Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 3, 4, NASB)

It’s Past Time To Follow The Smell Of Horribly Rotten Fruit Leading To Eternal Death 

As the great spiritual pop philospher Bob Dylan once warbled, “The times, they are-a changin.” So here’s my semi-satirical service to fellow SBCers, with an able assist from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (SBC) and their very own snazzy Spiritual Formation Coach, Senior Consultant Dr. Wendy Minton Edwards, I present the following to help you get ready for coming ch-ch-ch-changes in “Protestant”  Slowly Becoming Catholic spirituality. You can also find more of the same in Georgia Baptist Convention (SBC) Now Promoting The Cult Of Richard Foster; and its hardly confined to the SBC.

Now, in the “Ministry Overview” at the Spiritual Formation page of the Office of Prayer at the BSCNC website we’re told we can:

Discover help with:

  • Spiritual Practices
  •  Spiritual Leadership
  • Spiritual Discernment
  • Spiritual Relationships
  • Spiritual Direction
  • Transformational Prayer
  • Congregational Spirituality
  • Spiritual Resource Discovery
  • Retreat Planning and Leadership
  • Spirituality Learning Communities (Online source)

Apprising Ministries has already brought to your attention, for example, in Baptist State Convention Of North Carolina (SBC) Points Us To Renovare International Conference that one of the resources offered for the spiritual growth of Southern Baptists by our Spiritual Formation Coach Dr. Edwards is something called SpiritLines:

Spiritual Formation desires to assist individuals, small groups, and congregations in their desire and efforts to invite and allow the Holy Spirit to work within themselves and their congregations. Our goal is to encourage and nurture the process of spiritual maturity. The following SpiritLines e-mails address several issues regarding Spiritual Formation. (Online source)

The latest version currently online is Spiritual Reading (SR); but there are others on say, Spiritual Rules, one on Christian Meditation, as well as Spiritual Retreat and Spiritual Retreat Part Two. As far as SR is concerned, under “The Writers Speak” we are given the following advice from Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster:

“When we come to the Bible with the mind only and not the heart, we separate the written word from the revealed Word – Jesus Christ.”
Life With God: Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation. Richard J. Foster. New York: HarperCollins Books, 2008, p. 72-73.

“We can read the books of Law for spiritual transformation by asking, ‘How can I live my life in a way that is faithful to God’s covenant relationship with me?’ For Christians, this does not mean that we follow Old Testament laws. It does mean that we learn God’s law of love in Christ and seek to live in faithfulness to it.”
Life With God: Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation. Richard J. Foster. New York: HarperCollins Books, 2008, p. 89.

“When we sit down to read, we can start with a few minutes of prayerful silence. We can still every motion that is not rooted in the desire to experience God’s presence in our reading, waiting until we sense that inwardly we are quiet, hushed, and expectant.”
Life With God: Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation. Richard J. Foster. New York: HarperCollins Books, 2008, p. 32. (Online source)

Since we are not advocating a wooden literalism and/or recommending a dead orthodoxy, what Foster outlines above addresses an extreme that we agree is erroneous. But here’s the thing though, Jesus tells us it’s a pretty good idea to be fruit inspectors; you know, test what people teach us — “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:15-16). So following are a few examples showing clearly where Roshi Foster’s reading the Bible for “spiritual transformation” has taken him, and, others.

First, we’ll let Foster tell us what enlightenment his version of spurious Spiritual Formation, which he espouses along with his spiritual twin SBC minister Dallas Willard, has garnered for him through these years. The following is from The With God Life: An Interview with Richard Foster at the Quaker website Friends United Meeting where Foster is promoting his The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible, which had just come out at the time. Foster informs us, “There is a great deal of Quaker thinking in this Bible”. In fact, Foster also confides that in his opinion:

“One of the great gifts Quakerism has is that its greatest treasures are focal and very foundational Quaker insights are found in the pages of this Bible.” Work began five years ago when Steve Hanselman, then Vice President and Publisher for Harper San Francisco approached Richard Foster and Renovare with the idea of working with them to publish a study Bible that looked at Scripture through the lens of spiritual formation. General Editors were selected: Gayle Beebe (Quaker), Foster (Quaker), Lynda Graybeal (Renovare staff & nondenominational), Tom Oden (United Methodist) and Dallas Willard (Southern Baptist with many travels among Friends).

