Posts Tagged ‘ruth haley barton’

An Appendix on the Al Mohler Situation: “The Contemplative Christian (The Christian of the Future?)”

LTRP Note: In view of our recent post on Albert Mohler who promoted the book The Benedictine Option (a book that encourages contemplative prayer practices), we are posting this article by Ray Yungen from his book A Time of Departing so readers who are unfamiliar with the contemplative prayer movement can gain better understanding.

By Ray Yungen

Within the evangelical world, contemplative prayer is increasingly being promoted and accepted. As a result, it is losing its esoteric aspect and is now seen by many as the wave of the future. One can’t help but notice the positive exposure it is getting in the Christian media these days. In Today’s Christian Woman, a popular and trusted Christian magazine, feature titles make the appeal to draw closer to God. The author of one such article says, “Like a growing number of evangelicals, I’ve turned to spiritual direction because I want to know God better.”1 But without exception, every person she cites is a dedicated contemplative, one being Ruth Haley Barton, author of Invitation to Solitude and Silence. Barton was trained at the Shalem Institute (founded by panentheist Tilden Edwards); and in fact, that organization was featured in the article as a resource for the reader. However, considering the content of many statements on the Shalem Institute website, how could Shalem even be listed as a resource for Christians? Listen to a few:

In Christianity and other traditions that understand God to be present everywhere, contemplation includes a reverence for the Divine Mystery, “finding God in all things,” or “being open to God’s presence, however it may appear.”2

[Thomas] Merton taught that there is only one way to develop this radical language of prayer: in silence.3

The rhythm of the group includes . . . chanting, two periods of sitting in silence separated by walking meditation, and a time for optional sharing.4

In another magazine article, Ruth Haley Barton, who incidentally is the former Associate Director of Spiritual Formation at Willow Creek Community Church, echoes Southern Baptist-turned-goddess worshiper Sue Monk Kidd in many ways, including the general malaise or condition of the human soul. Barton recounts:

A few years ago, I began to recognize an inner chaos in my soul . . . No matter how much I prayed, read the Bible, and listened to good teaching, I could not calm the internal roar created by questions with no answers.5

Ruth Haley Barton

The following scenario Barton relates could be the wave of the future for the evangelical church if this movement continues to unfold in the manner it already has:

I sought out a spiritual director, someone well versed in the ways of the soul . . . eventually this wise woman said to me . . . “What you need is stillness and silence so that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.” . . . I decided to accept this invitation to move beyond my addiction to words.6

By “addiction to words,” she means normal ways of praying. She still uses words, but only three of them, “Here I am.” This is nothing other than the Cloud of Unknowing or the prayer of the heart.
Like Richard Foster, Barton argues that God cannot be reached adequately, if at all, without the silence. In referring to 1 Kings 19 when Elijah was hiding in a cave, Barton encourages:

God loves us enough to wait for us to come openly to Him. Elijah’s experience shows that God doesn’t scream to get our attention. Instead, we learn that our willingness to listen in silence opens up a quiet space in which we can hear His voice, a voice that longs to speak and offer us guidance for our next step.7

What Barton fails to mention here is that Elijah was a valiant defender of the belief in the one, unique God—Yahweh (as seen in his encounter with the 450 prophets of Baal), and he never went into an altered state of silence in his personal encounter with God.

Barton is no longer teaching at Willow Creek. She left there to start the Transforming Center and now teaches pastors and other Christian leaders spiritual formation. Hers is just one of many avenues through which contemplative prayer is creating a new kind of Christian, possibly the Christian of the future.

Endnotes:
1. Agnieszka Tennant, “Drawing Closer to God”(Today’s Christian Woman, September/October 2004, Vol. 26, No. 5), p. 14. Published by Christianity Today International, Carol Stream, Illinois.
2. Shalem Institute, “What Does Contemplative Mean?” (Shalem Institute About Shalem page, http://web.archive.org/web/20050204190729/http://shalem.org/about.html#contemplative).
3. Ann Kline, “A New Language of Prayer” (Shalem Institute newsletter, Vol. 29, No. 1, Winter 2005, http://web.archive.org/web/20060930230219/http://www.shalem.org/publication/newsletter/archives/2005/2005_winter/article_04).
4. Shalem Institute website, General Events, “Radical Prayer: A Simple Loving Presence Group” (http://www.shalem.org/programs/generalprograms/groupsevents_folder; no longer online—on file at LT).
5. Ruth Haley Barton, “Beyond Words, Issue #113, September/October, 1999, http://web.archive.org/web/20060628075740/http://www.navpress.com/EPubs/DisplayArticle/1/1.113.13.html), p. 35.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid., pp. 37-38.

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InterVarsity Comes Under Heat for Trying to Make a Stand Against Same-Sex Marriage – But Straddling the Fence is Hard to Do

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has come under public heat because it recently announced they were giving an ultimatum to employees who saw nothing wrong with same-sex (homosexual) marriage. In a Charisma magazine article (we are not endorsing Charisma), the author states:

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is one of the leading campus ministries, and its publishing arm, InterVarsity Press, is one of the top Christian publishers. But this fine ministry is learning the hard way that, when it comes to homosexuality, you cannot straddle the fence.1

The reason the Charisma writer says “straddle the fence” is because InterVarsity Press has been publishing emergent, contemplative, New Age/New Spirituality authors for a long time, and mixing truth with error has finally caught up with them. The Charisma article reveals more:

As Jonathan Merritt reports on the Religion News Service, “40 authors in InterVarsity’s publishing house stable including Shane Claiborne, David Dark, Christena Cleveland, Ian Morgan Cron, and Chris Heuertz are calling on IVCF head Tom Lin to immediately replace the policy with one that makes space for opposing views. The letter indicates that the signers ‘do not all share the same theological or political views’ but ‘are united in our concern for the dignity and care of our fellow Christians whose jobs are threatened by your policy.'”

You may recall articles Lighthouse Trails has written about Shane Claiborne and Ian Morgan Cron. Both very emergent, to say the least. Just to give you a little sampling of the beliefs of authors InterVarsity has been publishing, read this quote by Ian Morgan Cron:

I grew up a Roman Catholic and later became an Anglican priest (it was the closest I could get to being a Catholic priest without having to “swim the Tiber”) so there’s definitely a weird brew of influences floating around the community. I’m presently studying spiritual direction and contemplative spirituality at the Shalem Institute and beginning next year in a doctoral program at Fordham University (The Jesuit University of New York) so the voices of Merton, Rahner, Ignatius, St Francis, Teresa of Avila, Evelyn Underhill and other contemplatives find their way into our ministries and preaching as well. (source)

If you have been reading Lighthouse Trails for any amount of time, you will probably be familiar with the interspiritual Shalem Institute and that list of names mentioned above by Morgan Cron. That quote by him was said in an online interview as you can read about in a Lighthouse Trails 2013 article where we discussed our concerns about Ian Morgan Cron speaking at a Nazarene university. We stated in that article:

Lest one think that the Nazarenes stand alone in embracing Cron, just take a look at Cron’s speaking schedule [link no longer available]. Places he will be speaking (or has spoken) at include: World Vision, Willow Creek, Denver Seminary, Family Fest with the Gaithers, the Dove Awards, Renovare, C3 Conference with Philip Yancey, the Calvinist Crossroads Community Church in MD, Texas Christian University,  Catalyst Conference with Andy Stanley, and Worship Leaders Conference with James McDonald and Saddleback pastor Buddy Owens.

Ian Morgan Cron is a New Age/New Spirituality “Christian” as his writings clearly prove. Shane Claiborne, mentored by socialist liberal evangelical Tony Campolo, is in the same camp. A few other InterVarsity New Spirituality (contemplative, interspiritual, ecumenical, and emergent) authors are Dan Allender (a favorite for Moody Radio), Fil Anderson (Running on Empty), Lynne Babb,  Ruth Haley Barton, Richard Foster’s colleague (part of Renovare) Gayle Beebe, Buddhist-sympathizer & Catholic Peter Kreeft, Calvin Miller (who admires Virgin-birth and Son of God denier Marcus Borg), Kenneth Boa, Gregory Boyd, and a name just as disconcerting as Ian Morgan Cron, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun (promotes all kinds of mystical practices and people in her book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook), and Julie Cameron (author of The Artist’s Way discussed in A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen because of her mystical propensities). Frankly, this list would have to go on for several more paragraphs just to name all the InterVarsity authors who fall in a similar category as Ian Morgan Cron.

No wonder so many within the ranks of the InterVarsity author-machine are speaking against their homosexual ultimatum. (For the purposes of this article, remember the connection there is between emergent/contemplative thinking and a laxed view on homosexuality.) The Trojan horse has entered Christian publishing, and the enemy is now within the walls. Maybe it’s time that InterVarsity wakes up, repents, and starts seeking after biblical integrity in what they are publishing and promoting. It’s a little ludicrous for them to think they can spend years publishing liberal, socialistic, New Age, mystical contemplative authors and then scratch their heads in wonder when these same authors challenge them for trying to be biblical when it comes to issues such as homosexuality. As we’ve said so many times before, straddling the fence is not an easy thing to do, and in today’s mixed up immoral society—a society which is going after Christians who try to stand for what is right—straddling the fence for Christians is almost impossible to maintain. Hopefully, InterVarsity Press will figure this out before they lose altogether under the pressure. It will be interesting to see what their next move is. One thing is for sure, they won’t be alone. Countless Christian publishers, ministries, churches, and leaders are straddling the same fence, and their day of reckoning is coming too.

Related Articles:
Bible society debates exhibit ban for InterVarsity Press

Top Evangelical College Group to Dismiss Employees Who Support Gay Marriage

 

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Assemblies of God Leader Dr. George Wood Joins New Age Sympathizer Leonard Sweet at Luther 2017 (Another Step Toward Rome?)

Dr. George Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God denomination,  is scheduled to share the platform with New Age sympathizer Leonard Sweet next year in Berlin, Germany at an event called Luther 2017.

Dr. Wood was the subject of several Lighthouse Trails articles in 2013 for his promotion of contemplative teacher Ruth Haley Barton and the invitation by AOG to have Barton speak at a women’s gathering during the AOG General Conference held that year. See our special report “Assemblies of God “Believe” Conference Makes Bold Move – Brings in Contemplative Key Player Ruth Haley Barton” for background on this story. We also did a follow up story to show when Assemblies of God issued a response defending the Barton invitation: Lighthouse Trails Statement to Assemblies of God Response Regarding Invitation of Ruth Haley Barton.”

Leonard Sweet is actually a co-host for Luther 2017. Given his propensities toward New Age/New Spirituality thinking, his organizing participation will no doubt bring this thinking to the Luther 2017.

The implications of this are far deeper than what appears on the surface. This is not just a case of a major Christian leader—Dr. Wood—sharing a platform form with a leader in the emerging church/New Spirituality movement. There is currently a powerful effort behind the scenes to remove the barrier between the Roman Catholic Church and the evangelical and Protestant church and basically get people to acknowledge that the reformation from 500 years ago is over (i.e., it’s not needed anymore).

If you recall, in 2014, Lighthouse Trails reported on Anglican priest Tony Palmer, who had become a go-between for the Catholic Church and the evangelical (and Pentecostal) church. When he spoke at Ken Copeland’s church, he told the enthusiastic congregation that the reformation was over as there was no longer a need for it. He said it was time to unite. Shortly later, Palmer was killed in a motorcycle accident, but the work he was involved with continues on. Luther 2017 is part of that work as is Together 2016, which took place this summer, and The Gathering 2016, which takes place in September with major Christian figures such as Kay Arthur, Greg Laurie, Anne Graham Lotz, and several others.

Lighthouse Trails will be posting more information on Luther 2017, Leonard Sweet, Christian leaders, and the road to Rome. If you question our deep concerns about what is happening, please read the documentation that Lighthouse Trails has been providing for over 14 years.

Incidentally, also joining Sweet and Wood is Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church.

As for Dr. George Wood, does he not realize that the first major step back to Rome is the embracing of contemplative prayer? When he made the decision to dig in his heels and accept Ruth Haley Barton no matter what evidence was provided to him, did he not realize he was plunging headlong into deception? As we have warned so many times (to the deaf ears of Christian leaders), once someone starts down the contemplative path, their viewpoint on spiritual matters begins to change leading to the eventual rejection of biblical Christianity and the Gospel. It appears that Dr. Wood has made his decision. How many will follow him?

Related Information:

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Silence—The Language of God? (And Some Folks Promoting it)

By Ray Yungen

For many years during my research, I would come across the term contemplative prayer. Immediately I would dismiss any thought that it had a New Age connotation because I thought it meant to ponder while praying—which would be the logical association with that term. But in the New Age disciplines, things are not always what they seem to be to untrained ears.

What contemplative prayer actually entails is described very clearly by the following writer:

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.1

To my dismay, I discovered this “mystical silence” is accomplished by the same methods used by New Agers to achieve their silence—the mantra and the breath! Contemplative prayer is the repetition of what is referred to as a prayer word or sacred word until one reaches a state where the soul, rather than the mind, contemplates God. Contemplative prayer teacher and Zen master Willigis Jager brought this out when he postulated:

Do not reflect on the meaning of the word; thinking and reflecting must cease, as all mystical writers insist. Simply “sound” the word silently, letting go of all feelings and thoughts.2

Those with some theological training may recognize this teaching as the historical stream going back centuries to such figures as Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and Julian of Norwich.
One of the most well-known writings on the subject is the classic 14th century treatise, The Cloud of Unknowing, written by an anonymous author. It is essentially a manual on contemplative prayer inviting a beginner to:

Take just a little word, of one syllable rather than of two . . . With this word you are to strike down every kind of thought under the cloud of forgetting.3

The premise here is that in order to really know God, mysticism must be practiced—the mind has to be shut down or turned off so that the cloud of unknowing where the presence of God awaits can be experienced. Practitioners of this method believe that if the sacred words are Christian, you will get Christ—it is simply a matter of intent even though the method is identical to occult and Eastern practices.

So the question we as Christians must ask ourselves is, “Why not? Why shouldn’t we incorporate this mystical prayer practice into our lives?” The answer to this is actually found in Scripture.

While certain instances in the Bible describe mystical experiences, I see no evidence anywhere of God sanctioning man-initiated mysticism. Legitimate mystical [supernatural] experiences were always initiated by God to certain individuals for certain revelations and was never based on a method for the altering of consciousness. In Acts 11:5, Peter fell into a trance while in prayer. But it was God, not Peter, who initiated the trance and facilitated it.

By definition, a mystic, on the other hand, is someone who uses rote methods in an attempt to tap into their inner divinity. Those who use these methods put themselves into a trance state outside of God’s sanction or protection and thus engage in an extremely dangerous approach. Besides, nowhere in the Bible are such mystical practices prescribed. For instance, the Lord, for the purpose of teaching people a respect for His holiness and His plans, instated certain ceremonies for His people (especially in the Old Testament). Nonetheless, Scripture contains no reference in which God promoted mystical practices. The gifts of the Spirit spoken of in the New Testament were supernatural in nature but did not fall within the confines of mysticism. God bestowed spiritual gifts without the Christian practicing a method beforehand to get God’s response.

Proponents of contemplative prayer would respond with, What about Psalms 46:10? “Be still, and know that I am God.” This verse is often used by those promoting contemplative prayer. On the surface, this argument can seem valid, but once the meaning of “still” is examined, any contemplative connection is expelled. The Hebrew meaning of the word is to slacken, cease, or abate. In other words, the context is to slow down and trust God rather than get in a dither over things. Relax and watch God work. Reading the two verses just before Psalms 46:10 puts it in an entirely different light from that proposed by mystics:

Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

This isn’t talking about going into some altered state of consciousness!

It should also be pointed out that being born again, in and of itself, is mystical. But it is a direct act of God, initiated by Him—the Holy Spirit has regenerated the once-dead spirit of man into a living spirit through Christ. Yet, we notice that even in this most significant of experiences when one is “passed from death unto life” (John 5:24), God accomplishes this without placing the individual in an altered state of consciousness.

We can take this a step further by looking at the day of Pentecost recorded in Acts, chapter 2 where those present were “all filled with the Holy Ghost” (vs. 4). Notice that they were “all with one accord in one place” (vs. 1) when the Holy Spirit descended on them. From the context of the chapter, it is safe to assume this was a lively gathering of believers engaged in intelligent conversation. Then, when those present began to speak in other tongues, it was not an episode of mindless babbling or vain repetition as in a mantra. Rather it was an event of coherent speech significant enough to draw a crowd who exclaimed, “we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God” (vs. 11). Other observers who suspected they were in an altered state of consciousness said, “These men are full of new wine” (vs. 13). Notice that Peter was quick to correct this group in asserting that they were all fully conscious. Would it not then stand to reason that their minds were not in any kind of altered state? Next, Peter delivered one of the most carefully articulated speeches recorded in Scripture. This was certainly not a group of men in a trance.

So, through the lens of perhaps the two most meaningful mystical experiences recorded in the New Testament (i.e., being born again and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost), an altered state of consciousness was never sought after nor was it achieved. In fact, a complete search of both Old and New Testaments reveals there were only two types of experiences sanctioned by God where the recipient is not fully awake—namely dreams and visions—and in each case the experience is initiated by God. Conversely, every instance of a self-induced trance recorded in Scripture is adamantly condemned by God as we see summarized in the following verses:

When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. (Deuteronomy 18:9-11)

An examination of the Hebrew meanings of the terms used in the above verses shows that much of what is being spoken of is the invoking of spells. And a spell, used in this context, refers to a trance. In other words, when God induces a trance it is in the form of a dream or a vision. When man induces a trance, it is in the form of a spell or hypnosis.

And remember, nowhere in the Bible is the silence equated with the “power of God,” but the “preaching of the cross” (I Corinthians 1:18) most certainly is!

Endnotes:

1. William Johnston, Letters to Contemplatives, p. 13.
2. Willigis Jager, Contemplation: A Christian Path, p. 31.
3. Ken Kaisch, Finding God, cited from The Cloud of Unknowing, p. 223.

Some People Who Are Promoting the “Silence”

“What you need is stillness and silence so that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.”–Ruth Haley Barton, “Beyond Words”

“I do not believe anyone can ever become a deep person [intimate with God] without stillness and silence.”–Charles Swindoll, So You Want To Be Like Christ? Eight Essential Disciplines to Get You There, p. 65“The basic method promoted in The Cloud 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, The 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, p. 155

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

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

“[G]o into the silence for guidance”–New Ager, Wayne Dyer, ATOD p. 18 (from interview with Wayne Dyer, Portland, OR., 3/27/97)

“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, Michael Tobias, “A Parliament of Souls in Search of a Global Spirituality” (KQED Inc., San Francisco, CA, 1995), p. 148.

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

“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.” Beth Moore, from Be Still DVD

“Kierkegaard, probably the greatest Protestant Christian mind of all time, said … “If I could prescribe only one remedy for all the ills of the modern world, I would prescribe silence.”–Peter Kreeft, from Be Still DVD

“To be still means not only that you make a time to sit with God, but a time for your mind and your heart to be still also. Then God can meet you and fill you with His presence and His Word.”–Henry Cloud (CCN) from Be Still DVD, “Being Still: Helpful Hints with Dr. Henry Cloud”

“What does stillness really mean? Is stillness just something physical? Or is it mental? Is it spiritual? Is it emotional? There’s so many levels of stillness that we need to practice. And know. Be still and know. Know what? You know, there’s something that comes with the assurance of being still. You’re no longer practicing or exerting effort.” Michelle McKinney Hammond, from Be Still DVD, “Contemplative Prayer: The Divine Romance Between God and Man”

“[S]ilence 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.” Dallas Willard, Be Still DVD, “Fear of Silence”

“First, you must remember that when you go into solitude and silence, your basic goal is to do nothing. Yes, nothing!”–J.P. Moreland, “How Spiritual Disciplines Work: Solitude and Silence as Spiritual Disciplines”

“It is to this silence [contemplative prayer] that we all are called.”–Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart, p. 66.

“God’s first language is silence.”–panentheist monk Thomas Keating, Intimacy with God, p. 153.

ANTHONY DEMELLO EXPLAINS HOW TO GO INTO THIS SILENCE THAT SO MANY TALK ABOUT–WITH THE MANTRA:

To silence the mind is an extremely difficult task. How hard it is to keep the mind from thinking, thinking, thinking, forever thinking, forever producing thoughts in a never ending stream. Our Hindu masters in India have a saying: one thorn is removed by another. By this they mean that you will be wise to use one thought to rid yourself of all the other thoughts that crowd into your mind. One thought, one image, one phrase or sentence or word that your mind can be made to fasten on. Anthony de Mello, Sadhana: A Way to God (St. Louis, the Institute of Jesuit Resources, 1978), p. 28.

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Updated, Expanded Edition of Booklet Tract 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer

LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails began publishing Booklet Tracts nearly three years ago. Our first booklet was Ray Yungen’s 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer. Ray has now updated and expanded this booklet with new information that is vital to our warning about contemplative prayer. The updated, expanded Booklet Tract is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use.  Below is the content of the new edition. To order copies of the updated expanded edition of 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer, click here. This booklet also has two appendices: “A Few Common Terms” and “Christian Mystics of the Past.”

CP-2ND-EDITION-55 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer (Updated, Expanded Edition)

By Ray Yungen

It is fair to say there has been a mystical revolution throughout the Western world over the last forty years. Whereas mysticism was once uncommon within mainstream society, it has now become accepted and normal. Going by the law of the market, any reasonable person could deduce this from the number of bookshelves devoted to eastern mysticism and New Age thought in virtually all major bookstore outlets (e.g., Barnes and Noble and the now defunct Borders). The Borders bookstore in my hometown in Oregon offered 65 shelves to these subjects; a few decades earlier, B. Dalton bookstore had only five shelves on mysticism. Another indicator of the popularity of mysticism was the success of talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. Over the course of twenty some years, she introduced literally tens of millions of readers and viewers to the mystical life.

Many people may not know that there has been a “Christian” element to this phenomenon of mysticism known as contemplative prayer or centering prayer. This form of mystical prayer has entered the Christian church primarily through spiritual formation programs. Despite the actual practice being centuries old, going all the way back to the desert fathers in the middle ages, it has only recently struck a chord with many people within the numerous branches or denominations that make up the panoply of Christianity.

It would be prudent for those who want to enter into this practice to really understand the dynamics of what this really entails. Christians may expect that they are going to have a deeper encounter with the God of the Bible or lead richer fuller spiritual lives, but the reality may be radically different. In this booklet, you are going to read quotes , not from critics or opponents of contemplative prayer but rather champions and teachers of contemplative prayer that show the true nature of what this movement actually is spiritually grounded in. I want to say at the onset that these quotes are not skewered or taken out of context. They accurately illustrate the mindset of the particular author.

1. The Compatibility of New Age and Eastern Thought with  Contemplative Prayer
New Agers and those practicing Eastern religion regard contemplative prayer as part of their own movement. The following excerpts are  from New Age and Eastern thought proponents:

It’s important to note that, throughout the history of Christianity, Christian mystics have displayed an unusual openness to the wisdom of non-Christian philosophy and religion. In other words, Christian mysticism seems, from the beginning, to have had an intuitive recognition of the way in which mysticism is a form of unity that transcends religious difference.1—Carl McColman, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism (emphasis added)

The East does not represent a culture or a religion so much as the methodology [meditation] for a achieving a larger, liberating vision. In that sense, the “East” has existed in Western mystical traditions [i.e., contemplative prayer].2—Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy

Individual religions have various names for the esoteric paths that can bring us step by step to these experiences. In Mahayana Buddhism, there are the paths of the Tibetans or the way of Zen. . . . In Hinduism, there are the different forms of yoga. In Islam, there is Sufism. In Judaism, there is the teaching of the Cabala. In Christianity, there is contemplation. All of these can lead people to the ultimate level, to cosmic consciousness.3—Willigis Jäger, Searching for the Meaning of Life (emphasis added)

The meditation of advanced occultists is identical with the prayer of advanced mystics: it is no accident that both traditions use the same word for the highest reaches of their respective activities—contemplation.4—from the book, Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism

Kundalini has long been known in Taoist, Hindu, and Buddhist spirituality.”5 “Since this energy [Kundalini occultic energy] is also at work today in numerous persons who are devoting themselves to contemplative prayer, this book is an important contribution to the renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition.6—Thomas Keating, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality (emphasis added)

2. Major Proponents of Contemplative Prayer Advocate Eastern Religion
One of the outstanding characteristics of the contemplative prayer  movement is what is known as interspirituality. In effect, this means you stay in your present religion but you absorb the spiritual perspective of those within Eastern thought. For instance, in Henry Nouwen’s book, Pray to Live, he describes contemplative proponent Thomas Merton as being heavily influenced by Hindu monks.7 Consider the following quotes:

[Thomas] Merton had encountered Zen Buddhism, Sufism, Taoism and Vedanta many years prior to his Asian journey. Merton was able to uncover the stream where the wisdom of East and West merge and flow together, beyond dogma, in the depths of inner experience. . . . Merton embraced the spiritual philosophies of the East and integrated this wisdom into [his] own life through direct practice. 8—from Yoga Journal magazine

[T]he author [Catholic priest Thomas Ryan] shows a wonderful openness to the gifts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Muslim religion. He discovers their great wisdom for the spiritual life of the Christian and does not hesitate to bring that wisdom home.9—Henri Nouwen, from the foreword of Disciplines For Christian Living  (emphasis added)

This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality . . . It is no accident that the most active frontier between Christian and Eastern religions today is between contemplative Christian monks and their Eastern equivalents. Some forms of Eastern meditation informally have been incorporated or adapted into the practice of many Christian monks, and increasingly by other Christians.10—Tilden Edwards, founder of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, in Spiritual Friend

3. The Method in Contemplative Prayer Identical to the Method Used in New Age and Eastern Thought
The hallmark of contemplative prayer is found in such phrases as waiting for God in silence, stilling your thoughts, seeking God’s presence in the silence, and advancing in inward stillness, all with the characteristic of stopping the normal flow of thought. Many promoters of contemplative prayer would reject this being the result of using a mantra but many more accept this as being true.

Those who have practiced Transcendental Meditation may be surprised to learn that Christianity has its own time-honored form of mantra meditation. The technique, called Centering Prayer, draws on the spiritual exercises of the Desert Fathers, the English devotional classic, The Cloud of Unknowing, and the famous Jesus Prayer. . . . Reliance on a mantric centering device has a long history in the mystical canon of Christianity.11—Editors from New Age Journal, As Above, So Below

The techniques [Herbert] Benson teaches–silence, appropriate body posture and above all, emptying the mind through repetition of prayer—have been the practices of mystics in all the great world religions. And they form the basis on which most modern spiritual directors guide those who want to draw closer to God. . . . Silence is the language God speaks . . . says Thomas Keating who taught ‘centering prayer’ to more than 31,000 people in just one year. Keating suggests that those who pray repeat some “sacred word,” like God or Jesus.12—“Talking to God,” Newsweek magazine

Nonverbal prayer involves learning how to become silent inside. I first learned about nonverbal prayer as a part of other religious traditions. I did not know that it also has a long history in the Christian tradition (even though I had gone to a first-rate seminary; I do not know if it was not taught or if I missed it). It intrigued me. I learned about the use of mantras as a means of giving the mind something to focus and refocus on as it sinks into silence. I was thus delighted to learn later that the Christian tradition not only knows the practice of nonverbal prayer but also includes mantras.13—Marcus Borg, The God We Never Knew

The twentieth century, which has seen so many revolutions, is now witnessing the rise of a new mysticism within Christianity. . . . For the new mysticism has learned much from the great religions of Asia. It has felt the impact of yoga and Zen and the monasticism of Tibet. It pays attention to posture and breathing; it knows about the music of the mantra and the silence of samadhi. . . . Now what I say of Zen is true also of Christian mysticism. It also leads to an altered state of consciousness where all is one in God.”14 —William Johnston, The Mystical Way

Without in any way betraying his faith, the Christian can deepen his contemplation of divine mysteries through Hindu ways of prayer.15—Kathleen Healy, Entering the Cave of the Heart

Do not reflect on the meaning of the word; thinking and reflecting must cease, as all mystical writers insist.16—Willis Jäger, Contemplation: A Christian Path

The repetition [of a word or phrase] can in fact be soothing and very freeing, helping us, as Nouwen says, “to empty out our crowded interior life and create the quiet space where we can dwell with God.”17—evangelical author, Jan Johnson, When the Soul Listens

4. Finding the “God” Within
It is important to note here that the purpose of contemplative prayer is to enter an altered state of consciousness in order to find one’s true self, thus finding God. This true self relates to the belief that man is basically good. Christian proponents of contemplative prayer teach that all human beings have a divine center and that all, not just born-again believers, should practice contemplative prayer. The belief is that in the heart of man we find God (i.e., that we are God).

The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being.18—Henri Nouwen from his book Here and Now

We [all humanity] bear this divine core within us. Zen calls it “essential nature”; yoga calls it “atman”; Christians call it “eternal life, the kingdom of God, or heaven.” . . .  The Divine, which he [Jesus] called the Father, pulsates through us, just as it pulsated through him.19—Willigis Jäger, Search for the Meaning of Life

[Even people] who have yet to turn their lives over to Jesus Christ—can and should practice them [spiritual disciplines].20—Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

When God grows up for us, a different kind of relationship—if it can be called a relationship—is called for. No longer are we two separate beings who interact across the distance that we imagine to lie between beings. We are now related to God as the body is to the breath. Essentially, we are one.21—Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free

It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race . . . now I realize what we all are . . . If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are . . . I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other . . . At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth . . . This little point …is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody. 22—Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

[O]ccultism is defined as the science of mystical evolution; it is the employment of the hidden [i.e. occult] mystical faculties of man to discern the hidden reality of nature, i.e. to see God as the all in all.23—Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism

5. Contemplative Spirituality Has Become Attractive to Those in the Evangelical Church
Despite the theological barriers that have existed between Catholicism and the evangelical church, evangelicals have become more and more receptive to the Catholic contemplative tradition. These barriers have more or less come down over the last few decades, and an increasing number of evangelicals are seeking out spiritual directors and spiritual formation programs which are the conduits into the realm of this mystical paradigm.

Some very popular authors who have been accepted by the evangelical church are activists regarding contemplative prayer as a way to go deeper with God. These authors have written and taught prolifically on contemplative prayer.

Richard Foster

[W]e should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer.24

Thomas Merton has perhaps done more than any other twentieth-century figure to make the life of prayer widely known and understood . . . his interest in contemplation led him to investigate prayer forms in Eastern religion . . . [he is] a gifted teacher.25

Richard Rohr

God’s hope for humanity is that one day we will all recognize that the divine dwelling place is all of creation. Christ comes again whenever we see that matter and spirit co-exist. This truly deserves to be called good news.26

[O]ne of my publishers . . . told me that right now my single biggest demographic is young evangelicals—young evangelicals. Some of my books are rather heavy. I’m just amazed.27

Ruth Haley  Barton

A few years ago, I began to recognize an inner chaos in my soul . . . No matter how much I prayed, read the Bible, and listened to good teaching, I could not calm the internal roar created by questions with no answers.28

In Ruth Haley Barton’s book Invitation to Solitude and Silence (the book where Barton acknowledges Thomas Keating’s influence in her life),  Barton quotes the late Catholic priest William Shannon from his book Silence on Fire  (the biography of Thomas Merton). In that book, Shannon states:

Wordless prayer . . . is humble, simple, lowly, prayer in which we experience our total dependence on God and our awareness that we are in God. Wordless prayer is not an effort to “get anywhere, ” for we are already there (in God’s presence). It is just that we are not sufficiently conscious of our being there.29 (emphasis added)

Adele Ahlberg Cahoun

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun is the author of The Spiritual Discplines Handbook: Practices That Conform Us, a primer on contemplative and centering prayer. The following two quotes from her book clearly express her views:

Meditation is not simply a discipline of Eastern religions and New Age gurus. Meditation rests at the core of Judaeo-Christian spirituality; it’s an invitation to apprehend God.30

Take your time, and when a word “lights up” for you stop and attend. Let the word or phrase roam around in your mind and heart. . . . When your mind wanders, gently bring it back and continue your meditation.31

What illustrates Ahlberg Calhoun’s spiritual sympathies even more is a list of “tutors” she includes at the back of the book. Some of these are Basil Pennington, Henri Nouwen, Richard Rohr, Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and Julian of Norwich, all of which absorbed interspiritual and panentheistic characteristics due to their contemplative practices. Many evangelical leaders, including Rick Warren, recommend or endorse The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook.On the book’s publisher’s website (InterVarsity Press), you will find an endorsement for the book by the popular pastor Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian of NYC, who says of Calhoun’s handbook:

I have long profited from Adele Ahlberg Calhoun’s gifts in the field of spiritual development, and I am delighted that she has compiled her experience with spiritual disciplines into book form. I highly recommend it and I look forward to using it as a resource at our church.32

Brennan Manning

A simple method of contemplative prayer (often called centering prayer . . .) has four steps . . . choose a single sacred word . . . repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, often.33

In an interview, Brennan Manning recommended William Shannon’s book, Silence on Fire and Thomas Keating’s book on centering prayer, Open Mind, Open Heart. In Silence on Fire, Shannon denounces the atonement and the biblical God in the following manner:

This is a typical patriarchal notion of God. He is the God of Noah who sees people deep in sin, repents that He made them and resolves to destroy them. He is the God of the desert who sends snakes to bite His people because they murmured against Him. He is the God of David who practically decimates a people . . . He is the God who exacts the last drop of blood from His Son, so that His just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased. This God whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger. This God does not exist.34 (emphasis added)

Henri Nouwen

The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descend with the mind into the heart . . . This way of simple prayer . . . opens us to God’s active presence.35

The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being.36

Thomas Merton

During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: “How can we best help people [not just Christians] to attain union with God?” His answer was very clear. We must tell them that they are already united with God. Contemplative prayer is nothing other than coming into consciousness of what is already there.37—stated by Brennan Manning in his book The Signature of Jesus

I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity . . . I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.38

CONCLUSION
The Bible reveals that in the heart (center) of man our true self is not “God” but rather sinful and wicked:

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. (Matthew 15: 18,19)

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. (Mark 7: 21-23; emphasis added)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

The Bible also clearly warns against repetitive prayer and also tells us we cannot find God unmediated (i.e., without Christ).

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. (Matthew 6:7)

For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)

It is ironic that in the last century more Christians have died for their faith in other countries than have died in past centuries combined. Many of these Christians have departed from Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism to meet their executioners. What would these martyrs of the faith say to us if they could speak of our current western practice of intermingling Christianity with Eastern religion and the occult? The Bible warns against such mixture:

Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devil: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. (1 Corinthians 10: 21)

Jesus never taught his disciples techniques to attain oneness with God, but rather spoke of Himself as the Way. In fact, the entire New Testament was written to dispute the idea that people can reach God through religious efforts and reveals that Jesus Christ is the only answer. In conclusion, the contemplative movement is founded on the following false premises*:

The heart of man is basically good and (it has a divine center). vs. The heart of man is wicked—A DENIAL OF THE SIN NATURE

Man can find God through his own efforts regardless of what religion he has embraced. vs. Jesus referred to Himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.— A DENIAL OF THE ATONEMENT

God is delighted by chanting and similar methods of meditative prayer. vs. Jesus said that He isn’t.—A DENIAL OF GOD’S PERSONAL NATURE

With false premises as these, the conclusions can only be erroneous. The Bible creates the proper understanding and balance of 1) man as sinful, 2) needing a redeemer, 3) with whom he can have an abundant life.

Perhaps the most misguided view of all in the contemplative prayer movement is summed up in the following quote by a biographer of Thomas Merton:

Nor should Christians delude themselves with the idea that the grace of God is monopolized by any particular structure of belief. God isn’t obeying the traffic lights of any religious system.39

But this is not true. God did create an organism called the body of Christ, and to enter, you have to believe something very specific. If you understand the objective of true Christianity, you will clearly see that the opinion stated in the quote above contradicts the message of the Cross, which is the essence Christianity. You cannot reconcile the statement above with the following verse:

. . . that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)

*Note: * In philosophy, every “argument” must have a premise and a conclusion, but if your premises are false, it will inevitably lead you to a false conclusion.

To order copies of the updated expanded edition of 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer, click here.

Endnotes:
1. Carl McColman, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Road Publishing Company, 2010), p. 63.
2. Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy (Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Tarcher, 1980), p. 368.
3.Willigis  Jäger, Searching for the Meaning of Life (Liguori, MO: Triumph Books, 1995), p. 31.
4. Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism (London, UK: SPCK, 1979), p. 7.
5. Philip St. Romain, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality: A Pathway to Growth and Healing (New York, NY: Crossroad, 1995). This excerpt is in the Foreword by Thomas Keating; page 7.
6. Ibid.
7. Henri Nouwen, Pray to Live (Fides Publishers, 1972), pp. 19-28.
8. Michael Torris (Yoga Journal magazine; January/February; 1999).
9. Thomas Ryan, Disciplines For Christian Living (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1993). This excerpt written in the Foreword by Henri Nouwen; p. 2.
10. Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1980), pp. 18-19.
11.Ronald S. Miller, Editor of New Age Journal, As Above So Below (New York, NY: Tarcher/Putnam, 1992), p. 52.
12. Kenneth L. Woodward, “Talking to God” (Newsweek, January 6, 1992), p. 44.
13. Marcus Borg, The God We Never Knew (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1997), p. 125.
14. William Johnston, The Mystical Way: Silent Music and the Wounded Stag (HarperCollins,1993), Foreword, p. 336.
15. Kathleen Healy, Entering the Cave of the Heart (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1986), p. 9.
16. Willigis Jäger, Contemplation: A Christian Path  (Liguori, MO: Triumph Books, 1994), p. 31.
17. Jan Johnson, When The Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1999), p. 93.
18. Henri Nouwen, Here and Now (New York, NY: Crossroad, 1994), p. 22.
19.Willigis Jäger, Search for the Meaning of Life, op. cit., pp. 243, 245.
20. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1988), p. 2.
21. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free (New York, NY: Continuum Publishing, 1996), p. 77.
22. Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Publishers, 1989), pp. 157-158.
23. Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism, op. cit., p. 6.
24. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1978 edition), p. 13.
25. Richard Foster, Spiritual Classics (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 2000), p. 17.
26. Richard Rohr, “The Eternal Christ in the Cosmic Story” (National Catholic Reporter, 2009, http://www.thefreelibrary.com/The+eternal+Christ+in+the+cosmic+story.-a0214894722).
27. Kristen Hobby, “What Happens When Religion Isn’t Doing Its Job: an interview with Richard Rohr, OFM” (Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction, Volume 20, No. 1, March 2014), pp. 6-11.
28. Ruth Haley Barton, “Beyond Words:Experience God’s presence in silence and solitude” (Discipleship Journal, Vol. 113 1999).
29. William Shannon, Silence on Fire  (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1995 edition), pp. 109-110.
30. Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 2050-2051.
31. Ibid., Kindle Locations 2071-2072.
32. Timothy Keller, InterVarsity Press website: http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/review/code=7697.
33. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus; (Multnomah Books, 1994), p. 218.
34. William Shannon, Silence on Fire, op. cit., pp. 109-110.
35. Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1991), p. 81.
36. Henri Nouwen, Here and Now, op. cit., p. 22.
37. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus, op. cit., p. 211; citing William H. Shannon, Silence on Fire (1991 edition), p. 22.
38. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).
39. James Forest, Thomas Merton: A Pictorial Biography (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1980), p. 81.

To order copies of the updated expanded edition of 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer, click here.

 

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Letter to the Editor: Lighthouse Trails Has Exaggerated Condition of Christian Missionary Alliance

C&MA logo

Dear Editors at Lighthouse Trails:

I stumbled onto your website while looking for a video from this year’s Alliance Council featuring John Stumbo. In your writings, you largely promote the idea the C&MA is espousing the emergent church, contemplative prayer, spiritual formation blather.

I have never, ever heard this in my church. EVER. So, for you to paint the C&MA with such a wide brush is sensationalistic, to say the least. Perhaps occasionally a misled pastor will go down that road. Such a pastor needs to be brought into line, in my opinion. The colleges that “teach” these courses—are they teaching them to promote them, or are they teaching these classes in a effort to enlighten students as to the evils that can weave their way into ministry? You don’t say which in your writings which I find, again, sensationalistic.

Never once have I heard or read anything from John Stumbo promoting any of this emergent church ‘trend’.

Defend yourself. I’ll be waiting for a reply.

SN

Dear SN:

We wish we were being sensationalistic and exaggerating the issue. Unfortunately (and sadly), Christian and Missionary Alliance (and most other evangelical denominations) have been embracing contemplative prayer, Spiritual Formation, and the emerging “new” spirituality for quite some time, and we see no signs of this letting up. A few denominations are just dabbling in it, but most, including C&MA, are well immersed as Lighthouse Trails has been documenting for over 13 years. Does this mean that every church in each of these denominations is involved in this? No, and Lighthouse Trails has always maintained that. But in virtually every case where a denomination is moving in this direction, there is evidence that it is existent in upper leadership.A case in point is C&MA. Just visit the main C&MA website, search through their magazine archives, books they are selling, and so forth, and you will find numerous contemplative/emergent references, such as an article written by the late (d. 2011) C&MA Senior Pastor from Salem, Oregon Donald Bubna titled “The Journey” where Bubna states:

To learn from others on the spiritual journey, I have discovered and devoured the writings of Henri Nouwen, Philip Yancey and Thomas Merton on the issue of full surrender to the deeper life.

Nouwen and Merton were both interspiritual Catholic mystics. Yancey is an evangelical contemplative advocate. Bubna was not an “occasional” example of a C&MA pastor who has had such persuasions. And in fact, the Salem C&MA church has been a contemplative influence for many years on Alliance members.

Another example: In a 2013 C&MA magazine article titled “The Lord’s Dream,” the author explains how a C&MA church in Philadelphia, PA is in close relationship with emergent author Shane Claiborne’s church, and on at least one occasion, Claiborne spoke at the C&MA church, filling in for the pastor one Sunday. Claiborne was mentored by and resonates with emergent leader Tony Campolo.

And a third example, Richard Bush, superintendent of the New England District of the U.S. C&MA, wrote an article titled “Transformed,” in which he favorably quotes heavy-weight contemplative leader Ruth Haley Barton. Barton was trained at the New Age sympathizing interspiritual Shalem Prayer Institute in Washington, DC, and she has an organization that teaches thousands of pastors contemplative practices and Spiritual Formation. Clearly, Bush resonates with Barton for him to use her as an example of Christians being “transformed.”

One last example, at the 2013 C&MA Council conference, one of the seminars was presented by a woman who  taught the class in the contemplative practice of “lectio divina.”

These examples are coming from C&MA leadership. With 500,000 members in 2000 churches, the C&MA is a strong force within evangelical Christianity, and if they end up in the wrong place, they’ll be taking a lot of people with them.

In reference to your comment about C&MA president John Stumbo, Lighthouse Trails has only mentioned him in one article and that was one this past summer where we stated that Stumbo will be sharing a platform with New Age sympathizer Leonard Sweet at the Christian Missionary Alliance Mahaffey Family Camp. Please refer to that article for information about the beliefs of Leonard Sweet. Incidentally, John Stumbo was the senior pastor of Salem Missionary Alliance prior to becoming C&MA president. During those years, Salem C&MA was promoting contemplative spirituality (in fact, Ray Yungen talks about this church in his book A Time of Departing).

Listed below are several articles (which all have documentation) regarding Christian & Missionary Alliance that we have posted over the years. Please take the time to study this information, and in so doing, you will see that C&MA has indeed gone down the contemplative/emergent path. As for the college situation, after 13 years of tracking the evangelical colleges and seminaries, over 90% of them are now promoting this same path, and we have documented this time and again as well.  As a matter of fact, we have learned that all C&MA colleges and seminaries are promoting this.

While we acknowledge that it is difficult to hear these things about one’s own denomination, for the sake of truth, we hope Christians reading Lighthouse Trails material will take it to heart, do their homework, and see if these things we say are not true.

C&MA Research Articles:

The Christian and Missionary Alliance Hooks Up with the IAHR (International Association of Healing Rooms)

Letter to the Editor: Christian & Missionary Alliance (Canada) Promoting Interspiritual, Panentheist Monk, Basil Pennington

Christian Missionary Alliance (CMA) Mahaffey Family Camp Brings in New Age Sympathizer Leonard Sweet as Camp Speaker

Christian & Missionary Alliance Rob Reimer Loses His Way in “Pathways to the King:” A Review

Letter to the Editor: Saddened by Christian & Missionary Alliance and Ambrose University Continuing Plunge into Contemplative

Letter to the Editor: Christian & Missionary Alliance OK With Ruth Haley Barton and Other Contemplatives

Alliance Theological Seminary Dean Ron Walborn Recommends NAR Bill Johnson (and more!) for Pastors

COLLEGE ALERT: CMA Simpson University Students Seek Contemplative Chapel Experience

Ambrose University (CMA & Nazarene) Full Speed into Contemplative/Emergent

 

 

 

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Letter to the Editor: ConvergePacWest Using Contemplative Books and Authors to “Grow Spiritually”

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

After reading Seduction of Christianity by Dave Hunt years ago, I have watched the insidious encroachment of mysticism into the evangelical Christian church.  When I discovered you several years ago, I used some of your resources to help inform the small part of the flick that I have contact with.

There is a church in our city that changed affiliation several years ago from Baptist General Conference to ConvergePacWest.   The name alone made me suspicious, so I researched it and, sure enough, if you click on to “Grow Spiritually,” then “Resources,” they have a list of books for “Personal Spiritual Formation” that includes Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and John Ortberg.

Since I hadn’t seen any reference to ConvergePacWest on your website, just thought I would mention it.

Your Friend in Christ,

C.A.
California

LTRP Note: ConvergePacWest is also recommending books by contemplative proponents Philip Yancey, John Piper, and Tim Keller and lists Discipleship Journal under their “Grow Spiritually” resource list (although that link is broken). Discipleship Journal, is a publication put out by NavPress that uses a wide array of New Spirituality authors such as Ruth Haley Barton and has regularly promoted contemplative spirituality and the emerging church.

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