LTRP Note: Please see editors notes below this letter.
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
Today my neighbor who’s in an emergent church . . . told me his church started a sermon series called “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry.” Hmm . . . I’ve left enough emergent churches to know a sermon series probably has a book. So, I did a search and found this disturbing link of trailers by this guy. . . .
This book (The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry), written by John Mark Comer, teaches readers to do breath prayers, mindfulness meditation, and various other contemplative-type exercises.
So, I just wanted to bring this to your attention as I see out there on vimeo and YouTube that Comer’s contemplative message is circulating in the churches.
This is such a burden as I left the Catholic Church many years ago. I don’t even know what else to say about this. Do you think I should calmly approach the pastor in the neighborhood? Do I just pretend to not know any of this to get along?
LT Editors’ Notes:
The Letter to the Editor above was sent to us this past May, but we had not posted it yet. Yesterday, we received the following from another reader:
. . . I was wondering if you have done any research on John Mark Comer. He is the founding pastor of Bridgetown church in Portland, OR. He seems to have a big influence on pastors of other churches. He has written and promoted something called “Practicing the Way.” I’m not sure what that all is about but am concerned this may not be in line with Scripture. He has also written several books. Some of the teachings he has on YouTube are also a concern.—Debbie
In between receiving these two letters from the two LT readers, one of our authors began doing research on John Mark Comer and Tyler Staton (Staton, “lead pastor” at Bridgetown Church in Portland, is author of a new book titled Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools). Comer and Staton have worked together on various projects and interviews (such as this one on YouTube), and Comer’s endorsement of Staton’s book is inside the front cover. Both Praying Like Monks and The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry are heavily contemplative books.
The contemplative prayer movement (via Spiritual Formation) largely entered the church in 1978 when Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline was released (Foster was a self-proclaimed type protege of Catholic mystic Thomas Merton). The CP movement simmered for a couple decades but was heating up as figures like Rick Warren began promoting it (even as far back as the 1990s). But still, most Christians had not heard of it (even though their pastors were reading Celebration of Discipline unbeknownst to their congregations; and as we documented in our special report Epidemic of Apostasy, many pastors had been introduced to contemplative spirituality in their Christian universities and seminaries).
Today, long after Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, and Brennan Manning (three pioneering Catholic contemplative mystics) are gone, a new generation of young “hip” pastors and leaders are rising up with a renewed energy to spread the contemplative message. Catholic mystic, Richard Rohr (who Ray Yungen said was today’s Thomas Merton) has provided the fodder and guidance for many of these new contemplatives. That’s easily proveable: One of Richard Rohr’s publishers told him that his biggest readership was young evangelical men  (e.g., today’s young pastors, two of which are Comer and Staton).
In his book, A Time of Departing, Ray Yungen explained, dissected, and exposed the contemplative issue in a way that is easy to understand and is incredibly well documented with source material (making his proclamations and warnings irrefutable—you know what we mean if you have read the book). If there is anyone reading this post who has not yet read A Time of Departing, we beseech you to read it. If you do not have a copy and are struggling to get one, we will send anyone who asks us a free copy of the book. Write to us at email@example.com and give us your name and mailing address (we will keep those confidential). You see, it’s not about the money for Lighthouse Trails. It never has been. If you haven’t read our story of how we began this ministry, you can read it here. It began because of the contemplative prayer movement, and we have been compelled all these years to continue with this warning even though many pastors and church figures have belittled, mocked, and rejected our findings. If you read our story, we think you will begin to understand the urgency and continuation of our warnings.
What’s at stake here? The future of your churches and the faith of your children and grandchildren.
In A Time of Departing, Yungen exhorts us:
Contemplative advocates propose that there has been something vital and important missing from the church for centuries. The insinuation is that Christians have been lacking something necessary for their spiritual vitality; but that would mean the Holy Spirit has not been fully effective for hundreds of years and only now the secret key has been found that unlocks God’s full power to know Him. These proponents believe that Christianity has been seriously crippled without this extra ingredient. This kind of thinking leads one to believe that traditional, biblical Christianity is merely a philosophy without the contemplative prayer element. Contemplatives are making a distinction between studying and meditating on the Word of God versus experiencing Him, suggesting that we cannot hear Him or really know Him simply by studying His Word or even through normal prayer—we must be contemplative to accomplish this. But the Bible makes it clear that the Word of God is living and active, and has always been that way, and it is in filling our minds with it that we come to love Him, not through a mystical practice of stopping the flow of thought (the stillness) that is never once mentioned in the Bible, except in warnings against vain repetitions. . . .
Evangelical Christianity is being invited, perhaps even catapulted into seeing God with the “new eyes” of contemplative prayer. The question must be asked, is Thomas Merton’s silence, Henri Nouwen’s space, and Richard Foster’s contemplative prayer [which is rooted in panentheism and interspirituality] the way in which we can know and be close to God? Or is this actually a spiritual belief system contrary to the true message that the Bible so absolutely defines—that there is only one way to God and that is through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice on the Cross obtained our full salvation?
If indeed my concerns for the future actually come to fruition, then we will truly enter a time of departing. My prayer is that you will not turn away from the faith to follow a different gospel and a different Jesus but will rather stay the course and finish the race, so that after having done all you can, you will stand.
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13)
When we consider the serious ramifications of the contemplative prayer movement and then also recognize that three of the major influences in the lives of millions of Christians—The Shack, Jesus Calling, and The Chosen—all have ties to the contemplative prayer movement, it is not difficult to conclude that millions of Christians are not wearing the “armour of God” and may, therefore, not “be able to withstand in the evil day.”
- The Liturgists Podcast (“The Cosmic Christ With Richard Rohr,” April 11, 2016, https://theliturgists.com/the-cosmic-christ-with-richard-rohr-podcast-page/)
(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)