No matter how clearly we demonstrate it there are still those who express surprise and disbelief concerning the level to which corrupt quasi-Eastern Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) rooted in the Counter Reformation of apostate Roman Catholicism has penetrated the apostatizing and largely non-protesting “Protestant” Southern Baptist Convention. Below is eyewitness testimony to that end from an AM Reader who originally contacted me concerning the Apprising Ministries post A Word About False Teaching and Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism.

Within that piece I mentioned a call I’d received from Paul Walker, one of the pastors on AM’s board of directors. Walker fills you in further in Labyrinth-Walking Now Welcome in the SBC but he’d just gotten off the phone with the editor of Missions Mosaic, a magazine printed by the Women’s Missionary Union of the SBC, expressing his rightful disgust that this SBC ministry is now recommending—among other aspects of CSM—Lectio Divina and walking a labyrinth.

This AM Reader wanted me to know that the Emerging Church they attended circa 2005, which is now defunct, was involved with CSM and further that at “a women’s conference sponsored by our local Southern Baptist association” the women had walked a “prayer labyrinth.” And as it turns out this Emergent Church actually had resulted from an unpleasant split at Paoli Baptist Church, Paoli, PA which is itself aligned with the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/New Jersey  of the SBC: 

My husband and I spent the first year of marriage visiting a number of churches. We had attended a non-denominational evangelical church throughout college, and decided it was no longer meeting our spiritual needs. After nine months of searching, we settled down at a Southern Baptist church simply because we felt we fit in there and the people seemed sincere. The church had just lost its pastor and had begun looking for another when we came. The congregation numbered around thirty, and there were no long-standing ministries outside of Sunday morning.

During our two years there, the congregation tried everything it could to keep itself going. We were renting out space in our large building to a couple of non-profits; still, we were suffering financially. We couldn’t afford to support a full-time pastor, so we went through several interim pastors who were just paid to preach on Sunday. Because of this, the congregation was led by the “worship pastor” (not a pastor at all – and very immature for his age) and the church secretary (a recent college graduate, also with no ministry training). The secretary, in particular, was very into the Emerging Church Movement (ECM). He read books by Donald Miller and Brian McLaren, among others. This resulted in the congregation being led to try new and different things to “show our faith” in God in order to try to prove to Him that we were faithful and that we wanted our congregation to grow.

This should have been a red flag for us. I have to admit, there were many times that I went along with things, yet felt deep down that something was not quite right. I could never put my finger on it, so I just brushed it off and kept quiet. One example in particular comes to mind. The older ladies in the church had all gone to a women’s conference sponsored by our local Southern Baptist association, and had walked a “prayer labyrinth.” They came back raving about how emotional and spiritual it was, so the decision was made to borrow it for our own congregation.

The labyrinth consisted of a giant white sheet with black lines drawn on it in a spiral. You would start on the outside, and work your way into the center. Along the way, there were different “stations.” Each participant wore a portable CD player, and listened to New-Age sounding music, while a soothing British female voice told you want to do at each station. At the center, there was a table with two chairs, a pitcher of grape juice, cups, and a loaf of bread. The voice on the CD never explained what to do here, but I believe the idea was to “have communion with God” – He was supposedly “sitting” in the chair, across from you, and you were supposed to serve yourself communion. This disturbed me. I just sat there, waiting for instruction from the voice on the CD, because I didn’t want to do something I wasn’t supposed to do and destroy my labyrinth experience. Finally, I drank some grape juice, but only because it was 100+ degrees in the room. I left there wondering what the whole point of that hour had been.

I have since learned that prayer labyrinths are popular in the ECM, because they can produce a mystical experience. The ECM places a large emphasis on such experiences, and many ECM authors even suggest that personal experience is more truthful than God’s Word. This is a dangerous and heretical position to take. I have been reminded through my recent studies of the ECM that as Christians, we are to be like the Bereans and examine all things in the light of Scripture (Acts 17:11). It is dangerous not to do so! I am grateful that God did not allow me to be misled by my “experience” but rather confused by it and led to the truth. For more information on the ECM, I have found the following website helpful: Lighthouse Trails Research.

While at the Emerging church my husband and I attended in PA, we were involved in a ministry called “The Underground.” The Underground was the brainchild of one of the brand new Christians in our congregation. He got the idea to start a Christian coffee house in the basement of our church to attract local youth. He wanted to reach out and share Christ’s love with the “fringe” kids, the ones who were looked down upon as trouble-makers. In reality, what this man created was an out-of-control nightclub. Each Friday and Saturday night, around a hundred teenagers would pack out the basement and dance to local non-Christian bands. Hoards of kids would smoke outside the doors. Some came drunk or high, and others came only to make out with their boyfriend or girlfriend. The bands were constantly breaking the rules by swearing and encouraging things to get out of hand, yet they were always invited back. Kids came wearing all black, wearing very little, or sporting offensive t-shirts.

The man in charge of The Underground would not allow us to leave Bibles out anywhere. He said he was afraid that someone would be offended or rip one up. We were encouraged to share the Gospel, but since we couldn’t hear ourselves speak over the loud music and we spent most of our time patrolling the place, virtually no witnessing occurred. I did meet one girl who confided in me that she had been molested, and we began to correspond through email. I shared the Gospel with her, but she quickly cut our conversations off after getting chastised by one of the staff members for making out at The Underground. Around the time we moved to our new area, the man in charge of The Underground was leading a discussion-based “Bible study” for some of the teens. This Bible study consisted of the kids asking him questions, and him answering to the best of his ability. The most disturbing part about this was he was a heavy drinker, lived with his girlfriend, and was outside smoking and swearing with the kids every night. He was never discipled after becoming a Christian. He should never have been leading a ministry of the church, and especially not a Bible study.

Unfortunately, this is the form many Emerging Church ministries take. Their goal is to draw people in and show them God’s love…but they neglect to do the most loving thing anyone could do, which is to share the Gospel! They are so afraid of offending anyone, that their focus becomes man-centered, rather than God-centered.

When my husband and I were making the decision to move, we prayed hard for a solid church where we could grow spiritually. We were really feeling the effects of a lack of discipleship and expository preaching. Our faith had been weakened by the churches we attended during and after college, the ministries we participated in, and the books we were reading (Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz, in particular). But God knew we were seriously seeking Him, and I believe that is why He led us to this new area and to the church where we are now. We would never have recognized how dangerously close we came to being sucked into the Emerging Church Movement and following false teachers as many of our friends have already begun to do. I have since learned that our former church in PA has disbanded. I am truly humbled to think that God chose to bring us out of all that and allowed us to understand the danger in it.