He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ (Luke 13:22-27, ESV)

Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism Is Simply Another Form Of Pietism

Apprising Ministries has been exposing the growing influence of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) right into the timid heart of the squishy evanjellyfish pretending to be Protestant community. I’ve told you that the main catalyst for this spiritual skubalon is the Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster along with his spiritual twin, Southern Baptist minister Dallas Willard; both of whom teach the same spurious spirituality, which they’ve been pawning off for years as so-called Spiritual Formation.

Though it’s metastasized throughout the church visible now through the spiritual cancer that is the neo-liberal cult of the sinfully ecumenical Emerging Church, don’t you kid yourselves; the CSM of Foster-Willard-ism has long been used undercover right within your mainstream evangelical seminaries since at least the early ’80’s. So, if you’re brave enough, and if he’s (and sadly, she’s) honest enough, go ask your own pastor if they ran into this themselves. And this is a major reason why we’re seeing such a convergence now of various factions and cults within church visible.

In recent posts like The Coalescing Of The Christian Right With Apostolic Dominionism and Richard Rohr And The Emerging Church As The Third Way I’m showing you how a basic dominionism is uniting what I’ve called The Ecumenical Church Of Deceit (ECoD) to such an extent I now felt it necessary today to republish Bob DeWaay’s fine article The Roots And Fruits Of The New Apostolic Reformation. And in Leonard Sweet, Frank Viola, And The Third Way we see yet another example as the Emergent Church meets the unbiblical “organic” House Church.

Therein I told you it could also be very likely that Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet are actually using a play on words concerning the title of their new book Jesus Manifesto (JM); as in Jesus Manifest-o. In The Other Side of Emergent: The New Apostolic Reformation the Research team at Herescope brought out:

Sweet and Viola’s book, Jesus Manifesto, is subtitled “Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ,” and it pushes the envelope on redefining Jesus, including “You can be a Jesus Manifest.”2 A quick glance at the lineup of key endorsers for this book includes a list of who’s who in Emergent, the Latter Rain cult, neoevangelicalism and the New Apostolic Reformation (Online source)

What’s this got to do with CSM you ask. Everything; this is the spiritual glue which holds them together in their various deceptions around a dominionist view that God’s Kingdom is soon to come and/or is here now. I first told you about Viola’s personal practice of CSM in Frank Viola Practices Corrupt Contemplative/Centering Prayer? where I quoted from an article Viola wrote called Slaughtering Sacred Cows: Part 3 “The Felt-Presence of God”. If you click on it you’ll see that its access is now blocked; as a matter of fact, someone (Frank Viola?) had blocked within hours of my even citing it.

Oddly enough though, it is still available elsewhere on the Internet. In any event, it’s beyond question that Frank Viola is a mystic who practices this spurious CSM. In The Felt-Presence piece Viola tells us about “the wisest Christian” he’s “ever met”; a “Frank Valdez,” who’s now one of his “closest friends.” Next Viola explains:

Frank began to share with me about the contemplative prayer tradition. He spoke about centering prayer, lectio divina, and other ancient spiritual practices that were unfamiliar to me at the time… Frank gave me a brief history of the Christian “mystics,” as they came to be known. These were Christians who sought experiential union with their God. They had a fervent love for the Lord that had landed them into hot water.

That love caused them to think and experiment “outside the box” of traditional religion. In their desperation to know the Lord intimately, some of them discovered ways of communing with God that went beyond petition-prayer, Bible-reading, and speaking in tongues. In short, I was intrigued by what Frank shared with me that day. I then launched into a quest to read the writings that were part of this tradition. More importantly, I began to implement some of their discoveries into my own devotional life. As the years passed, I met others who were on this same journey. They too had gleaned from the same writings that had helped me so much. (On file)

So there’s no question Viola’s referring to the mystics with the same spiritual skubalon of Counter Reformation spirituality as guru Richard Foster. In his Richard Foster—Celebration of Deception pastor Bob DeWaay gets to the heart of the matter concerning this antibiblical approach to Christian spirituality:

The irony about this particular CIC regarding Foster’s 1978 book is that in 1978 I myself was living in a Christian community committed to practicing much of what he promotes in Celebration of Discipline (even though we had not learned it from him directly). So I am not criticizing a practice about which I know nothing (or one in which I have no experience). I am criticizing a practice I foolishly allowed to deceive me for a significant portion of my early Christian life.

When it comes to being deceived by mysticism, I have had abundant involvement. The only way I escaped it was through discovering and adopting the Reformation principle of sola scriptura. In this article I will show that Foster’s “journey inward” is unbiblical and dangerous. I will show that most of the spiritual disciplines that he calls “means of grace” are no means of grace at all—but a means of putting oneself under spiritual deception. (Online source)

Very serious business; the point we make here is this: Does God set the boundaries around the way we approach Him in worship, i.e. what Reformation theology refers to as the means of grace, or do we as His creation get to set our own? And to clear up any possible confusion, I’m not addressing whether or not one is a cessationist or would consider themselves charismatic; my point is, the positive recommendation of these apostate Roman Catholic mystics as “Christians who sought experiential union with their God” is a repudiation by Frank Viola of the Reformation and specifically Sola Scriptura.

The truth is that the very core practice of this CSM is Contemplative/Centering Prayer, which is sometimes referred to as practicing “silence and solitude” or by the oxymoronic moniker “wordless prayer”; but it’s actually a type of meditation that’s virtually identical to that practiced in Eastern religions such as Zen Buddhism and the transcendental meditation of Hinduism. And yet this kind of spurious spiritual formation, so-called “Christian” mysticism, which really developed in the antibiblical monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism is now showing up in more and more evangelical churches.

What these seducing spirits of CSM have been bringing as they’ve been slithering throughout the mainstream of the church visible is a very serious blurring of important doctrinal lines going on today within largely pretending to be Protestant evanjellyfish; not to mention an ever increasing ecumenicism aggressively spearedheaded by the Emergent Church 2.0 with its reimagined i.e. new form of Progessive Christianity they call Emergence Christianity. Of these mystics Viola tells us “some of them discovered ways of communing with God that went beyond” the means of grace the Lord had instituted.

In other words, “their discoveries” from practicing CSM, which are now referred to commonly as “spiritual disciplines,” have been romanticized today into what’s really an asceticism-lite form of Pietism that results in a confusion of Law and Gospel. Dr. Gary Gilley is helpful here from Part 5 of his series Mysticism:

Pietism began as a reaction to the highly intellectualized orthodoxy that had become common in Lutheran and Reformed churches in the decades following the Reformation… Against the intellectualist and abstract understanding of God and of dogmatic truth, pietism set a practical, active piety (Praxis pietatis): good works, daily self-examination for progress in virtues according to objective criteria, daily study of the Bible and practical application of its moral teaching, intense emotionalism in prayer, a clear break with the “world” and worldly practices (dancing, the theatre, non-religious reading); and tendencies towards separatism, with the movement holding private meetings and distinguishing itself from the “official Church.”…

Although Pietists adhered to the inspiration of the Bible, they advocated individual feeling as being of primary importance. That may have been an adequate method for avoiding cold orthodoxy of “Protestant scholasticism,” it opened the door for the equally dangerous enemy of “subjective experientialism.”… The great-grandchildren of Pietism live on in modern evangelicalism… The negative affect of Pietism, in many circles, is the development of Christians desiring a heart-felt faith who, nevertheless, have become increasingly distanced from the Word…

Without adequate biblical teaching we will be like children “tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (v.14). The perfect spiritual victims for deceitful schemers are those with warm hearts and empty heads. The church is full of folks today who have “a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge” (Romans 10:2). They have a form of godliness but it is not biblically grounded.

They are seeking feelings and experiences but not doctrinal truth. They are content to attend churches that do not expound the Scriptures, just as long as they are emotionally moved by the music or drama. Such “piety” is changing every facet of Christian and church life… (Online source)

Dr. Gary Gilley is dead on target; in closing this, for now, I’ll give a quick example of how men like Frank Viola are drifting deeper into Law and Pietism—what we must do—and away from Grace and the Gospel—what Christ has already done. Today Viola tweeted:

 (Online source)

Now you know why I used the opening text I chose above; what these neo-Gnostics like Viola do is try and create a need for their brand of CSM, to get the special benefits/knowledge of doing what they teach. However, you can clearly see that he’s ripped this passage of God’s Word out of its context, and instead, he tries to make it say what it doesn’t say. That cannot happen to Christians because the passage isn’t addressed to Christians; the people described therein are unregenerate, i.e. not born again Christians. Look at what Jesus tells us God will say to the people Viola’s focused us upon:

But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’

Clearly Jesus is talking about unregenerate [I do not know you] people who are still in their sin [workers of evil]; they are not Christians i.e. His sheep at all. Therefore, the answer to Viola’s failed attempt to browbeat Christ’s sheep into his type of Pietistic spiritual bondage is a resounding, No! This is what Jesus says to you, dear Christian:

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep… My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:14-15; 27-30)

See also: