As I bring to your attention a short post by pastor Larry DeBruyn Apprising Ministries is pleased to remind you concerning  his fine oline apologetic and discernment work in the Lord Guarding His Flock Ministries. This particular piece appears as part of a longer article Reinventing Clergy over at Herescope, which was part of a series I highly recommend on the sinfully ecumenical neo-liberal cult of the Emerging Church aka Emergent Church that you’ll find more about in Herescope: The Emerging Church—Circa 1970.

Pastor DeBruyn’s insightful article deals with the plague of so-called “spiritual directors” that’s currently infecting the visible church through mainstream evanjellyfish’s lust for the Counter Reformation spirituality of apostate Roman Catholicism. He begins:

Regardless of what you might think of the operation of spiritual gifts—whether all of them, some of them, or none of them are operative today—we should be aware of the new spiritual gift on the block; the gift of “spiritual director.” … (Online source)

Now, I’ll tell you that the reason we are even having to talk about gurus and swamis…er, spiritual directors; nah, wannabe gurus and swamis is what they are, within the mainstream of the pretending to be Protestant evangelical community can be traced directly back to its now open embrace of the corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism perpetrated by Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster along with his friend and spiritual twin SBC minister Dallas Willard.

Many may not realize that Willard was once a member of the Quaker church Foster used to pastor…um, spiritually direct? And I can tell you that things have even gotten so bad that pastor Bob DeWaay felt he needed to write the article Donald Whitney and Spiritual Disciplines, which concerns the new Ph.D. in Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where Dr. Al Mohler is president. DeWaay concludes:

Southern Seminary has some great theologians whom I admire… But now the seminary is offering a Ph.D. in “Spirituality” under the guidance of Donald Whitney,and this is a tragic development. I hope I have demonstrated why Whitney’s theology is faulty and damaging to those who believe it… If the leadership of Southern Seminary cannot see what is wrong with Whitney’s theology and practice, then I can no longer recommend it (as I have in the past)…

Reformed theology exists to resist the processes that led Luther to despair as he tried every practice the church had to offer for achieving holiness. In his despair Luther found in the Scriptures the truth that salvation is from God as a gift of grace alone. He taught that the Holy Spirit comes to us through the Word, and he rebuked the “enthusiasts” (as did Calvin) who claimed some inner “word” that was directly infused by God…

By Lutheran and Reformed standards, Donald Whitney is an “enthusiast.” He has taken it upon himself to bind Christians to practices not taught in Scripture. He has promised that there is an internal word that we can learn and follow as the voice of God. He strongly implies that we begin by grace through faith and proceed by works. He offers processes that tell us “do more and try harder” and little hope that is external to us (i.e., the promise of God).

This is deficient theology by Reformed standards. I would not allow this to be taught in a Sunday School class in our church. Why is it a degree program offered in a prestigious seminary? (Online source)

This now brings us back around to the heart of the piece by pastor Larry DeBruyn; and he is dead-on-target when he says:

Spiritual director appears to mimic the role of an eastern religious guru who tries to affect the spirituality of others in either one-on-one or small groups settings… the central gifts for the church’s edification are those of “teacher” and “pastor-teacher.” … 
(Online source)

And pastor DeBruyn is absolutely correct when he teaches that:

The spiritual gift, as distributed by the sovereign Lord Jesus Christ, is that of “pastor-teacher,” not “spiritual director.” That is why [mystics like Alice] Fryling must state that “spiritual direction groups” are an “exciting new branch from an ancient tree . . . a practice that began in the early years of Christianity when people followed the desert mothers and fathers out to the wilderness to ask them how to know God.” The gift of “spiritual director” is not sourced in the Bible, period. (Online source)

As you can see for yourself in my earlier article The Terminology Trap Of “Spiritual Formation”, unquestionably one of the most revered Golden Buddhas of contemplative spirituality is the Roman Catholic monk Thomas Merton (1915-1968), whose devotion to the meditation in an altered state of consciousness known as Contemplative/Centering Prayer had him so wacked spiritually that by the time he was tragically electrocuted far more like the Buddha than the Christ.

If you want to make the time you can see his nauseating idolatry for yourself from his own diary in Thomas Merton And The Buddhas; but for our purposes here, I’ll let Merton explain to you where these so-called spiritual directors actually originated. Keep in mind, Merton would have forgotten more about this spurious spiritual formation than people like Richard Foster will ever know. In fact, Merton is a hero to the Quaker mystic, which I show you in Richard Foster And The Influence Of Thomas Merton

That aside Merton tells us that the:

original, primitive meaning of spiritual direction suggests a particular need connected with a special ascetic task, a peculiar vocation for which a professional formation is required. In other words, 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.[1]

You should now be able to see that the reason Christ did not give His Church the “gift” of spiritiual directors is because their “need” only came about because of those within the visible church decided to live lives in contradiction to what God told His Christians we must be doing — Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). And the Master Himself did not withdraw into some cave somewhere in order remain in isolation.

Sadly, what we’re seeing in the warped work of emerging wannabe gurus and swamis is a repudiation of Sola Scriptura in favor of a highly subjective, and newer, form of Gnosticism; and oddly enough, even though not so long ago he had words of praise for Richard Foster in Following Jesus: What’s Wrong and Right About the Imitation of Christ, Dr. Michael Horton does pull the sheet off Foster’s centered on the self neo-gnosticism in his article Gnostic Worship when he writes:

Essential to this Gnostic orientation is the immediacy of the divine-human relationship. At the time of the Reformation, Martin Luther contrasted “the theology of glory” (held by Roman Catholics and Anabaptists) with “the theology of the cross” (held by the apostles and the reformers). Every person, Luther said, is a mystic deep-down.

We all want to climb a ladder into God’s presence – whether it’s a ladder of experience and emotion, or a ladder of merit (If you do this, I’ll do that, steps to victory, etc.), or a ladder of speculation (I’m going to figure God out apart from his public self-disclosure in Scripture). Luther called this the human longing to see “the naked God.” (Online source)

In closing this, for now, all of this is setting the stage for much discussion to come; an example of which would be confusion[2] as to Dr. Horton’s own position concerning this spiritual formation espoused by Foster et al. You may recall in Michael Horton on Rick Warren, Modern Reformation, and Desiring God we had a repudiation of Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren, whom you can clearly see in Saddleback Church, Rick Warren, And Spiritual Disciplines is—at the very least—an advocate of contemplative spirituality:

His best-selling book, The Purpose-Driven Life, begins by announcing that it’s not about you, but about God, and then the rest of the book is about you.  There seems to be a contradiction between the God-centered theology that is professed and the basically human-centered orientation that dominates much of his message and methods…

Pastor Warren tailors his appeals to his audience.  To Calvinists, he stresses his support for the “solas” of the Reformation… Rick Warren endorses a host of books, from New Age authors to Emergent writers to conservative evangelicals.  So why not include Calvinists?…his confusion of the Christian’s calling to love of neighbor with the gospel is so dangerous. (Online source)

And yet, at the White Horse Inn blog in Video Posted: Horton at Saddleback, where he shares his excitement about being interviewed by Rick Warren, Dr. Horton would tell us:

I had a great time at the Lausanne “Global Conversation” held at Saddleback Church and hosted by its pastor, Rick Warren.  It was a privilege to be part of a distinguished panel of evangelical leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds. (Online source)

Politely, I find myself wondering why Dr. Horton would consider it a “privilege” to appear at the church of a man whose “confusion” concerning “the gospel is so dangerous”; and yet even in our tepid time, where it seems anything goes for the sake of unity, I still find the following comes to mind:

if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? (1 Corinthians 14:8)


[2] Thomas Merton, Spiritual Direction & Meditation [Collegeville: The Liturgical Press], 11, emphasis mine.
[3], accessed 8/18/10.

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