Posts Tagged ‘calvin miller’

Remembering the Enticing Appeal of Richard Foster and Beth Moore’s Be Still Film

Be Still DVD

Be Still DVD

In 2006, a DVD film was released by Fox Entertainment called Be Still. Lighthouse Trails wrote extensively about it at the time, warning our readers that the DVD was an infomercial for contemplative prayer. Recently, a caller who very much understood the deceptive dynamics of the contemplative prayer (i.e., Spiritual Formation) movement, reminded us about the film, and we e-mailed her a copy of all the transcripts (we had transcribed the entire film in 2006). The film includes Richard Foster, Catholic convert Peter Kreeft, Dallas Willard, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Michelle McKinney Hammon, Max Lucado, and Calvin Miller. You can read some of our previous coverage here.

You can be sure that in the last 10 years since Be Still was released, the contemplative prayer movement has grown by leaps and bounds, and we have no doubt that this film has had a lot to do with this spread.

Below we have posted portions of the transcript from three of the segments (there were six altogether) of the Be Still film. You may need to read between the lines to understand the message that is being promoted because the film was  a seductive and enticing infomercial to draw people into the practice of contemplative prayer without coming right out and saying what contemplative prayer really entails. (After all, viewers could get specific instructions later by reading the writings of these people in the film). For those not familiar with the contemplative prayer movement, it may be a good idea to read this article by Lynn Pratt, “So You Want to Practice Contemplative Prayer? What’s Wrong With That?”

Within these quotes, the italicized words are added by LT for emphasis.

“Contemplative Prayer: The Divine Romance Between God and Man”

Narrator:

We live in  frenzied chaotic world under a constant siege of business and noise. The weapons of mass distraction are everywhere. We are bombarded by millions of advertisements daily. The Christian community is not exempt. We were designed to experience fullness of joy, yet many only experience fullness of schedule. Where can we go to find rest and peace?

Be still and know that I am God. We find peace in God’s presence. We get to know God better through prayer. Prayer is relationship and two-way communication with God. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. But how can we experience abundance if we don’t learn to slow down? We need to stop and quiet ourselves to spend time in real relationship with God.

Contemplation is different from other types of Christian prayer. Contemplative prayer involves less telling God what we want to happen in our lives and more listening for God’s call to us in our heart through Scripture. As we develop the inward attentiveness to God’s divine whisper, we begin to experience His presence more throughout the day.

“What is Contemplative Prayer?”

 Richard Foster, author “Prayer”:

Contemplative prayer is listening prayer. It is attentiveness. You know how our children will talk with us and sometimes we wish that they would just listen to us. Now, that’s what contemplative prayer is. It’s being all ears to what the Father has to say to us.

[French Catholic mystic] Nicholas Grou said, “O Divine Master, teach me this mute language which says so much.” That’s the idea. It’s very simple, isn’t it? That we become attentive to God. God’s interested in us, what we have to say. We learn to become interested  in what God has to say to us.

Priscilla Shirer, author of “He Speaks to Me: Preparing to Hear the Voice of Go”:

Most of my prayer time is filled up with what I’m saying to Him, as opposed to just being quiet and actually giving him an opportunity to speak to me. And of course I’ve thought about hearing the voice of God all my life, and I’ve thought about wanting to hear Him, but it never occurred to me that I needed to consciously go into His presence with my mouth closed, giving Him an opportunity to get a word in edgewise.  And so I’ve just begun in my prayer life over the past year of my life to make a conscious effort to be in a time of prayer, and yes, to speak to Him, but to consciously say, okay, I’m done talking now, because I’m just gonna sit here in the stillness and wait to see what it is that you want to say to me.

Dallas Willard, PhD.,former  Director, School of Philosophy, USC:

It is somewhat like, uh, the story of electricity with Benjamin Franklin. And actually, we know now that electricity’s everywhere. I mean, our blood cells wouldn’t work without electricity. But it was Franklin who made the effort to contact it, as it were. So the famous story about the kite in the electric storm, and the current running down the line and jumping the gap and causing the spark and so on. And of course it’s a wonder that the old fellow wasn’t killed on the spot with it, because lightning has been doing that for a long time.

Catholic convert, Peter Kreeft:

It’s easy to allegorize it. The key is Franklin’s own ego. And the sky is God. And the electricity is grace and the kite line is prayer. And he’s sending himself up to God in order to get charged.

Jerry Shirer:

When my son and I, Jackson, when we play sports or when we play baseball or when he kicks the ball, I always want to try to instruct him on how to do it and what to do. This is how you do it, Son. You do it this way. Well, it hit me. Where Jackson doesn’t want to be with me to receive instruction necessarily. He just wants to be in my presence. And that was the amazing thing. He goes, “You know, Dad, don’t—I don’t need your instructions. I don’t need this. Dad, I’m just happy just being with you.” You know? And that was the thing for me. And that just, you know, made me understand my relationship with Christ. It’s not about me speaking or saying, Lord, this is what I want. He goes, “Jerry, just spend time with Me.”

Richard Foster:

Contemplative prayer can be experienced everywhere, in small groups of people, when you’re alone, when you’re at work, in all kinds of situations. You take a passage of Scripture, a very simple passage, and you simply lean into the passage and you allow the Lord to teach you.

Narrator:

Churches, small groups and individuals around the world have structured a spiritual life around the practice of Christian contemplation.

“Historical Overview”

Dallas Willard:

Very interesting that even Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher, thought the highest human good was contemplation. But he thought it was contemplation of truth, not contemplation of God. Still, he was onto something big. And it was later on the Christians came along because Aristotelian contemplation turned out not really to do a lot for people. But Augustine, for example, corrected Aristotle and taught that it was God that we contemplate, because He is the only final good and we lift our minds and hearts to Him through Christ, and that gives us the kind of life-giving joy and sufficiency that Aristotle understood to be true happiness.

Beth Moore:

One of the lives that has affected me deeply is Saint Augustine, that after wrestling with God for such a long time, and God just chasing him and hunting him down, I remember thinking to myself, I want to be that way about God. When God’s hunting me down, I wanna slow down and be caught by Him. If He’s chasing me, I want Him to catch me. And that’s what God did with Saint Augustine. And he knew the fiery passion of God’s love, not just a God of the law, but a God of the heart, a God that chases the heart of man, to pick up all its pieces and make it whole.

Peter Kreeft, PhD, Professor of Philosophy, Boston College:

[The mystic] Kierkegaard, probably the greatest Protestant Christian mind of all time, said many times something like this—This is almost the last page of his journal shortly before he died. He said, “If I could prescribe only one remedy for all the ills of the modern world, I would prescribe silence. Because even if the word of God were proclaimed in its fullness, it would not be heard. There is too much noise. So begin with silence.”

Narrator:

The stresses we live with are so invasive, we begin to believe we’re nothing but these things. We believe they have the power to define who we are and how we live. We must learn to desire a oneness with God that transcends all these things.

“The Need for Contemplative Prayer”

Max Lucado, Pastor, Author, “Cure for the Common Life”:

You know, people are in such a hurry all the time. I talked to a man recently who had completed 60 ironman triathlons. And the guy’s in his 60s. I said, What’s the secret? He said, “Start slow and taper down.” That’s my new motto in life. He said, “Everybody gets out on these races, and they start running as hard as they can, and they wear out. They can’t finish.” He said, “The secret’s to start slow and taper down.” I thought, you know, that’s right. Cause really in life, we start slow. And Jesus said, “Anybody who would know the kingdom of God needs to come like a child.” Children start slow, in our parent’s lap, at our mother’s breast, sleeping a lot, thinking a lot, learning a lot, but then somewhere along the line we think we gotta ratchet up. And so, yeah, I think it’s time to slow it all down a little bit.

Priscilla Shirer:

I’m reminded of Matthew, chapter 17, during the Transfiguration, Jesus was there with Peter, James and John and it says that God called out from the heavens, God the Father, called out from the heavens. And here’s Jesus standing in front of them with His face shining. And I mean, they are just amazed at what they are seeing and God the Father calls out and says, “This is My Son whom I love, and I am well pleased.” And this is the command that God the Father gives. He says, “Listen to Him.” Here’s Jesus in all of His glory, and the one thing the Father says that He’s, we’re supposed to do is listen to Him. And so, if that’s the one command that God the Father would give at this point, at this incredible point in biblical history, that we listen to Him, then I think we oughta be making some time to come aside from our busyness and listen to what it is that our Father has to say to us.

Calvin Miller, Professor, Author, “Into the Depths of God”: [Miller is a proponent of Marcus Borg who openly denied many tenets of the Christian faith.]

One of the great things that silence does, it gives us a new concept of God. God is not just somebody there to hear us, a doting grandfather who puts his arms around us and says, “Honey, I’ll see what I can do for you.” God is an activist. That’s why I believe in praying the Scriptures. When you open up the Bible and you pray the Scriptures back to God, you’re experiencing something really wonderful, and what you’re experiencing is, you’re reading back to the Author of the Word of God His own words. Now I’m not, I’m not a great writer. But when somebody says to me, “I read your book,” that’s a great gift to give me.

Beth Moore:

God’s Word is so clear that if we are not still before Him, 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. We’ve got to have a time to sit before Him and just know that He is. We live in such an attention-deficit culture, and we’re so entirely over stimulated, so much coming at us at once, one image after another, that if we are not careful, we are going to lose the art of meditation, to just sit before God and know His peace, that He really is in control, and that nothing is happening that’s not being sifted through His fingers, and He is God upon the throne.

Richard Foster:

The wonderful thing about contemplative prayer is that it can be found everywhere, anywhere, any time for anyone. [Foster believes that contemplative prayer is for anyone, not just believers in Christ.] We become a portable sanctuary, so that we are living our life, wherever it is, aware of the goodness of God, the presence of God.

Tim Lundy:

If there ever was an age that the church—and a time period when the church needed the practice of solitude and silence, it’s now. We live in the information age. And I love it. I love the technology. I love the opportunities it gives us. But I also recognize that every day there’s hundreds of emails. We’re connected to a world wide web. We have cell phones. We, whether we’re in a car, or on an airplane or at our home, somebody can be in contact with us. And all those are great resources, but if in the middle of it we don’t stop, if we don’t get silent and practice that and be alone with God, all that becomes just a drain on us. And so the very people you’re trying to connect with and minister to, you have no energy for.

Dallas Willard:

Now because silence is such a radical thing, and it does mean that you give up control of your situation, you can see what a tremendous impact that would have on the American church, in their services, in their meetings of various kinds. Suppose they practice silence in some of their meetings. That would actually give a place for God to break in. And who knows, He might have something to say even to a committee meeting, if they would be silent long enough. It would mean that, for example, the pastors and the leaders in the services would not feel like they have to control everything, that again, God is in control. And that’s the way God is. He more or less waits for us to get tired of running things and then He’s glad to help.

Katherine A. Brown-Satzman, [promotes guided imagery] Executive Director, UCLA, Healthcare Ethics Center:

And in the process of that, physiologically, everything begins to shift. Blood pressure comes down. Breathing changes. Our mind quiets. And we can actually get to this state of where our body can heal in a much better way, because it’s not fighting all of this, right? It’s not amped up.

“Fear of Silence”

Dallas Willard:

If silence is a condition of this experience, a lot of people really are not going to undertake it. It’s very difficult to get anyone to be silent. And I think it’s because in silence they really do surrender their control over how they appear. One of the things we do in talking is to adjust our appearance. And to abandon that as a project is really major. So we keep jabbering. You go to the ordinary church service, you can hardly find 15 minutes of silence. But silence is one of the great spiritual disciplines. And in fact you’re not going to get very far in contemplative prayer unless you know how to be silent. And by that I mean that you really are comfortable with it and you’re practiced in it.

Narrator:

Christian meditation is the practice of being in the presence of God. Its ultimate goal is to seek only God and receive His guidance and grace.

Richard Foster:

Let me give just a little example of contemplative prayer for an individual. I was using Scripture—one of the Psalms, a brief Psalm, like recently I used Psalm 9. And first I would read it through, just out loud to myself, and just become aware of the texture of the Psalm. And then I’d do a second reading. And there I would highlight whatever passage  seemed to strike me in any way—a phrase or a sentence. And then I would do a third reading, and there I’m coming—I’m reading only the highlighted passages, and I look for any phrase, any sentence that speaks particularly to my condition. And that particular day, Psalm 9, the passage was, Be gracious to me, O Lord. Isn’t that wonderful? And I was going through some difficult time, and it was so helpful then, for the entire day, to utilize that particular passage. Be gracious to me, O Lord. Whatever I’m doing, whatever work it is, whatever situation with the children or with my wife or whatever—Be gracious to me, O Lord. See? That’s contemplative prayer.

LT: [Richard Foster is describing lectio divina here; but while he’s trying to make contemplative prayer sound very innocent here, we know from years of studying his writings, that he believes contemplative prayer to be much more than just picking out a passage of Scripture and thinking about it throughout the day. He and other contemplative figures teach that in order to go into the contemplative stillness, that special word or phrase needs to be repeated over and over to help eliminate thoughts and distractions.]

“The Difference Between Eastern and Christian Meditation”

Tim Lundy:

What I see in Christian meditation—it’s not escape from the world. It’s an escape to something and to someone. And so it’s an opportunity to stop, and you’re getting away from the world, but you’re moving toward God and connecting with Him.

Dallas Willard:

The loss of self that is meant in the Eastern traditions, really does mean that the individual dissolves. And that solves the problems of desire and passion, which is the curse of human life on that view of things. See, the Christian and Jewish teaching, and for that matter the Islamic teaching, is that the distinctness of the individual is a good thing. And that God has intended that and means to preserve it. So the response to the human condition is not the disappearance of desire but the dominance of love.

Beth Moore:

That’s the difference with meditation. We’re not just speaking to our inner selves. We’re not just speaking to a more positive thought process that day. We pray to the God of the universe, the king of all creation, is my Abba, Father. That’s who I’m talking to. And when I have that kind of attitude—that I’m talking to somebody that really can change my circumstances, that really can change my heart, that really can empower me to be different than I’d be, to do what I cannot do, to know what I cannot possibly know—I’m gonna tell you something—My approach is gonna be transformed. I’m not just talking, I’m not just trying to get my head together, I’m talking to someone. And I happen to be talking to the God of the universe.

LT: [What Beth Moore and Dallas Willard are saying here is that the method is the same but the intent is different; but we say that if the method is the same, you are going to get the same results. As Ray Yungen has said, two people can jump out of a ten story building with one saying “fly, fly,” and the other saying “fall, fall,” but the results will be the same.]

Narrator:

There’s a peace that surpasses understanding. We know that stress will always be there, but we ground our hearts in such oneness with God that His power can transform our lives.

“How God Speaks Through Scripture”

Richard Foster:

Learning to distinguish the voice of God from just human voices within us comes in much the same way that we learn any other voice. You know, there’s a tone to a voice. Satan pushes and condemns. God draws and encourages. And we can know the difference. And then there’s a spirit in a voice, isn’t there? Remember it was said of Messiah that He would not break a bruised reed nor quench a smoldering wick. You see, Jesus would never snuff out the smallest hope, never crush the needy. And that’s  the spirit that we look for in the voice of God. And then, third,  there’s the content of the voice. And in the final analysis, that is the most clear evidence. You see, the voice of God, the Davar Yahweh, is always consistent with the way God has spoken in the past. And so Scripture, then, becomes a primary means by which we understand God speaking to us today. It will always be consistent with the way He has spoken in the past.

LT: [Satan comes as an angel of light and his ministers as ministers of righteousness. This “test” by Richard Foster is very flawed.]

Mark Brewer:

Sometimes the longest distance in our spiritual journey is that 18 inches from our head getting it down into our heart. And the power of this contemplative prayer, this inner life, is it takes the knowledge which is all the facts and figures, and it makes it wisdom by applying it.

LT: [What contemplatives mean when they say from the head to the heart is what contemplative Henri Nouwen meant when he said: “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 [doctrine] to the mystical is required.” (from Nouwen’s book, In the Name of Jesus)]

Calvin Miller:

Can you think about how God must feel when a Christian comes into His presence reading the 23rd Psalm? Lord, You are my shepherd. You make me lie down in green pastures. You lead me beside still waters, all for Your name’s sake. I think when we say those things back to God, as the author of those words, He’s delighted. And the silence confirms that we are people, and we’re talking and God’s listening. But the best times are when God starts talking and we’re quiet enough to hear Him.

Beth Moore:

Second Timothy 3 tells us that all Scripture is God-breathed, and that means that every single word on that paper has come fresh out of the mouth of God. What I try to remember every single time I read Scripture is that it still has the warmth of God’s breath on it. You can’t separate the words of God from the mouth of God, or you’ve just got sterile words sitting on a page. God’s Word is different than that. It’s the very word out of His mouth. Therefore it comes with fresh breath. Because it’s eternal, that means time is not attached to it. So it’s as fresh today to me as it was the day it came out of His mouth and onto the paper. That’s the way I look at it.

LT: [According to this statement by Beth Moore, without the contemplative aspect, the Word of God is “sterile.” We are not taking what she said out of context. This is totally typical of the contemplative mindset. Remember what she said above, without the stillness, you can’t really know God. She also says that “you can’t separate the word of God from the mouth of God,” but the Bible says in Psalm 138:2 that God’s Word is magnified above His name, so surely His Word is magnified above His “breath.” If you stop and really think about what she is saying here, you will see how distorted this thinking is.

Narrator:
The practice of contemplative prayer can be a vital part of our everyday lives. But we must make time for it.

“The Fruit of Contemplative Prayer”

Beth Moore:

A true lover of God once spoke about practicing God’s presence. To me, that’s such a part of contemplative prayer. That we are able to absorb the reality, that as we commune with God through prayer, that He is with us, that His Spirit, for those of us who are in Christ, fills us, that we are drawn near to Him, that our souls find rest in Him, that we’ll realize that it’s not just words on a page, but it’s the presence of God, the voice out of His mouth, that calms us, or perhaps stirs us, gives us peace or perhaps brings us into a holy passion, that we respond to His presence.

Calvin Miller:

But if we don’t do it, all we are is an inner wrangling that never ceases. We move from hassle to hassle to hassle. One may stick a little Jesus in here or there, but without the silence, there’s no healing. There’s no healing.

From the segment called “Cloud of Witnesses: Contemplative Figures Throughout History”

Beth Moore, Author “A Heart Like His”:

You know one of the things that time gives us is that it erases the lines between so many different sections of the people of God. Because many years later it doesn’t matter any longer that this person was of this practice in the Christian faith and this person of another. Time somehow blurs those lines, and we are profoundly moved by the historical narratives of all of their lives of so great a cloud of witnesses that we can look back on and see what kept them running the race, what kept them running toward the face of Christ at the end of that finish line.

Dr. Mark Brewer, Pastor, Bel Air Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles:

Through the ages a lot of us as Christians think that the Holy Spirit’s been on sabbatical since the first century and now He just showed up. But He’s been very active in the lives of all of His people. I think of some of the desert fathers—they called themselves God’s athletes in the third and fourth century. They left this corrupt Roman Empire to go and to seek God and they made what they called this holy place for God. That’s why they fasted and why they lived such simple lives, was so the Lord could encounter them.

Richard Foster, Author, “Prayer”:

[The mystic] Madame Guyon was a French lady of the 17th century. She had children. She had an ordinary life experience. But she learned, you see, how, in that, to live with God. Her book, “Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ,” is one of the sweetest little books on contemplative prayer. And she wrote it for people who couldn’t read themselves. Her book was meant to be read to them.

Richard Foster:

[Mystic] Teresa of Avila was a Spanish lady in the 16th century, a contemporary with [panentheist] Saint John of the Cross. An incredible leader, administrator. A woman of immense skill and ability and a woman of deep prayer.

Jerry Root, PhD, Professor, Wheaton College:

One of my favorite stories relates to the medieval contemplative Julian of Norwich. She was from England. And she claimed to have had revelation from God and she wrote about it shortly after she had these experiences. She was in her early 20s. Twenty-five years later she wrote about it again. She hadn’t had a new experience with God, revealing Himself to her, but she wrote about it 25 years later, having allowed 25 years of contemplation to inform what this meant to her. There’s one story that occurs in both accounts. She said that God spoke to her and told her to pick up a chestnut. She picked it up and God spoke to her and said, “All the great truths can be found even in a chestnut. God made it. God sustains it. God loves it.”

And I think all of the great contemplative writers have present application, if we’ll look for it.

[The mystic] Evelyn Underhill would be a relatively modern contemplative. She died in the early 1940s. At Oxford University you had to be a male to teach, until Evelyn Underhill came along. She was the first woman given lecture-wide status throughout the university. She was towering intellect. She wrote 39 books on Christian spirituality [i.e., contemplative spirituality] and philosophy of religion. And Evelyn Underhill tells a great story about a friend of hers who had been to Scotland, to the island of Iona. Iona is an island that’s sacred for the Scots because it’s where Columba first brought Christianity to Scotland. Every Scot needs to make the pilgrimage to Iona sometime in their life because the roots of Scottish Christianity are there. Well, Underhill’s friend had been to Scotland and had been to Iona, and when she returned her Scottish gardener said to her, “Where did you go for your vacation?” And Underhill’s friend said, “I’ve been to Iona.” And he says, “Oh, Iona’s a thin place.” She said, “What do you mean?” He said, “It’s a thin place because there’s not much between God and Iona.”

And all of life, properly looked at, in some senses, is a thin place. Everywhere we look, in a world made by God, a world inhabited by God, God is calling us to worship Him. . . . There’s another medieval contemplative named Brother Lawrence. He was responsible for the book “Practicing the Presence of God.” Many people don’t realize that Brother Lawrence was a pot scrubber in a monastery. He wasn’t a full-fledged monk. He was a brother who would come in and scrub pots for the monks so that they could spend their time in prayer. And it was while he was washing pots at a kitchen scullery that he practiced the presence of God. In essence, Brother Lawrence would tell us the kitchen’s a thin place. Scrubbing pots is a thin place. All of life—especially the struggle of life—is a thin place. God wants to meet us in those places.

Dallas Willard:

Brother Lawrence’s experiences were rather different. They involve some things that are quite like this type of prayer. But for example, a major experience for him was viewing a tree that had lost its leaves in the winter and was all stripped bare, and the realization that this tree still had life in it, and that this life would flourish again in the spring. His sense of that seemed to bring him into a kind of unity with that life that he began to practice. And of course, he had a very lowly, menial position, caring for the kitchen and the needs of the monastery. So he learned then to see God in all things.

Richard Foster:

Brother Lawrence, in his wonderful book, “The Practice of the Presence of God,” said, “Those who have the gale…” He means the wind. “…of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep.” Isn’t that wonderful, that we can move forward in our spiritual life even when we’re sleeping? I often try, as I am entering sleep, to just give my life to God—my heart, my mind, my thinking, my dreams, whatever they might be. And then you wake up in the morning and you’ve advanced in the Spirit. You see, that’s part of contemplative prayer as well.

From the segment, Alone With God:

Woman:

Find a simple and quiet place where you can be comfortable for about 20 minutes. But you don’t want to get so comfortable that you miss your intimate time with God because you’ve fallen asleep. If I’m in bed, I prop up on a pillow and try to sit up as straight as possible, not in the counting sheep position.

Take a few deep breaths. Begin to relax and slow yourself down. As you inhale, think of the Holy Spirit breathing life and peace into your body. And as you exhale, remember the verse that says to cast all your cares upon Him.

 

 

 

 

 

A Statement from Lighthouse Trails About Some Who Have Recently Died

Over the past year, there has been a number of deaths among those whom Lighthouse Trails has critiqued for their doctrinal and theological teachings. Last week, we received the following e-mail:

 To Lighthouse Trails:

As much as I disagree with the doctrines that are being taught by Rick Warren and his church, we should still “weep with those who weep, and mourn with those who mourn.” Your silence regarding the death of Rick’s son is as loud as anything you might have said.  Since you are followed by so many readers, this is an excellent time to show God’s love for a person who is hurting. I was disappointed not to see a condolence to the family on your page, that would speak greatly of the love of God.

In actuality, we did post something on our blog about it the day after we heard the tragic news, and we expressed our sorrow in hearing this news: “Son of Pastor Rick Warren Commits Suicide.” 

While we do not always post obituaries or notices about these things, we’d like to state that Lighthouse Trails has never felt or expressed any personal animosity toward those figures we have critiqued. We have never wished for or prayed for any personal tragedy in any of their lives. We have only prayed that their eyes might be opened to the issues discussed on our site and in our books. We believe we have maintained integrity in avoiding any personal smears against anyone. Our focus has been, and by the grace of God, will continue to be contending for the biblical Christian faith. That said, when we hear of these deaths, we do not rejoice at all but feel a sense of sadness for the loved ones of that person and even sadness regarding the one who has departed. We do not have any hate toward any of the people we challenge. Please know that while we may not always post death notices (often because these figures are  highly popular and their deaths are covered by numerous media outlets, both secular and Christian, thus not needing the coverage of our ministry) this does not mean we are trying to make a negative statement about that person. On the contrary, posting something could even give the wrong impression that we are somehow attributing their deaths to God’s judgement. In fact, we never would intend to make any public determination regarding someone’s death. So for these and various others reasons, we don’t often make mention of these deaths. We hope this explanation will clear up any concerns by our readers.

Here are a few that have occurred recently:

On Friday, April 12, 2013, popular author and speaker Brennan Manning died at 78 years old. Manning is best known in the evangelical world for his books Ragamuffin Gospel and Abba’s Child. Article by the Christian Post on Brennan Manning His teachings are discussed in several Lighthouse Trails books and articles.

On April 5th 2013, Matthew Warren, 27 year old son of Purpose Driven pastor Rick Warren, died of a self-inflicted gunshot. Article by CNN on Matthew’s death. The Purpose Driven Movement and Rick Warren are discussed in several Lighthouse Trails books, DVDs, and articles.

On February 9th 2013, Richard Twiss, a leader in the Indigenous People’s Movement, died while attending the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC of a heart attack. Twiss was 58. Twiss’ beliefs and teachings are discussed in Muddy Waters: an insider’s view of North American Native Spirituality. Obituary of Richard Twiss

On August 19, 2012, Calvin Miller, a contemplative proponent sometimes discussed in Lighthouse Trails articles, passed away at the age of 75. Article by CT on Calvin Miller.

4 Reasons Why Holman Publishers Should Not Have Inserted an Article by a Contemplative Author into Their King James Bibles

Recently, Lighthouse Trails learned that Holman Bible Publishers (the oldest Bible publisher in America)  has inserted an article by a strong contemplative proponent into several of their King James Version Bibles (some of which Lighthouse Trails WAS carrying) including: the Ultra Thin Reference Bible, the Pocket-Sized Bible Classic, the Large Print Ultra Thin Bible, and the Personal Reference Bible. The article in the Bibles is titled, “Why You Should Read the King James Bible,” written by the late Calvin Miller (died 2012). This is a major issue, and let us tell you 4 reasons why we believe Holman should not have done this:

Calvin Miller1. Calvin Miller is an advocate for contemplative/centering prayer. Ray Yungen discusses Miller in A Time of Departing:

In Into the Depths of God,  [Calvin] Miller encourages readers to engage in centering prayer and explains it as a union between man and God:

“Centering is the merger of two ‘selves’—ours and his [God’s]. Centering is union with Christ. It is not a union that eradicates either self but one that heightens both” (p. 107).

Into the Depths of God is an exhortation in contemplative spirituality and is brimming with quotes by Thomas Merton and other contemplatives. Miller speaks of the “wonderful relationship between ecstasy [mystical state] and transcendence [God],” and says that “Ecstasy is meant to increase our desire for heaven” (p. 96) (A Time of Departing, p. 186).

Into the Depths of God is riddled with favorable quotes by and references to a number of contemplative mystics. In addition to Thomas Merton, there is Evelyn Underhill, St. John of the Cross, Esther de Waal, Kathleen Norris, Hildegard of Bingen, Annie Dillard, Bernard of Clairvaux, and St. Anthony (a Desert Father). In Miller’s newer book, The Disciplined Life, Miller again turns to the mystics. Miller also wrote The Path to Celtic Prayer (Celtic spirituality is another avenue through which contemplative is entering the evangelical church).

2. Secondly, Calvin Miller resonates with emergent teacher Marcus Borg. In Miller’s book, The Book of Jesus (2005), Marcus Borg writes an entire chapter for the book. Miller would never include an entire chapter of his own book if it was written by someone he did not resonate with. As Lighthouse Trails has revealed in past articles and books, Marcus Borg denies the tenets of the Christian faith including the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, and His atonement for sin. Roger Oakland discusses Borg in Faith Undone:

Borg explains in his book The God We Never Knew that his views on God, the Bible, and Christianity were transformed while he was in seminary:

Marcus Borg

“I let go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product. I learned that it is a human cultural product, the product of two ancient communities, biblical Israel and early Christianity. As such, it contained their understandings and affirmations, not statements coming directly or somewhat directly from God. . . . I realized that whatever “divine revelation” and the “inspiration of the Bible” meant (if they meant anything), they did not mean that the Bible was a divine product with divine authority.” (p. 125)

This attitude would certainly explain how Borg could say: “Jesus almost certainly was not born of a virgin, did not think of himself as the Son of God, and did not see his purpose as dying for the sins of the world” (p. 125) (from p. 196, Faith Undone).

There’s no possible way that Calvin Miller could have been familiar with Borg’s writings and not been aware of his blatantly anti-Gospel stance. This is a common problem that Lighthouse Trails has had in the past and continues to have that people we are critical of tend to resonate with those who are blatant in their New Age views, but they themselves appear to be relatively benign to the larger evangelical community (see Beware the Bridgers) (Also see a book review of one of Borg’s books.)

3. As we have shown above, Calvin Miller holds to contemplative persuasions. And yet, these Bibles have an article written by him within their pages. What this will do is point Bible readers to Miller and his writings and possibly even to Marcus Borg and his writings. To have Calvin Miller’s article  in a Bible seems to be a terrible dichotomy: i.e., the Bible points people to the Gospel’s message of the Cross and man’s sinful state and need of a Savior while contemplative, as a movement, points people to man’s supposed divinity and diminishes the need for a Savior.

4. In view of Calvin Miller’s contemplative propensities, let’s briefly examine his article in the Holman Bibles, “Why You Should Read the King James Bible.” In the article, he lists three reasons why the KJV should be read: 1) it is the version your parents and grandparents read 2) it has literary and poetic strength and beauty, and 3) there is ease in memorizing verses in the KJV because of its “high literary resonance.” While these reasons all produce merit, the article seems to turn the KJV into more of a poetic book than the Word of God. While Lighthouse Trails is not in the category of what some call King James Only (in that that is the only version someone can get saved through), we do see it as a standard high above many of the Bible versions available today. Thus we have come to trust it more than others. We find it noteworthy of these two things: one, that emerging church figures (such as Phyllis Tickle who suggest it is a lovely book of poetic literature but not an authority in our lives and Tony Jones who minimizes the authority of the Bible as the Word of God) have done much to disregard the Bible as God’s inspired Word, and two, that the Holman Bibles include someone (Miller) who resonates with a man (Borg) who rejects the basic fundamentals of Christianity and Miller himself speaks of the poetic nature of the Bible.

Another Possible Ramification:

There are serious implications and possible ramifications regarding what is going on here.  For instance, something many may not have considered: The King James Bible has no copyright on it because of its age. Bluntly put, anyone can do anything they want to that Bible and still call it the King James Bible. As an example, in some of Holman’s editions, they have changed the spelling of some words (e.g., Saviour to Savior). This might not seem like a big deal to some people, but how do we know what a particular publisher is changing and not changing? If they can change the spellings of words, they can also omit or change words and phrases. For instance, they could change or remove references to homosexuality (e.g., 1 Corinthians 6:9, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:27) or to the deity of Christ (e.g., Romans 9:5, Isaiah 40:3 – see more). While we do believe that the Lord will preserve and protect His Word, the “editing” of the Kings James Bible could become a free-for-all to emergent-leaning publishers.

Conclusion: Perhaps it would be a good idea to check inside your own Bibles and ones you are giving as gifts and make sure there are no articles written by contemplative and/or emerging authors. If any reading this feel compelled, here is the contact information for Holman Bible Publishers. If you do contact them, please ask them to remove the article by Calvin Miller in their Bible editions.

Note: Lighthouse Trails has put in two calls into Holman, but we have not yet heard back from anyone regarding this matter. Update: On the afternoon of April 8th, shortly after this article was posted, we received a phone call from someone who works at Holman Publishers. She is going to be passing this article onto the editorial department. We were told that LifeWay Resources is the parent company of B & H (Broadman & Holman).

Holman Bible Publishers
127 9th Avenue N
Nashville, TN 37234-0002

(615) 251-2520

BOOK REVIEW: Putting Away Childish Things, a Tale of Modern Faith by Marcus J. Borg

LTRP Note: While reading this book review on Marcus Borg’s new book, please bear in mind two things: one, that Borg rejects essential tenets of the biblical Christian faith (such as that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he was born of a virgin, and that He was God), and two, that numerous emerging “progressive” church leaders have at various times shown admiration for Borg and his writings  (these would include Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Calvin Miller (included Borg in his book, The Book of Jesus), Walter Brueggeman (helped write Richard Foster’s “Bible”) and at least on one occasion, Leonard Sweet). After you read this book review, you may better understand why Lighthouse Trails is so concerned about the “new” spirituality that has entered the Christian church  and been embraced by so many of its leaders and pastors.

 

 BOOK REVIEW: Putting Away Childish Things, a Tale of Modern Faith by Marcus J. Borg

By Ted Kyle
Free-lance writer

Putting Away Childish Things, a Tale of Modern Faithby Marcus J. Borg, published by Harper One, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2010, 342 pages, $25.99.

Learning to Doubt 101

Marcus J. Borg is a veteran of the Christianity wars, having been at one time a member of The Jesus Seminar, a humanist circle of liberal theologians who set themselves the task of voting Bible passes “in” or “out,” depending upon their supposed collective wisdom. Borg is also professor emeritus in the philosophy department at Oregon State University, and the author of the New York Times best-selling Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, The Heart of Christianity, The Last Week, and Jesus (from the dust cover).

Borg’s latest book, Putting Away Childish Things, is a novel. It is his first work of fiction, but he uses this vehicle knowledgeably to make his points. His protagonist is Kate Riley, an assistant professor in the department of religious studies at a small Midwestern liberal arts college. Kate is serious about her religion and thinks of herself as a Christian—though her concept of what that means would not agree with a conservative’s definition: she has had a lover (from whom she distanced herself when she decided he was not marriage-material), as well as other sexual encounters, and would not mind another liaison, though the only man she likes in her surroundings is gay. He is, accordingly, her best friend but not her lover. The thought that extra-marital sex is sinful adultery does not enter the picture—it is no doubt one of the strictures that liberals have written out of their workaday Bibles.  Sin and the need for forgiveness receive no honored place at the table in this book.

As a story, this is not an easy read, being burdened with its load of liberal doctrine. But as a literary device to lead the unwary into swallowing that doctrine, along with the vulnerable student, Erin, it may succeed very well. Readers should be aware that this is an agenda-driven book. Virtually everything in it is there for a purpose.

The author’s most important point is championing the Age of Enlightenment’s attack on the inerrancy of the Bible. It is a theme he introduces early and often throughout the book, as the following dialog illustrates:

Fiona, a member of Kate’s class, Religion and the Enlightenment, spoke up in an early class discussion: “I’ve had a couple of courses from Kate—I mean, Professor Riley—before and one of the things I’ve learned is that we need to set aside our worldview if we’re going to understand other worldviews…I ‘m not sure where that leads—I just know that there are a lot of different ways of seeing.”

Another student (Andrew, the class skeptic): “But you must know that our way of seeing things is just one among many. How do we know it’s any better?…. There’s no one true way of seeing—there are only ways of seeing…. And if you take that seriously, it means we can’t really know anything for sure” (p. 101).

Another student (Erin) protests: “I belong to a Christian group… We think there are some absolutes, that there have to be. Otherwise, anything goes.”

Andrew: “And where do you get your absolutes?

Erin: “Well, we—the group I’m part of—get them from the Bible. We—at least most of us—think the Bible is infallible, because it’s inspired by the Holy Spirit. And we think that if you don’t think that way, then the Bible is just another book, and you get to pick and choose what you like and don’t like in it. That’s called cafeteria Christianity.”

Andrew: “So, in a sea of relativity, the Bible is an absolute? The Bible is the exception?”

Kate, the professor, interrupted the silence which followed to say that the discussion is about “the central question of the course: What happens to the Bible and Christianity within the framework of modern thought?… What has happened to the notion of sacred scriptures and sacred traditions over the past three centuries because of the encounter with the Enlightenment?”

It is a thought-provoking session, well-designed to crack open old belief-positions absorbed without much thought as children. For many, it opens the floodgates of questions and doubts. Others have already passed that stage and now are convinced that the opening chapters of Genesis, the miracles in both Testaments, and much else in the Bible are not true. In Kate’s class they will be exposed to philosophical arguments to strengthens this disbelief.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN THE BOOK

1. The Two Narratives of Jesus’ Birth

One of the major plot twists comes in the form of reaction to a newly-published book by Kate: Two Stories, One Birth. In the book, she sharply distinguishes between the “stories” of our Lord’s birth in Matthew and Luke, instead of fitting them together to give a fuller picture of the occasion, as is normally done. Matthew’s account, she wrote, is dark and threatening, being dominated by Herod’s plot to kill the infant Jesus. Luke, however, “is basically joyful. There’s no plot by Herod to Kill Jesus; instead, there are hymns filled with joy” (page 24). Additionally, her book concludes that in Matthew, Mary and Joseph live in Bethlehem, in contrast to Luke’s account of the lengthy trip to Bethlehem from Nazareth. She comes to this astounding conclusion simply because “Matthew’s narrative makes no mention of the couple traveling there, leading us to assume that Bethlehem is their home” (page 31).

All this sets the stage for Kate to make her case during radio interviews that the stories of Jesus’ birth in both Gospels are parables—and “parables are about meaning, not factuality. And the truth of a parable is its meaning. Parables can be truthful, truth-filled, even while not being historically factual” (page 26). The interviewer responds with a leading question: “As I understand your book, you’re saying that it doesn’t matter whether there was a star of Bethlehem or wise men bringing gifts, or whether Jesus was born at home or in a stable, or whether angels sang to shepherds…. Would you extend this to the virgin birth as well—that it doesn’t matter whether it happened?” (page 27).

Kate ducks the question: “Well, my emphasis as a historian is on the meaning of a story of a divine conception in the context of the first century, not on whether it happened.” Much more is to come in Kate’s class sessions, where students are subtly led to question the Genesis account of Creation, including the creation of our first parents, Adam and Eve, miracles in both Testaments, and much else which is abhorrent to liberal thinking.

[Reviewer’s note: This retreat into theological gobbledygook is standard procedure throughout the book, in which pregnant suggestions and hanging questions are used to plant doubts, rather than making direct assertions regarding the unreliability of the Bible.]

2. Setting Us Straight on Homosexuality—and This Is a Biggie!

Erin, the student who has been part of the campus conservative club, The Way, has begun to question many things she had formerly taken for granted, such as the inerrancy of the Bible. Then, over the Christmas break, she learned that her younger brother is gay, and she is caught between her feelings for her brother and what the Bible says about homosexuality. Before she goes to Kate for guidance, she reads two books she finds in the college library (Dirt, Greed and Sex, by William Countryman and The New Testament and Homosexualityby Robin Scroggs) and in them, she tells Kate, she finds that “homosexuality is an abomination is in a context in Leviticus that also forbids lots of things that almost all Christians think are fine. Like planting two kinds o seed in the same field or wearing garments made of two kinds of cloth—I mean that would rule out blends. We set those laws aside and say they don’t apply to our time—so why should we think the verse about homosexuality applies to all times? And what they say about two of the three verses in the New Testament about homosexuality makes sense to me—that they probably refer to an older man having sex with a young boy… But the part of the New Testament that I still have trouble with is that passage from Paul in Romans….” She then reads Romans 1:26-27 aloud. “That’s really strong,” she says to Kate. “…That’s the passage I stumble over.”

Kate has her read the next verse. Erin reads verse 28, supposedly from her NIV Student Bible: “Furthermore, since they [the Gentiles] did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done” (page 207).

[Reviewer’s note: The words, “the Gentiles,” are not in the original Greek, nor are they in any Bible I have ever seen, specifically including the NIV Student Bible. The parenthetical words were doubtless added by Borg or an editor to buttress the professor’s argument that Paul is simply repeating “standard Jewish synagogue rhetoric about what Gentiles are like” (page 207). Erin, who wants to avoid having to regard her brother as under God’s condemnation, is convinced. And so might be readers of the book who fail to compare the quotation before them with their own Bibles—for the words appear to be part of the sacred text, despite being placed in a parenthesis.]

[It seems to this reviewer that Borg has crossed a very hazardous boundary indeed, for the Bible contains stern warnings about adding to or taking away from God’s Word (Deuteronomy 4:2 and Revelation 22:18-19, which includes a dire warning for tampering with God’s Word).]

[While the addition of these words may appeal to those who try to abrogate the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality, it cannot be shaken. And Paul’s whole argument in Romans chapter 1 applies to every individual of whatever persuasion or religion—against “all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who; hold the truth in unrighteousness” (vs. 18).]

Things then get worse in the counseling session: While Erin is absorbing the impact of Kate’s suggestion that Paul didn’t really mean to call homosexuality an abomination, Kate goes on to suggest that even if Paul did mean exactly what he said, he could very well have been mistaken—implying that there is no Holy Spirit inspiration involved (page 209).Truly, wickedness is at work in this book.

3. Positing Two Jesuses

In a class discussion about the effect of the Enlightenment on the Church’s understanding of Jesus’ intentions and accomplishments, Kate states in a hand-out that “Jesus as a historical figure was not the same as the gospels portray him. This especially the case in John’s gospel”—which, she writes, “is a very developed layer of the tradition.”  In other words, liberal scholars, including The Jesus Seminar, do not believe Jesus regarded Himself as the Son of God, or Messiah, or the Bread of Life, etc. Nor do they believe Jesus came to Earth to die as the Lamb of God. All these things, they insist, were claimed for Him, after His death, by His followers (pages 238-239). These theologians deny especially the factuality of John’s Gospel, including our Lord’s assertion that “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

4. Tie-ins with New Age and Emergent Church Thought

Martin, a minor figure in the book, who is Kate’s one-time (and possibly future) lover, outlines a lecture he will give about mysticism. He jots down: “Would affect our sense of what the word ‘God’ points to: a reality that can be known and that is ‘all around us’—not a person-like being ‘out there,’ separate from the universe, a super-powerful authority figure whose existence can be argued about” (page 133). Later we learn that Kate shares this belief with Martin (page 276).

Additionally, in perhaps the only inclusion of real persons in the book, Brian McLaren and Jim Wallis are recommended by a faculty member of the seminary that is inviting Kate to fill a temporary position. He says: “I would love to have either of them on our faculty, though I don’t imagine they’d be interested. Both are committed evangelicals” (page 149).

5. A Horrifying Glimpse into Liberal Academia

The seminary which has invited Kate for a one-year visiting professorship has, in Martin’s words: “We have so many specialized points of view here—Asian, African, feminist, womanist, gay, lesbian, plus, of course, older white male.” He goes on to say: “Don’t get me wrong—I’ve learned a lot from feminist theology and African theology and Asian theology and gay theology, and I’m grateful” (page 269).

Conclusion: While I can only conclude that this book will lead readers away from truth (and from the Gospel) rather than to it, one poem quoted in the book, “Dover Beach” written by British poet Matthew Arnold in 1870, moved me.  Arnold was attempting to describe how people’s faith in God was being shattered by overtly unbiblical challenges.

The sea is calm tonight,
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits—on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch’d land,
Listen! You hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl’d,
But now I only hear its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! For the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

The third stanza may seem to tell the tale of the Church’s defensive battle against the attacks of the Enlightenment—a tale of retreat and gathering impotence in the face of worldly knowledge. Yet the tale is true only on the surface, for God, who cannot lie, has sworn that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His church. Our Lord has also sworn that His Gospel “shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14).

Though the church in our land is beleaguered, let us recall that  “… They are not all Israel, which are of Israel”(Rom. 9:6), and that all this was foretold: “Now the Spirit

speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1).

The Church in America, as in Europe in general, has forgotten that “…strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:14). We are called to live as pilgrims and sojourners in a strange land, for this land is not our true home: we seek another!

Meanwhile, let us soldier on for our Captain, holding His banner high, knowing that our work is not in vain—for our Father declared, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa. 55:11).

Praise His Name!

P.S.: If you wonder about Borg’s title, as I did, I have to tell you that he never mentions it in the book. But it dawned on me eventually that he is describing Erin, the girl who came to college clinging to her childhood faith, and lost it in the blaze of the Enlightenment. He’d like to be describing real persons—people like you and me. But personally, I’d much rather have the child-like faith that our Lord had in mind when He said: “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein” (Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17).

Ted Kyle

Related:

Marcus Borg – A Key Force in the Emerging “New Paradigm” of Christian Faith

The Top 50 “Christian” Contemplative Books – A “NOT RECOMMENDED Reading List” and 25 Christian “Bridgers” to Them

LTRP Note: Ray Yungen and the editors at Lighthouse Trails have put together our Top 50 “Christian” Contemplative Books  – A “Not Recommended Reading List.” If your pastor, your professor, your children, or your friends are reading any of these books, then they are being led down a path that will take them toward a mystical, panentheistic spirituality where only deception  lies in wait. And keep in mind, if they are reading other books that are pointing to the books and authors below, this may ultimately have the same results.

Take this test to see how integrated the pro-contemplative authors below have become in the church: Pick a favorite author or teacher you follow, and ask yourself: “Does this person promote, embrace, or emulate any of the authors below?” (For example: Dallas Willard (a favorite in Christian colleges) promotes and emulates a number of the names below; Beth Moore (the top women’s Bible study teacher) strongly embraces Brennan Manning; Mark Driscoll finds much favor with Richard Foster; Dan Kimball resonates with Henri Nouwen, to name one. In fact, we have put together a list of the top 25 Christian leaders who embrace, emulate, and/or promote the authors named below. We call these 25 leaders “bridgers” because they are bridging the gap between contemplative mysticism (i.e., eastern mysticism) and the church. You can see that list of 25 below our top 50 books. Don’t get us wrong when we name just 25; there are many more than that (including lots of new upstarts), but these 25 are who we would consider the most influential and prolific today.

The Top 50 “Christian” Contemplative Books – A “NOT RECOMMENDED Reading List”

1. A World Waiting to Be Born by M. Scott Peck
2. Awakened Heart by Gerald May
3. Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
4. Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault
5. Centering Prayer by Basil Pennington
6. Chicken Soup for the Soul books by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen
7. Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton
8. Contemplative Youth Ministry by Mark Yaconelli
9. Emergence, the Rebirth of the Sacred by David Spangler
10. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero
11. Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer by Richard Rohr
12. Finding God by Ken Kaisch
13. God’s Joyful Surprise by Sue Monk Kidd
14. Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence by Ruth Haley Barton
15. Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality by Philip St. Romain
16. Lead Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard
17. Naked Spirituality by Brian McLaren
18. Open Heart, Open Mind by Thomas Keating
19. Original Blessing by Matthew Fox
20. Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
21. Reimagining Christianity by Alan Jones
22. Sabbatical Journey by Henri Nouwen
23. Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas
24. Sacred Way, The by Tony Jones
25. Seeds of Peace by William Shannon
26. Setting the Gospel Free by Brian C. Taylor
27. Silence on Fire by William Shannon
28. Soul Feast by Marjorie Thompson
29. Spiritual Classics by Richard Foster and Emilie Griffin
30. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
31. Spiritual Friend by Tilden Edwards
32. The Big Book of Christian Mysticism by Carl McColman
33. The Cloud of Unknowing by Anonymous Monk
34. The Coming of the Cosmic Christe by Matthew Fox
35. The Healing Light by Agnes Sanford
36. The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg
37. The Jesus We Never Knew by Marcus Borg
38. The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg
39. The Mission of Mysticism by Richard Kirby
40. The Mystic Heart by Wayne Teasdale
41. The Naked Now by Richard Rohr
42. The Other Side of Silence by Morton Kelsey
43. The Papa Prayer: The Prayer You’ve Never Prayed by Larry Crabb
44. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
45. The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning
46. The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen
47. The God of Intimacy and Action: Reconnecting Ancient Spiritual Practices, Evangelism, and Justice by Tony Campolo
48. The Soul at Rest by Tricia Rhodes
49. When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd
50. When the Soul Listens by Jan Johnson

Top 25 Christian Leaders Who Embrace, Emulate, and/or Promote Contemplative Mystics

1. Ann Voskamp
2. Anne Lamott
3. Beth Moore
4. Bill Hull
5. Bill Hybels
6. Calvin Miller
7. Dallas Willard
8. Dan Kimball
9. David Benner
10. Donald Miller
11. Doug Pagitt
12. Eugene Peterson
13. J.P. Moreland
14. Jim Wallis
15. John Eldredge
16. Ken Boa
17. Keri Wyatt Kent
18. Leonard Sweet
19. Mark Driscoll
20. Mike Bickle
21. Philip Yancey
22. Rob Bell
23. Robert Webber
24. Shane Claiborne
25. Walter Brueggemann

Letter to the Editor: Is Lighthouse Trails Crying Wolf on Meditation?

LTRP Note: The following is a letter we received from someone who has a legitimate concern. Below his question is our response and some added information.

The Question:

To Lighthouse Trails:
I have been enjoying your expose of the emergent church. We share the same concerns; however, it seems that anyone who has uttered the word “meditate” in the past is suspect of bringing Hinduism into the church. Don’t the Psalms encourage us to meditate on his word?

Sincerely concerned about crying wolf.

A man from Minnesota

Our Response:

Thank you for writing. We understand your concerns. And you are right that there is a biblical kind of meditation where we mindfully think about, give thanks for, and ponder on the wonderful things of God and His Word. However, the teachers and writers we critique are in a category where their view of “to meditate” has slipped into a different dimension, mostly due to their adherence of the teachings of the mystics. Of each case we write, the person speaks of something different than thoughtful meditation; they speak of stilling the mind, putting it into neutral, so to speak (what they refer to as the silence). For instance, in Chuck Swindoll’s book, So You Want to Be Like Christ: Eight Essential Disciplines to Get Your There, he says there is a stillness of the mind that is different than the quieting of the outer atmosphere (televisions, phones, etc). And he encourages this inner stilling; in fact he says we cannot become deep Christians without it. Whether he knew it or not when he wrote these things, his words echoe Thomas Merton and other mystics. And of course in that same book, in his chapter on “Silence and Solitude,” he points to Henri Nouwen’s book, The Way of the Heart, a book that is a primer on contemplative meditation. What Swindoll has done is point thousands in a direction that could have disastrous spiritual results.

To our response above, we would like to suggest an article by Ray Yungen on meditation: What is Mantra Meditation? In addition, keep in mind that one of the common elements of contemplative meditation is the notion that we must remove the inner distractions of our mind (remove our thoughts) in order to hear from God and become truly “deep” Christians as Swindoll suggests. However, nowhere in Scripture are we instructed to stop thinking. Contemplative Brennan Manning says to “choose a single sacred word … repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, often” (from Signature of Jesus), and in Ragamuffin Gospel, he explains: “[T]he first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer”(p. 212). But this is not what the Bible instructs us to do. Turning off our thoughts is the core of Hinduism and not biblical meditation.

Below are some quotes by a mixture of Christian figures and New Age mystics, speaking about the silence and stilling the mind. When these authors speak of stillness, solitude, and silence, it is a fair question to ask them: are they talking about finding a quiet place to read the Word, pray, and think about God, or are they talking about removing distractions from our minds and shutting out our thoughts? We believe in the cases below, they are referring to the latter.

“What you need is stillness and silence so that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.”–Ruth Haley Barton, “Beyond Words” (Barton encourages the use of repeating a word or phrase. 1

“The basic method promoted in The Cloud [of Unknowing] is to move beyond thinking into a place of utter stillness with the Lord … the believer must first achieve a state of silence and contemplation, and then God works in the believer’s heart.”–Tony Jones, Sacred Way, p. 15

“Progress in intimacy with God means progress toward silence…. It is this recreating silence to which we are called in Contemplative Prayer.–Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home

“It is through silence that you find your inner being.”–Vijay Eswaran, In the Sphere of Silence

“This book [In the Sphere of Silence] is a wonderful guide on how to enter the realm of silence and draw closer to God.”–Ken Blanchard, originally from the In the Sphere of Silence website

“[G]o into the silence for guidance”–New Ager, Wayne Dyer, see ATOD p. 18, endnote #23

“While we are all equally precious in the eyes of God, we are not all equally ready to listen to ‘God’s speech in his wondrous, terrible, gentle, loving, all embracing silence.'”–Richard Foster, Prayer, Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 156.

“When one enters the deeper layers of contemplative prayer one sooner or later experiences the void, the emptiness, the nothingness … the profound mystical silence … an absence of thought.”–Thomas Merton biographer, William Johnston, Letters to Contemplatives, p. 13

“In the silence is a dynamic presence. And that’s God, and we become attuned to that.”–Interspiritualist, Wayne Teasdale, see ATOD, p. 55, endnote #1

From the Be Still DVD:

“One of the great things silence does, it gives us a new concept of God.”–Calvin Miller

“[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.”–Beth Moore (In her book, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, Moore says that “practicing God’s presence” has become extremely important to her; she points readers to Brennan Manning several times in the book and suggests that his contribution to “our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel” (p. 72). Her participation in Richard Foster’s DVD project, Be Still, and her recanting of an apology for being in the film which included a promotion of the Be Still contemplative message backs up Moore’s statements about Manning and the stillness2

In essence, biblical meditation is thinking; and contemplative New Age meditation is simply not thinking … and that is something to think about.


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