Posts Tagged ‘william shannon’

The Desert Fathers and the Methods They Used

By Ray Yungen

Catholic priest William Shannon in his book, Seeds of Peace, explained the human dilemma as being the following:

This forgetfulness, of our oneness with God, is not just a personal experience, it is the corporate experience of humanity. Indeed, this is one way to understanding original sin. We are in God, but we don’t seem to know it. We are in paradise, but we don’t realize it.1

Shannon’s viewpoint defines the basic underlying worldview of the contemplative prayer movement as a whole. One can find similar quotations in practically every book written by contemplative authors. A Hindu guru or a Zen Buddhist master would offer the same explanation. This conclusion becomes completely logical when tracing the roots of contemplative prayer. Let us look at the beginnings of this practice.

In the early Middle Ages, there lived a group of hermits in the wilderness areas of the Middle East. They are known to history as the Desert Fathers. They dwelt in small isolated communities for the purpose of devoting their lives completely to God without distraction. The contemplative movement traces its roots back to these monks who promoted the mantra as a prayer tool. One meditation scholar made this connection when he said:

The meditation practices and rules for living of these earliest Christian monks bear strong similarity to those of their Hindu and Buddhist renunciate brethren several kingdoms to the East … the meditative techniques they adopted for finding their God suggest either a borrowing from the East or a spontaneous rediscovery.2

Many of the Desert Fathers, in their zeal, were simply seeking God through trial and error. A leading contemplative prayer teacher candidly acknowledged the haphazard way the Desert Fathers acquired their practices:

It was a time of great experimentation with spiritual methods. Many different kinds of disciplines were tried, some of which are too harsh or extreme for people today. Many different methods of prayer were created and explored by them.3

Attempting to reach God through occult mystical practices will guarantee disaster. The Desert Fathers of Egypt were located in a particularly dangerous locale at that time to be groping around for innovative approaches to God, because as one theologian pointed out:

[D]evelopment of Christian meditative disciplines should have begun in Egypt because much of the intellectual, philosophical, and theological basis of the practice of meditation in Christianity also comes out of the theology of Hellenic and Roman Egypt. This is significant because it was in Alexandria that Christian theology had the most contact with the various Gnostic speculations which, according to many scholars, have their roots in the East, possibly in India.4

Consequently, the Desert Fathers believed as long as the desire for God was sincere–anything could be utilized to reach God. If a method worked for the Hindus to reach their gods, then Christian mantras could be used to reach Jesus. A current practitioner and promoter of the Desert Fathers’ mystical prayer still echoes the logical formulations of his mystical ancestors:

In the wider ecumenism of the Spirit being opened for us today, we need to humbly accept the learnings of particular Eastern religions … What makes a particular practice Christian is not its source, but its intent … this is important to remember in the face of those Christians who would try to impoverish our spiritual resources by too narrowly defining them. If we view the human family as one in God’s spirit, then this historical cross-fertilization is not surprising … selective attention to Eastern spiritual practices can be of great assistance to a fully embodied Christian life.5

Do you catch the reasoning here? Non-Christian sources, as avenues to spiritual growth, are perfectly legitimate in the Christian life, and if Christians only practice their Christianity based on the Bible, they will actually impoverish their spirituality. This was the thinking of the Desert Fathers. So as a result, we now have contemplative prayer. Jesus addressed this when he warned His disciples: “And when you pray, do not
use vain repetitions, as the heathen do.” (Matthew 6:7)

It should be apparent that mantra meditation or sacred word prayer qualifies as “vain repetition” and clearly fits an accurate description of the point Jesus was making. Yet in spite of this, trusted evangelical Christians have often pronounced that Christian mysticism is different from other forms of mysticism (such as Eastern or occult) because it is focused on Jesus Christ.

This logic may sound credible on the surface, but Christians must ask themselves a very simple and fundamental question: What really makes a practice Christian? The answer is obvious–does the New Testament sanction it? Hasn’t Christ taught us, through His Word, to pray in faith in His name and according to His will? Did He leave something out? Would Jesus hold out on His true followers? Never!

Understanding this truth, God has declared in His Word that He does not leave it up to earnest, yet sinful people, to reinvent their own Christianity. When Christians ignore God’s instructions in following Him they end up learning the way of the heathen. Israel did this countless times. It is just human nature.

The account of Cain and Abel is a classic biblical example of spiritual infidelity. Both of Adam’s sons wanted to please God, but Cain decided he would experiment with his own method of being devout. Cain must have reasoned to himself: “Perhaps God would like fruit or grain better than a dead animal. It’s not as gross. It’s less smelly. Hey, I think I will try it!”

As you know, God was not the least bit impressed by Cain’s attempt to create his own approach to pleasing God. The Lord made it clear to Cain that God’s favor would be upon him if he did what is right, not just what was intended for God or God-focused.

In many ways, the Desert Fathers were like Cain—eager to please but not willing to listen to the instruction of the Lord and do what was right. One cannot fault them for their devotion, but one certainly can fault them for their lack of discernment.

Notes:
1. William Shannon, Seeds of Peace, p. 66.
2. Daniel Goleman, The Meditative Mind 1988, p.53.
3. Ken Kaisch, Finding God, p.191.
4. Father William Teska, Meditation in Christianity , p.65.
5. Tilden Edwards, Living in the Presence , Acknowledgement page.

Related Material:

A list of ancient mystics (taken from Chris Lawson’s A Directory of Authors: Three NOT Recommended Lists booklet)

Mystics from the past oftentimes favorably endorsed by “Christian” authors today

Middle Ages (Medieval Times) and Renaissance

Angela of Foligno (1248–1309)

Anthony of Padua (1195–1231)

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153)

Bonaventure (1217–1274)

Catherine of Siena (1347–1380)

Desert Fathers, The

Hadewijch of Antwerp (13th century)

Henry Suso (1295–1366)

Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179)

Hugh of Saint Victor (1096–1141)

Jacopone da Todi (1230–1306)

Johannes Tauler (d.1361)

John of Ruysbroeck (1293–1381)

John Scotus Eriugena (810–877)

Julian of Norwich (1342–1416)

Mechthild of Magdeburg (1212–1297)

Meister Eckhart (1260–1327)

Richard of Saint Victor (d.1173)

Richard Rolle (1300–1341)

The Cloud of the Unknowing (anonymous, instruction in mysticism, 1375)

Theologia Germanica (anonymous, mystical treatise, late 14th century)

Thomas a’ Kempis (1380–1471)

Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)

Walter Hilton (1340–1396)
Renaissance, Reformation, and Counter–Reformation

Brother Lawrence (1614–1691)

Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1822)

George Fox (1624–1691)

Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556)

Jakob Böhme (1575–1624)

Jean Nicolas Grou (1731-1803)

John of the Cross (Juan de Yepes) (1542–1591)

Joseph of Cupertino (1603–1663)

Madame Guyon (1647–1717)

Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582)

Theophan the Recluse (1815–1894)

William Law (1686–1761)

Modern Era (19th—20th Century)

Alexandrina Maria da Costa (1904–1955)

Bernadette Roberts (1931–)

Berthe Petit (1870–1943)

Carmela Carabelli (1910–1978)

Domenico da Cese (1905–1978)

Evelyn Underhill (1875–1941)

Flower A. Newhouse (1909–1994)

Frank Laubach (1884–1970)

Frederick Buechner (1926–)

Karl Rahner (1904–1984)

Lúcia Santos (1907–2005)

Maria Pierina de Micheli (1890–1945)

Maria Valtorta (1898–1963)

Marie Lataste (1822–1899)

Marie Martha Chambon (1841–1907)

Martin Buber (1868–1965)

Mary Faustina Kowalska (1905–1938)

Mary of Saint Peter (1816–1848)

Mary of the Divine Heart (1863–1899)

Padre Pio of Pietrelcina (1887–1968)

Pierina Gilli (1911–1991)

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881– 1955)

Simone Weil (1909–1943)

Soren Kierkegaard (1813–1855)

Thomas Merton (1915–1968)

Thomas Raymond Kelly (1893–1941)

Andy Stanley and “New” Christianity’s “Bibliolatry”

bigstockphoto.com

bigstockphoto.com

As we reported earlier this week, mega-church pastor (and son of Charles Stanley) says that Christian leaders need to “get the spotlight off the Bible.” Stanley may think he has come up with some unique idea and saying, but he hasn’t. It’s the same ol’ emerging talk that has been going on with emergent figures all along. For instance, Biola University professor J.P. Moreland once said that evangelical Christians are too committed to the Bible.

“In the actual practices of the Evangelical community in North America, there is an over-commitment to Scripture in a way that is false, irrational, and harmful to the cause of Christ,”  [Moreland] said. “And it has produced a mean-spiritedness among the over-committed that is a grotesque and often ignorant distortion of discipleship unto the Lord Jesus.” The problem, he said, is “the idea that the Bible is the sole source of knowledge of God, morality, and a host of related important items. Accordingly, the Bible is taken to be the sole authority for faith and practice.(source)

But just like Stanley’s statement isn’t going to upset most Christians and certainly isn’t going to ruffle any Christian leader feathers, Moreland’s absurd comments didn’t ruffle anything up either. In fact, he’s still a major influential voice in evangelical Christianity.

While Moreland gives examples such as non-charismatics who steer clear of any and all venues such as “impressions, dreams, visions, prophetic words, words of knowledge and wisdom,” there may be more behind his statements than meets the eye. This idea of “bibliolatry” (the idolizing of the Bible) did not originate with Moreland either. Contemplative Brennan Manning (who gets many of his ideas from mystics like Thomas Merton and William Shannon (Silence on Fire), once said this:

I am deeply distressed by what I only can call in our Christian culture the idolatry of the Scriptures. For many Christians, the Bible is not a pointer to God but God himself. In a word—bibliolatry. God cannot be confined within the covers of a leather-bound book. I develop a nasty rash around people who speak as if mere scrutiny of its pages will reveal precisely how God thinks and precisely what God wants.”–Brennan Manning, Signature of Jesus, pp. 188-189

Without checking the further inferences of such statements, some may agree with Manning and Moreland solely on the idea that we should not worship a leather-bound book but rather the One of whom the book is about. But few “over-committed” Bible-believing Christians would argue with that. Christians who believe the Bible is the actual inspired word of God know that the Bible is not God Himself, but it is the Jesus Christ proclaimed in that Bible who is to be worshiped. But they also know that within the pages of the Bible are the holy words, ideas, and truths of God (and, in fact, the words are so inspired by God that it is called a two-edged sword). So for Moreland and Manning to suggest that these types of Christians don’t really worship God but rather pages in a book is a misrepresentation of Bible-believing Christians.

Emergent Scot McKnight is another who uses this term, bibliolatry. In his book A Community Called Atonement, McKnight says, “I begin with the rubble called bibliolatry, the tendency for some Christians to ascribe too much to the Bible” (p. 143).

Emerging spirituality figure Walter Brueggemann uses the term in his book Theology of the Old Testament (p. 574).

There may be a logical reason why these men condemn those who adhere to the Bible too strongly. All have something in common – they all promote  contemplative spirituality. And, as we have shown time and again, those who embrace the  contemplative spiritual outlook, often shift their focus from the moral (doctrine) to the mystical as Henri Nouwen suggested in his book In the Name of Jesus:

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. (p. 32)

In Moreland’s book, The Lost Virtue of Happiness, he talks about rediscovering important spiritual principles that have been lost. In Faith Undone, Roger Oakland cites this book in explaining the problem of mysticism:

Two of the spiritual disciplines . . .  are “Solitude and Silence” (p. 51). The book says that these two disciplines are “absolutely fundamental to the Christian life” (p. 51). . . .  Moreland and Issler [co-author] state:

In our experience, Catholic retreat centers [bastions of mysticism] are usually ideal for solitude retreats . . . We also recommend that you bring photos of your loved ones and a picture of Jesus . . .  Or gaze at a statue of Jesus. Or let some pleasant thought, feeling, or memory run through your mind over and over again (pp. 54-55)….

Moreland and Issler provide tips for developing a prayer life. Here are some of the recommendations they make:

[W]e recommend that you begin by saying the Jesus Prayer about three hundred times a day (p. 90).

When you first awaken, say the Jesus Prayer twenty to thirty times. As you do, something will begin to happen to you. God will begin to slowly begin to occupy the center of your attention (p. 92).

Repetitive use of the Jesus Prayer while doing more focused things allows God to be on the boundaries of your mind and forms the habit of being gently in contact with him all day long (p. 93).

Moreland and Issler try to present what they consider a scriptural case that repetitive prayers are OK with God. But they never do it! They say the Jesus Prayer is derived from Luke 18:38 where the blind man cries out, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me,”(p.90) but nowhere in that section of the Bible (or any other section for that matter) does it instruct people to repeat a rendition of Luke 18:38 over and over. (from Faith Undone, pp. 117-119)

To be sure, the worship of leather and paper would be unscriptural and idolatrous, but we have never known or heard of a single case where a Christian advocates or practices Bible worship in that sense. As far as that goes, we have known countless Christians who respect (revere) the Bible as being the inspired Word of God; now if that were a point deserving criticism and condemnation, then we would necessarily need to place the apostle Paul under such scrutiny for having said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). Was Paul a Bible worshiper? We know he was not. We also know that he never instructed anyone to repeat words or phrases from the Bible over and over for the purpose of achieving a “silence” (i.e., a mind-altering state). Such a practice is not taught anywhere in Scripture; hence, we propose that it is just such a practice that is a misuse of Scripture. Is it mere coincidence that in almost every case where someone uses the “bibliolatry” argument, that person also promotes contemplative prayer, a practice that cannot be supported through Scripture? And by downplaying scriptural authority, cannot the contemplative viewpoint be easier to promote within Christianity?

One last case in point about “bibliolatry” comes from Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho  (NNU) where Dr. Jay McDaniel was invited to speak. McDaniel is a self-proclaimed “Christian” Buddhist sympathizer. When asked by a student at the lecture whether he believed that Jesus was “the way, the truth, and the life,” McDaniel stated that if Jesus had meant to say that He himself was the way, the truth, and the life, it would have been egocentric and arrogant of Jesus – He only meant to point people in the right direction – letting go of ego and grasping love. McDaniel stated also that Buddhist mindfulness (eastern meditation) is just as truth filled  as doctrine and theology. He said there was an overemphasis in the church on doctrine calling it bibliolatry (idol worship of the Bible). (source) (click here to watch video of McDaniel lecture)

There is an attack on the Word of God. That’s no new thing–secular humanists, New Agers, and philosophers have attacked the Bible for centuries. But this attack of which we speak comes from within the ranks of Christianity out of the halls of highly respected universities, off the presses of successful Christian publishers, and out of the mouths of really popular Christian leaders.

What can we make of this idea of “bibliolatry”? The following statement offers some valid insight regarding this idea that Christians put too much emphasis on the Bible:

Today some are saying that the Bible is a lesser revelation than the Son and to make to much of it is to worship the Bible (bibliolatry). But if we do not make much of the Bible, then we cannot know much of the Son, for our only source of information about the Son (and hence about the Father) is through the Bible. Furthermore, if the Bible is not to be trusted,  then again, we cannot know truth about the Son . . . if the Bible is not completely true, we end up with either misinformation or subjective evaluation. Jesus Himself asserted that the Bible revealed Him (Luke 24:27, 44-45, John 5:39).. (A Survey of Bible Doctrine,Charles Ryrie, p. 17)

In summary, we find it rather odd that in a time in history when many churches are hardly even opening the Bible that Bible-believing Christians would be accused of focusing  too much on the Bible (what is it about the Bible these guys don’t like?). Our continual plea to all Christians is to be diligent in their study of the Scriptures and to be as the Bereans who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). We should also note that Jesus never corrected people for studying the Scriptures but rather for their lack of understanding them. Paul nailed it on the head when he said, “Study to show thyself approved unto God . . . rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Could this accusation of “bibliolatry” be nothing more than a smoke screen to further the contemplative agenda, which ultimately leads right to a one-world global religion that will declare all is God and God is in all.

Related Articles:

Book Review – The New Christians by Tony Jones

Updated, Expanded Edition of Booklet 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer

LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails began publishing Booklets nearly three years ago. Our first booklet was Ray Yungen’s 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer. Ray has now updated and expanded this booklet with new information that is vital to our warning about contemplative prayer. The updated, expanded Booklet is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use.  Below is the content of the new edition. To order copies of the updated expanded edition of 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer, click here. This booklet also has two appendices: “A Few Common Terms” and “Christian Mystics of the Past.”

CP-2ND-EDITION-55 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer (Updated, Expanded Edition)

By Ray Yungen

It is fair to say there has been a mystical revolution throughout the Western world over the last forty years. Whereas mysticism was once uncommon within mainstream society, it has now become accepted and normal. Going by the law of the market, any reasonable person could deduce this from the number of bookshelves devoted to eastern mysticism and New Age thought in virtually all major bookstore outlets (e.g., Barnes and Noble and the now defunct Borders). The Borders bookstore in my hometown in Oregon offered 65 shelves to these subjects; a few decades earlier, B. Dalton bookstore had only five shelves on mysticism. Another indicator of the popularity of mysticism was the success of talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. Over the course of twenty some years, she introduced literally tens of millions of readers and viewers to the mystical life.

Many people may not know that there has been a “Christian” element to this phenomenon of mysticism known as contemplative prayer or centering prayer. This form of mystical prayer has entered the Christian church primarily through spiritual formation programs. Despite the actual practice being centuries old, going all the way back to the desert fathers in the middle ages, it has only recently struck a chord with many people within the numerous branches or denominations that make up the panoply of Christianity.

It would be prudent for those who want to enter into this practice to really understand the dynamics of what this really entails. Christians may expect that they are going to have a deeper encounter with the God of the Bible or lead richer fuller spiritual lives, but the reality may be radically different. In this booklet, you are going to read quotes , not from critics or opponents of contemplative prayer but rather champions and teachers of contemplative prayer that show the true nature of what this movement actually is spiritually grounded in. I want to say at the onset that these quotes are not skewered or taken out of context. They accurately illustrate the mindset of the particular author.

1. The Compatibility of New Age and Eastern Thought with  Contemplative Prayer
New Agers and those practicing Eastern religion regard contemplative prayer as part of their own movement. The following excerpts are  from New Age and Eastern thought proponents:

It’s important to note that, throughout the history of Christianity, Christian mystics have displayed an unusual openness to the wisdom of non-Christian philosophy and religion. In other words, Christian mysticism seems, from the beginning, to have had an intuitive recognition of the way in which mysticism is a form of unity that transcends religious difference.1—Carl McColman, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism (emphasis added)

The East does not represent a culture or a religion so much as the methodology [meditation] for a achieving a larger, liberating vision. In that sense, the “East” has existed in Western mystical traditions [i.e., contemplative prayer].2—Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy

Individual religions have various names for the esoteric paths that can bring us step by step to these experiences. In Mahayana Buddhism, there are the paths of the Tibetans or the way of Zen. . . . In Hinduism, there are the different forms of yoga. In Islam, there is Sufism. In Judaism, there is the teaching of the Cabala. In Christianity, there is contemplation. All of these can lead people to the ultimate level, to cosmic consciousness.3—Willigis Jäger, Searching for the Meaning of Life (emphasis added)

The meditation of advanced occultists is identical with the prayer of advanced mystics: it is no accident that both traditions use the same word for the highest reaches of their respective activities—contemplation.4—from the book, Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism

Kundalini has long been known in Taoist, Hindu, and Buddhist spirituality.”5 “Since this energy [Kundalini occultic energy] is also at work today in numerous persons who are devoting themselves to contemplative prayer, this book is an important contribution to the renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition.6—Thomas Keating, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality (emphasis added)

2. Major Proponents of Contemplative Prayer Advocate Eastern Religion
One of the outstanding characteristics of the contemplative prayer  movement is what is known as interspirituality. In effect, this means you stay in your present religion but you absorb the spiritual perspective of those within Eastern thought. For instance, in Henry Nouwen’s book, Pray to Live, he describes contemplative proponent Thomas Merton as being heavily influenced by Hindu monks.7 Consider the following quotes:

[Thomas] Merton had encountered Zen Buddhism, Sufism, Taoism and Vedanta many years prior to his Asian journey. Merton was able to uncover the stream where the wisdom of East and West merge and flow together, beyond dogma, in the depths of inner experience. . . . Merton embraced the spiritual philosophies of the East and integrated this wisdom into [his] own life through direct practice. 8—from Yoga Journal magazine

[T]he author [Catholic priest Thomas Ryan] shows a wonderful openness to the gifts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Muslim religion. He discovers their great wisdom for the spiritual life of the Christian and does not hesitate to bring that wisdom home.9—Henri Nouwen, from the foreword of Disciplines For Christian Living  (emphasis added)

This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality . . . It is no accident that the most active frontier between Christian and Eastern religions today is between contemplative Christian monks and their Eastern equivalents. Some forms of Eastern meditation informally have been incorporated or adapted into the practice of many Christian monks, and increasingly by other Christians.10—Tilden Edwards, founder of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, in Spiritual Friend

3. The Method in Contemplative Prayer Identical to the Method Used in New Age and Eastern Thought
The hallmark of contemplative prayer is found in such phrases as waiting for God in silence, stilling your thoughts, seeking God’s presence in the silence, and advancing in inward stillness, all with the characteristic of stopping the normal flow of thought. Many promoters of contemplative prayer would reject this being the result of using a mantra but many more accept this as being true.

Those who have practiced Transcendental Meditation may be surprised to learn that Christianity has its own time-honored form of mantra meditation. The technique, called Centering Prayer, draws on the spiritual exercises of the Desert Fathers, the English devotional classic, The Cloud of Unknowing, and the famous Jesus Prayer. . . . Reliance on a mantric centering device has a long history in the mystical canon of Christianity.11—Editors from New Age Journal, As Above, So Below

The techniques [Herbert] Benson teaches–silence, appropriate body posture and above all, emptying the mind through repetition of prayer—have been the practices of mystics in all the great world religions. And they form the basis on which most modern spiritual directors guide those who want to draw closer to God. . . . Silence is the language God speaks . . . says Thomas Keating who taught ‘centering prayer’ to more than 31,000 people in just one year. Keating suggests that those who pray repeat some “sacred word,” like God or Jesus.12—“Talking to God,” Newsweek magazine

Nonverbal prayer involves learning how to become silent inside. I first learned about nonverbal prayer as a part of other religious traditions. I did not know that it also has a long history in the Christian tradition (even though I had gone to a first-rate seminary; I do not know if it was not taught or if I missed it). It intrigued me. I learned about the use of mantras as a means of giving the mind something to focus and refocus on as it sinks into silence. I was thus delighted to learn later that the Christian tradition not only knows the practice of nonverbal prayer but also includes mantras.13—Marcus Borg, The God We Never Knew

The twentieth century, which has seen so many revolutions, is now witnessing the rise of a new mysticism within Christianity. . . . For the new mysticism has learned much from the great religions of Asia. It has felt the impact of yoga and Zen and the monasticism of Tibet. It pays attention to posture and breathing; it knows about the music of the mantra and the silence of samadhi. . . . Now what I say of Zen is true also of Christian mysticism. It also leads to an altered state of consciousness where all is one in God.”14 —William Johnston, The Mystical Way

Without in any way betraying his faith, the Christian can deepen his contemplation of divine mysteries through Hindu ways of prayer.15—Kathleen Healy, Entering the Cave of the Heart

Do not reflect on the meaning of the word; thinking and reflecting must cease, as all mystical writers insist.16—Willis Jäger, Contemplation: A Christian Path

The repetition [of a word or phrase] can in fact be soothing and very freeing, helping us, as Nouwen says, “to empty out our crowded interior life and create the quiet space where we can dwell with God.”17—evangelical author, Jan Johnson, When the Soul Listens

4. Finding the “God” Within
It is important to note here that the purpose of contemplative prayer is to enter an altered state of consciousness in order to find one’s true self, thus finding God. This true self relates to the belief that man is basically good. Christian proponents of contemplative prayer teach that all human beings have a divine center and that all, not just born-again believers, should practice contemplative prayer. The belief is that in the heart of man we find God (i.e., that we are God).

The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being.18—Henri Nouwen from his book Here and Now

We [all humanity] bear this divine core within us. Zen calls it “essential nature”; yoga calls it “atman”; Christians call it “eternal life, the kingdom of God, or heaven.” . . .  The Divine, which he [Jesus] called the Father, pulsates through us, just as it pulsated through him.19—Willigis Jäger, Search for the Meaning of Life

[Even people] who have yet to turn their lives over to Jesus Christ—can and should practice them [spiritual disciplines].20—Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

When God grows up for us, a different kind of relationship—if it can be called a relationship—is called for. No longer are we two separate beings who interact across the distance that we imagine to lie between beings. We are now related to God as the body is to the breath. Essentially, we are one.21—Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free

It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race . . . now I realize what we all are . . . If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are . . . I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other . . . At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth . . . This little point …is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody. 22—Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

[O]ccultism is defined as the science of mystical evolution; it is the employment of the hidden [i.e. occult] mystical faculties of man to discern the hidden reality of nature, i.e. to see God as the all in all.23—Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism

5. Contemplative Spirituality Has Become Attractive to Those in the Evangelical Church
Despite the theological barriers that have existed between Catholicism and the evangelical church, evangelicals have become more and more receptive to the Catholic contemplative tradition. These barriers have more or less come down over the last few decades, and an increasing number of evangelicals are seeking out spiritual directors and spiritual formation programs which are the conduits into the realm of this mystical paradigm.

Some very popular authors who have been accepted by the evangelical church are activists regarding contemplative prayer as a way to go deeper with God. These authors have written and taught prolifically on contemplative prayer.

Richard Foster

[W]e should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer.24

Thomas Merton has perhaps done more than any other twentieth-century figure to make the life of prayer widely known and understood . . . his interest in contemplation led him to investigate prayer forms in Eastern religion . . . [he is] a gifted teacher.25

Richard Rohr

God’s hope for humanity is that one day we will all recognize that the divine dwelling place is all of creation. Christ comes again whenever we see that matter and spirit co-exist. This truly deserves to be called good news.26

[O]ne of my publishers . . . told me that right now my single biggest demographic is young evangelicals—young evangelicals. Some of my books are rather heavy. I’m just amazed.27

Ruth Haley  Barton

A few years ago, I began to recognize an inner chaos in my soul . . . No matter how much I prayed, read the Bible, and listened to good teaching, I could not calm the internal roar created by questions with no answers.28

In Ruth Haley Barton’s book Invitation to Solitude and Silence (the book where Barton acknowledges Thomas Keating’s influence in her life),  Barton quotes the late Catholic priest William Shannon from his book Silence on Fire  (the biography of Thomas Merton). In that book, Shannon states:

Wordless prayer . . . is humble, simple, lowly, prayer in which we experience our total dependence on God and our awareness that we are in God. Wordless prayer is not an effort to “get anywhere, ” for we are already there (in God’s presence). It is just that we are not sufficiently conscious of our being there.29 (emphasis added)

Adele Ahlberg Cahoun

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun is the author of The Spiritual Discplines Handbook: Practices That Conform Us, a primer on contemplative and centering prayer. The following two quotes from her book clearly express her views:

Meditation is not simply a discipline of Eastern religions and New Age gurus. Meditation rests at the core of Judaeo-Christian spirituality; it’s an invitation to apprehend God.30

Take your time, and when a word “lights up” for you stop and attend. Let the word or phrase roam around in your mind and heart. . . . When your mind wanders, gently bring it back and continue your meditation.31

What illustrates Ahlberg Calhoun’s spiritual sympathies even more is a list of “tutors” she includes at the back of the book. Some of these are Basil Pennington, Henri Nouwen, Richard Rohr, Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and Julian of Norwich, all of which absorbed interspiritual and panentheistic characteristics due to their contemplative practices. Many evangelical leaders, including Rick Warren, recommend or endorse The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook.On the book’s publisher’s website (InterVarsity Press), you will find an endorsement for the book by the popular pastor Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian of NYC, who says of Calhoun’s handbook:

I have long profited from Adele Ahlberg Calhoun’s gifts in the field of spiritual development, and I am delighted that she has compiled her experience with spiritual disciplines into book form. I highly recommend it and I look forward to using it as a resource at our church.32

Brennan Manning

A simple method of contemplative prayer (often called centering prayer . . .) has four steps . . . choose a single sacred word . . . repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, often.33

In an interview, Brennan Manning recommended William Shannon’s book, Silence on Fire and Thomas Keating’s book on centering prayer, Open Mind, Open Heart. In Silence on Fire, Shannon denounces the atonement and the biblical God in the following manner:

This is a typical patriarchal notion of God. He is the God of Noah who sees people deep in sin, repents that He made them and resolves to destroy them. He is the God of the desert who sends snakes to bite His people because they murmured against Him. He is the God of David who practically decimates a people . . . He is the God who exacts the last drop of blood from His Son, so that His just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased. This God whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger. This God does not exist.34 (emphasis added)

Henri Nouwen

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’s active presence.35

The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being.36

Thomas Merton

During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: “How can we best help people [not just Christians] to attain union with God?” His answer was very clear. We must tell them that they are already united with God. Contemplative prayer is nothing other than coming into consciousness of what is already there.37—stated by Brennan Manning in his book The Signature of Jesus

I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity . . . I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.38

CONCLUSION
The Bible reveals that in the heart (center) of man our true self is not “God” but rather sinful and wicked:

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. (Matthew 15: 18,19)

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. (Mark 7: 21-23; emphasis added)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

The Bible also clearly warns against repetitive prayer and also tells us we cannot find God unmediated (i.e., without Christ).

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. (Matthew 6:7)

For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)

It is ironic that in the last century more Christians have died for their faith in other countries than have died in past centuries combined. Many of these Christians have departed from Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism to meet their executioners. What would these martyrs of the faith say to us if they could speak of our current western practice of intermingling Christianity with Eastern religion and the occult? The Bible warns against such mixture:

Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devil: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. (1 Corinthians 10: 21)

Jesus never taught his disciples techniques to attain oneness with God, but rather spoke of Himself as the Way. In fact, the entire New Testament was written to dispute the idea that people can reach God through religious efforts and reveals that Jesus Christ is the only answer. In conclusion, the contemplative movement is founded on the following false premises*:

The heart of man is basically good and (it has a divine center). vs. The heart of man is wicked—A DENIAL OF THE SIN NATURE

Man can find God through his own efforts regardless of what religion he has embraced. vs. Jesus referred to Himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.— A DENIAL OF THE ATONEMENT

God is delighted by chanting and similar methods of meditative prayer. vs. Jesus said that He isn’t.—A DENIAL OF GOD’S PERSONAL NATURE

With false premises as these, the conclusions can only be erroneous. The Bible creates the proper understanding and balance of 1) man as sinful, 2) needing a redeemer, 3) with whom he can have an abundant life.

Perhaps the most misguided view of all in the contemplative prayer movement is summed up in the following quote by a biographer of Thomas Merton:

Nor should Christians delude themselves with the idea that the grace of God is monopolized by any particular structure of belief. God isn’t obeying the traffic lights of any religious system.39

But this is not true. God did create an organism called the body of Christ, and to enter, you have to believe something very specific. If you understand the objective of true Christianity, you will clearly see that the opinion stated in the quote above contradicts the message of the Cross, which is the essence Christianity. You cannot reconcile the statement above with the following verse:

. . . that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)

*Note: * In philosophy, every “argument” must have a premise and a conclusion, but if your premises are false, it will inevitably lead you to a false conclusion.

To order copies of the updated expanded edition of 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer, click here.

Endnotes:
1. Carl McColman, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Road Publishing Company, 2010), p. 63.
2. Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy (Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Tarcher, 1980), p. 368.
3.Willigis  Jäger, Searching for the Meaning of Life (Liguori, MO: Triumph Books, 1995), p. 31.
4. Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism (London, UK: SPCK, 1979), p. 7.
5. Philip St. Romain, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality: A Pathway to Growth and Healing (New York, NY: Crossroad, 1995). This excerpt is in the Foreword by Thomas Keating; page 7.
6. Ibid.
7. Henri Nouwen, Pray to Live (Fides Publishers, 1972), pp. 19-28.
8. Michael Torris (Yoga Journal magazine; January/February; 1999).
9. Thomas Ryan, Disciplines For Christian Living (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1993). This excerpt written in the Foreword by Henri Nouwen; p. 2.
10. Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1980), pp. 18-19.
11.Ronald S. Miller, Editor of New Age Journal, As Above So Below (New York, NY: Tarcher/Putnam, 1992), p. 52.
12. Kenneth L. Woodward, “Talking to God” (Newsweek, January 6, 1992), p. 44.
13. Marcus Borg, The God We Never Knew (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1997), p. 125.
14. William Johnston, The Mystical Way: Silent Music and the Wounded Stag (HarperCollins,1993), Foreword, p. 336.
15. Kathleen Healy, Entering the Cave of the Heart (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1986), p. 9.
16. Willigis Jäger, Contemplation: A Christian Path  (Liguori, MO: Triumph Books, 1994), p. 31.
17. Jan Johnson, When The Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1999), p. 93.
18. Henri Nouwen, Here and Now (New York, NY: Crossroad, 1994), p. 22.
19.Willigis Jäger, Search for the Meaning of Life, op. cit., pp. 243, 245.
20. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1988), p. 2.
21. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free (New York, NY: Continuum Publishing, 1996), p. 77.
22. Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Publishers, 1989), pp. 157-158.
23. Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism, op. cit., p. 6.
24. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1978 edition), p. 13.
25. Richard Foster, Spiritual Classics (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 2000), p. 17.
26. Richard Rohr, “The Eternal Christ in the Cosmic Story” (National Catholic Reporter, 2009, http://www.thefreelibrary.com/The+eternal+Christ+in+the+cosmic+story.-a0214894722).
27. Kristen Hobby, “What Happens When Religion Isn’t Doing Its Job: an interview with Richard Rohr, OFM” (Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction, Volume 20, No. 1, March 2014), pp. 6-11.
28. Ruth Haley Barton, “Beyond Words:Experience God’s presence in silence and solitude” (Discipleship Journal, Vol. 113 1999).
29. William Shannon, Silence on Fire  (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1995 edition), pp. 109-110.
30. Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 2050-2051.
31. Ibid., Kindle Locations 2071-2072.
32. Timothy Keller, InterVarsity Press website: http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/review/code=7697.
33. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus; (Multnomah Books, 1994), p. 218.
34. William Shannon, Silence on Fire, op. cit., pp. 109-110.
35. Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1991), p. 81.
36. Henri Nouwen, Here and Now, op. cit., p. 22.
37. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus, op. cit., p. 211; citing William H. Shannon, Silence on Fire (1991 edition), p. 22.
38. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).
39. James Forest, Thomas Merton: A Pictorial Biography (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1980), p. 81.

To order copies of the updated expanded edition of 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer, click here.

 

Letter to the Editor: Pope Francis Points to the “Contemplative” “Thomas Merton” in Speech to Congress . . . And the Role This Could Play in a One-World Religion

merton

Thomas Merton

LTRP Note: On the morning of September 24th, Lighthouse Trails posted an article by Ray Yungen titled “Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion”  “Coincidentally,” one hour later, Lighthouse Trails was contacted and told that the Catholic Church’s Jesuit Pope Francis  talked about Thomas Merton (using the term contemplative to describe him) when he addressed Congress. Shortly later, Lighthouse Trails received this letter to the editor below.

The fact that Pope Francis referred to Merton (and his “contemplative style”) when talking to Congress and our nation is probably one of the heaviest things we have encountered since beginning Lighthouse Trails 13 years ago. We have suspected but now believe that Pope Francis has the capability of orchestrating a one-world religion. As one Merton scholar explained: “The God [Merton] knew in prayer was the same experience that Buddhists describe in their enlightenment.”1 In other words, Merton found Buddhist enlightenment in contemplative prayer.2 Merton’s view that God was in every person is summed up in this statement:

During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: “How can we best help people to attain union with God?” His answer was very clear: We must tell them that they are already united with God. “Contemplative prayer is nothing other than ‘coming into consciousness’ of what is already there.”3

This is panentheism Merton is describing above. We took the quote from one of Brennan Manning’s books. Remember the booklet we just released earlier this week about Beth Moore and her contemplative propensities where we quoted her saying that Brennan Manning’s contribution to “our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel.”4 But Manning resonates with Merton!  Please see what is happening here. It was no coincidence that we just released Ray Yungen’s booklet on Richard Foster and John Lanagan’s booklet on Beth Moore (both showing the interspiritual “fruit” of contemplative prayer), and then posting the article on the Catholic Church’s Expansion this morning. We did not know the pope was going to be exalting Thomas Merton today. Surely, God is trying to send out a warning. We just fear that few will hear it.

In Yungen’s booklet on Foster, he presents some new information about Merton that we never had before. It’s vital, especially now that the pope has used Merton as an example of who the American people are (please read an excerpt from Yungen’s booklet below the letter to the editor to better understand what we are trying to say).

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I am writing to you today hoping to pass some information onto Ray Yungen.

Today, I was led by the Lord to watch Pope Francis’ speech to Congress, I was curious as to what “interesting” things he was going to have to say. As I was watching the speech I heard him mention “Thomas Merton” which caught me off guard. I remember Ray and Warren Smith talking about him and how much he has been influenced by the New Age Movement. In his speech, he mentioned how “Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between people and religions.” He also said “Thomas Merton had the capacity for dialogue and openness to God” [contemplative]. He mentioned three other people in his speech, one of them being Dorothy Day [a radical feminist, social activist, and journalist], saying that these four people,4 including Thomas Merton, are “four representatives of the American people.”

After watching the speech, I felt I needed to pass this information onto Warren Smith, so I e-mailed him; I’m hoping he gets the e-mail. I really feel that this is just another connection of how the New Spirituality/Contemplative Prayer is invading the Body of Christ, and this nation!

After I e-mailed Warren, I was led to Lighthouse Trails Research website to try and see if there was any other contact information there. As I was there, I looked at the “blog” section page. To my absolute surprise, I saw an article written by Ray Yungen called “Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion.” It was posted on the EXACT same day as the Pope speaking to Congress. And what is one of the things the Pope talks about in his speech to congress? Thomas Merton!

Here is the actual video of his speech at Congress:
http://youtu.be/4rKi6ctW46A

Here is the written transcript of the speech:
http://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/pope-francis-speech-to-congress-transcript-text-video-214016.

I hope that you will be able to pass this information onto Ray, and hopefully even Warren Smith as well! It’s just more information that can be used to connect the dots.

Endnotes:

  1. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free (New York, NY: Continuum Publishing , 1996), p. 76.
  2. Explained byhttp://www.atimeofdeparting.com Ray Yungen in A Time of Departing.
  3. Brennan Manning,  The Signature of Jesus, p. 211,citing Merton’s biographer, William Shannon
  4. The other two were Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Excerpt from Ray Yungen’s booklet, A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer
Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk, is the most widely recognized of the modern-day contemplative writers. His influence is enormous in the contemplative field. Richard Foster quotes Merton over a dozen times in Celebration of Discipline and in other books as well, and many other evangelicals also quote Merton. The following entry from Merton’s published work, The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (written during his last trip to Asia*) speaks volumes as to Merton’s spiritual sympathies:

We went looking first for Chatral Rimpoche [a Tibetan holy man] at his hermitage above Ghoom. . . . We were told he was at an ani gompa, a nunnery, down the road. . . . So off we went toward Bagdogra and with some difficulty found the tiny nunnery . . . and there was Chatral, the greatest rimpoche [a Buddhist teacher] I have met so far and a very impressive person.

. . . We started talking about dzogchen and Nyingmapa meditation and “direct realization” and soon saw that we agreed very well. . . . The unspoken or half-spoken message of the talk was our complete understanding of each other as people who were somehow on the edge of great realization . . . and that it was a grace for us to meet one another. I wish I could see more of Chatral. He burst out and called me a rangjung Sangay (which apparently means a “natural Buddha”) . . . He told me, seriously, that perhaps he and I would attain to complete Buddhahood in our next lives, perhaps even in this life, and the parting note was a kind of compact that we would both do our best to make it in this life. I was profoundly moved, because he is so obviously a great man, the true practitioner of dzogchen, the best of the Nyingmapa lamas, marked by complete simplicity and freedom. He was surprised at getting on so well with a Christian and at one point laughed and said, “There must be something wrong here!” If I were going to settle down with a Tibetan guru, I think Chatral would be the one I’d choose.5 (emphasis added)

An equally revealing aspect of Merton’s Asian trip is what he experienced at a Buddhist shrine in Ceylon:

. . . an inner clearness, clarity, as if exploding from the rocks themselves, became evident and obvious. . . . All problems are resolved and everything is clear, simply because what matters is clear. The rock, all matter, all life, is charged with dharmakaya [the unity of all things and all people]. . . I don’t know when in my life I have ever had such a sense of beauty and spiritual validity running together in one aesthetic illumination. Surely . . . my Asian pilgrimage has come clear and purified itself. I . . . have seen what I was obscurely looking for. I don’t know what else remains.6 (emphasis added)

Why would someone who was so heavily involved in “Christian” mysticism be so entwined in and enthusiastically embracing of Buddhist mysticism? I considered titling this booklet Something’s Wrong Here because even though Chatral meant it in a positive way, when he said those words to Merton, he himself was shocked that Merton, a professing Christian, was basically on the same page as him and that they were able to fellowship.

One of Merton’s biographers, William Shannon, made this very clear when he explained:

If one wants to understand Merton’s going to the East it is important to understand that it was his rootedness in his own faith tradition [Catholicism] that gave him the spiritual equipment [contemplative prayer] he needed to grasp the way of wisdom that is proper to the East.7

What Merton meant by “dharmakaya” is actually what the New Age and eastern religions call cosmic consciousness (i.e., God is in everything and everybody.) But Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline, guarantees the reader that what he’s promoting will not lead to cosmic consciousness. He states, “It involves no hidden mysteries, no secret mantras, no mental gymnastics, no esoteric flights into the cosmic consciousness.”8 (An excerpt from Ray Yungen’s booklet, A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer)

 

“Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion”

I had always been confused as to the real nature of this advance in the Catholic church. Was this just the work of a few mavericks and renegades, or did the church hierarchy sanction this practice? My concerns were affirmed when I read in an interview that the mystical prayer movement not only had the approval of the highest echelons of Catholicism but also was, in fact, the source of its expansion.Ray Yungen

“Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion”

by Ray Yungen

While many Christians are still not even aware that a practical Christian mystical movement exists, momentum is picking up, and an obvious surge towards this contemplative spirituality has surfaced. Evidence regarding the magnitude of this mystical prayer movement is now within reach of the average person. In 1992, Newsweek magazine did a cover story called “Talking to God,” which made a clear reference to it. The article disclosed:

[S]ilence, appropriate body posture and, above all, emptying the mind through repetition of prayer have been the practices of mystics in all the great world religions. And they form the basis on which most modern spiritual directors guide those who want to draw closer to God.1

It is amazing to me how Newsweek clearly observed this shift in the spiritual paradigm over fifteen years ago, while many Christians (including most prominent leaders) still live in abject ignorance of this change. Are the teachings of the practical Christian mystic actually being assimilated so well that even our pastors are not discerning this shift?

In September 2005, Newsweek carried a special report called “Spirituality in America.” The feature story, titled “In Search of the Spiritual,” is seventeen pages long, and for anyone who thought that a Christian mystical movement did not exist, this article is all the proof needed to show it not only exists but is alive, well, and growing like you wouldn’t believe.

Thomas Keating

The article begins by describing the origin of the contemporary contemplative prayer movement, which began largely with a Catholic monk named Thomas Keating:

To him [Keating], as a Trappist monk, meditation was second nature. He invited the great Zen master Roshi Sasaki to lead retreats at the abbey. And surely, he thought, there must be a precedent within the church for making such simple but powerful spiritual techniques available to laypeople. His Trappist brother Father William Meninger found it in one day in 1974, in a dusty copy of a 14th-century guide to contemplative meditation, “The Cloud of Unknowing.”2

The most obvious integration of this movement can be found in Roman Catholicism. Michael Leach, former president of the Catholic Book Publishers Association, made this incredibly candid assertion:

But many people also believe that the spiritual principles underlying the New Age movement will soon be incorporated–or rather reincorporated–into the mainstream of Catholic belief. In fact, it’s happening in the United States right now.3

Incorporating it is! And it is assimilating primarily through the contemplative prayer movement.

Contemplative leader Basil Pennington, openly acknowledging its growing size, said, “We are part of an immensely large community … ‘We are Legion.'”4 Backing him up, a major Catholic resource company stated, “Contemplative prayer has once again become commonplace in the Christian community.”5

William Shannon [a mystic proponent and the biographer of Thomas Merton] went so far as to say contemplative spirituality has now widely replaced old-style Catholicism.6 This is not to say the Mass or any of the sacraments have been abandoned, but the underlying spiritual ideology of many in the Catholic church is now contemplative in its orientation.

One of my personal experiences with the saturation of mysticism in the Catholic church was in a phone conversation I had with the head nun at a local retreat center who told me the same message Shannon conveys. She made it clear The Cloud of Unknowing is now the basis for nearly all Catholic spirituality, and contemplative prayer is now becoming widespread all over the world.

I had always been confused as to the real nature of this advance in the Catholic church. Was this just the work of a few mavericks and renegades, or did the church hierarchy sanction this practice? My concerns were affirmed when I read in an interview that the mystical prayer movement not only had the approval of the highest echelons of Catholicism but also was, in fact, the source of its expansion. Speaking of a meeting between the late Pope Paul VI and members of the Catholic Trappist Monastic Order in the 1970s, Thomas Keating, disclosed the following:

The Pontiff declared that unless the Church rediscovered the contemplative tradition, renewal couldn’t take place. He specifically called upon the monastics, because they lived the contemplative life, to help the laity and those in other religious orders bring that dimension into their lives as well.7

Just look at the latest official catechism of the Catholic church to see contemplative prayer officially endorsed and promoted to the faithful by the powers that be. The new catechism firmly states: “Contemplative prayer is hearing the word of God … Contemplative prayer is silence.”8

I realized just how successfully Pope Paul’s admonitions have been carried out when I discovered the following at one popular Catholic bookstore. Many shelves were marked as spirituality–the focal point of the entire store. Eighty to ninety percent of the books on those shelves were on mystical prayer. It was clearly the overriding theme….

Contemplative spirituality reaches far beyond the walls of the Catholic church. Mainline Protestant traditions (Episcopalians, United Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, United Church of Christ, etc.) have dived into the contemplative waters too. Their deep tradition of twentieth-century liberalism and sociopolitical activism has left them spiritually dry and thirsting for supernatural experiences. This school of practical mysticism gives them a sense of spirituality while still allowing them a liberal political correctness. Marcus Borg, [former] professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University and someone who resonates with mystical spirituality understands the popularity of mystical prayer. He states:

In some mainline denominations, emerging-paradigm [contemplative] Christians are in the majority. Others are about equally divided between these two ways of being Christian.9

A sales person at a bookstore that caters to these denominations once told me the contemplative prayer view has found a large audience in the Protestant mainstream, and many pastors are very open to these practices. She added that some members of the clergy did show resistance, but a clear momentum towards the contemplative direction was nevertheless occurring. An article in Publisher’s Weekly magazine addressing the move toward contemplative prayer in mainstream religious circles confirmed her observation. One woman in the publishing field was quoted as saying, “[M]any Protestants are looking to satisfy that yearning by a return to the Western contemplative tradition.”10 Another college professor pointed out:

My students have been typically middle-aged and upper middle class Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists, active in the lay leadership of their churches. To outward appearances, they are quite conventional people. Yet I have found that virtually every one of my students has encountered the new age in one of its many forms and has been attracted by its mystery.11

Contemplative spirituality provides a seemingly profound experience of God without having to adhere to a conservative social outlook. It also gives its practitioners comfort to know they draw on a so–called Christian well of tradition. This dilutes any reluctance some might have about the orthodoxy of these practices.

To underscore the scope and reach of the contemplative prayer movement let’s look at the numbers put out by an organization called Spiritual Directors International (SDI). On their website this group gives ample evidence of what their practices are. In one national conference, the following was presented:

This workshop offers an opportunity to study and experience the [spiritual] director’s role in a person’s move into the beginning and early stages of contemplative prayer, silence, and openness to new sorts of praying.12

One of the objectives of SDI is “Tending the holy around the world and across traditions.” A 2008 membership list showed 652 Episcopalians, 239 Presbyterians, 239 Methodists, 175 Lutherans, and a whopping 2,386 Roman Catholics; counting another forty or so “traditions,” the total was 6648. To show the nature of just what they mean by “across traditions,” the list included Buddhist, Gnostic Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Siddha Yoga, and even Pagan/Wiccan.* (see below)

(For more information about contemplative spirituality, spiritual formation, and New Age mysticism coming into the church, read A Time of Departing.)

Notes:
1. Kenneth L. Woodward, “Talking to God” (Newsweek , January 6, 1992), p. 44.
2. Jerry Alder, “In Search of the Spiritual” (Newsweek, August/September 2005, Special Report: “Spirituality in America”), p. 48.
3. Michael Leach (America, May 2, 1992), p. 384.
4. M. Basil Pennington, Centered Living: The Way of Centering Prayer (New York, NY: Doubleday Publishing, Image Book edition, September 1988), p. 10.
5. Sheed & Ward Catalog, Winter/Lent, 1978, p. 12.
6. William Shannon, Seeds of Peace (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 1996), p. 25.
7. Anne A. Simpson, “Resting in God” Common Boundary magazine, Sept./Oct. 1997, http://www.livingrosaries.org/interview.htm), p. 25.
8. Catechism of the Catholic Church (Urbi et Orbi Communications, 1994), p. 652.
9. Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 2004), p. 7.
10. Kimberly Winston, “Get Thee to a Monastery” (Publisher’s Weekly, April 10, 2000), p. 39.
11. Bruce Epperly, Crystal & Cross (Mystic, CT: Twenty-third Publishers, 1996), p. 14.
12. Spiritual Directors International, Conference Workshops: “Exile or Return? Accompanying the Journey into Contemplative Prayer” (http://www.sdiworld.org/conference_workshops.html).

*Note on Spiritual Directors International. Since 2005, there have been significant increases in the SDI’s demographic statistics of spiritual director members. The overall increase went from around 5000 members in 2005 to 6648 in 2008 with new denominations and religious groups added.

Christian Pastors and Leaders – Exchanging the Word of God for a “New” Way of Doing Things

By David Dombrowski
Editor at Lighthouse Trails

The church of today is very much astir. Everywhere we turn,  embellishments are being added to Christianity as if to improve it. The old ways do not seem to satisfy anymore. A great influx of new teachings and practices have exchanged the God of old as depicted in the pages of the Bible with a deity much more palatable to the post-modern mind. Brennan Manning illustrates this when he stated in one of his books, “ . . . the god who exacts the last drop of blood from His Son, so that His just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased is not the God revealed by and in Jesus Christ. And if he is not the God of Jesus, he does not exist.”1  This “progressive” contemplative/emerging church has gone so far as to place in pulpits men who blaspheme God and who deny the atonement. But let us step back for a moment to see how emerging thought has developed. Such a statement did not come out of the blue, but as Ray Yungen suggests, a “creeping” effect made it all possible.2

Over the years, Christian leaders and pastors have stopped defending the faith and have exchanged the Word of God for things that outwardly appear very spiritual and promise a “quantum leap” into a “new spirituality.” Though there have always been those who deny Christ’s substitutionary death on the Cross, most of this kind of thought and teaching has been kept out of the evangelical/Protestant church. But as the walls of biblical truth were gradually torn down, it is no longer unusual to hear this kind of teaching in Christian colleges and seminaries. Much of what we see today began with men who pioneered the way to apostasy, then as a domino effect these ideas caught on and accelerated to the unbiblical thoughts and teachings we are witnessing in so many Christian circles today.

An example of this creeping effect can be seen in the Brennan Manning quote above from his 2003 book because it is nearly a word for word rendering of several lines from New Age sympathizer and mystic William Shannon’s 1995 book Silence on Fire.3 This book is the biography of Thomas Merton who possibly had more to do than anyone else in giving mysticism (namely contemplative prayer) that initial push whereby it has now avalanched into the mainline evangelical/Protestant churches. But it all began as a creeping or rippling effect with the initial momentum almost imperceptibly slow.

Over the last couple of decades, countless pastors and religious leaders across North America have pulled out for their evening reading books written by mystics like Henri Nouwen hoping to glean something to carry them to the next level of spirituality. Unfortunately, that quantum leap ends in the web of apostasy. As you may know by now, Henri Nouwen (also a great admirer of Thomas Merton) wrote in a provocative intellectual style that has intrigued many pastors, but what happened when these pastors stumbled upon these words:

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.4

Nouwen said these words toward the end of his life after spending years involved with mysticism. And yet, pastors, leaders, and professors are enamored with Nouwen.  And on goes that seemingly subtle creeping in of deception slowly but surely.

Pastors of North America, it’s not too late, but the North American church is in on borrowed time. We have become weak and spoiled, and it is time to change course, return to a no-compromise faith, the kind many of us had when we first became Christians. To straddle the fence, as has been the case for way too long, has cost the church dearly and could mean a steady erosion of biblical faith and a fall into the mire of full-blown apostasy.

While the mystics and emergents attempt to strip Jesus of who He is and what He came for, we should never forget that in Him we have a priceless treasure. Isaiah said of Him, “his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Most importantly, Jesus came to redeem us from our sins:

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians 1:7)

When Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven, he used a number of illustrations, one of which should have special significance in our churches today:

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. (Matthew 13:44)

While the emerging, purpose-driven, contemplative “progressives” of today are casting biblical doctrine on the dung heap more than ever, we should be holding on to it as something truly sacred, for it is biblical doctrine that defines our faith and gives to us living water. Hebrews 4:12 tells us:

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.

No wonder the devil wants to undermine and get rid of the Word of God, and he is attempting to do it through many who call themselves Christians.

Contending for the faith may cost us everything we have, but it is worth it, a jewel far about price. This life will soon be over, but eternity will last a very long time. Shouldn’t we be putting our treasures in heaven no matter what it may cost us now?

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Matthew 13:45-46)

Notes:

1. Brennan Manning, Above All, pp. 58-59 as quoted from Roger Oakland in Faith Undone, p. 195. (2003)
2. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, p. 94. (2nd ed. 2006)
3. William Shannon, Silence on Fire, pp. 109-110. (1195)
4. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey, p. 51. ( 1998 Hardcover Edition)

“5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer” Booklet Will Help Share Truth

5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer written by Ray Yungen is one of the new Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tracts and is a concise primer on understanding contemplative prayer. The booklet is 16 pages long and sells for $1.50 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. This is a great way to tell others about the dangers of contemplative prayer. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer, click here. There are also two bonus sections in the booklet: “A Few Common Terms” and “Christian Mystics from the Past.”

5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer - EXPANDED EDITION (2015)5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer

By Ray Yungen

There is a practice that is becoming more and more popular within the evangelical church. It is called contemplative prayer or centering prayer. Youth organizations and seminaries are particularly drawn to this, thus impacting the Christian youth in this country. Furthermore, there is a snowballing effect wherein contemplative prayer is being accepted and endorsed by more and more evangelical leaders, often based not on their own experience and understanding but rather on the word of other respected leaders who in turn may not have fully researched this subject. In order to truly understand the nature of contemplative prayer, I believe there are five things you should know. After each point, I have given some quotes from various published works to back up my statement.

I. A Distinct Connection Between New Age, Eastern Religion, and the Occult, and Contemplative Prayer

First of all, New Agers, occultists, and those practicing Eastern religion regard contemplative prayer as part of their own movement. The following excerpts are all from New Age, Eastern thought, and occultic books and magazines:

“Those who have practiced Transcendental Meditation may be surprised to learn that Christianity has its own time-honored form of mantra meditation. The technique, called Centering Prayer, draws on the spiritual exercises of the Desert Fathers, the English devotional classic, The Cloud of Unknowing, and the famous Jesus Prayer.”1—from the book, As Above, So Below (a New Age treatise)

“Reliance on a mantric centering device has a long history in the mystical canon of Christianity.”2—As Above, So Below

An Omega Institute Mind, Body, Spirit book titled Contemplative Living endorses several of the authors we are concerned about: Father Thomas Keating, Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Julian of Norwich, John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. Omega Institute is the nation’s largest holistic, New Age learning center.3

“The meditation of advanced occultists is identical with the prayer of advanced mystics: it is no accident that both traditions use the same word for the highest reaches of their respective activities”—contemplation.4—from the book, The Mission of Mysticism

“Kundalini has long been known in Taoist, Hindu, and Buddhist spirituality.”5 “Since this energy [Kundalini energy] is also at work today in numerous persons who are devoting themselves to contemplative prayer, this book is an important contribution to the renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition.”6 —Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality

II. Main Proponents of Contemplative Prayer Have Been Aligned With Eastern Religion
Secondly, major proponents of the contemplative prayer movement have been or are aligned with Eastern religion. Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton, considered by many to be devout Christians, have intermingled their form of Christianity with Zen, Buddhism and Sufism. In Henry Nouwen’s own book, Pray to Live,7 he describes Merton as being heavily influenced by Hindu monks. Consider also the following quotes:

“(Thomas) Merton had encountered Zen Buddhism, Sufism, Taoism and Vedanta many years prior to his Asian journey. Merton was able to uncover the stream where the wisdom of East and West merge and flow together, beyond dogma, in the depths of inner experience. . . . Merton embraced the spiritual philosophies of the East and integrated this wisdom into [his] own life through direct practice.” 8—from Yoga Journal magazine

“[T]he author shows a wonderful openness to the gifts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Muslim religion. He discovers their great wisdom for the spiritual life of the Christian and does not hesitate to bring that wisdom home.”9 —Henri Nouwen, in the foreword of a book on meditation.

“This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality . . . It is no accident that the most active frontier between Christian and Eastern religions today is between contemplative Christian monks and their Eastern equivalents. Some forms of Eastern meditation informally have been incorporated or adapted into the practice of many Christian monks, and increasingly by other Christians.”10—Tilden Edwards, founder of the Shalem Institute

III. Methods in Contemplative Prayer Are Same As In Eastern Religion

According to The New Age Movement and The Biblical Worldview, meditation, chanting mantras, body disciplines, guided imagery, religious mysticism, self-realization and at-one-ment are all part of New Age and Eastern practices.11

“The techniques [Herbert] Benson teaches–silence, appropriate body posture and above all, emptying the mind through repetition of prayer—have been the practices of mystics in all the great world religions. And they form the basis on which most modern spiritual directors guide those who want to draw closer to God.”12—Newsweek

“Silence is the language God speaks . . . says Thomas Keating who taught ‘centering prayer’ to more than 31,000 people in just one year. Keating suggests that those who pray repeat some ‘sacred word’, like God or Jesus.”13—Newsweek

“The twentieth century, which has seen so many revolutions, is now witnessing the rise of a new mysticism within Christianity. . . . For the new mysticism has learned much from the great religions of Asia. It has felt the impact of yoga and Zen and the monasticism of Tibet. It pays attention to posture and breathing; it knows about the music of the mantra and the silence of samadhi.”14—The Mystical Way

“Now what I say of Zen is true also of Christian mysticism. It also leads to an altered state of consciousness where all is one in God.”15 —The Mystical Way

“Do not reflect on the meaning of the word; thinking and reflecting must cease, as all mystical writers insist. 16—Contemplation: A Christian Path

“The repetition [of a word or phrase] can in fact be soothing and very freeing, helping us, as Nouwen says, ‘to empty out our crowded interior life and create the quiet space where we can dwell with God.’”17 —Jan Johnson, from her popular book for Christians, When the Soul Listens

IV. Authors in the Evangelical Church Have Latched Onto Contemplative Prayer
Some very popular authors in the evangelical church have latched on to contemplative prayer as a way to go deeper with God. Richard Foster and Brennan Manning have held countless workshops and speak in churches, seminaries, and youth gatherings all across the country.

“Christians . . . have developed two fundamental expressions of Unceasing Prayer. The first . . . is usually called aspiratory prayer or breath prayer. The most famous of the breath prayers is the Jesus Prayer. It is also possible to discover your own individual breath prayer. . . . Begin praying your breath prayer as often as possible.”18—Richard Foster, from his book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home

In Richard Foster’s 1998 edition of Celebration Of Discipline, Foster makes several recommendations of books that are “helpful” to read. He heartily endorses Tilden Edward’s book, Spiritual Friend. Here are some quotes from Edwards’ book:

“This mystical stream [contemplative prayer and other monastic traditions] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality (and to that of Sufis Moslems …); This exchange, together with the more popular Eastern impact in the West through transcendental meditation, Hatha Yoga, the martial arts, and through many available courses on Eastern religions in universities, has aided a recent rediscovery of Christian apophatic mystical tradition.”19

“Thomas Merton in many ways helped pave the way for recent serious Christian investigation of these potential Eastern contributions.” 20

“The new ecumenism involved here is not between Christian and Christian but between Christians and the grace of other intuitively deep religious traditions.”21

“A simple method of contemplative prayer (often called centering prayer . . . ) has four steps . . . choose a single sacred word . . . repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, often.”22—Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus

“During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: ‘How can we best help people (not just Christians) to attain union with God?’ His answer was very clear. We must tell them that they are already united with God. Contemplative prayer is nothing other than coming into consciousness of what is already there.”23—Brennan Manning

In an interview, Brennan Manning recommends William O’ Shannon’s book, Silence on Fire and Thomas Keating’s book on centering prayer, Open Mind, Open Heart. In Silence on Fire, O’Shannon blasts the Christian, biblical God:24

This is a typical patriarchal notion of God. He is the God of Noah who sees people deep in sin, repents that He made them and resolves to destroy them. He is the God of the desert who sends snakes to bite His people because they murmured against Him. He is the God of David who practically decimates a people . . . He is the God who exacts the last drop of blood from His Son, so that His just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased. This God whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger. This God does not exist.25

V. Finding the “God” Within vs. What the Bible Says About the Heart of Man
It is important to note here that the purpose of contemplative prayer is to enter an altered state of consciousness in order to find one’s true self, thus finding God. This true self relates to the belief that man is basically good. Christian proponents of contemplative prayer teach that all human beings have a divine center and that all, not just born-again believers, should practice contemplative prayer. The belief is that in the heart of man we find God (i.e., that we are God).

“The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being.”26—Henri Nouwen from his book Here and Now

“Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center.”27 —Thomas Kelly as quoted by Richard Foster in Streams of Living Waters

[Even people,]”who have yet to turn their lives over to Jesus Christ—can and should practice them [spiritual disciplines].”28—Richard Foster

“[I]f I find Christ, I will find my true self and if I find my true self, I will find Christ.”29—Brennan Manning in Abba’s Child

“It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race . . . now I realize what we all are . . . If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are . . . I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other . . . At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth . . . This little point …is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody.”30—Thomas Merton

“[O]ccultism is defined as the science of mystical evolution; it is the employment of the hidden [i.e. occult] mystical faculties of man to discern the hidden reality of nature, i.e. to see God as the all in all.”31 —The Mission of Mysticism

The Bible reveals that in the heart (center) of man our true self is not “God” but rather sinful and wicked:

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart: and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies. (Matthew 15: 18,19)

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. (Mark 7: 21,22, emphasis added)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

The Bible also clearly warns against repetitive prayer and also tells us we cannot find God unmediated (i.e., without Christ).

And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. (Matthew 6:7)

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)

The following are the titles of several popular books and a list of people the authors make reference and recommendation to in those books:

Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning: Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Paul Tillich, Teilhard de Chardin, Carl Jung, M. Basil Pennington, Anthony De Mello

Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning: Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Carl Jung, Morton Kelsey, Rainer Maria Rilke, Blaise Pascal, Simon Tugwell, David Seamands, John Bradshaw, Meister Eckhart, Leo Tolstoy, Anthony De Mello, Scott Peck

Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster: Thomas Merton, Madam Guyon, Catherine de Haeck Doherty (Christian Spirituality of the East for Western Man), Sue Monk Kidd

Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster: Thomas Merton, Carl Jung, Leo Tolstoy, mystic Richard Rolle, Thomas Kelly, Morton Kelsey, Evelyn Underhill, Meister Eckhart, Blaise Pascal, Lao-tse of China, Tilden Edwards

The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen: Thomas Merton, Taoist philosopher Chuang Tzu, Teilhard de Chardin, Willigis Jager

CONCLUSION:
It is ironic that in the last century more Christians have died for their faith in other countries than have died in past centuries combined. Many of these Christians have departed from Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism to meet their executioners. What would these martyrs of the faith say to us if they could speak of our current western practice of intermingling Christianity with Eastern religion and the occult? The Bible warns against such mixture:

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils; you cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and of the table of devils. (1 Corinthians 10: 21, 22)

Jesus never taught his disciples techniques to attain oneness with God, but rather spoke of Himself as the Way. In fact, the entire New Testament was written to dispute the idea that people can reach God through religious efforts and reveals that Jesus Christ is the only answer. In conclusion, the contemplative movement is founded on the following false premises*:

The heart of man is basically good and (it has a divine center). vs. The heart of man is wicked—A DENIAL OF THE SIN NATURE

Man can find God through his own efforts regardless of what religion he has embraced. vs. Jesus referred to Himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.— A DENIAL OF THE ATONEMENT

God is delighted by chanting and similar methods of meditative prayer. vs. Jesus said that He isn’t.—A DENIAL OF GOD’S PERSONAL NATURE

With false premises as these, the conclusions can only be erroneous. The Bible creates the proper understanding and balance of 1) man as sinful, 2) needing a redeemer, 3) with whom he can have an abundant life.

* In philosophy, every “argument” must have a premise and a conclusion, but if your premises are false, it will inevitably lead you to a false conclusion.

To order copies of 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer, click here. There are also two bonus sections in the booklet: “A Few Common Terms” and “Christian Mystics from the Past.”

Notes:
1. Ronald S. Miller, Editor of New Age Journal, As Above So Below (Tarcher/Putnam, 1992), p. 52.
2. Ibid.
3. Joan Duncan Oliver, Contemplative Living (Dell, 2000).
4. Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism (SPCK, 1979), p. 7.
5. Philip St. Romain, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality: A Pathway to Growth and Healing (Crossroad, 1995). This excerpt is in the Foreword by Thomas Keating; page 7.
6. Ibid.
7. Henri Nouwen, Pray to Live, (Fides Publishers), pp. 19-28.
8. Michael Torris (Yoga Journal magazine; January/February; 1999).
9. Thomas Ryan, Disciplines For Christian Living (Paulist Press, 1993). This excerpt written in the Foreword by Henri Nouwen; p. 2.
10. Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend, (Paulist Press, 1980), pp. 18-19.
11. John Newport, The New Age Movement and The Biblical Worldview (Eerdman’s Publishing, 1998).
12. Kenneth L. Woodward, “Talking to God” (Newsweek, January 6, 1992), p. 44.
13. Ibid.
14. William Johnston, The Mystical Way: Silent Music and the Wounded Stag (HarperCollins,1993), Foreword.
15. Ibid., p. 336.
16. Willigis Jager, Contemplation: A Christian Path (Liguori, 1994), p. 31.
17. Jan Johnson, When The Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer, (NavPress, 1999), p. 93.
18. Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding The Heart’s True Home (HarperOne, 1992), p. 122. On pages 156-159 Foster discusses contemplative prayer in depth.
19. Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend, op. cit., pp. 18-19.
20. Ibid., p. 164 .
21. Ibid., p. 72.
22. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus (Multnomah Books, 1994), p. 218.
23. Ibid., p. 211.
24. Discipleship Journal, Issue 100, 1997, p. 78.
25. William Shannon, Silence on Fire (Crossroad), pp. 109-110.
26. Henri Nouwen, Here and Now (Crossroad, 1994), p. 22.
27. Richard Foster, Streams of Living Water (HarperCollins,1998), beginning of chapter two—a quote by Thomas Kelly from his book A Testament of Devotion.
28. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (HarperCollins, 1988), p. 2.
29. Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child (NavPress, 1994), p. 125.
30. Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Image Books,1989 edition), pp. 157-158.
31. Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism, op. cit., p. 6.

To order copies of 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer, click here.


Lighthouse Trails RSS Feed
**SHOP FOR BOOKS/DVDS**

SEARCH ENTIRE SITE
Categories
Calendar
August 2017
S M T W T F S
« Jul    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  
Archives
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons