Apprising Ministries has long been warning you about the danger of listening to neo-Gnostics like Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mysticRichard Foster.

For years now Foster, along with his spiritual twin Dallas Willard, has been teaching corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) under the guise of so-called Spiritual Formation.

But what we’re actually dealing with is really a romanticized version of Roman Catholic Counter Reformation spirituality, which is itself essentially a neo-Gnosticism.

What it’s not, is evangelical Protestant Christianity; and worse, this highly subjective CSM is truly hostile to the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura. I’ll explain what I mean.

First, in her piece Jesus The illuminated Illuminator a while back Christian Research Network contributor Marsha West is right when she says:

Contemporary Christianity is following “every wind of doctrine” in spite of the fact that Scripture warns about taking this route. Self-professed Christ followers no longer “endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” (2 Tim. 4:3). Regrettably, many believers have embraced neo-Gnosticism. (source)

No, this is not pleasant to hear; I understand that However, unfortunately, the truth often isn’t easy to listen to; especially in this time of tolerance. Is this the kind of thing a woman ought to say?

Yes, especially so at this critical time when men are apparently too busy going from conference to conference speaking to each other about nothing to notice the living room of the visible church is on fire.

Then via West correctly informs us:

Christian Gnosticism is the belief that one must have a “gnosis” (from Greek “Gnosko,” to know) or inner knowledge which is mystical knowledge obtained only after one has been properly initiated. Only a few can possess this mystical knowledge, limiting the number of those “in the know”. …

As such it is as false and heretical as the Gnosticism of the first century and needs to be roundly condemned for the heresy that it is. (Online source)

We have a vivid example of this as more and more bow before the silly superstitions of Foster-Willardism. Prior to the promotion of this dubious duo through the sinfully ecumenical neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church this neo-Gnosticism was confined to the mainline denominations, which it helped to mortally wound.

Sadly, today we have a plethora of neo-Gnostic fools who, through their practice of CSM, have now convinced themselves they are the truly enlightened ones. So deluded, they truly do believe that they’re receiving special revelation from God while they use a form of meditation in an altered state of consciousness commonly known as Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP).

This is the backdrop against which to more clearly see what Apprising Ministries special correspondent Bob DeWaay is bringing out. While he refers specially to the NAR’s Mike Bickle, the same warped and toxic teaching of the elite enlightened applies to the neo-Gnostics I talked about above:

In an earlier Critical Issues Commentary article I described various types of pietism that claim there are two types of Christians, with certain elites in the preferred category. ((HTTP://WWW.CICMINISTRY.ORG/COMMENTARY/ISSUE103.HTM)) Like the Latter Rain, Mike Bickle’s IHOP takes pietism to a completely new level, and his message on the parable of the virgins shows this. He has promoted pietism by claiming that the wise virgins are Christians with a better secret connection to God and the foolish ones are Christians with worse, or lesser, connections to God.

Pietism is unbiblical, and Bickle misinterprets the parable of the virgins in order to find it there. The foolish virgins were not Christians not only because Jesus said “I do not know you,” but because the parable before this one (about the slave) and the parable after it (about the talents) clearly portray as non-Christians those who were not faithful.

In the first case it states “the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and shall cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:50, 51). The issue is the same: the master coming at an unexpected time. In the parable of the talents it says this: “And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30). The parable of the virgins does not teach Bickle’s two- (or more) tiered scheme of types of Christians.

Bickle has various dividing points between the good kind of Christian and the lesser one. One of those is “connected” and “disconnected.” Bickle states: “He wants us connected to his heart, not that you feel God all day every day, but I tell you when I press into the Lord with a bridal paradigm and I stay connected to him, my heart gets tenderized.” So, am I to believe that if I come to God on His terms, believing that Jesus’ blood washed away my sins, and I “draw near” to the throne of grace by faith, I am still lacking something that only certain elite Christians like Mike Bickle have gained through revelation? Pietism sounds spiritual enough, but it always is an attack on the finished work of Christ and the solas of the Reformation. What God has done in Christ to forgive sins and bring us near to Him is the same for all true Christians: “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).

The elite-minded leaders at IHOP are selling a bill of goods. They have bought the lie that by imagining “passion for Jesus” along the lines of sensual intimacy that they have ascended into an elite class that will make them like Moses and they will be able to call down the plagues on the world. They have pumped themselves up into imagining that the Great Tribulation will be the stage where they show off their exemplary spiritual powers and prowess.

It gets truly scary when they call for Christians to send their teenagers to Kansas City to get this same “passion.” This is actually happening, so be warned. These young people are being inducted into a reworked version of the elitist Latter Rain heresy. If children believe Mike Bickle they will return home convinced that their parents’ faith is totally inadequate. They will think that way because Bickle’s doctrine is an attack against grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone, Scripture alone, and to the glory of God alone.

They will have been taught to add “the revelation of the bridegroom God” which amounts to thinking of Jesus as a sensual lover in order to avoid being one of the foolish virgins whom the Lord says He does not know. The foolish “virgins” are supposedly anyone who does not believe Bickle’s false teaching.

Besides “connected and not connected” there is other terminology in this version of pietism that divides the body into the “haves and have nots”. There are those who have “intimacy with God” and those who do not. Bickle says, “Being the bride of Christ is a position of privilege near to experience the heart of God.” Therefore the privileged ones possessing this special revelation are supposedly closer to the heart of God than ordinary Christians are. The book of Hebrews speaks of drawing near to God in several passages, and none apply to an elite group with a special revelation. Neither do any speak of a “bridegroom God.” Here are a few:

Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. . . . Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. . . . Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 4:16; 7:25; 10:22)

Drawing near to God as taught in Scripture is not based on being part of a certain elite Christian class who have achieved a better piety, but it is based on what God has done for us in Christ. Our hearts are cleansed by His work of grace that we receive by faith. The Bible offers us assurance because we know we are sinners and that God is holy. Our comfort is that Jesus intercedes for us and has made a way that our sins are forgiven and we have access to the throne of grace. We draw near because of what Christ has done, not because we know some supposed secret to intimacy with God that has not been taught in Scripture.

Bickle’s version is man-centered because it focuses on the supposed deeper experience that certain Christians have cultivated. He defines the “secret life” as follows: “It’s the reach of your heart for God.” This apparently is based on something that we do. He asks, “What are you doing in your secret history in God? Are you developing it with strength or are you neglecting it?”

He is helping his listeners feel guilty about lacking something that they will have to set out to gain through their own effort based on his revelation. Hebrews encourages us by explaining what Christ has done and how He has made access for us. What we need is faith in Christ, not faith in the level of our own personal piety or “personal history in God.” I am quite certain I am an impious sinner who, by God’s grace, has found a gracious and forgiving Savior. (source)

Further reading