Posts Tagged ‘spiritual directors’

“Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion”

I had always been confused as to the real nature of this advance in the Catholic church. Was this just the work of a few mavericks and renegades, or did the church hierarchy sanction this practice? My concerns were affirmed when I read in an interview that the mystical prayer movement not only had the approval of the highest echelons of Catholicism but also was, in fact, the source of its expansion.Ray Yungen

“Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion”

by Ray Yungen

While many Christians are still not even aware that a practical Christian mystical movement exists, momentum is picking up, and an obvious surge towards this contemplative spirituality has surfaced. Evidence regarding the magnitude of this mystical prayer movement is now within reach of the average person. In 1992, Newsweek magazine did a cover story called “Talking to God,” which made a clear reference to it. The article disclosed:

[S]ilence, 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.1

It is amazing to me how Newsweek clearly observed this shift in the spiritual paradigm over fifteen years ago, while many Christians (including most prominent leaders) still live in abject ignorance of this change. Are the teachings of the practical Christian mystic actually being assimilated so well that even our pastors are not discerning this shift?

In September 2005, Newsweek carried a special report called “Spirituality in America.” The feature story, titled “In Search of the Spiritual,” is seventeen pages long, and for anyone who thought that a Christian mystical movement did not exist, this article is all the proof needed to show it not only exists but is alive, well, and growing like you wouldn’t believe.

Thomas Keating

The article begins by describing the origin of the contemporary contemplative prayer movement, which began largely with a Catholic monk named Thomas Keating:

To him [Keating], as a Trappist monk, meditation was second nature. He invited the great Zen master Roshi Sasaki to lead retreats at the abbey. And surely, he thought, there must be a precedent within the church for making such simple but powerful spiritual techniques available to laypeople. His Trappist brother Father William Meninger found it in one day in 1974, in a dusty copy of a 14th-century guide to contemplative meditation, “The Cloud of Unknowing.”2

The most obvious integration of this movement can be found in Roman Catholicism. Michael Leach, former president of the Catholic Book Publishers Association, made this incredibly candid assertion:

But many people also believe that the spiritual principles underlying the New Age movement will soon be incorporated–or rather reincorporated–into the mainstream of Catholic belief. In fact, it’s happening in the United States right now.3

Incorporating it is! And it is assimilating primarily through the contemplative prayer movement.

Contemplative leader Basil Pennington, openly acknowledging its growing size, said, “We are part of an immensely large community … ‘We are Legion.'”4 Backing him up, a major Catholic resource company stated, “Contemplative prayer has once again become commonplace in the Christian community.”5

William Shannon [a mystic proponent and the biographer of Thomas Merton] went so far as to say contemplative spirituality has now widely replaced old-style Catholicism.6 This is not to say the Mass or any of the sacraments have been abandoned, but the underlying spiritual ideology of many in the Catholic church is now contemplative in its orientation.

One of my personal experiences with the saturation of mysticism in the Catholic church was in a phone conversation I had with the head nun at a local retreat center who told me the same message Shannon conveys. She made it clear The Cloud of Unknowing is now the basis for nearly all Catholic spirituality, and contemplative prayer is now becoming widespread all over the world.

I had always been confused as to the real nature of this advance in the Catholic church. Was this just the work of a few mavericks and renegades, or did the church hierarchy sanction this practice? My concerns were affirmed when I read in an interview that the mystical prayer movement not only had the approval of the highest echelons of Catholicism but also was, in fact, the source of its expansion. Speaking of a meeting between the late Pope Paul VI and members of the Catholic Trappist Monastic Order in the 1970s, Thomas Keating, disclosed the following:

The Pontiff declared that unless the Church rediscovered the contemplative tradition, renewal couldn’t take place. He specifically called upon the monastics, because they lived the contemplative life, to help the laity and those in other religious orders bring that dimension into their lives as well.7

Just look at the latest official catechism of the Catholic church to see contemplative prayer officially endorsed and promoted to the faithful by the powers that be. The new catechism firmly states: “Contemplative prayer is hearing the word of God … Contemplative prayer is silence.”8

I realized just how successfully Pope Paul’s admonitions have been carried out when I discovered the following at one popular Catholic bookstore. Many shelves were marked as spirituality–the focal point of the entire store. Eighty to ninety percent of the books on those shelves were on mystical prayer. It was clearly the overriding theme….

Contemplative spirituality reaches far beyond the walls of the Catholic church. Mainline Protestant traditions (Episcopalians, United Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, United Church of Christ, etc.) have dived into the contemplative waters too. Their deep tradition of twentieth-century liberalism and sociopolitical activism has left them spiritually dry and thirsting for supernatural experiences. This school of practical mysticism gives them a sense of spirituality while still allowing them a liberal political correctness. Marcus Borg, [former] professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University and someone who resonates with mystical spirituality understands the popularity of mystical prayer. He states:

In some mainline denominations, emerging-paradigm [contemplative] Christians are in the majority. Others are about equally divided between these two ways of being Christian.9

A sales person at a bookstore that caters to these denominations once told me the contemplative prayer view has found a large audience in the Protestant mainstream, and many pastors are very open to these practices. She added that some members of the clergy did show resistance, but a clear momentum towards the contemplative direction was nevertheless occurring. An article in Publisher’s Weekly magazine addressing the move toward contemplative prayer in mainstream religious circles confirmed her observation. One woman in the publishing field was quoted as saying, “[M]any Protestants are looking to satisfy that yearning by a return to the Western contemplative tradition.”10 Another college professor pointed out:

My students have been typically middle-aged and upper middle class Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists, active in the lay leadership of their churches. To outward appearances, they are quite conventional people. Yet I have found that virtually every one of my students has encountered the new age in one of its many forms and has been attracted by its mystery.11

Contemplative spirituality provides a seemingly profound experience of God without having to adhere to a conservative social outlook. It also gives its practitioners comfort to know they draw on a so–called Christian well of tradition. This dilutes any reluctance some might have about the orthodoxy of these practices.

To underscore the scope and reach of the contemplative prayer movement let’s look at the numbers put out by an organization called Spiritual Directors International (SDI). On their website this group gives ample evidence of what their practices are. In one national conference, the following was presented:

This workshop offers an opportunity to study and experience the [spiritual] director’s role in a person’s move into the beginning and early stages of contemplative prayer, silence, and openness to new sorts of praying.12

One of the objectives of SDI is “Tending the holy around the world and across traditions.” A 2008 membership list showed 652 Episcopalians, 239 Presbyterians, 239 Methodists, 175 Lutherans, and a whopping 2,386 Roman Catholics; counting another forty or so “traditions,” the total was 6648. To show the nature of just what they mean by “across traditions,” the list included Buddhist, Gnostic Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Siddha Yoga, and even Pagan/Wiccan.* (see below)

(For more information about contemplative spirituality, spiritual formation, and New Age mysticism coming into the church, read A Time of Departing.)

Notes:
1. Kenneth L. Woodward, “Talking to God” (Newsweek , January 6, 1992), p. 44.
2. Jerry Alder, “In Search of the Spiritual” (Newsweek, August/September 2005, Special Report: “Spirituality in America”), p. 48.
3. Michael Leach (America, May 2, 1992), p. 384.
4. M. Basil Pennington, Centered Living: The Way of Centering Prayer (New York, NY: Doubleday Publishing, Image Book edition, September 1988), p. 10.
5. Sheed & Ward Catalog, Winter/Lent, 1978, p. 12.
6. William Shannon, Seeds of Peace (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 1996), p. 25.
7. Anne A. Simpson, “Resting in God” Common Boundary magazine, Sept./Oct. 1997, http://www.livingrosaries.org/interview.htm), p. 25.
8. Catechism of the Catholic Church (Urbi et Orbi Communications, 1994), p. 652.
9. Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 2004), p. 7.
10. Kimberly Winston, “Get Thee to a Monastery” (Publisher’s Weekly, April 10, 2000), p. 39.
11. Bruce Epperly, Crystal & Cross (Mystic, CT: Twenty-third Publishers, 1996), p. 14.
12. Spiritual Directors International, Conference Workshops: “Exile or Return? Accompanying the Journey into Contemplative Prayer” (http://www.sdiworld.org/conference_workshops.html).

*Note on Spiritual Directors International. Since 2005, there have been significant increases in the SDI’s demographic statistics of spiritual director members. The overall increase went from around 5000 members in 2005 to 6648 in 2008 with new denominations and religious groups added.

Rick Warren, Jean Vanier, And The New Evangelization

St Peter’s Square in Vatican City

By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times, International

The Warren- Arroyo EWTN interview that aired on YouTube April 11, 2014 provided many insights regarding the “New Evangelicalism” that is presently unfolding. Rather than lines being drawn in the sand, walls are coming down and ecumenical unity is being established. If Rick Warren and his followers represent the direction many former “Protestants” are headed, it is only a matter of time for the coming One World Ecumenical Religion to be established. The Jesuit plan to bring the “separated brethren Home to Rome” will have been accomplished. Those who refuse to follow will be singled out and considered “heretics.” Is it possible that persecution for these “resistors” is in store?

One revelation that came out of the interview was the fact that Warren and his Saddleback Church had hosted a delegation from Rome to discuss the New Evangelization Program. Apparently a number of Roman Catholic delegates were observing the Warren-Saddleback Purpose Driven Program in order to gain ideas and insight for the Roman Catholic New Evangelization Plan initiated by Pope John Paul II and continued by Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.

The following question was asked by Raymond Arroyo:

The Vatican recently sent a delegation here to Saddleback—the pontifical council—the academy for life. Tell me what they discovered and why did they come? This is a sizeable group. [1]

Warren’s response was immediate and enthusiastic. He said:

It was. They were about 30 bishops from Europe. One of the men had been actually trained and mentored by Jean Vanier, which is an interesting thing because we have a retreat center here and my spiritual director, who grew up at Saddleback, actually went and trained under Jean Vanier too. So I am very excited about that. [2]

While the term “spiritual director” or the name Jean Vanier may not mean much to you unless you are versed on contemplative mystical spirituality, this admission by Warren provides conclusive evidence of his endorsement of Roman Catholic monastic mysticism and all that goes along with it. The fact he mentions he has his “own” spiritual director located at Saddleback who was trained under the leadership of Jean Vanier is even more significant.

A brief look at Jean Vanier will provide important insights. Click here to continue reading and for endnote material.

 

A Few Words About “Spiritual Formation”

When I first began writing in the field in the late 70s and early 80s the term “Spiritual Formation” was hardly known, except for highly specialized references in relation to the Catholic orders. Today it is a rare person who has not heard the term. Seminary courses in Spiritual Formation proliferate like baby rabbits. Huge numbers are seeking to become certified as Spiritual Directors to answer the cry of multiplied thousands for spiritual direction.1 Richard Foster

What is spiritual formation, and what is its premise? According to Roger Oakland, spiritual formation came upon the church like an unsuspecting avalanche:

A move away from the truth of God’s Word to a mystical form of Christianity has infiltrated, to some degree, nearly all evangelical denominations. Few Bible teachers saw this avalanche coming. Now that it is underway, most do not realize it has even happened.

The best way to understand this process is to recall what happened during the Dark Ages when the Bible became the forbidden book. Until the Reformers translated the Bible into the language of the common people, the great masses were in darkness. When the light of God’s Word became available, the Gospel was once again understood.

I believe history is repeating itself. As the Word of God becomes less and less important, the rise in mystical experiences escalates, and these experiences are presented to convince the unsuspecting that Christianity is about feeling, touching, smelling, and seeing God. The postmodern mindset is the perfect environment for fostering spiritual formation. This term suggests there are various ways and means to get closer to God and to emulate him. Thus the idea that if you do certain practices, you can be more like Jesus. Proponents of spiritual formation erroneously teach that anyone can practice these mystical rituals and find God within. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is not a prerequisite. In a DVD called Be Still, which promotes contemplative prayer, Richard Foster said that contemplative prayer is for anyone and that by practicing it, one becomes “a portable sanctuary” for “the presence of God.”2 Rather than having the indwelling of the person of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, spiritual formation through the spiritual disciplines supposedly transforms the seeker by entering an altered realm of consciousness.

The spiritual formation movement is widely promoted at colleges and seminaries as the latest and the greatest way to become a spiritual leader. It teaches people that this is how they can become more intimate with God and truly hear His voice. Even Christian leaders with longstanding reputations of teaching God’s word seem to be succumbing. In so doing, many Christian leaders are frivolously playing with fire, and the result will be thousands, probably millions, getting burned.

It isn’t going into the silence that transforms a person’s life. It is in accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and allowing Him to change us, that transformation occurs. (Faith Undone, pp. 90-92)

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). Foster references several mystics in the book who can point the way to these exercises: Madame Guyon, Teresa of Avila, Francis de Sales, Henri Nouwen, and Thomas Merton. Foster breaks the contemplative process down into three steps. He says:

The first step [into meditative prayer] is sometimes called “centering down.” Others have used the term re-collection; that is, a re-collecting of ourselves until we are unified or whole. The idea is to let go of all competing distractions until we are truly centered, until we are truly present where we are.

Foster suggests that practicing visualization methods help us center down (p. 17). In the second step of meditation, Foster suggests that mystic Richard Rolle experienced “physical sensations” (see kundalini info) during meditation which perhaps we may or may not experience as well (p. 18). Step three of meditation, Foster says, is that of “listening” to God. Once the meditative exercises have been implemented and the “spiritual ecstasy” is reached, this entered realm is where the voice of God can be heard (p. 23). However, as any New Age meditator knows, this ecstatic state is an altered state of consciousness where everything is supposed to be unified and one with God. Foster acknowledges the interspiritual attribute linked to contemplative prayer when he states: “[Jesus] showed us God’s yearning for the gathering of an all-inclusive community of loving persons” (p. 5). Foster defines more of what he means by “all-inclusive” in his book Streams of Living Water when he says this “all-inclusive community” includes everything from a “Catholic monk” to a “Baptist evangelist.”3 In other writings, he says that contemplative prayer (and its results) are for everyone and anyone (see Be Still DVD).

Interestingly, Foster discusses the practice of lectio divina in his book, which is being heralded in many Christian settings as a Christian, biblical practice. People are persuaded to believe that repeating phrases and words of Scripture over and over again is a deeper way to know God. They believe that since it is Scripture being repeated (and not just any words), then this validates the practice and that this sacred reading is sacred because it is the Bible being used. But Foster himself proves that it has nothing to do with Scripture. It’s the repetition that is effective, not the words. He states: “[L]ectio divina includes more than the Bible. There are the lives of the saints and the writings which have proceeded from their profound [mystical] experiences” (p. 25). Foster obliterates the supposed premise of lectio divina by saying this. That is because as a meditation proponent he knows that meditation has nothing to do with which words are repeated over and over; it is the repetition itself that puts one into an altered state. Thus whether you say Jesus, Abba, Buddha, or OM, it produces the same effect.

Just in case there is any doubt in the reader’s mind, Richard Foster tells readers to study Thomas Merton for a deeper understanding of meditation, calling his book, Contemplative Prayer a “powerful analysis of the central nature of contemplative prayer.”

Spiritual formation is contemplative spirituality, and it is sweeping quickly throughout Christianity today. If a college, a seminary, a church, or an organization (like Focus on the Family) wants spiritual formation, may they keep in mind, they will get eastern meditation and the occultic realms that accompany it.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel. (Colossians 1:21-23)

As Roger Oakland states:

We are reconciled to God only through his “death” (the atonement for sin), and we are presented “holy and unblamable and unreproveable” when we belong to Him through rebirth. It has nothing to do with works, rituals, or mystical experiences. It is Christ’s life in the converted believer that transforms him. (Faith Undone)

Notes:
1. “Spiritual Formation: A Pastoral Letter”

2. Richard Foster, Be Still DVD (Fox Home Entertainment, 2006), section titled “Contemplative Prayer.”

3. Richard Foster, Streams of Living Water (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1998), p. 273.

 

Audio Divina and Mennonites

By Menno-lite

Mary T Rankin is a spiritual director and retreat leader who currently co-directs Stillpoint at Beckside (www.stillpointatbeckside.com), an ecumenical spiritual retreat center in Bellingham, WA. where those seeking to experience the Mystery of God can spend time walking and meditating in their labyrinth. With a background in music therapy (The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music), Rankin developed Audio Divina (Sacred Listening) in 2003 while at Vancouver School of Theology. She has since authored “Audio Divina: Introducing a Contemplative Practice for Contemporary Times” (Journal of the Association for Music and Imagery, Vol. 9, 2003-2004), and “Audio Divina: Introducing a Musical Aid for Spiritual Direction” which appeared in the Presence Journal (Volume 15, June 2009), an international journal of SDI (Spiritual Directors International). Rankin’s Audio Divina is also listed as a Saturday evening workshop option at SDI (among other options such as Dancing the Cosmic Dance, Reiki: A Spiritual Doorway to Natural Healing, Accessing Cosmic Unity with Wordless Song using Nigunim from the Jewish Mystical Tradition, and Coming Home to the Cosmos According to Harry Potter). Audio Divina by Mary Rankin can also be found (here) at the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

What does this have to do with Mennonites? Click here to read more.

The Vineyard Movement Grabs Hold of Contemplative Spirituality

This week we received an e-mail from someone who asked us to check up on a workshop taking place at the Vineyard in Anaheim, California. Our reader shared her concern that this may be an emerging type workshop and that the church might be going in that direction.

Our Response:

“The Vineyard Movement Grabs Hold of Contemplative Spirituality”

The Vineyard movement was started in the 1970s by John Wimber (who had been a leader in the Friends (Quaker) church) after breaking off from Calvary Chapel where Kenn and Joanie Gulliksen had started the first meetings. Vineyard Anaheim is the “mother” or “flagship” Vineyard church, pastored today by Lance Pittluck. Regarding the  “Spiritual Formation” workshop that our reader wrote to us about, on the church website, it states:

We believe that every disciple is invited by the Holy Spirit into becoming conformed to the Image of Christ through the disciplines encompassed by solitude, silence, scripture-meditation and reflection.

Vineyard Anaheim has turned to Richard Foster’s Renovare to bring these “disciplines” to their church members. Richard Foster, also a Quaker, is one of the pioneers in bringing contemplative spirituality to the evangelical/Protestant church and is a disciple of Thomas Merton. Foster believes that Merton tried to “awaken” God’s people (through mysticism)2 and that he “has perhaps done more than any other twentieth-century figure to make the life of prayer widely known and understood.3 Yet Merton’s panentheistic view (i.e., God in all) coupled with his strong affinity to Buddhism (he once stated: “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity … I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can”4) is contrary to the God of the Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Richard Foster so resonates with Merton that he includes him in his list of spiritual masters in his two books Spiritual Classics and Devotional Classics.

It’s not just Richard Foster that Vineyard is looking to for “spiritual formation.” On the “Pastoral Staff Recommends” page, there is a who’s who of contemplative mystics listed. Craig Lockwood, the pastor who will be heading up the Spiritual Formation program, includes Dallas Willard, Jan Johnson, Larry Crabb, Madame Guyon, Richard Foster, Gary Thomas, Morton Kelsey, and Adele Calhoun on his recommended reading list. These are some of the “heavy weights” in the contemplative movement, and you can read about most of them in A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen or on our research site. Typical of the contemplative mindset, one of those listed, Morton Kelsey, stated: “You can find most of the New Age practices in the depth of Christianity . . . I believe that the Holy One lives in every soul.”5

In Adele Ahlberg Calhoun’s book, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook (which Lockwood recommends), Ahlberg Calhoun promotes mantra meditation, giving detailed instructions on several types of contemplative practices. In addition, she quotes from many New Age sympathizers and New Age contemplatives and encourages the use of centering prayer, breath prayers, contemplative prayer, labyrinths, palms-up, palms-down exercises, and recommends for further reading a plethora of mystics. One of those she lists is Tilden Edwards, the founder of the mysticism promoting Shalem Prayer Institute, who said that contemplative prayer is the bridge between Christianity and Eastern religion.6

An interesting name shows up on the “Pastoral Staff Recommends” page at Vineyard Anaheim – J.P. Moreland. The beliefs of Moreland have been discussed in a number of Lighthouse Trails articles regarding his contemplative views, but we didn’t realize that he attends Vineyard Anaheim. When we saw his name on the Pastoral Staff Recommends page, we called Vineyard and were told that Moreland attends Vineyard Anaheim and “sometimes speaks” there. Moreland, a teacher at Biola University and Summit Ministries (in Colorado) recommends a number of Dallas Willard books and The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen. In that book, which is a primer on contemplative prayer, Nouwen states:

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. 7

What Nouwen is describing here is mantra meditation (i.e., eastern-style meditation). Practicing mysticism is what led Nouwen to say near the end of his life:

Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.8

By saying this, Nouwen illustrated the “fruit” of contemplative spirituality – panentheism (God in all) and interspirituality. This can be further proven by Nouwen’s strong affinity with New Age meditation proponent, Beatrice Bruteau where he called her a  “trustworthy guide to contemplative consciousness” (from Abba’s Child) . J.P. Moreland’s endorsement of The Way of the Heart will point Vineyard members to the same spirituality Nouwen came to  embrace.

In a book review of Moreland’s book Kingdom Triangle, he lays out a three-step process to bring about a kingdom of God on earth through spiritual formation (i.e., contemplative prayer). This would resonate with what Vineyard is doing – turning to contemplative to accelerate their kingdom of God on earth goals.

In Kevin Reeves book The Other Side of the River, Reeves addresses the spiritual viewpoints of John Wimber. Wimber said that the Western church needed to go through a major paradigm shift because of its resistance to the supernatural.9 Reeves explains some of Wimber’s ideas:

 The old study and learn method (commended by the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 4:13-16, and II Timothy 3:14-17) is no longer adequate. In fact, according to Wimber and a flood of Third Wave teachers, it never has been. Experience is what counts, they say, and all that head knowledge we’ve been accumulating all these years is a big waste of time. This teaching states that to really know God, His power and miracles, we need to shuck all that dead letter stuff and get into the life.

 Wimber also first introduced into mainstream charismatic congregations the incredibly strange manifestations that are supposedly initiated by the Holy Spirit. Pogoing (jumping up and down in place), rippling on or under the skin, tingling, shaking, convulsions, uncontrollable laughter—many of the same kinds of manifestations traditionally attributed to demonic influence—have now attained prominence in River meetings. It is shocking and frightening to see the similarities between Wimber’s manifestations and what is called Kundalini, “a Hindu term for the mystical power or force that underlies Hindu spirituality.” Here is a list of Kundalini symptoms:

* Burning hot or ice cold streams moving up the spine.

* Pains in varying locations throughout the body.

* Vibrations, unease, or cramps in legs and other parts of body.

* Fast pulse and increased metabolism.

* Disturbance in the breathing–and/or heart function.

* Sensitivity to sound, light, smell, and proximity of other people.

* Mystical/religious experiences.

* Parapsychological abilities.

* Persistent anxiety or anxiety attacks, confusion

* Insomnia, manic high spirits or deep depression. Energy loss.

* Impaired concentration and memory.

* Total isolation due to inability to communicate inner experiences out.

* Experiences of possession and poltergeist phenomena. 10

What some may not realize is that many of these symptoms are also experienced during deep contemplative meditation. By combining the hyper-charismatic experiences with contemplative spirituality (as Vineyard is doing), the process of going into altered states of consciousness (i.e., demonic realms) is speeded up; and the voice heard, believed to be God, may not be Him at all. Reeves points out that Wimber was drawn to the writings of Agnes Sanford and Morton Kelsey. Did Wimber realize that Kelsey “equates the ministry of Jesus with shamanism, commends encounters with the dead as natural spirit-earth links, bases much of his book on paganistic Jungian psychology, and calls the atonement a “hypothesis developed” by the early church”?11

An article titled “Buried Seed: Spiritual Direction and the Vineyard Movement” written by a Vineyard “spiritual director” in New Zealand reveals the efforts by spiritual directors in Vineyard to integrate spiritual formation into the Vineyard movement. Just to show the lack of discernment that occurs by contemplative advocates, the author of the article lists Thomas Keating as a source he used to write the article. Keating, like Merton, is a panentheist and mystic Catholic priest.

We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible.

 Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices, especially where they have been initiated by reliable teachers and have a solidly developed Christian faith to find inner form and meaning to the resulting experiences. 12

Our reader who sent us the e-mail inquiring about Vineyard Anaheim asked if there was any emergent connection to spiritual formation. We have always contended that they are basically the same thing (see Faith Undone). What’s more, on the recommended reading list of Vineyard Anaheim, senior pastor Lance Pittluck recommends Rob Bell along with several other contemplative/emerging figures (Nouwen, Sider, Manning, Miller, Boyd, etc). It is clear that Pittluck resonates with these people.

For those who wonder if the contemplative/emerging infiltration is confined to just Vineyard Anaheim, a Book Recommendations for Youth list on the main USA Vineyard website recommends emerging church favorites N.T. Wright, Andy Stanley, Erwin McManus, and Shane Claiborne, and contemplatives Henri Nouwen, Dallas Willard, John Ortberg, Jim Burns, and John Eldredge.  Sadly, Vineyard youth are being introduced to these contemplative/emerging leaders. In addition, Vineyard has at least one leader who is designated to work with Vineyard churches in spiritual formation. And just as a sampling to show this is not an isolated situation, listed below are a few Vineyard churches that are incorporating “spiritual formation” into church life:

Vineyard City Church – Redding California’ (also links to the very contemplative/emerging Simpson College and Bethel Church in Redding)

 Live Oak Vineyard – Monrovia California (promotes New Age sympathizer Phyllis Tickle)

Friends Langley Vineyard – BC Canada

Vineyard Community Church – Cincinnati, OH

All this would leave little doubt that the Vineyard movement has hopped onto the contemplative/emergent track, seemingly full speed ahead.

Notes:

  1. Bill Jackson, The Quest For The Radical Middle: A History of the Vineyard, ch 3, p. 80.
  2. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2nd ed, 2006), pp. 76-77, quoting Richard Foster at a seminar Yungen attended.
  3. Richard Foster and Emilie Griffin, Spiritual Classics (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 2000), p. 17.
  4. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).
  5. Morton Kelsey cited in Charles H. Simpkinson, “In the Spirit of the Early Christians.”
  6. Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1980), pp. 18.
  7. Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1991), p. 81.
  8. Henri  Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 1998), p. 51.
  9. John Wimber: 1934-1997. Wimber’s “paradigm shift” is discussed and documented in several books and articles such as C. Peter Wagner’s Acts of the Holy Spirit (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2000), p. 123.
  10. Kevin Reeves, The Other Side of the River (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2007), pp. 167-168.
  11.  Ibid, p. 169.
  12.  M. Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating, Thomas E. Clarke, Finding Grace at the Center  (Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Pub., 1978), pp. 5-6.

 


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