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September 26, 2006 
 Coming From the Lighthouse Newsletter
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"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!'
"But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, 'LORD, who has believed our report?' So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:14-16
David Jeremiah Proposes "Major Paradigm Shift" For His Church
 The Shadow Mountain pastor draws from Erwin McManus' book, The Barbarian

If you attended Shadow Mountain Community Church on September 17th, then according to an email we received, you would have heard the second part of Pastor David Jeremiah's series called Journey with Jesus. But the title of this series is a bit misleading - Jeremiah isn't just talking about Jesus; he is discussing a book called The Barbarian Way. The book is written by Erwin McManus, who is pastor of Mosaic Church in California. In the email we received from Jeremiah, he stated:

This weekend, I will be sharing the second message in our Fall Journey With Jesus. The title of the message is "The Manliness of Jesus." I am praying that it will fire you up as much as it has me. It's a major paradigm shift from our normal thoughts about Jesus. This week, I have read a book by Erwin McManus called THE BARBARIAN WAY. In it, he says something that should prepare our hearts for the weekend message.

While the quote from the book is benign, the book is not, and if any mention of the book is made by Jeremiah, it should be one of warning. If you have been following Jeremiah's slip toward what we might call contemplative/emerging Christianity, his promotion of McManus' book probably won't be too surprising. Last year, we mentioned that Jeremiah was going to be speaking at the Lead Like Jesus conference with Ken Blanchard (whose conference it was). Shortly after this airing, Jeremiah pulled out of the conference and then Blanchard canceled the conference all together. Jeremiah then wrote a letter to Lighthouse Trails and made it public. He defended Ken Blanchard who had been and still is promoting the New Age, particularly New Age mysticism. After researching Jeremiah's 2003/2005 book, Life Wide Open, it made a little more sense why he would have no trouble with Blanchard's New Age proclivities. A special report on that book said: David Jeremiah's 2003 book, Life Wide Open, has a subtitle of "Unleashing the Power of a Passionate Life." In the introduction of the book, Jeremiah tells readers that "A Small handful among us have discovered what the rest of us would pay dearly to know: How can we bring real, living excitement into this life?" Jeremiah goes on to tell readers that "This book is a map to the life of passion and purpose, the life wide open..." Who are these small handful of people who have discovered the secret? Well according to Jeremiah's book, his list includes Rick Warren, contemplative, feminine spiritualist Sue Monk Kidd (When the Heart Waits), contemplative Calvin Miller (Into the Depths of God), Buddhist sympathizer Peter Senge (The Fifth Discipline), emerging church leader Erwin McManus, contemplative Michael Card, and Brother Lawrence (Practicing the Presence of God). Click here to read the rest of this article.

 

Assemblies of God: Committed to Spiritual Formation, Contemplative and Emerging
 

According to the Assemblies of God USA mission statement, they are committed "to personal spiritual growth and discipleship," saying "Spiritual formation brings glory to our Creator and Savior and validates our witness to the world. We will use every effective means to spiritually develop believers in our churches and to prepare continuing generations for service." Is this "Spiritual formation" an avenue through which contemplative spirituality and the New Age will enter Assemblies of God, and when the statement says "we will use every effective means," does that mean every means, including mystical prayer practices, rituals and disciplines?

If Assemblies of God Theological Seminary is any indication, then AOG is heading straight towards contemplative spirituality and the emerging church. Earl Creps, director of the Doctor of Ministry program and associate professor at AOGTS, is a heavy proponent of both contemplative and emerging. In his course syllabi over the last five years, Creps has classes with titles such as "Leading the Emerging Church" and "Models of Ministry in the Emerging Church." Syllabus reading materials include those from Henri Nouwen, Brian McLaren, Ken Blanchard, Dan Kimball, Erwin McManus, Sally Morgenthaler, Leonard Sweet. A visit to Creps' "Spiritual Adventures" blog gives a hearty helping of emergent discussion. In one blog, Creps tries to show how there might be a union between Pentecostalism and the emerging church, saying the relationship is "gaining some traction." While Creps ends that discussion with "I am painfully orthodox doctrinally," resources he offers throughout his blogs and websites would paint another picture. Under Apologetics Resources, Creps recommends Leonard Sweet's book, Quantum Spirituality. Listen to Sweet, as he describes the New Light in his book: "I have followed those 'New Light leaders' ... [S]ome of those who led [me] into new light are: ... Matthew Fox, Richard Mouw, Rowan Williams." Others that Leonard Sweet thanks include: Morton Kelsey, M. Scott Peck, Walter Bruggemann, Ken Wilber, Thomas Berry and many other New Age sympathizers. And then:
The first of these five untheorized observations is that New Light embodiment means to be "in connection" and 'information' with other Christians. Deeper feeling and higher relating go together. The church is fundamentally one being, one person, a comm-union whose cells are connected to one another within the information network called the Christ consciousness." —Quantum Spirituality, P. 122
He goes on:

Energy-fire experiences take us into ourselves only that we might reach outside of ourselves. Metanoia is a de-centering experience of connectedness and community. It is not an exercise in reciting what Jesus has done for me lately. Energy-fire ecstasy, more a buzz than a binge, takes us out of ourselves, literally. That is the meaning of the word 'ecstatic.' Quantum Spirituality, P. 93 

Click here to read the rest of this article.

J. P. Moreland on Spiritual Disciplines
 

A four part article on the TrueU (Focus on the Family) website written by J. P. Moreland (professor at Talbot School of Theology), espouses the spiritual disciplines (i.e., contemplative spirituality). Moreland says, a "Christian spiritual discipline is a repeated bodily practice" and leaves one to view the Christian life as regimented rituals that just might eventually make us holy if we practice them enough. Moreland continues: "People are coming to see that repeated bodily practice in the form of spiritual exercises/disciplines is at the heart of spiritual transformation." These spiritual disciplines that Moreland speaks of include journalling, not just writing down our own thoughts but also a channeling of God's thoughts to us. Other disciplines fall into two categories, Disciplines of Abstinence and Disciplines of Engagement. If you are beginning to feel concerned that this kind of language is similar to Catholic rituals, there is just cause for your concerns - Moreland, in talking about silence and solitude says, "In my experience, Catholic retreat centers are usually ideal for solitude retreats." In light of the fact that the modern day contemplative prayer movement began in Catholic monasteries, it is actually not surprising that Moreland would recognize this. As do many contemplatives, Moreland tells readers that even though what he is saying may "sound" like it is from a "New Age guru," it really isn't. And using Psalm 46:10 (frequently used by contemplatives) as his scriptural basis for practicing silence, Moreland says that terms like meditation, solitude and being still are "common to both Christianity and the New Age (or many Eastern religions)," but insists their meanings are different. Moreland is vague about the techniques to enter these states of silence but admits there is no "thus saith the Lord" regarding them. Furthermore, he encourages readers to focus on objects or images of loved ones or Jesus to help during times of solitude and silence. He adds, "Take a passage you have memorized and which you dearly love and pray it repeatedly to God."
 Robert Harold Schuller Forum for Possibility Thinking Leadership
 

Last year, Crystal Cathedral announced that the Institute for Successful Church Leadership was over. The Institute had been in existence for 35 years and was influential in many Christian leaders' ministries. In speaking of Rick Warren, Schuller stated:
And there's Rick Warren, a pastor who today is phenomenal. He came to our institute time after time. And in "Christianity Today," his wife was quoted as saying, "When we came to that institute, we were blown away." How God has blessed him. And today Rick Warren is blessing millions of people."— Robert Schuller, 2004
Schuller says that Warren and other church leaders have been mentored by him through the Institute. Previous speakers for the Institute included Rick Warren, Jack Hayford, John Maxwell, Bruce Wilkinson and countless others (many of whom are considered to be part of the evangelical camp).

With the closure of the Leadership Institute, an announcement for future plans has been made. According to a letter written by Robert Schuller to his "Colleagues in Ministry," there is going to be a new event taking place at Crystal Cathedral, the Robert Harold Schuller Forum for Possibility Thinking Leadership: Faith Forward.

The first annual conference will take place in January 2007 and the line up of speakers is something worth noting. Calling them "cutting edge church leaders," Schuller has invited leaders such as: emerging church leader Chris Seay, New Age sympathizer Leonard Sweet, and Pastor Ed Young (recently listed as pastor of one of America's most influential churches). Schuller says the purpose of the event is to "bring the classical, contemporary and emerging churches together."

In light of the fact that the emerging church is immersed in contemplative spirituality, it is too bad to see this merging of generations take place.

However, Schuller is no stranger to mystical spiritualities and in fact embraces them. In his book Peace of Mind Through Possibility Thinking, Schuller stated:
The most effective mantras employ the "M" sound. You can get the feel of it by repeating the words, "I am, I am," many times over.... Transcendental Meditation or TM... is not a religion nor is it necessarily anti-Christian. (pp. 131- 132)
In the foreword of a book called The Fourth Dimension, Schuller said he "discovered the reality of that dynamic dimension in prayer that comes through visualizing..... Don't try to understand it. Just start to enjoy it! It's true. It works. I tried it."(The Fourth Dimension, Foreword And Schuller's affinity with New Ager Gerald Jampolsky adds to the long list of evidence that Schuller has many New Age sympathies.

But perhaps what is most disturbing in this isn't that Schuller is having contemplative and New Age promoting speakers to his upcoming event -- that really will come as no surprise to many. But what is disturbing is that some of these speakers (who promote contemplative and/or the New Age) are welcomed with open arms to evangelical conferences, seminaries and churches.

The question must be asked, "Will Robert Schuller's efforts to bring together the mystical with the evangelical add to Rick Warren's efforts and Bill Hybels efforts to do the same? And will these efforts help to further merge together a mystical, Cross-less religion that all faiths can embrace without being offended but will, in the end, reject Jesus Christ?
Desiring God (i.e., John Piper) Says OK to Mark Driscoll at Conference
 

This is a follow up of a report we released regarding John Piper's Desiring God conference. The report stated:
The Desiring God 2006 National Conference, to be held on September 29th, will be addressing "the Supremacy of Christ in a postmodern world." According to John Piper, founder of the Desiring God ministries, speakers for the national conference are "eager to speak on behalf of the risen Lord of the universe, Jesus Christ." However, one of the speakers is Mark Driscoll (of Mars Hill Church), who is considered to be one of the emerging church leaders. While Driscoll has recently stated that he has distanced himself from certain Emergent leaders (McLaren, Jones, etc.), in a recent Lighthouse Trails article, documentation shows that Driscoll is promoting contemplative spirituality.
It has now been confirmed that Desiring God is standing by their selection of Mark Driscoll and has issued a statement regarding this situation. Below is a copy of that statement:
Thank you for contacting Desiring God. We are very sorry for any confusion or disappointment we have caused you by having Mark Driscoll address the National Conference on the subject of the church. While we don't agree with all of his communication methods, he is a brother for whom Christ died and one whom God is using in significant ways to build His church. We would like to hear and interact with what he has to say. We hope this ministry will continue to bless you.
For those of you who would like to contact Desiring God and express your concerns, please see contact information below, which was supplied by Desiring God in their statement.

Desiring God
2601 E. Franklin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55406

888.346.4700
612.435.2401 (Local)
612.338.4372 (Fax)
www.desiringGod.org

Also read our report: Mark Driscoll and Acts 29 Network - Promoting Contemplative
Does Mark Driscoll Belong at John Piper's Conference?
 

In the following video (see video), John Piper responds to criticisms about his bringing Mark Driscoll into his Desiring God conference (taking place on September 29th). In the video, Piper rightly analyzes the dangerous trend of the trivialization of doctrine by the emerging and seeker friendly churches. However, incorporating Mark Driscoll into his conference (who aligns with people like Thomas Merton), will be as devastating as the very problems that Piper foresees. Those who Driscoll admires were some of the greatest enemies of Christian doctrine of the 20th century. Let me give you an example of what we are talking about.

This excerpt from A Time of Departing shows why affinity with Thomas Merton does not mix with sound biblical Christianity:
In order to understand Merton's connection to mystical occultism, we need first to understand a sect of the Muslim world--Sufis, who are the mystics of Islam. They chant the name of Allah as a mantra, go into meditative trances and experience God in everything. A prominent Catholic audiotape company now promotes a series of cassettes Merton did on Sufism. It explains:
Merton loved and shared a deep spiritual kinship with the Sufis, the spiritual teachers and mystics of Islam. Here he shares their profound spirituality." (Credence Cassettes magazine, Winter 1998, p. 24)
In a letter to a Sufi Master, Merton disclosed, "My prayer tends very much to what you call fana." So what is fana? The Dictionary of Mysticism and the Occult defines it as "the act of merging with the Divine oneness." Merton saw the Sufi concept of fana as being a catalyst for Muslim unity with Christianity despite the obvious doctrinal differences.

In a dialogue with a Sufi leader, Merton asked about the Muslim concept of salvation. The master wrote back stating:
Islam inculcates individual responsibility for one's actions and does not subscribe to the doctrine of atonement or the theory of redemption.
To Merton, of course, this meant little because he believed that fana and contemplation were the same thing. He responded:
Personally, in matters where dogmatic beliefs [i.e., doctrine] differ, I think that controversy is of little value because it takes us away from the spiritual realities into the realm of words and ideas [i.e., doctrine].
Merton himself underlined that point when he told a group of contemplative women: "I'm deeply impregnated with Sufism."
John Piper concerns himself with the vulnerability of modern Christians being seduced by post-modern and seeker friendly heresies; but what he seems to be missing is a far deadlier heresy which is steadily making its way through Christianity to many leaders. Our prayer at Lighthouse Trails is that Piper and his colleagues and friends will read and prayerfully ponder the implications of what we have just presented above. As we have stated before, bringing Mark Driscoll, with his present proclivities, will expose a great many vulnerable people to the writings of Thomas Merton and others like him. Piper's robust endorsement of Driscoll then becomes a de facto endorsement of contemplative.

Note: The reason contemplative is worse than downplaying of doctrine is that it actually demolishes doctrine and sweeps it away as seen by Merton's quote above. We must bring to your attention that Driscoll also promotes Alan Jones. Jones wrote Reimagining Christianity, where he calls the doctrine of the Cross a vile doctrine. He also says:
The church's fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end.... Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it.
The fact that Mark Driscoll would promote someone with these definitely anti-Christian beliefs shows that Driscoll has an affinity with such individuals. Now the question is, what kind of response will John Piper have to the body of Christ regarding this information?  
Moody Bible Institute - Whatever Happened?
 
Moody Bible Institute has been around for a very long time and has enjoyed a respected reputation in the Christian community at large. Their mission statement admirably says they exist "to equip and motivate people to advance the cause of Christ through ministries that educate, edify and evangelize." However, as with so many Christian colleges and seminaries, MBI is more than dabbling with contemplative, thus putting the school at risk of falling into that seductive trap that looks and feels so right but in actuality is so deceptive and spiritually harmful.

Midday Connection, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute, is featuring an author (and a guest on their show) who promotes contemplative spirituality, Keri Wyatt Kent. Wyatt Kent is a writer for Willow Creek Community Church and often speaks on spiritual formation. Her recent book, Listen: Finding God in the Story of Your Life (published by the emerging/contemplative promoting publisher, Jossey-Bass), teaches readers to "listen" to God through "spiritual practices," including the practice of silence. The author quotes extensively throughout the book both contemplatives and New Agers, including Henri Nouwen, M.Scott Peck, Sue Monk Kidd, Anne Lamott, Julia Cameron, Rick Warren, Richard Foster, Ruth Haley Barton, and Eugene Peterson.

When Midday Connection (MBI ministry) was recently asked about their obvious promotion of Wyatt Kent and of contemplative spirituality, they stated that they were committed to spiritual formation and named "solid guests" like Larry Crabb and Dallas Willard who were teaching people "spiritual disciplines." They said they were just "re-stating some old truths in new ways." It makes sense that they would use Larry Crabb as an example of these "new ways." Crabb, in the foreword of a book (Sacred Companions) by contemplative-promoting David Benner, said that it was time to get rid of the old written code and replace it with new ways of practicing spirituality. Even still, it is surprising that Moody would call Larry Crabb and Dallas Willard "solid guests ... "who recognize the need to teach people spiritual disciplines." We know that spiritual disciplines, according to Crabb and Willard, include the silence (i.e., contemplative). Click here to read the rest of this article.

 

Zondervan's Retreats for Pastors - Another Step Towards the Darkness of Mysticism
 
Zondervan Publishing, new owners of the National Pastors Convention (once owned by Youth Specialties), is now presenting National Pastors Retreats. Ruth Haley Barton, who has partnered with Zondervan, is the featured speaker at these upcoming retreats. The theme of the retreats is "Experiencing a Deeper Connection with God" will surely introduce pastors to contemplative spirituality. Barton, trained at the New Age promoting Shalem Institute, now has an organization called The Transforming Center (after spending time at Willow Creek developing their Spiritual Formation curriculum). Sessions during the retreats include "Encountering God in Solitude and Silence" and other workshops that emphasize the silence (that state of being achieved from practicing contemplative prayer).

