Contemplative terms always seem to be changing. What is called one thing today may be exchanged for a new term tomorrow. One term being used a lot these days for “Spiritual Direction” is “Soul Care.” In Biola University’s Masters program, Spiritual Formation and Soul Care, the program “trains leaders in soul care to be spiritual mentors, directors and teachers who will assist others in their journey of growth in Christ and His body.” This program incorporates contemplative experiences and “Soul Care Practicum.” Clearly Biola sees a relation between soul care and contemplative spirituality.
Where did the term Soul Care come from anyway? In the late nineties, contemplative and New Age sympathizer, David Benner, wrote a book called The Care of Souls, and then later wrote one called Spiritual Direction and the Care of Souls. Thomas Moore wrote Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life , and there are other books with similar titles. Nearly all of them promote spiritual direction and contemplative spirituality.
What exactly is meant by Soul Care? According to an article on the Natural Care College site, “soul care is the artistry of helping a person to find their personal and relational path to the sacred, where they are able to open to and live from their deeper self, reaching a higher level of living and loving through their own unique soul-nurturing spirituality and way of being in the world.” Even though many evangelicals who promote Soul Care wouldn’t agree with this definition, we think it is quite accurate. In other words, soul care is finding the divinity that is within each person. As Thomas Merton put it, it is coming to the realization of what is already there – God – in every human being. Rick Warren’s colleague, Leonard Sweet explains this in his book Quantum Spirituality. Quoting Merton, Sweet writes: “We [humanity] are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity” (QS, p. 13). And Sweet’s more recent book, Nudge: Awakening to the God Who’s Already There, Sweet is echoing Merton right on the front cover with his title and subtitle.
Soul Care is just another term for the same ol’ New Age mystical spirituality. The New Age started in the Garden of Eden when the serpent told Eve she could be like God. Satan still tries to convince man of this today, just as he did many thousand years ago. Nothing has changed. Terms may be exchanged for new ones, but this is just a disguised effort to conceal a terrible and damaging belief system.
A few places you’ll find the term Soul Care used in a contemplative setting:
SOUL CARE: Mindy Caliguire has an organization and website called Soul Care. She has been featured at Moody Bible Institute, Willow Creek, and other evangelical venues. Lighthouse Trails wrote about Soul Care in 2008 showing Caliguire’s emphasis on contemplative prayer. On her website, as one example, she links to Richard Foster’s organization, Renovare, to Conversations Journal, and to Upper Room. Conversations Journal is a conglomeration of various contemplative writers and partners, one of which is Lee Strobel’s son’s organization Metamorpha. Upper Room is the creators of the Walk to Emmaus and advocates various types of eastern-style meditation practices. Check out some of these links above, and you will see the documentation to show the contemplative propensities that exist.
THOMAS NELSON’S SOUL CARE BIBLE: http://www.amazon.com/Soul-Care-Bible-Experiencing-Sharing/dp/0785204849, includes contemplative advocates as contributors/writers such as Dan Allender, Larry Crabb, and Chuck Swindoll and makes reference at least in one instance contemplative books (Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline)
BIOLA UNIVERSITY, The Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation & Soul Care:Numerous Lighthouse Trails articles showing the contemplative direction that Biola has gone (use blog search engine to find these)
DALLAS WILLARD, PERSONAL SOUL CARE: Willard is one of the pioneers in bringing contemplative spirituality into the evangelical/Protestant church.
ASSEMBLIES OF GOD THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: Offers a course called Spiritual Formation and Soul Care of Others. Incidentally, you’ll notice on this schedulethat Leonard Sweet and Earl Creps, both contemplative pushers, are teaching there too. Quit fitting with Soul Care.