All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Contemplative Mysticism Cripples Biblical Faith

Apprising Ministries continues documenting 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 Emergent 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. Sadly, by its embrace of the Emerging Church aka the Emergent Church with its postmodern form of Progressive Christianity, mainstream evangelicalism now finds itself circled back around into the exact same battle concerning the authority of the Word of God—the Bible—as was faced by the Protestant Reformers.

However, we see from the Example of Christ Jesus our Lord that He Himself made a practice of looking for what God the Holy Spirit had to say in Scripture —  Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (John 10:34-36) Here we can glean a few very important points. First Jesus of Nazareth, not only a Man but also the Lord God Almighty Himself in human flesh, just equated Scripture—your Law—with the Word of God.

Also secondly, by quoting from the Book of Psalms, which begins the last group of writings in the Hebrew canon, the Master has now included the entire Bible within this teaching. Then thirdly, notice also that Jesus calls these Hebrew writings Scripture; and finally, our Lord declares that this Word of God cannot be broken i.e. done away with because it is the final authority on the matter. In other words, completely consistent with our opening text above—where Scripture speaks, it is God Himself speaking. There’s no way around this.

Yet today there’s a steadily growing number within mainstream evangelicalism—bolstered by erroneous teaching oozing out from warped and toxic EC circles—who would dare to call themselves Christians, when all the while they’re attempting to cause people to doubt the verbal and plenary inspiration of the Bible. The following from Zach Lind is highly illustrative of just how far off-track the EC has gotten themselves and all who would listen to fools like this. By the way, Lind is a good friend of the Emerging Church rock star icon Rob Bell, and he builds this particular review piece I’m bringing to your attention around a lengthy quote from New Age spiritualist/quasi-Buddhist Ken Wilbur.

Lind also quotes EC darling Peter Rollins, another friend of Bell’s, who even responds in the comments section of the post I cite below. Essentially what we’re going to see is an Emergent ode to unbelief. In a nutshell, what these people like Lind, Bell and Rollins are doing—because they are mystics—is attacking the final authority of the Bible in order to condition people to then trust their own highly subjective experience to reinterpret the clear texts of Holy Scripture. But in the end, these neo-Gnostics are the ones held captive to their own very wrong artificial world-view, through which they then filter the Bible.

This is what these EC apostles of unbelief like Lind are talking about when they say things like:

What is so promising about these cracks continuing to form and widen, is that a new posture is emerging within Christianity where doubt and ambiguity are to be wrestled with, cherished, even. When one moves from mere belief to faith, the Biblical text has become not just a static, inerrant, literalist playground. It receives new life in ways that makes one’s daily life more enriched.

We leave behind the God who is in his black robe, angrily sitting on the bench ready to levy our deserved damnation and we awaken to a God who is in us yet all around us… Our religious life ceases to be defined strictly by a cold and rational system of doctrines. Instead, in faith, we attempt to embrace a love that includes and transcends reason. (Online source)

Neo-Gnostic Mystics Attack The Christian Faith In Their Supposed Enlightenment

Living Spiritual Teacher and Progessive Christian scholar Marcus Borg decribes this mythology by telling us there is a “More”; and further, Borg says there “is a ‘More’ to the language”[1] he uses as a mystic, i.e. meanings beyond the plain sense of the words used. In fact, Rob Bell instructs us in his Velvet Elvis that Borg means e.g. there’s “the more-than-literal truth of the Bible.”[2] In his book The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See another Living Spiritual Teacher and Roman Catholic mystic Richard Rohr says that if you don’t see this it’s because you have an “immature religious faith” and need the practice of CSM to enter “the ‘dark nights of purification’ — to the transrational.”[3] Listen; it’s the sounds of The Twilight Zone.

Living Spiritual Teacher and leading Emerging Church guru Brian McLaren outlines this same mystic mythology in his new book Naked Spirituality (you sensing a theme here) telling us that we have to be willing to get rid of our “certainty” and let it “be deconstructed and fall behind,” which is actually a recipe for spiritual suicide. Guru McLaren then uses the example of Paul meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus as he goes on to speculate that to have “an actual encounter” with God we really have to:

reopen the question: “Who are you, Lord?” This question is essential in the shift from de-religion to deep religion, from religiosity to spirituality. We must hold that question open to God: Who are you?

Without doing so, we will pray yet again to our image of God, our set of preconceived notions of God, our familiar boxed and framed conventions, and our comfortable stereotyped assumptions about God.[4]

However, if you put down the spiritual bong long enough to actually think then you should be asking: Where exactly do you suppose that the Christian Church got these “familiar boxed and framed conventions” and so-called “stereotyped assumptions about God” in the first place? Answer: God’s revelation of Himself through Christ (cf. Hebrews 1:1-4 ) in His Word—the Bible. The truth is, McLaren’s in serious error here; for you see, the reason Paul asked, “Who are You, Lord” is because he had yet to meet Jesus and be regenerated, i.e. born again. That’s why in his unregenerate state Paul’s “set of preconceived notions of God” where to be proven wrong when Jesus opened his eyes (cf. Luke 24:45; 1 Corinthians 2:14).

McLaren, not so skillfullly, twists this encounter of Paul’s so as to fit his own preconceived mythology of mysticism trumping Scripture:

This kind of awakening begins the transformation of a religious (or de-religious or nonreligious) life into a spiritual life, a life with God—not later and elsewhere, but here and now.

How much higher and wider and deeper and richer our lives become when we awaken to the presence of the real, wild, mysterious, living God, who is bigger than our tame concepts of God.[5]

Avoiding wrestling with the snake here, let me just point out that 1) EC guru McLaren is touting the experience of subjective CSM over the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura; 2) he’s erected a straw man because no one’s saying those of us who adhere to it do not experience God “here and now,” and 3) our supposedly “tame concepts of God” are derived from what the infinite one true and living God condescended in His glorious and majestic, great and mighty, mercy and love to reveal of Himself to us finite, corrupt, and degenerate creatures. Again, no one credible is claiming that because of the Bible we know everything there is to know about God. That said, we can know with certainty what He’s revealed of Himself in Scripture.

You need to come to understand that all mystics have to jettison their reasoning ability in order to create their own synthetic version of reality; but the above is absolutely backward, and is actually rooted in panentheism. Briefly, pan = all, en = in, theos = God; all-in-God. This is not Christianity; the truth is, it’s actually a form of Gnosticism. We’ve already seen, from the eyewitness deposition of the Apostle John, the incontrovertible evidence that Jesus Himself had what we would today often refer to as a “high view” of Scripture. Christ Jesus absolutely did not teach us to transcend [read: abandon] reason; in fact, quite the opposite.

Not only that, but from the perfect paradigm of Christ Jesusthe Author and Finisher of the Christian Faithtoward Holy Scripture we can see yet another Example of, as well as the actual Source for, the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura. This is the proper approach to Christian spirituality; and indeed, it was the Master Teacher Himself Who taught us that all opinions in matters relating to God must be judged by the Bible—Scripture. And as foremost Christian apologist, the late Dr. Walter Martin so often stated: You have no right to call yourself a Christian and not have the same view of of Scripture as did Jesus Christ.


[1] Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity [New York: Harper Collins, 2003], 37.

[2] Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005], endnotes: 1; 61.

[3] Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See [New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2009], 118.

[4] Brian McLaren, Naked Spirituality [New York: HarperOne, 2011], 37.

[5] Ibid.. 37.

See also: