We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. (Hebrews 5:11)

The Lord Spoke To Me…Well, I Think I’m Pretty Sure He Did 

Those familiar with Apprising Ministries will know that a major focus of this online discernment and apologetics ministry (ODAM) is corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM), and its main practice of Contemporary/Centering Prayer (CCP); a mind-numbing transcendental meditation in altered states of consciousness lightly sprayed with “Christian” terminology. Concerning our labors my friend and fellow Christian apologist Ingrid Schlueter of Slice of Laodicea often speaks of running into “interlocking concentric circles.”

By this she means that as we study a given false teaching we will inevitably find ourselves coming around to the same people. Such will be the case below as I was researching  Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster. While discussing “meditation” aka CCP in his Celebration of Discipline (CoD), which Dr. Gary Gilley has rightly called “an encyclopedia of theological error,” Foster wrongly states, “It boldly calls us to enter into the presence of the living God for ourselves” (24).

Since this piece isn’t about CCP itself I’ll just say 1) the Christian is indwelt by God Himself and as such 2) we are always in the “presence of the living God.” So Foster’s whole neo-Gnostic idea that we need to practice so-called “spiritual disciplines” of his type of asceticism-lite Spiritual Formation (SF) is already wrong. Yet the Guru of Contemplation continues with his undermining of Sola Scriptura, “To bring people to believe that they can hear God’s voice seems so difficult” (ibid.)

But he’s set up a straw man; none of us, who flatly reject this spurious SF, rooted as it is in the counterfeit spirituality of the Counter Reformation of apostate Roman Catholicism, deny people can “hear God’s voice.” However, we do teach that when the Lord speaks it must be in line with Holy Scripture e.g. Hebrews 1:1-2 and not by highly subjective personal impressions as Foster and his spiritual twin Dallas Willard would surmise. No, all experience must be tested by God’s revealed Word in the Bible and never the reverse, which is the case with those practicing CSM.

As further illustration of his falsities Foster then goes on in CoD to tell us:

Members of the Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C., have been experimenting in this area [supposedly hearing God in meditation] for some time. Their conclusion: “We think that we are twentieth and twenty-first-century people; nonetheless, we have hints that one can receive directions as clear as those given Ananias,… ‘Rise and go to the street called straight.’ ” Why not? If God is alive and active in the affairs of human beings, why can’t his voice be heard and obeyed today? (24)

Foster again is attacking a straw man because no one credible is denying “God is alive”; we also agree that He’s “active” in people’s lives, “His voice” can be “heard,” and it is to be “obeyed today.” The problem lies within the methodology of these mystics like Foster and what it is they are hearing; as the aforementioned Gilley writes in his very helpful book Is That You Lord?:

Of course, that leaves dangling the important question, ‘How does one know he is hearing the voice of the Lord in the first place?’ Is it not possible that the voice many believe they are ‘hearing’ is the voice of their own thoughts, imaginations, desires, or something more insidious? (26)

By the way, the quote within Foster’s meditation musings in CoD above is from Elizabeth O’Connor (1928-1998) who was a longtime member of the Church of the Saviour (CoS) in Washington, DC mentioned by Foster. Religion News & Ethics did a report on the 50th anniversary of CoS telling us “it’s become one of the most admired places of worship in the country” (Online source). The Washington Post (WP) has said of CoS “its basic philosophy” is a “commitment to serious, inward contemplation [CCP/meditation] as well as ambitious social justice work,” which should come as no real surprise considering Foster mentions CoS in his chapter on “meditation” (Online source). 

And the CoS focus on “ambitious social justice work” would also certainly explain why in his book Irresistible Revolution Shane Claiborne, an icon of highly ecumenical Emergence Christianity, lists Church of the Saviour Servant Leadership School among “the local revolutions and ordinary radicals who have inspired this book and with whom the money from the sales of this book is being shared” (360). Red Letter Christian (RLC) and Emergence Guru Brian McLaren has also done some writing for the CoS blog Inward/Outward e.g. Our Need of Recovery.

The WP piece then goes on point out:

“It’s the most missionally engaged congregation I’ve ever come into contact with,” said Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, a former member who is now general secretary of the Protestant denomination the Reformed Church in America. (Online source

AM already introduced you to Granberg-Michaelson, a practitioner of this spurious CSM, in Wesley Granberg-Michaelson Bringing Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) Into The “Protestant” Reformed Church In America. Next the WP article also mentions “in 1997” the  “Progressive evangelical leader Jim Wallis,” another familiar name and McLaren’s fellow RLC, had written that CoS  “ ‘ has had more influence around the country than any other church I know about’ ” (ibid.) 

Going On A Mystic “Inward Journey” Only Reveals The Same Old Delusions

Now at the website Inward/Outward, A Project of the Church of the Saviour, they answer the question, which we should now be asking: Who is The Church of the Saviour?:

The Church of the Saviour, an ecumenical Christian church envisioned by Gordon and Mary Cosby in the early 1940’s, was incorporated in 1947 in Washington, D.C., when they and seven others became its first members…

Interpreting the call to discipleship as the integration of two journeys in community—an inward journey to grow in love of God, self and others and an outward journey to help mend some part of creation—the church became the catalyst for numerous helping ministries… (Online source, bold theirs)

This alleged “inward journey” is also a reference to the practice of CSM and its TM-lite of CCP, which is precisely our concern here. CCP is often called “meditation” by those within CSM like “Christian Roshi” Richard Foster. For example, on staff at the spiritual blackhole known as the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation of Tilden Edwards we will find Ann Dean, who also happens to be one of the “instructors” in the year long Shalem program Praying with the Mystics.

We’re told Dean is:

Director of the Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups & Retreats Program, is a minister of the Church of the Saviour, in Washington, DC, and a member of the Dayspring Retreat Mission Group. She is a spiritual director and leader of retreats/conferences for deepening prayer and discernment of vision and call. She has a strong interest in creation spirituality and multi-faith groups and retreats. (Online source)

Same old deceptions: Practice the CSM “inward journey” of CCP long enough and one eventually becomes acquainted with and/or directly involved with “creation spirituality.” In fact, Dean is currently “a D.Min. candidate in Creation Spirituality at Wisdom University, [who] is concentrating on re-imagining faith communities” (Online source). Wow, a practitioner of CSM “re-imagining” church; yeah, there’s a real shock. Lord willing, another time we’ll return to look more closely at what this creation spirituality is all about.

For now in Emergent Church: Quantum Shift To Panentheism you’ll see Emerging Church theologian Leonard Sweet explain that creation spirituality, e.g. espoused by mystic Matthew Fox, is a panentheistic world-view where all of creation is itself actually a part of God Himself. In his book Quantum Spirituality Sweet imagines:

New Light embodiment means to be “in connection” and “information” with all of creation. New Light communities extend the sense of connectionalism to creation and see themselves as members of an ecological community encompassing the whole of creation. “This is my body” is not an anthropocentric metaphor. Theologian/feminist critic Sallie McFague has argued persuasively for seeing Earth, in a very real sense, as much as a part of the body of Christ as humans. (emphasis mine)

Sweet is re-doing his website so I am unable to link to his prior online e-book version. By now one may wonder, but what this has to do with Richard Foster and his re-interpreted version of meditation. Well everything; especially considering that this Quaker mystic—and since when were Quakers evangelical—is a major reason why this spurious CSM has infected pretenting to be Protestant evangelicalism in the first place. In his CoD Foster praises, for their “inward journey” i.e. practice of meditation, the very ecumenical church group where Anne Dean has long been a minister.

As such Dean then becomes yet another glaring example of the rotten Reformation-reversing fruit produced by this spurious CSM championed by Foster, of which Dean is a well-respected instructor. Foster is a huge part of the reason people like Dean even need to be discussed being she operates from within mainstream evanjellyfish. Now consider the following about Contemplative Guru Dean as we find out that she:

also serves on the staff of Shalem [Institute]’s Clergy Life and Leadership and Personal Spiritual Deepening Programs… [and has] worked for many years in inner-city ministries in Washington, DC: the Potter’s House; the Servant Leadership School; addictions recovery groups; and multi-faith prayer groups, retreats and worship services. In 1994, she founded the Church of the Servant Jesus, in the community of the Church of the Saviour, which she served as Pastor for ten years. (Online source)

As you can see “pastor” Dean has taught in the very CoS school Claiborne is helping to support; and earlier, we also saw that Dean is a member of the “Dayspring Retreat Mission Group” in Germantown, MD. Behind this Dayspring Silent Retreat Center is Dayspring Church, which is also a part of CoS:

The retreat center is now a mission of Dayspring Church, an ecumenical Church in the tradition of the Church of the Saviour located on the Dayspring property. We remain closely connected with all of the other scattered Church of the Saviour churches and are one of several vibrant ministries of Dayspring Church. (Online source)

Then the website Find the Divine: Directory of Spiritual Retreats, Religious Retreats and Conference Centers lets us know that currently Anne Dean is also one of the “Featured Retreat Leaders” at SeekaRetreat, a “web site [that] was founded and developed by” And here once again our circles lock back into Shalem Institute, which is one of their “Associates, Friends and Sponsors.” And another notable among these ecumenical retreat-leading “spiritual directors” trained at Tilden Edward’s Shalem Institute would be Ruth Haley Barton.

If the name sounds familiar it’s because Barton has been leading the Pastors Retreats for the Zondervan National Pastors Conference. The main point would be that Richard Foster is in grave error concerning his approach to proper Protestant spirituality; this then opened the door into apostatizing evangelicalism for the Deans and the Bartons, who like Foster are professing Christians who are also teaching a quasi-Buddhist form of meditation. So the question now becomes: Just how far onto the broad ecumenical road of religion do Foster et al have to be before evangelical leaders finally speak up?

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