He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8)

Meditating Along With A Straw Man

Apprising Ministries has told you that under the guise of so-called Spiritual Formation, critical thinking skills-numbing corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM), such as that taught by Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster along with his spiritual twin and Southern Baptist minister Dallas Willard, has now slithered into mainstream evangelicalism.

In addition, I’ve pointed out before that this spurious CSM was a core doctrine of the sinfully ecumenical neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church, which means that evangelical churches have long been using your young as spiritual guinea pigs exposing them to their mystic musings. Unfortunately, it’s now produced a fad of supposed Protestants practicing this Counter Reformation spirituality of apostate Roman Catholic mystics, which is really a neo-Gnostism counter to the proper Biblical spirituality of sola Scriptura. Due to his own sinful ecumenicsm we’re not surprised that Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren is involved with pushing this CSM at his Saddleback Church, arguably the most influential church in the Southern Baptist Convention.

You can see for yourself in AM articles like Staff Of Saddleback Church Recommend Mystic Henri Nouwen, or Saddleback Church, Rick Warren, And Spiritual Disciplines, or Kay Warren, Henri Nouwen, And Contemplative Spirituality. This is the backdrop you need as I now bring you a follow up to Rick Warren, The Daniel Plan, And Dominionism concerning The Daniel Plan (TDP), which is the opening program in Saddleback’s Decade of Destiny. In that prior post I referred you to the video below of a message delivered by Rick Warren January 22-23 2011 at Saddleback; it’s callled The Most Important Part Of The Day, Part 4 in Warren’s series The Prayer That Changes You: A New You For A New Decade:

While giving his spin on “quiet time” before the Lord during one’s morning devotions Warren opines:

So, what do you do? First, I read the Bible for a little bit—don’t have to read a whole lot—just let God speak to me; and then I be quiet, and I think about what I read. That’s the second thing you do. Now there’s a word for this, being quiet and thinking about what I just read; it’s called mediation (makes an eerie sound).  Some people think, “Wow, that’s scary. Meditation, what in the world is that?” An’ you know, it’s really funny; this has actually become a controversial word. Some very, very confused believers have actaully been teaching—I’ve seen it on the Internet—that Christians should be afraid of meditation, and run from meditation. That’s nonsense!

Absolute nonsense! The Bible talks about meditation, and commands it. In fact, the word in all the translations of the Bible is used 74 times. The word meditation is used 20 times in the King James Version, it’s used, I think, ah, 30—ah, 23 times in the New American Standard—a total of 74 times. The Bible says, in Joshua 1:8, if you want to be successful you must meditate on the Word of God. The problem is, is that some people think if you say the word meditation (placing his left hand on the podium) it means this. But when the Bible teaches it means this (placing his right hand on the podium). And words can mean different things; they don’t all mean the same thing. (31:43-33:08)

Now ask yourself, do you really know anyone who actually thinks that all words only have one meaning and always mean the same thing? I’m not going to spend a great deal of time on this because what Rick Warren has just done here is to erect a straw man to puff himself up while he then knocks it down. As one of those “very, very confused believers” Warren has read on the Internet I can tell you that no one who’s credible has ever been critical of Biblical meditation ala the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura. Then after pushing his straw man down by giving us a rather lengthy exposition of the word pin Warren says:

So, when I say meditation, some people think you’re talking about some New Age wacko-ism. You know, like when the Bible says meditate, it’s not talking about zone out in some psychic New Age trance (makes an eerie sound again); you know, you know. Or you know, let your—put your mind in neutral and contemplate the lent in your navel—Ummm. No, no, no, that’s not it at all. The Bible says meditation is focused attention on the Word of God. That’s actually the more accurate meaning of the term.

If you look up the word meditation, in any dictionary, it will tell you the synonym for the word meditation is the word rumination. (35:25-36:15)

Warren then adequately illustrates rumination, which means “to go over in the mind repeatedly,” and “to chew repeatedly for an extended period,” by explaining how cows get everything that they can possible get from the grass they eat through chewing of their cud. He continues:

And that process is called rumination, and that is the synonym of meditation. Rumination is to digest something so completely that you strain every ounce of nutrition, and value, and vitaliity, out of it. And meditation is thought digestion. It means to think about something so focused—repeatedly—over and over and over and over that you get every ounce of nutrition out of it.

And you read a verse in the Bible; and you think about it, and you think about it, and you think about it. And you just kind of mull it over and over in your mind; ruminating it—the Bible calls it pondering. Mary pondered these things in her heart. She heard it, she listened to it, she thought about it, over and over. (37:14-38:05)

I don’t see any need to quibble there; Warren next compares worrying to meditation:

If you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate. Ok. You’re already—if you know how to worry, you already—I don’t have to teach you how to meditate, if you know how to worry. If you take a negative idea and you think about it over and over and over and over, and you ruminate on it in your mind—and have you noticed when you think about it, it gets bigger; the worry gets bigger and bigger, the more you think about it. Ok, if you can think about it—you take a negative thought—and you think about it over and over, that’s called worry.

If you take verse of Scripture, and you think about it over and over and over again—truth—that’s called meditation. Ok. So, what do you think is going to do you more good this next year; worry or meditation? There’s no doubt; meditating on the truth. It doesn’t mean, “Om”; it doesn’t mean go into a trance, it doesn’t mean hypnosis. It means thinking about the truth of God; in a relaxed, but serious way. That’s all it means. There’s nothing spooky about it, nothing mystical about it.

And that’s the second part [of quiet time]; I read God’s Word, I be quiet before God, and I just think—I focus on: “God, is there anything you want to say to me about what—You—I just read? And then, I just sit there, and I think, “Hmm.” Ok. (38:16-39:40)

Rick Warren goes on to give a problematic view of prayer that’s right in line with the subjectivism he’s just introduced, “what does this passage of Scripture mean to me“; this is actually quite consistent with what’s taught by Roman Catholic mystics. Since the subject here is meditation, I’m only going to say that the Bible has an Author speaking through the words of His human writers; so the correct question to be meditating upon is: God, what have You said to us in this passage of Scripture? This is what is meant by — no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation (2 Peter 1:20). It’s even right there in a footnote for this verse in Warren’s recommended New Living Translation: a. 2 Peter 1:20 Or is a matter of one’s own interpretation.

As it concerns the subject of meditation, no one is arguing that Biblical meditation doesn’t involve pondering and rumination; what we are saying is that this contemplation needs to be done conciously upon God’s Word. However, I believe Rick Warren is playing a shell game with terminology above because in the CSM ala Foster-Willardism I mentioned at the top of this article, the crowning jewel is a form of meditation in an altered state of consciousness known as Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP). I’m even going to go so far as to say Rick Warren is being a bit disingenuous because I showed you in Saddleback Church, Rick Warren, And Spiritual Disciplines that at the Spiritual Disciplines page of its The Spiritual Growth Center at Saddleback we find a prominent recommendation of Richard Foster’s magum opus Celebration Of Discipline (CoD).[1]

In addition I’ve shown you in Rick Warren Wants Us To Learn From Henri Nouwen that Warren himself is definitely familiar with the work of this late apostate Roman Catholic mystic, and it’s beyond question the main shtick of Henri Nouwen was teaching so-called “silence and solitude,” the meditation of CCP. Not only this but Dr. Daniel Amen, who claims to “have a deep abiding belief in God and my faith has been an integral part of my life,”[2] recommends meditation in an altered state of consciousness himself; and as you’ll see, Rick Warren is aware of this fact. Because such things like this involving Saddleback on You Tube have a nasty habit of suddenly vanishing, even though ths one was actually posted by AmenClinic, you can also find the exact same video on Saddleback’s TDP website as Pastor Rick Interviews Dr. Daniel Amen.

Dr. Daniel Amen Isn’t Teaching Biblical Meditation, So Is It New Age Psychic Wacko-ism?

Rick Warren begins by telling us that Amen is “the leading expert on brain health in the world,” and “many of us have all read his books.” As you’ll see, Warren tells Amen “the first book I ever read by you was Healing ADD“; Rick Warren is more than a little familiar with what Amen teaches, so he would know what Amen means when he discusses meditation. No doubt Warren should know that in this book Amen teaches meditation keeps the brain healthy:

As the interview continues on the subject of ADD, Warren says to Amen, “you talk to me, cuz I am your patient, and you be frank with me about these things.” He then discusses “mental stress,” certainly an important subject, with Amen. Warren asks Amen to explain why we’re seeing such an “increase” of this kind of stress; and during Amen’s response he will tells that his work involves “brain imaging.” Then while Amen is suggesting cures of ADD, and a “stress management program,” we hear the following:

Amen: So, being on a regular stress management practice—which could be regular prayer-

Warren: Uh-huh.

Amen: Ah, could be doing simple forms of meditation.

Warren: Meditation.

Amen: And meditation fooled us; because I thought when we scanned people who meditated, “Oh, everything’s calming down very nicely.” Absolutely not what happens.

Warren: Huh.

Amen: What happens is the front part of your brain, which is the most human, thoughtful, part of your brain—it’s the parent in your head-

Warren (smiling): Right. Yeah, yeah.

Amen: It’s like the boss in your head, the pastor in your head—um, activates; when you meditate. Strongly. In fact, after eight weeks, your resting brain is stronger.

Warren: Hmm.

Amen: And it’s very simple, I mean there’s a meditation exercise from Harvard-

Warren: Um-hmm.

Amen: It’s not religious at all.

Warren: Yeah.

Amen: It’s called “the relaxation response.”

Warren: Yeah, that’s a—yeah..

Amen: Take a big breath—(Warren nodding)—right; blow it out.

Warren: Yeah.

Amen: Every time you breathe out, say the word “one.”

Warren: Yeah.

Amen: Do it for ten minutes (Warren nodding in agreement)

Warren: Yeah.

Amen: You got all these thoughts coming in your head-

Warren: Yeah.

Amen: Imagine a big broom, sweep ’em away.

Warren: Yeah.

Amen: And if you can just take some time, and pray; or meditate.

Warren: Um-hmm.

Amen: It decreases stress; your brain is better, make better decisions. I mean, that’s the thing that’s horrifying me; is people are makin’ bad decisions. (02:36-03:45)

Well Dr. Amen, I say the Christian should be horrified at something much worse than people simply making bad decisions; we should grieve that apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ people are doomed to rebellion against God and an eternity of conscious torment in a literal place Jesus Himself called Hell. However, Amen goes on to refer to Rick Warren as “a national treasure” during a discussion that, quite frankly, is filled with the same kind of self-help human potential information one gets e.g. on the Oprah Show; with no mention of God until near the end of the interview. Interestingly, Warren tells the “leading expert on brain health in the world,” Dr. Daniel Amen, that Saddleback started their Decade of Destiny series “with the body and, and with the brain” because, apparently in his mind, this is the place to start for a new you.

Hmm, you know, it seems I recall a book written not long ago called Your Best Life Now; I can’t help but wonder, given Rick Warren’s penchant for syncretism, just how long it’ll be before Joel Osteen shows up to teach his centered on the self warmed over Robert Schulerisms at Saddleback. Now, below is an example of what I meant by self-help teaching; first Warren does a full-on endorsement of Amen’s questionable resources and asks him where one starts implementing his doctrine:

Warren: Now you’re gonna come back to Saddleback  and do a full seminar; and of course, we’ve got all of your resources out on the table today, and out on the patio you can get any of those. Where do I get started? What’s the first step toward brain health for me?

Amen: Ok, so let me give you a couple.

Warren: Ok.

Amen: Know what your motivation is.

Warren: Alright.

Amen: And look at it every day.

Warren: Um-hmm.

Amen: Otherwise the monster billboards with the triple-decker sandwiches will run your life. So, know your motivation. It’s. it’s not hard. It’s, it’s not magic. It’s mathematics. You cannot eat—if you wanna get healthy—more than 2,000 calories a day.

Warren: You know-

Amen: And you have to count; because if you don’t count, it’s like spending money that you don’t have-

Warren: Yeah.

Amen: And you become bankrupt (Warren: Yeah.) physically; and now what we know, emotionally, cognitively.

Warren: You know, there’s a verse in the Bible that says, ah, “The heart is deceitful, who can know it?” What that means is, we have an amazing ability to lie to ourselves.

Therein lies the heart of the matter with Rick Warren and so many other evangelicals like him; this is, at best, an extremely superficial understanding of what this verse is saying about our corrupt unregenerate nature. The verse Warren quotes is Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Since Rick Warren’s seeming double-mindedness concerning meditation is the subject of this article, for a proper understanding of our corrupt human nature, here I’ll refer you to Thr Real Truth About Your “True Self” and simply point out that Jer. 17:9 is talking about our total and utter depravity; completely in line with what’s taught to us by God through His inspired Apostle Paul — For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh (Romans 7:18).

In closing this, for now, it’s patently obvious that Dr. Daniel Amen is not talking about Biblical meditation; he’s not talking about meditating on the truth, and it’s clear Rick Warren knows that Amen is, indeed, talking about the type of meditation Warren referred to as “New Age wacko-ism.” In fact, it’s the same type of “psychic New Age trance” [cue: eerie sound again] meditation in an altered state of consciousness that mystic Henri Nouwen says was so beneficial to him as I show you in Henri Nouwen Helped By “Meditation”. No, in the end, I offer that what we’re seeing here from Rick Warren is the Humpty Dumpty language of double-speak so often employed by those who’ve been trained by Druckerites in Leadership Network, such as Fuller Theological Seminary alunus Warren. So, don’t say you haven’t been warned.

However, amidst all the confusion being sown by Rick Warren, an interesting question comes emerging: Why has FTS grad Dr. John Piper been so eager to further promote him?


[1] http://tiny.cc/atsjt, accessed 2/14/11.

[2] http://tiny.cc/mlcry, accessed 2/14/11.

[3] Daniel G. Amen, Healing ADD: The Breakthrough Program That Allows You to See and Heal the Six Types of ADD [New York: Berkley Publishing, 2001], 99.

See also: