Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I thought this link would interest you. The Western Canadian District of the C&MA in Canada is promoting (yet with a disclaimer!) a number of books that teach the practices of contemplative prayer. I was surprised to see it promoted so blatantly on their website. http://www.transformcma.ca/resources-2/
There is also something called a “Holy Spirit Encounter” that they are starting to implement in their churches. I don’t quite understand what the point of these events are because the Holy Spirit lives within us [believers] all the time.
Just thought I would share these findings with you!
Our Comments: While Lighthouse Trails has been reporting on C & MA promotion of contemplative for a number of years, we believe it is worth posting this letter to the editor because of one particular name listed on the website linked to above: Basil Pennington (1931-2005). While the C & MA site gives a disclaimer, which states, “The following list of resources contain a variety of perspectives that cannot be fully endorsed by the WCD in every manner. We do believe, however, that the discerning reader can benefit greatly from these writings,” there is no way that a “discerning reader” could ever “benefit greatly” from the writings of Basil Pennington. The fact that he is included on the already highly problematic list they provide with contemplatives such as Brad Jersak, John of the Cross, Bill Johnson, Henri Nouwen, and so forth proves that the Western Canadian District of C & MA Canada has dropped into a deep level of apostasy from the leadership level.
Basil Pennington is a Catholic contemplative monk who teaches that God is in every person. As L. Putnam points out in one of her articles, Pennington believes in the “God’s Dream” concept (which is God in everyone). He states:
We do not know how precious we are in ourselves. As Dame Julian of Norwich, that delightful English mystic declared, we are God’s dream, his homiest home. We have too little respect for ourselves, too little esteem for our own importance. God sees things otherwise. (from Living in the Question: Meditations in the Style of Lectio Divina)
Interestingly, that sounds a lot like IF: Gathering leader Melissa Greene as we pointed out in a recent article. This idea of “God’s Dream” is actually taught by numerous contemplatives including Rick Warren and Robert Schuller (as Warren B. Smith discusses in Deceived on Purpose). If you hear that term being used by a pastor or teacher you know, it’s time to start asking some serious questions.
Basil Pennington (along with Thomas Merton and William Messinger) is ultimately responsible for bringing contemplative spirituality into mainstream Catholicism and eventually evangelical Christianity. These quotes are just two of many by Basil Pennington that help show his mystical propensities:
It is my sense, from having meditated with persons from many different [non-Christian] traditions, that in the silence we experience a deep unity. When we go beyond the portals of the rational mind into the experience, there is only one God to be experienced.—Basil Pennington (Centered Living, p. 192)
[I]n centering prayer we go beyond thought and image, beyond the senses and the rational mind, to that center of our being where God is working a wonderful work, just sitting there, doing nothing. Not even thinking some worthwhile thoughts or making some good resolutions-just being (source)
In Ray Yungen’s book, A Time of Departing, he explains:
In the book Finding Grace at the Center, written by [Basil Pennington and Thomas Keating], the following advice is given: ‘We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and capture it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible … Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices …” [pp. 5-6]. Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington have taken their Christianity and blended it with Eastern mysticism through a contemplative method they call centering prayer … Keating and Pennington have both authored a number of influential books on contemplative prayer thus advancing this movement greatly. Pennington essentially wrote a treatise on the subject called Centering Prayer while Keating has written the popular and influential classic, Open Mind, Open Heart.
If you are part of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, this is the direction that your leadership is heading, or frankly, has already gone.