With Richard Foster’s Renovaré Conference, Point Loma Continues On A Downward Slide
Here we go again. I love San Diego, and the last time I was there, I visited the campus at Point Loma Nazarene University. A beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. Well designed campus buildings. Watched a nice soccer game that was going on at the time. It all looked so beautiful and nice on the surface. But as we know, looks can be deceptive, and often masks the ugliness within. And so with Point Loma, as it all does not seem well on the inside. Something is horribly wrong at this university which carries the name of Nazarene, supposedly reflecting Nazarene teaching and tradition.
Just recently it was a conference in March called Nurturing The Prophetic Imagination. At a recent conference called Christless Christianity, Dr. Peter Jones makes reference to it. His lecture, A Gnostic Gospel, is a good one, and if you go to the 43 minute mark, you will hear his description of some of what this was about. It’s not good.
In a recent post on my blog that was written by Rev. Peter Migner, I quote:
This past week I discovered that Point Loma Nazarene University is hosting some bizarre conference about Prophetic Imagination and among the featured guest speakers are: An Environmental Activist, a Monk, a Priest, a Black Activist and then it is Emceed by the President of NTS. Among the workshops is a Muslim Imam, a Catholic Priest and professors from ENC, NNU, PNU and TNU. This is not the Holiness Church I was led to as a young man from my Roman Catholic heritage. Some of the topics at this conference are just outright strange and Emergent in nature such as Sophia and Phronesis: A ‘What If’’ Question about Theology, and Feminist Pedagogy as Acts of Prophetic Imagination. (download schedule here)
And in an April, 2009 article, Lighthouse Trails Research documents the apparent slide into contemplative spirituality and emergent ideology that Point Loma has embarked on (Point Loma Nazarene University Welcomes Brian McLaren and Embraces Contemplative Spirituality).
Now it’s Richard Foster. Forgive me for being cynical sounding, but is there something in the theological drinking water at Point Loma? What has changed in ten years? Or perhaps, was that change already taking place when I was already walking around the campus grounds, not knowing what was being taught and welcomed there. Has there been a tragic loss of biblical discernment at Point Loma, by both the students, and particularly, by the theology and religion department, as well as the leadership? When it comes to theology and religion, and sound biblical doctrine, what does Richard Foster have to do with that?
So who is drinking the mystical and emergent coolaide at Point Loma? Richard Foster is not just coming to speak, but to host an entire conference, the 2010 Renovaré Covenant Retreat. From all that I know of him, his organization, and his writings, I have come to the conclusion that this man is a false teacher. And if that is true, then I am following the biblical directive to “have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph. 5:11).
Let’s look at what his Renovaré organization stands for. On their home page, it says:
We seek to resource, fuel, model, and advocate more intentional living and spiritual formation among Christians and those wanting a deeper connection with God. A foundational presence in the spiritual formation movement for over 20 years, Renovaré is Christian in commitment, ecumenical in breadth, and international in scope.
Richard Foster is probably the most influential person in the last 30 years or so, in the area of spiritual formation. However, the problem with this is that spiritual formation means, to those who follow the Renovaré way, delving into what I can describe only as another term for contemplative spirituality, or mysticism, or even the occult. Spiritual formation the Foster way is far from biblical, and others far more knowledgeable than me on this subject have written extensive and accurate exposés on this “new spirituality” which is fast sweeping the evangelical world, perhaps in preparation for the coming “man of sin”, or the anti-christ. Please see the critical links that I have at the end of this post, including a recent post at the Psalm 11:3 blog.
This ecumenical spirit that is fostered (no pun intended) by so many evangelicals today is stunning, shocking, and should make most Bible believing Christians take some serious heed to what I and others are practically shouting out. The desire to “hold hands” with anyone who declares that they are Christian, regardless of doctrines that they espouse, is unbiblical. We are commanded in Romans 12 “do not be conformed to the world.” So why should we care whether we get the approval of some other organization or group of people that is blatantly disregarding biblical instruction? Are we seeking to stay within the socially approved circles of the religious elite, not wanting to be shunned and excluded from their worldly fellowship? Do we really think that working cooperatively with any other professing “Christian” group, for a common good, under the banner of Christian unity, helps further the cause of the gospel? Inevitably, it leads to us overlooking serious doctrinal differences between the groups, in order to keep a “spirit of unity.” That will then lead to serious compromise of God’s word and His commands to obey all that He teaches us.
So what is it about Richard Foster that folks at Point Loma are willing to overlook, for the sake of listening to perhaps a few good things he might have to say? What about the bad stuff? What about the unbiblical baggage he carries with him? Is Point Loma leadership saying, “don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.” Perhaps they are, or the only other conclusion is that they are completely oblivious to his heretical teachings. Perhaps someone who has a child there, or plans to send one soon, or perhaps is sending money to the school, might want to ask the university president and theology department if there is a biblical sound, rational reason to host Renovaré at the school.
I won’t go into detail about Foster here. I have posted various posts on him, so please read them carefully. Others have written extensively, exposing his erroneous teachings, and promotion of heretical mystic monks. Pastors Bob Dewaay, Ken Silva, David Cloud, and others, have done some really good work on Foster, as well as Lighthouse Trails Research, and many other hard working online discernment ministries who are taking the heat from the apostates who pretend to be Christian.
I will remind you of an amazing comment he made in his book (popular with many pastors), Prayer; Finding The Heart’s True Home. In regards to going into contemplative prayer, he issued this warning:
At the outset I need to give a word of warning,… Contemplative Prayer is not for the novice. I do not say this about any other form of prayer… Contemplative prayer is for those who have exercised their spiritual muscles a bit and know something about the landscape of the spirit. In fact, those who work in the area of spiritual direction always look for signs of a maturing faith before encouraging individuals into Contemplative Prayer…
I also want to give a word of precaution. In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as a supernatural guidance. While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on that, there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way! … But for now I want to encourage you to learn and practice prayers of protection.
I and others have asked before, why would a Christian need to pray a prayer of protection, before doing something that is supposed to be good for them? And why can’t a novice Christian participate in contemplative prayer without fear? Would God give us something that might be spiritually dangerous to us? As Paul warns in scripture, “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Tolerating a little bit of false teaching will corrupt the church.
So I pray for some answers from the Point Loma University leadership. If your child is going there now, or is considering going there, I would encourage you to ask them hard questions, if you are convinced that Richard Foster is nothing but bad news. It looks to me as if the answer might be already evident: Point Loma, as well as other Nazarene universities, and its seminary, may have already been deceived by Richard Foster and his contemplative spirituality replacement for the true gospel.
If you are even a bit suspicious of Richard Foster now, here are some additional resources to find out more about him. I pray you will be a Berean and put his teachings up to the light of scripture, and not with the reasoning of man.
Acts 20:28-31 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
Articles on Richard Foster and Mysticism:
Richard Foster To Speak At Point Loma, Renovaré Link (Psalm 11:3, Tim Wirth)
Contemplative Prayer, or Terror? (Roger Oakland, Understanding The Times)
Richard Foster, Celebration of Deception (Bob Dewaay, Critical Issues Commentary)
Mysticism (Gary Gilley, Southern View Chapel) (Parts 1 to 5)
Richard Foster A Reliable Source For Proper Christian Spirituality? (Ken Silva, Apprising Ministries)
Richard Foster, The Prayer Room, And Discernment (reformednazarene)