The next four scheduled retreats (taking place between October 2006 and April 2007) will be held at four locations, three of which are Catholic retreat centers and the fourth - Robert Schuller's Rancho Capistrano.

If your pastor is in need of some rest and retreat, we hope he may be able to get away to a safe place - and we hope it will not be at a place where contemplative spirituality permeates the premises.


Wooddale Church Starts "The Gathering"
 

Wooddale Church (Pastor Leith Anderson) of Minneapolis, MN is one of America's largest evangelical churches with over 12,000 people attending. We post this information because so many Christians and churches around the world look up to these mega churches for leadership and direction.

Starting October 1st, Wooddale Church will have a Sunday evening meeting called The Gathering. According to a flyer, music will be "eclectic, evocative, and current."

Wooddale has been heading towards contemplative/emerging for some time, and The Gathering may be just another indicator that the church has no plans to reverse the direction it is going in. On their "Worklife Toolbox" several contemplative/emerging authors and books have been promoted during the last couple years. Some of those include: Laurie Beth Jones, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Keating, Thomas Merton, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, Jim Ballard, and many others who promote contemplative spirituality.

In March of 2003, Wooddale was one of the sponsoring churches in the Twin City area to bring Richard Foster and Renovare to Minneapolis, even though leaders at the church had been given information to show Richard Foster's connections with contemplative prayer. In fact, copies of A Time of Departing were sent to pastors and other leaders at Wooddale, with the hope they might see the dangers of contemplative spirituality.

In addition to these concerning issues about Wooddale, Leith Anderson and Erwin McManus (The Barbarian Way shared a podium together at a CCN (Church Communication Network) event in 2003, and currently teach together at Bethel University's Doctor of Ministry for Emerging Leaders program. (see Prospectus). Finally, Wooddale Youth Pastor, Heather Flies has been and is still a speaker at Youth Specialties events.

More...


 

Ragamuffin Gospel: A Distortion of Grace
 

Brennan Manning, a popular writer and speaker, is considered by many to be a kind of expert on the topic of God's grace. Philip Yancey, editor for Christianity Today magazine, says "Brennan Manning [is] my spiritual director in the school of grace." On the back cover of Manning's book, Ragamuffin Gospel, Max Lucado states: "Brennan does a masterful job of blowing the dust off of shop-worn theology and allowing God's grace to do what only God's grace can do - amaze." Few Christians would argue that we need God's grace, and in fact it is only through that grace that we can even approach God. Scripture is clear about this:

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Ray Yungen, author and research analyst, says of Manning:
His appeal is easy to understand when one hears Manning in person. His manner is very genuine and down-home. Many admire him for his passionate and dynamic character. When he relates how his mother mistreated him as a young child you cannot help but feel his pain deeply. (A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., p. 82)

Yungen adds, "However, despite all his admirable qualities and devotional intensity, he teaches contemplative prayer as a way to God" (p. 82). And here lies the problem. When we understand the premise of contemplative, we realize that it is impossible to promote both grace and contemplative at the same time. Grace and contemplative are on opposite sides of the pole. They completely contradict each other. John Caddock, in his excellent article, "What is Contemplative Spirituality and Why is it So Dangerous?" discusses this ragamuffin view of grace: Click here to read the rest of this article.

 CAUTION: S.H.A.P.E. Book May Actually Spell T.R.O.U.B.L.E.
 
S.H.A.P.E. , the new book written by Erik Rees (with a foreword by Rick Warren) and published by Zondervan as a "Purpose Driven Resource," is now released. In Rick Warren's e-newsletter this week, he highlights the book in an article titled Why Must I Understand My S.H.A.P.E.? The book is sold on Rick Warren's website with the following description:

Rick Warren's best selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, described God's five purposes for every Christian. Now Erik Rees helps you discover God's unique purpose for your life based on the way God has shaped you. He made you marvelously unique for a reason.

However, the book has serious flaws. Rees admits that he looks to Peter Drucker for guidance in leadership (p. 156) and tells readers they must find their "Kingdom Purpose" and their "Kingdom Dream" (p. 167) (Bruce Wilkinson's God's Dream - see Deceived on Purpose), both of which fall within the parameters of Kingdom Now and Dominionist theologies. Rees says we must activate our "Sweet Spot," a term borrowed from Max Lucado (often quoted in Rees' book) in his book Cure for the Common Life. This sweet spot Lucado refers to is a divine spark that his book says resides in everyone.

On the back cover of Rees' book, New Age sympathizer Ken Blanchard has planted a hearty endorsement saying this book is a "true gift" to those who "long to uncover God's specific purpose for their lives." We know from our past research that Blanchard had signed on to help implement Rick Warren's peace plan. It looks like he will be helping with the S.H.A.P.E. program too - his endorsement will be read by many. Also on the back cover is meditation proponent John Ortberg, whom Rees quotes in a section of his book called "Silence Your Heart." In this section, Rees says:

"The practice of being silent is not easily learned ... We need to ... be still before God." Rees then quotes Ortberg and later explains how he gets "to a state of inner silence" (p. 213). He adds: "Whatever it takes for you to learn to slow down and silence yourself before God, do it."

In spite of the red flags that go up on a "Christian" book that Ken Blanchard endorses (because of his Buddhist and New Age sympathies), it is more important to look at those who the author is favorably quoting in the book. Aside from quoting John Ortberg, Rees also quotes Max Lucado, who was featured recently on Fox Home Entertainment's Be Still DVD with Richard Foster, Erwin McManus, John Eldredge, John Ortberg, Bruce Wilkinson, and David Benner. Benner, the author of Sacred Companions clearly promotes contemplative spirituality in his book.

S.H.A.P.E. also quotes Mark Batterson of the National Community Church. A recommended reading list on his website includes some of the most prominent New Agers and New Age sympathizers out there: Eckhart Tolle, Paulo Coelho, James Redfield (The Celestine Prophecy), Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup author), Anthony Robbins, and Leonard Sweet as well as numerous contemplatives and emergents: Brian McLaren, Henri Nouwen, Dallas Willard, Brother Lawrence, Laurie Beth Jones and others. Tolle, Coelho and Redfield are like world-class Alice Bailey-level New Agers.

Rees also quotes from Dallas Willard and meditation proponent Jim Collins.

With a line up like this, we hope discerning believers will stay far away from S.H.A.P.E. by Erik Rees. This type of book with it's heavy promotion of contemplative authors will only lead to T.R.O.U.B.L.E.

Dallas Willard: Going Down the Contemplative Road,
and Taking Others With Him

 
Is Dallas Willard a proponent of contemplative spirituality? It seems to be a question that many ask. The UCLA professor and long time working companion of Richard Foster really doesn't deny it, but yet the question still keeps getting asked. But it is a question that needn't be asked, for Willard has made it clear through forewords he has written, endorsements he has given, projects he has participated in ... he does indeed promote contemplative spirituality. In an article on his website called "Spiritual Formation in Christ: A Perspective on What it is and How it Might be Done," Willard states:
Too often spiritual formation is regarded as a catch-all category that conveys little specific information. Gerald G. May writes, "Spiritual formation is a rather general term referring to all attempts, means, instructions, and disciplines intended towards deepening of faith and furtherance of spiritual growth. It includes educational endeavors as well as the more intimate and in-depth process of spiritual direction.
For Willard to turn to Gerald May, of the Shalem Institute, for a definition of Spiritual Formation, reveals Willard's affinity towards contemplative spirituality. When we spoke, via email, with May a few years ago and asked him, "Do you believe Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation?" May answered, "Absolutely not!" This would be in line with Shalem's philosophy as well, which has panentheistic sympathies. From their website:
In Christianity and other traditions that understand God to be present everywhere, contemplation includes a reverence for the Divine Mystery, "finding God in all things," or "being open to God's presence, however it may appear.
Gerald May is not the only Shalem-trained spiritual director that Willard has found favorable. He also wrote the foreword for Ruth Haley Barton's book, Invitation to Silence and Solitude. Barton was trained at Shalem and later became part of the Willow Creek team, helping to put together curriculum for their Spiritual Formation program. In an article in Discipleship Journal, Barton states:
Ask for a simple prayer to express your willingness to meet God in the silence ... a simple statement ... such as "Here I am." ... Help yourself return to your original intent by repeating the prayer that you have chosen. - DJ, Vol. 113 1999
Barton now runs The Transforming Center, a place where pastors and leaders learn the art of contemplative prayer. Click here to read the rest of this article.

 

 

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