Posts Tagged ‘soul care’

Dallas Theological Seminary Not Contemplative? – New Evidence Shows Otherwise

Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) has always maintained that while they teach Spiritual Formation, they only teach the “good” kind and that they are not a school that promotes contemplative spirituality. Lighthouse Trails has always challenged these suppositions. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago when Lighthouse Trails editors had some correspondence with two different DTS faculty members (one a dean) who insisted that DTS was not promoting contemplative spirituality and that Lighthouse Trails should not include their name in our Contemplative College list or in our booklet An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited” that names several evangelical seminaries (including DTS) that promote contemplative spirituality.

One example of how DTS is promoting contemplative spirituality is through their textbook Foundations of Spiritual Formation written by Paul Pettit.  While instructors at DTS who use this book may or may not ever mention Richard Foster or Dallas Willard, the textbook by Pettit does. Within the pages of Pettit’s book is Richard Foster, Philip Yancey, N.T. Wright, Dallas Willard, Thomas Aquinas, Ayn Rand, Parker Palmer, Eugene Peterson, J.P. Moreland, Klaus Issler, Bruce Dermerst, Jim Burns, Kenneth Boa and Brother Lawrence’s “practicing God’s presence,” plus the practice of Lectio Divina. These are some of the heavy weights in the contemplative prayer movement. Paul Pettit teaches in DTS’s Spiritual Formation department. One course that uses Pettit’s book at DTS is Mentored Spiritual Formation. If DTS isn’t promoting the contemplative prayer movement, why use a textbook that includes teachers and writers who do?

There is more to this Spiritual Formation saga at Dallas Theological Seminary. Take a look at this page for the DTS Doctor of Ministry (DMIN) Spiritual Formation Cohort.  Scroll to the bottom of the page and see the names of the two faculty members for this program. One of them is Gail Seidel (you can view her professional credentials here and here.) Last month (June 2017), she wrote a blog article titled “Soul Noticing 101,” in which she  shows an obvious affinity for contemplative spirituality. She speaks, as all the contemplatives do, of Christians who feel depleted, tired, and neglected (which is how they convince people they need to do contemplative prayer).

Seidel quotes enthusiastically from several contemplatives in the article. One quote is by Cindy Caliguire. Lighthouse Trails wrote about Caliguire in 2009 because of her advocacy for contemplative prayer. The following is an excerpt from that article:

With all these contemplative connections, it’s no surprise that Soul Care founder Mindy Caliguire’s teaching sessions are also based on contemplative spirituality and the spiritual disciplines. This is clearly evident if one listens on-line to her sessions. Caliguire is a good speaker, and she does quote and reference the Bible, but for those who understand and recognize contemplative spirituality, it becomes obvious in listening to her that Caliguire is in that camp.

In Practicing Silent Prayer [a 2009 workshop at Willow Creek], Caliguire teaches about mantras, silence, and finding a quiet place undistracted. She also mentions that this kind of prayer is “difficult to do. In Practicing Solitude Part 1, she teaches on how to prepare an undistracted quiet place or retreat, and explains what things to bring to connect with God. Oddly, she recommends bringing an alternative Bible translation that is less familiar to you, a journal, and The Way of the Heart by Henry Nouwen. The following is from Nouwen’s book: “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” (p. 81).

DTS Magazine – low-resolution shot used in accordance with the US Fair Use Act for critical review

This “repetition of a single word” is intended to put the practitioner in an altered state of consciousness. Gail Seidel goes on to quote Dallas Willard from his book Renovation of the Heart (remember, Willard and Richard Foster are the two main pioneers in bringing contemplative spirituality into the church and were inspired to do so by Catholic mystic Thomas Merton). After quoting Willard, Seidel quotes psychotherapist and meditation advocate Thomas Moore from his book Care of the Soul. The book is actually endorsed inside the cover by New Age author Larry Dossey, and in a section at the back of Moore’s book for further recommended reading, he includes Carl Jung! According to the New Age website Spirituality & Practice, Moore is “a leading lecturer in the fields of archetypal psychology, mythology, and imagination” and a columnist for Spirituality & Health magazine. How can a faculty member at DTS be promoting such a book unless she is resonating with the author? She never gives any indication that she disagrees with any of these quoted figures; on the contrary.

After quoting Willard, Caliguire, and Moore, Gail Seidel continues on her contemplative-author escapade by quoting “spiritual director” Alice Fryling from her book Seeking God Together: An Introduction to Group Spiritual Direction. This book is a who’s who of contemplative, New Age, panentheistic mystics: Thomas Merton, Gerald May, Shalem Institute found Tilden Edwards, not to mention Henri Nouwen, Richard, Foster, and David Benner (all of whom you can read about in Ray Yungen’s A Time of Departing).

It cannot be ignored that one of two Spiritual Formation faculty members at Dallas Theological Seminary is so taken with so many hard-core contemplative prayer advocates. Dating back to 2010, in Seidel’s DTS Soul Care Lead Lab, she is recommending books by David Benner, Richard Foster, Ruth Haley Barton, Mindy Caliguire, Leighton Ford, Fil Anderson, Thomas Moore, and Dallas Willard (all contemplative teachers).

This brings us to the 2017 summer issue of DTS Magazine (see cover to the right) that one of our readers brought to our attention recently. There are a number of innuendos and hints (including the cover) of contemplative spirituality in this issue. But we will focus on one particular article written by Brandon Geilla titled “Patterns of Prayer: Ancient and Modern Tools for Reading Scripture and Communing with God,” which states:

Ancient words like liturgy can seem scary for modern, nondenominational evangelicals. Liturgy and words like lectionary, or guides like the Book of Common Prayer, often bring up feelings of empty ritual. Are they hollowed out forms of true Christian faith from which we broke away during the Reformation? We often believe so and we make subconscious vows to never return to dead habits.

Yet, this year—the 500th since the Reformation—looking back to more traditional roots of our Christian practice can prove fruitful for our spiritual growth. In the last several years, in fact, many articles have explored why millennials are returning to mainline, traditional denominations because of their formal liturgy. (emphasis added)

What the millennials are “returning” to is a mystical form of prayer developed by the Desert Fathers and other monastics. Geilla’s article elaborates on the “lectionary,” stating, “Within a more structured worship environment, people hear the Scriptures as part of a more multisensory, whole-body experience” (emphasis added). The article insinuates that DTS founder Lewis Sperry Chafer would approve of this “multisensory” kind of Christianity and stretches Chafer’s apparent willingness to work with those of other denominations into a willingness to embrace these liturgical sensory experiences as well. By the way, we believe the practices being recommended in this article have the potential to be like gateway drugs to full-blown contemplative prayer (in a similar way as lectio divina is used in the contemplative prayer movement). In fact, this article is a gateway article. For example, it quotes (and recommends) a man named Drew Dickens and a group he is part of called Abide. Dickens heads the spiritual formation department at Abide. The Abide website promotes meditation calling it  “Christian meditation.” But by the descriptions (such as it relieves stress), they are talking about something much different than meditating (pondering or thinking about) on Scripture. Abide links to a particular website to make their point that mediation is beneficial (when the world says meditation, it is not talking about reading Scripture and pondering on it – it’s talking about mantra-like meditation). Just take a look at some of the books on that site (that Abide recommends to view), and you will see clearly what Abide means by “meditation.” For an example of one of Abide’s mediation exercises, click here (but please use caution). The monotone woman’s voice is an earmark of New Age meditation exercises. In addition, she instructs the listener to breath in slowly and breath out slowly. For those who are familiar with New Age meditation, you will recognize the similarity.

The article by Brandon Geilla in DTS Magazine would never appear in a magazine that understood the dangers of contemplative prayer. Interestingly, Geilla favorably references Bishop Ray Sutton in his article, who was mentioned in a Lighthouse Trails article where we stated:

Bishop Ray Sutton of The Gathering is Dean of the Province and Ecumenical Affairs of the Anglican Church in North America and is involved in a number of ecumenical (road to Rome) activities. Sutton also advocates for the Catholic transubstantiation of the communion elements (a re-crucifixion of Christ) (click here and here for some more information on Sutton).

We know our critics, including those at DTS who defend the school no matter what, will say we are using guilt by association in our article to implicate DTS, but what it is guilty of is guilt by promotion and guilt by proxy. There’s a big difference! We do not believe these are isolated incidents at DTS. And it has not just started. Like others who have gone down the contemplative/emergent path, DTS started off slowly years ago building momentum over the years. At the very least, DTS needs to come clean and admit what they are doing for the sake of unsuspecting students who will later become pastors and teachers of today’s Christian church and will have been greatly influenced in a manner that does not align with the biblical Gospel.

What’s really troubling about Dallas Theological Seminary is that they deny they are promoting contemplative spirituality. Yet, one of two faculty members for their Spiritual Formation Cohort is gleaning heavily from outright contemplative mystics. At least with some schools, they admit that is what they are doing – it’s out in the open. But not so with DTS. Their hands are in the cookie jar, but they are denying it. What would their older Christian donors do if they knew the school has willfully entered a spirituality that negates the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Related Articles:

Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation? (Important Reasons Why It Shouldn’t)”

5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer”

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

By L. Putnam

What tool does Christian and Missionary Alliance Theological Seminary dean suggest as a great tech tool to help pastors deal with pressures in today’s church?  The very unsettling “Unseminary” podcast: “Ron Walborn Provides Help to Leaders Dealing with the Pressures of Today’s Church”–an interview between Pastor Rich Birch and Dean Ronald Walborn– gives the dean’s thoughts in his own words.

Note:  As you listen, or read note the interview highlights as listed at the site; also note the “Lightning Round Highlights” where Birch asks Walborn’s personal recommendations on various topics.  Also pay careful attention to Ron’s full length answers to the Lightning Round questions which can be heard on “the audio only” at the very end of the program.

History of ATS:

The dean starts off the podcast interview with Birch by detailing a little of the past history of the seminary.  He then follows this with an overview of the three year “Master of Divinity Program” with its heavy emphasis on spiritual formation.  Walborn says, “In every year they have to do spiritual formation.”  The first year is an initiation into spiritual formation where they are quickly gotten into  counseling, if needed.  The second year there is more formation, and required counseling.  The third year ends with “the capstone course.”  Besides, emphasizes Walborn, during the entire three years there is constant mentoring from spiritual directors.

Ron’s Personal Spiritual Formation Series:

Ron goes on to describe his very own podcast series — updated materials from part of the original series Ron did at Delta Lake Conference which in 2005-2007 when he introduced the spiritual discipline of “centering prayer” to unsuspecting campers at Delta Lake Camp.  And just as he did at Delta, Ron is still strongly advocating the use of the book of former Roman Catholic priest, and contemplative Henri Nouwen.

Lightning Round Highlights:

*  Helpful Tech Tools:   Rich asks Ron for his personal recommendation of a tech tool that might help a pastor better lead.  Ron answer begins this way, “I’m good friends with a guy named Bill Johnson from out in northern California.  We used to fish together when I was out in Redding (Ron pastored at CMA Risen King Community Church, Redding.) pastoring.  As often as I can I listen to Bill.  I don’t always agree one hundred percent with him, but he feeds my soul, he feeds my spirit.  And so when I walk, and when I exercise I listen to Bethel.”  Birch replies, “Very cool!” Click here to continue reading.

Related Material:

To see a list of Christian colleges that are promoting Spiritual Formation (contemplative spirituality), click here.  As of this writing all CMA and all Nazarene colleges and universities in the U.S. are promoting SF.

Beware! Get to the Heart of “Soul Care”!

By L. Putnam

If you want to get to the heart of soul care you must get to its roots, and you must actually look into these teachers and all of their colleagues, and associates; all of their quotes and notes; and all of their writings.  You must intentionally become a “Soul Care Berean!”  Yes, you must ask: Are these things really so?  Are these things Biblical, man-centered, or even downright pagan?

Soul Care Synopsis:

But before going any further a very good place to begin your soul care research would be with this Lighthouse Trails Ministries article:  “Soul Care: New Term, Same Ol’ Contemplative Thing.”  Here you can find the answer to “soul care from where?”  Here you can read a definition of what soul care entails; and that it’s connected to “spiritual formation, spiritual direction and directors.”  Here you can learn more of what’s at the core of “soul care.”  Lastly, you can check out more sites for further information.

Care of the Soul Father: Thomas Moore

In order to get to the heart and soul of “soul care” one must become acquainted with psychotherapist Thomas Moore, author of the national bestseller Care of the Soul (1992) which, some say, began a refocus on the soul.  Former monk Moore, archetypal psychologist, mythologist, imagination teacher, theologian, musician, philosopher, author, lecturer, columnist, and advisor himself was mentored by his close friend and Jungian archetypal psychologist James Hillman.  He also an affinity for his colleague New Ager Robert Sardello. Click here to continue reading.


Lancaster Bible College (PA) Makes Contemplative List

After receiving an e-mail from a concerned woman regarding Lancaster Bible College, we checked it out ourselves and have now added Lancaster Bible College to our continually growing list of Christian colleges and seminaries that promote Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative spirituality).  The school, located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has a statement of faith that would line up with a Bible-believing viewpoint. It’s mission statement sounds OK: “to educate Christian students to think and live a biblical worldview and to proclaim Christ by serving him in the Church and society.” But as with so many other Bible schools today, Lancaster has accepted the “New Spirituality” that embraces contemplative spirituality and facets of the emerging church (new missiology, globalism, ecumenism, servant leadership, etc).

Part of the reason this happened at Lancaster is no doubt its accreditation relationship with The Association for Biblical Higher Education Commission on Accreditation (ABHE). As you may remember, last year Lighthouse Trails wrote an article “An Epidemic of Apostasy – Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited”  showing that ABHE was requiring accrediting schools to incorporate a Spiritual Formation program into their schools. So, with Lancaster Bible College as one of the schools accredited with ABHE, it isn’t a surprise to see the school falling into step with contemplative spirituality. Be that as it may, however the incorporation of contemplative came into play at Lancaster, the point is it did, and those looking for a solid Bible-based, non-contemplative Bible college may need to look elsewhere.

Below we are listing three significant instances where you will find the contemplative/new spirituality influence at Lancaster. As you will see, there are many indications that this spirituality has deeply permeated Lancaster Bible College.

1. Lancaster offers a Spiritual Formation & Discipleship major: Once a school offers a major in Spiritual Formation, that school has usually past the point of no return.

2. LBC offers something called Project Renovation. This provides a contemplative retreat for youth workers “for the purpose of soul care.” On the Project Renovation website, which LCB links to and is directly connected to, many resources are listed to develop one’s focus on contemplative spirituality, including a link to Hearts & Minds Book Review that offers a large selection of mystical and emerging promoting authors and books. Project Renovation also provides a link to Ruth Haley Barton’s The Transforming Center and Kyle Strobel’s Metamorpha (both places are ardently contemplative). The director of Project Renovation is Lancaster Bible College’s Director of the Student Ministry Majors, Rick Rhoads.

3. The Lancaster Bible College online bookstore shows that a great number of the textbooks being used have a contemplative and/or emerging emphasis. Here are some of those:

a. course: WPA101; textbook: Heart of the Artist by Rory Noland

b. course: WOR402; textbook: Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

d. course: THE480; textbook: Celtic Spirituality by Oliver Davies

e. course: STM102; textbook: Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture by Walt Mueller

f. course: THE105; textbook: The New Global Mission by Samuel Escobar

g. course: STM311; textbook: Youth Minstry by Mark Ostreicher (Youth Specialties)

h. course: STM315; textbook: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero

i. course: STM402; textbook: Understanding Prayer: a fresh approach by Kyle Lake

j. course: STM480; textbook: Speaking to Teenagers by Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins

k. course:SPF210; textbooks: Surrender to Love by David Benner, Devotional Classics by Richard Foster

l. course: SPF310; textbooks: Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard, Cultivating a Life for God by Neil Cole

m. course: ICS104; textbook: Prayer by Philip Yancey

n. course: CML102; textbook: Shaped By God’s Heart: The Passion and Practices of Missional Churches by Milfred Minatrea

o. course: CML201; textbook: Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley

p. course: CML210; textbook: Leadership Next by Eddie Gibbs

q. course: CFM332; textbook: Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation by Awana leaders


Soul Care: New Term, Same Ol’ Contemplative Thing

Contemplative terms always seem to be changing. What is called one thing today may be exchanged for a new term tomorrow. One term being used a lot these days for “Spiritual Direction” is “Soul Care.” In Biola University’s Masters program, Spiritual Formation and Soul Care, the program “trains leaders in soul care to be spiritual mentors, directors and teachers who will assist others in their journey of growth in Christ and His body.” This program incorporates contemplative experiences and “Soul Care Practicum.” Clearly Biola sees a relation between soul care and contemplative spirituality.

Where did the term Soul Care come from anyway? In the late nineties, contemplative and New Age sympathizer, David Benner, wrote a book called The Care of Souls, and then later wrote one called Spiritual Direction and the Care of Souls. Thomas Moore wrote Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life , and there are other books with similar titles. Nearly all of them promote spiritual direction and contemplative spirituality.

What exactly is meant by Soul Care? According to an article on the Natural Care College site, “soul care is the artistry of helping a person to find their personal and relational path to the sacred, where they are able to open to and live from their deeper self, reaching a higher level of living and loving through their own unique soul-nurturing spirituality and way of being in the world.” Even though many evangelicals who promote Soul Care wouldn’t agree with this definition, we think it is quite accurate. In other words, soul care is finding the divinity that is within each person.  As Thomas Merton put it, it is coming to the realization of what is already there – God – in every human being. Rick Warren’s colleague, Leonard Sweet explains this in his book Quantum Spirituality. Quoting Merton, Sweet writes:  “We [humanity] are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity” (QS, p. 13). And Sweet’s more recent book, Nudge: Awakening to the God Who’s Already There, Sweet  is echoing Merton right on the front cover with his title and subtitle.

Soul Care is just another term for the same ol’ New Age mystical spirituality. The New Age started in the Garden of Eden when the serpent told Eve she could be like God. Satan still tries to convince man of this today, just as he did many thousand years ago. Nothing has changed.  Terms may be exchanged for new ones, but this is just a disguised effort to conceal a terrible and damaging belief system.

A few places you’ll find the term Soul Care used in a contemplative setting:

SOUL CARE:  Mindy Caliguire has an organization and website called Soul Care. She has been featured at Moody Bible Institute, Willow Creek, and other evangelical venues. Lighthouse Trails wrote about Soul Care in 2008 showing Caliguire’s emphasis on contemplative prayer. On her website, as one example, she links to Richard Foster’s organization, Renovare, to Conversations Journal, and to Upper Room. Conversations Journal is a conglomeration of various contemplative writers and partners, one of which is Lee Strobel’s son’s organization Metamorpha.  Upper Room is the creators of the Walk to Emmaus and advocates various types of eastern-style meditation practices. Check out some of these links above, and you will see the documentation to show the contemplative propensities that exist.

THOMAS NELSON’S SOUL CARE BIBLE:, includes contemplative advocates as contributors/writers such as Dan Allender, Larry Crabb, and Chuck Swindoll and makes reference at least in one instance contemplative books (Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline)

BIOLA UNIVERSITY, The Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation & Soul Care:Numerous Lighthouse Trails articles showing the contemplative direction that Biola has gone (use blog search engine to find these)

MOODY BIBLE INSTITUTE, MIDDAY CONNECTION SOUL CARE: Midday Connection has repeatedly interviewed and highlighted contemplative authors such as Keri Wyatt Kent

DALLAS WILLARD, PERSONAL SOUL CARE: Willard is one of the pioneers in bringing contemplative spirituality into the evangelical/Protestant church.

ASSEMBLIES OF GOD THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: Offers a course called Spiritual Formation and Soul Care of Others. Incidentally, you’ll notice on this schedulethat Leonard Sweet and Earl Creps, both contemplative pushers, are teaching there too. Quit fitting with Soul Care.

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