MonkIt was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1, NASB)

Right Back To The Dark Ages

Following a trail that was initially cut by the online apologetics and discernment ministry Lighthouse Trails Research years before Apprising Ministries has been covering the rise in popularity within Protestant evangelicalism of practicing corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) ala Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster, with an assist from his spiritual twin Dallas Willard. It’s a rapidly spreading—and very dangerous—fad; and if left unchecked by spiritually timid evangelical leaders, CSM is going to be the cause of much division within the church visible.

My research shows that as far back as the early 80’s even conservative evangelical seminaries were using—in a positive way—Foster’s magnum opus Celebration of Discipline, which Dr. Gary Gilley rightly calls a virtual encyclopedia of theological error. However, Foster and Willard’s speculative so-called spiritual disciplines were really given a boost under the guise of spurious Spiritual Formation (SF) by the egregiously ecumenical Emerging Church aka Emergent Church—morphing into Emergence Christianity (EC)—which is a cult of postliberalism now firmly within mainstream evangelicalism.

In his article The Dangers of Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Disciplines, which is a scholarly refutation of Willard’s book The Spirit of the Disciplines, pastor Bob DeWaay of Twin City Fellowship is absolutely correct when he reminds us:

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 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’s approach is works oriented and man-centered; it was created by spiritual innovators who mostly did not find their practices in the Bible. (Online source)

There’s no way to refute what DeWaay has just said because it’s simply beyond question that practices of CSM can be traced to heretical hermits in the desert of Egypt and this antibiblical ascetism of so-called disciplines flowered in the monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism. CSM proponents likely bristle at my language; well good, maybe it’ll shake a few out of their comfortable contemplation, but even CSM advocates admit over and over in their many books etc. which I’ve read these past five years that their practice extends from “the desert fathers and mothers” circa third century.

Consider the following from Thomas Merton, the revered CSM Golden Buddha who had forgotten more about this stupid approach to Christian spirituality than Foster and Willard will ever know. And tragically Merton’s disgusting idolatry becomes evident in Thomas Merton And The Buddhas; the truth is, his devotion to the practice of CSM made Merton more like the Buddha than the Christ. In his book Spiritual Direction & Meditation, while explaining where the need for “spiritual directions” i.e. gurus like Foster would arise, the mystic monk Thomas Merton tells us:

spiritual direction is a monastic concept. It is a practice which was unnecessary until men withdrew from the Christian community in order to live as solitaries in the desert…

For the ordinary member in the primitive Christian community there was no particular need of personal direction in the professional sense. The bishop, the living and visible representative of the apostle who had founded the local Church, spoke for Christ and the apostles, and, helped by the presbyters, took care of all the spiritual needs of his flock. (11, emphasis mine)

You should now be able to see that these hermits were already in opposition to what Jesus told His Christians we must be doing — “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). So, if today’s perpetrators of this CSM/SF—a romanticized Romanism—within evangelicalism e.g. like the Elvis of the EC Rob Bell can make the case that Christ Jesus and His Apostles spent their lives living “as solitaries” in secluded caves somewhere out in a desert then we would have indeed rediscovered what some call “ancient/future” Christianity; but they can’t.

CSM Leads You Away From Proper Christian Spirituality As It Did The Church Of Rome

And as I previously pointed out e.g. in The Terminology Trap Of “Spiritual Formation” these practices of CSM cannot be made “safe” because they did not originate with Protestants; nor do we then get to redefine these centered-on-the-self musings of hermits and Roman Catholic monks and mystics. Here, in order to try and show you what’s at stake, I’ll use Lectio Divina (means “sacred reading”), which is becoming all the rage within Protestant circles. Though it has since ceased publication, take for example the fact of Focus On The Family And Brio Mag Encouraging Lectio Divina as they were giving away:

The Message//Remix: SOLO (NavPress)
Known as “an uncommon devotional,” this Bible devotional revolves around lectio divina, or “divine reading,” an ancient approach to exploring Scripture updated for today’s students.