“Dallas Willard understands Quaker thinking about as well as anybody,” Foster acknowledged. “I had him do a study once on George Fox and his insights just blew me away.” … The 15-section essays are heavy on inner transformation and conformity to God’s character which fits into Friends tradition. They lay out the progression of how God’s people have related to their God and the changing nature of the with-God life. “Their function,” stated Foster, “is to form us into God’s character by building a transforming relationship through the God-life.” (Online source)

It’s pretty obvious that Foster is quite high on this “Quaker thinking.” As a pastor friend of mine once exclaimed when I showed him the inroads Foster is making into mainstream evangelicalism with his Quaker mysticism, “Since when were Quakers evangelicals?” But as it concerns inspecting the fruit of all of this “inner transformation” talk now going on within the heart of *ahem* Protestant evangelicalism, a spirituality actually completely consistent with that of Counter Reformation (i.e. decidedly anti-Protestant) mystic Ignatius of Loyola, consider what Foster now tells us below:

“The Immanuel Principle is ultimately cosmic,” according to Foster. “We are to reign with God and be with God forever and forever. In the past God worked first directly, then indirectly with his people. Since Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection, God works both directly and indirectly. Quakers in the gathered silence experience God both directly and indirectly.”

I noticed that the focus on the with-God life circumnavigates inconsistencies found in Scripture and differing opinions about theology. By looking at how God revealed himself to people throughout Biblical history negates all those arguments. “You bypass it all,” stated Foster. “You put your focus on how God has been with a person and what does that say to me, now? What are their strengths and weaknesses and how does that apply to me? It’s all about developing charact — character that goes on into the future where we will reign with God and be with God eternally. (Online source, emphasis mine)

Ooh, “ultimately cosmic”; sounds very profound, eh. Translation: experiential; existential i.e. subjective. For more on the heretical Quakers I refer you to the articles below. Our concern here should be: According to Guru Foster the infallible and inerrant Bible has “inconsistencies”? Being charitable, this is a negation of Sola Scriptura; and is instead, much closer to a neo-orthodox position on Scripture; which, simply, is focused on what the individual “feels” God is saying to them personally rather than necessarily being concerned with what the ultimate Author meant to convey within the text of the Bible itself.

Here we can see at least two things 1) this deeply flawed way of approaching Holy Scripture is absolutely necessary for the practice of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism and its alleged inner transformation [read: existentialism] to work, and 2) now we know why it is that Emerging Church aka Emergent Church, now morphing into Emergence Christianity, mystics like Rob Bell have already been mounting their numerous attacks on Sola Scriptura. The interested reader can see an example of this in Rob Bell In A Nutshell: The Bible.

And likely here someone will cry, “But what has this got to do with the Emerging Church”? Well, a lot. Let me remind you that in The Emergent Mystique, the very same Christianity Astray Today article which would introduce many to Bell and the Emerging Church in the first place, leading Emergent/Emergence theologian and spiritual director Brian McLaren said something that slithered right on by most people. So let’s turn a rock over and see what comes scurrying into the light; the following is from Brian’s Annotation to “The Emergent Mystique” – CT article:

He [Brian McLaren] cites Dallas Willard and Richard Foster, with their emphasis on spiritual disciplines, as key mentors for the emerging church. None of these thinkers has any inclination to throw out the baby of truth with the bathwater of modernity.

I’m grateful to Andy for including the preceding, because many people doubt this. (Online source, emphasis his)

As I posed in the AM article Tony Campolo With “Mystical Encounters For Christians”, just what did you think they were “mentoring” these initial youth ministers and youth pastors comprising the early Emerging Church in? As the Emerging Church gained wider acceptance Foster/Willard’s mystical approach to Christian spirituality through their neo-pietistic “spiritual bondage disciplines” of an asceticism-lite for non-Roman Catholics immediately took root within scores of evangelical youth groups. And now, only some four+ years later this—very wrong and very dangerous—approach to Christian spirituality is virtually mainstream evangelical teaching on the subject.

So as you’ll see in Through Rob Bell “The Great Enlightened Ones” Tell Us Man Has Divine Greatness no one even so much as bats an eye anymore when master communicator Rob Bell, who interestingly enough becomes amazingly fuzzy when it comes to his actual soteriology, can stand in the pulpit of Mars Hill Bible Church where he is “teaching pastor” and teach the following foolishness:

It’s interesting how many traditions (pause) When you read the great enlightened ones; meditation, centering prayer, reflection—in every tradition you can find the mystics—and what’s always at the heart of the spiritual lives, the everyday lives of the great ones was always a period of time.

Whether it’s prayers, chanting, meditation, reflection, study—whatever you call it—what is it essentially; it’s taking time to breathe. Because when you’ve been breathing, (slight pause) in a proper sort of way, you’re far better equipped to handle what life throws your way. (I will say it again, and again, and again, 5:41-6:23)

This type of myopic myth-ticism on his part is exactly why I have asked Is Rob Bell Evangelical? Sadly, according to what we can see above from BSCNC (SBC); as well as by observing where mainstream evangelicalism itself has now drifted in its own rebellion against Sola Scriptura, the answer actually becomes: Yes, he is. But I said it before, and I will say it here again. If one doesn’t recognize above that Bell is praising “the mystics” for their supposedly superior spiritual understanding, which is but a reimagined version of Gnosticism, I personally believe it’s simply because they just do not wish to see.

And a classic symptom of the deception one receives when they continue on long enough practicing this unbiblical form of meditation, which is absolutely involves an altered state of consciousness, is a distorted view of the actual nature of unregenerate mankind. Look for yourself in Understanding the New Spirituality: God Indwells Mankind and you’ll see this is most often referred to as “a spark of the divine” or “a divine spark” that mystics, of whatever religion, come to believe is already within unregenerate man. For example George Fox, the mystic founder of Quakers, refered to it as “the inner light.”

Ready To Contend With People Believing That They Have Superior “Inner” Knowledge?

Which now brings us nicely back around to Quaker mystic Richard Foster, whose own Christian teachings are so nebulous that he can remain linked at the Living Spiritual Teachers Project of interspiritual Spirituality & Practice along with a host of New Age, Buddhist, Hindus, etc. mystics and such deceived false prophets as “Progessive Christian” Dr. Marcus BorgRichard Rohr, and Thomas Keating. In closing this for now, I’ll show you another fruit of this transcendental meditation-lite aka Contemplative/Centering Prayer practiced by Foster and Willard, and which has been a core doctrine of the Emerging Church since its inception circa 1997.

You need to understand here that the one practice, which all of these people mentioned above have in common, is a type of meditation they all call “prayer”. You’ll also see these mystics refer to this as going “into the silence,” or having “wordless prayer,” but all of them are referring to bypassing their conscious mind. And when one examines the fruit/teachings of these living spiritual teachers (at best) a high ecumenicism is revealed, which is diametrically opposed to what Protestant evangelicalism used to hold e.g. concerning apostate Roman Catholicism. Consider the following by Foster, which I previously shared in the AM post Confusion Concerning Calvinist Spirituality.

In his fine book A Time for Departing Ray Yungen, a leading Christian apologist against contemplative spirituality, discusses a vision Foster shares beginning on page 273 of his book Streams Of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith concerning a “deep conviction that…a great new thing is coming”, which :

Richard Foster emanates his hoped-for vision of an “all inclusive community” that he feels God is forming today. He sees this as “a great, new gathering of the people of God.” On the surface this might sound noble and sanctifying, but a deeper examination will expose elements that line up more with Alice Bailey’s vision [of the New Age] than with Jesus Christ’s. Foster prophesies:

I see a Catholic monk from the hills of Kentucky standing alongside a Baptist evangelist from the streets of Los Angeles and together offering up a sacrifice of praise. I see a people.

The only place in “the hills of Kentucky” where Catholic monks live is the Gethsemane Abbey, a Trappist monastery. This also, coincidentally, was the home base of Thomas Merton (130). 

