On October 1st in his weekly e-newsletter, Rick Warren points followers to Pete Scazzero’s contemplative “Sabbath” experience. In the article, “Why Can’t We Stop!”, Scazzero states: “One of the keys to our freedom is a rediscovery of Sabbath-keeping – a radical, countercultural, essential spiritual formation practice for us as pastors.” While many readers of this article may think that Scazzero is simply encouraging Christians to make sure they take a day of rest each week, what they probably don’t know is that Scazzero is a strong proponent for contemplative mystical prayer. And contemplatives don’t just believe in a day of rest – they believe in entering what they call the silence or sacred space through repetitive mantra-like prayer.
Scazzero has been the topic of several Lighthouse Trails articles, largely because of his books which heartily promote the mystics and their prayer style as well. 1 In Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (the book that is featured on Rick Warren’s website), Scazzero points readers to some of the most prolific teachers of eastern-style meditation, many of whom are outright panentheists such as Meister Eckhart, Basil Pennington, and Tilden Edwards. Scazzero also gives instruction on meditative practices such as lectio divina and “centering down.” In a two-part expose’ of Scazzero’s book, documentation shows clearly that his “emotionally healthy spirituality” is anything but healthy. (Part One, Part Two)
Interestingly, in the article Rick Warren posts, Scazzero says: “As one theologian stated, ‘To fail to see the value of simply being with God and ‘doing nothing’ is to miss the heart of Christianity.” What he doesn’t tell readers is who this “theologian” is. It is Catholic “theologian” Leonard Doohan. Scazzero may have seen the quote in Lynne Babb’s book, Sabbath Keeping, a book where Babb recommends readers turn to panentheist and universalist Tilden Edwards for further spiritual guidance. It is Edwards (founder of Shalem Institute) who says: “This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality” (from his book, Spiritual Friend).
When Scazzero says “simply being with God” and “doing nothing,” he is referring to what contemplatives call entering the silence or putting the mind into a stillness. It is not surprising that Rick Warren resonates with such language. One of the people Warren and his wife Kay look up to is mystic Henri Nouwen, who had a huge affinity with mysticism. This state of stillness (of the mind) is a common theme among contemplatives. Contemplative advocate Beth Moore says: “[I]f we are not still before Him [God], we will never truly know to the depths of the marrow of our bones that He is God. There’s got to be a stillness.”2 However, the mind cannot naturally be put into a still state, and this is where mantra meditation, or focusing on the breath or particular words comes into play. There cannot be this stillness of the mind without some form of mantric-like practice. This is why all “evangelical” contemplative proponents endorse the mystics. But this state of stillness is the same state entered by Hindu mystics, Buddhist mystics, and New Age mystics. And that realm entered is NOT the realm of God but rather is a demonic realm.
On Scazzero’s website, he offers the following link to an interview he recently had with Canadian radio host Drew Marshall where they talk about Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and its connection to contemplative mysticism: radio interview In the interview, Scazzero says that Christianity needs monasticism, which he identifies as that which has come from the Desert Fathers. Drew Marshall is a proponent of contemplative spirituality and has no doubt influenced many Canadians in this direction.
Also on Scazzero’s website is a link called “contemplative spirituality” in which he recommends many contemplative mystics such as Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Robert Webber, Richard Foster, and Phyllis Tickle. It is Thomas Merton who likened the contemplative experience to an LSD trip. 3
Rick Warren’s promotion of Pete Scazzero is not an isolated incident. He has been doing this for many years, as Lighthouse Trails has documented frequently. With potentially tens or even hundreds of millions of people now part of the Purpose Driven network, Warren’s promotion of contemplative spirituality will have far-reaching effects. And as long as popular Christian leaders endorse, sponsor, and work with Rick Warren rather than warn others about him and his teachings, they are responsible with him for the proliferation of contemplative/emerging spirituality and the dangerous deception that comes with it.
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