Letter to the Editor: Left Standing Alone After Challenging Pastor Over C&MA Emergent Teachings

To Lighthouse Trails:

In March 2015, we were at a small Calvary Chapel in ________________. Our pastor needed to relocate so we were without a regular pastor for many months.

Since we were unable to find a satisfactory Calvary Chapel pastor, we were extremely anxious as to what our next step should be. Someone knew of a C&MA [Christian & Missionary Alliance] District Superintendent who mentioned he could come talk to us as a congregation. When he came, he was extremely nice and personable and exuded confidence and kindness.

We were all extremely excited, and when we looked at their statement of beliefs we were relieved to find they were very close to Calvary Chapels. They soon provided us with a temporary pastor who would take over our congregation until we could be matched with the perfect pastor.

I had been attending this church for over four years and teaching a women’s Bible study for about three years. At different times during the Bible study, I taught on the emergent church and showed videos such as Wide is the Gate 1, 2, and 3 on the dangers of these emergent teachings. A lot of the women alienated themselves from me because I criticized Beth Moore and her teachings and Priscilla Shirer.

At some point, I began to see, through Lighthouse Trails, a few things on the Alliance and its ties with the emergent church and spiritual formation. As I really began to dig, I was horrified. I called four C&MA seminaries to ask them if they offered classes on Spiritual Formation. I was told very enthusiastically, yes they offered many classes in Spiritual Formation. When I called Simpson University, I was even told that if I wanted to dig deeper into that sort of thing, they recommended Bill Johnson’s [Bethel Church] School of the Supernatural.

I approached our three elders with all this information: two of the elders were very dismissive, saying I was just reading “ranting blogs” and that they knew C&MA to be a very reputable denomination. One elder and about four of the women were very interested and seem to be quite alarmed. They did their own research and agreed it was a scary situation.

Then this past Saturday, we all met in one of the women’s houses including the one elder and had a two-hour meeting discussing the situation and that something needed to change, that maybe we should develop a home church or at least take back our church.

Sunday came around and our new pastor called a meeting of our transition board, which mostly consists of myself and the other eight or nine people I had told. He had been informed that I had some problems with the Alliance and the emergent church, so he focused on me and was very kind and very nice and asked me what the problem was. When I told him what I had read, he said that the emergent church was very evil and that Alliance was aware of it and they were fighting it. When I asked him why they were teaching Spiritual Formation in their colleges and seminaries, he said they were educating students about the dangers of it. He then mentioned someone that he was friends with named Timothy Keller. I asked him did he think Timothy Keller was a good teacher and a good pastor, and he said absolutely. I then asked him how he could say that when Pastor Keller was bringing in the emergent church full blown into his Presbyterian Church?

Our new pastor then told me that the best way to fight these kind of things was to be relevant to the culture and to bring all these things in to the church and let the false teachers teach alongside the true teachers of the Gospel and that the Gospel would prevail. He said in a place like New York where Timothy Keller pastors, you have to be relevant to the population; and teaching things like yoga, contemplative prayer, and lectio divina was necessary to bring people in, and then you could present the Gospel, and they would be saved. When I told him that was not biblical that we were told to flee from false teachers and have nothing to do with them, he told me that was my interpretation of the Bible.

The new pastor then told me I was needed in the congregation because I had such an acute sense of discernment that he needed me in the church, Yeah Right! I told him I was sorry that with the name Alliance over the front door, I couldn’t, in good conscience, attend the church. His whole demeanor changed like a mask came over his face, and he said “OK, then I will be addressing your women’s Bible study Wednesday.” When I asked him why, he said, “I don’t want these women just left and abandoned. I told him I would be there Wednesday to say goodbye to finish the class. He then looked at me since I had stood up and looked around at the other people who were there and said, “we have things to discuss—you can go now.” I said OK and I left.

Even though all those people in that living room meeting 28 hours earlier had been against him, by the time he was done talking, they were all either neutral or on his side. Not one person said a word in defense of what I was saying.

Catholic priest and mysticism teacher Richard Rohr, Buddhist leader Roshi Joan Halifax (pictured with the Dalai Lama), and Jewish Kabbalists Eve Ilsen, and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Catholic priest and mysticism teacher Richard Rohr, Buddhist leader Roshi Joan Halifax (pictured with the Dalai Lama), and Jewish Kabbalists Eve Ilsen, and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

All last night, I was disturbed. I was sad, and I felt lonely. Had I done the wrong thing? Was I sure this was what God wanted? I know that sounds silly looking at it from the outside, but it’s just the way it played out in my head. When I tried to call a couple of those people, they didn’t even want to talk to me. And then, I just happened to get in the mail a booklet from Lighthouse Trails that I had ordered about a week earlier called A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer. I knew a lot of the information from previous researching, except where it mentioned Richard Rohr. It rang a bell, so I Googled his name with C&MA. I came up with so much information, and after reading that booklet, it was like the blinds fell off my eyes again. With a rush of relief, I suddenly knew I had done the right thing.

Thank you Lighthouse Trails for being there for the people like us that feel like a speck of sand on a huge beach trying to get our message out to the rest of the sand.

God bless you and again thank you, thank you, thank you.

Rachel G.

Information on Richard Rohr:

YouTube video: Richard Rohr on the Cosmic Christ

List of Contemplative Colleges and Seminaries

Excerpt on Richard Rohr from Ray Yungen’s book on Richard Foster:

Richard Rohr
Without a doubt, Catholic priest Richard Rohr is one of the most prominent living proponents of contemplative prayer today. His organization, The Center for Contemplation and Action, is a bastion for contemplative spirituality. And like our other contemplative prayer “school” masters, he has been embraced by numerous popular evangelical authors. Richard Foster, for example, had Rohr on an advisory board for a 2010 book Foster edited titled 25 Books Every Christian Should Read: A Guide to the Essential Devotional Classics.22

Rohr has essentially become the new Thomas Merton to an entirely new generation of evangelical Christians. In an interview, Rohr said:

[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.23

Rohr’s statement is correct about young evangelicals. A case in point is an organization called IF: Gathering. The leaders of IF are dynamic energetic women who hold large conferences geared primarily toward young evangelical women. While these women may be sincere in what they are trying to do, they promote figures such as emergent leaders Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, as well as Richard Rohr. Lighthouse Trails has published a booklet on IF that I encourage you to read to understand the full scope of this growing women’s movement.24

To further understand the significance of this, Rohr is a prominent champion for the idea of a global religion that would unify the world. He says that “religion needs a new language.”25 And that language to bring about this one-world religion is mysticism (i.e., contemplative prayer)! Rohr stated:

Right now there is an emergence . . . it’s coming from so many different traditions and sources and parts of the world. Maybe it’s an example of the globalization of spirituality.26

This view ties in perfectly with the emerging church’s perspective that is so popular among younger evangelicals today. It’s no wonder that Richard Rohr and emerging church leaders (such as Brian McLaren) are so supportive of each other and endorse each other’s books.

In echoing Merton and Nouwen, Rohr also advocates the concept of dharmakaya. This is the recurring theme of the “school” of contemplative prayer. Rohr states:

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.27

To dispel any confusion about what Rohr is saying, he makes it clear in the same paragraph what he means by God dwelling in all creation. He uses a term that one finds throughout contemplative literature, which signifies that Christ is more of an energy than a personal being. Rohr explains the term “cosmic Christ,” telling readers that everything and everyone belongs to God’s kingdom.28 That’s even the name of one of his books, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer.

In his 2011 book, Falling Upward, Rohr implies that we (humanity) are all an “immaculate conception.”29 If these things are true, then there was no need for Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for the sins of mankind. We would not need a Savior because we would already be divine ourselves. In truth, contemplative spirituality is the antithesis of the Gospel. That is why there are countless mystics who claim to know God (or Jesus) but will have nothing to do with the Cross. (for footnotes and source, click here)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Be Still and Know That YOU Are God? Is That Really What Scripture Says?

By Warren B. Smith
Ironically, Psalm 46:10 (“Be Still and Know” . . . )  was the founding credo of the pioneering New Age community of Findhorn in Scotland. Co-founder Eileen Caddy distinctly heard the words “Be still and know that I am God” in a meditation, and as a result, Findhorn was founded on this Bible verse. She describes her “Be still” experience:

Yes, we were like children then, and God was still somewhat like the Father, separate and above us, reaching down to help. But gradually I have come to understand what it means to find that same God within myself. . . .

The first time I heard this voice was in 1953, when Peter and I were visiting Glastonbury, a center of spiritual power in England. I was sitting in the stillness of a small private sanctuary there, when I heard a voice—a very clear voice—within me. I had never experienced anything like that before. It simply said, Be still and know that I am God. What is this? I thought. Am I going mad? I had been brought up in the Church of England and learned in Sunday school about the “still small voice within”—but when you actually hear a voice, it’s a different matter. I was really quite shocked, because it was so clear.1

Eileen Caddy

Eileen Caddy

“God” later told her:

What greater or more wonderful relationship could man ask for than the knowledge that he is truly one with Me, and that I am in you and you are in Me.2

She wrote:

Accepting the reality of this oneness came slowly. In fact, at first I felt it was audacious even to speak of such a thing. Yet I couldn’t deny my experience. I know that God is within each one of us, within everything. I feel that the Church teaches about the God outside of us, but that’s the same God as the one within. You can call him by different names if you like, but there’s only one God.3

Misuse of Psalm 46:10
Eileen Caddy’s New Age understanding of the “God within” and “oneness” started with an inner voice that told her “Be still and know that I am God.” Like Caddy, so many people who have been raised in today’s church have been similarly deceived into believing that the “be still” verse from Psalm 46:10 is God’s heavenly instruction to enter into solitude and silence so they can hear His voice. Ironically, the real meaning of this verse has nothing to do with sitting in silence, practicing the presence, or any meditative practice. Undiscerning church leaders have misappropriated Psalm 46:10 to justify contemplative prayer. They now use this verse to incubate a “conversation with God.”

Trusted Bible commentaries and discerning pastors teach that the command in Psalm 46:10—“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth”—is a call to faith and obedience, not to contemplative prayer. Matthew Henry’s respected Bible commentary presents a more accurate exposition of this verse:

Let his enemies be still, and threaten no more, but know it, to their terror, that he is God, one infinitely above them . . . he will be exalted among the heathen and not merely among his own people, he will be exalted in the earth and not merely in the church. . . . Let his own people be still; let them be calm and sedate, and tremble no more, but know, to their comfort, that the Lord is God, he is God alone, and will be exalted above the heathen. 4

Using Psalm 46:10 as a call to practice contemplative prayer is completely contrary to the intent of this passage of Scripture. However, this is what is being advocated in the New Age/New Spirituality, the emerging church, God Calling, and Jesus Calling. In fact, the “Jesus” of Jesus Calling falsely teaches that Psalm 46:10 was given as a command to “sit quietly” in his presence:

The world has changed enormously since I first gave the command to be still and know that I am God. However, this timeless truth is essential for the well-being of your soul. As dew refreshes grass and flowers during the stillness of the night, so My Presence revitalizes you as you sit quietly with Me.5

Sarah Young also states in her “Introduction” to Jesus Calling:

A life-changing verse has been “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Alternate readings for “Be still” are “Relax,” “Let go,” and “Cease striving” (NASB). This is an enticing invitation from God to lay down our cares and seek His Presence. I believe that God yearns for these quiet moments with us even more than we do. . . .

This practice of listening to God has increased my intimacy with Him more than any other spiritual discipline, so I want to share some of the messages I have received.6

This “enticing invitation” does not come from God. Her interpretation misses the real meaning of the verse and is actually more consistent with the New Age twisting of this verse. God definitely meets us in our prayer times as well as when we think on Scripture, but Psalm 46:10 is not an invitation to be still and listen for God’s voice. Rather, God is calling Israel into an attitude of quiet faith and rest in which His people will trust that no matter how perilous the times, He is working out His plan among the nations. Everybody is to literally be still, know He is God, and know that He will be exalted among the nations and in the earth.

Sarah Young followed up her erroneous teaching on Psalm 46:10 by stating that “God yearns for these quiet moments with us even more than we do.” This is reminiscent of the “I need you more than you need Me”7 statement that was uttered by the “Jesus” in God Calling. Nothing in Scripture substantiates either one of these statements. And there is nothing in Scripture about being still and sitting with pen in hand waiting to hear from God while practicing the presence and doing contemplative prayer.

Biblical Meditation
Biblical meditation is different. We are to meditate on—think on—His Word, His precepts, His laws, His attributes, His statutes, His testimonies, and His works.

Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. (Psalm 119:148)

But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Psalm 1:2)

I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. (Psalm 119:99)

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands. (Psalm 143:5)

The article above is from Warren B. Smith’s new book, “Another Jesus” Calling (2013, LT). Also read his article/booklet: Be Still and Know That You are Not God.

Endnotes:
1. The Findhorn Community, The Findhorn Garden: Pioneering a New Vision of Man and Nature in Cooperation (New York, NY: Harper & Row Publishers, 1975), p. 36.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid., pp. 36-37.
4. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1991), p. 810.
5. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004),, p. 258.
6. Ibid., p. XIII.
7. Edited by A. J. Russell, God Calling (Grand Rapids, MI: A Spire Book published by Jove Publications Inc., for Fleming H. Revell, 2005), p. 60.

 

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NEW BOOKLET TRACT: REJOICING THROUGH IT ALL—What Scripture Tells Us

REJOICING THROUGH IT ALL—What Scripture Tells Us by Warren B. Smith s is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 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 booklet. To order copies of REJOICING THROUGH IT ALL—What Scripture Tells Us, click here.

REJOICING THROUGH IT ALL—What Scripture Tells Us

rp_BKT-REJOICE-lg.jpgBy Warren B. Smith
As challenging as it may seem at times, God’s Word tells us to rejoice always (Philippians 4:4) and evermore (1Thessalonians 5:16). The various Hebrew and Greek words for rejoicing range in meaning from calmly happy to exceedingly glad and jumping for joy. The Bible reminds us that God’s people should be a “happy” people because our God is the Lord (Psalm 144:15). We know that “though our outward man perish” yet our “inward man is renewed day by day. Therefore, we rejoice and give thanks for the “abundant grace” so mercifully bestowed upon us by God our Savior.

Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:14-16)

Why do We Rejoice?

The old revered hymn Count Your Blessings reminds us that even in our darkest moments we are to rejoice and count our many blessings:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

There are so many blessings and so many reasons why we should rejoice always and evermore. Here are just a few:

Jesus Christ Came into the World to be Our Savior
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)

His Name is Above All Names
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

All Things were Created by Him
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3)

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1:16-17)

Jesus is the Propitiation for Our Sins
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:12-14)

He Defeated Sin and Satan and Death on the Cross of Calvary
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. (Hebrews 2:14)

He Has Given Us the Victory
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15)

We Are Saved Because of Him
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)

We Have Been Saved by His Grace Alone
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

We Are the Children of God Through Faith in Him
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26)

We Have Peace with God Through Him
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

He Gave Us His Life
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:16)

He Gave Us His Word
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

He Has Given Us the Gift of Everlasting Life
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

How do We Rejoice?

We Rejoice for this Day
This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

We Rejoice in God’s Salvation
We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners. (Psalm 20:5)

And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation. (Isaiah 25:9)

Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:4-6)

The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous. (Psalm 118:15)

We Rejoice that God has Clothed Us with the Garments of Salvation
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)

We Rejoice in Christ Jesus
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (Philippians 3:3)

We Rejoice in His Name
For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. (Psalm 33:21)

In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted. (Psalm 89:16)

We Rejoice and Sing Praise to His Name
I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. (Psalm 9:2)

Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him. (Psalm 68:4)

We Rejoice as We Seek the Lord
Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified. (Psalm 40:16)

We Rejoice in Suffering for His Name
And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. (Acts 5:41)

We Rejoice in God’s Word
I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil. (Psalm 119:162)

We Rejoice in His Testimonies
I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. (Psalm 119:14)

We Rejoice in His Statutes
The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. (Psalm 19:8)

