In the current online edition of Christianity Today, an article by contemplative proponent Keri Wyatt Kent is instructing on the practice of lectio divina and breath prayers. As with most contemplatives, Wyatt Kent says that her prayer time was filled with too many “words,” saying her time studying the Bible became “stale.” She then explains how she found the solution to the dreariness of her spiritual life:
But just when exhaustion and guilt made me ready to give up, God brought some people and books into my life that showed me ways to put the quiet back into my quiet times, old ways to revitalize my relationship with him that were new to me.
In the article, Wyatt Kent does not tell who those “people” or “books” are, but she does admit she has been following certain “practices” for over ten years. She lists three of these practices as 1. Deep Listening (lectio divina) 2. Breath Prayers and 3. Being There.
Wyatt Kent does mention one author whom she looks to though – David Benner. Benner is the author of Sacred Companions (foreword written by Larry Crabb). In Sacred Companions, Benner favorably cites a who’s who of contemplative spirituality including Thomas Merton, Teresa of Avila, Alan Jones(who says the doctrine of the Cross is a vile doctrine), Henri Nouwen, Evelyn Underhill, Gerald May and many, many others. Benner proudly proclaims his contemplative proclivities.
While the Christianity Today article written by Keri Wyatt Kent does not give the names of the “people” she has gained spiritual insights from, it isn’t too difficult to find out who these people are. In her book, The Garden of the Soul, Wyatt Kent favorably refers to and/or quotes Henri Nouwen, Dallas Willard, Ruth Haley Barton (whom she calls “one of my spiritual mentors,” John Ortberg (saying his insights have been “tremendously helpful”), Richard Foster and several others.
It is easy to see that Wyatt Kent has strong affinity towards contemplative spirituality, but what is disturbing is to see the support her writings receive from within evangelical Christendom. Moody Bible Institute (through their ministry Midday Connection) promotes Wyatt Kent, as we showed in an article last fall. Wyatt Kent, who is a writer for Willow Creek, is also a favorite of MOPS (Mothers of Preschool Children)as we explained last summer in an article titled, Ancient Wisdom for Babies. Wyatt Kent speaks to many MOPS audiences and promotes her contemplative outlook with young mothers.
According to the Christianity Today article, Wyatt Kent found her spiritual life to be lacking and dull. She found studying the Bible to have little effect in her life. Much like Sue Monk Kidd, who at one time was a Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher, Wyatt Kent looked to mystics for a solution. Chuck Swindoll in his book, So You Want to Be Like Christ: Eight Essential Disciplines to Get You There, shared this same sentiment and found the answers for his spiritual dreariness in Henri Nouwen and the silence. David Jeremiah, in his book, Life Wide Open, said he found “passion” (for spiritual matters) in people like St. John of the Cross, Calvin Miller, Erwin McManus, Sue Monk Kidd (a panentheist and New Age sympathizer), and Buddhist sympathizer Peter Senge (listen to audio clip of Senge).
And the list goes on of Christian teachers and leaders who now after decades of being Christian find that biblical prayer and study of God’s word is not enough. They are turning to the spirituality of Thomas Merton who said he wanted to be the best Buddhist he could be and that he was impregnated with Sufism.
It is our earnest prayer that these leaders and teachers will once again find confidence in the Word of God, which is living and active and sharper than a two edged sword and offers us living water in which we will not grow weary nor find our relationship with Christ dull or drab.
“He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
For further information:
Misguided Shepherds (Jeremiah and Swindoll)