On October 16th, Biola University will host its Torrey Conference 2013, and contemplative teacher Ruth Haley Barton will be a featured speaker at the event. This does not come as a great surprise to the editors at Lighthouse Trails because Biola has been going down the contemplative path for quite sometime. But because there are still so many who do not think there is a crisis happening at Christian colleges and seminaries, Lighthouse Trails continues issuing the warnings. And there are Christian parents who are paying large amounts of money to send their children to these schools, thinking their children are going to be drawn closer to the Lord and the truth of His Word. But for most kids going to Christian colleges today, they are going to be handed a college diploma that has been obtained through the filter of contemplative spirituality. Such is definitely the case with Biola University.
It was just earlier this year that we brought to our readers attention the Assemblies of God invitation of Ruth Haley Barton to the AG General Council conference. We wrote articles explaining the spirituality that Barton embraces and passes on to thousands of Christian pastors and church leaders. Sadly, our warnings fell on the deaf ears of AG leaders, and Barton’s invitation remained intact. In fact, AG General Superintendent Dr. George Wood defended the invitation publically and expressed his relaxed views about contemplative spirituality. You can read the coverage we did on that situation by clicking here.
One of the main points we want to get across – something we have worked very hard at explaining clearly over the years – is that contemplative prayer is essentially the same mystical practice that takes place in occultism, the New Age, and eastern meditation. While intent may be different (contemplatives say they want to reach God), the methods are virtually the same, and the results are identical. In this particular article, “Lighthouse Trails Statement to Assemblies of God Response Regarding Invitation of Ruth Haley Barton,” we answer these important questions: 1. WHAT IS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER AND EASTERN MEDITATION? 2. WHERE DID CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE COME FROM? and 3. WHAT IS THE PROOF THAT CONTEMPLATIVE IS OCCULTIC?
As for Ruth Haley Barton, we have given ample evidence to prove that she is a bi-product, if you will, of the spirituality of contemplative panentheistic mystics Thomas Keating, Richard Rohr, and Tilden Edwards. And the fact that she is now being welcomed so readily by evangelical denominations (Southern Baptist, Assemblies of God, Wesleyan, etc.) shows just how integrated contemplative spirituality has become in the evangelical and Protestant church.
As we stated earlier in this article, we are not surprised that Biola has invited Ruth Haley Barton to the Torrey Conference. We first wrote about Biola University’s contemplative leanings in 2006 in an article titled “The Shape of Things to Come: Biola University Embraces Contemplative Spirituality.” And in that article, we pointed out that Biola had invited Barton to speak at an event. In that 2006 article, we stated “Biola University, the traditional virtual bedrock of conservative Christian higher education, has opened itself to influences that would have its founders turning over in their graves.”
Incidentally, Biola is also engaging with contemplative author Adele Ahlberg Calhoun as you can see from this Biola page that has two videos of talks at Biola by Calhoun. Calhoun’s book, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, shows her strong propensities toward a number of eastern style mysticism advocates such as David Steindl-Rast, Thomas Keating, Basil Pennington, and Tilden Edwards (Shalem Institute). You can read our review of Calhoun’s book here.
Biola has also welcomed the teachings of the recently late contemplative pioneer Dallas Willard (see Biola video here) and has resonated with and encouraged the teachings of Peter Drucker (see video here). Others who have spoken at Biola are meditation proponent Ken Blanchard (here), emerging church teacher Shane Claiborne (here), and lectio divina instructor, Joanne Jung (here) to name just a few.
If you know someone who is attending Biola University, please deliver to them a sober warning about what he or she could encounter while attending Biola. To see the Lighthouse Trails list of contemplative colleges, click here.