Or consider what I first showed you in Disciplines To Deception In Southern Baptist Convention concerning a ten page source paper called Spiritual Disciplines: Pathway to Christian Maturity (SDPCM) from the Georgia Baptist Convention (SBC), which we can also find e.g. under Discipleship Resources of the State Board of Missions of the Alabama Baptist Convention (SBC) right here. Keep in mind now, we’re not talking individual churches; no, this is at least two state conventions of the SBC—allegedly the largest Protestant denomination in the United States—recommending SDPCM.

By the time we get halfway down page 3 that paper we’re going to learn Lectio Divina from the “insightful book, The Sacred Way,” by heretical “gay affirming” EC theologian Tony Jones. If you don’t know, Jones is “theologian in residence” at the church of his equally heretical quasi-universalist pastor Doug Pagitt, and both are leading voices in this Emerging/ent/ence pseudo-Christianity crippling the faith of your young. SDPCM tells us:

Bible Reading (Lectio Divina)
For many Christian leaders Bible reading and study has become the means preparing a teaching or preaching assignment. There is a dimension of sacred reading from Scripture known as lectio divina that is reading, not for assignment, but for life. Tony Jones in his insightful book, The Sacred Way, describes the Bible reading… (Online source)

Measuring Jones’ work by the proper yardstick of the Bible shows he is far from anything close to insightful; in fact, for one studying for a doctorate at uber-liberal Princeton Theological Seminary, his thinking process reveals itself to be remarkably shallow. Jones is simply regurgitating old debunked arguments from what the actually insightful cult expert Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989) labeled the original Cult of Liberal Theology. It comes as no surprise to those of us who’ve done our homework that CSM has contributed much to the current state of mortally wounded mainline Protestantism.

You need to understand that CSM is indeed making huge inroads into the mainstream of the evangelical camp; as you can see evidenced in Rick Warren Now Openly Promoting Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism. There you’ll see that Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren is bringing in CSM guru Peter Scazzero to his upcoming Radicalis conference at his Saddleback Church in February. This despite that in the Contemplative Spirituality section of Scazzero’s website under Pete’s Reading Picks there are books by Thomas Merton, Richard Foster, the apostate Brennan Manning, and Roman Catholic monks “Brother” Lawrence and Henri Nouwen.

And because “America’s pastor” Rick Warren is now placing his blessing upon Scazzero’s work in CSM it will be receiving a big boost within the mainstream of the evangelical community. I’ve pointed out before this is nothing new in Rick Warren And Saddleback Church: Prayer Is Not For The Novice. By looking at the December 2006 article Emerging worship: Moving beyond only preaching and singing by EC pastor Dan Kimball in his Ministry Toolbox at Pastors.com Warren has also been recommending Lectio Divina to evangelical pastors for some time as well:

There is a richness to be found in looking back in church history and implementing ancient forms of worship, in addition to more recent ways. When choosing to implement something like *Lectio Divina* (a contemplative praying of the Scriptures) into a worship gathering,… (Online source)

Another time I’ll talk further about Lectio Divina, which certainly does involve Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP)—meditation in an altered state of consciousness—the main vehicle of CSM aka “silence.” Now I’ll point you to the sermon review below by Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough, host of the Fighting for the Faith program which can be heard on the Pirate Christian Radio network at 6PM Eastern time. The sermon is entitled “Give Peace A Chance: Lectio Divina by Charlie Broxton “Pastor to Genesis” Twin Lakes Church in Aptos, CA.

But as Rosebrough points out as he begins his sermon review: “Here’s the problem; all of these things say that, if you do them, you will experience God—or hear God’s voice.” Rosebrough’s right when he tells us “this is Law,” and not Gospel; the truth is, these disciplines are simply asceticism-lite for Protestants and CSM is really right in line with error of pietism. And you’ll also hear about “The Monk’s Ladder”; in case you’re tempted to just pass it off as nothing, for more on this man-centered foolishness we turn to the article Benedict XVI Promotes Biblical Meditation where the pope himself enlightens us:

The systematization of “lectio divina” in four steps dates back to the 12th century, explained the Holy Father. Around 1150, Guido, a Carthusian monk, wrote a book entitled “The Monks’ Ladder,” where “he set out the theory of the four rungs: reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation [i.e. CCP],” according to the Pope. “This is the ladder by which the monks ascend from earth to heaven.” (Online source, emphasis mine)

Do yourself a favor; ditch the disciplines, and the Lord will be glad you did.

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