But this particular poisoned stream of insight gleaned by Foster from his reading the Bible for inner transformation flows right against the doctrines of grace, and even classic Arminianism, for that matter. I shouldn’t have to remind you that this contemplative spirituality was originally promulgated by Roman Catholic mystic musers such as the aformentioned Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the spiritual Gestapo unit known as the Jesuits; messed up nun Teresa of Avila, and her dutiful disciple John of the Cross; all of whom were, to put it mildly, opposed to the Biblical doctrines of our Lord’s Reformers.

This is where we now also return to the camp of the extremely ecumenical Emerging Church, with their core doctrine of a reinterpreted version of this so-called “Christian” mysticism. I leave SBCers, along with other mainstream evangelicals, with a peek at your future unless this spiritual chicanery is completely exorcized post haste from your midst. From the Emergent Village website:

We are committed to honor and serve the church in all its forms[Eastern] Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, Anabaptist. We practice “deep ecclesiology” – rather than favoring some forms of the church and critiquing or rejecting others, we see that every form of the church has both weaknesses and strengths, both liabilities and potential. (Online source, emphasis mine)

In line with classic existentialism (a reimagined Gnosticism), we now have postmodern [read: revisionist] history where we are free to simply pick and choose whatever we like from any “form,” sometimes called tradition, of the “church” that we happen to like. From studying this movement for years I can tell you that all kinds of things have been dragged into it from virtually anything which was even remotely considered Christian in the past. And within this “deep ecclesiology” also comes accepting as Christian even the liberal theology espoused by Progressive Christianity, which is neither progressive, nor is is Christian.

And I hereby send warning that upon the horizon there’s a powerful spiritual bomb being readied to detonate within evangelicalism this coming October is Christianity 21, which is an Emerging Church gathering we touch upon further in Christianity 21: Emerging Voices Of A Pseudo-Christian Faith. There you will find out that “leader in the emergent church movement and a renowned expert on postmodern theology and the American church landscape” Tony Jones and his quasi-universalist pastor Doug Pagitt:

are hosting a learning party in the Twin Cities for people who love Christ, love Christianity, and are interested in the future… for Christianity21, we wanted to follow the excellent example of TED Talks and give some of the most provocative and innovative voices in the faith 21 minutes each to communicate their passion…We hope/plan to build a true community at this gathering…all of the Voices are women…(Online source)

J&P also tell us that such EC luminaries as Shane Claiborne and Peter Rollins, a friend of Rob Bell’s, will be “sitting behind the registration table, handing out nametags.” Among these voices who’ll be revealing “the way the Christianity will be changing in coming days” are Phyllis Tickle, fresh from preaching at Bell’s Mars Hill Bible Church, Seth Donovan, as well as ELCA “pastor” and former “professional f**k-up” Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber. Here with “queer inclusive” pastor/progressives like Bolz-Weber, who’ll speak on “Authority; Authenticity and A**holes,” now established within mainstream evangelicalism we bring out another egregious example of rotten fruit from Foster’s spurious spiritual formation of inner transformation.

As I explained in Mainstream Evangelicalism Now On The Rapid Slide To Apostasy “queer inclusive” generally means that one does not believe the unrepentant practice of sexual immorality with a member of the same sex, which is precisely what homosexuality is, should be considered sin. So for example, being recommended by Bolz-Weber, we have opened the closet door into the visible church for such “Christ-followers” as Adele Sakler and Rev. Megan Rohrer. In addition to being a budding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer (LGBTQ) activist Sakler—who is a practicing lesbian herself—also heads up an LGBTQ Emerging Church group called Queermergent; and is the co-leader of the Emergent Village Richmond Emergent Cohort.

And Rohrer, whom we met in Who Is This Woman And What Does She Do?, is the first openly transgender Lutheran pastor ordained in the United States. Such is the broad road onto which Foster’s fruit/teachings have lead many. Contemplate this the next time you’re doing your li’l Lectio Divina for inner transformation: Mainstream evangelicals are being/have been conditioned to reject any kind of argument based solely upon what Scripture says; so, as an illustration,  just what exactly are you going to say now that queer inclusive “pastor” Bolz-Weber—with a boost from her friend Doug Pagitt— has already started introducing LGBTQ “Christ-followers” into the mainstream of the visible church as fellow evangelicals?

Welcome to the nightmare…tragically…it’s only just beginning…

See also: