This page has summaries of some of the heretical writers, monks, mystics, and current spiritual formation leaders, that were featured in books promoted by Dr. Doug Hardy of Nazarene Theological Seminary, for the use at the Hardy Library of Spiritual Formation, at Windsor Hills Camp in New Hampshire.
This follows my original post regarding the Windsor Camp Library.
(The original link at Windsor Camp is: http://www.whcamp.org/whc/webpages/Facilities.htm where you can access the pdf document)
After reading these summaries, which are all documented, you may wonder… where is the discernment?
(Thanks to David Cloud as a source for almost all these summaries, from his book, Contemplative Mysticism: A Powerful Ecumenical Bond*. It is available at Way of Life website and is an excellent, easy to read resource for understanding contemplative mysticism)
Ignatius of Loyola
Founder of the Jesuits, pronounced a saint in 1622. He wrote mystical heresy which can be found in the Barefoot Ministries book! His Spiritual Exercises is actually recommended and quoted in one of the Barefoot books. Dedicated himself to Mary, making a vow of chastity to her. He practiced extreme asceticism, living for a year in a cave, wearing rags, never bathing, begging for his food. He scourged and starved himself and slept very little. He taught absolute obedience to Rome in his book Spiritual Exercises. The members of his Jesuit order were willing to lie, steal, and kill for the pope and for their immediate superiors. He is extremely influential in today’s modern contemplative movement through his Spiritual Exercises. These emphasize purifying oneself through asceticism and using the imagination in prayer. It is popular with retreat directors. Visualization prayer is a central part of Ignatius’ exercises, but as David Cloud points out in his book, it is heretical, and is: disobedience, vain and foolish because it is pure fantasy, it is not faith, it goes beyond divine revelation, and it is dangerous. (Contemplative Mysticism, pg. 261-272). Yet, this is a book that can be found in many a Nazarene pastor’s library as a good resource!
Ignatius also promoted the use of spiritual directors, which is a popular new type of position now; he promoted breath prayers; he taught a works gospel.
Catherine of Genoa
Declared a saint in 1737. Practiced asceticism from age eight. Devoted to mystical contemplation and lived like a hermit even as a married woman. Intensely devoted to Mass and took it almost daily. Believed in purgatory, thought she actually experienced it. She also claimed to have experienced unity with God.
Catherine of Sienna
Declared a saint in 1461. Lived in near solitude from age of seven. Spent three years in solitary prayer in a little room, nine by three feet. Lived long periods with no food or water except the wine and wafers of the Mass. Scourged herself three times a day with an iron chain. Slept only a half-hour every other day, on a hard board. Her self-punishment left her body covered with gaping wounds, which she blithely referred to as her “flowers.” She claimed to have exchanged hearts with Jesus and experienced a “mystical marriage” with Him in which He appeared
She supposedly had intense visions of heaven, hell, and purgatory. She depended on many vision and voices for personal guidance rather than the Bible.
Was made a saint in 1482. His book The Mind’s Journey to God has been influential in promoting mysticism. He taught the gross heresy that the believer is a “spiritual Mary” that can conceive Christ. He was a great venerator of Mary, and was devoted to the Idolatrous Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Francis de Sales
French Jesuit priest, sainted in 1665. He fiercely opposed the Protestants. Two of his books promoted mysticism. He taught silent contemplation whereby the soul is drawn into a quiet “so deep in its tranquility that the whole soul and all its power remain as if sunk on sleep” (Christian Mystics, p. 162).
Francis of Assissi (1181-1226)
Founded the Fransiscan Order. Canonized as a saint in 1228. In his twenties he allegedly saw Jesus looking at him through the eyes of a crucifix, telling him to repair a ruined church. Fransic spent much time in solitude and contemplative practices. He supposedly saw a vision of a seraph angel crucified. “Suddenly he saw a vision of a seraph, a six-winged angel on a cross. This angel gave him the gift of the five wounds of Christ” (Gilbert Chesterton, St. Francis of Assissi, 1924, p. 131)
He was a great venerator of the Catholic Mary. “I therefore command all my Brothers, those living now and those to come in the future, to venerate the Holy Mother of God…” (Rule of the Frians Minor). Francis once addressed a wolf as a “brother”, preached to “my sisters the birds”, and also preached to the flowers. On his deathbed he supposedly thanked his donkey for carrying him around, and the donkey wept.
A Catholic monastic who taught that union with God was achieved in three stages: Purgatorio, Illuminato, and Unitio. This is not a scriptural teaching.
Julian of Norwich
Catholic mystic from England, whom Thomas Merton called “the greatest of the English mystics.” She was an extreme ascetic, lived in a tiny cell with one small window. Her food was passed through the window. She believed that the bread of the Mass was Christ. She believed that God and Jesus are our Mother, that God lives in all men, that God is all things and is in all things, that sin is not shameful but honorable, and that God has no wrath.
St. John of the Cross
Carmelite friar and priest, a mystic, and a major figure in the Counter Reformation. He was an ascetic who abused his body. His mystical object was the soul’s union with God. He wrote poems describing the mystical search of the soul for God.
He spoke of a “nothing” (nada) experience achieved through mysticism. He held to a pantheistic doctrine, saying, “My beloved [God] is the high mountains, and the lovely valley forests, unexplored islands, rushing rivers”
Bernard of Clairvaux
French Cistercian monk, canonized as a saint in 1174. Authored the book Homilies in Praise of the Virgin Mother. He called her the Queen of Heaven, the Star, the ladder on which sinners may climb to God, the royal road to God. He was a fierce opponent of the Bible believers who refused to submit to the pope, persecuting them in southern France. He practiced an asceticism that was so radical (intense fasting, sleep deprivation) that he was emaciated and often ill.
St. Teresa of Avila
She was part of the Carmelite order, which was devoted to Mary. She hated Protestants, and believed that they brought damnation to themselves by rejecting Rome and the Mass. She was greatly influenced by books on mystical asceticism. She believed in works salvation. She was devoted to Mary, other saints, and especially to Joseph. She believed that the consecrated wafer in the Mass is Christ. She believed in purgatory. She inflicted tortures on herself and practiced extreme asceticism. She practiced mindless meditation and often went into ecstatic “raptures.” She often feared that she was possessed or influenced by the devil. She alleged to have seen Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father. She also claimed to have seen many demons, and that the most effective thing against them was holy water. She claimed to have seen and talked with many dead people.
German Augustinian monk. Author of The Imitation of Christ. It is a series of meditations on the spiritual life of monastics. He taught blind acceptance of the Mass. He said that an inquiry into truth is permissible only if one is ready to follow the “teachings of the fathers” and “believe his saints”. (Contemplative Mysticism, p. 277-279)
Odd fact: he was denied sainthood when his body was dug up and splinters were found under his fingernails- he had apparently been buried alive! The canonization authorities concluded that a true saint would not fight death in such a manner.
A serious practitioner of contemplative prayer. She was taught in her spirit that all men are children of God. In her writings you will find many disturbing admissions from her of having a darkness in her soul, and feeling empty. She too believed that the host of the Mass (the wafer) was the actual body of Christ.
German Dominican priest who taught complex gnostic and pagan doctrines. His theology was akin to Hinduism. He taught that God was “pure intellect and not being”, and that man at his highest level is one with God. He said that in every man there is divinity and spiritual wisdom. In order to be united with God, “the soul” must be purified by practicing asceticism, detachment, silence and withdrawal, by forgetting ideas and concepts, and by not loving anything that is created.” He taught evolution and reincarnation. He denied Christ’s substitutionary atonement. He taught that Christ can be born in the individual’s soul through a process of mysticism and sacramentalism.
Francois de Salignac de La Mothe Fenelon
French Roman Catholic theologian. One of the main advocates of quietism, a philosophy with much influence on many mystics.
Founder of the Quaker movement. Among other things, Quakers teach that all Christians have a special “Inner Light”. They also teach that God is IN ALL human beings. Many of them believe in universalism.
A universalist, here are a few statements by Fox to illustrate how he thought:
“Walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone.”
“The Light shines through all.”
“There is that of divinity in all things.”
Here is a quote from their UK website: “Quakers share a way of life, not a set of beliefs. We base our faith on silent worship, and our own experiences of the divine.”
MODERN DAY NOTABLES:
Richard Foster, today’s modern day guru of spiritual formation.
There is so much more documentation, but here just some quotes from his book Prayer:
“Contemplatives sometimes speak of their union with God by the analogy of a log in a fire: the glowing log is so united with the fire that it is fire …”
“What is the goal of Contemplative Prayer? … union with God…. our final goal is union with God, which is a pure relationship where we see nothing.”
“Christians … have developed two fundamental expressions of Unceasing Prayer. The first … is usually called aspiratory prayer or breath prayer. The most famous of the breath prayers is the Jesus Prayer. It is also possible to discover your own individual breath prayer…. Begin praying your breath prayer as often as possible.”
Nouwen, Henri (1932-1996)
Roman Catholic monk who believed that there are many paths to God and each individual can claim their way to God. Was deeply into contemplative prayer, lectio divina. Has a vast influence within the emerging church and evangelicalism. He claimed that contemplative meditation is necessary for an intimacy with God. He taught that the use of a mantra could could take the practitioner into God’s presence. He said that mysticism and contemplative prayer can create ecumenical unity because Christian leaders learn to hear “the voice of love”. He combined the teaching of eastern gurus with ancient Catholic practices. He taught a form of universalism and panentheism (God is in all things). He claimed that every person who believes in a higher power and follows his vision of the future is of God and is building God’s kingdom. He also taught that God is only love, unconditional love (of course that also is contradictory to scripture) (Contemplative Mysticism, by David Cloud, pg. 317-321)
Author of The Message- a very corrupted paraphrase of the Bible. Even Peterson does not consider it a true translation.
He has lots of New Age / occultic ties and influences.
A sample corrupted version from the Lord’s Prayer: instead of “on earth as it is in heaven”, he writes “as above, so below”, an exact quote of an occultic phrase!
Karl Rahner (1904-84)
German Jesuit priest, and theologian. Believed in evolution and salvation apart from faith in Christ. He spoke of the “anonymous Christian”, referring to an individual who unconsciously responds to God’s grace operating in the world, thought he might even reject the gospel. He was heavily involved in contemplative mysticism, and was deeply influenced by Ignatius of Loyola.
More to come as we update this…