Christian Leaders – Quoting Contemplatives and Saying It Is OK

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If you are someone who, on a regular basis, reads books written by Christian leaders, then you are probably well aware that many of those leaders quote contemplative authors. And many of those leaders defend their quoting of contemplatives, insisting that even if they may not agree with all that is said, it is worth quoting some of their material in favorable ways.

But is it really worth taking the chance of misleading countless readers into believing that the writings of contemplatives are valid, meaningful and important to the spiritual life? If a Christian leader quotes from a contemplative, without giving a strong and clear disclaimer that this author’s writings are unbiblical and therefore heretical, then that Christian leader is bringing potential harm to a trusting reader, and ultimately allowing false doctrine into the church.

Today, we have decided we are going to quote from some contemplatives to show why a disclaimer is necessary when quoting writing that is represented as Christian. We have chosen quotes from some of the most quoted contemplatives in the evangelical camp.

Disclaimer: The following quotes are given in order to show the contemplative and New Age sympathies of these writers and to present documentation that proves contemplative spirituality has no place in biblcal Christianity and does in fact oppose the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Please read these with this in mind. If you know of a Christian leader who is favorably quoting these writers, please beseech them to add a disclaimer or better yet choose trustworthy and biblically sound sources from which to quote.

Some of the most quoted contemplative authors:

Richard Foster –

Dom John Main understood well the value of both silence and solitude …Main rediscovered meditation while living in the Far East.” (Spiritual Classics – p.155)

“Contemplatives sometimes speak of their union with God by the analogy of a log in a fire: the glowing log is so united with the fire that it is fire …”

“The wonderful thing about contemplative prayer is that it can be found everywhere, anywhere, any time for anyone. We become a portable sanctuary, so that we are living our life, wherever it is, aware of the goodness of God, the presence of God.” (Be Still DVD)

“[W]e began experiencing that ‘sweet sinking into Deity’ Madame Guyon speaks of. It, very honestly, had much the same ‘feel’ and ‘smell’ as the experiences I had been reading about in the Devotional Masters” (Renovare Perspective, 01/ 1998)

Henri Nouwen

“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.” (Sabbatical Journey, page 51, 1998 Hardcover Edition

“Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love … For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required.” (In the Name of Jesus)

“Prayer is soul work because our souls are those sacred centers where all is one, … It is in the heart of God that we can come to the full realization of the unity of all that is. (Bread for the Journey)

“The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descend with the mind into the heart … This way of simple prayer … opens us to God is active presence.” (The Way of the Heart)

“The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being.” (Here and Now, p. 22)

Gary Thomas

“It is particularly difficult to describe this type of prayer in writing, as it is best taught in person. In general however, centering prayer works like this: Choose a word (Jesus or Father, for example) as a focus for contemplative prayer. Repeat the word silently in your mind for a set amount of time (say, twenty minutes) until your heart seems to be repeating the word by itself, just as naturally and involuntarily as breathing” (Sacred Pathways)

Sue Monk Kidd

“I am speaking of recognizing the hidden truth that we are one with all people. We are part of them and they are part of us … When we encounter another person, … we should walk as if we were upon holy ground. We should respond as if God dwells there.” (God’s Joyful Surprise, pp. 228-233)

“We also need Goddess consciousness to reveal earth’s holiness.… Matter becomes inspirited; it breathes divinity. Earth becomes alive and sacred…. Goddess offers us the holiness of everything.” (The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, pp. 162-163)

This is just a small fraction of the writers our Christian leaders are favorably quoting from. They might as well be quoting from staunch, full-blown New Agers and pantheists. Actually, that might be safer, for at least those ones are not deceptively disguising themselves behind Christian terminology. If your pastor, leader or professor is quoting from “Christian” contemplatives, maybe it is time for us to tell them, “no more” and maybe it is time to stop buying their books until they realize the error of their ways.

Other contemplatives who are freqently quoted by Christian authors and leaders in favorable ways:

Brennan Manning

Ruth Haley Barton

Teilhard de Chardin

Julian of Norwich

Leonard Sweet

Cloud of Unknowing

For more information:

Amazing Quotes by Contemplatives

Quotes from Emerging Church leaders