Contemplative proponents Rick Warren and Lance Witt will be speaking at Thomas Road Baptist Church (home of the late Jerry Falwell) at the Innovate Church conference, starting Monday, August 11th going through Wednesday, the 13th.
Rick Warren, who has been promoting contemplative for over a decade and whose website recommends some of the most blatant mystical promoting books in the Christian market today, will speak Monday night. One of the books featured on Warren’s site right now is SpiritualDisciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun. This book promotes mantra meditation, giving detailed instructions on several types of contemplative practices. In addition, the author quotes from many New Age sympathizers and New Age contemplatives. In Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Ahlberg Calhoun encourages the use of centering prayer, breath prayers, contemplative prayer, labyrinths, palms-up, palms-down exercises, and recommends for further reading a who’s who of mystics.
Lance Witt, another speaker at Thomas Road Baptist this week, is pastor of Spiritual Maturity at Saddleback. In an article written by Witt, titled “Enjoying God’s Presence in Solitude,”, Witt says we are “designed to enjoy the presence of God, but that’s easier said than done.” In the article, Witt uses Thomas Merton as an example of someone who knew about solitude. But Merton’s solitude was connected to his Buddhist sympathies. Merton likened contemplative prayer to an LSD trip.
Lighthouse Trails has spoken with Lance Witt, via email, and asked him if the kind of contemplative prayer he taught was a practice in which words or phrases are repeated over and over. He told us that it was indeed this type of prayer he taught.
Tim Clinton will also be speaking at Innovate Church. Clinton is the president of the AACC (American Association of Christian Colleges). This organization has been promoting contemplative spirituality for some time. In the AACC Code of Ethics, which incidentally is sitting on the Liberty University website, it admits that mystic Richard Foster has “influenced” the work at AACC (and Liberty?). 1 (see p. 3) The AACC website promotes the following mysticism-promoting authors: David Benner, John Ortberg, Gary Thomas
in the recent past Leonard Sweet, Dan Allender. In Clinton’s own book, Competent Christian Counseling, he turns to mystics proponents such as Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, New Ager M. Scott Peck and others for spiritual insights. Gleaning from Foster and Willard (p. 421), Clinton says spiritual disciplines, including solitude (contemplative) must be taught.
Dave Earley will also be speaking at the conference this week. Earley is Chairman of the Department of Pastoral Ministries and Church Expansion at Liberty Theological Seminary. In an article on his website that he wrote titled Special Intimacy Prayer, Earley says: “Special intimacy prayer is more than prayer of the lips or of the mind. It is the deep prayer of the heart.” This is where he references Richard Foster’s book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home. In that book, Foster explains what he means by “prayer of the heart.” He recommends the practice of breath prayer (p. 122) – picking a single word or short phrase and repeating it in conjunction with the breath. This is classic contemplative mysticism (Yungen). Foster adds: “You must bind the mind with one thought” (p. 124). As research analyst Ray Yungen points out, “The goal of prayer should not be to bind the mind with a word or phrase in order to induce a mystical trance but rather to use the mind to glory in the grace of God” (A Time of Departing, p. 75). In that same book, Foster says: “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.” But when Foster says “union with God,” he isn’t referring just to the born-again believer. He has stated many times throughout his writings that he believes contemplative prayer is for everyone, not just the believer. It is impossible for an unbeliever to have “union with God.” Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man.