I have been disturbed for quite a long time about the contemplative practices which have so poisoned our universities and now are also filtering into so many Nazarene churches (and most all other denominations as well). Our last post highlighted the problems at Point Loma Nazarene University, including the ridiculous fining of at least one student who refused to attend chapel services which promoted this unbiblical practice. Experience, experience, experience… that seems to be the focus of the contemplatives, instead of “God’s Word.. what does it say to us”?
The article below by Pastor Ken Silva at apprising.org continues the focus on these issues, with commentary on one of the most commonly used excuses to justify contemplative or centering prayer, and that is Psalm 46:10.
By Ken Silva pastor-teacher on Sep 23, 2008
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. ”Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. (Psalm 46:1-11, NASB)
Be Still And You’ll Know You’re Being Mislead
The heart of this short article from Apprising Ministries is to bring to your attention that it’s quite common for those who are teachers of the corrupt Contemplative/Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) of so-called Spiritual Formation (SF) to appeal to verse 10 of the above Psalm 46 in an attempt to justify their unbiblical practice of Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP), which is a type of transcendental meditation for the “Christian.” For example you’ll definitely see this in this teaching of Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic “Roshi” Richard Foster as well as that of his spiritual twin ordained Southern Baptist minister Dallas Willard.
Perhaps the best recent example would be the DVD Be Still And Know, which was an veritable ode to CCP. The “Bible Study Guide” that comes with it informs us:
Be Still is an interactive film that provides a contemplative look at the history, importance and power of prayer from a cross-denominational point of view… demonstrat[ing] contemplative reflection as a vital part of our everyday lives… featur[ing] some of today’s most highly respected Christian authors, educators, speakers and ministers including Dr. Henry Cloud, Richard Foster, Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shriver and Dallas Willard. (1)
Sure enough on page 9 under the subheading “Contemplative Prayer” we’re told that, “The Bible speaks specifically about being quiet and still before the Lord.” And the first verse used to support their contention that Scripture is speaking about being “quiet and still” in preparation for CCP meditation is Psalm 46:10. In Prayer: Finding The Heart’s True Home the aforementioned Richard Foster writes:
So many passages of Scripture provide a touchstone for Meditative Prayer: “Be still and know that I am God”; “Abide in my love”; “I am the Good Shepherd”; “Rejoice in the Lord always.” (149)
And then we have Ruth Haley Barton, a spiritual director, teacher ,and retreat leader trained through The Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. Co-Founder & President of The Transforming Center Barton has also been a featured speaker and teacher at Zondervan’s National Pastors Conference for the past couple of years heading up their Pastor’s Retreats. Her book Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence, which by the way you can purchase right from Lifeway Christian Stores of the “Protestant” Southern Baptist Convention, has a foreword from Dallas Willard and an endorsement from Tilden Edwards who heads the interspiritual Shalem Institute.
In her chapter ”Beyond Words” where she describes her “journey” (I’m coming to hate that word) into the “silence and solitude” of CCP Barton opens with a quote from apostate Roman Catholic monk Richard Rohr and explains that “help came from a spiritual director” whom Barton met when she “sought her out for therapy.” Barton then tells us that:
this wise woman said to me, “Ruth, you are like a jar of river water all shaken up. What you need is to sit still long enough that the sentiment can settle and the water can become clear”… well, that image called to me with the hope of peace, clarity and a deeper level of certainty in God than I had ever known. In the desire [which] this image stirred up, I recognized an invitation to be still and know beyond my addiction to noise, words, people and performance-oriented activity. (29, 30)
What Is The Lord Telling Us When He Tells Us Be Still And Know He’s God?
All of this sure sounds pleasing and it most certainly is the prevailing postevangelical view of Psalm 46:10 — Be still, and know that I am God (NIV). The huge problem for the growing band of evangelical CSM supporters in the Emerging rebellion against Sola Scriptura is that this verse has nothing at all to do with the subject of prayer as the context should make clear. Taken in the context of this Psalm, an exclaimation of praise for the glorious absolute sovereignty of the LORD God Almighty, we have a reminder that those who belong to Him should “cease striving”; stop worrying, “be still,” rest quietly, in any kind of situation because the LORD is your God.
Yet how odd that postevangelical and Emergent Church contemplatives content to embrace mystery ala Rob Bell will tell me that I can’t know for sure verse 10 really means what I just told you it does. However, in a perfect demonstration of double-mindedness these same wannabe Christian mystics are then certain that they know this verse is in fact teaching their spurious spirituality. Even so the fact remains that these neo-Gnostics with their supposedly superior understanding of the “real” meaning of Scripture, which out of the other side of their mouths they tell us can’t be clearly understood, have wrested this verse out of its context.
As to a proper view of Psalm 46:10 in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary series Dr. Willem A. VanGemeren is right when he points out that:
the psalmist encourages the godly to “know” that the Lord is God. Though it was tempting to ally themselves with foreign powers, to rely on military strength, or to give themselves over to idolatry and pagan ways, the godly must learn to persevere to the end. The exhortation “be still” calls on them to stop doing one thing in favor of something else. What their temptation was may be implied from v.2: “Therefore we will not fear.”
Throughout the history of Israel and Judah, severe national distress brought the temptation to abandon true religion for the ephemeral security of political alliances, military strength, and worldly paganism (Realpolitik). Instead of choosing a negative option, the people of God distinguish themselves by the pursuit of godliness: “Know that I am God.” The “knowledge” of God includes a factual knowledge about him, his past acts, and his promises. But in this context the psalmist calls on them to commit themselves to the Lord and to seek his “refuge,” “strength,” and “fortress” (vv.1, 7, 11). (Psalm 46, CD Rom)
Then in his own classic The Treasury of David Charles Spurgeon quotes Jonathan Edwards as teaching the following concerning Psalm 46:10 :
Verse 10. Be still, and know that I am God. The great works of God, wherein his sovereignty appeared, had been described in the foregoing verses. In the awful desolations that he made, and by delivering his people by terrible things, he showed his greatness and dominion. Herein he manifested his power and sovereignty, and so commands all to be still, and know that he is God. For says he, I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. In the words may be observed,
A duty described, to be still before God, and under the dispensations of his providence; which implies that we must be still as to words; not speaking against the sovereign dispensations of Providence, or complaining of them; not darkening counsel by words without knowledge, or justifying ourselves and speaking great swelling words of vanity. We must be still as to actions and outward behaviour, so as not to oppose God in his dispensations; and as to the inward frame of our hearts, cultivating a calm and quiet submission of soul to the sovereign pleasure of God, whatever it may be. (Online source)
Next pastor Larry DeBruyn will now give us a good working knowledge of the Hebrew which underlies the English ”Cease striving”, “Be still”:
“Be still” (Hebrew, rapah) is used 46 times in the Old Testament with meanings everywhere from describing laziness to ordering relaxation. Though the majority of versions translate the injunction “Be still”, other meanings are “Cease striving “ (NASB), “Be quiet” (NCV), “Desist” (Young’s), or “Calm down” (CEV). In no biblical usage or context does the Hebrew verb enjoin God’s people to meditate or contemplate. Rather, believers are to rest and trust in God. (Online source, emphasis his)
And in closing, if you are someone who has found themselves attracted to these seducing spirits and their doctrines of demons in CSM and CCP I will now leave you to contemplate the following sound advice and stern warning from pastor Bob DeWaay in his article Contemporary Christian Divination: The False Claims and Practices of Christian Mystics:
I have debated people about these techniques many times. They often say, “God can do anything and use anything, you are tying to put God in a box.” You probably have heard that argument. When I was doing my research on divination for the previous issue of CIC, I thought about the “putting God in a box” accusation. The Biblical record shows that it is God who purposely limits the ways we can come to Him. If there is a “box” God made it. I think a better analogy than a box, is a sheepfold. It is a Biblical analogy.
Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1). The true sheep enter the sheepfold through the door, Jesus Christ (John 10:7). He as the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11). He protects His sheep from the wolves, gives them pasture, and abundant life (John 10:10-15). Being in the sheepfold may seem restrictive compared to the adventures of exploring the bigger world out there unencumbered by the guidance of the Shepherd. However the restrictions are there to save our spiritual lives.
The restrictions God places on how and by what means we may legitimately come to Him and receive spiritual truth are for our own good. The spirit world that Christian mystics like Morton Kelsey want to explore is far more complex than even Jung and Kelsey give it credit for being. The dangers of deception are far more real. In fact, if we journey into the world of the spirits by means other that what God has ordained, we will be deceived, not may be deceived. The spirits who inhabit that world have been there for many thousands of years practicing the art of deception. They willingly give people whatever experience they would tend to think is from God. Jose Silva, who is Catholic, when he went into his alpha level to gain guides received Jesus and Mary. The spirits will give you what you would expect is from God in your own context. They will provide any experience that serves their deceptive purposes, including sending a spiritual “Jesus” (see 2Corinthians 11:4). The prohibitions on divination are there to protect us from these malicious entities.
So we are not putting God in a box, God is putting us in a sheepfold if we are willing to be there. The practices of “thinking outside the box” that are so popular today are fatal when it comes to spirituality. God has not left access to spiritual truth in the hands of innovative thinkers who like pioneers blaze new trails. God has given access to Himself, once for all, through Jesus Christ who is our heavenly High Priest. The truth is revealed once for all in the Scriptures. (Online source, emphasis his)