The following two links are for for research purposes only and not an endorsement of these sources.

Thomas Merton and the Desert Fathers

Read what New Agers say about the Desert Fathers:

"At the heart of Christianity's monastic, contemplative, and mystical traditions lives the spirit of a fourth-century band of Christian renunciates known today as the Desert Fathers."
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Other Mystics

Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tracts

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The Desert Fathers - Bringing Mysticism to Today's Church 

Who Were the Desert Fathers

"In the early Middle Ages, there lived a group of hermits in the wilderness areas of the Middle East. They were known to history as the desert fathers.

"They dwelt in small isolated communities for the purpose of devoting their lives completely to God without distraction. The contemplative movement traces its roots back to these monks. They were the ones who first promoted the mantra as a prayer tool.

"One meditation scholar made this connection when he said: 'The meditation practices and rules for living of these earliest Christian monks bear strong similarity to those of their Hindu and Buddhist renunciate brethren several kingdoms to the East ... the meditative techniques they adopted for finding their God suggest either a borrowing from the East or a spontaneous rediscovery.'" From A Time of Departing, p. 42, 2nd ed. (Ray Yungen)


 

 

Borrowing From the East
The meditation practices and rules for living of these earliest Christian monks bear strong similarity to those of their Hindu and Buddhist renunciate brethren several kingdoms to the east. While Jesus and his teachings were their inspiration, the meditative techniques they adopted for finding their God suggest either a borrowing from the East or a spontaneous rediscovery. The ways of the Desert Fathers influence Christian monasticism to this day.

"The desert fathers believed as long as the desire for God was sincere--anything could be utilized to reach God. If a method worked for the Hindus to reach their gods, then Christian mantras could be used to reach Jesus ." ATOD , p. 43, 2nd ed.


"In many ways the desert fathers were like Cain--eager to please but not willing to listen to the instruction of the Lord and do what is right. One cannot fault them for their devotion, but one certainly can for their lack of discernment." ATOD, p. 44, 2nd ed.


"If one could draw a spiritual tree of both [Brennan] Manning's and [Richard] Foster's mystical heritage it would look like this: from India to Alexandria, to the desert fathers, to Thomas Merton to them; and now, through them and others like them to you. What it should look like is: from the triune God to His holy prophets and apostles to you." ATOD, p. 89, 2nd ed.

 

"O house of Jacob, come and let us walk In the light of the LORD. For You have forsaken Your people, the house of Jacob, Because they are filled with eastern ways; They are soothsayers like the Philistines, And they are pleased with the children of foreigners. Their land is also full of silver and gold, And there is no end to their treasures; Their land is also full of horses, And there is no end to their chariots. Their land is also full of idols; They worship the work of their own hands, That which their own fingers have made. People bow down, And each man humbles himself." Isaiah 2: 5-6


 

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Contemplative Spirituality: A belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology. The premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all). Common terms used for this movement are "spiritual formation," "the silence," "the stillness," "ancient-wisdom," "spiritual disciplines," and many others.

Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation movement.