NEW BOOKLET: Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer and Why War Room Should Not Have Used Them
Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer and Why War Room Should Not Have Used Them by John Lanagan and the Editors at Lighthouse Trails is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklets. The Booklet is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer and Why War Room Should Not Have Used Them click here.
“Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer and Why War Room Should Not Have Used Them”
By John Lanagan and the Editors at Lighthouse Trails
I knew the Lord was calling me to experience Him in prayer in a brand new way.1—Priscilla Shirer
[I]f we are not still before Him [God], we will never truly know, to the depths of the marrow in our bones, that He is God. There has got to be a stillness.2—Beth Moore
Contemplative prayer, which Priscilla Shirer refers to as her “brand new way” and Beth Moore says is essential in really knowing God, is in reality an ancient prayer practice that is essentially the same as New Age or Eastern meditation though disguised with Christian terminology. Those who participate and enter the contemplative silence, as it is called, open themselves to great deception.
Now, because of the success of the War Room movie, many fans are going to flock to the websites and materials of Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer. Those who buy Shirer’s book, Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God Speaks, will discover Shirer’s affinity with contemplative prayer. And those who buy the DVD Be Still or a book titled When Godly People Do Ungodly Things will learn of Moore’s contemplative prayer propensities.
Contemplative prayer is a primary factor to consider as we watch the visible church depart from sound doctrine more and more. It is promoted by such ministries as Mike Bickle’s International House of Prayer (IHOP), Bethel Church of Redding, California (Bill and Beni Johnson), Saddleback’s Rick Warren, author Kenneth Boa, and pastor and author Tim Keller to name just a few.
How was Priscilla Shirer introduced to this practice? She writes:
[A] friend sent me a book on silent prayer. The book explains how purposeful periods of silent prayer can help believers hear God’s voice. I was very drawn to the spiritual journey of the author, and I read the book twice. As my heart burned within me, I knew that the Lord was calling me to experience Him in prayer in a brand new way.3
Thus fascinated with this newly discovered concept, Shirer then read a Bible verse, which she perceived as a Word from the Lord: “As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut” (Ecclesiastes 5:1, NLT). She explains:
It confirmed the message of the book I had been so drawn to and what I sensed the Holy Spirit was leading me to do.4
She was further amazed to learn that some of the women from her church were going to participate in a “silent prayer retreat. Women would gather to spend 36 hours of silence in anticipation of hearing the voice of God.”5
She had read about this in the book on silent prayer, but now here were people actually talking about the same thing. Shirer seems to have taken all this as part of God’s plan.
Beth Moore and Her Contemplative Hero
In her book When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, in a section about “Unceasing Prayer,” Beth Moore states:
I have picked up on the terminology of Brother Lawrence [a Carmelite mystic], who called praying unceasingly practicing God’s presence. In fact, practicing God’s presence has been my number one goal for the last year.6
A head full of biblical knowledge without a heart passionately in love with Christ is terribly dangerous—a stronghold waiting to happen. The head is full, but the heart and soul are still unsatisfied.7
This language is very indicative of contemplatives and echoes Richard Foster who says we have become barren and dry within or Rick Warren who believes the church needs Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative prayer) to come to “full maturity.”8 However, this could lead one to think that the Word of God is little more than a philosophy or belief system and needs the help of contemplative prayer to be effective at all. The insinuation is that the Holy Spirit is dormant and ineffective without this vital stimuli. Contemplatives make a distinction between studying and pondering on the Word of God versus loving Him, suggesting that we cannot love Him or know Him simply by studying His Word or even through normal prayer—we must practice contemplative to accomplish this.
In Moore’s book, she makes frequent favorable references to contemplative pioneer Brennan Manning, stating that his contribution to “our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel.”9 Yet Manning was a devout admirer of Beatrice Bruteau, founder of The School for Contemplation. Bruteau believes God is within every human being and wrote the book, What We Can Learn from the East. In an interview, she said:
We have realized ourselves as the Self that says only I AM, with no predicate following, not “I am a this” or “I have that quality.” Only unlimited, absolute “I AM.”10
In his book, Abba’s Child, Manning calls Bruteau a “trustworthy guide to contemplative consciousness.”11 Manning defines “contemplative consciousness” in the following statements:
Choose a single, sacred word or phrase that captures something of the flavor of your intimate relationship with God. A word such as Jesus, Abba, Peace, God or a phrase such as “Abba, I belong to you.” . . . Without moving your lips, repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, and often.12
When distractions come … simply return to listening to your sacred word…. [G]ently return [your mind] to your sacred word.13
[E]nter into the great silence of God. Alone in that silence, the noise within will subside and the Voice of Love will be heard.14
That “Voice of Love” is the voice heard when one enters the contemplative silence. Furthering Beth Moore’s great admiration for Manning, she quotes him from his book Ragamuffin Gospel calling the book “one of the most remarkable books”15 she has ever read. But it is this very book that reveals Manning’s true spiritual affinity. In the back of Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning makes reference to Catholic priest and mystic Basil Pennington saying that Pennington’s methods of prayer will provide us with “a way of praying that leads to a deep living relationship with God.”16 Pennington’s methods of prayer draw from Eastern religions. In his book, Finding Grace at the Center, Pennington says:
We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible. Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices.17
In Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning also cites Carl Jung as well as interspiritualists and contemplative mystics, Anthony De Mello, Marcus Borg (who denies the Virgin birth and Jesus being Son of God), Morton Kelsey, Gerald May, Henri Nouwen, Alan Jones (who denies the atonement), Eugene Peterson, and goddess worshipper Sue Monk Kidd. Most of these figures are panentheistic, and no discerning Bible teacher would ever point followers to them, either directly or indirectly! And yet, how many of Beth Moore followers have been introduced to the writings of these authors through her glowing recommendation of Brennan Manning and the Ragamuffin Gospel?
For Moore to call Manning’s book “remarkable” and to say his contribution to this generation of believers is “a gift without parallel” leads one to conclude that Beth Moore has been highly influenced by Manning’s spirituality.
The Be Still Film
In 2006, Fox Home Entertainment released a film titled Be Still. One person to whom they reached out to be in the film was Priscilla Shirer. According to Priscilla,
They were creating a program on contemplative prayer called Be Still. They asked me to be a part of this project that was designed to help Americans see the importance of spending time before God in stillness. I knew immediately that God wanted me to be a part of the project.18
And so she was, along with Beth Moore who played a vital role in the Be Still film as well. The producers and directors of the film explained the reason they made the film:
My husband and I wanted to find a way to introduce others in the modern church to this beautiful early church practice.19 (emphasis added)
This “early church practice” is referring to the Desert Fathers—ancient monks who had learned mystical prayer practices from those in other religions. In Be Still, Shirer states that nothing, not even a “great book,” could take the place of experiencing what she calls “the manifest presence of God.”20 If there is one main message in the Be Still DVD, it is: you cannot really know God if you do not practice the art of going into the contemplative silence.
Priscilla Shirer talks about her participation in the Be Still DVD on her website, where she describes contemplative prayer as seeing “God far more clearly than we can in the normal frantic rhythm of life.”21 Contemplatives teach that in the normal “rhythm,” we cannot have a real relationship with God, and in order to hear Him, we must “change frequencies.” Former Saddleback Church pastor and contemplative advocate Lance Witt explains:
The goal of solitude is not so much to unplug from my crazy world, as it is to change frequencies so that I can hear the Father. Richard Foster has said, “Solitude doesn’t give us the power to win the rat race, but to ignore it altogether.”22
To “change frequencies,” contemplative prayer is needed so that thoughts are blocked out. Brennan Manning states:
[T]he first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer.23
Then, once thoughts have been halted through practicing contemplative prayer, an altered state is reached where our minds go into a kind of neutral state, and then, they say, we can finally hear the voice of God.24
The silence the Be Still DVD refers to is a special state of mind, different than normal prayer, and the DVD introduces an array of meditators from a number of religious persuasions to tell viewers about this state of silence. Participants in the DVD are promoters of everything from guided imagery to breath prayers to interspirituality. This infomercial for contemplative prayer is a deceptive collection of dangerous commentaries, and there should be a warning label on the cover—NSFA—Not Safe For Anyone.25
Shortly after the DVD was released, Lighthouse Trails editors spoke with Beth Moore’s personal assistant who said Moore did not have a problem with Richard Foster or Dallas Willard’s teachings. To reiterate this, Moore’s ministry, Living Proof Ministries, issued a statement a few weeks after the release of the DVD that stated, “[W]e believe that once you view the Be Still video you will agree that there is no problem with its expression of Truth.”26 Living Proof offered to send a free copy of the DVD to anyone who received their e-mail statement and wished to view the DVD, saying that, “[I]t would be our privilege to do this for you to assure you that there is no problem with Beth’s participation in the Be Still video.”27 This statement was issued because several women contacted Moore’s ministry after reading the Lighthouse Trails report on the Be Still DVD.
In the Be Still DVD, Moore states: “[I]f we are not still before Him [God], we will never truly know to the depths of the marrow of our bones that He is God. There’s got to be a stillness.”28 When Moore says it is not possible to “truly know” He is God without “a stillness,” she is not talking about a quiet place to pray and spend time in God’s Word, but rather she is talking about a stillness of the mind—this is what contemplatives strive for—unless you practice this stillness of the mind, your relationship with the Lord is inadequate. According to Beth Moore, you don’t even know Him in the way you should.
Beth Moore and the Catholic Church
If you study the beliefs and history of contemplative prayer mystics, you will find that over time, they absorb interspiritual and panentheistic outlooks. This happened to Henri Nouwen and Brennan Manning, for example. Proponents also begin to share an affinity with Catholicism, viewing it as a legitimate form of Christianity. That makes sense given that the mystical prayer practice came out of the Roman Catholic monasteries (via Thomas Merton, Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating, etc). A case in point is when in 2014 Beth Moore shared with a large audience a “vision” she claimed was from God. In order to illustrate her vision to her audience, she had a number of women come up on stage, and she divided them into various “denominational” groups, one of which was a group of Catholic women. She said she saw a community of these different groups that was “the church as Jesus sees it.”29
Someone who has become a significant part of Beth Moore’s ministry is TV Christian host, James Robison. Moore is one of the regular speakers on his show and resonates with his work. In a May 2014 article, Robison wrote:
I believe in the importance of unity among those who know Christ, who profess to be “Christians.” . . . I believe there is an important spiritual awakening beginning in the hearts of those truly committed to Christ in the Protestant and Catholic communities. Is it possible that Pope Francis may prove to be an answer not only to the prayers of Catholics, but also those known as Protestants?30
The fact that Moore sees the Catholic Church as a legitimate denomination within the Body of Christ is evidence that she shares Robison’s views. Apparently, they both see Catholicism as a valid practice.
Priscilla Shirer—A Strange Practice with Contemplative Origins
In her book, Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God Speaks, Priscilla Shirer writes:
As I meditate upon a verse, I will often insert my name or a personal pronoun into it to make it more personal. If I’m reading and meditating on a Bible story, I will become the main character so that it’s not merely someone else’s experience with God, but my own. I often ask myself what God would have me do as a result of what I contemplated.31 (emphasis added)
So, it would not be Moses, but Priscilla and the Burning Bush? (Exodus 3:2-4)
Not Elisabeth, but Priscilla, Mother of John the Baptist? (Luke 1:13)
Not Eve, but Priscilla, wife of Adam? (Genesis 2)
The Bible is very clear about the importance of preserving the Word of God— not altering it, not adding to it, and not taking away from it.
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6)
One has to ask, where did Priscilla Shirer get this idea of inserting herself into God’s Word as Bible characters? It is very likely Shirer got this idea from contemplative teacher Jan Johnson. According to Priscilla Shirer:
Years ago, I got a chance to meet Jan Johnson. . . . I was encouraged and redirected in so many ways. As a young woman trying to navigate the ins and outs of my relationship with the Lord, Ms. Jan spoke wisdom into my life that was extremely pivotal in my life—personally and in ministry.32 (emphasis added)
Priscilla Shirer quotes Jan Johnson, an advocate of guided meditations, in her book Discerning the Voice of God.33 (Incidentally, Shirer also quotes Brother Lawrence, Dallas Willard, and other contemplatives in the book.)
On Jan Johnson’s website, it asks:
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be present in the Christmas story? How might you have felt if you were Zechariah or Elizabeth, Mary or Joseph? What if you had been an angel, a shepherd, or one of the wise men? In this online retreat featuring Jan Johnson’s Advent guide, you’ll be invited to become part of the events surrounding the birth of the Christ child. You’ll be invited to ‘taste and see’—to live inside the story for a while.34 (emphasis added)
People like Wycliffe and Tyndale died for the Word of God so that we could . . . pretend to replace saints and angels in Bible stories as if we were putting on clothes for a costume party? No, they did not. This practice doesn’t honor God or His Word.
Jan Johnson has an Ignatian background.35 Ignatius of Loyola was founder of the Jesuits and part of the Catholic church’s counter-reformation. To this day, the Jesuits make great efforts to win back the lost brethren to the Mother Church and are practitioners of contemplative prayer.36 According to one pro-Ignatian website:
Ignatian spirituality sees the same with the stories in the Bible. Our imagination can place ourselves in the boat with Jesus and his friends on the stormy sea. Or at the table at the Last Supper, listening in on the conversation, even participating. Ignatius says if we let our imagination free, not forcing it or “scripting” it, God can use it to show us something. I recall, in my own prayer, the vivid scene with Mary and Martha. I was one of their friends waiting for Jesus to arrive to raise from the dead our brother Lazarus. We spoke about Lazarus’ life and how much we missed him. But then our friend Jesus came along and brought him back to life. You should have seen the tears and embraces as the four of us rejoiced.37
When we read something like this, we cannot help but think of the admonition from Scripture: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
One writer describes Jan Johnson’s approach to meditating with Advent and Christmas stories: “Johnson invites readers to enter into the stories through a sort of neo-Ignatian approach she calls ‘participative meditation.’”38
There seems little doubt that Priscilla Shirer was influenced in more ways than one by Jan Johnson.
Not Safe For Anyone
Contemplative teachers will not advise believers to focus on a repetitive Eastern style mantra like “Ommm” (for example) but rather on a word or phrase like “Jesus” or “Abba Father” or a Scripture verse. In this way, the contemplative prayer appears “Christian” but nevertheless serves as entrance to the silence. Often, a practice called Lectio Divina is implemented. This is where words or phrases from Scripture or other books are repeated slowly to help get the focus off our thoughts and enter the contemplative silence.
The silence of contemplative prayer is rich ground for false visions, the voice of lying “christs,” and supernatural esoteric experiences. Author and research analyst Ray Yungen says that in contemplative prayer one can come into contact with familiar spirits because of the occult nature of contemplative, and in actuality, the silence found in contemplative prayer is a dangerous substitute for the Holy Spirit.
We realize that millions of women adore Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer, and the notion that either woman would be tied in with an occultic-based New Age type mystical prayer movement would seem outlandish. But even one of the most widely read Christian magazines identifies Moore as a contemplative advocate in a 2010 Christianity Today cover story titled “First Came the Bible.”39
Some years ago, contemplative prayer defenders came up with a so-called answer to Christians who saw the connection between contemplative prayer and Eastern and New Age meditation. They said that New Age and Eastern practitioners strive to empty the mind whereas Christian contemplatives seek to fill the mind with God. But just because the intent may be different, the methods are the same, and the outcome is the same. One can be very well intentioned yet be very fully deceived.
We would like to say here that we have appreciated in the past the Kendrick brothers (producers of War Room) for their Christian, family-friendly films, Facing The Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous and found these to be inspiring contributions for the family. But we cannot say this about War Room because the movie is going to bring many women into the sphere of influence of Priscilla Shirer and Beth Moore. At best, the use of these two women will send out a confusing message where a movie about prayer uses two major proponents of contemplative prayer to inspire its audience. We wish the Kendricks would have done their homework before making the decision to use two women who promote a dangerous mystical prayer practice in their movie about prayer.
It’s not likely that Priscilla Shirer and Beth Moore see contemplative prayer as spiritually dangerous—nor will thousands, even potentially millions, of men and women who see War Room and subsequently buy Shirer or Moore’s books, or their Be Still DVD.
A Spiritual Awakening?
The Bible talks about a great falling away and multitudes being deceived prior to the Lord’s return. But Christian leaders today aren’t warning about that; rather, they are telling everyone that we are on the brink of a great spiritual awakening.
“Spiritual awakening” has become a “mantra” within evangelical Christianity. Terms like One, Awaken, Awake, Great Awakening, Spiritual Awakening, are being broadcasted throughout the church. While it is a good thing to desire true repentance and revival, how can leaders who embrace a mystical spirituality and who don’t understand spiritual deception (and are even participating in spiritual deception) help bring about true revival?
In 2013, Beth Moore spoke at James Robison’s Awake Now Conference and said that God showed her a great spiritual awakening is coming. Interestingly, Moore warned that audience of over 4000 people about those who would question this great awakening and “downpour”:
But we must be prepared in advance for scoffers. I will say that again. We must be prepared in advance for scoffers. And here’s the thing. The unbelieving world scoffing is not going to bother us that much. We’re used to them thinking that we are idiots. . . . That’s not what’s going to bother us so much. What’s going to bother us, and I believe that God is saying, “Get prepared for it so you know in advance it is coming” so when it does happen you’re not all disturbed and all rocked by it because it is going to come from some in our own Christian realm—our own brothers and sisters. We’re going to have people that are honestly going to want to debate and argue with us about awakening and downpours. What do you want here? They’re going to say, that’s not the way it should look.
You know what, dude? I’m just asking you, are you thirsty? Are you hungry? I can’t think of the way to the semantics to get it like you want it. But I will say to you, I’m just thirsty, and I’m hungry. But there will be scoffers, and they will be the far bigger threat, the one within our own brothers and sisters, our own family of God—far, far more demoralizing. And yes, it will come from bullies, and yes, it will come from the mean-spirited.40
As if giving a prophetic warning, Beth Moore is setting the stage to marginalize discerning Christians who would question this great “spiritual awakening.” In other words, no one should dare challenge the leaders of this coming spiritual awakening even though Scripture instructs us to be good Bereans and to test all things with the Word of God.
Beth Moore’s statement that Brennan Manning’s contribution to “our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel” has serious implications. Beatrice Bruteau, whom Manning said is a “trustworthy guide to contemplative consciousness,” wrote the foreword to a book called The Mystic Heart by New Ager Wayne Teasdale. That book actually lays out the groundwork that contemplative prayer will unite Christianity with all the world’s religions at a mystical level. The complete union of all the world’s religions cannot be accomplished without a form of mysticism (which removes all “doctrinal” barriers) within Christianity—and that form is contemplative prayer, the very thing that War Room’s two actresses promote.
Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers. (Isaiah 2:6)
To order copies of Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer and Why War Room Should Not Have Used Them, click here.
1. Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God Speaks (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2007 edition), p. 39
2. Beth Moore, Be Still DVD (Fox Home Entertainment, April 2006), section: “Contemplative Prayer: The Divine Romance Between God and Man”
3. Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God, op. cit.
6. Beth Moore, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002), p. 109.
7. Ibid., p. 60.
8. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995), p. 126-127.
9. Beth Moore, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, op. cit., pp. 72-73.
10. Beatrice Bruteau interview: The Song That Goes On Singing (http://integralpostmetaphysics.ning.com/forum/topics/beatrice-bruteau-the-song-that).
11. Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1994), p. 180.
12. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996, Revised Edition), p. 218.
13. Ibid., p. 203.
14. Ibid., p. 200.
15. Beth Moore, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, op. cit., p. 290.
16. Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2000 Edition), p. 212.
17. M. Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating, Thomas E. Clarke, Finding Grace at the Center (Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Pub., 1978), pp. 5-6; cited from A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., p.64 by Ray Yungen.
18. Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God, op. cit.
19. Whitney Hopler, “‘Be Still’ Invites Viewers to Discover Contemplative Prayer” (Crosswalk.com, March 27, 2006, http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/be-still-invites-viewers-to-discover-contemplative-prayer-1386003.html?ps=0), citing Amy Reinhold, Producer and Director of Be Still DVD.
20. Priscilla Shirer, Be Still DVD, op, cit., section: “Alone With God.”
21. Priscilla Shirer’s website: http://www.goingbeyond.com/ministry/ministry-faqs.
22. Lance Witt, “Enjoying God’s Presence in Solitude” (Rick Warren’s original Pastors.com website: http://web.archive.org/web/20060510014820/www.pastors.com/RWMT/?id=59&artid=2043&expand=1).
23. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus, op. cit., p. 212.
24. Ray Yungen introduced this idea in his book A Time of Departing, chapter 1, page 15: In explaining how the mind is put into a neutral state during contemplative prayer: “The meditation most of us are familiar with involves a deep, continuous thinking about something. But New Age meditation entails just the opposite. It involves ridding oneself of all thoughts in order to still the mind by putting it in the equivalent of pause or neutral. A comparison would be that of turning a fast-moving stream into a still pond. When meditation is employed, stopping the free flow of thinking, it holds back active thought and causes a shift in consciousness. This condition is not to be confused with daydreaming, where the mind dwells on a subject. Visit www.atimeofdeparting.com.
26. May 26, 2006 statement from Living Proof Ministries: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/bethmoorestatement.htm.
28. Beth Moore, Be Still DVD, op. cit.
29. Lighthouse Trails Editors, “Is Beth Moore’s ‘Spiritual Awakening’ Taking the Evangelical Church Toward Rome?” (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=15914). You can watch the video clip of Moore at this event on this page.
30. James Robison, “Pope Francis on Life Today” (http://www.jamesrobison.net/pope-francis).
31. Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God, op. cit., p. 39.
33. Ibid., pp. 145-46.
35. Jan Johnson, Education: BA, Christian education, Ozark Christian College; journalism courses, UCLA; spirituality courses, Azusa Pacific University; graduate, Academy for Spiritual Formation; Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola 30-day Retreat, 2006; D.Min. Graduate Theological Foundation (Ignatian Spirituality & Spiritual Direction), 2006.
36. Read Roger Oakland’s article, “The Jesuit Agenda” to understand more about the Jesuits (see www.lighthousetrails.com under booklet tracts).
39. Halee Gray Scott, “First Came the Bible” (Christianity Today, August 2010, Vol. 54, No. 8, Pg 27, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/august/19.27.html).
40. You can view this at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4CYqHhCwsE.
To order copies of Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer and Why War Room Should Not Have Used Them, click here.
Appendix (included in the booklet)
The Nature Behind Contemplative Spirituality
By Ray Yungen
Many Christians might have great difficulty accepting the assessment that what is termed Christian mysticism is, in truth, not Christian at all. They might feel this rejection is spawned by a heresy-hunting mentality that completely ignores the love and devotion to God that also accompanies the mystical life. To those who are skeptical, I suggest examining the writings of Philip St. Romain, who wrote a book about his journey into contemplative prayer called Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality. This title is revealing because kundalini is a Hindu term for the mystical power or force that underlies Hindu spirituality. In Hinduism, it is commonly referred to as the serpent power.
St. Romain, a substance abuse counselor and devout Catholic lay minister, began his journey while practicing contemplative prayer or resting in the still point, as he called it. What happened to him following this practice should bear the utmost scrutiny from the evangelical community—especially from its leadership. The future course of evangelical Christianity rests on whether St. Romain’s path is just a fluke or if it is the norm for contemplative spirituality.
Having rejected mental prayer as “unproductive,”1 he embraced the prayer form that switches off the mind, creating what he described as a mental passivity. What he encountered next underscores my concern with sobering clarity:
Then came the lights! The gold swirls that I had noted on occasion began to intensify, forming themselves into patterns that both intrigued and captivated me . . . There were always four or five of these; as soon as one would fade, another would appear, even brighter and more intense . . . They came through complete passivity and only after I had been in the silence for a while. 2 (emphasis mine)
After this, St. Romain began to sense “wise sayings” coming into his mind and felt he was “receiving messages from another.”3 He also had physical developments occur during his periods in the silence. He would feel “prickly sensations” on the top of his head and at times it would “fizzle with energy.”4 This sensation would go on for days. The culmination of St. Romain’s mystical excursion was predictable—when you do Christian yoga or Christian Zen you end up with Christian samadhi as did he. He proclaimed:
No longer is there any sense of alienation, for the Ground that flows throughout my being is identical with the Reality of all creation. It seems that the mystics of all the world’s religions know something of this.5
St. Romain, logically, passed on to the next stage with:
[T]he significance of this work, perhaps, lies in its potential to contribute to the dialogue between Christianity and Eastern forms of mysticism such as are promoted in what is called New Age spirituality.6
Many people believe St. Romain is a devout Christian. He claims he loves Jesus, believes in salvation, and is a member in good standing within his church. What changed though were his sensibilities. He says:
I cannot make any decisions for myself without the approbation of the inner adviser, whose voice speaks so clearly in times of need . . . there is a distinct sense of an inner eye of some kind “seeing” with my two sense eyes.7
St. Romain would probably be astounded that somebody would question his claims to finding truth because of the positive nature of his mysticism. But is this “inner adviser” with whom St. Romain has connected really God? This is a fair question to ask especially when this prayer method has now spread within a broad spectrum of Christianity.
St. Romain makes one observation in his book that I take very seriously. Like his secular practical mystic brethren, he has a strong sense of mission and destiny. He predicts:
Could it be that those who make the journey to the True Self are, in some ways, demonstrating what lies in store for the entire race? What a magnificent world that would be—for the majority of people to be living out of the True Self state. Such a world cannot come, however, unless hundreds of thousands of people experience the regression of the Ego in the service of transcendence [meditation], and then restructure the culture to accommodate similar growth for millions of others. I believe we are only now beginning to recognize this task.8
A book titled Metaphysical Primer: A Guide to Understanding Metaphysics outlines the basic laws and principles of the New Age movement. First and foremost is the following principle:
You are one with the Deity, as is all of humanity . . . Everything is one with everything else. All that is on Earth is an expression of the One Deity and is permeated with Its energies.9
St. Romain’s statement was, “[T]he Ground [God] that flows throughout my being is identical with the Reality of all creation.”10 The two views are identical!
St. Romain came to this view through standard contemplative prayer, not Zen, not yoga but a Christian form of these practices.
Without the mystical connection, there can be no oneness. The second always follows the first. Here lies the heart of occultism.
There is a profound and imminent danger taking place within the walls of Christianity. Doctrine has become less important than feeling, and this has led to a mystical paradigm shift. People who promote a presumably godly form of spirituality can indeed come against the truth of Christ.
How could this mystical revolution have come about? How could this perspective have become so widespread? The answer is that over the last thirty or forty years a number of authors have struck a deep chord with millions of readers and seekers within Christianity. These writers have presented and promoted the contemplative view to the extent that many now see it as the only way to “go deeper” in the Christian life. They are the ones who prompt men and women to plunge into contemplative practice. It is their message that leads people to experience the “lights” and the “inner adviser!”
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1. Philip St. Romain, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1995), p. 24.
2. Ibid., pp. 20-21.
3. Ibid., pp. 22-23.
4. Ibid., pp. 28-29.
5. Ibid., p. 107.
6. Ibid., pp. 48-49.
7. Ibid., p. 39.
8. Ibid., pp. 75-76.
9. Deborah Hughes and Jane Robertson-Boudreaux, Metaphysical Primer: A Guide to Understanding Metaphysics (Estes Park, CO: Metagnosis Pub., 1991), p. 27.
10. St. Romain, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality, op. cit., p. 107.