Saddleback Church Pastors Using Rob Bell Teachings here at Apprising Ministries clearly showed that Emerging Church icon and teacher of corrupt Contemplative Sprituality/Mysticism (CSM) Rob Bell has penetrated deeply into the mainstream of the evangelical community. So far so that Bell’s weekly sermons are recommended, and his Nooma DVDs sold, by pastors of the highly influential Saddleback Church (SC) of Rick Warren, which is aligned with the Southern Baptist Convention

But you must understand that it’s really not all that surprising because we’ve already pointed out in Rick Warren and Saddleback Church: Prayer Is Not For The Novice one can purchase books e.g. by Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker “Roshi” Richard Foster, as well as titles by Roman Catholic universalist Henri Nouwen, right in the SC bookstore itself. Little wonder because these books are themselves featured in “The Spiritual Growth Center” online at the Saddleback Family (SF) website. In fact, Nouwen is even listed among books “that shaped” the life of Kay Warren (Online source) in addition to Nouwen’s Seeds of Hope being recommended in the “Spiritual Formation” section as well (Online source).

Well, below follows some of the false hope in the rancid seeds of universalism that Nouwen offered readers foolish enough to grab his non-existent lifeline made of contemplative myth. Nouwen said:

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)

Now, the last time I checked that message wasn’t compatible with the historic orthodox Christian faith. Why for that matter, it isn’t even in accord with the much vaunted Baptist, Faith & Message of the spiritually squishy SBC either. And in addition there’s also a “Must Read Books” section at SF. As expected from Warren’s Saddleback we first find his The Purpose Driven Life; but here we wish to bring to your attention that among these “must read” recommendations from SF we see what they call the “now-classic meditation on grace” Ragamuffin Gospel by teacher of Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP) mystic Brennan Manning (Online source).

For those who don’t know much about Brennan Manning Christian researcher Ray Yungen fills you in:

In The Signature of Jesus, Manning teaches how to suspend thought. He instructs his readers methodically:

[T]he first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer. [C]ontemplative spirituality tends to emphasize the need for a change in consciousness � we must come to see reality differently. Choose a single, sacred word – repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, and often. [E]nter into the great silence of God. Alone in that silence, the noise within will subside and the Voice of Love will be heard.

If one could draw a spiritual tree of both Manning’s and Foster’s mystical heritage it would look like this: from India, to Alexandria, to the Desert Fathers, to Thomas Merton, to them; and now, through them and others like them, to you. (Online source)

So far Saddleback is very SBC alright; Slowly Becoming Catholic. As I mentioned above the SF website even has “The Spiritual Growth Center” (SGC); If there was any doubt left that Saddleback Church, aligned with the largest allegedly “Protestant” denomination in the country, is seriously off the rails having fallen deeply into the spurious spirituality of the Counter Reformation of apostate Roman Catholicism then the following ought to drive away the murky mystic fog from your eyes. The second book we find in the SGC is by Richard Foster’s spiritual twin and SBC minister Dallas Willard, whom SF says is:

one of today’s most brilliant Christian thinkers and author of The Divine Conspiracy (Christianity Today’s 1999 Book of the Year), presents a way of living that enables ordinary men and women to enjoy the fruit of the Christian life. He reveals how the key to self-transformation resides in the practice of the spiritual disciplines, and how their practice affirms human life to the fullest. The Spirit of the Disciplines is for everyone who strives to be a disciple of Jesus in thought and action as well as intention. (Online source)

You can read more concerning Willard in the AM piece Delusions of Dallas Willard so here I will simply point you to an excellent review and refutation of Willard’s book of begging the question by Bob DeWaay who is dead on target when he says:

The spiritual disciplines that are supposedly necessary for spiritual formation are not defined in the Bible. If they were, there would be a clear description of them and concrete list. But since spiritual disciplines vary, and have been invented by spiritual pioneers in church history, no one can be sure which ones are valid. Willard says, [W]e need not try to come up with a complete list of disciplines. Nor should we assume that our particular list will be right for others.” The practices are gleaned from various sources and the individual has to decide which ones work the best…

Willard offers a discussion of each of these, citing people like Thomas Merton, Thomas a Kempis, Henri Nouwen, and other mystics. We are told that practices like solitude and silence are going to change us, even though the Bible does not prescribe them… Willard had admitted that there is no clear list of the disciplines and that each person might choose different practices through pragmatic means… Had he been willing to submit to the authority of Scripture, Willard could have refuted these practices based on Colossians 2:21-23. (Online source)

But of course wise advice never stops disobedient children bent of having their own way now, does it. Our SCG also recommends Celebration of Discipline (CoD) by Richard Foster. As I stated previously, in my estimation, CoD is the textbook for a growing Cult of Richard Foster within evangelicalism as it continues its repudiation of Sola Scripture in favor of highly subjective experience; i.e. a spiritual “buzz.” And the truth is Dr. Gary Gilley was dead on target when he said of Foster’s magnum opus:

Celebration of Discipline alone, not even referencing Foster’s other writings and teachings and ministries, is a virtual encyclopedia of theological error.  We would be hard pressed to find in one so-called evangelical volume such a composite of false teaching.  These include faulty views on the subjective leading of God (pp. 10, 16-17, 18, 50, 95, 98, 108-109, 128, 139-140, 149-150, 162, 167, 182); approval of New Age teachers (see Thomas Merton below); occultic use of imagination (pp. 25-26, 40-43, 163, 198); open theism (p. 35); misunderstanding of the will of God in prayer (p. 37); promotion of visions, revelations and charismatic gifts (pp. 108, 165, 168-169, 171, 193); endorsement of rosary and prayer wheel use (p. 64); misunderstanding of the Old Testament Law for today (pp. 82, 87); mystical journaling (p. 108); embracing pop-psychology (pp. 113-120); promoting Roman Catholic practices such as use of “spiritual directors,” confession and penance (pp. 146-150, 156, 185); and affirming of aberrant charismatic practices (pp. 158-174, 198). (Online source

Finally, there’s the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook (SDH) by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun who is:

currently copastor, with her husband, Doug, of Redeemer Community in Wellesley, Massachusetts. She was formerly pastor of spiritual formation at Christ Church in Oak Brook, Illinois. A trained spiritual director, she has taught courses at Wheaton College and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. (Online source

Interesting that SC promotes Calhoun who in violation of God’s Word is allegedly a pastor; but at the same time, fortunately for Rick Warren with the Idol of Autonomy in the SBC he and his church can actually do and recommend whatever they jolly well wish to. And right on the backcover Calhoun tells us this handbook of heresy features how to information on CCP and Lectio Divina. O yes, as I peruse my personal copy of SDH I’m informed I can learn to “open myself to God” through the Examen of Counter Reformation figure Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the spiritual Gestapo Unit aka the Jesuits.

I’m also told I will learn the ways I can “reliquish the false self” through mantric meditation ala John Main that originated in pagan Eastern religions:

Go into silence, placing yourself in the presence of God with the words “Here I am.” As distractions come to mind, let them go by imagining they are boats floating down a river. Let the current take the distractions away. Don’t follow the distractions. Gently return to God repeating “Here I am.” Let the current of God’s Spirit carry you. What is this like for you? (110)

Big surprise; one of the “Resources on Silence” Calhoun recommends is another book on CCP by Ruth Haley Barton. Actually the list of “Pastor” Calhoun’s acknowledgements is a veritable who’s who of spurious spirituality including Ignatius of Loyola, Willard, Foster, Phyllis Tickle, Richard Rohr, Teresa of Avila “and many more.” Calhoun then informs us that, “Their ideas, voices and examples have shaped my own words and experiences of the disciplines” (10). A sad roll call indeed.

And the evangelical drift right back into the spiritual bondage which brought about the Protestant Reformation to begin with continues its accelerating into apostasy.

See also: