Posts Tagged ‘walter brueggemann’

Andy Stanley and “New” Christianity’s “Bibliolatry”

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As we reported earlier this week, mega-church pastor (and son of Charles Stanley) says that Christian leaders need to “get the spotlight off the Bible.” Stanley may think he has come up with some unique idea and saying, but he hasn’t. It’s the same ol’ emerging talk that has been going on with emergent figures all along. For instance, Biola University professor J.P. Moreland once said that evangelical Christians are too committed to the Bible.

“In the actual practices of the Evangelical community in North America, there is an over-commitment to Scripture in a way that is false, irrational, and harmful to the cause of Christ,”  [Moreland] said. “And it has produced a mean-spiritedness among the over-committed that is a grotesque and often ignorant distortion of discipleship unto the Lord Jesus.” The problem, he said, is “the idea that the Bible is the sole source of knowledge of God, morality, and a host of related important items. Accordingly, the Bible is taken to be the sole authority for faith and practice.(source)

But just like Stanley’s statement isn’t going to upset most Christians and certainly isn’t going to ruffle any Christian leader feathers, Moreland’s absurd comments didn’t ruffle anything up either. In fact, he’s still a major influential voice in evangelical Christianity.

While Moreland gives examples such as non-charismatics who steer clear of any and all venues such as “impressions, dreams, visions, prophetic words, words of knowledge and wisdom,” there may be more behind his statements than meets the eye. This idea of “bibliolatry” (the idolizing of the Bible) did not originate with Moreland either. Contemplative Brennan Manning (who gets many of his ideas from mystics like Thomas Merton and William Shannon (Silence on Fire), once said this:

I am deeply distressed by what I only can call in our Christian culture the idolatry of the Scriptures. For many Christians, the Bible is not a pointer to God but God himself. In a word—bibliolatry. God cannot be confined within the covers of a leather-bound book. I develop a nasty rash around people who speak as if mere scrutiny of its pages will reveal precisely how God thinks and precisely what God wants.”–Brennan Manning, Signature of Jesus, pp. 188-189

Without checking the further inferences of such statements, some may agree with Manning and Moreland solely on the idea that we should not worship a leather-bound book but rather the One of whom the book is about. But few “over-committed” Bible-believing Christians would argue with that. Christians who believe the Bible is the actual inspired word of God know that the Bible is not God Himself, but it is the Jesus Christ proclaimed in that Bible who is to be worshiped. But they also know that within the pages of the Bible are the holy words, ideas, and truths of God (and, in fact, the words are so inspired by God that it is called a two-edged sword). So for Moreland and Manning to suggest that these types of Christians don’t really worship God but rather pages in a book is a misrepresentation of Bible-believing Christians.

Emergent Scot McKnight is another who uses this term, bibliolatry. In his book A Community Called Atonement, McKnight says, “I begin with the rubble called bibliolatry, the tendency for some Christians to ascribe too much to the Bible” (p. 143).

Emerging spirituality figure Walter Brueggemann uses the term in his book Theology of the Old Testament (p. 574).

There may be a logical reason why these men condemn those who adhere to the Bible too strongly. All have something in common – they all promote  contemplative spirituality. And, as we have shown time and again, those who embrace the  contemplative spiritual outlook, often shift their focus from the moral (doctrine) to the mystical as Henri Nouwen suggested in his book In the Name of Jesus:

Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love . . .  For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required. (p. 32)

In Moreland’s book, The Lost Virtue of Happiness, he talks about rediscovering important spiritual principles that have been lost. In Faith Undone, Roger Oakland cites this book in explaining the problem of mysticism:

Two of the spiritual disciplines . . .  are “Solitude and Silence” (p. 51). The book says that these two disciplines are “absolutely fundamental to the Christian life” (p. 51). . . .  Moreland and Issler [co-author] state:

In our experience, Catholic retreat centers [bastions of mysticism] are usually ideal for solitude retreats . . . We also recommend that you bring photos of your loved ones and a picture of Jesus . . .  Or gaze at a statue of Jesus. Or let some pleasant thought, feeling, or memory run through your mind over and over again (pp. 54-55)….

