Biblegateway, “an online searchable Bible in dozens of versions and languages” is one of the most popular websites on the Internet today, ranking in the top 1000 sites in the world. Over 48,000 websites link to or recommend Biblegateway. Needless to say, their reach is substantial. Thus, it is with dismay to report that on their official blog this past September, Biblegateway introduced their readers to the contemplative practice of Lectio Divina in an article written by Brian Hardin called “Lectio Divina: Diving Reading.”
The teaching on Lectio Divina on Biblegateway doesn’t come as a complete surprise to Lighthouse Trails. Two years ago, Lighthouse Trails released a special report titled “Bible Gateway Now Gateway to Heretical Authors – Could Point Millions to Emerging Teachings .” The article quoted Biblegateway’s site as saying:
Of course, it’s critical that any advertising on Bible Gateway reflects our Christian values and does not conflict with our mission. That means we carefully screen the ads that appear on Bible Gateway, and we don’t use ads in ways that interfere with your ability to read and study Scripture.”
In our article, John Lanagan pointed out how the Biblegateway online bookstore was selling books by figures such as Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Thomas Merton, Doug Pagitt, and many other authors who come into conflict with “Christian values.” In preparing our special report, Lanagan contacted Biblegateway general manager, Rachel Barach, who told Lanagan that the choices of books in Biblegateway’s online store were not really up to her but rather third party databases. In the case of the blog, this would be a different matter, and there would be more control over content by those running it (Rachel and two others are the “contributors”).
The recent article posted on the Biblegateway blog, teaching Lectio Divina, promises to have more articles of a similar nature. For those who do not understand exactly what Lectio Divina is, please refer to our article titled, “Lectio Divina: What it is, What it is Not, and Why it is a Dangerous Practice” where we discuss Lectio Divina in depth. In that article, we state:
Contemplative mysticism pioneer Thomas Keating explains what lectio divina is not. It is not traditional Bible study, not reading the Scriptures for understanding and edification, and not praying the Scriptures (though praying the Scriptures can be a form of lectio divina when a word or phrase is taken from the Scriptures to focus on for the purpose of going into “God’s presence.”).1 Keating says that lectio divina is an introduction into the more intense practices – contemplative prayer and centering prayer.
At Lighthouse Trails, we believe Lectio Divina is a gateway practice into deep meditation exercises as it teaches participants to narrow down a passage of Scripture to a word or phrase that can be repeated in mantra-like fashion.
As we are watching Lectio Divina entering the mainstream evangelical church at a now-rapid rate, we know it is just a matter of time before more outright eastern-style meditation practices will be heralded by leaders in the Christian church. The ground was prepared when Christian leaders started heavily promoting and quoting the mystics and promoting and teaching “spiritual formation.” Teaching Lectio Divina is the next big step toward full embracing of contemplative spirituality, which will lead to apostasy as never before seen by the Christian church with its interspiritual, panentheistic, and anti-atonement roots.
In the Lighthouse Trails novel, Castles in the Sand, written by Canadian author Carolyn A. Greene (the only novel exposing the dangers of spiritual formation), the young girl in the story is enrolled in a Christian college and is introduced to Lectio Divina. In time, the girl encounters demonic activity because of practicing contemplative spirituality. While Castles in the Sand is a novel, it is based on the true story of what is happening in the church today. It should not be ignored by believers who wish to contend for the faith.
Those who practice mystical meditation will, in time, change their spiritual outlook. They may convert to Catholicism, or they may start embracing Buddhist or Hindu views. But they will not gain an “appreciation for the Bible,” something Biblegateway says they hope will happen to people reading their blog.
SOME PLACES YOU WILL FIND LECTIO DIVINA BEING TAUGHT AND/OR PROMOTED:
1. Multnomah (School of the Bible) University just finished a Lectio Divina Chapel on October 22nd.
3. Renovare (Richard Foster’s organization)
4. Willow Creek
7. Redeemer Presbyterian Church (Tim Keller)
9. Eugene Peterson’s “Bible” for kids
When a Young Girl Meets a Mystic by Carolyn A. Greene
New Age Pathways in the Church by Mike Oppenheimer