Posts Tagged ‘Catholicism’
A recent Orange County Register news story titled “Rick Warren builds bridge to Muslims” has caught the attention of many people including several online news sources. The story resulted in a rebuttal by Rick Warren, denying the allegations the article made. For those who are trying to figure out what Rick Warren’s true beliefs are regarding Muslims and Christians uniting, we think the best way to unravel the confusion is to take a look at the past. There are a number of telling statements that Rick Warren has made over the past seven years that paint a very clear picture of Warren’s goals regarding this issue.
If I were to say to you that much of the church today has set aside the power of God, would you be shocked? After all, we live in a time where having the power of God in your life is a major theme preached from pulpits across the country. And book after book, sold in massive quantities, pour off the presses promising a special connection or intimacy with God that will revolutionize your life and make it more dynamic. Yet, I believe I can prove in this article that in fact, the power of God is being laid aside, and I will tell you how.
To understand spiritual formation, all one needs to do is understand the spirituality of Richard Foster. Lighthouse Trails has documented his beliefs through A Time of Departing and Faith Undone, as well as through numerous articles on the Lighthouse Trails Research site. In this particular article, let us turn to a small book Richard Foster wrote called Meditative Prayer. Foster says that the purpose of meditative prayer is to create a “spiritual space” or “inner sanctuary” through “specific meditation exercises” (p. 9).
In 2007 and 2008, books, videos, broadcasts, and news articles were pouring into mainstream America with a guilt-ridden message that basically manipulated conservative Christians into thinking that either they shouldn’t vote because “Jesus wouldn’t vote,” or they shouldn’t vote on morality issues such as abortion or homosexuality. Suddenly, all over the place there was talk about “destroying Christianity,” or “liking Jesus but not the church,” or “Jesus for president” (suggesting that maybe we could get Him on the ballot but certainly we shouldn’t vote for anyone already on the ballot). It all sounded very noble to many. After all, everybody knows there is so much political corruption in high government and certainly as much hypocrisy within the walls of many proclaiming Christian leaders and celebrities.
On March 26, 2012, Reformed pastor John Armstrong and Catholic Cardinal George of Chicago will come together at Wheaton College for “A Conversation on Unity in Christ’s Mission.” The flyer you see to the left reads: “An evening of dialogue exploring the common ground and current challenges that face Catholics and evangelical Protestants in Christian faith and mission.” The event came about last summer when Armstrong met with Cardinal George and asked him, ”Would you join me in a public venue to further discuss this idea of missional-ecumenism?” The Cardinal agreed, and thus the “Conversation” at Wheaton in March.
In a growing controversy where Wycliffe Bible Translators is removing “familial terms” such as Son of God and Father in their Bible translations in order to accommodate Muslim readers, the organization posted a statement . . . This statement came on the heels of Wycliffe issuing a statement a few days
earlier than the one above, criticizing accusations that they had indeed been removing the terms.
The Moody Church in Chicago Illinois has an impressive history. It was named after its founding pastor, the famous Dwight L. Moody. It’s been through a
number of pastors and buildings since the early 1800s, and if Dwight Moody were here this coming Sunday to listen to the guest speaker, we think he might find himself shocked to learn that this speaker is a strong advocate of contemplative spirituality and the spiritual formation movement.
Over the last ten years since Lighthouse Trails began, we have been contacted by many who love the Lord and were struggling with great challenges: Some were ostracized by their churches, which had gone Purpose Driven, contemplative, or emerging; some had division in their families; some had financial concerns; and others were worried about health issues – whether their own or that of loved ones. Beyond all of this, many have expressed a sense of uncertainty or foreboding of what the future will bring.
Biblegateway, “an online searchable Bible in dozens of versions and languages” is one of the most popular websites on the Internet today, ranking in the top 1000 sites in the world. Over 48,000 websites link to or recommend Biblegateway. Needless to say, their reach is substantial. Thus, it is with dismay to report that on their official blog this past September, Biblegateway introduced their readers to the contemplative practice of Lectio Divina in an article written by Brian Hardin called “Lectio Divina: Diving Reading.”
In Nouwen’s book, Sabbatical Journey (which was a diary or journal of what turned out to the be the last year of his life), Nouwen admitted he was
listening to tapes on the chakras (which Reiki is based on) during that final year, and in that same book he discusses meeting a man named Andrew Harvey at a talk Harvey was giving. Nouwen said he was particularly attracted to this homosexual New Ager’s mystical affinities. It is Harvey who stated: “we are all
essentially children of the Divine and can realize that identity with our Source here on earth and in a body.”
OTHER 2012 YEAR IN REVIEW CATEGORIES FROM LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS:
1/Like We Said, Brian McLaren Wants the Minds of Your Children and Grandchildren (EMERGING CHURCH)
5/Video Previews: Perpetuated in Righteousness? Did God Redeem Cultures? (NEW SPIRITUALITY)
6/A Debate: “Mariology: Who Is Mary According to Scripture?” (ROAD TO ROME)
7/Joe Schimmel’s Submerging Church Film Capsulates the “New” Spirituality Exposing Mark Driscoll, Rick Warren, Rob Bell, and Bono (EMERGING CHURCH/CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER)
1/A Special Report: The Healing Codes – The secret of health and prosperity revealed? by Mike Oppenheimer (Let Us Reason)
The Healing Code book has been seen in USA Today, People, Time magazine, as well as many other print media publications and has been printed in 16 languages to over 17 countries. It is the #1 bestseller in 11 categories on Amazon. Dr. Loyd lectures all over the world live, on radio, Internet, and TV. Thousands of people from all 50 states and more than 143 countries have now practiced The Healing Codes. This is not some obscure discovery being practiced by just a few.
2/Consider the Troubles of Israel – Psalm 9 by Bill Randles (Pastor Believers in Grace)
Why has Israel been so universally hated? What is it about her that consumes so much frenetic activity in world forums such as the United Nations? Why so many censures of the only free and democratic nation in the middle east? How could there even be a suggested ‘moral equivalence ‘ in discussions of Israel and her enemies?
3/“Should Christians Do Contemplative Prayer?” – That’s a Good Question! by Lynn Lusby Pratt
How about if we call a spade a spade? I’m speaking of contemplative prayer. If you’ve been using the term as the new way to describe your own practice of getting alone with God, being quiet, and praying silently . . . well, you haven’t been doing contemplative prayer (also called centering prayer, breath prayer, and Jesus’ prayer). It’s easy to misunderstand. Popular writers and teachers portray contemplative prayer in vague language that seems “almost intentionally inaccessible.”
4/Sharing Speaking Platforms: Compromises and Consequences by Chris Lawson (Spiritual Research Network)
Many years ago Pastor Chuck Smith’s long-time associate, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa’s Associate Pastor, L.E. Romaine, once told me personally”Don’t complain about it unless you first try to do something about it.”Pastor Romaine was exhorting us (pastors) not to complain about anything, unless we seek first to aright the situation, no matter what it is. Obviously, the Bible says we are not to grumble and complain, and Romaine knew that too. Romaine was simply communicating to us that we ought to deal with issues and not make messes in the church; theological, or otherwise. The following material is not meant to be a complaint, but an introduction as to why Calvary Chapel is not standing against Ecumenical compromises. I am not complaining, I am telling the truth.
5/Can’t We All Share One Religion? by Berit Kjos (Kjos Ministries)
“Religion for Everyone!” The message in this strange article (featured in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal) fits right into the UN vision of global solidarity. The author, Alain de Botton, presents a radical plan for social unity that meets the demands of the global agenda. By blending useful practices from the world’s religious traditions, it would mold minds, transform communities and establish new rules and rituals for all. There would be no room for Biblical Christianity.
6/The Labyrinth Journey: Walking the Path to Fulfillment? by Carl Teichrib (Forcing Change)We live in a day and age where many “new things” are sweeping through the Christian church. Some of these alternative directions are simply a reflection of changes in style and format. However, in our exploration towards alternative forms of spiritual expression – particularly as we try to build relevancy in a post-modern culture – it is imperative that doctrinal discernment and discretionary principles come into play. This is especially true as society rapidly embraces a plethora of alternative spiritual practices, beliefs, and paths. Sadly, we as Christians often flounder in doing our homework, and in that vein we may inadvertently open our congregations to highly questionable choices and spiritual experiences.
The current New Age hoopla over the December 21, 2012 date seems to indicate the same bizarre occult predictions. No wonder people are scared! . . . All of this hoopla and hype about 12-21-12 amongst the New Agers illustrates that they have a global plan for a new spirituality. Shockingly, their plan merges with many of the agendas coming forth in evangelical circles.
8/IHOP-KC/Onething website mum about Catholic participation by John Lanagan (My Word Like Fire)
The Catholic Track is theoretically separate from the International House Of Prayer Track at the IHOP Onething Christian Conference 2012. Except that people can go to either–and when Catholic and Christian kids are in hotels for four days during Onething, they will definitely be going to whatever is happening at Onething. The fact that Bickle is doing this sends the message that the Catholic Church is part of the Body Of Christ. So, the Catholics are making a very big deal out of this.
9/Discernment Detractors: Calling Good Evil by Warren B. Smith (Mountain Stream Press)
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” —Isaiah 5:20 In the first book of Kings, God comes to Solomon in a dream and tells him he can ask for anything that he wants: “In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.” —1 Kings 3:5 Solomon asks for discernment: He wants to be able to discern the difference between what is good and bad—between good and evil.
10/Emerging Church Tony Jones Says: “Death to Homeschooling!” by Steve Blackwell (IndyWatchman)
It is not unusual to find those who prefer not to homeschool, for whatever reason: time constraints, job constraints, perceived inability to teach, they
like the time away from the kids, etc., but to pronounce a death sentence on what has proved to be a very successful method of teaching, creating family
closeness, transferring personal values, protecting from negative influences, or instilling historic Christian principles, is puzzling, coming from a
“Christian.” Tony doesn’t state why he so detest homeschooling, so he allows us to draw our own conclusions. Making use of the term “death to homeschooling” may actually expose a deeper desire for the state to mandate education, fulfilling Tony’s belief in a liberal social gospel, taking us back into the Dark Ages.
- November 9 – Contemplative Prayer and Silence
- November 5 – Synthetic Biologist: Cloned Children, ‘Handpicked Genes’ Right Around the Corner
- November 11 – Are Genetically Modified Insects The Next Step For The GMO Industry?
- November 7 – US election: America goes liberal with gay marriage, abortion and cannabis votes
- November 13 – Feast of St. Josaphat: Time for Full Communion Between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches
- November 13 – Asthma inhalers with tracking devices: The future of American Big Brother healthcare
- November 9 – New euro notes to show tragic princess
- November 4 – A new leader for Europe?
- November 10 – When a Palm Reader Knows More Than Your Life Line
- November 15 – Rockets hit near Tel Aviv as Gaza death toll rises
Protestant-Turned-Catholic, Scot Hahn, Was Scheduled to Speak at IHOP’s Onething Conference – Understanding Hahn’s “Conversion”
In view of the fact that IHOP (International House of Prayer), a very contemplative promoting hyper-charismatic organization, was planning on having Scot Hahn, a Protestant-turned-Catholic, as one of the speakers at their upcoming Onething Christian Conference, speaks volumes about the move toward Catholicism that many in the evangelical church are making today. In charismatic circles, IHOP would be considered a prominent force so clearly what they do influences tens of thousands of people. And although it appears that the Catholics pulled out of the conference this past week (see John Lanagan’s coverage on this), we would like to draw the attention of our readers to Scot Hahn’s “spiritual journey” into Catholicism.
On November 12th, we posted John Lanagan’s article IHOP-KC/Onething website mum about Catholic participation showing that IHOP was saying very little about the Catholic church’s participation in this conference, even though a Catholic website was being vocal about it. In Lanagan’s article, he listed a number of Catholic speakers who would be at the Onething event. One of those, Scot Hahn, is a major “evangelist” for the Catholic Church in winning converts from Protestantism, using his own conversion from Protestantism to Catholicism as a catalyst.
Because so many evangelicals are moving toward Catholicism (especially through contemplative mystics such as Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, Brennan Manning, and Henri Nouwen), we feel Scot Hahn’s “conversion” story would be insightful. Roger Oakland discusses Hahn’s conversion in his book Another Jesus: the eucharistic christ and the new evangelization. Oakland also discusses Hahn’s wife’s conversion too as the couple wrote a book about it, Rome Sweet Rome. Incidentally, Scot Hahn also wrote a book titled Scripture and Metaphysics where he references and quotes many contemplative mystics.
We see a connection between the evangelical embracing of contemplative Catholic mystics and the emerging church’s promotion of the Catholic eucharist (Christ in a wafer). Thus, the following story:
Scott and Kimberly Hahn: Their Eucharistic Conversions
By Roger Oakland
Scott Hahn [is] a Professor of Theology and Scripture at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he has taught since 1990. He is also the founder and director of the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology.
Hahn entered the Catholic Church on Easter 1986. He is a former ordained Presbyterian minister with ten years of ministry experience in Protestant congregations and a former Professor of Theology at Chesapeake Theological Seminary.
An exceptionally popular speaker and teacher, Hahn has delivered numerous talks nationally and internationally on a wide variety of topics related to the Catholic faith. His teaching has been effective in helping thousands of Protestants and fallen-away Catholics to (re)embrace the Catholic faith.1
Both Scott and his wife Kimberly have written about their spiritual journeys that brought them to the Catholic Church in a book called Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism.2 On the back cover of their book, a statement is made that provides further information about the Hahn family:
For the last decade, Scott and Kimberly Hahn have been speaking around the country—and making tapes that circulate the globe—sharing with thousands all about their conversion to the Catholic Church and the truth and splendor of the Catholic faith. Now this outstanding Catholic husband and wife have finally put their story into print as they recount their incredible spiritual journey “back home” into God’s worldwide family, the Catholic Church.3
In Rome Sweet Home, Hahn gives a step by step account of a Eucharistic encounter that was instrumental in his conversion to Catholicism. He describes in detail what happened to him one day while attending a Catholic Mass. He writes:
[O]ne day, I made a “fatal blunder”—I decided that it was time for me to go to Mass on my own. . . . Right before noon, I slipped quietly into the basement chapel for daily Mass. I wasn’t sure what to expect; maybe I’d be all alone with a priest and a couple of old nuns. I took a seat as an observer in the back pew.
All of a sudden lots of ordinary people began coming in off the streets—rank-and-file type folks. They came in, genuflected, knelt and prayed. Their simple but sincere devotion was impressive. Then a bell rang and a priest walked out toward the altar. I remained seated; I wasn’t sure if it was safe to kneel. As an evangelical Calvinist, I had been taught that the Catholic Mass was the greatest sacrilege that a man could commit—to resacrifice Christ—so I wasn’t sure what to do.4
Hahn then describes the thoughts and feelings that overcame him as the priest proceeded with the consecration of the Host:
After pronouncing the words of consecration, the priest held up the Host. I felt as if the last drop of doubt had drained from me. With all of my heart, I whispered, “My Lord and my God. That’s really you! And if that’s you, then I want full communion with you. I don’t want to hold anything back.”
Then I remembered my promise … Oh yes. I’ve got to regain control—I’m a Presbyterian, right? right! And with that, I left the chapel, not telling a soul where I had been or what I had done. But the next day I was back, and the next, and the next. Within a week or two I was hooked. I don’t know how to say it, but I had fallen head over heels in love with our Lord in the Eucharist! His presence to me in the Blessed Sacrament was powerful and personal. As I sat in the back I began to kneel and pray with the others whom I now knew to be my brothers and sisters. I wasn’t an orphan! I had found my family—it was God’s family.5
Soon the conversion process was complete. Hahn was overcome by his experience and was convinced he truly had discovered the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. In his own words:
Day after day, witnessing the entire drama of the Mass, I saw the covenant renewed right before my eyes. I knew Christ wanted me to receive him in faith, not just spiritually in my heart, but physically as well: onto my tongue, down my throat and into my whole body and soul. This was what the Incarnation was all about. This was the gospel in its fullness.
Each day after Mass, I spent a half hour to an hour praying the Rosary. I felt the Lord unleash his power through his Mother before the Blessed Sacrament. I begged him to open up my heart to show me his will.6
While Scott was converted in 1986, Kimberly’s conversion did not happen until four years later. In one section of Rome Sweet Home, Kimberly Hahn describes the struggle she experienced living in a mixed marriage with her newly converted Catholic husband. She writes:
I tried to fit into Scott’s life as a Catholic. The week after Easter, Scott led a Bible study in our home and I sat in. When a young man was asked to open in prayer, he promptly led in a Hail Mary. I left the room in agony, fell on my knees in my bedroom and wept bitterly—how dare he say those words in my home, rubbing salt into my open wound from Scott’s conversion! Later, I tried to rejoin them, but their comments and expressions of Catholic piety were overwhelming. Soon Scott moved the Bible study out of our home, for which I was most grateful.7
Eventually, Kimberly softened her position and agreed to attend Mass with her husband. She describes the thoughts that went through her mind:
One evening, we had an opportunity to be at a Mass where there was a [E]ucharistic procession at the end. I had never seen this before. As I watched row after row of grown men and women kneel and bow when the monstrance passed by, I thought, these people believe that that is the Lord, and not just bread and wine. If this is Jesus, that is the only appropriate response. If one should kneel before a king today, how much more before the King of Kings? The Lord of Lords? Is it safe not to kneel?
But I continued to ruminate, what if it’s not? If that is not Jesus in the monstrance, then what they are doing is gross idolatry. So, is it safe to kneel? The situation highlighted what Scott had said all along: the Catholic Church is not just another denomination—it is either true or diabolical.8
As more time passed, Kimberly’s perspective of the Eucharist and Mary gradually changed. Eventually she found herself, like her husband Scott, in the position where she had a Eucharistic encounter that changed her life. She writes:
I was amazed how much the monstrance seemed to symbolize the Catholic Church. Like many Protestants, I had been concerned that Mary, the saints, and the sacraments were roadblocks between believers and God so that to get to God, one would have to go around them. They seemed to complicate life with God unnecessarily—like accretions on the sides of sunken treasures, they had to be discarded to get to what was important.
But now I could see that the opposite was true, Catholicism was not a distant religion, but a presence oriented one—Catholics were the ones who had Jesus physically present in churches and saw themselves as living tabernacles after receiving the Eucharist. And because Jesus is the Eucharist, keeping Him in the center allows all of the rich doctrines of the Church to emanate from him, just as the beautiful gold rays stream forth from the Host in the monstrance.9
Kimberly joined her husband in the Catholic Church and in Eucharistic adoration.
(from chapter 9, Eucharistic Conversions, of Another Jesus by Roger Oakland)
1. See http://www.scotthahn.com for more information about Scott Hahn.
2. Scott and Kimberly Hahn, Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press), 1993.
3. Ibid., back cover.
4. Ibid., p. 87.
6. Ibid., pp. 88, 89.
7. Ibid., pp. 105, 106.
8. Ibid., p. 142.
9. Ibid., p. 162.
By John Lanagan
My Word Like Fire Ministries
An event of great significance is taking place. Mike Bickle of International House of Prayer is (very quietly) partnering with the Catholic Church for the Onething Christian Conference (Dec. 28-31, 2012).
The Catholic Track is theoretically separate from the International House Of Prayer Track at the IHOP Onething Christian Conference 2012. Except that people can go to either–and when Catholic and Christian kids are in hotels for four days during Onething, they will definitely be going to whatever is happening at Onething. The fact that Bickle is doing this sends the message that the Catholic Church is part of the Body Of Christ.
So, the Catholics are making a very big deal out of this. On the IHOP-KC/Onething website, not a peep so far. Lots of Onething Conference info–excluding the fact of Catholic participation. Click here to continue reading.
On October 22, Multnomah University (formerly Multnomah School of the Bible) held a chapel service for their students titled Lectio Divina. The chapel was led by Dr. Roy Andrews of Multnomah, a Lighthouse Trails reader told us this past week. The Lighthouse Trails reader, who attended the service for observation purposes, was given a flyer at the service that explained what Lectio Divina was. Thomas Aquinas, a contemplative mystic, was referred to in the service, and students were encouraged to “ask God to open [their minds]” using Lectio Divina. The following statement is posted on Multnomah’s website:
If you aren’t sure what Lectio Divina is, we encourage you to read our article “Lectio Divina: What it is, What it is Not, and Why it is a Dangerous Practice” to better understand this contemplative gateway practice. This excerpt from our article states:
Contemplative mysticism pioneer Thomas Keating explains what lectio divina is not. It is not traditional Bible study, not reading the Scriptures for understanding and edification, and not praying the Scriptures (though praying the Scriptures can be a form of lectio divina when a word or phrase is taken from the Scriptures to focus on for the purpose of going into “God’s presence.”). Keating says that lectio divina is an introduction into the more intense practices – contemplative prayer and centering prayer. [Taken from “The Classical Monastic Practice of Lectio Divina” by Thomas Keating.]
While some people think lectio divina is just reading Scripture slowly, and what’s wrong with that, it is the focusing on and repeating a word or small phrase to facilitate going into the “silence” that is the real danger.
October 22nd wasn’t the first time that Lectio Divina has been taught at a chapel service at Multnomah University. One was held earlier this year on May 8th with Stan Campbell leading. One was also held on September 18th with Stan Campbell, on October 2nd with Dr. Joseph Zichtermann, and three will be held in November: on November 1st of this year with Professor Greg Burch officiating, on November 12th, and on November 27th with Dr. Debi Miller facilitating. Incidentally, on Dr. Miller’s website, she states the following: “I love several Catholic writers—Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton, to name two.” 1 This may explain why she was willing to lead a Lectio Divina service at Multnomah. But nevertheless, it is disheartening to know that Multnomah is using professors that “love” Catholic mystics, Nouwen and Merton being two of the most prolific and influential Catholic contemplatives in our modern day.
Multnomah University is on the Lighthouse Trails “Contemplative Colleges” list as they have been promoting spiritual formation for some time. Just type in the term “spiritual formation” into the school search engine dozens of entries come up. As we worked our way through the Multnomah website while researching for this article, we were dismayed as we saw just how integrated contemplative spirituality has become at Multnomah. One university donor officer at the school included Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, Parker Palmer, and John Eldredge (all contemplative advocates) in his list of “favorite authors.” A professor said Henri Nouwen was someone who “inspire[s]” him.
For what it’s worth, on a Wikipedia page for Multnomah University, “notable” alumni students of Multnomah include emerging church author and pastor Dan Kimball. Interestingly, in the spring of 2011, the school held a high school “theology” retreat with Kimball as the keynote speaker. That’s a bit hard to swallow for those who know Kimball’s “theology” learned from his books, which include The Emerging Church and Emerging Worship. His books are discussed in Faith Undone by Roger Oakland and A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen; also, Lighthouse Trails has a book review on Kimball’s book “They Like Jesus But Not the Church.” And an expose titled “Dan Kimball’s Emerging Church and Eastern Mysticism” describes Kimball’s “vintage Christianity.” In a radio interview titled “Beware the Bridgers,” Ingrid Schlueter discusses how emerging figures such as Kimball are being used as bridges between traditional Christianity and the emerging church. Seeing that Multnomah brought Kimball in to train high school students “theology” is, frankly, quite troubling. In reading all three of his books, we find his “theology” riddled with contemplative/emerging practices and would wish that no high school student would be introduced to these ideas. Oh, and by the way, in his book, The Emerging Church, Kimball encourages the practice of Lectio Divina.
Lighthouse Trails has been talking and warning about the infiltration of contemplative spirituality into the church for ten years. The acceptance and embracing of Lectio Divina is going to help surge the movement fast forward because of its seemingly benign nature but in reality a very dangerous practice, and more and more Christians will be practicing contemplative prayer than ever before. Contemplatives, such as Richard Foster, will delight in knowing this. But for those who understand the nature of contemplative – that it is panentheistic, interspiritual, and ultimately anti-atonement – it will concern them deeply.
Let us close with this statement by Ray Yungen. In reading this, it may help to explain why contemplative spirituality should not be entertained at Multnomah or any other Christian school:
Those who have studied [Thomas] Merton from a critical point of view, such as myself, have tried to understand what are the roots behind Merton’s spiritual affinities. [Henri] Nouwen explains that Merton was influenced by LSD mystic Aldous Huxley who “brought him to a deeper level of knowledge” and “was one of Merton’s favorite novelists.” It was through Huxley’s book, Ends and Means, that first brought Merton “into contact with mysticism.” Merton states:
“He [Huxley] had read widely and deeply and intelligently in all kinds of Christian and Oriental mystical literature, and had come out with the astonishing truth that all this, far from being a mixture of dreams and magic and charlatanism, was very real and very serious.”
This is why, Nouwen revealed, Merton’s mystical journey took him right into the arms of Buddhism:
“Merton learned from him [Chuang Tzu—a Taoist] what Suzuki [a Zen master] had said about Zen: “Zen teaches nothing; it merely enables us to wake and become aware.”
Become aware of what? The Buddha nature. Divinity within all.That is why Merton said if we knew what was in each one of us, we would bow down and worship one another. Merton’s descent into contemplative led him to the belief that God is in all things and that God is all things. This is made clear by Merton when he said:
“True solitude is a participation in the solitariness of God—Who is in all things.”
“[ChuangTzu] awakened and led him [Merton] . . . to the deeper ground of his consciousness.”
This has been the ploy of Satan since the Garden of Eden when the serpent said to Eve, “ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:4). It is this very essence that is the foundation of contemplative prayer. (From Chapter 9, “The Christian of the Future” in A Time of Departing, 2nd ed. by Ray Yungen)
Times have changed. If Lectio Divina had been introduced to an evangelical university in the 1980s, everyone would have been up in arms. But today it is considered perfectly normal and legitimate. We attribute much of this acceptance to the rise of general mysticism in the culture (e.g., yoga, Oprah Winfrey, and the popularity of Christian authors such as Brennan Manning who says in his book The Signature of Jesus that if you want to have the signature of Jesus on your prayer life you need to “Choose a single, sacred word . . . repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, and often” (p. 218) and says, ” the first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer” (p. 212).
The quotes in the section from A Time of Departing are taken from Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book, Thomas Merton: Contemplative Critic (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row Publishers, 1991, Triumph Books Edition), pp. 3, 19, 20, 46, 71.