On August 28th, we posted an article titled “American Family Association News Promotes Lectio Divina – AFA Sells the Book!” The article explained how Agape Press (a division of AFA) posted a favorable book review on a book that promoted lectio divina and contemplative spirituality. AFA received many phone calls and emails from people concerned about the review, and they have now issued a retraction of the book review.
In addition to the retraction, AFA has also removed the book in question, Sacred Listening by James Wakefield, from their online bookstore. AFA is to be commended for taking this action, which makes a clear statement that AFA wishes to safeguard its connection with traditional and biblical evangelical thought.
With this in mind, and knowing how very dangerous contemplative/emerging spirituality is, we hope that this move by AFA is just the beginning in their stand against this subversive belief system. The AFA Resource Center, which is serviced by Innovative, Inc book suppliers, has a very large selection of books by those who promote contemplative and emerging beliefs. Some of those include: Ken Blanchard, Leonard Sweet, Rob Bell, Tony Jones, Rick Warren and Mark Yaconelli. Yaconelli’s new book, Contemplative Youth Ministry, is sold on the AFA store as are several of Doug Pagitt’s books. Pagitt is an advocate for “Christian” yoga and other Eastern style meditation practices. Perhaps two of the most alarming authors that the AFA store carries is Basil Pennington and Thomas Keating, both who are panentheists (believing that God is in all people and all things). However, that may be a toss up with another author they carry, Alan Jones, who says that the doctrine of the Cross is a vile doctrine.
While we realize that online bookstore databases are very extensive, we also know that there are excellent filtering systems that allow stores to exclude certain titles and authors. Not every book ever written is on the database. For instance, interestingly enough, even though Ingram and SpringArbor (who supply most of the major book warehouses) carry the two books that expose the dangers of the contemplative prayer movement (Running Against the Wind and A Time of Departing), and they are available to any bookstore, Innovative, Inc. does not carry them, thus neither does AFA. In fact, many Christian outlets have kept those two books out of their systems. A couple years ago mega-church Wooddale Church in Minneapolis actually banned A Time of Departing after learning that it opposed contemplative. Ironically, it is easier to get those books through a secular outlet, like Amazon, than it is a Christian outlet. We cannot help wonder if that is because most of the major Christian publishers are publishing contemplative books like there is no tomorrow, and there seems to be a deliberate attempt to squeeze out books that are critical of the contemplative movement.
We understand there are many various doctrinal persuasions within the Christian church, and AFA cannot be expected to please everyone. However, in the case of contemplative spirituality, where the very tenets of Christianity are being tossed to the wind, surely this falls within the guidelines of defending the faith and the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Take a look at some of the quotes (not taken out of context) by the contemplative authors we have mentioned and also some quotes by emerging leaders we mentioned. We think you will find these most disturbing and will agree that these authors, while perhaps belong in secular or even metaphysical databases and stores, certainly do not belong in ones who maintain “a traditional evangelical position with respect to theology and Christian doctrine.”
It is our prayer and hope that AFA’s retraction of the book review of Sacred Listening is just the beginning and that other measures will be taken to remove New Age and contemplative influences out of AFA, which will send a strong, clear statement throughout Christendom, “Contemplative spirituality is not a Christian spirituality and does not lead people closer to God.”