Is Lectio Divina and Mysticism The Future Of Nazarene Theology and Practice?

[Evidence: Lectio divina is promoted by Nazarene Publishing House and Barefoot Ministries.  Lectio divina is promoted by at least one theology professor at Nazarene Theological Seminary.  Lectio divina is part of at least one theology degree program at NTS.  It is also either part of a degree program, or it is promoted in many of the books and authors recommended as spiritual formation resources.  So the evidence is there.  I am planning a deeper study of all the components of these programs, but it's there.  Let's not pretend it does not exist.  Spiritual formation, aka contemplative spirituality is here, and every one of us will have to answer the question sooner or later: is it biblical or not?]

If any pastor preaches a sermon, it must always be assumed to be good and biblically solid, right?  If the professor at the university says something is okay, he must be right, right?  If a District Superintendent recommends The Shack as a great book for pastors to read, we should not question that, should we?  If a speaker comes to your Christian university or church, students should take for granted that he is biblically sound, right?  Why else would he have been invited in the first place?

In fact, does not the Bible teach us to never question our leaders, never question our pastors, no matter what they say?  I’ve been told that by several teachers.  Does not Matthew chapter 7 give us clear teaching that we should never, ever judge anything any leader, pastor, preacher, or church administrator say?  I do recall something about Bereans in the books of Acts, but perhaps someone can clear up what that passage means to us as Christians.  Must we accept at face value anything that is taught by a Sunday School teacher or a pastor, because if we challenge what he says, we are violating scripture?  “Touch not mine anointed” is what is often said, right?

So then… if the Nazarene Publishing House or our seminarypromotes it, it must be good, right?  I mean, after all, it is THE Nazarene Publishing House, which has put out new “solid” books such as the one titled 180.  Just read Pastor Peter Migner’s review of this book, or the review by Eric Barger of Take A Stand Ministries.  Once you read the reviews, you will have a good idea of the discernment at Nazarene Publishing House, or the lack thereof.

But I have a problem, which has been bugging me for a long time.  I’ve already posted several times on this issue, and what vexes me is that lectio divina is not as flat out blatant, in-your-face stuff like prayer labyrinths, which is why it is so dangerous.  It has that ability to fool many people that it is a biblically sound practice.  Such is what good deception is all about.  Satan does it very subtly, very cleverly, and with smooth words, as he did with Eve so long ago.

Doug Hardy, professor of religion at Nazarene Theological Seminary, gives much praise to the practice of lectio divina.  In his article, Lectio Divina: A Practice for Reconnecting to God’s Word, he explains lectio:

It means “sacred reading” of Scripture and its roots are with the Benedictines, a religious order founded by St. Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century c.e. It is still a vital presence throughout the world today. You may already be familiar with this classic Christian practice, or at least heard of it.

So here is at least one Nazarene theology professor (oh there are more) who is drawing on a Roman Catholic ritual that was invented by Benedictine monks in the sixth century.  So much for the Protestant Reformation.  So much for Luther’s theses nailed to the doors of the church, protesting the very rituals and man made practices that brought so many of us out of Rome and its false systems.  Now Nazarenes are borrowing from Roman Catholicism to help us “grow” as Christians, and where is the outcry?  And Professor Hardy calls it a “classic Christian practice.”  But is it a classic Biblical practice?  The answer is no, because you won’t find anything like this taught in the Bible, instead it’s origins are from man’s imagination, not God’s word.

Another quote:

As with all classic Christian practices that are “re-discovered” and “brought forward” for use in a contemporary context, lectio divina is not just another spiritual technology that can be easily learned and applied.

Was this practice lost, and if so, where was it when it was lost?  Again, it was not in the Bible.  And would God really make it so that whatever He wants us to learn, would be hard to “learn and apply?”  Is it really difficult for someone to learn how to pray, if they simply read what the Bible has to say about it?  Or do I need guidance by specialists in doing a new kind of method or ritual so that I can unlock the secrets of God’s word?  What about the Christian who has his Bible, but there is never anyone around to teach him this practice?  Is he losing out on personal spiritual growth, and therefore the sufficiency of scripture does not really hold true?

This practice like all the other contemplative practices, has in it the flavoring of Gnosticism, that idea that only a few have some special knowledge and special practices to get closer to God, but don’t worry, they will teach us.  It is dangerous, and can easily invite us and entrap us into other mystical practices that draw us away from focusing and relating directly with Christ, and instead brings us into a more closer relationship with ourselves in “how” we do something, and possibly with familiar spirits that are not of God.  It’s Christianized transcendental meditation, just re-packaged for Nazarene consumption.  But hey, if the publishing House says its okay, don’t question it, right?
When did lectio divina first get started in the Nazarene denomination?  What do our General Superintendents think about lectio divina?  Have they studied what contemplative spirituality is all about?  How many Nazarenes know about this practice?  Has it been officially introduced, or is it really still flying under the radar to most Nazarenes?  It is growing in popularity, because I had previously written some posts on the outrageous promotion of several books by Barefoot Ministries, which is the youth arm of the NPH.   In my opinion, they have proven themselves as recklessly irresponsible as the leadership of NTS and all the other schools who are pushing this practice into the Nazarene denomination and in our seminaries.  And by the way, Doug Hardy is a member of Spiritual  Directors International.  On the following page, you see Lauren Artress at the very top.  She popularized prayer labyrinths in America.  Scroll down more, and Doug Hardy is one of the panelists for the organization’s magazine.

So if you go to this site, you ought to ask yourself, why is a Christian professor, who belongs to a holiness denomination, part of an interspiritual organization that promotes prayer labyrinths and contemplative spirituality practices?  Professor Hardy also has a famous list of recommended books for Windsor Hills Camp, of which the vast majority at the time were books by Roman Catholic monks and mystics.  What happened to the holiness material, and biblically sound resources?  Instead, books by heretical writers who practiced asceticism, worship of Mary, and teachers of false doctrines.

Frankly, I find it all appalling, dangerous, un-Nazarene, and most importantly, unbiblical. And I am not saying Doug Hardy is the problem, far from it.  Dr. Ron Benefiel is the President of NTS, and perhaps some letters or emails could be sent to ask some questions.  This goes much deeper than one person, he is just an example of the many who are pushing the new spirituality onto so many students and church members.  But I’m just one uneducated Nazarene sticking his nose into business left to the educated, and I suppose I ought to trust them unconditionally and without question.

Perhaps a “House” cleaning is in order?

I conclude with some thoughts from my friend Brenda about Spiritual Directors International:

The attraction today is to become….one. For all the religions of the world to unite and connect through a form of commonality. Spiritual formation and contemplation is the cement to unite the world religions. There is a call for ecumenism and interfaith spirituality networks to meet the needs of society, not with …the gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins settled at a blood-stained cross, no….the new gospel of grace (only) leaves sin out of the equation. It’s an offense. Spiritual Directors international will help realize world peace through their ecumenical efforts via contemplation techniques and spiritual direction…….

A look at their logo reveals that it’s all about sharing “the light”… it from a Catholic mystic, like Henri Nouwen, or from Buddha. Spiritual Directors find common ground in the light. (Hmm… who is that angel of light, again spoken of in scripture?)

Remember that the last Sunday in January is set aside for churches to give to Nazarene Theological Seminary because as this links states:

“The Seminary Offering – annual church giving – is the lifeline of NTS.”

In order to bring about world peace, social justice through an economic level playing field, and unity of all faiths… must continue to fund professors like Doug Hardy and the Spiritual Formation major offered through NTS so students can continue to be enlightened.

After all, it’s ultimately about a one world peace and unity of faiths….which is a good thing, right?

Related links And Study Resources:

Here is a link by Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr explaining how Spiritual Directors International can lead to world peace and liberating the world of its social problems.…arns-from-franciscan-father-richard-rohr-ofm.html

In this link, you can learn how to be at peace with ecology through finding God in everything via Spiritual Director International’s Sister Alexandra Kovats.…-alexandra-kovats-csjp.html

Yes, it’s all about Nazarenes, Catholics, and Muslims together as they connect to a higher reality through their association through Spiritual Director’s International.

What is lectio divina?

Listen to what is really being said here by Richard Foster:

Sojourners staff describe contemplative practices:

The Apostate Church

A lesson from my friends at Mission Venture Ministries
(Also available in Portuguese and Spanish)


“Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” (Revelation 3:17)

The church has changed so much in recent years and has “left her first love”. An astounding number of churches today, teach doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1 – “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons”).

We see in Revelation Christ’s rebuke of the church at Laodicea, the “lukewarm” church, which reflects the likeness of the church of the last days. (Revelation 3:16 – ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth’).

The candlestick of this church is still in place (note Revelation 1:20 – “As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches” and in (Revelation 2:5  – ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent”), but it has become a neutral church, “neither cold nor hot” (Revelation 3:15 – “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot”).

The reason for its lukewarm witness is because it has become “rich, proud and increased with goods”. The churches may have acquired large and beautiful facilities, developed special programs of many kinds, featured a variety of theatrical performances, and even gained a measure of political power. Yet, Christ calls it poor, blind and naked!

Not all churches become like this, of course, but the apostasy of the end times is leading many away from “our first love”, and that is the real danger. The desire for large congregations can easily lead to compromising biblical standards of doctrine and practice. Paul instructs Timothy to “remain in Ephesus, in order to instruct certain men NOT to teach strange doctrines” (1 Timothy 1:3)

The warnings to the churches shows us that the development of such complacency in any church, be it large or small, is the neglect of these three doctrines – the sufficiency of Christ, the inerrant authority of God’s Word, and the special creation of all things by God.

The letter to this church ends with the sad picture of Christ standing at its door, seeking admission (v. 20 – ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.) and continues in (v. 22 – “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches”.

Biblical Warning About False Teachers: MacArthur

The fact that false teachers (servants of Satan) appear as ministers of righteousness and speak with smooth sounding and pleasing words is why such as Leonard Sweet, Brian McLaren and Rob Bell have fooled so many who have lost the ability to discern truth from error.  These are the most dangerous, because they don’t openly reject the truth, but claim to be Bible believing Christians, but as is emphasized in the following article, they are liars.  Brothers and sisters, we really do need to keep speaking out about these people.  Who says we need to protest only once or twice, and then go away?

They certainly won’t  go away, and our church leadership needs to continually hear our cries on behalf of those many students in our universities being exposed to these liars every day.  Some of our pastors are still being introduced to Leonard Sweet as a reliable teaching source, who is trying to remake himself in a better light even as he is being exposed like the emperor without clothes was exposed.  The truth, however, is making these people try to dodge the bullets and hide their real ideology, but lack of true repentance and changing of their ways is evidence that they are still wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Please do not fall for this makeover that Leonard Sweet and others are trying to do.  It’s not genuine, because there is no genuine repentance.  And for an exposé of Sweet’s fake makeover and his attempt to set aside his New Age thinking, listen to the CrossTalk online discussion, or read the article from CrossTalk Blog.  Sweet is scheduled to appear at a Mid-Atlantic District Event.


By Ken Silva pastor-teacher on Sep 16, 2010

1. The warning against false teachers

Christ then said, “Beware of false prophets” (Matthew 7:15). For every true prophet calling people to the narrow way, are a multiplicity of false prophets calling people to the broad way that leads to destruction. Christ’s warning [about false teachers] was not new. Deuteronomy 13:1-5 documents the presence of false teaching during the days of Moses. In Isaiah 30:9-14 chronicles its existence in the kingdom of Judah. There are many warnings about false teachers in Scripture.1. 2 John 7–John said, “Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ cometh in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”

2. Romans 16:17-18–Paul said, “I beseech you, brethren, mark them who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ but their own body, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the innocent.” They are dangerous because they claim to be from God and to speak God’s Word.

3. Jeremiah 5:31–God said, “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means, and my people love to have it so.”

4. Jeremiah 14:14–God said, “The prophets prophesy lies in my name. I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spoke unto them; they prophesy unto you a false vision.”

2. The description of false teachers

False teachers are dangerous because their deception is damning. And it comes from that most damning deceiver of all, Satan, who disguises himself as an angel of light and his servants as ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Some false teachers are heretics–those who openly reject the Word of God and teach contrary to it. Others are apostates–those who once followed the faith but have since turned away. Then there are deceivers who pretend to still believe the truth. They want to look like orthodox fundamental evangelical Christians, but they are liars.

3. The revelation of false teachers

In Matthew 7:16 Jesus says, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” It’s not what they say but what you see in their lives that matters. A false teacher cannot produce good fruit because evil cannot produce good (v. 17).

False teachers will produce evil fruit, but they will try to cloak it. Inevitably they hide their bad fruit under ecclesiastical garb or isolate it from accountability. People can’t get near enough to them to see the reality of their lives. Some of them hide their evil fruit under a holy vocabulary or an association with fruitful Christians. Some of them cover their evil fruit with biblical knowledge. But they can’t hide it from everyone all the time. If you closely examine a false teacher, you will see his evil fruit.


How can we be alert to the infiltration of false teachers? Ask yourself these questions about the Bible teachers you encounter.

A. How Is the Teacher Using Scripture?

Is there error in his understanding of Scripture? Is his interpretation sound? Is it biblical? Is it legitimate? Don’t look at his personality. Don’t look at the religious trappings. Don’t only look only at his associations, although that will tell you something if those associations are negative. Listen to what he says. Do what 1 John 4:1 says: test him to see if he’s from God. What is his approach to Scripture? Is he teaching things that go beyond Scripture? Is he saying things that sound good but you can’t find verses to support it?

B. What Is the Teacher’s Goal?

Does he have a spiritual goal? Is his primary desire in life to produce people who consummately love God? Or is he characterized by self-love, self-aggrandizement, possessiveness, and materialism? What is his objective? Is it love for God and for everyone else? Is his objective holiness, a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith without hypocrisy?

C. What Is the Teacher’s Motive?

Does he demonstrate a selfless motive? Can you see humility, meekness, and selflessness in his life? Or does it appear that while he’s helping others he is also becoming quite wealthy? Is he self-indulgent at the expense of the people he is supposed to be ministering to?

D. What Is the Teacher’s Effect?

Does his followers clearly understand the gospel of Jesus Christ? Do they understand the proper use of the law?

Check his doctrine, check his goal, check his motive, and check his followers. As you do, you’ll sense the need for urgency in dealing with false teachers.

Dr. John MacArthur

(Adapted from Avoiding Spiritual Counterfeiters – Part 1 and Avoiding Spiritual Counterfeiters – Part 2)

Shake The Dust Off And Don’t Look Back

Today was a day of decision.  Allow me to share, and it is my hope that this will help someone understand a little bit of what we are dealing with in the fight against emergent church ideology.  I am convinced that the biggest threat to Christians is coming from within the church, not from the world.

After over a year of battling it out with so many pushers of the emergent poison, over issues such as contemplative spirituality, pagan practices, open theism, evolution, and the inerrancy of scripture especially, I have decided to leave.  I have come to the conclusion that enough is enough, and I have done all I can.  When my good friend Tim picked up the phone and called me yesterday, and slapped me on the head to wake me up to reality, I realized again, that I was wasting my time.  I just did not want to admit it, I guess.  So, I decided last night to make the decision to leave NazNet. So what made me decide to leave, and what can those who read this learn from me telling you this mostly personal account?

My relationship with some of those at at NazNet has been rocky at best, to put it mildly.  I have called it in the past “a breeding ground for emergent heresy.”  Not exactly diplomatic, but true, in my opinion, based on what many there believe.

My final “conversation” with them was from a topic that was titled “Praying For Those That Persecute Us.”  If you read the beginning parts of the thread, there is no doubt that this was directed at me, Tim Wirth, Grant Swank, and others who have been very critical of them. After reading through the comments, I responded to one person, who, although he and I are worlds apart on inerrancy of scripture and other things, at least he did his best to keep things civil, and to try to dialogue.  But it did not last long, and it broke down again, because of others coming in to take some personal pot shots.  So this last attempt at dialogue, although for a while looking promising, simply crashed and burned as all the rest have.  And I came back to reality very fast.

You see, there are some non-emergent members of Naznet there who have the patience to deal with this nonsense.  I admire them for it, and don’t know how they can do it.  They are a kind of missionary to NazNet, doing their best to “dialogue.”  But for me, I’m not built that way.  After a while, I end up saying, enough of this nonsense!  Yet after a while, I have at times tried to contribute to some of the discussions, answering questions from as biblical a perspective as I can.

So NazNet, goodbye.  I’m not seeking comfort from anyone because of this “breakup.”  I’m not trying to act self-righteous; just saying what I believe, as you yourselves do as well.  The main purpose of this post is to warn others who believe the way I believe: don’t stay too long in these “conversations” with the emergent pushers.  It can be harmful to you, and it most likely will be unproductive.  There are too many wolves in this sheep pen, and some of them are very good at twisting scripture. That has been my experience, and hopefully, at least one person will understand that the ones who call themselves the tolerant ones, are far from being tolerant. The bottom line, they have much to defend which is indefensible, and they will rip you apart if necessary.  Not all are like that, and those have tried some civil dialogue, but there are far too many that go the other way.

So the Following Was My Final Comment On NazNet, I Pray It Is A Good Warning:

I’m going to wrap this up here, since some suggestions were made that perhaps we may have a good dialogue going on here. Not so, however. It’s only an illusion.

I realize- yet again- that this is all an exercise in futility for me. So to continue trying to talk to some of you is a waste of time. I have used scripture in a very sound and proper way to illustrate some things to you, but it seems there is always an argument for everything with me, so scripture is twisted again for your purpose. Some of you arguing with me here don’t even believe in the full inspiration of scripture by God, only parts of it.

Dennis Bratcher quotes scripture to scold me, and says he passionately believes the Bible, yet he does not believe the entire Bible- only what he wants to believe. The fact of the matter, there are many of you here who have the same position, evidenced by the fact that some of you have excoriated me and others who believe in the inerrant, infallible word of God, the Book that is God-breathed; God’s word, not man’s word. Yet some here, including ordained pastors, accuse me of practicing bibliolatry, because I believe in the authority of scripture. You reject scripture as infallible, and instead give us this baloney of “only in matters of salvation.” How pathetically sad that any ordained pastor can hold to that position. Well, if you really can say that to me on NazNet, then be consistent and make sure your congregation has NO doubt where you stand on the infallibility (or not) of scripture. Don’t keep on fooling them to think otherwise.

You know I have called this site a breeding ground for emergent heresy, and I stand by that. That is what I believe, based on what many of you state, promote, and defend.

We are in a battle for right doctrines of the Church of God- not just the Nazarene church, so the argument of “this is not what the Nazarene manual says”, is a weak one. Some of you here do not have much respect for doctrine- you seem to focus only on certain “articles of faith” as the minimal requirements for “unity.” Well, that does not make sense biblically, and I have given my position based on scripture, that we are to obey Christ in all that he commands us. Yet some of you have argued to the contrary, and have decided to jettison such teachings that are not convenient for your ideology to prosper.  One that certainly comes to mind are the countless exhortations by Christ and the apostles to “beware of false prophets”, or to “test the spirits, to see if they are of God.”

Many Nazarenes are fighting alongside me against the pagan, anti-Christian practices that have come into our churches and universities, of which we are saying is disobedience to the Lord and sinful. We fight a perverted social gospel that is watering down the true gospel. We fight against an environmental gospel that seems to worship the created more than the Creator. We are fighting against compromise in joining hands with apostate groups and even non-Christian groups, which goes against the word of God. Yet many of you reject the separation that is commanded in scripture. You trust in man-made ways to get closer to and “experience” God, diluting the power of God’s word and our trust and faith in Christ alone, and diminishing the power of the Holy Spirit to teach you through God’s word. And yet, all this that we fight, you call non-essentials.

For these beliefs, we are called uneducated, hate-filled, divisive, extreme fundamentalists. Thus the irony of the topic of this latest post, persecution. Many Nazarenes reject the heretical belief in evolution, because it contradicts the word of God- the very word that Dennis Bratcher says he loves! It does not make sense, Dennis. I believe you love only what you want to love- and throw away the rest. You yourself teach that God is capable of making mistakes. That is heresy, Dennis. And so is open theism, which says God does not know the future. And you either decide to believe evolution, or believe Jesus Christ’s very words.

So for those NazNetters who thought and hoped that we were making some progress here, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but there is none of that happening now. And I realized that, when we cannot even agree on the infallibility of scripture, there is no starting point. When many of you here deny that God’s word can be fully trusted, there is no starting point.

When I mentioned Jay McDaniel’s lecture, instead of even one of you condemning his heresy, you can only say something like “he’s not a Nazarene, and its not relevant to the discussion.” That is so sad, that even teachings that are obviously heretical to some of you, cannot be condemned. Is there a fear of calling out those who pervert the gospel, who dare to indoctrinate our youth with heresy? Some of you are pastors, but where is the questioning of the judgment of allowing such a speaker to poison the minds of our youth? Yet all there is, is silence, nothing but silence. If the Dalai Lama came to your seminary, would you welcome him with open arms also, to preach his universalism, with a phony disclaimer that you don’t necessarily agree with his beliefs? Do any of you draw the line at anything at all when it comes to what is allowed in our schools?

So I am sorry to disappoint some of you, but there will no longer be any further attempts for dialogue from me. There is too much of a gap. This is not about “non-essentials”. This is about obedience to Christ, obedience to the word of God. Not obedience to a church manual, or of caving in to political correctness in exchange for “getting along” with everyone else.  That is not a biblical concept, but instead, flies in the face of scriptural admonitions to reject worldly philosophies.

So I will continue to fight for what is right, what is true; to fight for the Nazarene church and what it has traditionally stood for, holiness; in practice as well as in the statements of faith. But this fight is larger than the Nazarene church, and if at some point God tells me its time to leave the denomination, then it happens. Sadly, many of you are aware of the disastrous results so far.  But your agenda seems to blind you to anything else.

I will continue to pray for those of you who need prayer.

Point Loma: Where Is It Heading?


Where is Point Loma Nazarene University going, spiritually, along with many of the other Nazarene universities and seminary?  Let’s review a few things that have transpired recently just at Point Loma, which I believe speaks volumes.  You decide.

Ligonier Ministries sponsored a conference this year called Christless Christianity: 2010 West Coast Conference.  One of the session speakers was Dr. Peter Jones of truthXchange, who spoke on the topic “A Gnostic Gospel”.  I encourage you to view his entire session (about one hour), it is very good.  There are also other sessions by various speakers, and you can even purchase the entire conference on audio or video for under $15.00.

I purchased Dr. Jone’s session, and at the link below to an excerpt,  you can see what he had to say about two issues; one was about PLNU’s hosting of the Prophetic Imagination Conference, and then he follows that with a short talk on the guru of emergent heresy, Brian McLaren (who is also popular with Point Loma, and has spoken there).  Some of us have been sounding alarm bells about Point Loma for a long time, and for good reason. The Prophetic Imagination Conference was just another downhill slide by a Christian university which apparently is sorely lacking in discernment.  Point Loma also illustrated this by hosting Richard Foster’s Renovare Covenant Retreat on campus this year also.

Here is the link, which is 16 minutes in length:

Related posts on Point Loma Nazarene University: