian (c.360-c.430) came from the West and made a pilgrimage to the desert to learn the ways of contemplative prayer… (70, emphasis mine)

In her story on “Christian” meditation, which is really TM sprayed with redefined terms from the Bible, Johnson quotes Dr. J. David Forbes who says:

“People are finding it hard to quiet the brain down.” Once they do, he says, meditation may lead not only to new insights but also to a healthier, happier life, he says. Studies show daily practice can reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure and even increase life expectancy in the elderly, he says. (Online source)

However, quieting “the brain down” for these “new insights” is precisely why the Christian should not be involved in this kind of altered state of consciousness. Space doesn’t permit more on this subject so I will refer you to Emerging Eastern-Style Meditation for Global Peace…and Worse… In her story favoring meditation Johnson does bring in a bit of a counter-point:

“The idea of emptying the mind is not biblically based,” says Don Whitney, associate professor of biblical spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. “There can be a danger.” Referring to meditation’s long association with Hinduism, Buddhism and other Eastern religions, Whitney says, “Some of the yoga stuff, where you’re given a mantra, that is rooted in false religions.”

He sees no problem with stretching, but once you start chanting, you’re treading on treacherous ground, he says. His beef is that some people are seeking tools to help them live and de-stress. “That’s very selfish,” he says. “Our lives should be lived to the glory of God.” (Online source)

As I bring out in The Terminology Trap of “Spiritual Formation” Whitney is author of the book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (SDfCL). Without knowing for sure whether he was quoted accurately I will only say that what I see above doesn’t exactly read like a “beef” to me. Again, what Whitney actually said may have been misconstrued, but with Jesus telling us to love God with all of our mind, we’d have to feel that there’s a very definite danger in disobeying our Creator by shutting down our critical reasoning skills in mind-numbing meditation.

And I do hope Donald Whitney was misquoted above when he said, “Some of the Yoga stuff” is “rooted in false religions.” No; all of it is. Yoga is an integral part of Hinduism, which being a religion espousing polytheism, I’m sure Whitney would agree that it’s false. He also apparently said that people using CSM as spiritual formation are seeking tools to help them live but this goal is “very selfish.” Interesting; the following comes from a review of Whitney’s book SDfCL by well-known Reformed blogger Tim Challies:

And so this book is an examination of spiritual disciplines – disciplines provided by God which are designed to help us grow in godliness, allowing us to become more and more conformed to the image of Christ. The disciplines Whitney writes about are:

* Bible intake
* Prayer
* Worship
* Evangelism
* Serving
* Stewardship
* Fasting
* Silence and solitude
* Journalling
* Learning

The book is prefaced with an examination of the reason for disciplining ourselves in the spiritual disciplines and Whitney teaches here that we are to do all things for God’s glory. Because God requires each of these disciplines of us, there is danger in neglecting any of them. (Online source, emphasis mine)

Well, as one who makes his living teaching “spiritual disciplines” as “tools” of a spiritual formation; “because God requires each of these disciplines of us” as Challies put it, I do have to admit that I did find Donald Whitney’s statement, “That’s very selfish” to be rather confusing. And in the end we see why this current evangelical fascination with the mysticism-lite of CSM is so very dangerous; it’s actually a repudiation of Sola Scriptura in favor of a spiritual Alice in Wonderland of fickle feelings:

for many Christians, meditation fits quite nicely into their religious life. They’re drawn to biblical Scriptures, such as in the Psalms, which says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” For them, meditation has brought deeper meaning to their lives. “I discovered my true self through meditation,” says Cassandra Finch, a former Nashville television reporter.

“Often because we are so busy, we don’t make time for self-discovery.” A Christian who attends an interdenominational church and considers herself nondenominational, Finch, 42, has also been attending a Buddhist center to meditate. (Online source)

In wrapping this up for now I’ll simply point out that 1) verse 10 of Psalm 46 — “Be still, and know that I am God” has nothing whatsoever to do with meditation as I previously pointed out in Does Psalm 46:10 Teach Contemplative/Centering Prayer? 2) the genuinely regenerated Christian then loathes their truly sinful self; take a peek if you dare in The Real Truth About Your “True Self”; and 3) the fetid fruit of those who practice this type of transcendental meditation long enough is deception, see for yourself in Thomas Merton and the Buddhas.

Finally Cassandra Finch, a “Christian” whose “self-discovery” has led her to follow the spiritually putrid path of Merton the mystic Monk to attend “a Buddhist center to meditate,” enlightens us:

“Going to church is where I’m being talked to. There is not a lot of silent time,” Finch says. “I feel the power and presence of God through my meditation.” (Online source)

Well, based upon her own testimony, I would have to say that God isn’t in her church. And, as far as what she feels, my advice would be to make sure that next time she keeps the potato salad refrigerated.