We Rejoice in the Truth
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. (1 Corinthians 13:6)

We Rejoice When Others Walk in Truth
I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth as we have received a commandment from the Father. (2 John 1:4)

We Rejoice Even in Heaviness
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations. (1 Peter 1-6)

We Rejoice Even in Sorrow
As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. (2 Corinthians 6:10)

We Rejoice When We Partake in Christ’s Sufferings
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. (1 Peter 4:12-14)

We Rejoice Even Though We Don’t See Him
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. (1 Peter 1:7-8)

We Rejoice in God’s Mercy
I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities. (Psalm 31:7)

We Rejoice With Trembling
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. (Psalm 2:11)

We Rejoice But Remain Alert for Evil Workers
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers. (Philippians 3:1-2)

We Rejoice Because God is Our Help
Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. (Psalm 63:7)

We Rejoice Because We Trust in the Lord and He Defends Us
But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them. (Psalm 5:11)

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. (Psalm 28:7)

We Rejoice in the Lord Always
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)

We Rejoice but We do not Forget the Days of Darkness
But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 11:8)

We Rejoice When We are Hated and Reproached
Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23)

We Rejoice When We are Persecuted
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)

We Rejoice When There Seems Little to Rejoice About
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

We Rejoice Before God
But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. (Psalm 68:3)

We Rejoice When the Righteous are in Authority
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. (Proverbs 29:2)

We Rejoice and Make a Joyful Noise
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. (Psalm 98:4)

We Rejoice in Hope
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer…(Romans 12:12)

We Rejoice When We are Revived
Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? (Psalm 85:6)

We Rejoice in the Lord and Shout for Joy
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. (Psalm 32:11)

We Rejoice With Them that Rejoice And Weep With Them that Weep
Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. (Romans 12:15)

We Rejoice After Sowing in Tears
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. (Psalm 126:6)

We Rejoice Because Jesus Went to the Father
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. (John 14:27-28)

We Rejoice and We Suffer With the Body of Christ
And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. (1 Corinthians 12:26)

We Rejoice When Christ is Preached
What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. (Philippians 1:18)

We Rejoice in Every Good Thing the Lord Gives Us
And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee. (Deuteronomy 26:11)

We Rejoice and Give Thanks for His Holiness
Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. (Psalm 97:12)

We Declare His Works With Rejoicing
Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing. (Psalm 107:21-22)

We Rejoice that Our Names are Written in Heaven
Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20)

We Rejoice in the Day of Christ
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. (Philippians 2:14-16)

We Rejoice in the New Heavens, the New Earth, and the New Jerusalem
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. (Isaiah 65:17-19)

We Rejoice Right to the End
But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Hebrews 3:6)

We Rejoice Evermore
Rejoice evermore. (1Thessalonians 5:16)

Beware of False Rejoicing

While Scripture tells us to rejoice in the Lord always and evermore, we are not to rejoice in things that are not from God. In today’s church, false teachers, false teachings, and false Christs abound. Godly rejoicing is based on a true relationship with our true Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. True rejoicing is the inward and outward expression of the Holy Spirit within us. We rejoice that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8-10). Godly rejoicing takes place in all circumstances—no matter what. It says in spite of everything, the Lord is with us and “it is well with my soul.” However, the city of Nineveh is a classic example of ungodly false rejoicing:

This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand. (Zephaniah 2:15)

The Bible warns us that we can be “zealously” affected by things that are not of God (Galatians 4:17). As with Nineveh, Israel’s ungodly false rejoicing also led to severe consequences:

Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it. (Isaiah 5:13-14)

In Revelation 3:1, Jesus underscored how the church in Sardis had a reputation for being spiritually “alive,” when in reality, it was spiritually “dead.”

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. (Revelation 3:1)

Let us not be deceived. Jesus warned that worldwide deception—not worldwide rejoicing and worldwide revival—would be the chief sign at the end of time (Matthew 24:3-5). While New Age teachers proclaim the coming of a great “Global Spiritual Awakening” and a “Planetary Pentecost,” deceived Christian leaders similarly proclaim the coming of a great “Global Spiritual Awakening” and a “Second Pentecost.” However, the Bible warns of global deception, the coming of Antichrist, and a planetary holocaust.

There is no legitimate worldwide revival poised on the threshold ready to break forth. What we are told in Scripture—if we choose to believe it—is that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse.” Yet, in spite of it all—and through it all—we are to rejoice in our Lord God who has mercifully warned us that these events will definitely transpire. His warnings are not intended to frighten or intimidate us, but to prepare us for what lies ahead. We are to continue in our faith and in the things of which we have learned and been assured. The apostle Paul states:

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. (2 Timothy 3:10-14)

True Rejoicing

People involved in true rejoicing expose false teachers rather than joining forces with them. They reprove spiritual deception rather than becoming a part of it. People involved in true rejoicing fear God, keep His Word, and do not look for signs and wonders or get involved in false rejoicing or revival. They “rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth.” They celebrate the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. People involved in true rejoicing endeavor to rejoice always and evermore.

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The LORD reigneth. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein. Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because he cometh to judge the earth. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. (1 Chronicles 16:31-34)

To order copies of REJOICING THROUGH IT ALL—What Scripture Tells Us, click here.

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Letter to Editor: Rick Warren Speaks in Philadelphia at Catholics’ World Meeting of Families on Sept. 25

 

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

Rick Warren gave the final keynote address of the World Meeting of Families conference on Sept.25th. Rick Warren told the crowd: “Thank you for caring about the family” and quoted Pope Francis as saying that “the family is under threat.” The World Meeting of Families conference is held every 3 years and is the world’s largest Catholic gathering of families.

A photo of rosary beads from the World Meeting of Families store

Warren went on to say that he was inspired as a teen by the late Catholic Bishop Fulton Sheen. That was not surprising given Rick Warren’s past proven propensity to affiliate with and endorse Catholic leaders, as Lighthouse trails has well documented over the past years. See link: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com)/blog/?s=rick+warren+catholic

The most disconcerting fact though is what Cardinal O’Malley said about Rick Warren:

“It’s important that Rick Warren is here . . . this is a witness of unity that’s important in today’s world, as we strive to proclaim the gospel of life: the need to protect every human being from the first moment of conception until natural death, to defend the family as a sanctuary of life, and family as a sacred calling described on the first pages of the Bible. . . . It’s a great consolation to share this stage with a fellow Christian who is truly committed to preaching the Gospel” (emphasis added).

First of all, aren’t we to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1; 1 Cor.9:12)? Where is this “gospel of life” even referred to in the Bible? Yes, God loves families, and yes, of course God cares about every human life and grieves over abortions, and yes, God desires for families to be healthy spiritually; but as biblical Christians, we unify around the Gospel of Jesus Christ and sound doctrine, not the “gospel of life” (whatever that is) or “defending families.” If we unify around the “gospel of life” and “defending families,”  then we can join spiritual hands with Catholics, Mormons, and even an atheist who is against abortion, and for healthy family units . . . even if they don’t believe in the biblical Bospel (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-8). What we are witnessing with Rick Warren and other Christians joining together with Catholics in the name of God under a false gospel is not biblical unity.

See article link:

http://www.christianpost.com/news/evangelical-pastor-rick-warren-speaks-at-catholics-world-meeting-of-families-146225/

In Christ,

Concerned in California

 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-10)

Related Information:

To get a better idea of what the Catholic Church believes in, visit the the “Spirituality Center” of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia: click here.

The New Evangelization From Rome Or Finding the True Jesus Christ by Roger Oakland

The Conversion of Protestants to Catholicism Through the Eucharist by Roger Oakland

 

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WorldNetDaily: “Obama Administration Enables ‘Boy Play'” – Child Molestation Overlooked by U.S. Government

221599_lBy Matt Barber
WorldNetDaily

God help us. Here’s what America’s newly homosexualized, “values neutral” military looks like.

Last week, in a strange fit of actual news reporting, the New York Times published an exposé revealing that, under this Obama administration, the Department of Defense is not only permitting the homosexual abuse of little boys at the hands of Muslim allies in Afghanistan, but is effectively facilitating it. A handful of U.S. servicemen have had enough and are courageously blowing the whistle on this unimaginably evil policy. Naturally, they’re being punished and drummed out of the service for doing so.

“Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population,” reports the Times. “The practice is called bacha bazi, literally ‘boy play,’ and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene – in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records. …”

“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father, Gregory Buckley Sr., who recounted his conversation with the Times. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture,” Buckley added.

Isn’t multiculturalism peachy? Click here to continue reading.
Related Information:

The Color of Pain: Boys who are sexually abused and the men they become by Greg Reid

Seducers Among Our Children by Investigative Sergeant Patrick Crough

Powerful Radio Interview: Jan Markell Interviews Patrick Crough – Children Who Fall Victim to Sexual Predators & the Story of One Boy

A Commentary On The Acceptance Of Evil… by Bill Randles

 

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Letter to the Editor: Pope Francis Points to the “Contemplative” “Thomas Merton” in Speech to Congress . . . And the Role This Could Play in a One-World Religion

merton

Thomas Merton

LTRP Note: On the morning of September 24th, Lighthouse Trails posted an article by Ray Yungen titled “Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion”  “Coincidentally,” one hour later, Lighthouse Trails was contacted and told that the Catholic Church’s Jesuit Pope Francis  talked about Thomas Merton (using the term contemplative to describe him) when he addressed Congress. Shortly later, Lighthouse Trails received this letter to the editor below.

The fact that Pope Francis referred to Merton (and his “contemplative style”) when talking to Congress and our nation is probably one of the heaviest things we have encountered since beginning Lighthouse Trails 13 years ago. We have suspected but now believe that Pope Francis has the capability of orchestrating a one-world religion. As one Merton scholar explained: “The God [Merton] knew in prayer was the same experience that Buddhists describe in their enlightenment.”1 In other words, Merton found Buddhist enlightenment in contemplative prayer.2 Merton’s view that God was in every person is summed up in this statement:

During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: “How can we best help people 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.”3

This is panentheism Merton is describing above. We took the quote from one of Brennan Manning’s books. Remember the booklet we just released earlier this week about Beth Moore and her contemplative propensities where we quoted her saying that Brennan Manning’s contribution to “our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel.”4 But Manning resonates with Merton!  Please see what is happening here. It was no coincidence that we just released Ray Yungen’s booklet on Richard Foster and John Lanagan’s booklet on Beth Moore (both showing the interspiritual “fruit” of contemplative prayer), and then posting the article on the Catholic Church’s Expansion this morning. We did not know the pope was going to be exalting Thomas Merton today. Surely, God is trying to send out a warning. We just fear that few will hear it.

In Yungen’s booklet on Foster, he presents some new information about Merton that we never had before. It’s vital, especially now that the pope has used Merton as an example of who the American people are (please read an excerpt from Yungen’s booklet below the letter to the editor to better understand what we are trying to say).

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I am writing to you today hoping to pass some information onto Ray Yungen.

Today, I was led by the Lord to watch Pope Francis’ speech to Congress, I was curious as to what “interesting” things he was going to have to say. As I was watching the speech I heard him mention “Thomas Merton” which caught me off guard. I remember Ray and Warren Smith talking about him and how much he has been influenced by the New Age Movement. In his speech, he mentioned how “Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between people and religions.” He also said “Thomas Merton had the capacity for dialogue and openness to God” [contemplative]. He mentioned three other people in his speech, one of them being Dorothy Day [a radical feminist, social activist, and journalist], saying that these four people,4 including Thomas Merton, are “four representatives of the American people.”

After watching the speech, I felt I needed to pass this information onto Warren Smith, so I e-mailed him; I’m hoping he gets the e-mail. I really feel that this is just another connection of how the New Spirituality/Contemplative Prayer is invading the Body of Christ, and this nation!

After I e-mailed Warren, I was led to Lighthouse Trails Research website to try and see if there was any other contact information there. As I was there, I looked at the “blog” section page. To my absolute surprise, I saw an article written by Ray Yungen called “Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion.” It was posted on the EXACT same day as the Pope speaking to Congress. And what is one of the things the Pope talks about in his speech to congress? Thomas Merton!

Here is the actual video of his speech at Congress:
http://youtu.be/4rKi6ctW46A

Here is the written transcript of the speech:
http://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/pope-francis-speech-to-congress-transcript-text-video-214016.

I hope that you will be able to pass this information onto Ray, and hopefully even Warren Smith as well! It’s just more information that can be used to connect the dots.

Endnotes:

  1. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free (New York, NY: Continuum Publishing , 1996), p. 76.
  2. Explained byhttp://www.atimeofdeparting.com Ray Yungen in A Time of Departing.
  3. Brennan Manning,  The Signature of Jesus, p. 211,citing Merton’s biographer, William Shannon
  4. The other two were Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Excerpt from Ray Yungen’s booklet, A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer
Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk, is the most widely recognized of the modern-day contemplative writers. His influence is enormous in the contemplative field. Richard Foster quotes Merton over a dozen times in Celebration of Discipline and in other books as well, and many other evangelicals also quote Merton. The following entry from Merton’s published work, The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (written during his last trip to Asia*) speaks volumes as to Merton’s spiritual sympathies:

We went looking first for Chatral Rimpoche [a Tibetan holy man] at his hermitage above Ghoom. . . . We were told he was at an ani gompa, a nunnery, down the road. . . . So off we went toward Bagdogra and with some difficulty found the tiny nunnery . . . and there was Chatral, the greatest rimpoche [a Buddhist teacher] I have met so far and a very impressive person.

. . . We started talking about dzogchen and Nyingmapa meditation and “direct realization” and soon saw that we agreed very well. . . . The unspoken or half-spoken message of the talk was our complete understanding of each other as people who were somehow on the edge of great realization . . . and that it was a grace for us to meet one another. I wish I could see more of Chatral. He burst out and called me a rangjung Sangay (which apparently means a “natural Buddha”) . . . He told me, seriously, that perhaps he and I would attain to complete Buddhahood in our next lives, perhaps even in this life, and the parting note was a kind of compact that we would both do our best to make it in this life. I was profoundly moved, because he is so obviously a great man, the true practitioner of dzogchen, the best of the Nyingmapa lamas, marked by complete simplicity and freedom. He was surprised at getting on so well with a Christian and at one point laughed and said, “There must be something wrong here!” If I were going to settle down with a Tibetan guru, I think Chatral would be the one I’d choose.5 (emphasis added)

An equally revealing aspect of Merton’s Asian trip is what he experienced at a Buddhist shrine in Ceylon:

. . . an inner clearness, clarity, as if exploding from the rocks themselves, became evident and obvious. . . . All problems are resolved and everything is clear, simply because what matters is clear. The rock, all matter, all life, is charged with dharmakaya [the unity of all things and all people]. . . I don’t know when in my life I have ever had such a sense of beauty and spiritual validity running together in one aesthetic illumination. Surely . . . my Asian pilgrimage has come clear and purified itself. I . . . have seen what I was obscurely looking for. I don’t know what else remains.6 (emphasis added)

Why would someone who was so heavily involved in “Christian” mysticism be so entwined in and enthusiastically embracing of Buddhist mysticism? I considered titling this booklet Something’s Wrong Here because even though Chatral meant it in a positive way, when he said those words to Merton, he himself was shocked that Merton, a professing Christian, was basically on the same page as him and that they were able to fellowship.

One of Merton’s biographers, William Shannon, made this very clear when he explained:

If one wants to understand Merton’s going to the East it is important to understand that it was his rootedness in his own faith tradition [Catholicism] that gave him the spiritual equipment [contemplative prayer] he needed to grasp the way of wisdom that is proper to the East.7

What Merton meant by “dharmakaya” is actually what the New Age and eastern religions call cosmic consciousness (i.e., God is in everything and everybody.) But Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline, guarantees the reader that what he’s promoting will not lead to cosmic consciousness. He states, “It involves no hidden mysteries, no secret mantras, no mental gymnastics, no esoteric flights into the cosmic consciousness.”8 (An excerpt from Ray Yungen’s booklet, A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer)

 

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“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.

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