Mainstream Evangelicalism Embracing Contemplative Mysticism

from Pastor Ken Silva at Apprising Ministries:

on Jun 28, 2011


O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.
Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?
Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

(Galatians 3:1-3)

Pretending To Be Protestant Evangelicals Adopting Roman Catholic Ascetic Practices

As part of our online apologetics and discernment labors Apprising Ministries been documenting the New Downgrade within evangelicalism, which accelerated when its own mainstream made the fateful decision to more fully embrace the sinfully ecumenical Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church. Now upgraded to the Emerging Church 2.0, it actually has its own new postmodern form of “big tent” Progressive Christianity—a Liberalism 2.0—sometimes referred to by these rebels against the final authority of God’s Word as Emergence Christianity.

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. I’ve told you before that this spurious CSM—the refried Roman Catholic mysticism “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, was a core doctrine in the EC right from its hatching in hell.

Let me give you an idea of how long this CSM has been slithering around in mainstream evangelicalism and exactly how far it has now spread. Dr. Gary Gilley has just reviewed The Life You’ve Always Wanted, Spiritual Disciplines For Ordinary People By John Ortberg and begins by telling us that Ortberg is:

a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, [who] published The Life You’ve Always Wanted in 1997 and expanded it in 2002. (Online source)

So this book dates back to when the EC left from its demonic den to begin slithering toward your local church circa 1997; and further, Willow Creek—though like the EC a part of the semi-pelagian (at best) Church Growth Movement—is not Emergent but a highly influential evangelical church in the more Purpose Driven/Seeker Driven-type camp. Yet just look at the CSM skubalon Ortberg throws at the flock:

The book, however, is heavily laced with the teachings, and teachers, of mysticism and Roman Catholic traditions and rituals.

The authors he draws from and quotes are a virtual Who’s—Who of mystics both past and present:

Richard Foster (pp. 9, 81, 100, 112, 113, 143)
Dallas Willard (pp. 10, 27, 35, 43, 52, 66, 92, 106)
St. John of the Cross (pp. 36, 157)
Thomas Kelly (pp. 76, 140, 150)
Thomas Merton (pp. 85, 95, 96)
Henri Nouwen (PP. 86, 99, 158, 161, 180)
Julian of Norwich (p. 91)
George Fox (p. 142)
Ignatius of Loyola (p. 142)
The Desert Fathers (pp. 171, 180)
Francois Fenelon (p. 173)
Madame Guyon (p. 186)

In addition, there are assorted liberals and Roman Catholic leaders that he quotes positively including:

James Dunn (p. 31)
G. K. Chesterton (p. 61)
Mother Teresa (pp. 66-68)
Carl Jung (p. 77)
Tony Campolo (p. 104)
Pope John XXIII (pp. 124, 207)
Soren Kierkegaard (pp. 11, 175, 218)

And as expected, since this book is about “spiritual disciplines for ordinary people,” there is much borrowed from Roman Catholic tradition, especially from the mystical wing (pp. 44, 54, 98, 102, 131, 201). (Online source)

Despite all of the above reasons to roundly reject it, as you can see below, this book of Romish coprolite comes highly recommended by Saddleback Church of Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren:


(Online source)

For more on books by teachers of CSM, which you’ll find recommended and sold at Saddlback, I refer you to a couple of my pieces from last year, Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, And Spiritual Disciplines and Saddleback Church, Rick Warren, And Spiritual Disciplines. So here I’ll just show you that right underneath Ortberg’s book of mystic mythology at Saddleback’s recommended resources for Spiritual Disciplines you’ll find both of the main gurus in what’s becoming a cult of Foster-Willardism:


(Online source)

Notice that both of these books are made available to its flock by Saddleback, itself one of the most influential churches within the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest *cough* Protestant denomination in the U.S. Dr. Gilley has rightly referred to Foster’s magnum opus as a virtual encyclopedia of theological error.[1] I guess other than that it’s a pretty valuable book for evangelical Protestants; such is the growing syncretism and spiritual blindness. Ah, but there’s more; you’re probably aware that Dr. John Piper has apparently taken it upon himself to rehabilitate Rick Warren’s rep for the Reformed community. 

Well, let me now show you that they may possibly have even more in common than we knew. A year ago I wrote Questions Concerning Dr. John Piper where, even after they changed links at the online library of Bethlehem Baptist Church (BBC) of John Piper, we also find both books by Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. The links for the BBC library have again been redone since that piece I just referenced; however, today we will still find Foster:


(Online source)

You’ll also still find Foster’s sidekick Dallas Willard as well:


(Online source)

The other day in John Piper, Rick Warren & Foster-Willardism I pointed out that Foster’s Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home actually teaches us how do practice the crown jewel of CSM, a form of meditation in an altered state of consciousness commonly known as Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP), which was never taught by Jesus or His Apostles. I’ve also told you in previous AM posts such as Acts 29 Network And Reformed Counter Reformation Spirituality? and Mark Driscoll And Neo-Reformed New Calvinist Contemplative Spirituality, this CSM really is infiltrating the younger sector of the Reformed camp.

In my estimation there’s very good reason for concern as these people, because of the credibility of John Piper—who’s seen by some as a “pioneer” of this New Calvinism[2], are rapidly growing in popularity and influence within the younger sectors of largely pretending to be Protestant mainstream evangelicalism. Another who is also making quite an impact within what looks to me to be a postmodern form of Calvinism, which embraces Reformation theology and then weds it with Counter Reformation spirituality, is Dr. Tim Keller. Note the following resource recommended by Saddleback:


(Online source)

This Spiritual Disciplines Handbook (SDH) by Adele Calhoun, a pastrix at Redeemer Community Church, is part of the fetid Formatio line at InterVarsityPress (IVP), which itself is absolutely chock full of CSM skubalon. We’re told SDH will teach us, “Fasting. Solitude. Contemplative prayer. Lectio divina.” [3] My guess is this is the kind of stuff that would prompt former staff worker at IVP, J. Mack Stiles, to write What’s Happening to InterVarsity? that ran recently at 9 Marks. And sadly, we aren’t even surprised anymore to see Tim Keller as the first with an endorsement for SDH:


(Online source)

And just what “profited” Dr. Keller from the “experience” of pastrix Calhoun (in violation of God’s Word) that he would wish to so “highly recommend?” Well, right on the back cover of her SDH Calhoun tells us this handbook of heterodox (at best) practices features “how to” information on CCP and Lectio Divina. As I peruse my personal copy of SDH I’m informed that I can learn how to “open myself to God” through the Examen of Counter Reformation figure Ignatius of Loyola, founder of that militantly pro-Roman Catholic Church spiritual Gestapo Unit aka the Jesuits; who weren’t real fond of Protestant Reformers.

You need to understand this stuff isn’t a mere abberation, and it’s definitely not guilt by association; no, this is guilt by endorsement. Remember, John Piper is the one who opened up Warrengate and then decided to continue promoting him in a recent interview, which I covered e.g. in John Piper Interviews Rick Warren At Saddleback. So, if you want more information, here I’ll just point you Hangin’ With Mr. Piper (Some Observations On The Piper-Warren Interview) by Lane Chaplin:

there has been a lot of talk with Warren being called a chameleon, and I certainly appreciate this commentary. There is abundant evidence for this conclusion. However, make no mistake, “chameleon” is just a nicer way of saying, “hypocrite” or “deceiver.” The interesting part is that the “chameleon” label is not just being applied by wing-nut discernment folk who also believe aliens give them Smucker’s for their toast every morning. It is also being applied by significant leaders in evangelicalism abroad to characterize Warren.

I find this encouraging. A true leader stands up in the face of adversity, and it’s refreshing to see so many leaders not capitulating to Piper’s endorsement even though it may, no doubt, cost them something temporal whether that be status, income from books, advertising, etc. (Online source)

Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism Is Melding Evangelicals And Progressive/Liberals

As I begin to close this out, for now, I’ll tell you plainly that the concern needs to be the kind of fruit that this refried Roman Catholic mysticism invariably produces. Lord willing, and should funding allow, I plan to document further for you what CSM does to those who persist in it. Your biggest clues are 1) as it spread through the antibiblical monastic traditions of the Church of Rome, CSM played a major role in producing apostate Roman Catholicism in the first place; and 2) just take a look at what it’s done to those in the Emerging Church like its iconic rock star pastor Rob Bell, who’s now openly arguing for Christian Universalism through his Love Wins mythology.

Here’s an example that touches directly upon both Willow Creek and Saddleback; at his inaugural Radicalis conference Rick Warren featured a CSM guru by the name of Peter Scazzero (in video below), founder and pastor of New Life Fellowship Church:


(Online source)

As you can see, Scazzero’s shtick is teaching CSM to Protestant evangelical pastors; and you need to know that he also does it for the Willow Creek Association (WCA), which extends from the man-centered Church Growth Movement mega-church Willow Creek Community Church. In Peter Scazzero Recommending Contemplative/Centering Prayer I brought out how we’re told that WCA “is regarded as the most influential ministry to evangelical pastors in the U.S.”[4] You’ll see below that Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (EHS) is officially partnered with WCA:


(Online source)

The point is, with the ringing endorsement of CGM gurus Rick Warren and Bill Hybels we can see that Peter Scazzero, sadly, is now gaining more and more of a forum within mainstream evangelical circles for his Romish psychobabble, which has little to nothing to do with proper Christian spirituality. They aren’t the only ones recommending Scazzero either; consider what Redeeemer Presbyterian Church (RPC) of Tim Keller lists under Recommended Resources for Community Formation and Small Group Ministries:

As I first showed you in Tim Keller Also Promoting Mystic Guru Peter Scazzero, on page 144 of The Emotionally Healthy Church (EMC) Scazzero teaches the mystic myth of the “true self”; and as you’ll see below, he appeals to apostate Roman Catholic mystics Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen to do it:

Since guru Scazzero uses Merton as his expert witness on this so-called true self, and you can see in Thomas Merton And The Buddhas his lifelong devotion to CSM would make him more like the Buddha than the Christ, I’ll tell you it ends up a clear denial of the cardinal doctrine of original sin. Merton mused that at “the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth.”[6] And here’s a couple of revelations from Nouwen that he gleaned from his CSM:

One of the discoveries we make in [contemplative/centering] prayer is that the closer we come to God, the closer we come to all our brothers and sisters in the human family. God is not a private God. The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is also the God who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being.[7]

Today I personally believe that Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her way to God.[8]

Note Nouwen, like all mystics, believed God already dwells within each human being thereby negating need for  regeneration; and what is more he also adhered to the Love Wins mythology of Christian Universalism now argued for by Rob Bell from inside mainstream evangelicalism. Well, following is a little sample of where CSM has been leading Peter Scazzero himself; he who is so highly recommended by Rick Warren, WCA, and RPC. Look at this tweet sent out by Scazzero a little while back:


(Online source)

The link above takes us to Contemplative Outreach where we’re told that Living Spiritual Teacher and apostate Roman Catholic monk Thomas Keating is it spiritual guide:


(Online source)

You can learn more about guru Keating’s mystic musings in Thomas Keating On Contemplative/Centering Prayer; for now, I want to draw your attention to the book Centering Prayer and Inner AwakeningLiving Spiritual Teacher and EC guru Brian McLaren: (CPIA) by Cynthia Bourgeault (below), which Peter Scazzero tells us he’s “[e]njoying as part of my time with God.” I’m going to show you just how united these neo-Gnostic dreamers are becoming, and just how far they have now penetrated into the heart of mainstream evangelicalism. We have real reason for concern here because you’re about to see this even includes heretical progressive/liberals like

In Good Shepherd Church Going Ape…Almost I first told you about “The Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault, Ph.D” whom The Contemplative Society informs us is an:

Episcopal priest, writer, and internationally known retreat leader [who] divides her time between solitude on Eagle Island, Maine, and a demanding schedule traveling globally to teach and spread the recovery of the Christian contemplative path. She is the founding Director of both The Contemplative Society and the Aspen Wisdom School. (Online source)

Her name is already familiar to those of us tracking the traitorous teachings of McLaren because in his post 11 Women Writers You Should Be Reading McLaren mused:

Here are some of my favorite women writers of spirituality and theology in no particular order with short comments on why I recommend them… 5. Cynthia Bourgeault: Cynthia reminds me of Thomas Merton — she is a mystic with a brilliant mind who deserves far wider readership. (Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening)… (Online source, bold his)

Notice guru McLaren specifically recommends CPIA. Well, I turn now to my personal copy of Bourgeault’s book—also cited above by Scazzero—and following I’ll show you what this “mystic with a brilliant mind,” who “reminds” McLaren of the CSM Golden Buddha Thomas Merton, and whom apparently guru Scazzero also feels “deserves a far wider readship.” Here’s what she has to tell us concerning the alleged “awakening” mystics seek in their silent meditation, i.e. CCP:

But why is intentional silence so important to this process of awakening?… I had read somewhere that without spiritual training the human mind is unable to concentrate on anything for more than two minutes… The Buddhists smilingly call this “monkey mind.” The little beast jumps from one tree limb to the other, taking the whole of it with us.[9]

Bourgeault also draws from the work of Living Spiritual Teacher of New Age spirituality Eckhart Tolle; and in the midst of a bunch of psychobabble about the “work on self,” she tells us in CPIA—whose foreword is done by the aforementioned guru Thomas Keating—that:

Most spiritual teachers link the inner observer [alleged true self] with a state of being they call presence, or in other words, an active awareness of Being itself [pantheism or panentheism]. Rather than getting lost in the contents of consciousness (those “reactions, desires, and aversions” Tolle speaks of), you learn to pay attention to the field of consciousness as well—not just the boats [individual-self] floating down the river, but the river itself [God-self].[10]

That’s why the mystics seek to silence the mind, aka the “monkey mind” as they seek union with God in their true—untouched by sin—self. So to further instruct us about this mythic monkey mind I’ll now call as an expert witness Shane Hipps, the new co-teaching pastor now along with his good friend Rob Bell at Mars Hill Bible Church. The below is from his sermon Enlightenment, which is all about the supposed “spiritual discipline of silence” aka CCP. MHBC pastor Hipps hopes:

Silent prayer is when you go to a silent place and then you quiet the mind; and you don’t say anything to God…you just “be.” Now, if any of you have ever tried this, you know it’s totally maddening (laughs) to try to just stop thinking, right?

And because we all know that’s pretty much impossible because the mind is like a frantic monkey bouncing around on the inside of your brain…[11]

If there’s any question of the origin of this monkey mind myth, let me refer you to The Monkey Mind entry in the online A Guide to Buddhism A to Z where we find out:

The monkey mind (kapicitta) is a term sometimes used by the Buddha to describe the agitated, easily distracted and incessantly moving behaviour of ordinary human consciousness (Ja.III,148; V,445). Once he observed: ‘Just as a monkey swinging through the trees grabs one branch and lets it go only to seize another, so too that which is called thought, mind or consciousness arises and disappears continually both day and night’ (S.II,93). (Online source)

Which now begs the question: Why are Christians, who ostensibly have a personal relationship with God in Christ, now having to turn to Buddhists, who may or may not even believe there is a God, in order to learn about Christian spirituality? You might want to consider this: With today’s barely even pretending to be Protestant evangelical community we have now come full circle in turning to pagans, and adopting their spiritual practices. This is precisely what those original apostate desert hermits in the third century would do; and through John Cassian their mystic musings would then go on to flower in the aformentioned Roman Catholic monastic traditions.

Again, bottom line: That deceptive subjectivism would eventually lead to the Protestant Reformation; but unfortunately, this time I don’t see any Reformers, just joiners. I’ve been warning you, in no uncertain terms, that it’s well past time for recognizing the inclusive—and increasingly universal—fruit of the Emerging Church, and of the spiritual skubalon of Foster-Willardism. You see, they go hand-in-hand; all who dabble in this mysticism eventually begin to believe God is trying to bring unity and all Christian factions together. Is it any wonder we see Saddleback Church Of Rick Warren Using Rob Bell Teachings?

You really can’t see that those in the Emerging Church on the wild goose chase after another spirit are merely a little farther down the path than the Ortbergs and the Warrens are, for now? You mean to say you haven’t noticed the drastic drift of neo-Gnostic mystics like Rob Bell over the past few years resulting in his ear-tickling Love Wins mythology? I’m telling you, from years of studying mysticism, be it from Living Spiritual Teacher and Roman Catholic priest Richard Rohr to Sufi Islam to Hinduism, all mystics eventually end up in love with mankind; and then later finally shipwreck upon the reef of universalism.

The truth is, God is not going to save everyone and He isn’t trying to bring all religions together; or even all traditions of professing Christendom for that matter. However, this isn’t what you’re hearing right now in the broader visible church; and the fact is, the spread of mysticism has much to do with this. Bank on it, you’ll hear more and more of the below mumbo jumbo in the days to come:


(Online source)

It should be quite obvious that the Apostles and other early Christians were not martyred for encouraging questions; no, they were murdered for offering Jesus as the only answer to man’s sin problem. Let me warn you, as evangelicalism drifts deeper into mysticism you’ll see more people laying aside answers, i.e. doctrinal distinctives, in order to join The Emerging Church On Its Wild Goose Chase. This is because God is sending 1 Peter 4:17 judgments upon this gelatinous generation and allowing spiritual darkness to increase. A word to the wise among us, it has now become Critical To Know Your Bible!

Next time I’ll give you yet another peek at the future of evangelicalism if its younger sectors, from years of propaganda from Foster-Willardism and by Emergent leaders like universalist Emerging Church pastor Doug Pagitt, continue on their current course.

_________________________________________________________________________
End Notes:

[1] http://tiny.cc/7k2bz, accessed 6/28/11.

[2] http://tinyurl.com/az6xvh, accessed 6/28/11.

[3] http://tiny.cc/h3vv9, accessed 6/28/11.

[4] http://www.willowcreek.com/about/, accessed 6/28/11.

[5] Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Church [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003], 144.

[6] Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander [New York: Doubleday, 1966], 158, emphasis mine.

[7] Henri Nouwen, Here And Now [New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1994], 24, 25, emphasis mine.

[8] Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey [New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1998], 51, emphasis mine.

[9] Cynthia Bourgeault, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening [Cambridge: Cowley Publications, 2004 ], 10, 11.

[10] Ibid., 126.

[11] From transcript within my post Shane Hipps Exposed II.

See also:

THE WILD GOOSE OF THE EMERGING CHURCH IS NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT

THE DANIEL PLAN OF RICK WARREN ENCOURAGES “NEW AGE WACKO-ISM”

DR. JOHN PIPER AND UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

DONALD WHITNEY, MYSTICISM, AND SPIRITUALITY WITHOUT BOUNDARIES

CONTEMPLATIVE/CENTERING PRAYER AS “CHRISTIAN” MEDITATION

WRONG SPIRITUAL PRACTICES REPRODUCE SAME WRONG EXPERIENCES

MEDITATION AWAKENING FOR TRANSFORMATION OF THE GLOBAL FAMILY

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2 responses to “Mainstream Evangelicalism Embracing Contemplative Mysticism

  1. If only contemplative prayer was the art of learning to comprehend your own thoughts as the voice of God. Sadly it is far more dangerous than that. Contemplative prayer leads one into the spiritual realm where one is exposed to the voices of those who have chosen to rebel against God and align themselves with the deceiver. That’s why Richard Foster warns against entering into centering prayer without first praying a prayer of protection; a prayer which sounds more like an incantation calling on the powers of various artifacts and not a simple request for God’s protection. And why would a believer ever need protection to enter into prayer with God? Are we not given the right to approach the throne boldly because of the sacrifice that he himself made for us?

  2. Manny,
    An excellent critique by Bro. Ken exposing false teachings and those who promote the same. I agree with Clumsy Sword Bearer in that it is far more dangerous and exposes those who practice such to voices of those who rebel against God. For those who practice this heretical ideology is only deceiving themselves and are substituting the genuine pathway to Christ by false means, which is no path at all.

    In my opinion when pastors will no longer stand and declare the “whole counsel of God” then they must rely on other means such as; feelings and soothing words that sadly leads people away from God, rather than to God. I believe that many today no longer listen to the Holy Spirit who was given to speak the “whole counsel of God.”

    The work of the Holy Spirit is not a mystery and His work in the world was confirmed by Jesus Himself in John [16:7-11] “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is in your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me, of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more, of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

    It can’t get much plainer than that. Why some feel they need to substitute another in place of the Holy Spirit is beyond me? In Psalms [37:23-24] “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.” The Psalmist recognized the true assurance, it is God, not some mysterious mystical means. And it is God who upholds him, not by keeping or performing some unintelligible ritual as practiced by pagan worship.

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