Moreland and Issler provide tips for developing a prayer life. Here are some of the recommendations they make:

[W]e recommend that you begin by saying the Jesus Prayer about three hundred times a day (p. 90).

When you first awaken, say the Jesus Prayer twenty to thirty times. As you do, something will begin to happen to you. God will begin to slowly begin to occupy the center of your attention (p. 92).

Repetitive use of the Jesus Prayer while doing more focused things allows God to be on the boundaries of your mind and forms the habit of being gently in contact with him all day long (p. 93).

Moreland and Issler try to present what they consider a scriptural case that repetitive prayers are OK with God. But they never do it! They say the Jesus Prayer is derived from Luke 18:38 where the blind man cries out, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me,”(p.90) but nowhere in that section of the Bible (or any other section for that matter) does it instruct people to repeat a rendition of Luke 18:38 over and over. (from Faith Undone, pp. 117-119)

To be sure, the worship of leather and paper would be unscriptural and idolatrous, but we have never known or heard of a single case where a Christian advocates or practices Bible worship in that sense. As far as that goes, we have known countless Christians who respect (revere) the Bible as being the inspired Word of God; now if that were a point deserving criticism and condemnation, then we would necessarily need to place the apostle Paul under such scrutiny for having said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). Was Paul a Bible worshiper? We know he was not. We also know that he never instructed anyone to repeat words or phrases from the Bible over and over for the purpose of achieving a “silence” (i.e., a mind-altering state). Such a practice is not taught anywhere in Scripture; hence, we propose that it is just such a practice that is a misuse of Scripture. Is it mere coincidence that in almost every case where someone uses the “bibliolatry” argument, that person also promotes contemplative prayer, a practice that cannot be supported through Scripture? And by downplaying scriptural authority, cannot the contemplative viewpoint be easier to promote within Christianity?

One last case in point about “bibliolatry” comes from Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho  (NNU) where Dr. Jay McDaniel was invited to speak. McDaniel is a self-proclaimed “Christian” Buddhist sympathizer. When asked by a student at the lecture whether he believed that Jesus was “the way, the truth, and the life,” McDaniel stated that if Jesus had meant to say that He himself was the way, the truth, and the life, it would have been egocentric and arrogant of Jesus – He only meant to point people in the right direction – letting go of ego and grasping love. McDaniel stated also that Buddhist mindfulness (eastern meditation) is just as truth filled  as doctrine and theology. He said there was an overemphasis in the church on doctrine calling it bibliolatry (idol worship of the Bible). (source) (click here to watch video of McDaniel lecture)

There is an attack on the Word of God. That’s no new thing–secular humanists, New Agers, and philosophers have attacked the Bible for centuries. But this attack of which we speak comes from within the ranks of Christianity out of the halls of highly respected universities, off the presses of successful Christian publishers, and out of the mouths of really popular Christian leaders.

What can we make of this idea of “bibliolatry”? The following statement offers some valid insight regarding this idea that Christians put too much emphasis on the Bible:

Today some are saying that the Bible is a lesser revelation than the Son and to make to much of it is to worship the Bible (bibliolatry). But if we do not make much of the Bible, then we cannot know much of the Son, for our only source of information about the Son (and hence about the Father) is through the Bible. Furthermore, if the Bible is not to be trusted,  then again, we cannot know truth about the Son . . . if the Bible is not completely true, we end up with either misinformation or subjective evaluation. Jesus Himself asserted that the Bible revealed Him (Luke 24:27, 44-45, John 5:39).. (A Survey of Bible Doctrine,Charles Ryrie, p. 17)

In summary, we find it rather odd that in a time in history when many churches are hardly even opening the Bible that Bible-believing Christians would be accused of focusing  too much on the Bible (what is it about the Bible these guys don’t like?). Our continual plea to all Christians is to be diligent in their study of the Scriptures and to be as the Bereans who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). We should also note that Jesus never corrected people for studying the Scriptures but rather for their lack of understanding them. Paul nailed it on the head when he said, “Study to show thyself approved unto God . . . rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Could this accusation of “bibliolatry” be nothing more than a smoke screen to further the contemplative agenda, which ultimately leads right to a one-world global religion that will declare all is God and God is in all.

Related Articles:

Book Review – The New Christians by Tony Jones

The Who’s Who List in Bringing the New Spirituality into the Church

A-Directory-Of-Authors-Three-NOT-Recommended-ListsBy Chris Lawson
Spiritual Research Network

Each of the following authors professes to be Christian and/or uses biblical terminology in his or her writing, yet promotes at least one of the following serious false teachings: contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation), the emergent, progressive “new” spirituality, the seeker-friendly, church-growth movement (e.g., Willow Creek, Purpose Driven) and/or Yoga. This list is taken from Chris Lawson’s Booklet, A Directory of Authors (Three NOT Recommended Lists)

A

Abbott, David L.

Adams, James Rowe

Allender, Dan

Arico, Carl J.

Armstrong, Karen

Artress, Lauren

Assagioli, Roberto

B

Babbs, Liz

Bakker, Jay

Barton, Ruth Haley

Bass, Diana Butler

Batterson, Mark

Baxter, Mary

Bell, Rob

Benner, David

Bennison, John

Bentley, Todd

Bickle, Mike

Bjorklund, Kurt

Blanchard, Ken

Boa, Kenneth

Bolger, Ryan

Bolz-Weber, Nadia

Bono

Bordenkircher, Susan

Borg, Marcus

Bourgeault, Cynthia

Bronsink, Troy

Brother Lawrence

Brueggemann, Walter

Bruteau, Beatrice

Buchanan, John M.

Budziszewski, J.

Buford, Bob

Burke, Spencer

C

Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg

Caliguire, Mindy

Campbell, Joseph

Campolo, Bart

Campolo, Tony

Canfield, Jack

Card, Michael

Carroll, L. Patrick

Chalke, Steve

Chalmers, Joseph

Chinmoy, Sri

Chittister, Joan

Claiborne, Shane

Coe, John

Coffin, William Sloane

Collins, Jim

Crabb, Larry

Cron, Ian

Crossan, John Dominic

Crowder, David

D

De Mello, Anthony De Waal, Esther

Demarest, Bruce

Dillard, Annie

Dowd, Michael

Dykes, David R

Driscoll, Mark

Drury, Keith

Dyckman, Katherine Marie

E

Edwards, Gene

Edwards, Tilden

Egan, Harvey

Epperly, Bruce

Evans, Rachel Held

F

Felten, David

Fleming, Dave

Flowers, Betty Sue

Ford, Leighton

Fosdick, Harry Emerson

Foster, Richard

Fox, George

Fox, Matthew

Friend, Howard E., Jr.

Funk, Mary Margaret

G

Garrison, Becky

Geering, Lloyd

Gibbs, Eddie

Gire, Ken

Goleman, Daniel

Goll, James

Graham, Dom Alfred

Greig, Pete

Griffin, Emilie

Griffiths, Bede

Gru, Jean-Nicholas

Gungor

H

Haas, Peter Traban

Haight, Roger

Haliczer, Stephen

Hall, Thelma

Hansen, Mark Victor

Hays, Edward

Hazard, David

Healey, Charles

Hedrick, Charles

Hildegard of Bingen

Hipps, Shane

Holmes, Emily

Hougen, Judith

Humphreys, Carolyn

Hunard, Hannah

Hunt, Anne

Hunter, Todd

Hybels, Bill

I

Ignatius Loyola, St.

Issler, Klaus

J

Jager, Willigis

Jenks, Gregory C.

Johnson, Jan

Johnston, William

Jones, Alan

Jones, Laurie Beth

Jones, Tony

K

Kaisch, Ken

Keating, Thomas

Kelsey, Morton

Kent, Keri Wyatt

Kidd, Sue Monk

Kimball, Dan

King, Mike

King, Robert H.

Kraft, Robert A.

Kreeft, Peter

L

L’Engle, Madeleine

Lamott, Anne

Law, William

M

Madigan, Shawn

Main, John

Manning, Brennan

Martin, James

Mattioli, Joseph

Matus, Thomas

May, Gerald

McColman, Carl

McKnight, Scot

McLaren, Brian

McManus, Erwin

Meninger, William

Meyers, Robin R.

Miller, Calvin

Miller, Donald

Moon, Gary

Moore, Beth

Moore, Brian P.

Moran, Michael T.

Moreland, J.P.

Morganthaler, Sally

Mother Theresa

Mundy, Linus

Muyskens, John David

N

Newcomer, Carrie

Norris, Gunilla Brodde

Norris, Kathleen

Nouwen, Henri

O

Ortberg, John

P

Pagels, Elaine

Pagitt, Doug

Palmer, Parker

Paloma, Margaret M.

Patterson, Stephen J.

Peace, Richard

Peale, Norman Vincent

Pennington, Basil

Pepper, Howard

Peterson, Eugene

Piper, John

Plumer, Fred

Pope Benedict XVI

Procter-Murphy, Jeff

R

Rakoczy, Susan

Reininger, Gustave

Rhodes, Tricia

Robbins, Duffy

Robbins, Maggie

Rohr, Richard

Rolle, Richard

Rollins, Peter

Romney, Rodney

Ruether, Rosemary Radford

Rupp, Joyce

Russell, A.J.

Ryan, Thomas

S

Sampson, Will

Sanford, Agnes

Scandrette, Mark

Scazzero, Pete

Schuller, Robert

Selmanovic, Samir

Senge, Peter

Shannon, William

Shore, John

Sinetar, Marsha

Sittser, Gerald

Smith, Chuck, Jr.

Smith, Elizabeth

Smith, James Bryan

Southerland, Dan

Spangler, Ann

Spong, John Shelby

St. Romain, Philip

Stanley, Andy

Steindl-Rast, David

Strobel, Kyle

Sweet, Leonard

T

Talbot, John Michael

Tasto, Maria

Taylor, Barbara Brown

Teague, David

Thomas, Gary

Thompson, Marjorie

Thresher, Tom

Tiberghien, Susan

Tickle, Phyllis

Treece, Patricia

Tuoti, Frank

Twiss, Richard

V

Vaswig, William (Bill)

Virkler, Mark

Voskamp, Ann

W

Wallis, Jim

Wakefield, James

Ward, Benedicta

Ward, Karen

Warren, Rick

Webber, Robert

Wilhoit, James C.

Willard, Dallas

Wilson-Hartgrove, Jonathan

Winner, Lauren

Wink, Walter

Wolsey, Roger

Wright, N.T.

Y

Yaconelli, Mark

Yaconelli, Mike

Yancey, Phillip

Yanni, Kathryn A.

Yarian, Br. Karekin M., BSG

Young, Sarah

Young, William Paul

Yungblut, John R.

Z

Zeidler, Frank P.

This list is taken from Chris Lawson’s Booklet, A Directory of Authors (Three NOT Recommended Lists)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marcus Borg on Atonement, the Resurrection, and the Son of God

by  Roger Oakland

Before retirement, Marcus Borg was Distinguished Professor in Religion and Culture and Hundere Endowed Chair in Religious Studies at Oregon State University. He is a lecturer and the author of several books, some of which are Jesus and Buddha, The God We Never Knew, and Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But not Literally. While most would not consider him an emerging church leader, his thinking has greatly influenced the movement and its leaders. Brian McLaren says he has “high regard”1 for Borg; the two of them participated in a summer seminar series at an interspiritual center in Portland, Oregon, in 2006.2 Rob Bell references and praises him in Bell’s popular book Velvet Elvis.3 Walter Brueggemann, a professor at Columbia Theological Seminary and one of the contributors for Richard Foster’s Renovare Spiritual Formation Study Bible, considers Borg an essential part of the emerging spirituality. Brueggemann states: “Marcus Borg is a key force in the emerging ‘new paradigm’ of Christian faith.”4

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

I let go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product. I learned that it is a human cultural product, the product of two ancient communities, biblical Israel and early Christianity. As such, it contained their understandings and affirmations, not statements coming directly or somewhat directly from God…. I realized that whatever “divine revelation” and the “inspiration of the Bible” meant (if they meant anything), they did not mean that the Bible was a divine product with divine authority.5

This attitude would certainly explain how Borg could say:

Jesus almost certainly was not born of a virgin, did not think of himself as the Son of God, and did not see his purpose as dying for the sins of the world.6

If what Borg is saying is true, then we would have to throw out John 3:16 which says God so loved the world He gave His only Son, and we would have to dismiss the theme of a blood offering that is prevalent throughout all of Scripture. In the Old Testament, it is clear:

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11)

But Borg rejects this emphasis:

To think that the central meaning of Easter [resurrection] depends upon something spectacular happening to Jesus’ corpse misses the point of the Easter message and risks trivializing the story. To link Easter primarily to our hope for an afterlife, as if our post-death existence depends upon God having transformed the corpse of Jesus, is to reduce the story to a politically-domesticated yearning for our survival beyond death.7

What is behind this mindset? Listen to one New Ager describe what underlies this line of thought:

Jesus was an historical person, a human becoming Christ, the Christos, is an eternal transpersonal condition of being. Jesus did not say that this higher state of consciousness realized in him was his alone for all time. Nor did he call us to worship him. Rather, he called us to follow him, to follow in his steps, to learn from him, from his example.8

[Henry] Fosdick would resonate with this. When he says, “Christ’s sacrificial life and death are too sacred to be so misrepresented,” he means that Christ is an example to be followed, not an innocent sacrifice for our guilt and thus worthy of praise and worship. Satan wants desperately to be worshiped and adored as God. He hates all that Jesus’ death stands for. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, purchased with His own blood the lives of those written in the Book of Life.

The Bible says, “without the shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22), and also, “He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26). Are we to reject these Scriptures and other ones as well that speak of the atonement because it doesn’t sound logical? Scripture tells us that the carnal mind is at enmity with God. We need to recognize that the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is our final authority, and we must adhere to the truth of its teachings.

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins…. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. (I John 4:10, 14)

(from Faith Undone, chapter 10, “Slaughterhouse Religion” by Roger Oakland)

Notes:

1. Statement by Brian McLaren on McLaren’s website: http://www.brianmclaren.net/archives/000201.html, “What about other websites?”
2. The Center for Spiritual Development, 2006 Summer Seminar called “The Church in the 21st Century” where Brian McLaren and Marcus Borg were two of the speakers, http://www.center-for-spiritual-development.org/DVDCatalog.html.
3. Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, op. cit., pp. 180, 184.
4. Walter Brueggemann cited on United Theological Seminary website: in reference to Marcus Borg’s book, The Heart of Christianity. (This link no longer available on their site.)
5. Marcus Borg, The God We Never Knew (New York, NY: HarperCollins, First HarperCollins Paperback Edition, 1998), p. 25.
6. Ibid.
7. Marcus Borg, “Easter About Life, Not Death” (Washington Post/Newsweek “On Faith” column, April 7, 2004, http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/marcus_borg/2007/04/easter_not_about_death_but_lif.html).
8. John White, (Science of Mind, September 1981), p. 15.

Related:
Emerging Church Leader, Brian McLaren, Teams Up with Interspiritualist Marcus Borg

“Tough Questions” with Dallas Willard . . . and His Contemplative Propensities

Many Christians have heard the name Dallas Willard, a professor of philosophy at University of Southern California and  a prolific speaker and author within the evangelical church for many years. What many may not know is that Dallas Willard is a proponent of contemplative spirituality and emerging theology.

Recently, a Lighthouse Trails reader sent us a link to a 2009 video where John Ortberg is sharing the stage with Dallas Willard in front of a live audience. The session is called “Tough Questions.” We are presenting this video to our readers because we believe it is a case in point of the spiritual outlook of the contemplative’s life. That may seem like a strong statement to say about Dallas Willard, but when you hear him answer questions like “Is Jesus God?,” we think you will understand why we have said this. The “fruit” of contemplative prayer, in time, moves the practitioner further and further away from biblical Christianity.

In 1995, Dallas Willard was identified with Richard Foster and the “Spiritual Formation” (i.e., contemplative prayer/”spiritual disciplines”) movement by Rick Warren in Warren’s first book, The Purpose Driven Church where Warren said that the Spiritual Formation movement was a “valid message” and a “wake up call” to the church (p. 127). In 2005, Willard worked with Richard Foster to promote the very troubling Renovare Spiritual Formation Study Bible. Over the past several years, Willard has spoken frequently at Renovare (Foster’s organization) events. Their comradeship is clearly marked and continues that way today. The point being is that Willard resonates with Spiritual Formation and Richard Foster. That is a point that has at times been questioned, but the answer is very evident if one studies the history of Dallas Willard. And realizing the true nature of what is being called “Spiritual Formation,” that if one practices certain “disciplines” one can become more “Christ-like” regardless of being born again or not, the seriousness of the situation becomes evident. Being born again is not a criteria as far as the contemplative goes, even though Scripture is absolutely clear, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).

To understand a bit more fully what contemplatives typically believe as far as the authority of Scripture, it would be good to read something about one of the editors, Walter Brueggemann, of the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible. Here you can see how the contemplative believes that Scripture is not “fixed” or set in stone but is ever changing. For Foster and Willard to include Brueggemann as a main editor in that “Bible” project speaks volumes.

That said, we have had readers contact us and say, “We know Richard Foster is a contemplative, but isn’t Dallas Willard ok? He isn’t contemplative is he?” The answer to that, which can be proven by the mystics who Willard has endorsed and promoted consistently for many years, is a resounding yes. For instance, at Fuller Seminary, Willard has taught a Spirituality and Ministry course where recommended reading includes Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, and Richard Foster. On Willard’s own website, he has been listing, under recommended reading, the names of numerous contemplative mystic advocates and teachers such as Jan Johnson, Ignatius of Loyola, Henri Nouwen,  Madame Guyon, Teresa of Avila, and Evelyn Underhill. These names have been on his website for years and are there today.

Dallas Willard has endorsed the covers of books by authors such as Ruth Haley Barton (trained at the Shalem Institute, a learning center that has strong universalistic propensities, in her book Invitation to Silence and Solitude. Willard’s own books are endorsed by people such as goddess worshiper Sue Monk Kidd. He co-authored a book with contemplative Jan Johnson. In his own book, Spirit of the Disciplines (a very popular book in evangelical circles), he favorably quotes mystic monk Thomas Merton, Agnes Sanford, and George Fox.

In addition to many books where he has been clearly connected to  contemplatives, he has sat on the board of the contemplative, now emerging, Allelon for a number of years with Leonard Sweet, Richard Foster, Brian McLaren, and Eugene Peterson. 1

With this introduction, showing Willard’s obvious embracing of those in the mystical contemplative camp, please watch the following video with discernment: http://mppc.org/toughquestions


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