This November, in both Minneapolis and Miami, the Downpour conference will take place, featuring Beth Moore as one of the speakers. Moore was one of the main commentators on the recently released Be Still DVD. The DVD, presented by Fox Home Entertainment, was an infomercial for contemplative prayer and included comments by Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Max Lucado and others, all of whom promoted contemplative spirituality. At one point of the DVD, a professor from UCLA, who teaches meditation and guided imagery, was interviewed. Richard Foster told viewers that anyone at all could become a “portable sanctuary” for God by just practicing contemplative prayer. On the DVD, Moore, in speaking about contemplative, said, “”[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.” This stillness that contemplatives speak of is not just being in a quiet setting, but is talking about stilling the mind. As Ray Yungen puts it, it is like putting your mind in neutral. Thomas Merton likened it to an LSD trip. Some call it the bliss, ecstasy or the silence.
A few weeks after the Be Still DVD was released, Beth Moore’s ministry issued a statement showing their full support for the DVD and contemplative prayer. It stated: “[W]e believe that once you view the Be Still video you will agree that there is no problem with its expression of Truth.” Living Proof offered to send a free copy of the DVD to anyone who received their email statement and wished to view the DVD, saying that, “[I]t would be our privilege to do this for you to assure you that there is no problem with Beth’s participation in the Be Still video.”
In a recent article we issued, we discussed Beth Moore and her views on contemplative:
You may be asking yourself, where does Beth Moore really stand with regard to contemplative. The answer to that may at least partially be found in a book she wrote in 2002 called When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. In a section about “Unceasing Prayer” Moore states: “I have picked up on the terminology of Brother Lawrence, who called praying unceasingly practicing God’s presence. In fact, practicing God’s presence has been my number one goal for the last year” (p. 109).
Moore builds her case for contemplative in her frequent references to Brennan Manning in her book, suggesting that his contribution to “our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel” (p. 72). This is indeed a troubling statement made by a Christian leader who so many young women look to for direction and instruction in their spiritual lives. Many of those young women, in reading Moore’s comments about Manning and her quoting of him in the book may turn to the writings of Manning for further insights. When they do, they will find that Manning is a devout admirer of Beatrice Bruteau, of The School for Contemplation. Bruteau, who believes that God lives in all creation, says:
We have realized ourselves as the Self that says only I AM, with no predicate following, not “I am a this” or “I have that quality.” Only unlimited, absolute I AM.And yet in Abba’s Child, Manning says that Bruteau is a “trustworthy guide to contemplative consciousness.” Manning, whose view of the Cross is very similar to that of Brian McLaren, promotes contemplative and states:
[T]he first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer. Choose a single, sacred word or phrase that captures something of the flavor of your intimate relationship with God. A word such as Jesus, Abba, Peace, God or a phrase such as “Abba, I belong to you.” … Without moving your lips, repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, and often. When distractions come, … simply return to listening to your sacred word…. [G]ently return [your mind] to your sacred word. (Running Against the Wind, p. 161, quoting Manning)
Beth Moore quotes Manning from his book Ragamuffin Gospel calling the book “one of the most remarkable books” (p. 290) she has ever read. But it is this very book that reveals Manning’s true affinity with contemplative spirituality. In the back of the book, Manning makes reference to Basil Pennington saying that Pennington?s methods will provide us with “a way of praying that leads to a deep living relationship with God.” However, Pennington’s methods of prayer draw from Eastern religions. In his book, Finding Grace at the Center, Pennington says:
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. (From A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., p.64)
Manning also cites Carl Jung in Ragamuffin Gospel as well as interspiritualists and contemplatives, Anthony De Mello, Marcus Borg, Morton Kelsey, Gerald May, Henri Nouwen, Annie Dillard, Alan Jones, Eugene Peterson, and Sue Monk Kidd For Moore to call Manning’s book “remarkable” and to say his contribution to this generation of believers is “a gift without parallel” leads one to conclude that Beth Moore has absorbed Brennan Manning’s spirituality. In light of all these findings, it also becomes apparent that Moore does belong on the Be Still DVD after all, due to her advocacy of contemplative spirituality. And from the recent statement from her ministry, it appears she would agree with that.
If you are planning to attend the Downpour conference, we urge you to use caution and discernment. Or better yet, find a conference that has speakers that do not promote contemplative spirituality but rather remain true to the Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. These days we live in call for no compromise.
Henri Nouwen, one of the most quoted and admired modern day contemplatives, revealed the true nature of contemplative spirituality, when he said:
Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.â€”From Sabbatical Journey, Henri Nouwen’s last book, page 51, 1998 Hardcover Edition