This is a follow up to the Apprising Ministries article Ravi Zacharias International Ministries Defend Universalist Henri Nouwen and Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism. Therein we remind you of an earlier AM piece Ravi Zacharias Answers “Can A Person Live A Sincere Christian Life As A Homosexual?”  where you can hear Protestant evangelical apologist Zacharias say, “One of the greatest saints of recent memory was Henri Nouwen.”

You can also read the letter from Ravi Zacharias’ RZIM sent along to us by an AM reader addressing concerns raised by a You Tube clip AM had posted as well as some things I talked about with Ingrid Schlueter on her Crosstalk Program. In addition one can also listen to that discussion in Evangelicals Embrace Mystics with Guest Pastor Ken Silva (Crosstalk America). Here we begin to walk you through the RZIM letter with its very serious fallacies as illustration for those willing to pay attention why uncritical acceptance of “Evangelical Untouchables” like Ravi Zacharias is a major reason why this apostasy is accelerating. For those who don’t know I happen to be one whom God, in His sovereignty and mercy, chose to regenerate and deliver from the religious bondage of apostate Roman Catholicism.

Now with most of my paternal family still lost within its man-made sacramental system of works-self righteousness, as you might expect, revisionist history concerning the Roman Catholic Church will immediately arrest my attention. As you’ll see in sections of the letter cited below RZIM quite literally heaps their praises upon apostate (at best) Roman Catholic priest Henri Nouwen (1932-1996) who, being that he was a Roman Catholic monk, not only rejected Sola Scriptura but the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ as well.  In addition Nouwen was also a very well-known teacher of corrupt Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP), which is truly nothing more than transcendental meditation lightly sprayed with Christian terminology.

Anyone familiar with my many writings on this corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) passed off as proper Protestant Spiritual Formation by Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster will also see Margaret Manning, “Speaking Team/Associate Writer” at RZIM, as author of the letter simply dismisses the results of my own personal study as false. In my earlier post I maintain that what we read in that letter from RZIM is a very sad case of their either being unwilling, or completely unable, to exercise spiritual discernment. And the political spin doctoring within it would even do Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren proud. 

However, the heart of the matter still remains in that the renegade Roman Catholic Church—with her allegedly infallible pope—teaches exactly the same dogma re. soteriology as she did when her Council of Trent anathematized the very Gospel of Jesus Christ itself. So in light of the relentless onslaught of this romanticizing of Rome we are left with a sobering choice: Either the Protestant Reformers were raised up by God to restore His Church to the purity of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture—which because it’s His Word i.e. the Law is the final authority—or men like Martin Luther were duplicious deceivers who actually dared marshall a rebellion against the true Church of Jesus Christ. And there isn’t any middle ground here because the Church of Rome continues to this very day to lay claim that it, namely the Roman Catholic Church alone, is the only real—true—Church of God.


First Question: Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?

Response: The Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change this doctrine, rather it developed, deepened and more fully explained it…

Second Question: What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?

Response: Christ “established here on earth” only one Church and instituted it as a “visible and spiritual community”, that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted. “This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic […]. This Church, constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him”…

Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense. (Online source, bold theirs)

Those are the facts and no matter how intelligent anyone thinks Ravi Zacharias is—including Zacharias himself—it will still never change, what is in Rome’s fertile imagination, irreformable and infallible Roman Catholic dogma. And it is with this critical background, in keeping with Proverbs 18:17 — The first to present his case seems right, that I’ll take you through pertinent parts of the letter from RZIM and set the facts straight. Now what you do with them is between you and God but I, for one, am not about to sit idly by while seducing spirits attempt to highjack Christ’s Church.

Please know upfront that I’m not attempting to be exhaustive here as I merely wish to focus attention where it needs to be in this squishy RZIM defense of Nouwen and spurious CSM, which orignated with desert hermits in the East later flowering in the antibiblical monastic traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. And so we’ll begin with a bit concerning Roman Catholic mystic monk Henri Nouwen. Here’s what RZIM stated:

RZIM: With regards to Henri Nouwen, as an apologetics ministry, we would urge you to read Nouwen for yourself and then make up your mind as to Christian commitment. I would recommend you begin with his excellent book, The Return of the Prodigal Son. With regard to Ravi quoting Nouwen or anyone else, you should know that it does not mean that we agree with every statement the author has ever written or spoken; rather, we believe that the book will, on the whole, be helpful to readers.

RZIM recommends we read the Roman Catholic Nouwen and then make up our minds “as to Christian commitment.” But the question that needs to be asked is: Why would supposedly Protestant evangelical RZIM even want to recommend for our Christian edification that we read writings from someone who denied Christ’s Gospel in the first place? Men and women, it’s well past time to finally understand that no matter what kind of warm and fuzzies people like Nouwen might give you we really aren’t going to find a whole lot of actual “Christian” commitment from people who are not even in Christ Jesus to begin with.

We’re also told that to quote someone “does not mean that we agree with every statement” or teaching by those quoted, which is already readily acknowledged anyway. But the real problem here is the fact that we’re being sent on a rabbit trail by RZIM because the reader isn’t even referring to a quote of Nouwen by Zacharias. They were actually expressing proper Christian concern over his saying: “One of the greatest saints of recent memory was Henri Nouwen.” I do hope RZIM is sharp enough to see this certainly goes well beyond simply citing Nouwen for some source quote:

RZIM: We would disagree with Nouwen’s seeming sympathy with universalistic theology, but the overall corpus of his writings have been instrumental for many Christians, including Philip Yancey who is a writer for Christianity Today magazine. Several of us on staff have been blessed by Henri Nouwen’s teachings. As far as I’m aware, his theology was orthodox and faithful to the teachings of Scripture (though of course there are points of disagreement since he was a Catholic priest and we are Protestants).

First, that Nouwen’s writings “have been instrumental for many Christians” is agumentum ad populum. As is the reference to “articles at Christianity Today supposedly demonstrating “why many Christians would call Henri Nouwen one of our greatest saints.” This all proves absolutely nothing in and of itself because we can just as easily appeal to as many—if not more—who do not think Nouwen was even a Christian, which one must first be in order to be, “One of the greatest saints of recent memory”. We also aren’t going to be impressed by RZIM’s appeal to Philip Yancey and his sappy sentimentality passing for Christianity nor in our view would his writing for Christianity Astray be of any help concerning RZIM’s case for Nouwen. 

But even so, what really needs to be stressed at this point is the statement from RZIM: “Nouwen’s seeming sympathy with universalistic theology”. I’m afraid the evidence is far more than appearance. The sad fact is that Nouwen’s own highly subjective personal “experience” in the deceptions of CCP would finally lead him to write the following. And notice Nouwen clearly states this is his own personal belief:

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)

That’s really not all that surprising from the standpoint of the quasi-universalism of Roman Catholic monks e.g. Thomas Keating involved with CSM but it’s truly sad that this outright denial of the Gospel of Jesus Christ would then be defended by obstensibly evangelical RZIM. We’re also told according to RZIM that the Roman Catholic Nouwen’s “theology was orthodox and faithful to the teachings of Scripture (though of course there are points of disagreement since he was a Catholic priest and we are Protestants).” Huh? A priest in the RCC was “orthodox and faithful to the teachings of Scripture”; since when? And I sure would hope that most of us realize this is really not an actual Protestant position at all.

Seriously; does RZIM really not know that these “points of disagreement” include the critical issues of the proper place of Holy Scripture in the Church and even the very Gospel of God itself? So are we to take it that now RZIM disagrees with the Lord’s Reformers and considers them to have been in error when by Scripture they judged the RCC to be apostate? The truth is with men like Nouwen, as well as others who are involved with Sola Scriptura-denying CSM, we prayerfully need to contemplate the following from God’s Word:

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

I’ve covered this elsewhere, so in closing this for now, I’ll just mention a couple of things for you to meditate upon until next time. Men and women, the isssues touching on Nouwen involve spiritual deceptions that are beyond man’s intellect, which is why no one should venture into the spiritual realm without the protection of God the Holy Spirit. But this is precisely what the unregenerate engaging in CSM are, in very fact, doing. Now notice above that we’re told in verse 9 we are to expect all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders.

One of the major doctrines of demons advanced by seducing spirits to the very gullible evangelical public is that if someone has a “nice” and/or “good” experience of a supernatural sort it’s automatically assumed to be of God. Wrong; very wrong. In verse 9 above we find good reason to be fearful. In this generation, you’d best be sure that you really do have a relationship with God through Christ because these miracles, signs and wonders will look exactly the same as the true miracles, signs and wonders done by the original Apostles.

As a matter of fact, the very same Greek words are also used by God in Hebrews 2:4 regarding the miracles, signs and wonders done of the Holy Spirit in the first century! And common sense will tell you that the closer to the original a counterfeit is the more effective it’s going to be. So just because something appears to work; or feels good, or seems so “loving,” it most certainly does not necessarily mean that it is of God. Or do you really think that the leaders of the Church of Rome in Luther’s time literally looked and acted like snarling wolves?

Now here’s the reason people like Henri Nouwen are/were deceived—verse 10 above — they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Now just stop in solitude for a moment and silently recall that in His High Priestly prayer Jesus said to the Father Thy Word is Truth (John 17:17). You see that; God’s Word—not some sacramental system; not some exquisite experience—is the Truth we saved Christians love. And this is precisely why you’ve seen me write so much about this current Emerging Church rebellion against Sola Scriptura. The genuine Christian worships God and reveres the Bible because it is the Word of the Lord he loves.

The eternal tragedy is that people like Nouwen perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. The fact is the way someone approaches God’s Word in the Bible really does speak volumes about their spiritual state. RZIM should be ashamed for encouraging Christians to waste their precious time on the mystic musings of Henri Nouwen with their whiny nonsense of human potential. Because in the end, Henri Nouwen’s allegiance was not to God but rather Roman Catholicism; which thereby was a rejection of Sola Scriptura. And unfortunately, in addition, Nouwen’s universalism itself ended as a tacit refusal to love the truth and so be saved.

And instead of reading their wishful musings the regenerated Christian will do well to ignore those holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. (2 Timothy 3:5, NASB) 

See also: