For at least the past six years now online apologetics and discernment ministries like Lighthouse Trails Research, as well as here at Apprising Ministries, have been warning about the sinfully ecumenical [i.e. Reformation repudiating] Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church.

Sadly, it’s now grown into a neo-liberal cult operating within evangelicalism infecting it with their new postmodern form of Progressive Christian quasi-universalism under their spiritual circus “big tent” Emergence Christianity.

Here’s the heart of the matter: The EC would prove to be a Trojan Horse where Satan has been able to off-load his ne0-Gnostic mystic corruption Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM), an infestation of which is now becoming pandemic within the very heart of the church visible.

If you didn’t know what effect this cult of postmodern Liberalism 2.0 is having upon the professing Christian community, then I strongly suggest that you make the time to actually look at the evidence I’ll bring before you in Mainstream Evangelicalim Embracing Contemplative Mysticism and In Touch Magazine Of Charles Stanley Promoting Contemplative New Monasticism.

Then I want you to tell me wherever in the proper Biblical doctrine of Reformation theology do we find “Protestant” CSM ala that supposedly “discovered” by Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster, and now perpetrated as supposed Spiritual Formation with an able assist from his spiritual twin SBC minister Dallas Willard? Answer: We don’t.

With all of this in mind then, I continue on where Promoting Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism Ok In Southern Baptist Convention left off. I told you that we’d visit a major SBC megachurch and that you’d see this church has a teacher of contemplative spirituality i.e. mysticism right on its own staff. I also mentioned that you’ll be able to watch his sermon from last Sunday right within my next piece.

The video is below and you’ve probably realized the church in question is Second Baptist Church in Houston, TX where Dr. Ed Young, Sr. is the senior pastor. Now the sermon I’ve spoken of was done by Gary Thomas, whom I mentioned previously e.g. in Mark Driscoll And Contemplative Idolatry, which also gives you futher illustration concerning how far CSM has slithered into the whole of the church visible.

If you didn’t know, Thomas’ bio informs us:

Gary Thomas is a bestselling author and international speaker whose ministry brings people closer to Christ and closer to others. He unites the study of Scripture, church history, and the Christian classics to foster spiritual growth and deeper relationships within the Christian community. (Online source, emphasis mine)

We’ll return to those so-called “Christian classics,” but for now, in addition to his international ministry, we find out that Dr. Ed Young, Sr. announced that Gary Thomas had “joined the staff of Second Baptist Church as writer in residence and a member of the preaching team” this past October:

(Online source)

So let’s keep in mind as we go on that Thomas was well known within evangelical circles prior to joining the preaching staff at Young, Sr.’s huge SBC megachurch Second Baptist Church (2ndBC). In fact, Young. Sr. himself was very familiar with the work of Gary Thomas:

“If Gary Thomas writes a book, you need to read it. It’s as simple as that. He has incredible insight into spiritual truths and is able to make those truths graspable for all audiences. In Pure Pleasure Gary reminds us it is OK for Christians to feel good—even have fun! A refreshing message at the right time for contemporary believers. You are going to enjoy this book.”
—Dr. Ed Young,
Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas (Online source, emphasis his)

My concern here is the propensity of Gary Thomas to push the spurious CSM mentioned above so I’m going to focus upon the evidence documenting his teaching; another time we’ll talk further about CSM itself, and its crown jewel Contemplative/Centering Prayer, which is itself a form of meditation in an altered state of consciousness. Let me focus your attention upon Thomas’ book Sacred Pathways (SP); this book forms the basis of his sermon below.

From my personal copy of SP I can tell you that Thomas shares with his readers a form of “mantra meditation,” which is traced to Dom (father) John Main (1926-1982). It’s important to note that Main was an apostate Roman Catholic priest and monk of the Order of Saint Benedict (OSB). He’s also universally known by those in the so-called “contemplative tradition” as the man who rediscovered “the practice of pure prayer, or Christian meditation.”

Not upon Scripure mind you; no, this is using a “holy phrase” also known as a mantra in order to enter into an altered state of consciousness. Chapter 9 of Thomas’ SP happens to be a veritable ode of praise for sola Scriptura-repudiating contemplative mystics, some of which you’ll hear in his sermon below. Thomas dreams the following mythology about mystics telling us they:

simply want to bathe in the ocean of love God has for his children, while the rest of us seem unfortunately content to experience that love drop by drop.[1]

Thomas then continues on with his romanticizing of mystics as he tells us about the “Acts of Contemplatives,” which he calls “many forms of prayer and activities that contemplatives can make use of in addition to general contemplative prayer.” Next Thomas goes through “The Jesus Prayer,” “Secret Acts of Devotion,” “Dancing Prayer,” “Centering Prayer” (it’s the same as Contemplative Prayer), “Prayer of the Heart,” “Stations of the Cross,” and finally “Meditative Prayer.” You’ll also see mystics refer to this as “the silence” and/or “wordless prayer”[2]; but, the truth is, it’s nowhere taught in Scripture.

Under that section Meditative Prayer Thomas goes into a short spiel about Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, the militantly pro-Roman Catholic Church mystic group who on orders of the Pope functioned very much like a spiritual Counter Reformation Gestapo Unit during the Protestant Reformation; you may have heard of the Inquisition. Thomas though tells that “The Spiritual Exercises, [of Ignatius of Loyola] helped make mental prayer more popular.”[3]; and this mental prayer Thomas is speaking of here is CCP.

You should know that CCP was never practiced or taught by Jesus; nor was it practiced or taught by His Apostles, but rather, it orginated with 4th century desert hermits in Egypt. All of this romancing of mystics sounds quite pious; however, in reality it’s a classic case of seeking individual, personal, experience with God, which by nature is highly subjective. Frankly, the prolonged practice of CSM does serve to bring the practioner into ignoring the Protestant Reformation.

As an example I’ll show you now that in the Free Resources section of Thomas’ website we find those Christian classics mentioned earlier under Classic Christian Authors:

(Online source)

You’ll see Thomas is already sowing confusion because Francis De Sales (1567-1622) was “Bishop of Geneva, [and] Doctor of the Universal [Roman Catholic] Church”[4], Nicholas Herman aka Brother Lawrence (1605-1691) was a Roman Catholic priest “in the Carmelite order mean[ing] his spiritual practices were derived from or heavily influenced by Teresa of Avila”[5], and François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon (1651-1715) was a “celebrated French [Roman Catholic] bishop.”[6]

Each of those men died as slaves serving the false gospel of the apostate Roman Catholic Church; the same organization that placed its anathema upon the very Gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins, salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in the finished work of Christ alone on the Cross. With all due respect, under what authority does Gary Thomas now come along and reverse the Reformation to pronounce such as these Christians?

Does Dr. Ed Young, Sr., twice president of the SBC—reputed to be the largest Protestant denomination in the United States—also hold this same view? The Other Christian Classics contains a host of other Counter Reformation, and counter sola Scriptura, Roman Catholic mystical works including The Cloud of Unknowing, which Thomas says is “considered a classic of mystical spirituality,” and Experiencing The Depths Of Jesus Christ by Madame Guyon, who was even considered heretical by Rome.

In closing this out, for now, we also find Dark Night Of The Soul by John of the Cross, who was a disciple of the aforementioned emotionally troubled Carmelite nun Teresa of Avila. As I showed you before in my In Touch Magazine Of Charles Stanley Promoting Contemplative New Monasticism Dr. Gary Gilley is right as he explains:

The phrase “dark night of the soul” has become, on a popular level, the description of a period of deep depression or dryness, but this is certainly not what St. John meant…

Classical mysticism is composed of three parts: purgation, in which the senses and spirit are purged of all desires; illumination, in which God supernaturally floods the soul with His love while the individual remains passive; and union, in which the soul is united with God in perfection.

Such an individual will be able to skip purgatory since purgatory’s work has been completed in this life (pp. 107-108, 174). To this pursuit the medieval monks and hermits devoted their lives.

The mystical way is nowhere supported by Scripture, even though St. John makes many attempts to do so… (Online source)

Yet Thomas tells us this apostate Roman Catholic monk is, “One of my favorite authors, John wrote with an unparalleled passion for God.” I wonder, is this also what Dr. Young believes? Keep in mind that the Protestant Reformers, contemporary with Avila and her disciple, rejected their mystic musings; but now we’re to believe that they were in error because people like Gary Thomas hundreds of years after the fact know more than they did?

From years of studying mysticism I can tell you that people who persist in CSM eventually end up with a delusion that somehow the Reformation is over. However, if you’d actually make the time to read, and to check the sources within for yourself, you’ll find the answer is absolutely not to the following question: Has The Roman Catholic Church Really Changed?

Finally, consider the following from Thomas’ latest book Thirsting for God: Spiritual Refreshment for the Sacred Journey (T4G):

I sought guidance for devoting myself to becoming close to God,… I opened a book that was written 1500 years ago, an Eastern Christian classic by John Climacus called The Ladder of Divine Ascent. I felt as if something that had atrophied inside me was suddenly being nursed to life.

I soon found myself meeting new friends, spiritual soul mates who were on the same search, like John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, who joined forces in the sixteenth century to bring renewal to a stale religious order.[7]

Thomas is “spiritual soul mates” with Roman Catholics advancing a different gospel during the Protestant Reformation? Sounding not a little like EC icon Rob Bell or Living Spiritual Teacher and EC guru Brian McLaren in T4G we see Thomas tell us:

So many of our theological discussions today highlight issues upon which we profoundly and often vehemently disagree. But as I met these writers throughout church history, I soon witnessed a beautiful tapestry of common truth that gave stunning witness to the accepted faith of the wider church…[8]

Does Gary Thomas not realize the “theological discussions” of the Protestant Reformation involved the Gospel itself? If we don’t share that “common truth” then we have no basis for Christian koinonia i.e. fellowship. Yet you’ll see below that Thomas is in the midst of teaching his revisionist history to the congregation of 2ndBC, one the biggest churches in the entire SBC.

Thomas tells us:

I would like to introduce you to some precious Christian brothers and sisters who have walked this life before us… The men and women who wrote the Christian classics were masters at understanding the spiritual life…

We may not accept every single doctrine they teach,…[but t]hey taught basic Christian spirituality.[9]

Herein we reach the heart of the matter; I’ve shown you irrefutable evidence that Thomas includes a bevy of Roman Catholics among the authors of these “Christian classics.” Then he refers to them as “precious Christian brothers and sisters” whom he tells us were “masters at understanding the spiritual life” and “taught basic Christian spirituality.” Ask yourself: How could a master of Christian spirituality end up preaching a false soteriology and then devote themselves to a church that cursed God’s Gospel?

As a former Roman Catholic, I say until next time remember, it is still written:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9)

End Notes:

[1] Gary Thomas, Sacred Pathways [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000], 182.

[2] Ibid., 182-189.

[3] Ibid., 189.

[4] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06220a.htm, accessed 7/14/11.

[5] http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/brotherlawrence.htm, accessed 7/14/11.

[6] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06035a.htm, accessed 7/14/11.

[7] Gary Thomas, Thirsting for God: Spiritual Refreshment for the Sacred Journey [Eugene: Harvest House, 2011], 12.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid., 12, 14.

See also: