Olivet Nazarene University Promoting Contemplative Spirituality

“It is not surprising to us that Olivet Nazarene University promotes Spiritual Formation. (Lighthouse Trails Research)

It appears all the Nazarene universities are involved in promoting contemplative spirituality; however, if any university president would like to disavow that they promote Spiritual Formation programs (aka contemplative spirituality), and that they do not endorse any of these types of contemplative authors in their programs, I will post that here publicly.

The following specific facts are extracted from a post at Lighthouse Trails Research regarding Olivet Nazarene University:

Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline, is used in a required freshman course.
Spiritual Formation is part of the school’s major theology curriculums
Henri Nouwen’s books are used in at least 4 courses
The Vice President of Spiritual Life lists Nouwen as one of his favorite authors

This is troubling news, and if we dig deeper and get closer, I’m sure we would find that there is no denying that these sources are used because those at the school who use them, have no problem with them.  No professor or school leader is going to use or recommend any of these books I mentioned, unless they have no problem with what these authors teach!  These books are not being used as examples of what to avoid, but examples of what can supposedly help us grow spiritually.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  That Olivet is considered by many to be one of the more conservative Christian colleges is not a very good sign.

As the writers mention below, practically all Nazarene colleges and the seminaries are promoting spiritual formation (aka contemplative spirituality), and these kinds of writers.  Foster has appeared at seminars in some Nazarene universities, such as at Point Loma.  He is considered the leading promoter of contemplative mysticism today within the “evangelical” community.  Nouwen was a universalist Catholic monk who mixed Christianity with Buddhism.  Tony Campolo has spoken at Olivet, even just recently, and apparently no one there has any problem with him.  Campolo is a big promoter of centering prayer, the mantra like Jesus Prayer, and also promotes the occultic practices of Celtic Spirituality.  I sent my concerns about him to Dr. Carl Leth, dean of the School of Theology, but apparently he has no problem in having Dr. Campolo speak there.

I agree with the conclusions of Lighthouse Trails, and again I commend ministries like them who are consistently exposing what is going on in not only the Nazarene denomination, but in practically all denominations.  The only question that remains on the table is this: why are some of you okay with it, and if you are not, why are some of you so silent?

This post is being forwarded to Olivet president Dr. Bowling, and to Dr. Leth.  I would like to get a reasonable, biblically supported explanation of why these kinds of authors are used in a required freshman course, and in other theology courses.  Perhaps they are using these authors as examples of bad theology?  But if not, and Olivet claims to be “theologically grounded in the Wesleyan tradition”, what does that have to do with Richard Foster and Henri Nouwen’s promotion of unbilical contemplative spirituality?

I am also sending this to the Board of General Superintendents for comment.  What they think about these issues is still unknown to me and many others who have asked them to comment.

Olivet Nazarene University 105th School Added to Lighthouse Trails Contemplative School List

February 11th, 2012 | Author: Lighthouse Trails Editors

 

On Saturday morning, Lighthouse Trails received an e-mail from a concerned parent whose child is attending Olivet Nazarene University. The parent told us that Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline is part of a required Freshman course. We have also discovered that Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative spirituality) is integrated in various aspects of the school including their Christian Education program, Practical Ministries, Youth Ministry, and the School of Theology. Thus we have added Olivet Nazarene University to our list of Christian schools that promote Spiritual Formation.

In addition to Richard Foster’s book, Henri Nouwen’s books are used in at least 4 courses. In two of those (CMIN 116, COMM 300), his contemplative promoting book In the Name of Jesus is used. This is the book that Kay Warren, Rick Warren’s wife, recommends saying it “hits at the heart of the minister . . .  I highlighted almost every word.”1 It is in that book of Nouwen’s that he says:

Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love . . . For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required.2 (emphasis added)

In almost every school that promotes Spiritual Formation, Henri Nouwen is used. This is because the spirituality that Nouwen advocated for is the same spirituality that Spiritual Formation (contemplative) inhabits. When you think of where Spiritual Formation took Nouwen before the end of his life (after years of practicing mysticism), it is sobering to see the majority of Christian colleges and seminaries embrace him. In the last book he wrote, he stated:

Today I personally believe that while 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 own way to God.”3

What Nouwen says here illustrates the “fruit” of contemplative spirituality. It is not surprising to us that Olivet Nazarene University promotes Spiritual Formation. It appears all the Nazarene universities are involved in promoting contemplative spirituality; however, if any university president would like to disavow that they promote Spiritual Formation programs (aka contemplative spirituality), and that they do not endorse any of these types of contemplative authors in their programs, I will post that here publicly. We have documented this for years. If you want to see one of the most shocking signs of where evangelical Christian schools will end up, read our article Buddhist/Universalist Sympathizer Woos Nazarene Students at NNU and watch the video we link to of Dr. Jay McDaniel’s visit to Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho.

Nouwen’s influence is obvious at Olivet. The VP of Spiritual Life lists Nouwen as one of his favorite authors. This of course could have a profound influence on many students. Parents, please remember, when you are looking for a college or university for your son or daughter to attend this coming fall, please check that school out carefully beforehand, and make sure your child understands what the underlying roots of contemplative and emerging spirituality are before they leave your home. It is by no means just Nazarene Universities that are being affected. This is happening in virtually every denomination to one degree or another.

Original link: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=8761

Additional Resources:

1. Rick Warren quoting Kay Warren on the Ministry Toolbox (Issue #54, 6/5/2002, (http://web.archive.org/web/20081227044856/http://legacy.pastors.com/RWMT/?ID=54).

2. Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 2000), pp. 6, 31-32.

3. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey, Hardcover edition, 1998, p. 51.

 

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4 responses to “Olivet Nazarene University Promoting Contemplative Spirituality

  1. I think the problem is that it’s a lot easier to go with the “Why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along?” mentality than it is to stand up for the truth. As has been said before, our mentality is such that anybody who says anything remotely positive about Jesus is to be labeled a Christian.

  2. I think that Richard Bennett a former Jesuit Priest in his video on “Roman Catholic Mysticism and the Emergent Church” summed up what is going on in many churches today that are following these pagan practices of old. He said; “Mysticism is an attempt to gain ultimate knowledge of God by a direct experience that bypasses the mind, as practiced by those who claim to be Christian, mysticism not only bypasses the mind, but it circumvents Jesus Christ as mediator.” He points out these pagan practices were not ancient Christian practices; they were ancient practices of the apostate church. He concluded that in other words these practices cannot transform but deforms in its practice.

    Our devotion is of the hidden man of the heart and not the outward appearance such as done in “Ashes to Fire.” I believe the instructions that Jesus gave on fasting and prayer in Matthew is for all generations in our worship of the creator and not to elevate the creature as if by his or her own merit can add anything that will usher them into the presence of God. To compare lent where we give up some small thing to the fast of our Lord is a false assumption that we are achieving the same level of devotion. In the Greek fasting as our Lord did for forty days in the wilderness was a total abstinence from food.

    Mt [6:5-7] “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Mt [6:16-18] “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (NKJV)

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