There used to be a day when folks could attend a Southern Baptist Church and know that what the preacher said in the pulpit was the Biblical truth; that what was being taught in a Sunday School class was Biblical.  This, sadly, is not longer the case.

 

The “lecture” by Beth Moore, (examined in the audio program above) is often what passes for preaching and teaching today:


First, take a Scripture that seems to say what you want it to, particularly a word you want to key on.


Second, convey to others your deep spirituality and insight on this passage, so that no one can argue with you.


Third, add the world's wisdom so that it all sounds good to the ears, and you, too, can be a popular preacher!

 

If you are a Southern Baptist Pastor reading this website:  Do you remember the Genesis commentary (written by Midwestern Prof. Ralph Elliott, in 1961) scandal that erupted during the Southern Baptist Convention in 1962, and what was done to correct that?  WELL, what is being done to correct THIS?  I was so impressed with Rev. Charles Stanley, whom I met on that occasion, and his stand against the heresy that was being addressed at the Convention. 


Where are those pastors who will take a stand against this new heresy?

-Rev. Joe Hughes

"Spiritual Formation"
and
"Contemplative Prayer"
HERESY

 

Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which "contemplative prayer" is entering the church. Find Spiritual Formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find "contemplative spirituality."  In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the Spiritual Formation movement.

It’s possible—perhaps even likely—that you’ve never heard the phrase “Spiritual Formation” before. It’s the kind of terminology that’s often sequestered in academic circles. But in recent years, the concepts and practices of spiritual formation have gained popularity in the church and brought related issues to the forefront for many believers.  And it is unfortunate that many believers who are regular church-attenders, do not understand what the Spiritual Formation concept really means and it's mysticism background.

 

Even forming a basic definition of Spiritual Formation is no simple feat. It’s a fluid concept, with a wide range of accepted meanings and applications.

 

In broad terms, Spiritual Formation is the process of spiritual shaping and growth. Sending your children to a Christian school would fall under the wide canopy of Spiritual Formation. The same could be said of any education tied to a specific religion—Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, or Muslim schools all contribute to the spiritual formation of their students.

 

However, in Christian circles, spiritual formation refers to more than mere academic instruction. Most often, it’s a reference to the dynamic means of sanctification. It deals with the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit and the various methods He uses to bring about spiritual growth in our lives.

 

It’s at this point things can become confusing. On one hand, there are the time-tested, practical Christian disciplines we’re all familiar with—things like personal and corporate Bible study, worship, prayer, discipleship, and service.

 

On the other hand, many of the leading voices in the spiritual formation movement stress the need for more intuitive interpretations of spirituality. They encourage believers to incorporate a wide variety of extrabiblical spiritual practices, such as contemplative prayer, silence, meditation, creative expression, and yoga. In fact, some of the most popular methods of spiritual formation have been lifted from Catholicism, new age mysticism, or other religions and rebranded with biblical-sounding terminology.

 

But any kind of subjective spirituality that draws your focus away from the Lord and His truth can have disastrous results, derailing your spiritual growth and cutting you off from God’s plan for your sanctification.

 

All true spiritual growth starts with the preeminent role of God’s Word in the lives of His people. But is Scripture alone enough for spiritual maturity?

An introduction to Contemplative Prayer and the Spiritual Formation movement
with Ray Yungen:
The next lecture explores how the "Seeker Sensitive" movement served as a 'bridge' for the "Spiritual Formation" aficionados, to form what is known today as the "Emergent Church."  You may be surprised, as I was, to learn about some Southern Baptist individuals who were "converted" to this mystical movement, and became major players in this heresy. You will be introduced to a Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher in a rural Baptist church in South Carolina, who became a major proponent of this mystical movement; ending up leaving Christianity and denying her previous faith.

(For more information on the "Emergent Church" see the web page on this site, by the same name, in the index of web pages, on the left of your screen.)
The 3 main components of "Contemplative Prayer" ("Spiritual Formation," "Spiritual Directors," and "Spiritual Disciplines") are explored in the next lecture.  Origins of this non-biblical mysticism, including information about the Desert Fathers, and modern day practitioners, are covered in detail.
Ecumenism Gone Exponential (Part 1):
Ecumenism Gone Exponential (Part 2):
Part 1:  The Transformation of a New Age Medium.  Brian Flynn lays the groundwork for discussion of the heretical "Contemplative Prayer" by first presenting his Christian testimony.
Part 2:
The problem with "Contemplative Prayer," "Centering Prayer," "Breath Prayers," "going into The Silence," "Spiritual Directors"...things which are taught in the Spiritual Formation program at Truett Seminary.
-a presentation by Brian Flynn

. Brian Flynn was brought up in the church then rejected the church and began his spiritual quest dabbling in new age practices like Ouija boards and Tarot cards, Transcendental Meditation and spirit-guides, etc.. Through a series of events in his life he was radically saved by Jesus Christ.

His experiences in the New Age movement have given him a unique insight into new practices entering the church and an ability to discern what is beneficial and what could be potentially dangerous.
The Infiltration of Mysticism in the Church is covered in this lecture by
Dr. Gary Gilley. All the major players who have written books that form the basis of Spiritual Formation and are studied by Truett Seminary students, are explored and exposed:

Journaling: the latest heresy craze entering the church.....even offered during an 'altar call' by pastors trained in Spiritual Formation, instead of inviting people to come to Christ after preaching the Gospel message.
The Spiritual Formation Movement has rocked the church. Ancient disciplines, most often practiced within the monastic movement in the early centuries of Christianity, have been dusted off, repacked, and resubmitted to believers as the means for obtaining spiritual growth. There is increasing discussion about fasting, journaling, pilgrimage, simplicity, solitude, silence, contemplative prayer, and spiritual direction in Christian literature.

Journaling as a Spiritual Practice by Helen Cepero

Helen Cepero, seminary professor and director of spiritual formation at North Park Theological Seminary, has written this book as part of InterVarsity Press’ Formatio Books. Formatio is a division of IVP dedicated to the promotion of the ancient traditions of the church to aid in spiritual formation (Spiritual formation is a channel through which contemplative practices are entering the church). For those acquainted with this language, you will recognize that IVP is introducing and repackaging the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions drawn not from Scripture but from the ideas of people. This type of “spiritual formation” has become immensely popular since Richard Foster wrote The Celebration of Discipline about three decades ago. Since then, and more so recently, the Christian community has been flooded with the call to return to ancient practices and traditions. Journaling as a Spiritual Practice is one such call, this time to the discipline of journaling. What should be observed from the outset is that Cepero does not draw her understanding on journaling from the Scriptures, for nowhere in the Bible is such a practice taught. Whatever she has to offer comes from post-biblical tradition and/or the imagination of more recent times.


Having said this we must ask whether journaling is wrong. The short answer is no. Many of the great saints of God throughout the years have written diaries and journals to aid them in their walk with God. Admittedly, there are other methods that believers practice to expedite their spiritual development which do not come directly from a chapter and verse. Certainly the Lord allows latitude within biblical parameters to find and use methods to help us worship Him and understand His ways. Writing down our thoughts, insights, struggles, and understanding and application of Scripture can have great benefits. Still, it must be remembered that there is no mandate in Scripture to journal, nor is everyone predisposed to do so. For those interested in journaling, this book offers much in the way of helpful advice, practical suggestions and encouragement.


That’s the good news. The devil, as they say is in the details. Journaling attempts, as many books of this genre do, to use Jeremiah 6:16, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths…” (p. 92) as biblical support. But, of course, Jeremiah was calling the people back to the ancient paths of God as taught in the Word.


Cepero is calling her readers back to the ancient paths of Roman Catholic and Eastern monastic and mystical practices which were not even on Jeremiah’s radar. Her book is filled with methods and references to and quotes from those who developed and are followers of this system: Henri Nouwen (p. 21), Nouwen’s L’Arche community in France (p. 21), Quakers (p. 78), Stations of the Cross (pp. 117-118), spiritual directors (pp. 123, 151), Thomas Merton (p. 148), Ignatius of Loyola (p. 72) and his examen prayer (p. 81), etc. As I said, Cepero is not taking her reader back to Scripture but back to Roman and Eastern Orthodoxy.


In addition, we find many troubling statements and practices throughout: Yoga (pp. 16, 62), “God comes to the place where we are and says our name” (p. 31), “God our beloved, born of a woman’s body” (p. 61), “the body does not lie” (p. 63), “our sexuality can lead us into an intimacy that speaks of God’s own presence” (p. 65), use of symbols to aid journaling (p. 74), naming our wounds can help heal them as we grieve over them (pp. 125, 131). “I am good because God created me” (p. 127), “If we name God as our lover” (p. 127), “May the presence of the Holy Spirit fill your sleep and speak in your dreams” (p. 133), “The voice of God tends to be gentle and soft” (p. 149). Each of these and others deserve analysis and challenge by the discerning Christian.


But the most concerning teaching in Cepero’s book is reserved for what she calls “dialogue journaling” (pp. 104-112). Here, the reader is taught to wait for God to speak and reveal His Word and Self to us through some sort of inner voice or thought. For example, the reader is told to write in their journal the word “God” and then wait for a response (p. 104). On one occasion God responded to her, and she wrote in her journal, “Helen, welcome back, I’ve missed you” (p. 105).


Cepero explains, “All journaling, but perhaps especially dialogue journaling, is dependent on the good use of imagination” (p. 108). Why these imaginary words from God are seen as superior to the infallible Word of God is truly a mystery to me. But herein lies the great danger of the book. When we turn from the revelation of God to inferior traditions of the past and the imaginary, and possible cultic, communications of the present we turn from the rock solid Word of truth to the quicksand of human ideas. For this reason Journaling as a Spiritual Practice is truly a dangerous work.

NOTE: It should be noted that a pre-publication version of this book was used in the review. The page numbers may be somewhat different in the final publication.

Rev. Bob DeWaay recently had this to say about the heresy of Journaling, in a recent Critical Issues Commentary on the subject:

Taking Journaling to another level……of heresy

Jesus Calling, Enjoying Peace in His Presence, by Sarah Young, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 382 pp., hard $15.99


Jesus Calling and its many sequels and other products such as Dear Jesus, Jesus Calling Devotional Bible, Jesus Lives, Jesus Calling (Devotional for Children), Jesus Today, Jesus Calling for Teens, and Jesus Calling (Bible Storybook), are among the bestselling books in the world today. Young is offering people something they want to hear which is that they can experience the very presence of Jesus and Jesus will speak to them personally. The subtitle of the book is well chosen, for in this daily devotional the word “Presence” [of God or Jesus] is found over 400 times and the word “Peace” approximately 155 times, with synonyms such as rest and joy common place. Noteworthy is that both words are always capitalized signifying that apparently Young views Presence and Peace as God Himself, or at least representative of God.


As one might imagine, the devotionals are highly redundant. If you read any ten, in essence you have read all that Young has to say. It does not take much analysis to realize that Young is a woman who struggles deeply with fear and anxiety. The vast majority of the supposed revelations from Jesus are words given to comfort her. Repeatedly Jesus has to promise her that He will never leave or forsake her (examples: pp. 24, 32, 73, 80, 103, 146, 156, 218, 224, 237, 265, 342). Jesus often invites Young to “rest snugly in My everlasting arms” (pp. 235, 373, 377), “Gaze into My eyes” (p. 270), “Rest in My loving gaze” (p. 299), and He informs her that He loves “to enfold you in My arms” (p. 303).


As I read the book, with these constant references to Young’s obvious need for peace, rest, comfort, security, hope and assurance, I could not help but feel for her. This is an anxious woman seeking comfort and, on the basis of her popularity, she is not alone. Sadly she is wrapping her life around her problems rather than Christ, despite her constant references to Jesus. The emphasis is on what Jesus can do for her rather than the glory of Christ Himself. And of course this is the draw of Jesus Calling.


But there are far deeper concerns than this. The real problem is Young’s premise that Jesus is speaking constantly to her and that we can have the same experience if we will follow her methods. In the introduction Young makes clear both her journey to and her understanding of her supposed direct communication from Jesus. As a young woman seeking to understand God, she had her first experience of the presence of God. It was “as if a warm mist enveloped me. I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper ‘Sweet Jesus’” (p. vii). The following year she claims to have had another encounter with the Presence of God but then she went for 16 years before she had any more experiences (pp. viii – ix). In between she had received her master’s degree from Covenant Theological Seminary (a conservative Reformed school in St. Louis) and served eight years with her husband as missionaries in Japan. In addition she earned a degree in counseling from Georgia State University.


Then she read Andrew Murray’s book Secret of the Abiding Presence and began to seek God’s presence for herself. It was a difficult time for Young with ministry changes (they moved to Australia), cancer, four surgeries and intense pressures. One morning she “visualized God protecting each of us…which looked like a golden light. When I prayed for myself, I was suddenly enveloped in brilliant light and profound peace. I lost all sense of time as I experienced God’s Presence in this powerful way” (pp. x – xi).


After another similar experience she began reading God’s Calling, a devotional book written by two anonymous “listeners,” “these women practiced waiting quietly in God’s presence, pencils and paper in hand, recording the messages they received from Him” (p. xi). Duplicating the methods of these authors Young moved from merely writing her thoughts in a journal (what she called one-way communication with God) to “listen[ing] to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believed He was saying” (p. xii). Young from that point on has seen her journaling as a dialogue with God and soon she was receiving frequent messages from God. Young says that she knows these messages are not as inspired as Scripture (p. xii), which is both interesting and troubling because every true communication from God is inspired, or “God-breathed.” God never communicates in any other way, although not everything God has said has been written in the Bible.


Whatever caveat Young may offer, the bottom-line is that she is claiming divine inspiration for her writings. She is claiming direct revelation from Jesus, nothing less. Either she is receiving revelation, and is thus an inspired author of divine truth, in which case we need to add her writings to Scripture, or these supposed revelations are stemming from another source such as her imagination, or are made up, in which case Young is a deliberate false teacher. There is no room for a middle ground. Young’s message is that God “still speaks to those who listen to Him” (p. xiii, see p. 317), therefore the reason most do not hear His voice is they will not be still and quiet (as she is) enough to listen (pp. 317, 352, 367 370, 378).


The idea that Jesus will speak to any who will be quiet before Him, and that He does so continuously (p. 317), is the great danger of Young’s teaching. But the draw is the promise of an overwhelming felt experience of the presence of God. Jesus tells Young, “Let My Love enfold you in the radiance of My Glory. Sit still in the Light of My Presence and receive My Peace” (p. 26), and “Look into My Face and feel the warmth of My Love-Light shining upon you” (p. 278) and “Sit quietly in My Presence, allowing My Light to soak into you and drive out any darkness lodged within you” (p. 294, cf. pp. 104, 259, 276, 284, 355). Sounds inviting – yet is it biblical?


Nowhere in Scripture do we find God promising such experiences. We walk by faith, not by the felt presence of God. Even Young warns that discernment is needed lest one be deceived by supposed voices and experiences that may be from other sources (pp. 66, 102). But to Young, and those who follow her, experience trumps Scripture. While acknowledging that the inner voices she hears are not on a par with Scripture, nevertheless, “They were helping me grow closer to God” (p. xii). “This practice of listening to God,” she writes, “has increased my intimacy with Him more than any other spiritual discipline, so I want to share some of the messages I have received” (p. xiii). Obviously to Young Scripture is insufficient; new revelation is needed and that is why she has written Jesus Calling.


All this is not to say that Young is not often on the mark biblically. Given her theological training much of what she writes is sound. And she uses Scripture, although it is often paraphrased to the point of changing its meaning or using it out of context (e.g. pp xiv, 15, 21, 45, 78, 91, 134, 177). Young’s emphasis is not explaining the Word of God but adding her supposed revelations to the Word of God. Jesus Calling and its entire offspring are among the most dangerous writings in the evangelical community today.


Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor, Southern View Chapel.

 

"Spiritual Formation" is not taught with the same emphasis or definition
at all seminaries.


For instance, at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, one of our six Southern Baptist seminaries, it has the correct connotation: the course of study at Southeastern is to equip students to develop and lead a disciple-making strategy in 'next generation' ministry.  Stages of learning development of children from birth through adolescence is studied to facilitate appropriate spiritual development.  Attention is correctly placed on valuating the process of spiritual growth, nurture and disciple-making within the Christian faith.

But it has a different connotation at Truett Seminary, in Waco, Texas, for instance, which is not one of our SBC-sponsored seminaries, but is an independent, non-Southern Baptist seminary, a division of Baylor University, and is totally ecumenical.  They regularly invite female 'preachers' to speak to the students in the chapel. "Spiritual Formation" is a degree program taught at Truett, with textbooks and readings that feature the heresy of "Contemplative Prayer" and "Spiritual Director" training, which is a Catholic methodology. 


And Truett makes no bones about their stand on "spiritual formation" as they clearly state on their web page: "Spiritual formation is one of the pillars of George W. Truett Theological Seminary."  Their web page  spouts neulous-sounding phrases like 'spiritual journey' 'personal and communal spiritual formation,' life-giving friendships with others who provide accountability' where, it is indicated, that the students will confess their sins one to another, which is a standard of the Spiritual Formation movement.  This is at the core of the Roman Catholic-based "Spiritual Director" training. The student is required to attend these small groups for their entire seminary experience. 


Truett Seminary is in error when it states: "Spiritual direction is a historic practice of the church."  What church?  The Catholic church; yes.  The Southern Baptist Church?  No, definitely not.


A quick look at who has spoken in the Truett Seminary chapel is instructive: everyone from female 'preachers' to outright heretics of every stripe and denominational persuasion.  It's a cornucopia of heresy....mixing truth with error.  And most push the ecumenical agenda.  The student who attends this non-Southern Baptist seminary, has to be very discerning in sifting the wheat from the chaff.


It's unfortunate that a fine academic university like Baylor, has to be associated with an ecumenical seminary like Truett.  Here's what I mean by Truett being an "Ecumenical" type of seminary:

Definition of “ecumenical”

1.    1 :  worldwide or general in extent, influence, or application

2.    2a :  of, relating to, or representing the whole of a body of churches

b :  promoting or tending toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation

Thus, Truett being "Ecumenical" means that it and it's professors see no error in their relationship with other denominations, whether Catholic or Protestant.  They believe in promoting unity among all these denominations, and as one leading Truett professor has clearly stated, all the theology professors at Truett have different beliefs and do not all hold to the Southern Baptist confession of faith as found in the "Baptist Faith and Message" and do not all believe in the accuracy of the Bible.  This then, is the type of education that filters down to the students who study there.  This is very disappointing.

For complete information on the "Baptist Faith and Message," see the web page on this site:  "Baptist Church History: Understanding the Baptist Faith and Message."


Since 2010, the "Spiritual Formation" program at Truett, has been led by Dr. Angela Reed, an ordained female minister (which is un-scriptural), who completed all her education at a seminary and college in Canada, and a Ph.D. in "Spiritual Formation" at Princeton Seminary. She has admitted to being a "Spiritual Director" and now in the Fall of 2017, a new 'cohort' of students will be invited to begin study to become certified "Spiritual Directors," practicing this Catholic methodology. 

She attends and works with a local Waco "Baptist" church, the beliefs and practices of which, is based on "Spiritual Formation" theology.  (I hope the reader clearly understands that not all churches who carry the label "Baptist," are truly 'Baptist' in basic doctrine, belief, and ministry.)


Her bio also states that her books received the "Dallas Willard Book Award" which is hardly a recommendation, considering the fact that Dallas Willard is a known heretic who taught the heresy of Universalism; i.e., everyone will be saved!  (Full discussion on her books, and Dallas Willard, are further below on this page.)

Make no mistake,  this woman is endorsing pure heresy, by her endorsement of  and teaching the views of Dallas Willard, Gary Thomas, Thomas Merton, Richard Foster, et.al.  Students need to beware and stay away from this course of study and material.

Required reading, according to Tiffani Harris, Asst. Director of Spiritual Formation, on the Truett Seminary/Baylor website, is "Sacred Pathways" by Gary Thomas, which is pure New Age.  Thomas advocates the heresy of "Contemplative Prayer."  In his book, Gary Thomas endorses the heretical teaching of Thomas Merton, Richard Foster, Brother Lawrence, and Henry Nouwen.


The letter to incoming students from Harris, is instructive: it tells just how the student will be indoctrinated into the mystical "Contemplative" and "Spiritual Disciplines," which he/she will be required to practice; and then, required to report on to their small 'covenant' group each week.  These groups are suppose to incorporate Reeds' theory of "Companioning" which is reviewed on this web page.
Truett Seminary......
teaching Mysticism, Contemplative Prayer, Spiritual Disciplines, how to be a Spiritual Director, and the False Doctrines of Dallas Willard, Thomas Merton, Gary Thomas, Richard Foster, and others.

I have personal knowledge of what happened when a Truett Seminary graduate with a doctor's degree (D.Min.) in "Spiritual Formation" was called to a large Southern Baptist Church on the East coast, as an associate pastor: he brought in all sorts of "Contemplative Prayer" methodologies, including "Lectio Divina," ("Lectio Divina" is explained further down on this web page), mystical Catholic literature, "centering prayer," and "mantra meditation." He incorporated these false ideas in his sermons, some I heard personally (in one sermon he attempted to get the congregation to repeat a 'Christian' mantra); and introduced this heresy into the Sunday School program with disastrous results.  He was forced to resign.  I was invited to discuss the matter with the Pastor, and later consult with their Chairman of Deacons and Personnel Committee, about the matter.  Because of his non-Southern Baptist practices, he had to leave the church staff.

Thinking about what I have discovered going on at Truett Seminary: female 'pastors' and other theologically-suspect ecumenical-types 'preaching' in their chapel, erstwhile professors with subrosa agendas, Spiritual Formation heretical teaching; reminds me of what Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said: "Putting all the ecclesiastical corpses into one graveyard will not bring about a resurrection."
-Rev. Joe Hughes

The "problem" with Truett Seminary
First and foremost, Truett Seminary was founded by moderate/now liberal theologians in opposition to the Conservative SBC movement back in the 1990s.

Truett Seminary took the name of Dr. George W. Truett, a revered preacher of a by-gone era, who was a theologically conservative and fundamental Southern Baptist preacher, in an effort to give some modicum of respectability to the new off-brand seminary that would be founded under the auspices of Baylor University.

It was a knee-jerk reaction by the "moderate" Baylor University Board of Trustees, who, on July 24, 1990, officially reserved with the Secretary of the State of Texas, the name "George W. Truett Theological Seminary," in the event the board decided sometime in the future to create a seminary due to fears of the "conservative" movement then sweeping the SBC.  It was on March 2, 1991, that the Truett Seminary was chartered with the Board of Trustees named by the University's Board of Regents to investigate the feasibility of operating a seminary.  (Back on September 21, 1990, in a slight-of-hand move, the University Trustees had changed Baylor's charter in order to have greater freedom in the selection of the University's governing board.  Thus, with this subrosa agenda, the University "Trustees" became "Regents").

The new seminary at Baylor was now able to avoid the requirement of signing documents indicating agreement with Scriptural inerrancy as per the Southern Baptist Convention's "Baptist Faith and Message" statement, which all the other 6 SBC seminaries require of their faculty. The Regents met with First Baptist Church, Waco, and started the Seminary on the second floor of their Educational Building.  Now the door was open for liberalism.  Named for George W. Truett, pastor at FBC Dallas, Texas prior to W.A. Criswell, it is surely a misnomer if ever there was one!

My father, Rev. Frank Hughes, Jr., who graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, having heard Dr. Truett preach when Truett was pastor at First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX, was not in favor of the way this seminary was founded and that Dr. Truett would never have agreed with all that is being taught at this seminary at Baylor, that carries his name.  He agreed with me that Baylor remained a premier institution of higher learning, in spite of the unfortunate acquisition of Truett seminary.

Unlike our original six Southern Baptist Convention seminaries, which are held accountable by the congregations of the Southern Baptist Convention, the CBF (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship) seminaries, like Truett, are accountable only to a donor base of nostalgic Baptist liberals.

Truett has become a haunt for every liberal fad imaginable: pluralism, inclusivism, feminism, process theology, liberation theologies, spiritual formation, and so forth.

Several alumni of Truett have since announced their gay and transgender orientation with participation in 'gay pride' marches.  One man, now a 'woman,' was ordained as a 'man' and graduated from Truett; now lives and works in a church that accepts gay members.  There has been a move within the last few years with dialogue between students and faculty, to push Baylor to outwardly accept the gay movement.  There are several 'underground' student groups that push the agenda via the Internet.  The most recent event was a re-working of the student code of conduct by the Trustees, that watered down the clear teachings of the Bible concerning homosexual acts.

The most recent event in 2017, was the dismissal of 3 Texas churches from the Baptist General Convention of Texas for their acceptance of gay marriage and membership.  This has resulted in several Truett students losing scholarships that were granted thru these churches where they are members, funded by the Baptist Convention.  What is amazing is that they see nothing wrong with the gay marriage/membership issue, yet continue to attend Truett Seminary.  One of these churches has a 'female' minister, which is totally unbiblical.  That church really doesn't have a minister. These recent events showcase the type of student that Truett Seminary is attracting.   In response to the dismissal of the three churches, Professor Olson, of Truett Seminary, wrote an article in the local Waco newspaper, registering his disappointment.

It was when the CBF was founded by Daniel Vestal and other 'moderate' Baptists 15 years ago, that these leaders largely rejected the 6 Southern Baptist seminaries as "fundamentalist" institutions or centers of indoctrination."  The CBF leadership instead began a network of partnerships with schools, like Baylor, that would offer like-minded ministers a "traditional Baptist education," as they understood it.

It was in 2002, that Baptist General Convention of Texas President Bob Campbell, a rabid CBF (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship) supporter, said that Texas students would not be encouraged to attend seminaries like Southwestern Baptist  in Fort Worth; he did not think the 6 SBC seminaries did not allow for critique of the Baptist Faith and Message, the faith statement approved by the majority of SBC messengers.  He encouraged students to attend CBF-supported schools, like Truett.

Question: Why would a Southern Baptist seminary not want to support our "Baptist Faith and Message?"  Only liberals will not support this historic document that is based only on the Bible, and not on other documents and individuals.

The CBF has gone liberal by supporting schools that are affiliated with other denominations that support gay-friendly churches; also they are supporting other denominations that are NOT Baptistic, like Lutheran, Disciples of Christ, etc .

CBF's goal is partnering with theologically diverse....and often non-Baptist schools may also be more about providing competition for the SBC seminaries than offering a broad Baptist education to future ministers.

That is why the CBF is willing to support a hodgepodge of theological institutions representing multiple traditions and denominations, including many non-Baptist traditions.

The schools, like Truett, supported by the CBF, in addition to having loose ties to Baptist life, also approach instruction from a different perspective, according to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary provost Steve Lemke.  Many of the schools, he said, follow a divinity school model rather than a seminary model, even though some have "seminary" in their name.

The primary focus of divinity schools is the academic study of theology apart from doctrinal commitments, particularly to prepare teachers for an academic vocation.  The primary focus of seminaries is the study of theology and the Bible from a confessional perspective, for the purpose of training ministers for local churches.  Obviously, some ministers are trained at divinity schools and numerous teachers are prepared for an academic vocation at SBC seminaries, but the focus of the institutions is different.

Unlike Truett, all the SBC seminaries are honest about their vantage point.  If you want to know what their faculty members believe, look at their confession of faith.

At a SBC seminary, students engage with all the major theological responses to a particular issue.  They then proceed to examine the strengths and weaknesses of each response.  Faculty then inform the students why they think the Southern Baptist confessional stance is the superior position.

Jesus called us to make disciples.  Discipleship involves the teaching of doctrine, or 'in-indoctrination.'  If the CBF is not indoctrinating, then they are not teaching doctrine.  Falling to teach doctrine is failing to fulfill the Great Commission where Christians are commanded to teach "all things whatsoever" Christ commanded.

The claim that SBC institutions 'indoctrinate' while the CBF institutions 'educate' is a red herring.  In fact, the larger faculties of the SBC seminaries afford students greater breadth of perspective than is available at small CBF institutions.

CBF  seminaries, like Truett, often hire faculty that are very intolerant of other perspectives.  Truett's faculty is a mixture of displaced Southern Baptist Seminary and Southwestern Seminary faculty, younger scholars in the Baylor tradition, and a prominent evangelical theologian (Roger Olson) with Pentecostal and Armenian leanings.  Theologically, Truett has vacillated between being identified with moderate (now openly liberal) Baptists in Texas and oft-times declaring itself a "conservative evangelical" institution to offset criticism from the reorganized Southwestern Baptist Seminary and the ever-present in Texas dispensationalist Dallas Theological Seminary.

All "moderate" Baptists in Texas are not impressed favorably with the course of events at Truett Seminary under Robert Sloan.  Some wanted a clear statement on women in ministry, others called for greater distance from fundamentalism, and still others in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex wanted a school in their region to candidates for churches. 

All 6 SBC seminaries are unapologetically confessional, conservative seminaries committed to doctrinal integrity, and their faculties are made up of excellent scholars who afford students a careful examination of all perspectives.

I was pleased with my own Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary education.  It trains folks for all kinds of ministries, as diverse as the Ephesians chapter 4 description of the work of the ministry.  They train counselors, music ministers, youth ministers, missionaries, hospital chaplains, and future university professors; all while understanding that their first priority is to train pastors for the churches, both here and abroad.

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) Takes an Extreme LEFT TURN:

Baptists Agree to Start Hiring Homosexuals for Mission Service

- Pulpit & Pen News Division: Published February 10, 2018 · Updated February 10, 2018


The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), a denomination which splintered from the SBC in 1991 over theological differences, has agreed to start hiring homosexuals for denominational staffing positions. There are a number of churches that affiliate both with the CBF and the SBC. The CBF will continue to take into consideration the sexual orientation of some of its position hiring, but not all. The new hiring policy was announced by the CBF on February 9.


The CBF has had a ban on hiring “practicing homosexuals for approximately 18 years, but the policy that seemed scandalously liberal by the standards of the turn of the century (because use of the word “practicing” leaves room for celibate homosexuals) is now deemed not liberal enough. Instead, the CBF governing body has stated that it will “consider” the sexuality of proposed staff or missionaries, but unlike the 18-year-old policy now replaced, it will not ban them from service.


The decision by the CBF follows on the heels of a two-year listening tour called the “Illumination Project,” in which a committee formed by the CBF traveled around the country to listen to Baptist churches and determine what they felt was the best practice for the denomination. In turn, the CBF committee created a 43-page document called Honoring Autonomy and Reflecting Fellowship, which says, “[The committee] recognizes that the CBF will consider human sexuality as one factor among many for some positions, including field personnel, those who supervise field personnel and certain ministry/missions leadership positions at CBF Global in Decatur.”


Effectively, this means that homosexuals may be hired by CBF at the whim of those making the hiring decisions, with the previous explicit prohibition against hiring practicing homosexuals now removed. According to Bob Allen at Baptist News Global, this is because the Illumination Project Committee found “the ‘vast majority’ of CBF churches do not have policies explicitly prohibiting employment on matters of human sexuality, and it maintained that the new policy is consistent with that.

 

The Illumination Project Committee found numerous LGBT impastors serving CBF churches, and so the committee’s report claimed the changes would be in keeping with the understanding on sexuality by CBF churches. Instead of focusing on homosexuality, hiring decisions will be based upon “celibacy in singleness or faithfulness in marriage.” Conceivably, “faithful” homosexual couples would be eligible for mission service.


Baptist News Global writes…

The policy expects CBF employees “to have the highest moral character, displaying professionalism and a commitment to the highest ethical standards.” That includes “acting with integrity, being a faithful steward of resources, speaking truth in love, embracing accountability, facilitating fairness, supporting and encouraging peers, nurturing a community of respect, and establishing collaborative relationships.”


Employees must “live out their Christ-centered relationship both inside and outside the workplace, serving as active members of their local church as well as through service to their community.”

CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter said the new policy shifts the focus from sexuality to Jesus.


“We are a Fellowship, a big tent of faithful believers and autonomous, innovative churches in partnership,” Paynter said. “While we do not agree on everything, we have shown Baptists and others that we can come together in a relatively short amount of time, focus on what unites us and come out of it poised for a bright future.”

The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists called the new hiring policy “a step in the right direction” but said it falls short of the threshold of “total inclusivity.”


For these Baptists, moral character and commitment to ethical standards have nothing to do with sexuality.

Truett Seminary considers merger with another liberal non-Southern Baptist Seminary....and that seminary has major problems:

How to Spot a Liberal Seminary

-Clint Archer, August 19, 2013

Airport security seems to have surrendered common sense as a weapon in the war against terror. In a desperate attempt to appear politically correct and unbiased toward Arab Muslims, the TSA eschews profiling techniques. Profiling is when a person is singled out based on certain traits that they have in common with previous terrorist attacks. For example, the 9/11 bombers were all young, single, Arab, Muslim, males.

The lack of profiling begets some silly scenarios, as when a soldier traveling with his platoon in full uniform had his nail clippers confiscated…but not his gun. Or, the case in February 2011, when Alaska State Representative, Sharon Cissna refused to allow the TSA to inspect the scars of her mastectomy surgery. She was barred from boarding the plane because common sense might look like bias, even though it is an undisputed fact that no lady’s prosthetic breast (or nail clippers for that matter) have ever been used in any assault on land, air, or sea.


On the other hand, if profiling had been allowed, perhaps they would have prevented what happened on Northwest Airlines flight 253 on Christmas Eve 2010 when Umar Farouk Abdul-mutal-lab, a 23 year told, single, Muslim  male, who paid cash for a one-way ticket, and checked no luggage, cruised through airport security without any hassles. But when the plane was in flight, he promptly activated the explosives stashed in his underwear. Fortunately, instead of exploding, his underwear just caught on fire. Three passengers incapacitated him (while, as I imagine, children nearby chanted “Liar, liar…”).


Sometimes just a smidgen of common sense is needed to know that if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck… it might just be a duck.

When evaluating a seminary on the spectrum of conservative to liberal, right to left, no one can know everything about all seminaries. So, here is a little toolkit of implements with which to diagnostically delve around in their doctrinal statement.


Unearthing the truth may take some CSI inspired sleuthing on your part. Some seminaries, who covet the sobriquet “conservative” without earning it, may surreptitiously conceal what they really teach for the sake of recruitment.


The clues to discover the species of poultry you are hunting for are to be found nesting in passages that have contentious interpretive conundrums with both a conservative and liberal solution. If a seminary’s faculty consistently falls on the side of the more liberal views, then that is a quacking sound which belies the presence of a duck. Let the hunt begin…


Inspiration and Inerrancy of Scripture

If the seminary does not hold to a belief that the whole Bible is plenary and verbally accurate (i.e. as a whole and in its parts), then it has no business claiming to be conservative.


To be clear, inerrant means there are no mistakes in the original text (“autographa”) at all. This includes accuracy in the details of history, geography, science, astronomy, and any other incidental details mentioned. God does not have a speech impediment. Yes, He used language, and humans within their culture, with their vocabulary, and their styles; but He used them to produce an end-product that He signs His name on as its Author. The Bible is as true as God’s character and power are able to make it—which is completely true, in the conservative view.


So how do you know if the seminary actually believes and teaches this? Here are four diagnostic questions to ask…

1. Do they train women for pastoral, preaching ministry?

Note that I did not simply ask “Do they admit women to the seminary?” A seminary has every right, according to Scripture, to equip women for a plethora of ministries, including preaching and teaching to women and children, writing theological books and articles, and many other careers that would require the highest level of theological training. But if a seminary trains women for the purpose of becoming pastors of churches, meaning they would “teach and hold authority over men” (contra 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35), then that belies that the seminary holds a deficient view of the authority of Scripture. It shows that the hermeneutic they employ to interpret the Bible is not faithful to the intention of the original writers (or is at least inconsistent). They are more concerned about recruitment and/or cultural pressure, than they are about being faithful to the word, in season and out.


2. What do they teach on creation?

Another telltale symptom that a seminary is trying to blend in with secular academia is what they teach about creation. They want to avoid “embarrassingly literal” interpretations of the Bible. The earth, by the calculations of the genealogies in Scripture is between 6,000 and 10,000 years old. A seminary that is disinterested in pleasing the world at the expense of displeasing God, has no problem affirming that view. If macro-evolution has even an iota of truth in it, then there must have been death before the Fall, (contra Romans 5:12).  When a seminary wants to integrate the theory of evolution into their syllabus, it means they are loosening their grip on faithful interpretation and trying to woo unrequited secular acceptance.


3. Did Matthew or Mark write first?

This is another subtle, but critical signal of encroaching liberalism. All external evidence points to the Gospel According to Matthew was written before Mark or Luke wrote their accounts. This may not seem like a hill to get wounded on, but the only reason to assert that Mark wrote his gospel before Matthew is because “evolutionary theory” applied to the Bible allows that the more complex must necessarily come from the simpler, and assumes that the Evangelists cut-and-paste from each other instead of being guided by the Spirit to compose their accounts (2 Peter 1:21).  Since Mark’s account is briefer, and most of his contents are also to be found in Matthew and Luke’s records, then the theory insists that Matthew and Luke were not led by the Spirit to write their accounts, but poached the bulk from Mark. This is illogical when you consider that Matthew was an intimate eye-witness as one of the twelve apostles.


The fact that Mark and Matthew have similar content (in fact identical wording in places) is because it is the same Holy Spirit that inspired both accounts. Any seminary that is uncomfortable with that admission is not as committed to the doctrine of inspiration as they need to be.


4. Who wrote the Pentateuch?

The equivalent Old Testament litmus test for a belief in inerrancy is Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. The Bible avers explicitly that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. Not only did Moses claim that, but Jesus and the New Testament writers reaffirmed that claim unequivocally. There is no external evidence to suggest otherwise; but a typical liberal approach sees four different styles of writing in the book as indicative of four separate authors (or “redactors” as they are sometimes known, meaning they may have simply edited and embellished the testimony of Moses). This is called, in liberal parlance, the JEPD theory. Each letter stands for the nickname given to the four  theoretical redactors. This too is cow-towing liberalism and betrays a paltry view of inspiration.

Conclusion

This list isn’t exhaustive, but I hope it’s a helpful start. You don’t want to find yourself studying at a seminary that will systematically un-equip you for the ministry.


Irrespective of what the school says it believes, a liberal seminary can be spotted a mile away if they question Scripture, train women to be pastors, entertain evolution, hold to Markan priority, and/or teach the JEPD redaction theory as opposed to Mosaic authorship.


Being called conservative has gone from a slight to a compliment. Seminaries covet that sobriquet.


But no matter how it dresses up, if it quacks like a duck, guess what it is.

Textbooks at Truett Seminary....................
"Spiritual Companioning" written by the Dr. Reed, director of Spiritual Formation, Truett Seminary, is problematic: a great deal of what is put forward in this book is developed from Catholicism and mysticism.  Frequent reference is made to Catholic monastic practices such as the Benedictine Way.  In addressing the Protestant tradition of spirituality, slight attention is given to the Puritans.  No wonder it won the Dallas Willard award.  This is precisely what is being pushed in the Spiritual Formation program at Truett Seminary.

Another book by Reed, "Quest for Spiritual Community," delves into the history of Catholic mysticism practices and suggests that a church congregation that is seeking something more, can find it in her principles of Spiritual Formation.

As if that's not enough, another required Christian Theology course for M.Div. students is taught by David E. Wilhite, who requires students to read his books.  Wilhite's "The Gospel according to Heretics: Discovering Orthodoxy through Early Christological Confilcts" literally presents some of these views with the words 'ridiculous' and reduces one theory of God as the 'divine bubble-maker.'  What?  Glad this was "unbiased,' Mr. Wilhite.

Then, there's his book, "The Church: A Guide for the Perplexed" who's title should be "The Church: A Guide to Make You Perplexed."  The writing style is verbose and stuffy; could have been written in half the pages.  You will be perplexed with this one.

For me, the eye-opener concerning David Wilhite, was his seminar participation in May 2016, in the Truett chapel, reference his support of Steven Harmon's views on the Catholic Church. (Harmon was, in 2016, a visiting professor at Gardner-Webb; but holds membership organizations that has ties to the Anglican Communion, the Catholic Church, and Eastern Orthodox Churches, as well as the World Council of Churches. Harmon has publically criticized President Trump and participated in a protest march).

The information about the seminar appeared on "Ecclesial Theology" website, which touts: "Doing theology, in, with, and for the church...in the midst of its division, and toward its visible unity in one eucharistic fellowship." (Read: ecumenical liberalism).

One of Harmon's books, "Towards Baptist Catholicity," is required reading in Wilhite's classes.  In the seminar, Wilhite praises Harmon and supports the future cooperation of Baptists (he omits the name 'Southern'; Truett Seminary, after all, is NOT a Southern Baptist institution) and pragmatism.  He fully supports the ecumenical movement....even with Roman Catholics!   He mis-interprets scripture as if Jesus was for ecumenicalism when he stated, "...Baptists who resisted Jesus' ecumenical call for the church to be one..."  and then goes on to support Southern Baptists becoming ecumenical.
REQUIRED (Heretical) READING by the Spiritual Formation student at Truett Seminary:

IF THE WORD “Christian” was not part of their logo, readers could easily mistake Family Christian Stores’ recent sales flyer as a New Age publication.


Nine spiritualistic symbols “dance” around a central circle in a flowing sunburst pattern. Turning the cover, a lavish spread is devoted to explain “nine sacred paths” to worship God: 1) Naturalists; 2) Sensates; 3) Traditionalists; 4) Ascetics; 5) Activists; 6) Caregivers; 7) Enthusiasts; 8) Contemplatives; and 9) Intellectuals. Each of these “paths” is defined (since the terminology is foreign to most evangelicals except for those versed—or immersed—in Catholic[1] mysticism or the New Age).


The entire display is given credence by a large advertisement for Andy Stanley’s new four-part, small group video series called You’ve Got Style, marketed under Stanley’s “northpoint” church resource imprint—a product of Multnomah Publishers. Readers are invited to take an online “worship style” quiz, which connects the “familychristian” website to Stanley’s own “sacredpaths” survey.


The 45-question personality inventory is designed to reveal “how you draw near to God.” Several questions make no distinction between Catholic [1] and Christian—for example: “I enjoy attending a ‘high church’ service with incense and...[the] Eucharist.”


The promotional copy describes Stanley’s teaching as “inspired by Gary Thomas’s book, Sacred Pathways. Due to the massive marketing forces at work, and the widespread influence of Stanley (whose church near Atlanta, Georgia, hosts over 10,000 adults in three Sunday a.m. services), further inquiry into the origin of “nine sacred paths” —and how they oppose the one “narrow way” and “strait gate” is necessary.

The Pathway to Psycho-Spirituality

Sacred Pathways author Gary Thomas recounts how “Carl Jung developed four profiles to describe human nature...” (p. 21). “Knowing our personal temperaments, whether we are sanguine or melancholy, for instance, will tell us how we relate to others or how we can choose a suitable spouse or vocation. But it doesn’t necessarily tell us how we relate to God” (p. 17). [Past issues of TBC have long established the occult connection in seeking to classify people by personality types and temperaments.] Thomas continues building a case for his nine worship styles: “Using biblical figures, historic church movements, and various personality temperaments, we can identify nine spiritual temperaments—what I call sacred pathways.” Thomas is somewhat vague as to the exact origin of his ideas, but research reveals a close connection to the nine psycho-spiritual “types” of the mystical, esoteric Enneagram.

 

Enter the Enigmatic Enneagram

In the grossly unbiblical book, "The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective" (Crossroad, 2004), Robert Rohr states, “The Enneagram[’s]...roots go back at least as far as the early monasticism of the Desert Fathers...presumably passed on through the Islamic wisdom tradition of Sufism.... These mystical currents of the major religions come astonishingly close to one another in...the religious experiences they transmit.... Indeed, the Enneagram seems to be...a bridge that people can step onto from different sides and in the middle of which they can meet” (xii). “Indeed” is right—comparison of Thomas’s ecumenical “sacred paths” to the characteristics of the syncretistic Enneagram reveals unmistakable parallels (see illustration). Rohr (a Franciscan “retreat master”) relates, “The Sufis supposedly called the Enneagram ‘the face of God’ because they saw the nine energies manifested in the nine personality types as nine attributes of God...” (p. 232). Rohr writes “Self-knowledge is tied in with inner work, which is both demanding and painful.... The masters and soul guides of all spiritual traditions of the West and East have known that true self-knowledge is the presupposition of the ‘inner journey’... (xiii, emphasis added). “The transfer of wisdom between religions is...one of the most essential contributions to world peace.... The Enneagram can help us to find a deeper and more authentic relationship with God—even though it was not discovered by Christians.” Christ, the only way, is denied.



The Zondervan Connection

The fact that the book,
"Sacred Pathways" (Zondervan, 2000) is an “evangelical” introduction to the practices of Catholic [1] mystics and the Desert Fathers is no surprise. Thomas’s prior book, "The Glorious Pursuit: Embracing the Virtues of Christ" (NavPress, 1998), was part of a “spiritual formation” series edited by Dallas Willard (a longtime advocate of mysticism and an editor of The Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible; see TBC, Aug. ’05). Thomas is the founder of his own highly ecumenical “Center for Evangelical Spirituality” that “integrates Scripture, church history, and the Christian [mystic] classics.” A back cover endorsement by Publishers Weekly exudes, “Thomas cites Henri Nouwen as an example of the ‘sensate,’ which is a happy illustration since Thomas himself shows great potential for becoming the Henri Nouwen of evangelicalism.” Emergent church pastor/ leader Doug Pagitt (whose wife, Shelley, promotes yoga) is a Zondervan author of Reimagining Spiritual Formation. His website proudly proclaims he is an “Enneagram Type 8,” and a convenient link connects viewers to the Enneagram Institute for a free “sampler” evaluation. While Stanley is a prominent Multnomah author whose endorsement will further popularize Gary Thomas’s “Christian” mysticism, perhaps the biggest boost to Thomas’s work has come from Zondervan author Rick Warren [2]. On pages 102 and 103 of The Purpose-Driven Life, Warren shares, “My friend Gary Thomas...discovered that Christians [mystics, desert fathers] have used many different paths for 2,000 years to enjoy intimacy with God...In his book Sacred Pathways, Gary identifies nine of the ways people draw near to God.” Warren proceeds to validate the nine “types” with a poor proof-text from Eugene Peterson’s The Message. But Scripture only knows one path: “the Spirit of truth” (John:14:1).


Looking Inward for Identity Instead of Upward for Understanding

The new “evangelical” market for mysticism is big business—but there are no “new” occult teachings: “That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been...” (Ecc:3:15).

 

Sadly, for a growing number of professing Christians, God’s Word is not sufficient: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine...they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Tim:4:3-4). The eager cross-pollination and promotion of blended beliefs is a sure sign: that time has come.

(source: The Berean Call)

Gary Thomas in his book Sacred Pathways (Zondervan, 2002) lists the mystical centering prayer as

among the different ways people can use to draw near to God.


He describes centering prayer as: in general, centering prayer works like this: choose a word (like Jesus, Father for example) as a focus for contemplative prayer. Repeat the word silently, like a mantra, for say 20 minutes until your heart seems to be repeating the word by itself, just as naturally and involuntarily as breathing." (Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, p. 152).


Focus on the Family actively promotes Thomas's book Sacred Parenting. FOF was contacted about their support of Thomas. Tim Masters, FOF office of the chairman, replied: "We found nothing within the pages of Sacred Parenting that contradicts the Christian Faith or Dr. Dobson's philosophy... We are not in a position to address the contents of Mr. Thomas's other writings. But this much we can tell you: there has always been a strong tradition of contemplative prayer in the Christian church that has nothing to do with mantra's and eastern meditation." (Lighthouse Trails).


This reply is troubling. First his distinction between Christian and eastern contemplative is not really accurate. Most of the Christians authors who promote contemplative prayer, with few exceptions, include mantras as does Gary Thomas in his book Sacred Pathways. For the distinction between Christian and eastern contemplatives, none other than Tilden Edwards, the founder of the largest and most influential contemplative school in the U.S., asserts in his book Spiritual Friends: " that contemplative prayer is the western bridge to far eastern spirituality." Richard Foster endorses Tilden's book as an excellent book. (Lighthouse Trails).


In Thomas's book Sacred Parenting, which FOF does directly promote, Thomas leaves no doubt that Teresa of Avila had a major impact on his prayer life. But Teresa of Avila is a classic expression of 14th and 15th century contemplative and she practiced centering prayer. In the website, Centering Prayer, dedicated to promoting centering prayer they assert: 'Centering Prayer is drawn from ancient prayer practices of the Christian contemplative heritage notably the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert, The Cloud Of Unknowing, St. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila.


It was distilled into a simple method of prayer in the 1970's by three Trappist monks: Fr. William Meninger, Fr. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating at the Trappist Abbey, St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Mass." (Centering Prayer Website). These three monks actively relied on visiting Buddhists to coach them. Tim Masters reply seems like a "political response" from FOF relying on a difference that isn't a difference.


(Source: By Orrel Steinkamp, The Plumbline, Volume 13, No. 2, March/April)

Truett Seminary faculty and student news:
(Self-explanatory)
What are the Truett students learning?

Consider the paper on "Universalism" submitted to Dr. Jimmy Dorrell in the class, WOCW 7385: "Introduction to Christian Witness and Mission" from a student named Brenton, in November 2016.

After giving a "pass" to heretic Rob Bell's positive position on the heresy of "Universalism" and his stance on there is no hell, and all will be saved (what Dallas Willard believes), the student goes on to explore the history of the heresy; then asserts his agreement with Roger Olson, another Truett professor, concerning a more agreeable/acceptable view of the concept of Universalism.  He believes that our missionary paradigm is shifting toward a postmodern mindset, with salvation to be viewed as a more holistic process rather than a singular event.  He then misinterprets 1 Corinthians 1:18 to mean Salvation as a process.  He pairs the words 'Christian' and 'Universalism,' which implies they are one and the same; which they are not.

Now consider this statement made in 2006, by Professor of Theology,
Roger Olson, at Truett Seminary:



"Truett Seminary student recruiters tell me the most frequent question they receive when promoting the seminary at Baptist colleges and universities is about biblical inerrancy. Does the seminary teach that the Bible is inerrant? Do the professors believe in inerrancy? The answers are easy. As a good Baptist seminary, (notice he does not say "Southern Baptist seminary") Truett does not dictate what people must believe on secondary matters of doctrine; the professors vary in their views of biblical accuracy while holding firmly to biblical authority."


Hold the phone......"secondary matters of doctrine"??

and "the professors vary in their views of biblical accuracy"??

May I say, Dr. Olson,  DOCTRINE SHOULD MATTER; they are NOT secondary; and BIBLICAL ACCURACY SHOULD MATTER.


The Doctrine of Scripture is NEVER secondary and one who teaches the Bible in a Seminary should hold to the Bible being accurate.

Norman L. Geisler recently and rightfully so, took Professor Roger Olsen to the woodshed, for claiming, for example, that while the biblical record has errors, nevertheless, it is “perfect with respect to purpose” which is never failing in its transforming power.  (The biblical record has errors?)


Geisler explains:

Roger E. Olson in 2011, on the “minor heresy” of universalism

 

“I think universalism is a minor heresy SO LONG AS it does not interfere with evangelism. I also evaluate the seriousness of universalism by its context–viz., why does the person affirm it? If universalism is evidence of a denial of God’s wrath and/or human sinfulness, then it is much more serious. Barth’s universalism (yes, I believe Karl Barth was a universalist) did not arise out of those denials which is why he didn’t like the appellation “universalist.” The term is usually associated with liberal theology. In that case, as part of an overall liberal/modernist theology, I consider it very serious indeed.”

 

Joel L. Watts responded to Olson:  "I’m against universalism. Universalism is, in my opinion, if there is such a thing as heresy, is the very definition of the word. Why? Because in universalism which teaches that all will be saved, the point of teaching, growing, and reaching people – the very point of the Cross becomes muted to a dangerously low level, empowering the myth that all religions, like all people, are created equal.

 

"I cannot call it a minor heresy, really, because it, in my opinion, dismisses the Cross of Christ and forces God into an action, which He has no control over."

Truett Seminary Professor Roger Olson, in a recent article, which has not one verse of Scripture, (see PDF article below), "The Heresy of Capital Punishment," says that Capital Punishment is Heresy and that those in the church who support it, should be disciplined!
Why is Professor Olson mixed up in his theology?  As he himself stated, "In my experience as a Baptist theologian for 30-plus years, and as someone who has belonged to 10 Baptist churches and four Baptist denominations." 

10 Churches and 4 different "Baptist" Denominations, explains a lot.
Professor Roger Olson subscribes to the theory of Arminianism; also, we have discovered, he subscribes to the
"Open Theistic" view of God.



Roger Olson, a professor at Baylor University's Truett Seminary, has defended the "openness of God" against charges of heresy by conservatives. Olson, who calls himself "open to open theism," denies that he is an open theist, but calls the new view more biblical than the traditional orthodox view of God as all-knowing, all-powerful and unchanging.


In a review on the Amazon.com website, Olson endorses open theist Gregory Boyd's book, "God of the Possible," noting that "inquiring Christian minds" would love the book while "closed minds" would despise it. In the book, Boyd argues that God not only changes his mind and is ignorant of the future, but he sometimes makes mistakes and gives inadvertently bad advice to his children. Olson says he found the book's arguments "difficult to resist." A 2000 issue of the Baylor University student newspaper, The Lariat, reported that Olson's influence was being felt on the campus as students embraced the open theist doctrine.

 


Key problems with this view are:
1. God does not have exhaustive knowledge of the future.
2. God takes risks.
3. God makes mistakes.

The ecumenical and heretical teaching, which is explored on this web page, explains why Truett Seminary has problems, and should not be recommended to any potential ministerial student.  I apologize to any Baylor University graduate who may be reading this; but my remarks are not directed at the University, but at the Seminary. 

In the 3 years I spent at the Southern Baptist seminary I attended in the late 70's, I never once heard of this kind of controversy and scandal that has taken place at Truett.  My seminary was not liberal, ecumenical; did not approve of the ordination of women as pastors, or teach mystical "Spiritual Formation" heresy. It did not invite esoteric, ecumenical, abstruse visiting professors or adjunct lecturers to pontificate their scripture-twisted philosophy filled with cryptic and convoluted interpretations of what should be straightforward theology. I had no professor who wrote incomprehensible articles in newspapers and on blogs which, when challenged, engaged in more mind-numbing counter-arguments.

Mine was a fundamental, Bible-based institution, with professors who were not of the Truett vintage. They were faithful to the Word of God.
May I say, that with the Baylor football scandals, the seminary at Truett should be setting a better example for the Baylor University students.
-Rev. Joe Hughes
What does Professor Olson of Truett Seminary, think about "The Shack" (book) which is filled with heresy and written by a non-Christian?  He wrote a book about "Finding God in the Shack."
The above video is of Olson discussing his book, "Finding God in the Shack."  He stated that he "found some 'mistakes' in the book, but nothing 'major'?" 

He found "God in the Shack?"  I cannot imagine a Professor of Theology, in a Baptist seminary, even writing a book with that title..."Finding God in the Shack"!
Spoiler alert:  the author of "The Shack" wrote another, this time, non-fiction/autobiography, in which he clearly states his heretical beliefs about God and the Bible; which evaluation appears later on this web page.

Perhaps Dr. Olson should have waited and did more diligent research, before trying to "Find God" in "The Shack."  Other seasoned discernment ministers of apologetics, some who actually spoke to the author and found out what he was about, and others who did extensive research, did so prior to writing their own critiques.
Consider what Dr. R. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said about "The Shack," in the following document and Radio Broadcast:

“The Shack” by William P. Young

 

-A Review by Tim Challies, January 2008

 

I am certain that there is no other book I’ve been asked to review more times than William P. Young’s The Shack, a book that is currently well within the top-100 best-selling titles at Amazon. The book, it seems, is becoming a hit and especially so among students and among those who are part of the Emergent Church. In the past few weeks many concerned readers have written to ask if I would be willing to read it and to provide a review. Because I am always interested in books that are popular among Christians, I was glad to comply.

The Amazon reader reviews for The Shack are remarkable. With 102 reviews already posted, it is maintaining a five-star rating with fully ninety three of the reviewers awarding five stars. Only two have offered one star. A search of blogs and websites turns up near-unanimous enthusiastic (and almost unbridled) praise for the book. “This book is a life-changer, a transformer.” “[The Shack] has become a favorite book OF ALL TIME.” “I am changed. I pray indelibly. My oh my!” This book, which was released in May but which has already gone into its fourth printing, is making a major impact. It has obviously struck a chord with Christians.


I’ll warn in advance that this review is going to be long. My major focus will be the book’s content though I’ll pause to glance fleetingly at the book’s style as well. Because I’ve received so many questions and because the author covers so much ground in the book (and sometimes in a way that is somewhat unclear) I am going to proceed carefully and with many quotes.


There are two things I would like to note about this type of book—theological fiction. First, because of the limitations of the genre, it is sometimes difficult to really know what an author means by what he says. There is often some question as to what comes from the author and what comes from the characters. The author cannot always adequately explain himself; nor can he provide footnotes or references to Scripture. It can be challenging, then, to turn to the Bible to ensure that what he teaches is true. This makes the task of discernment doubly difficult, for one must first interpret the fiction to understand what is being said and then seek to compare that to the Bible. We will do well to keep this in mind as we proceed.


Second, we must also realize that, because of the emotional impact of reading good fiction, it can be easy to allow it to become manipulative and to allow the emotion of a moment to bypass our ability to discern what is true and what is not. This is another thing the reader must keep in mind. We cannot trust our laughter or our tears but must allow our powers of discernment to be trained to distinguish good from evil (see Hebrews 5:14). Discernment is primarily a Spirit-empowered discipline of the mind rather than an emotional response.


So let’s look at this book together, doing the task God requires of us when he tells us to be men and women of discernment—Christians who heed God’s admonition to “test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” We’ll simply compare what Young teaches to the Bible.


The Book as a Book

First, a word about the book as it is written. William Young shows himself to be a capable writer, though I would not have believed it through the first couple of chapters. The book began with far too many awkward sentences and awkward sentence constructs (e.g. “One can almost hear a unified sigh rise from the nearby city and surrounding countryside where Nature has intervened to give respite to the weary humans slogging it out within her purview”). But as it went on and as the story took over the book became easier to read. The story itself is interesting enough, though certainly it lacks originality. The last chapter should have been left on the editing room floor and the final paragraph (before the “After Words”) was a ridiculously terse attempt to provide closure to remaining plot lines. But on the whole the book is readable and enjoyable. Never does it become boring, even after long pages of nothing but dialog.


But Young did not write this book for the story. This book is all about the content and about the teaching it contains. The book’s reviews focus not on the quality of the story but on its spiritual or emotional impact. Eugene Peterson grasps this, saying in his glowing endorsement, “When the imagination of a writer and the passion of a theologian cross-fertilize the result is a novel on the order of “The Shack.” This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” did for his. It’s that good!” Could it really be that good? Is it good enough to warrant positive comparison to the English-language book that has been read more widely than any other save the Bible? Let’s turn to the book’s content and find out.


What Is The Shack?

The Shack revolves around Mack (Mackenzie) Philips. Four years before this story begins, Mack’s young daughter, Missy, was abducted during a family vacation. Though her body was never found, the police did find evidence in an abandoned shack to prove that she had been brutally murdered by a notorious serial killer who preyed on young girls. As the story begins, Mack, who has been living in the shadow of his Great Sadness, receives a strange note that is apparently from God. God invites Mack to return to this shack for a get together. Though uncertain, Mack visits the scene of the crime and there has a weekend-long encounter with God, or, more properly, with the godhead.


What should you do when you come to the door of a house, or cabin in this case, where God might be? Should you knock? Presumably God already knew that Mack was there. Maybe he ought to simply walk in and introduce himself, but that seemed equally absurd. And how should he address him? Should he call him Father, or Almighty One, or perhaps Mr. God, and would it be best if he fell down and worshipped, not that he was really in the mood.


As he tried to establish some inner mental balance, the anger that he thought had so recently died inside him began to emerge. No longer concerned or caring about what to call God and energized by his ire, he walked up to the door. Mack decided to bang loudly and see what happened, but just as he raised his fist to do so, the door flew open, and he was looking directly into the face of a large beaming African-American woman.


This large and oh-so-stereotypical matronly African-American woman is God (or at least an anthropomorphism of God she chose to take on in order to communicate with Mack). Throughout the story she is known as Papa. Near the end, because Mack requires a father figure, she turns into a pony-tailed, grey-haired man, but otherwise God is this woman. Jesus is a young to middle-aged man of Middle-Eastern (i.e. Jewish) descent with a big nose and rather plain looks while the Holy Spirit is played by Sarayu, a small, delicate and eclectic woman of Asian descent. By this point many people will choose to close the book and be done with it. But for the purposes of this review, let’s just assume you are able to get past seeing God and the Holy Spirit portrayed in this way and let’s press on.


There is very little action in The Shack and the bulk of the book is dialog, mostly as the members of the Trinity communicate with Mack, though occasionally we see glimpses into their relationship with one another. The banter between the members of the Trinity, most of which is geared towards helping us understand the love that exists between them, leads to some rather bizarre dialog. Take this as a typical example:


Mack was shocked at the scene in front of him. It appeared that Jesus had dropped a large bowl of some sort of batter or sauce on the floor, and it was everywhere. It must have landed close to Papa because the lower portion of her skirt and bare feet were covered in the gooey mess. All three were laughing so hard that Mack didn’t think they were breathing. Sarayu said something about humans being clumsy and all three started roaring again. Finally, Jesus brushed past Mack and returned a minute later with a large basin of water and towels. Sarayu had already started wiping the goop from the floor and cupboards, but Jesus went straight to Papa and, kneeling at her feet, began to wipe off the front of her clothes. He worked down to her feet and gently lifted one foot at a time, which he directed into the basin where he cleaned and massaged it.


“Ooooh, that feels soooo good!” exclaimed Papa, as she continued her tasks at the counter.


Young covers a wide variety of theological topics in this book, each of which is relevant to the theme of Mack’s suffering and his inability to trust in a God who could let his daughter be treated in such a horrifying way. The author is unafraid to tackle subjects of deep theological import—a courageous thing to do in so difficult a genre as fiction. The reader will find himself diving into deep waters as he reads this book.

Much of what Young writes is good and even helpful (again, assuming that the reader can see past the human personifications of God). He affirms the absolute nature of what is good and teaches that evil exists only in relation to what is good; he challenges the reader to understand that God is inherently good and that we can only truly trust God if we believe Him to be good; he acknowledges the human tendency to create our image of God by looking at human qualities and assuming that God is simply the same but more so; he attempts to portray the loving relationships within the Trinity; and so on. For these areas I am grateful as they provided helpful correctives to many false understandings of God.


But the book also raised several concerns. Young covers many topics and time would fail me to discuss each of them. Instead, I will look at concerns with some of the book’s broader themes and will do so under several theological headings.


The Trinity

Young teaches that the Trinity exists entirely without hierarchy and that any kind of hierarchy is the result of sin. The Trinity, he says, “are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command or ‘great chain of being’… Hierarchy would make no sense among us.” Now it’s possible that he is referring to a kind of dominance or grade or command structure that may well be foreign to the godhead. But a reading of the Bible will prove that hierarchy does, indeed, exist even where there is no sin. After all, the angels exist in a hierarchy and have done so since before the Fall. Also, in heaven there will be degrees of reward and there will be some who are appointed to special positions (such as the Apostles). And the Bible makes it clear that there is, at points at least, a kind of hierarchy even within the Trinity. In the act of redemption, Spirit and the Son have submitted themselves to the Father. The task of the Spirit is to lead people to the Son who in turn brings glory to the Father. Never do we find the Father submitting to the Spirit or to the Son. Their hierarchy is perfect—without anger or malice or envy, but it is a hierarchy nonetheless.


There are other teachings about the Trinity that concerned me. For example, Papa says “I am truly human, in Jesus.” This simply cannot be true. God [the Father—a term that the author avoids] is not fully human in Jesus. This melds the two persons of God in a way that is simply unbiblical. Some of what Young teaches is novel and even possible, but without Scriptural support. For example, he teaches that the triune nature of God was an absolute necessity since without it God would be incapable of love. His reasoning is not perfectly clear but seems to be that if God did not have such a relationship “within himself” he would be unable to love. But this is not taught in the Bible.


Overall, I had to conclude that Young has an inadequate and often-unbiblical understanding of the Trinity.


Overall, I had to conclude that Young has an inadequate and often-unbiblical understanding of the Trinity. While granting that the Trinity is a very difficult topic to understand and one that we cannot know fully, there are several indications that he often blurs the distinct persons of the Trinity along with their roles and their unique attributes. Combined with his novel but unsupported conjectures, this is a serious concern.


Submission

Young uses the discussion about the Trinity as a bridge to a the subject of submission. Here he teaches that each member of the Trinity submits to the other. Jesus says, “That’s the beauty you see in my relationship with Abba and Sarayu. We are indeed submitted to one another and have always been so and will always be. Papa is as much submitted to me as I to him, or Sarayu to me, or Papa to her. Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way.” Why would the God of the universe seek to be submitted to mere humans? “Because we want you to join us in our circle of relationship.” Genuine relationships, according to the author, must be marked by mutual submission. “As the crowning glory of Creation, you were made in our image, unencumbered by structure and free to simply ‘be’ in relationship with me and one another. If you had truly learned to regard each other’s concerns as significant as your own, there would be no need for hierarchy.” Submission, according to this book, must be mutual, so that husbands submit to wives while wives submit to husbands, and parents submit to children while children submit to parents. While the Bible does teach that we are to submit to one another, it also teaches that God has ordained some kinds of hierarchy.


While a husband is to submit his desires to his wife, even to the point of sacrificing his life for her, he is never called to submit to her in an authoritative sense. Wives, though, are commanded to submit to their husbands, acknowledging that the husband is the head of the family. Similarly, all people are to submit to the God-given authorities and every person is responsible to submit to God.


This understanding of absolute equality not just in value (which the Bible affirms) but also in role and function (which the Bible does not affirm), leads to a strange idea about why God created Eve out of Adam. He teaches that it was crucial for man be created before woman, but with woman hidden inside man. Had this not happened, there could not have been a proper circle of relationship since otherwise man would always come from woman (through childbirth), allowing her to claim a dominant position. She came out of him and now all men come out of her. This allows total, absolute equality, says Young. I can think of absolutely no biblical proof for this and neither does the author offer any.


And so we see that Young uses The Shack to teach an unbiblical understanding of submission. And he uses this topic to bridge to another.


Free Will

Young’s understanding of free will seems to follow from submission. “I don’t want slaves to do my will,” says Jesus. “I want brothers and sisters who will share life with me.” Speaking in veiled terms about conversion or something like it, Jesus says, “We will come and live our life inside of you, so that you begin to see with our eyes, and hear with our ears, and touch with our hands, and think like we do. But, we will never force that union with you. If you want to do your thing, have at it. Time is on our side.” God, it seems, has already forgiven all humans for their sin and has willingly submitted himself to them, though only some people will choose relationship. He is fully reconciled to all human beings and simply waits for them to do their part. Never does Young clearly discuss the consequences that will face those who refuse to accept this offer of union.


Overall, Young presents a God who is unable or unwilling to break into history in any consequential way. He is sovereign at times, but certainly not so in conversion (a topic that receives only scant attention) and is limited by the free will choices of human beings. Scant attention is paid to God’s fore-ordination, the understanding that nothing happens without it somehow being part of His decree (even while God cannot be accused of being the author of evil). Papa explains to Mack, “There was no way to create freedom without a cost.” But nowhere in the Bible do we find that God is somehow made captive by human free will and that He has to allow things to proceed in order to maintain His own integrity as Creator. Always God is sovereign, even over the free will choices of men. Our inability to understand how this can be does not preclude us from the responsibility of believing it.


Forgiveness

Much of the story focuses on forgiveness. Mack has to learn to forgive first God (or at least to come to an intellectual understanding of why God was unable to intervene to save Missy) and then, at the book’s culmination, to forgive the murderer. I am adamantly opposed to the idea that we would ever need to forgive God for anything. However, because this teaching is seen only vaguely in the novel, I will pass over it for now and turn to another area of forgiveness—that of unconditional forgiveness.


Nowhere in Scripture will we find the idea that we can or should forgive an unrepentant person for this kind of crime. Rather, Scripture makes it clear that repentance must precede forgiveness. Without repentance there can be no forgiveness. This is true of God’s offer of forgiveness to us and, as we are to model this in our human relationships, must be true of how we offer forgiveness to others. So when, at the book’s climax, Mack cries out “I forgive you” to the murderer (who is not present and has not sought forgiveness) he cannot offer true forgiveness. Neither can true forgiveness exist where Mack is unable to pursue reconciliation with this man. Forgiveness makes no sense and means nothing if we require it in this way. It may make a person feel better about himself, but it cannot bring about true forgiveness and true reconciliation. And so Young teaches a therapeutic, inadequate and unbiblical understanding of forgiveness.


Scripture and Revelation

There are few doctrines more important to Christian living than this one—understanding how it is that God chooses to communicate with human beings. Though the Bible teaches that Scripture is the “norming norm,” many Christians give precedence to other supposed forms of revelation, and particularly promptings, leadings and “still, small voices.” Sure enough, such an emphasis is seen clearly in The Shack. How will we hear from God in day-to-day life (away from the miraculous shack)? “You will learn to hear my thoughts in yours,” says Sarayu. “Of course you will make mistakes; everybody makes mistakes, but you will begin to better recognize my voice as we continue to grow our relationship.” And where will we find the Spirit? “You might see me in a piece of art, or music, or silence, or through people, or in Creation, or in your joy and sorrow. My ability to communicate is limitless, living and transforming, and it will always be tuned to Papa’s goodness and love. And you will hear and see me in the Bible in fresh ways. Just don’t look for rules and principles; look for relationship—a way of coming to be with us.”


Beyond looking for new revelation, The Shack says little about how God has communicated or will continue to communicate with us in Scripture. There are a couple of times that it mentions the Bible, but never does it point to Scripture as a real authority or as the sufficient Word of God. “In seminary [Mac] had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God’s voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects… Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book. Especially an expensive one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges?” Here we see Young pointing away from Scripture rather than towards it. Through Mack he scoffs at the idea that God has spoken authoritatively and sufficiently through the Bible. And if he points away from Scripture he points towards subjective promptings and leadings.


Though common, such teaching is dangerous and directly detracts from the sufficiency of Scripture. When we admit that God has not, in the Bible, said all that He needs to say to us, we open the doors for all manner of new revelation, much of which may contradict the Bible. What authority is there if not the Bible? Ultimately the issue of revelation is an issue of authority and too many Christians are willing to trust their own authority over the Bible’s. What authority does Young rely on as he brings teaching here in The Shack? Does he look to a higher authority or does he look mostly to himself? The reader can have no confidence that Young loves and respects God’s Word has He chose to give it to us in Scripture.


Salvation

The book contains surprisingly little teaching about salvation. When Young does discuss conversion, he places it firmly in the camp of relationship but also uses the stereotypical phrases such as “this is not a religion” and “Jesus isn’t a Christian.” Jesus apparently loves all people in exactly the same way, having judged them worthy of his love. Young also wades dangerously close to universalism saying that Jesus has no interest in making people into Christians. Rather, no matter what faith they come from, he wishes to “join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa.” He denies that all roads lead to him (since most roads lead nowhere) but says instead, “I will travel any road to find you.” Whether Young holds to universalism or not, and whether he believes that all faiths can lead a person to God, the book neither affirms nor refutes.


Conclusion

Many other topics receive less attention but also raise concerns. For example, Jesus comments on religion, politics and economics saying “They are the man-created trinity of errors that ravage the earth and deceives those I care about.” But Young offers no biblical proof that this is something Jesus would teach. In other places God seems to gloss over sin, judging certain sins almost inconsequential. And so it goes.

So where does all of this leave us? It is clear to me that The Shack is a mix of good and bad. Young teaches much that is of value and he teaches it in a slick and effective way. Sadly, though, there is much bad mixed in with the good. As we pursue his major theological thrusts we see that many of them wander away, by varying degrees, from what God tells us in Scripture.


Young seems set on undermining orthodox Christianity.

Despite the great amount of poor theology, my greatest concern is probably this one: the book has a quietly subversive quality to it. Young seems set on undermining orthodox Christianity. For example, at one point Mack states that, despite years of seminary and years of being a Christian, most of the things taught to him at the shack have never occurred to him before. Later he says, “I understand what you’re saying. I did that for years after seminary. I had the right answers, sometimes, but I didn’t know you. This weekend, sharing life with you has been far more illuminating than any of those answers.”


Throughout the book there is this kind of subversive strain teaching that new and fresh revelation is much more relevant and important than the kind of knowledge we gain in sermons or seminaries or Scripture. Young’s readers seem to be picking up on this. Read this brief Amazon review as an example: “Wish I could take back all the years in seminary! The years the locusts ate???? Systematic theology was never this good. Shack will be read again and again. With relish.


Shared with friends, family, and strangers. I can fly! It’s a gift. ‘Discipleship’ will never be lessons again.” Another reviewer warns that many Christians will find the book difficult to read because of their “modern” mindsets. “If one is coming from a strong, propositional and, perhaps, fundamentalist perspective to the Bible, this book certainly will be threatening.” Still another says “This book was so shocking to my “staid” Christianity but it was eye opening to my own thoughts about who I think God is.” At several points I felt as if the author was encouraging the reader to doubt what they know of Christianity—to deconstruct what they know of Christian theology—and to embrace something new. But the faith Young reconstructs is simply not the faith of the Bible.


Eugene Peterson says this book is as good and as important as The Pilgrim’s Progress. Well, it really is not. It is neither as good nor as original a story and it lacks the theological precision of Bunyan’s work. But really, this is a bit of a facile comparison. The Pilgrim’s Progress, after all, is allegory—a story that has a second distinct meaning that is partially hidden behind its literal meaning. The Shack is not meant to be allegory. Nor can The Shack quite be equated with a story like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where C.S. Lewis simply asked (and answered) this kind of question: “What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia, and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?” The Shack is in a different category than these more notable Christian works.


It seeks to represent the members of the Trinity as they are (or as they could be) and to suggest through them what they might teach were they to appear to us in a similar situation. There is a sense of attempted or perceived reality in this story that is missing in the others. This story is meant to teach theology that Young really believes to be true. The story is a wrapper for the theology. In theory this is well and good; in practice the book is only as good as its theology. And in this case, the theology just is not good enough.


Because of the sheer volume of error and because of the importance of the doctrines reinvented by the author, I would encourage Christians, and especially young Christians, to decline this invitation to meet with God in The Shack. It is not worth reading for the story and certainly not worth reading for the theology.

Why I Won’t Be Seeing (or Reviewing) The Shack Movie

-Tim Challies, February 2017


The day The Shack sold its hundred thousandth copy, it became likely there would be a movie adaption. The day it sold its millionth, it became practically guaranteed. And, sure enough, it comes to theaters March 3, starring Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer, and Tim McGraw.


For some time, I have been considering whether I should see and review it. I am quite sure that watching and reviewing The Shack would prove to be a wise business decision. I could get to an early screening, write up a review, and see a nice bump in my site’s traffic. Pageviews are the currency of the Internet and as a blogger I am supposed to base my decisions on what will maximize them. Even better, watching and reviewing The Shack could be genuinely helpful to others. That is especially true if the movie proves to be as deeply flawed as the book. A review might serve to equip people to watch it with discernment or even to avoid watching it altogether.


However, I am far more sure that watching and reviewing The Shack would be an unwise and even sinful spiritual decision. For that reason I will not be seeing or reviewing The Shack. Let me explain why.


The Shack in Brief

I trust you are familiar with The Shack, the book that came from nowhere to sell more than twenty million copies. It is the story of Mack, a man who has suffered a terrible tragedy and whose faith has been left in tatters. But then he receives an unexpected invitation to return to the scene where that tragedy unfolded. In a little shack, he encounters Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each in human form—Papa, an African-American woman, Son, a middle-aged Middle-Eastern man, and Holy Spirit, an eclectic Asian woman who goes by Sarayu. Together, over the course of a weekend, they deconstruct and reconstruct Mack’s faith. He leaves the shack a transformed man.


The book has a number of theological weaknesses that ought to be of concern to Christians. Some noteworthy theologians have gone so far as to describe it as full-out heresy. At the very least, it contains much that is foreign to the Bible and some that is directly opposed to it. It is probably safe to assume that many of these concerns will appear in the film just as they did in the book. Then again, it is possible that the filmmakers addressed some of those well-publicized concerns. Yet these are not the issues that will keep me from seeing it.


My Foremost Concern

My foremost concern with The Shack—the one that will keep me from seeing it even for purposes of review—is its visual representation of God. To watch The Shack is to watch human actors play the roles of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I take this to be a clear, serious violation of the second commandment: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6). I will not see the film, even to review it, because I will not and cannot watch humans pretend to be God.


I will grant that the primary concern of the second commandment is worship. It forbids creating any image of God in order to worship God through that image. Yet the commandment first forbids any visual representation for any reason. Whether that image is used to better worship God or better understand God, the commandment covers it. For our purposes, we can leave aside the issue of representing God the Son as a human figure. Some Christians believe this violates the second commandment (since Jesus is God) while others do not (since Jesus is a man and a historical figure). But to represent the Father and Holy Spirit as human figures is a matter of far greater clarity.


Representing God as Humans

Those who see The Shack will see Octavia Spencer (and, later, Graham Greene) in the role of God the Father. She will be a visual representation of the God who has existed from all eternity, the God who planned and purposed the creation of the universe, the God who foreknew and predestined his people to salvation, the God who was the subject of human rebellion, the God who set into motion a great plan of redemption, the God who poured out his holy wrath on his Son, the God who will declare that the time has come for the great Day of Judgment. Those who watch the movie will see her take on the role of a God who is “a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”


Those who see The Shack will watch Sumire Matsubara in the role of God the Holy Spirit. She will represent the Holy Spirit of God who has existed from all eternity, who was present and active in the creation of all that is, who draws God’s people by the gospel, who dwells within them, who sanctifies them, who comforts them, who sustains them, who preserves them. Those who watch the film will see her take on the role of a God who is equally “a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”


To portray the Spirit is to vastly misrepresent the Spirit; to portray the Spirit is to blaspheme the Spirit.

Obviously, no human can do justice to such a role. But the problem is far worse and far more serious. Everyone who watches the film will see a human actor portraying the divine Holy Spirit and in that way have their understanding of the Spirit diminished. To portray the Spirit is to vastly misrepresent the Spirit; to portray the Spirit is to blaspheme the Spirit. The same is true, of course, of the Father. Listen to Philip Ryken as he explains God’s concern in the second commandment.


[Idolatry] created a false image of God that was inadequate to his deity and unworthy of his majesty. God is infinite and invisible. He is omnipotent and omnipresent. He is a living spirit. Therefore, to carve him into a piece of wood or stone [or human flesh] is to deny his attributes, the essential characteristics of his divine being. An idol makes the infinite God finite, the invisible God visible, the omnipotent God impotent, the all-present God local, the living God dead, and the spiritual God material. In short, it makes him the exact opposite of what he actually is. Thus the whole idea of idolatry rests on the absurdity of human beings trying to make their own image of God. An idol is not the truth but a lie. It is a god who cannot see, know, act, love, or save.


God is not a human being. God is not like a human being in any way that can be explained by presenting him in an embodied form. God is so other that any visual representation harms instead of helps our understanding. Even as The Shack uses human beings in an attempt to lead people closer to God, it will actually lead them farther away. It must. J.I. Packer says, “we should not look to pictures of God to show us his glory and move us to worship; for his glory is precisely what such pictures can never show us. … all manmade images of God, whether molten or mental, are really borrowings from the stock-in-trade of a sinful and ungodly world, and are bound therefore to be out of accord with God’s own holy Word. To make an image of God is to take one’s thoughts of him from a human source rather than from God himself; and this is precisely what is wrong with image-making.”


Conclusion

The Shack presents God in human flesh. It makes the infinite finite, the invisible visible, the omnipotent impotent, the all-present local, the spiritual material. In its visual portrayal of God it diminishes, it obfuscates, it blasphemes, it lies. Even though I would watch the film to help others interpret it and to bring correction to error, I would still be subjecting myself to a false, blasphemous portrayal of God. I cannot allow myself to watch it even for that purpose. I cannot and will not watch or review it.

"The Shack" and the
"Death of Discernment"

Author of "The Shack" writes another book, this time, non-fiction/autobiography,
in which he proves to us
that
he believes Heresy
concerning God and the Bible:

What Does The Shack Really Teach?

“Lies We Believe About God” Tells Us

 

-Reviewed by Tim Challies, March 2017

 

The Shack has sold twenty million copies and along the way generated at least twenty million conversations. Many of these have been attempts to discern the fact behind the fiction, to interpret what Paul Young means to teach through his story. Some have read the novel as a fresh expression of Christian orthodoxy while others have read it as rank heresy. In the end, only Young knows what he really believes.

At least, that was the case until the release of his new non-fiction work Lies We Believe About God. In this book he tells what he believes about sin, religion, hell, substitution, submission, salvation, and a number of other issues that cut to the very heart of the Christian faith. He does this by addressing a series of twenty-eight “lies” people—evangelicals, that is—tend to believe about God. In Baxter Kruger’s foreword he insists that Young “is standing in the mainstream of historic Christian confession.” For the sake of time and space, I cannot evaluate that claim against all twenty-eight chapters. Instead, I have chosen to focus on the few that are most central to the Christian faith.


Twenty-Eight Lies

In this section I provide a brief overview of the most important chapters in Lies We Believe About God. As much as possible, I allow Young to speak in his own words.


Chapter 2: “God is Good. I am not.” This chapter looks at the human condition. “Many of us believe that God sees us all as failures, wretches who are utterly depraved.” But the reality, he insists, is far different: “Yes, we have crippled eyes, but not a core of un-goodness. We are true and right, but often ignorant and stupid, acting out of the pain of our wrongheadedness, hurting ourselves, others, and even all creation. Blind, not depraved is our condition.” First falls the doctrine of human depravity.


Chapter 3: “God is in control.” Close behind it is God’s sovereignty. Christians often state that God has a plan for our lives, even through pain. “Do we actually believe we honor God by declaring God the author of all this mess in the name of Sovereignty and Omnipotent Control? Some religious people—and Christians are often among their ranks—believe in grim determinism, which is fatalism with personality. Whatever will be, will be. It happened. And since God is in charge, it must be part of God’s plan.” He insists that God is not sovereign, but that he “submits rather than controls and joins us in the resulting mess of relationship…” As we will see, this idea of God’s submission to humanity is one of the book’s most prominent themes.


Chapter 5: “God is a Christian.” In chapter five Young means to show that it is futile and even dangerous to concern ourselves with who is a Christian and who is not. “Believing (trusting) is an activity, not a category. The truth is that every human being is somewhere on the journey between belief and unbelief; even so, we perpetuate the categories of believer and unbeliever.” Rather than seeing people as being believers or unbelievers, we should understand that we are all on the same path, though in different locations along it.


Chapter 12: “God created my religion.” Young often speaks of the beauty of relationship and the danger of religion. Thus, “God did not start religion. Rather, religion is among a whole host of things that God did not originate but submits to because we human beings have brought them to the table. God is about relationship; and therefore, any understanding of church or any community of faith that is centered on structures, systems, divisions, and agendas has its origin in human beings and not in God.”


Chapter 13: “You need to get saved.” Here he turns to the matter of salvation. I will excerpt this at length so you can see his full-out embrace of universalism—that everybody has been or will be saved by God.


So what is the Good News? What is the Gospel?

The Good News is not that Jesus has opened up the possibility of salvation and you have been invited to receive Jesus into your life. The Gospel is that Jesus has already included you into His life, into His relationship with God the Father, and into His anointing in the Holy Spirit. The Good News is that Jesus did this without your vote, and whether you believe it or not won’t make it any less or more true.

What or who saves me? Either God did in Jesus, or I save myself. If, in any way, I participate in the completed act of salvation accomplished in Jesus, then my part is what actually saves me. Saving faith is not our faith, but the faith of Jesus.


God does not wait for my choice and then “save me.” God has acted decisively and universally for all humankind. Now our daily choice is to either grow and participate in that reality or continue to live in the blindness of our own independence.


Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation?


"That is exactly what I am saying!"


Here’s the truth: every person who has ever been conceived was included in the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. When Jesus was lifted up, God “dragged” all human beings to Himself (John 12: 32). Jesus is the Savior of all humankind, especially believers (1 Timothy 4: 10). Further, every single human being is in Christ (John 1: 3), and Christ is in them, and Christ is in the Father (John 14: 20). When Christ—the Creator in whom the cosmos was created—died, we all died. When Christ rose, we rose (2 Corinthians 5).

Young leaves no doubt that he espouses universalism. To further his argument, he includes an appendix on the matter.


Chapter 15: “Hell is separation from God.” Having advocated universalism, he must now say something about the tricky matter of hell. “I may have convinced myself or been convinced by others that I deserve to be separated from God. Such lies will bring with them a shadow in which I experience a sense of separation, feelings that seem to validate the illusion that God is not connected and in relationship with me or that God has stopped loving me or has given up on me. Many of us on the planet live in this illusion now. … I propose the possibility that hell is not separation from Jesus but that it is the pain of resisting our salvation in Jesus while not being able to escape Him who is True Love.” Hell, too, falls by the wayside.


Chapter 17: “The cross was God’s idea.” Should we be surprised that he now moves against the notion that the cross was somehow part of God’s divine plan? He borrows Steve Chalke’s language of “divine child abuse” to describe any God who would plan such a thing.

Who originated the Cross?


If God did, then we worship a cosmic abuser, who in Divine Wisdom created a means to torture human beings in the most painful and abhorrent manner. Frankly, it is often this very cruel and monstrous god that the atheist refuses to acknowledge or grant credibility in any sense. And rightly so. Better no god at all, than this one.

The alternative is that the Cross originated with us human beings. This deviant device is the iconic manifestation of our blind commitment to darkness. It is our ultimate desecration of the goodness and loving intent of God to create, an intent that is focused on the human creation. It is the ultimate fist raised against God.


And how did God respond to this profound brokenness?

God submitted to it. God climbed willingly onto our torture device and met us at the deepest and darkest place of our diabolical imprisonment to our own lies, and by submitting once and for all, God destroyed its power. Jesus is God’s best, given willingly and in opposition to our worst, the Cross.


When did God submit? Not only in Jesus incarnate but before the creation of the world, according to Scriptures (Revelation 13: 8). God knew going into the activity of creation what the cost would be. That God’s own children, this highest order of creation, would one day make the final attempt to kill Life.


And how would we religious people interpret this sacrifice? We would declare that it was God who killed Jesus, slaughtering Him as a necessary appeasement for His bloodthirsty need for justice.


Chapter 19: “God requires child sacrifice.” And then he refutes the doctrine of propitiation: “One of the narratives about God is that because of sin, God required child sacrifice to appease a sense of righteous indignation and the fury of holiness—Jesus being the ultimate child sacrifice. Well, if God is like that, then doesn’t it make sense that we would follow in God’s footsteps? But we know intuitively that such a thought is wrong, desperately wrong.”


Chapter 21: “Death is more powerful than God.” Do we need to urge people to respond to God before they die? According to Young, not necessarily. “I don’t think God would ever say that once you die, your fate is sealed and there is nothing that God can do for you. … Personally, I do believe that the idea that we lose our ability to choose at the event of physical death is a significant lie and needs to be exposed; its implications are myriad and far-reaching. … I think evil exists because of our turning from face-to-face-to-face relationship with God, and because we chose to say no to God, to Life and Light and Truth and Good. God, with utmost respect and reverence, submits to our choice even while utterly opposing it. God, who is Love, not only allows our choice but joins us in our humanity in order to rescue us from our choices that are harmful and destructive. God has gone to incredible lengths to protect our ability to say no, even though that freedom has produced unspeakable pain and loss.”


Chapter 27: “Sin separates us from God.” As the book draws to a close, he looks at the nature of sin and its effect on our relationship with God. “There is a truth about who you are: God’s proclamation about a ‘very good creation’ is the truest about you. That very good creation is the form or origin of you, the truth of who you are in your being. Sin, then, is anything that negates or diminishes or misrepresents the truth of who you are, no matter how pretty or ugly that is. Behavior becomes either an authentic way of expressing the truth of your good creation or an effort to cover up (performance behavior) the shame of what you think of yourself (worthless). And what does the truth of your being look like? God. You are made in the image of God, and the truth of your being looks like God.”


Going Back to The Shack

Through twenty-eight brief chapters, Young systematically discusses and denies tenet after tenet of the historic Christian faith. He denies human depravity and divine sovereignty. He proclaims there are none who are specially loved by God and that formal religion is opposed to God. He insists that all humanity has been or will be saved by the gospel, that hell does not exist, that God merely submitted to the cross, that any God who would punish his Son as a substitute is abhorrent, and that the very notion of appeasement is unworthy of God. He denies that sin separates us from God and that death represents the end of our opportunity to respond to his offer of divine grace.


As Jefferson famously excised from his Bible all those passages he considered unbearable, Young has gutted the Christian faith of anything he considers repugnant. What remains bears only a passing resemblance to the faith “once for all delivered to the saints.”

Now that Young has described what he believes, his fans would do well to return to The Shack, for he has settled many of the debates. Does The Shack teach universalism? Absolutely. Does it encourage people to turn to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith? Is it meant to compel people to come to deeper confidence in the Bible? Is it a book that will persuade people to join and serve a local church? No, no, and no. Years ago when I reviewed The Shack I said, “Despite the amount of poor theology, my greatest concern is probably this one: the book has a quietly subversive quality to it. Young seems set on undermining orthodox Christianity.” “Seems set?” Now we know he is set. He is set on revoking and replacing the very pillars of the Christian faith.


Observations

Before I conclude, let me offer a few further observations about Lies We Believe About God.

  • While the excerpts above may represent Young’s most significant claims, they are far from the only concerning ones. There is barely a chapter in the book that does not do damage to one or more precious doctrines. Many times these depend on novel interpretations of Scripture passages or on creative word studies.
  • It is a well-established rule of polemics that before we engage another person’s ideas, we must ensure we have accurately understood and presented them. Young seems unconcerned with such protocol. To the contrary, he often lampoons or otherwise misrepresents what evangelicals believe. Time and time again he crafts a sloppy straw man, then beats it into the ground.
  • Young never addresses whether or not the Bible is our ultimate authority when it comes to what is true and what is false. Thus, he rarely proves his statements or defends his own beliefs with the Bible. Even while he dismantles the Christian faith, he often appeals to no authority outside himself.
  • The easiest book to write is the one that asks questions but stops short of proposing answers. This is especially true when the author associates humility with uncertainty and confidence with arrogance. And, sure enough, this is what Young does. “The book is not a presentation of certainty,” he says, as if this is an asset. “None of the examinations of ‘lies’ results in a final or absolute view on a subject. Rather, they are tastes of larger conversations.” Yet the careful reader will observe that Young’s uncertainty does not extend to the claims he believes to be false. When it comes to many core claims of the Christian faith, his uncertainty vanishes and he confidently castigates the positions and those who hold them.

Conclusion

In Lies We Believe About God, we see Paul Young apart from the subjectivity of narrative. And as he proclaims what he denies and affirms, he outs himself as beyond the bounds of Christian orthodoxy. This book is a credo for false teaching, for full-out heresy. I do not say this lightly, I do not say it gleefully, but I do say it confidently. Christian booksellers should be utterly ashamed to sell this book or any other by its author. Christians should not subject themselves to his teaching or promote his works, for he despises sound doctrine that leads to salvation and advocates false doctrine that will only ever lead away from God.


Now that I have read Lies We Believe About God from cover-to-cover, one of its small statements seems to take on outsized significance. “To understand who God really is, you can begin by looking at yourself, since you are made in God’s image.” The man who wrote these words has exposed his own approach, for his God is obviously and unashamedly fabricated in the image of Paul Young.

Understanding "Spiritual Formation" and "Spiritual Disciplines"
as studied at Truett Seminary.
Dallas Willard, endorsed by the Director of the Spiritual Formation program at Truett Seminary:
a Universalist heretic
Spiritual Formation:  An interview with Dr. Gary Gilley
What follows below, is information you need to know concerning the heretical theology that makes up what is known as "Spiritual Formation"
studied at Truett Seminary:

Contemplative Spirituality: A belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology. The premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all). Common terms used for this movement are "spiritual formation," "the silence," "the stillness," "ancient-wisdom," "spiritual disciplines," and many others.

"Spiritual Formation" even has their own 'translation' of the Bible, which contains heretical views:
Roots of the Spiritual Formation movement
Recent and Recommended Books:

“Out of Formation: Spiritual disciplines of God and men” deals with the re-introduction of ancient practices to the modern church. The essence of the book is that God has ordained certain disciplines for our spiritual maturity but men have added their own, not unlike the Pharisees of Jesus day. The believer needs to discern the difference and live according to God's ordained means. Ancient disciplines, most often practiced within the monastic movement in the early centuries of Christianity, have been dusted off, repacked, and resubmitted to believers as the means whereby spiritual growth is obtained. There is increasing discussion about fasting, journaling, pilgrimage, simplicity, solitude, silence, contemplative prayer, and spiritual direction in Christian literature. What can be learned from this renewed interest in Spiritual Formation, and what are the dangers?


Part One of this volume has been written to interact with the history, teachings and dangers of the Spiritual Formation Movement.


Part Two turns to the biblical alternatives for spiritual formation. It examines the means, or disciplines, which the Word of God clearly identify as ways God has designed for His people to be transformed into Christ-likeness, and to experience intimacy with Him.

 

Pastor Gary Gilley should be applauded for writing a book that addresses the "nailing jello to the wall" movement called “spiritual formation” that has invaded our evangelical churches! The book was clear, direct and powerful! He defines the vocabulary and asks all the right questions! Now it is up to each Christian to decide what he really believes! Sola Scriptura!

Is your Church doing "Spiritual Formation?"  Important Reasons why it shouldn't:

DEBUNKING DALLAS WILLARD AND BEING WORTHY TO BE SAVED

By Rev. Ken Silva, Southern Baptist pastor-teacher on Mar 16, 2010

Is Dallas Willard a Christian?

On a recent edition of Fighting for the Faith, I decided to do something VERY controversial, I asked the question, "Is Dallas Willard a Christian?"

 

I am not asking this question for controversies sake. I am asking this because what I hear coming from Williard's own mouth actually contradicts Biblical Christianity and the gospel itself.

 

Rather than explain it all in writing, I've decided to reproduce this controversial segment from my radio program and invite your answers to the question.

-Rev. Chris Rosebrough



What Mr. Willard is proclaiming is law, not gospel. And his remark "All who deserve to be saved will be saved" isn’t a slip of the tongue--Mr. Willard says it three times.

-Rev. Joe Hughes

THE TERMINOLOGY TRAP OF "SPIRITUAL FORMATION"

 

By Rev. Ken Silva, Southern Baptist pastor-teacher, Nov 6, 2008

Should a Christian be involved in the ecumenical movement?

Here is the official SBC position on Ecumenism:

Resolution On Southern Baptists And Ecumenism
New Orleans, Louisiana - 1996

WHEREAS, Historically, Southern Baptists have resisted ecumenism while embracing Christian brotherhood and cooperation with other evangelicals and

WHEREAS, We have witnessed in recent years the portrayal of denominations as barriers to be overcome on the road to unity; and

WHEREAS, True Biblical unity can only be realized in the bond of truth, and never at the expense of Biblical truth; Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention meeting, June 11-13, 1996, in New Orleans, Louisiana, urges the Boards and Agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention to maintain the historic position of Southern Baptists as they cooperate with various other groups in appropriate evangelistic enterprises, and on issues of justice, morality, and religious liberty both at home and abroad; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That such efforts not commit Southern Baptists to any organizational or long-term relationship which would risk possible compromise of historic distinctives or the unique witness of Southern Baptists to the world; and

FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED, That we encourage Southern Baptists to maintain their commitment to Bold Mission Thrust by giving priority in time, talent and resources to the work of the local church and its wider work through the SBC and Cooperative Program.

Many of the leading voices in the Spiritual Formation movement stress the need for more intuitive interpretations of spirituality. They encourage believers to incorporate a wide variety of extra-biblical spiritual practices, such as contemplative prayer, silence, meditation, creative expression, and yoga. In fact, some of the most popular methods of spiritual formation have been lifted from Catholicism, new age mysticism, or other religions and re-branded with biblical-sounding terminology.


But any kind of subjective spirituality that draws your focus away from the Lord and His truth can have disastrous results, derailing your spiritual growth and cutting you off from God’s plan for your sanctification.


All true spiritual growth starts with the preeminent role of God’s Word in the lives of His people.

More about Dallas Willard...whose heretical ideas and books are used by the Truett Seminary
Spiritual Formation students, and it's director, Angela Reed:

DALLAS WILLARD (b. 1935) is a philosophy professor who has had an influence on the emerging church and evangelicalism at large through his writings on contemplative spirituality and the kingdom of God. Brian McLaren has called Willard and Richard Foster “key mentors in the emerging church.”

Willard is a professor in the philosophy department at the University of Southern California. He has taught at Fuller Theological Seminary and elsewhere.

He is also an ordained Southern Baptist minister.

Willard graduated from Tennessee Temple College in 1956 with a B.A. in psychology, but has moved far beyond his fundamentalist roots. Even then, according to his wife, “He did have rebellion in him” (“A Divine Conspirator: Dallas Willard is on a quiet quest to subvert nominal Christianity,” Christianity Today, Sept. 2006).

Strangely, it was at fundamentalist Tennessee Temple that Willard had a mystical experience that changed his life. He met his wife, Jane, there, and after they prayed to surrender their lives to Christ during one of the services a man named R. R. Brown laid hands on Willard and prayed over him. Jane told Christianity Today that “Willard lost consciousness, later describing the experience as being enveloped in a cloud.” She added, “A spiritual reality became tangible for Willard in that moment” (Christianity Today, Sept. 2006).

We don’t know what happened to Willard that day, but the fruit of it is that he has walked away from a solid biblical position. He falsely labels the strict biblicist position “legalism.”

In his book The Divine Conspiracy, Willard describes how that as a young assistant pastor in a Southern Baptist church he was convinced that he was ignorant of God and the soul, so he decided to study philosophy, of all things! He claims that God spoke to him and said, “If you stay in the churches, the university will be closed to you; but if you stay in the university, the churches will be open to you.” Yet, the apostle Paul issued a very plain warning about the danger of philosophy. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8).

Willard’s extensive journey into the depths of humanism and philosophy has corrupted his thinking as the Bible warns. “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33).

He rejects the infallible inspiration of Scripture, saying, “Jesus and his words have never belonged to the categories of dogma or law, and to read them as if they did is simply to miss them” (The Divine Conspiracy, p. xiii). In fact, Jesus’ words are dogma and law and much more.

Willard says that during his fundamentalist days he would shock his classmates with statements like this:

“If you could find a better way, Jesus would be the first one to tell you to take it. And if you don’t believe that about him, you don’t have faith in him, because what you’re really saying is that he would encourage you to believe something that is false” (Christianity Today, Sept. 2006).

In reality, this is not a shocking statement so much as a ridiculous one. Jesus claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life and said that no man comes unto the Father but by Him (John 14:6). Thus, there is no “better” way, and if one finds a “better” way, then Jesus was wrong.

Willard is confused about salvation itself. He asks:

“Why is it that we look upon salvation as a moment that began our religious life instead of the daily life we receive from God?” (The Spirit of the Disciplines).

The biblical answer to this question is that Jesus Christ described salvation as a new birth, and a birth is not a lifelong process. Willard confuses justification with sanctification.

In The Divine Conspiracy, Willard rejects the gospel of believing in Christ’s atonement.

“When all is said and done, ‘the gospel’ for Ryrie, MacArthur, and others on the theological right is that Christ made ‘the arrangement’ that can get us into heaven” (p. 49).

Willard rejects this gospel. Consider the following statement:

“In replying to MacArthur, Charles Ryrie states that ‘the Gospel that saves is believing that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead.’ ... Ryrie does not try to support his claim that removal of sin-guilt ... to secure entrance into heaven after death, is the problem or issue. ... But in the face of Christian history and of the biblical record, that claim does need support--support it can never find. The Christian tradition certainly deals with guilt and the afterlife, but by no means does it take them to be the only issues involved in salvation” (The Divine Conspiracy, p. 44).

Thus, Willard rejects the gospel that Paul preached.

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Paul preached much about holy Christian living and discipleship, but he did not confuse this with the salvation of one’s soul and of the justification of the sinner before God and the reconciliation of the sinner with God. Paul preached that salvation is a gift of God’s grace in Christ and that good works follow as the fruit thereof.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

These are Bible truths that even children can understand, but Willard makes everything complicated, which is typical of false teachers.

The apostle Paul said that if a man preaches any other gospel than the one that he was given by divine revelation, he is cursed of God.

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).

Paul did not preach a kingdom gospel or a discipleship gospel. If I were Dallas Willard, I would not be able to sleep at night for Galatians 1:8 ringing in my mind.

Willard sets up a strawman of a gospel of justification that does not change the individual’s life. He presents a distorted caricature of the gospel that is commonly preached by Bible believers, and his proposed solution to this alleged problem is a kingdom gospel.

“On a recent radio program a prominent minister spent fifteen minutes enforcing the point that ‘justification,’ the forgiveness of sins, involves no change at all in the heart or personality of the one forgiven. It is, he insisted, something entirely external to you, located wholly in God himself. His intent was to emphasize the familiar Protestant point that salvation is by God’s grace only and is totally independent of what we may do. But what he in fact said was that being a Christian has nothing to do with the kind of person you are” (The Divine Conspiracy, pp. 36, 37).

Willard doesn’t tell us what “prominent minister” he is referring to, but it is certainly not typical among evangelicals and Baptists even in this apostate day to preach that salvation has no impact on one’s life. It is more typical to preach that one is saved by God’s grace through the gift that Christ purchased, and this, in turn, results in the new birth which changes the life.

That is certainly what the Bible teaches. The person that is truly saved has repented of his rebellion before God and has turned around to face in a new direction. He has been regenerated and all things are new.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (1 Cor. 5:17).

“For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thess. 1:9).

This is exactly what was taught at Tennessee Temple in the 1950s when Willard attended there and is what most independent Baptist churches preach today.

But what Willard promotes is a kingdom gospel that confuses salvation with discipleship, justification with sanctification, reconciliation with Christian living. He bases this on Christ’s preaching in Matthew, rejecting the proper dispensational interpretation which sees this as an announcement of the kingdom promised to David’s Son.

Willard’s error on the kingdom of God is one of the central errors of the emerging church, as we have documented in What Is the Emerging Church?

Willard’s book The Divine Conspiracy is intended for the general public and even for college and university students, but nowhere does he give a clear statement on the new birth and how a person can be born again. Nowhere does he warn of God’s judgment or of eternal hellfire. Nowhere is there any sense of urgency about the necessity of individual’s being saved before it is too late.

If Willard believes these essential things, he needs to publish a new edition of the book that includes them and he should issue an apology for such a gross oversight.

Willard teaches that Christian living is building the kingdom of God in this present world. He says:

“As far as the content of what I try to present is concerned it focuses on the gospel of the kingdom of God and becoming a disciple of Jesus in the kingdom of God. So it doesn’t merely have an emphasis on the forgiveness of sins and assurance of heaven as you are apt to find in most evangelical circles. I think that is vital but it is not the whole story” (Kingdom Living).

He says that the kingdom of God is in the world today and all men walk in it.

“To be born ‘from above,’ in New Testament language, means to be interactively joined with a dynamic, unseen system of divine reality in the midst of which all of humanity moves about--whether it knows it or not. And that, of course, is ‘The Kingdom Among Us’” (The Divine Conspiracy, p. 68).

This is not what the apostle John said.

“And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19).

For more about the kingdom of God see http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/kingdom-of-god.html.

Willard even allows room for salvation apart from faith in Christ. In an interview he was presented with the following question:

“I still struggle with how I should view those who have other beliefs. I’m not sure I am ready to condemn them as wrong. I know some very good Buddhists. What is their destiny?”

To this he replied:

“I would take [this individual] to Romans 2:6-10: God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. What Paul is clearly saying is that if anyone is worthy of being saved, they will be saved. At that point many Christians get very anxious, saying that absolutely no one is worthy of being saved. The implication of that is that a person can be almost totally good, but miss the message about Jesus, and be sent to hell. What kind of a God would do that? I am not going to stand in the way of anyone whom God wants to save. I am not going to say he can’t save them. I am happy for God to save anyone he wants in any way he can. IT IS POSSIBLE FOR SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT KNOW JESUS TO BE SAVED. But anyone who is going to be saved is going to be saved by Jesus” (“Apologetics in Action,” Cutting Edge magazine, winter 2001, vol. 5 no. 1, Vineyard USA, http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=14).

In Romans 2 Paul is not saying that someone can be saved by doing good. The theme of Romans 1:18 - 3:23 is that all men are under God’s wrath because all are sinners. Paul summarizes this section in Romans 3:9 by saying, “We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, THAT THEY ARE ALL UNDER SIN.” He wouldn’t contradict this by saying that it might be possible for some to be saved by good works. If a sinner could continue in well doing, he would be saved in that way, but no sinner does this nor can do this. Paul says in Romans 3 that none are righteous, none seek after God, none fear God, all are gone out of the way, “there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” In Romans 2 Paul says, “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law” (verse 12). Since he says in chapter 3 that “all have sinned,” this means that all will perish unless they obtain salvation through the grace of Jesus Christ.

And the idea that someone might be saved who doesn’t know Jesus might sound wise and compassionate, but it is plainly refuted by Scripture and is therefore a fool’s dream.

Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). The new birth is a very real spiritual event, and it happens only when a sinner consciously puts his faith in Christ. In the same passage Jesus explained how to be born again. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). He plainly stated, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

Therefore, if a person does not consciously believe in Jesus Christ he is condemned. Jesus concluded that sermon by saying, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). Words could not be clearer.

Jesus said further:

“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9).

A man can enter in through Christ and find acceptance with God, but any other door leads to destruction. And to say that an individual could enter into salvation through Christ and not know it is as ridiculous as it is unscriptural.

John said:

“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:10-12).

The person that “hath the Son” is the person who believes on him, and the person that “hath not the son” is the one that does not believe. There is no such thing as “unconscious saving faith.”

There is simply no other way of salvation than to put one’s faith in Jesus Christ and to receive Him in such a manner that one is born anew.

Willard rejects the doctrine that God is wrathful. He believes it is wrong to see God as “a policeman on the prowl” (The Divine Conspiracy, p. 64). He rejects the idea that God hates or that God “in a moment of rage” will destroy the earth (p. 267).

He says that the true idea of God is that He is only loveable.

“The acid test for any theology is this: Is the God presented one that can be loved, heart, soul, mind, and strength? ... If it fails to set a lovable God--a radiant, happy, friendly, accessible, and totally competent being--before ordinary people, we have gone wrong” (The Divine Conspiracy, p. 329).

In fact, the acid test for any theology is whether or not it is Scriptural! And the Scripture describes God not only as loving and compassionate and patient, etc., but also as holy and just and as having wrath toward all sin, and that is not only God in the past but also God in the present. The redeemed heart loves God in all of His facets, but the unredeemed heart loves only a god of its own creation.

It appears to me that Willard rejects the God of the Bible.

“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:12).

“God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11).

“Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him” (Psalms 50:3).

“For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many” (Isaiah 66:15-16).

“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).

“And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).

“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27).

“For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).

If he believes in the God described in these and hundreds of other verses, he needs to go back and revise his books.

Willard calls the doctrine of substitutionary atonement a “theory” (The Divine Conspiracy, p. 42). This is one reason why the emerging church heretic Brian McLaren likes Willard. Addressing the issue of the atonement, McLaren says:

“I think the gospel is a many faceted diamond, and atonement is only one facet, and legal models of atonement (which predominate in western Christianity) are only one small portion of that one facet. Dallas Willard also addresses this issue in ‘The Divine Conspiracy.’ Atonement-centered understandings of the gospel, he says, create vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and little else. He calls us to move beyond a ‘gospel of sin management’--to the gospel of the kingdom of God. So, rather than focusing on an alternative theory of atonement, I’d suggest we ponder the meaning and mission of the kingdom of God” (http://www.brianmclaren.net/archives/000149.html).

For more about the substitutionary atonement see the book What Is the Emerging Church?

Willard appears to hold to a post-millennial doctrine that the kingdom of God will be established gradually through the transformation of men and society.

“God’s way of moving toward the future is, with gentle persistence in unfailing purpose, to bring about the transformation of the human heart by speaking with human beings and living with and in them” (The Divine Conspiracy, p. 380).

He describes the future kingdom of Christ as “gentle” and “nonviolent” (p. 381). This denies the Bible’s teaching that Christ will come in wrath and judgment and will rule with a rod of iron.

Willard promotes contemplative spirituality. His books The Spirit of the Disciplines, Hearing God, and Renovation of the Heart deal with this theme.

He recommends the Catholic-Buddhist Thomas Merton and the Roman Catholic mystic saints such as Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, Dominic, Augustine, Bernard of Clairvaux, Brother Lawrence, Francis of Assisi, Thomas à Kempis, and Henri Nouwen.

He recommends the Rule of Saint Benedict, The Imitation of Christ, and the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius (The Divine Conspiracy, p. 370).

We have documented the deep theological heresy associated with these people and practices in the chapters “A Description of Roman Catholic Monasticism” and “The Error of Catholic Monasticism.” All of the Catholics that Willard recommends held to a false sacramental gospel, venerated Mary, prayed to a piece of bread, pursued an asceticism that Paul condemned in Colossians 2, believed in purgatory, etc.

Willard has been associated with Richard Foster since he attended Foster’s Quaker church in California in the 1970s. Willard was the song leader and sometimes a teacher in the church and his wife played the organ. Foster is the most influential promoter of Catholic contemplative mysticism alive today.

Willard is an ecumenist. He is a Ministry Team member with Foster’s radically ecumenical Renovaré organization. Foster describes the breadth of his ecumenical vision in these words:

“I see a Catholic monk from the hills of Kentucky standing alongside a Baptist evangelist from the streets of Los Angeles and together offering up a sacrifice of praise. I see a people” (Streams of Living Water, 1998, p. 274).

Willard favorably quotes a wide variety of heretics with no warning to his readers. In The Divine Conspiracy he quotes Malcolm Muggeridge, Hans Kung, C.H. Dodd, David Yonggi Cho, B.F. Westcott, Helmut Thielicke, Gustave Martelet, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John Henry Newman, Rudolf Bultmann, Brennan Manning, J.R.R. Tolkein, plus the aforementioned Catholic mystic saints.

Willard rejects biblical separation and mischaracterizes and slanders those who seek to practice it.

“These are the perfectionists. They are a pain to everyone, themselves most of all. In religion they will certainly find errors in your doctrine, your practice, and probably your heart and your attitude” (The Divine Conspiracy, p. 118).

Willard does not explain how it is possible to obey God’s Word and NOT find errors in doctrine (e.g., Acts 17:11; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 14:29; 1 Thess. 5:21; 1 Tim. 1:3; 6:13-14; 2 Tim. 3:5; Titus 2:7; Jude 3).

Willard grossly misinterprets 2 Corinthians 3:6-10 to support his doctrine that it is wrong to judge.

“Then there is a warning about trying to control others by ‘judging,’ blaming, condemning them. The apostle Paul later contrasted the ‘ministry of condemnation’ with the ‘ministry of the Spirit’ or ‘ministry of righteousness’ (2 Cor. 3:6-10)” (The Divine Conspiracy, p. 137).

In truth, 2 Corinthians 3 contrasts the Law of Moses with the Gospel of Grace, the Old Covenant with the New. The “ministration of condemnation” of verse 9 is the same as the “ministration of death” in verse 7 and it refers to what Moses wrote “in stones” on Mt. Sinai. Paul was not warning about a Christian ministry that contends for the faith once delivered to the saints and carefully tests everything by Scripture and marks and avoids false doctrine. He was warning about Judaistic legalism that preached salvation through works.

Willard claims that God is not concerned about doctrinal purity. In fact, he says that God loves theologians of all types.

“Theologians on both the left and the right, and those on no known scale of comparison, are all loved by God, who has great things in mind for every one of them” (The Divine Conspiracy, p. 329).

This is contrary to the Bible, which says that those who preach false gospels are cursed (Galatians 1) and those who preach false christs are of the devil (2 Corinthians 11; 2 Peter 2; 2 John).

Willard holds the New Thought, Word-Faith doctrine that mind affects matter.

“This opens up a deep truth about our universe as a whole. It is a world that responds to desire and to will, and in many ways. ... this central fact of life shows that matter is not indifferent to personality. It is influenced by it and influences it in turn. This is an actual fact about our world and our place in it. Within a narrow range, then, desire and will directly influence physical reality by simply desiring and willing it to behave in certain ways. ... One would not, at present, want to venture greatly on the reality of psychokinesis, the alleged ability to move things by thought and will alone. But recent scientifically organized studies strongly indicate a power very like it” (The Divine Conspiracy, p. 247).

In February 2006 Willard returned to Tennessee Temple University to conduct a seminar, which demonstrates unequivocally that Tennessee Temple has rejected its former position.

 

(Source: Way of Life Ministries, with excerpt from the book Contemplative Mysticism: A Powerful Ecumenical Bond.)

Who is Henri Nouwen?

(Another author whose books are read by Spiritual Formation students at Truett Seminary.)

(Web links are left intact, in the PDF document, so you can verify for yourself, the heresy that Nouwen teaches)
"Lectio Divina":  A Catholic practice which is part of "Spiritual Formation" training and education.

DR. GARY GILLEY EXPOSES LECTIO DIVINA

By Rev. Ken Silva, Southern Baptist Pastor, Jun 7, 2012



The following by Dr. Gary Gilley, pastor of Southern View Chapel, is republished at Apprising Ministries with permission:

As we have seen in the last two Think on These Things articles, “Spiritual formation is viewed by a growing number of evangelicals as an ancient ministry of the church, concerned with the ‘forming’ or ‘shaping’ of a believer’s character and actions into the likeness of Christ.” [1]


Spiritual formation is distinguished from biblical discipleship primarily by its source of authority and its methodology.  On the one hand, discipleship as defined by the Bible turns to the Word of God as the final and ultimate authority over all matters of life and godliness.  This means that if one truly desires to be a follower of Jesus Christ, he will turn to the inspired Scriptures to determine both truth and how to “observe all that I [Christ] commanded you” (Matthew 28:20).


Spiritual formation pays lip-service to Scripture but the true source behind the movement is the extrabiblical teachings and experiences of those in the past who supposedly have discovered the “secret” of deeper intimacy with God. Bruce Demarest says it this way: “For our help, [in the context of growth in the Spirit] we can turn to our Christian past – to men and women who understood how the soul finds satisfaction as we grow in God, and how His Spirit finds a more ready home in us.” [2]   Richard Foster and Gayle Beebe concur: “Through their reflections, the great saints witness to the work of the Holy Spirit and, when we study them, guide our spiritual life as well.” [3]   While Scripture is referenced by spiritual formation leaders, it is Scripture filtered through the experiences and insights of the “spiritual masters,” as they are often called, that set the pace in spiritual formation.


From the above comments, and those of others with similar views, we clearly see that spiritual formation is different from the typical understanding of discipleship.  Professor Demarest informs us that the difference lies not only in divergent authoritative sources but also in methodology and technique.  He declares that some past saints have discovered “certain spiritual practices were highly effective in nurturing the inner man.  These practices came to be known as the art and ministry of spiritual formation, a form of discipleship we are rediscovering today.” [4]   These practices are usually called “spiritual disciplines” and are the supposed means by which we become more like Christ. There are dozens of these disciplines, drawn almost entirely from Roman Catholic mystics and contemplatives throughout church history, which are being touted as essential to our spiritual life; however, the two foundational disciplines as recognized by all spiritual formation adherents, are prayer and Scripture.


No evangelical would ever question the value of prayer and the Word in the process of sanctification.  But, as we are seeing, when the spiritual formation devotees speak of these disciplines they mean something entirely different from what Scripture does.  Prayer to those promoting spiritual formation does not reference biblical prayer but contemplative prayer which we explained in our last paper.  Similarly, when spiritual formation enthusiasts promote the reading of the Bible they mean something very unlike the traditional actions of reading, studying and applying of the Word of God to our lives.  Foster agrees that “reading and studying and memorizing and meditating upon Scripture have always been the foundation of the Christian Disciplines.  All of the Disciplines are built upon Scripture. Our practice of the Spiritual Disciplines is kept on course by our immersion in Scripture.” [5]   I have no argument with Foster’s comment about the Word; it is what follows that is problematic.  The breakdown comes in a seemingly innocent remark that completes Foster’s quote, “So we must consider how we can ourselves come to the Bible.” [6] It is how we approach the Bible, what we believe is its purpose, and how we understand its interpretation that marks the distinction between biblical discipleship’s and spiritual formation’s use of Scripture.


Briefly, conservative evangelicalism has taught that the Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant and sufficient Word of God whereby He reveals Himself, unfolds the drama of redemption through Jesus Christ, draws man to Himself and teaches him the truth necessary for godly living now and eternal life to come.  As 2 Timothy 3:16,17  states, the Scriptures are “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  How the believer mines the treasures of Scripture is through the normal, literal (often called grammatical/historical) approach to its reading and study.  As God’s truth is understood through this process, it is then to be applied to our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is not the approach to Scripture recommended and promoted within spiritual formation.  As a matter of fact, this approach is often ridiculed as merely an intellectual process that does not reach the inner person and does not lead to transformation.  Instead, we are told that if our lives are to be truly reformed by the Bible we must turn to an ancient technique, never actually taught in the Word itself, known as lectio divina.


Lectio Divina – a Definition

Lectio divina is a method of biblical meditation on the Scriptures that has been practiced by some Christians as far back as the fourth century. It is important to note from the outset that nobody knowledgeable of lectio, which is sometimes called “sacred reading,” “divine reading,” or “spiritual reading,” claims that it is taught or modeled in Scripture.  Rather, it is a method created and first practiced by contemplative monks and hermits three to four hundred years after the time of Christ.  Only recently, through the efforts of Richard Foster and a host of others, has lectio gained a foothold among Protestants, but its popularity is growing rapidly. Foster documents that lectio is rooted in the allegorical interpretation of Scripture that reigned from the time of the early church fathers such as Origen until the Reformation. Foster believes the pre-Reformation church saw “interplay between God’s interpretive Spirit, our spirit and God’s inspiring Spirit that gave rise to the original text.”  Foster continues. “Eventually, this method became standardized and known as lectio divina, the oldest and most widespread method for reading and understanding both the literal and allegorical senses of Scripture.” [7]  


This approach to reading Scripture was one of the main issues at the time of the Reformation, with the Reformers returning to the original grammatical/historical method of understanding the Bible. Foster believes the Protestant church was the loser in this return to sola scriptura because lectio “originated with the greatest minds in the history of the early and medieval church.  They were often sophisticated people with powerful intellects.” [8] Apparently the intellectual pedigree of the designers of lectio trumps the clear meaning of Scripture and how it was read through a normal, literal approach.


Lectio’s modern attractiveness in the West stems from recent departures within the fields of philosophy and theology from literal, didactic thinking in tandem with a resurgence of imagination and experience-based epistemologies.  Foster even defines lectio as the means whereby “sanctified imagination” is used most frequently, in the reading of Scripture. [9]


In fact lectio has little to do with the knowledge of Scripture.  Madame Guyon, well-known “Christian” mystic, writes, “[In lectio you are not reading the Scriptures to gain some understanding but to] turn your mind from outward things to the deep parts of your being.  You are not there to learn to read, but…to experience the presence of your Lord!” [10]   Paraphrasing Guyon, Foster continues to claim, “It is not that we think about what we have read…it is that we feed on what we have read.  Therefore we are to discipline our mind to be quiet before the Lord.  We are to allow our mind to rest.” [11]


Even Foster claims that Guyon’s instructions are out of his range of experience, so we turn to Ruth Haley Barton, formerly on staff at Willow Creek Community Church, who writes, “Lectio divina is an approach to the Scriptures that sets us up to listen for the word of God spoken to us in the present moment…Invariably he communicates his love for us in ways that we can hear and experience beyond cognitive knowing.  One of the reasons this approach is so powerful is that lectio divina involves a delicate balance of silence and word.  It is a very concrete way of entering into the rhythm of speaking and listening involved in intimate communication.” [12]   Lectio is viewed as a means of hearing the voice of God in experiential, non-cognitive ways, so that in an inexplicable manner the Lord speaks to our hearts rather than our minds.  In lectio one does not go to the Scriptures to learn about God, or His ways, or to find and apply truth, but to experience a feeling of the presence of God.  This is why Leighton Ford says that every morning as he “pray[s] the Scriptures” he “quietly sit[s] in the presence of my Lord, waiting for his voice.” [13]


Lectio is used not only with Scripture but also when reading the saints of the past.  The following quote by Richard Foster demonstrates how the contemplatives place on par with Scripture the writings of men and women.


We can learn from the lives of the saints and the writings that have proceeded from their profound experience of God.  Humbly we read these writings because we know that God has spoken in the past…So whether through Scripture, icons or the lives of faithful Christians down through the centuries, we are ever seeking to “descend with the mind into the heart, and there to stand before the face of the Lord.”[14]


Mike King trains young people to meditate on Scripture in order to experience the Holy Spirit speaking to them. He recommends they keep a journal of their encounters with the Holy Spirit while practicing lectio divina.  He instructs his students to listen “in quiet solitude for the Holy Spirit to speak to them individually.”  When their time of silence is complete they pair up to share what they sensed from the Holy Spirit. [15]   At this year’s Passion Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, John Piper, Beth Moore, Francis Chan and Louis Giglio led 45,000 college students through a modified guided lectio divina session.  After the different speakers read a chapter from the book of Ephesians, the participants were told to shut their eyes and listen to the voice of God. At the end of the experiment Giglio asked how many of the students (all under age 25) had heard the specific voice of God speaking to them.  From the videos apparently the majority claimed they did. [16] Through such means, young adult Christians are being subtly introduced to spiritual disciplines such as lectio divina.


Kenneth Boa has written at least four books, all published by the Navigators’ NavPress,  teaching and promoting lectio divina:Sacred Readings: A Journal, The Psalms: A Journal, The Trinity: A Journal, and Historic Creeds: A Journal.  Boa tells us:

Devotional spirituality revels in the glorious attributes of God and aspires to lay hold of God’s aspiration for us.  It prepares our souls for the “mystic sweet communion” of living entirely in God and in one another as the three Persons of God eternally live and rejoice in one another.  It instills in us a passion for Christ’s indwelling life and inspires us to swim in the river of torrential love that flows from His throne of grace. [17]


Besides the fact that “mystic sweet communion” is not a biblical category but rather a phrase found in the hymn “The Church’s One Foundation,” and despite the fact that “living entirely in God and one another” is indeterminate in meaning, and despite the fact that being inspired “to swim in the river of torrential love that flows from His throne of grace” sounds inviting but is nebulous and nowhere found in Scripture, Boa believes that “devotional spirituality” should be the goal of every Christian. Strangely Boa does not see spiritual formation as resulting in deeper insights into God, but just the opposite.  He writes,


The great pilgrims [i.e. the ancient mystics] along the way have discovered that progress from superficial to substantive apprehension of God is not so much a movement from darkness to light as it is a plummeting into the ever-increasing profundity of the cloud of unknowing. [18]


Lectio divina is, as Boa sees it, a formational reading as opposed to an informational reading of Scripture.  By informational he means a linear approach that seeks to master (understand) the text through careful analytical processes, as opposed to a formational approach which is an in-depth process allowing the text to shape us without much concern for its meaning.  Boa says, “The formational approach…centers on speaking to the heart more than informing the mind.” [19]   At best this division between heart and mind is an artificial one.  Biblically, the heart references the inner, immaterial part of mankind which includes the mind.  Besides, in no place in Scripture are we ever told to separate the heart from the mind or to attempt some form of nonintellectual pursuit of God.  Nevertheless, spiritual formation in general, and lectio divina in particular, is interested in experiences that cannot be explained or logically understood; in a word: mystery. [20]


Boa explains that

Lectio divina centers on loving God through His Word.  It was introduced to the West by the Eastern desert father John Cassian early in the fifth century.  The sixth-century Rule of St. Benedict that guided Benedictine and Cistercian monastic practice prescribed daily periods for sacred reading. Unfortunately, by the end of the Middle Ages it came to be seen as a method that should be restricted to the spiritually elite.  As time passed, even monastics lost the simplicity of sacred reading as it was replaced by more complicated systems and forms of “mental prayer.”  In recent decades, however, this ancient practice has been revitalized, especially by those in the Cistercian tradition.  Writers like Thomas Merton…[and] Thomas Keating…have been promoting sacred reading in Catholic circles, and Protestants are now being exposed to this approach as well. [21]


In summary, lectio is a method of reading the Bible designed to feed the soul with minimum use of, or impact on, the mind.  It was created by Catholic monks for those living in the monastic system and used almost exclusively within the monastic system for centuries.  It is never taught, alluded to or modeled by anyone in Scripture and lost favor even among Catholics at the latter stages of the Middle Ages.  It was revitalized among some Catholics in the mid-1970s and more recently has increasingly caught the attention of Protestants.  Eugene Peterson represents the attitude of many evangelicals in his endorsement of Richard Foster’sCelebration of Discipline, which introduced spiritual formation, including lectio, to Protestants in the late 1970s,


Like a child exploring the attic of an old house on a rainy day, discovering a trunk full of treasure and then calling all his brothers and sisters to share the find, Richard Foster has “found” the spiritual disciplines that the modern world stored away and forgot, and has excitedly called us to celebrate them.  For they are, as he shows us, the instruments of joy, the way into mature Christian spirituality and abundant life. [22]


With this description of lectio divina, along with the background of its origin and use, we need next to move to methodology.


Lectio Divina – the Techniques

Sacred Reading proceeds in four stages: reading (lectio), meditation (meditatio), prayer (oratio), and contemplation (contemplatio).  It sounds good on the surface, but as we dissect the stages we find that none of the stages is what evangelicals have traditionally understood when they speak of Bible reading and study.


Lectio: Richard Foster recommends a time of preparation before beginning to read.  He writes, “Still yourself within by breathing deeply, quieting the clamor of demands and distractions.  Do not rush this part.  Inward stillness is as important to spiritual reading as muscle-stretching is to a workout.” [23]   After selecting a passage of Scripture, read it aloud, deliberately and slowly.  “When you alight upon a word, a phrase, or a sentence that speaks to your heart, pause in your reading.” [24]   It is important to note at this point that we are not reading the text looking for meaning, nor are we studying as “a ‘scholar,’ searching for information; instead come as a disciple who seeks insight from a learned mentor.” [25] Mark Yaconelli explains the process,


Read a short passage two or three times, listening for a particular word that seems to stand out for us, address us, disturb us, or comfort us.  We receive this word as if God were picking it up and handing it to us.  We then take this word and hold it within the deepest recesses of our heart.  We repeat this word over and over, noticing the feelings and thoughts that come to us as we repeat this word gently within.  We then allow ourselves to pray, to speak to God whatever words or feelings we have within us. [26]


Ruth Haley Barton adds that while reading we are to listen “for the word or the phrase that strikes us…we have a sense of expectancy that God will speak to us.  After reading there is a brief period of silence in which we remain with the word, savoring it and repeating it without trying to figure out what it means or why it was given.” [27]


Meditatio: the next step is meditation but not meditation as we normally would understand it.  Boa describes meditation as “a spiritual work of holy desire and an interior invitation for the Spirit to pray and speak within us (Romans 8:26-27).” [28]   Two brief thoughts before we move on.  First, note the misinterpretation of  Romans 8:26- which is virtually universal in mystical literature.  The text does not promise that the Holy Spirit will speak to us in prayer but that He will intercede with the Father for us as we pray.   This is an important and often overlooked point. Secondly, the emphasis throughout all four stages of lectio is on God speaking to us in the process.  Foster writes,


Like the joyful awareness of a loved one whispering softly into our ears, we become aware of the intimately personal voice of God.  We cannot pinpoint where it is coming from because suddenly it is within us, sounding with a heightened clarity and immediacy, reverberating in the chambers of our heart.  We know without a doubt who is speaking to us.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and his sheep know his voice. [29]


Rather than turning us to the Word of God to hear the Lord’s voice, lectio turns us inward to attempt to listen to a subjective thought that is being interpreted as coming from the Lord.  In addition, Barton cautions her readers not to think too much about the passage at this stage, rather “keep coming back to the word that we have been given.” [30] The word “given” to one of the students of Yaconelli, while reading about Jesus sitting in a boat, was “cushion.” After repeating the word “cushion” over and over “for the longest time” until he started to remember his grandmother lying on a pillow just before she died, the youth felt so peaceful he nearly went to sleep. [31] This was supposedly the message that God was speaking to this young man from Mark 4:35-41. 


Oratio: Most evangelicals understand reading of the Word as God speaking to us; in turn we speak to Him through prayer.  Butoratio is more complicated than that: “Oratio is a time for participation in the interpenetrating subjectivity of the Trinity through prolonged mutual presence and growing identification with the life of Christ.” [32] If this statement by Ken Boa leaves you scratching your head join the club. Richard Foster uses the language of mystical romanticism to describe the same thing,


We want to turn to the Lover who is whispering in our ear and look in the divine face, trace with our fingertips the beloved features while speaking softly in return, and rejoice to see ourselves reflected in Jesus’ gaze and feel our very existence affirmed by his intimate awareness of us. [33]


This erotic description of what one is supposed to experience when encountering the Lord in lectio is virtually blasphemous. Nevertheless it fits well with the subjective desires of the mystic, who in oratio is listening for the voice of God as much as actually praying to the Lord.  But more importantly, prayer in lectio divina is “part of the path that leads to contemplation” [34] – the actual goal of lectio.


Contemplatio: Tricia McCary Rhodes writes,

The final step in lectio divina is contemplation, which means to focus on being aware of God’s presence, drawing near and loving him.  If we speak at all during this time, it is to offer words of gratitude for what we’ve seen or to express the love we feel in our hearts toward the Lord.  Often we will sit quietly, even if only for a moment or two, musing over the wonder that the God of the universe has broken into our day with a personal revelation. [35]


This is the Holy Grail in lectio divina in which the Lord provides a personal revelation to those who have taken the four steps. Boa describes this fourth step as “a mysterious territory in which the language is silence and the action is receptivity.  True contemplation is a theological grace that cannot be reduced to logical, psychological, or aesthetic categories.” [36]   This same author clearly distinguishes meditation and contemplation.  Meditative prayer involves speech, activity, discursive thought, vocal and mental prayer, natural faculties of reason and imagination, affective feelings, reading and reflection, doing, seeking, and talking to Jesus.  Contemplative prayer is described as silence, receptivity, loss of mental images and concepts, wordless prayer and interior stillness, mysterious darkening of the natural faculties, loss of feelings, inability to meditate, being receiving, and entering into the prayer of Jesus. [37]


As can be seen, contemplation within the spiritual formation movement is entering into a mysterious, virtual trance-like state in which one believes he has achieved union with God.  Boa frames it this way: “When we enter into the numinous territory of contemplation, it is best for us to stop talking and ‘listen to Him’ in simple and loving attentiveness.  In this strange and holy land we must remove the sandals of our ideas, constructs, and inclinations, and quietly listen for the voice of God.” [38] Modern mystic Thomas Merton adds, “The life of contemplation…is the life of the Holy


Spirit in our inmost souls.  The whole duty of contemplation is to abandon what is base and trivial in (your) own life, and do all (you) can to conform…to the secret and obscure promptings of the Spirit of God.” [39]


It should also be noted that the contemplatives believe lectio divina should be used with other literature outside of the Bible.  God will speak to us in the creeds, Boa believes.  Demarest tells us that “God also graciously speaks to His children through Christian books, hymns, and religious art.” [40]


Conclusion

Lectio divina is the counterpart to contemplative prayer within spiritual formation. As contemplative prayer is a mystical, non-cognitive method of prayer which has as its goal an inexplicable union with God, so lectio uses the same approach with the same goal in regard to Scripture.   The motivation behind this system is the often expressed concern that Christian living in the West has been reduced to mere mental activity.  Morton Kelsey observes that “in Protestantism, God became a theological idea known by inference rather than a reality known by experience.” [41]


In analyzing Kelsey’s concern it is important to understand that it is largely a straw man. There are exceptions to be sure, but I know of no one who desires or teaches that the Christian life should be only cerebral, or simply a theological knowledge of a set of facts.  Rather, biblical Christianity teaches that our lives are to be shaped by truth – truth that forms us into Christ-likeness.  Without the application of truth, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we will become spiritually stunted, but that is neither the goal of Scripture nor the teaching of the vast majority of evangelical leaders and churches.  The distinction between contemplative spirituality and conservative evangelicalism lies first of all in the dominate or controlling factor.  For the spiritual formation movement the dominate factor is experience and imagination.  For the evangelical it is truth emanating from the Scriptures.


This leads naturally to the source of truth.  Conservative Christians believe that the final authority for life, doctrine and experience is the Word of God, which we cherish and guard (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Mark 7:6).  If the Bible teaches something then we trust it, put it into practice, and live it. But if a claim or teaching aimed toward spiritual life and development is not found in the Scriptures, it is at best an opinion and certainly not a dogma to be cloned and distributed among God’s people.  Spiritual formation leaders, however, do not find their teachings and practices in Scripture but in the writings of ancient mystics that have been revitalized by modern mystics.  This is what separates biblical Christianity from spiritual formation and should be able to convince any tempted by spiritual formation to reexamine carefully the claims, experiences, and methodology of the movement.



[1] Bruce Demarest, Satisfying Your Soul, Restoring the Heart of Christian Spirituality, (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1999), p. 23.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Richard J. Foster and Gayle D. Beebe, Longing for God, Seven Paths of Christian Devotion, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2009), p. 15.

[4] Demarest, p. 23, (emphasis his).

[5] Richard J. Foster with Kathryn A. Helmers, Life with God, Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation, (New York: Harper One, 2008), p. 8-9.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Richard J. Foster and Gayle D. Beebe, Longing for God, Seven Paths of Christian Devotion, p. 134.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Richard J. Foster, Sanctuary of the Soul, Journey into Meditative Prayer (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2011), p. 42.

[10] As quoted in Richard J. Foster, Sanctuary of the Soul, Journey into Meditative Prayer, pp. 73-74.

[11] Richard J. Foster, Sanctuary of the Soul, Journey into Meditative Prayer, pp. 74-75.

[12] Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms, Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation, (Downers Grove, InterVarsity Press, 2006), pp. 54-55, (emphasis mine).

[13] Leighton Ford, The Attentive Life, Discerning God’s Presence in All Things, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2008), p. 93.

[14] Richard J. Foster, Sanctuary of the Soul, Journey into Meditative Prayer, pp. 46-47.

[15] Mike King, Presence-Centered Youth Ministry, Guiding Students into Spiritual Formation, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006), p. 149.

[16] The video can be viewed at:  http://apprising.org/2012/01/06/beth-moore-and-john-piper-lead-lectio-divina-lite-at-passion-2012

[17] Kenneth Boa, Trinity: a Journal, (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2001), p. 7.

[18] Ibid., p. 8. Some trace the roots of the Spiritual Formation Movement to 1974 when Father William Menninger, a Trappist monk, found an ancient book entitled The Cloud of Unknowing in the library at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts.  This 14th century book offered a means by which contemplative practices, long used by Catholic monks, could be taught to lay people.

[19] Kenneth Boa, Historic Creeds: a Journal, (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2000), p. 10.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Kenneth Boa, The Trinity: a Journal, pp. 12-13.

[22] Quoted in Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, the Path to Spiritual Growth, (New York: HarperCollins, 1998), p. 206.

[23] Richard Foster, Life with God, p. 64.

[24] Bruce Demarest, p. 136.

[25] Ibid., p. 139.

[26] Mark Yaconelli, Downtime, Helping Teenagers Pray, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), pp. 113-114.

[27] Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms, p. 57 (emphasis mine).

[28] Kenneth Boa, The Trinity :a Journal, p. 16.

[29] Richard Foster, Life with God, p. 67.

[30] Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms, p. 57.

[31] Mark Yaconelli, Downtime, pp. 117-119.

[32] Kenneth Boa, The Trinity: a Journal, p. 19.

[33] Richard Foster, Life with God, p. 68.

[34] Kenneth Boa, The Trinity: a Journal, p. 19.

[35] Tricia McCary Rhodes, Sacred Chaos, Spiritual Disciplines for the Life You Have, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2008), p. 70.

[36] Kenneth Boa, The Trinity: a Journal, p. 20.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Quote in Bruce Demarest, p. 157 (emphasis mine).

[40] Bruce Demarest, p. 138.

[41] Quoted in Bruce Demarest, p. 96.

DANGERS OF CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY/MYSTICISM: LECTIO DIVINA

By Rev. Ken Silva, Southern Baptist Pastor,

December 19, 2009



It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1, NASB)


Right Back To The Dark Ages

Following a trail that was initially cut by the online apologetics and discernment ministry Lighthouse Trails Research years before Apprising Ministries has been covering the rise in popularity within Protestant evangelicalism of practicing corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) ala Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster, with an assist from his spiritual twin Dallas Willard. It’s a rapidly spreading—and very dangerous—fad; and if left unchecked by spiritually timid evangelical leaders, CSM is going to be the cause of much division within the church visible.


My research shows that as far back as the early 80’s even conservative evangelical seminaries were using—in a positive way—Foster’s magnum opus Celebration of Discipline, which Dr. Gary Gilley rightly calls a virtual encyclopedia of theological error. However, Foster and Willard’s speculative so-called spiritual disciplines were really given a boost under the guise of spurious Spiritual Formation (SF) by the egregiously ecumenical Emerging Church aka Emergent Church—morphing into Emergence Christianity (EC)—which is a cult of postliberalism now firmly within mainstream evangelicalism.


In his article The Dangers of Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Disciplines, which is a scholarly refutation of Willard’s book The Spirit of the Disciplines, pastor Bob DeWaay of Twin City Fellowship is absolutely correct when he reminds us:


The spiritual disciplines that are supposedly necessary for spiritual formation are not defined in the Bible. If they were, there would be a clear description of them and concrete list. But since spiritual disciplines vary, and have been invented by spiritual pioneers in church history, no one can be sure which ones are valid…


Willard offers a discussion of each of these, citing people like Thomas Merton, Thomas a Kempis, Henri Nouwen, and other mystics. We are told that practices like solitude and silence are going to change us, even though the Bible does not prescribe them… Willard’s approach is works oriented and man-centered; it was created by spiritual innovators who mostly did not find their practices in the Bible. (Online source)

There’s no way to refute what DeWaay has just said because it’s simply beyond question that practices of CSM can be traced to heretical hermits in the desert of Egypt and this antibiblical ascetism of so-called disciplines flowered in the monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism.


CSM proponents likely bristle at my language; well good, maybe it’ll shake a few out of their comfortable contemplation, but even CSM advocates admit over and over in their many books etc. which I’ve read these past five years that their practice extends from “the desert fathers and mothers” circa third century.


Consider the following from Thomas Merton, the revered CSM Golden Buddha who had forgotten more about this stupid approach to Christian spirituality than Foster and Willard will ever know. And tragically Merton’s disgusting idolatry becomes evident in Thomas Merton And The Buddhas; the truth is, his devotion to the practice of CSM made Merton more like the Buddha than the Christ. In his book Spiritual Direction & Meditation, while explaining where the need for “spiritual directions” i.e. gurus like Foster would arise, the mystic monk Thomas Merton tells us:


spiritual direction is a monastic concept. It is a practice which was unnecessary until men withdrew from the Christian community in order to live as solitaries in the desert…


For the ordinary member in the primitive Christian community there was no particular need of personal direction in the professional sense. The bishop, the living and visible representative of the apostle who had founded the local Church, spoke for Christ and the apostles, and, helped by the presbyters, took care of all the spiritual needs of his flock. (11, emphasis mine)


You should now be able to see that these hermits were already in opposition to what Jesus told His Christians we must be doing — “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). So, if today’s perpetrators of this CSM/SF—a romanticized Romanism—within evangelicalism e.g. like the Elvis of the EC Rob Bell can make the case that Christ Jesus and His Apostles spent their lives living “as solitaries” in secluded caves somewhere out in a desert then we would have indeed rediscovered what some call “ancient/future” Christianity; but they can’t.


CSM Leads You Away From Proper Christian Spirituality As It Did The Church Of Rome


And as I previously pointed out e.g. in The Terminology Trap Of “Spiritual Formation” these practices of CSM cannot be made “safe” because they did not originate with Protestants; nor do we then get to redefine these centered-on-the-self musings of hermits and Roman Catholic monks and mystics. Here, in order to try and show you what’s at stake, I’ll use Lectio Divina (means “sacred reading”), which is becoming all the rage within Protestant circles. Though it has since ceased publication, take for example the fact of Focus On The Family And Brio Mag Encouraging Lectio Divina as they were giving away:


The Message//Remix: SOLO (NavPress)
Known as “an uncommon devotional,” this Bible devotional revolves around lectio divina, or “divine reading,” an ancient approach to exploring Scripture updated for today’s students.


Or consider what I first showed you in Disciplines To Deception In Southern Baptist Convention concerning a ten page source paper called Spiritual Disciplines: Pathway to Christian Maturity (SDPCM) from the Georgia Baptist Convention (SBC), which we can also find e.g. under Discipleship Resources of the State Board of Missions of the Alabama Baptist Convention (SBC) right here. Keep in mind now, we’re not talking individual churches; no, this is at least two state conventions of the SBC—allegedly the largest Protestant denomination in the United States—recommending SDPCM.


By the time we get halfway down page 3 that paper we’re going to learn Lectio Divina from the “insightful book, The Sacred Way,” by heretical “gay affirming” EC theologian Tony Jones. If you don’t know, Jones is “theologian in residence” at the church of his equally heretical quasi-universalist pastor Doug Pagitt, and both are leading voices in this Emerging/ent/ence pseudo-Christianity crippling the faith of your young. SDPCM tells us:


Bible Reading (Lectio Divina)
For many Christian leaders Bible reading and study has become the means preparing a teaching or preaching assignment. There is a dimension of sacred reading from Scripture known as lectio divina that is reading, not for assignment, but for life. Tony Jones in his insightful book, The Sacred Way, describes the Bible reading… (Online source)


Measuring Jones’ work by the proper yardstick of the Bible shows he is far from anything close to insightful; in fact, for one studying for a doctorate at uber-liberal Princeton Theological Seminary, his thinking process reveals itself to be remarkably shallow. Jones is simply regurgitating old debunked arguments from what the actually insightful cult expert Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989) labeled the original Cult of Liberal Theology. It comes as no surprise to those of us who’ve done our homework that CSM has contributed much to the current state of mortally wounded mainline Protestantism.


You need to understand that CSM is indeed making huge inroads into the mainstream of the evangelical camp; as you can see evidenced in Rick Warren Now Openly Promoting Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism. There you’ll see that Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren is bringing in CSM guru Peter Scazzero to his upcoming Radicalis conference at his Saddleback Church in February. This despite that in the Contemplative Spirituality section of Scazzero’s website under Pete’s Reading Picks there are books by Thomas Merton, Richard Foster, the apostate Brennan Manning, and Roman Catholic monks “Brother” Lawrence and Henri Nouwen.

And because “America’s pastor” Rick Warren is now placing his blessing upon Scazzero’s work in CSM it will be receiving a big boost within the mainstream of the evangelical community. I’ve pointed out before this is nothing new in Rick Warren And Saddleback Church: Prayer Is Not For The Novice. By looking at the December 2006 article Emerging worship: Moving beyond only preaching and singing by EC pastor Dan Kimball in his Ministry Toolbox at Pastors.com Warren has also been recommending Lectio Divina to evangelical pastors for some time as well:


There is a richness to be found in looking back in church history and implementing ancient forms of worship, in addition to more recent ways. When choosing to implement something like *Lectio Divina* (a contemplative praying of the Scriptures) into a worship gathering,… (Online source)


Another time I’ll talk further about Lectio Divina, which certainly does involve Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP)—meditation in an altered state of consciousness—the main vehicle of CSM aka “silence.” Now I’ll point you to the sermon review below by Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough, host of the Fighting for the Faith program which can be heard on the Pirate Christian Radio network at 6PM Eastern time. The sermon is entitled “Give Peace A Chance: Lectio Divina by Charlie Broxton “Pastor to Genesis” Twin Lakes Church in Aptos, CA.


But as Rosebrough points out as he begins his sermon review: “Here’s the problem; all of these things say that, if you do them, you will experience God—or hear God’s voice.” Rosebrough’s right when he tells us “this is Law,” and not Gospel; the truth is, these disciplines are simply asceticism-lite for Protestants and CSM is really right in line with error of pietism. And you’ll also hear about “The Monk’s Ladder”; in case you’re tempted to just pass it off as nothing, for more on this man-centered foolishness we turn to the article Benedict XVI Promotes Biblical Meditation where the pope himself enlightens us:


The systematization of “lectio divina” in four steps dates back to the 12th century, explained the Holy Father. Around 1150, Guido, a Carthusian monk, wrote a book entitled “The Monks’ Ladder,” where “he set out the theory of the four rungs: reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation [i.e. CCP],” according to the Pope. “This is the ladder by which the monks ascend from earth to heaven.” (Online source, emphasis mine)


Do yourself a favor; ditch the disciplines, and the Lord will be glad you did.

The Dangers of Lectio Divina:

Those who take this supernatural approach to the text can disconnect it from its context and natural meaning and use it in a subjective, individualistic, experiential, even name-it-and-claim-it way for which it was never intended…


…Naturally, the idea of having inside information is very appealing and makes the “knower” feel important, special and unique in that he/she has a special experience with God that no one else has. The “knower” believes that the masses are not in possession of spiritual knowledge and only the truly “enlightened” can experience God. Thus, the reintroduction of contemplative, or centering, prayer—a meditative practice where the focus is on having a mystical experience with God—into the Church. Contemplative prayer is similar to the meditative exercises used in Eastern religions and New Age cults and has no basis whatsoever in the Bible, although the contemplative pray-ers do use the Bible as a starting point.


Further, the dangers inherent in opening our minds and listening for voices should be obvious. The contemplative pray-ers are so eager to hear something—anything—that they can lose the objectivity needed to discern between God’s voice, their own thoughts, and the infiltration of demons into their minds…


Finally, the attack on the sufficiency of Scripture is a clear distinctive of lectio divina. Where the Bible claims to be all we need to live the Christian life (2 Timothy 3:16), lectio’s adherents deny that. Those who practice “conversational” prayers, seeking a special revelation from God, are asking Him to bypass what He has already revealed to mankind, as though He would now renege on all His promises concerning His eternal Word. Psalm 19:7-14 contains the definitive statement about the sufficiency of Scripture. It is “perfect, reviving the soul”; it is “right, rejoicing the heart”; it is “pure, enlightening the eyes”; it is “true” and “righteous altogether”; and it is “more desirable than gold.” If God meant all that He said in this psalm, there is no need for additional revelation, and to ask Him for one is to deny what He has already revealed.

-Rev. Chris Rosebrough

San Antonio Baptist Association
endorses heretic
Richard Foster in their newsletter:

"CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE"

BY RICHARD FOSTER:

AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THEOLOGICAL ERROR


(Another book studied by Truett Seminary Spiritual Formation students)

 

By Rev. Ken Silva, pastor-teacher, Sep 22, 2008, and graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

 

Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.” (Jeremiah 14:14)

 

Evangelical Rip Van Winkles Call A Quaker Mystic For Their Bedtime Stories

 

An encyclopedia of theological error…um, but other than that it’s pretty good. By now it’s become quite obvious that evangelicalism is deep into her lust affair with the repackaged “Christian” mysticism of Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster who is hands down the leading proponent of spiritually corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism. This neo-Gnosticism with its Contemplative/Centering Prayer actually flowered in the antibiblical monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism and has now slithered its way deep into evangelicalism from its den in the Emerging Church.

 

For example recently we’ve seen Christianity Today Promoting the Cult of Richard Foster and his so-called “spiritual disciplines” of the spurious Spiritual Formation he teaches along with his spiritual twin Dallas Willard. Foster, who is a member of the Religious Society of Friends, aka the Quakers, is even touted by the Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren as a leader within the evangelical church itself as I showed you in Rick Warren Guilty For Endorsing The Cult Of Guru Richard Foster And His Reimagined Gnostic Mysticism. CT is now out of the mystic closet as well which is quite obvious in Christianity Today Promoting The Roman Catholic Mystic Catherine Of Siena.

 

This cult rapidly growing up around a Quaker mystic who’s “gospel” message is so diluted he can even be listed right along with unbelieving pagan religious leaders like the Dali Lama, Ram Dass and Marianne Williamson as a great “spiritual teacher” at the Living Spiritual Teachers Project is now even entrenched deeply within the the allegedly “Protestant” and increasingly apostatizing Slowly Becoming Catholic as evidenced in Spiritual Formation Survey And Contemplative Prayer In The Baptist State Convention Of North Carolina (SBC).

 

And now we see the State Convention of the Southern Baptist Convention for the state of Georgia, has followed the egregious decision of Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) of the Southern Baptist Convention and in Georgia Baptist Convention (SBC) Now Promoting The Cult Of Richard Foster you’ll see it’s not even attempting to hide its open embrace of the dubious doctrines of the spurious Spiritual Formation promulgated by Foster and Willard et al as a viable approach to Protestant spirituality.

 

So with all of this in mind Apprising Ministries is very pleased to bring together in one source a couple of the very insightful things Dr. Gary Gilley has written concerning Celebration of Discipline (CoD) by “Roshi” Richard Foster. First, this is what he had to say about CoD in his excellent series called Mysticism:

 

"Celebration of Discipline" alone, not even referencing Foster’s other writings and teachings and ministries, is a virtual encyclopedia of theological error.  We would be hard pressed to find in one so-called evangelical volume such a composite of false teaching.  These include faulty views on the subjective leading of God (pp. 10, 16-17, 18, 50, 95, 98, 108-109, 128, 139-140, 149-150, 162, 167, 182); approval of New Age teachers (see Thomas Merton below); occultic use of imagination (pp. 25-26, 40-43, 163, 198); open theism (p. 35); misunderstanding of the will of God in prayer (p. 37); promotion of visions, revelations and charismatic gifts (pp. 108, 165, 168-169, 171, 193); endorsement of rosary and prayer wheel use (p. 64); misunderstanding of the Old Testament Law for today (pp. 82, 87); mystical journaling (p. 108); embracing pop-psychology (pp. 113-120); promoting Roman Catholic practices such as use of “spiritual directors,” confession and penance (pp. 146-150, 156, 185); and affirming of aberrant charismatic practices (pp. 158-174, 198). (Online source)

 

And now Gilley’s concise but dead on target review of the classic book, which would spawn The Cult of Guru Richard Foster. Gilley informs us:

 

Written over twenty-five hears ago, and proclaimed by Christianity Today as one of the ten best books of the twentieth century, the influence of Celebration of Discipline is all but incalculable. Foster is a Quaker, so his spiritual life is grounded in the subjective “inner light” presupposition of the Friends. He is highly steeped in the Roman Catholic mystics, drawing from dozens of them for his theology. More than that, Eugene Peterson informs us that Foster has “‘found’ the spiritual disciplines [in the mystics] that the modern world stored away and forgot” (p. 206). Foster’s views are also formed by Quaker mystics and even secular thinking, most surprisingly Carl Jung, self-confessed demon-possessed psychologist.

 

Without question these extra-biblical sources are behind Foster’s understanding of the Christian life. That is not to say that he does not refer to Scripture and occasionally interpret it correctly. However, it is astounding to see how often he mutilates the Word of God (e.g. pp. 16, 17, 55, 83, 114, 156, 170, and 177).

 

As a result of his unbiblical routes and disregard for the meaning of Scripture, it should not surprise us that Foster has become a Pied Piper leading multitudes away from biblical Christianity. From the vantage point of twenty-six years since the publication of Celebration of Discipline we see just how far astray Foster has taken his followers. These include:

 

    •Subjective leading of God as being the norm.

 

    •Journaling and prayer as ways that God speaks to us.

 

    •The contemplative prayer movement which has taken many to the foothills of Eastern mysticism.

 

    •Centering prayer in which one moves to the center of God or self—an Eastern mystical practice.

 

    •An unbiblical use of imagination which leads to occultic visualization.

 

    •Receptivity to all the charismatic gifts including tongues, visions, revelations and prophecy.

 

    •Use of rosaries and prayer wheels.

 

    •Embracing of psychological views such as self-fulfillment, self-actualization, loving ourselves, mutual submission, and healing of inner wounds.

 

    •Propagation of the Roman Catholic view of confession, penitence and spiritual directives.

 

    •Promoting charismatic patterns of worship, including calling for the presence of God and holy laughter.

 

Overall Foster’s book is an encyclopedia of unbiblical teaching, which leads the unsuspecting reader away from Christ and into mysticism or worse. It is a telltale sign of the state of the church to find how accepted Foster’s teachings are.

 

"Soul Feast" is another example of a book used by those who espouse Spiritual Formation.


Soul Feast promotes eastern mysticism. It stands among many other contemplative prayer books that do the same. But what is so alarming is that it also stands within the ranks of many Christian ministries, organizations, churches, and colleges. While Thompson does not hide her mystical affinities, many in Christian circles see her as a trustworthy source for spiritual nourishment.

The book was first released in 1995. Henri Nouwen was still alive, and he wrote the foreword, saying that Soul Feast is "the fruit of Marjorie's personal practice, her solid studies, and long experience in spiritual formation. It brings together in a clear, concise way the essence of her ministry." Nouwen would agree that if someone wanted to know what Thompson really believed, this book would provide the "essence" of those beliefs.

In the book, Thompson gets right to the point when she makes the following statements:

*Some Christians find that "mindfulness meditation," a traditional Buddhist practice, helps them live their Christian discipleship more faithfully.

*The practice of contemplative prayer might give a Christian ground for constructive dialogue with a meditating Buddhist.

*Spiritual practice is the heart of this book.

In Thompson's "Annotated Bibliography" (of books she favors) is a who's who of pantheistic contemplatives including: Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Anthony de Mello, Richard Foster, Tilden Edwards, Edward Hays, Morton Kelsey, and Parker Palmer.

Soul Feast is peppered with quotes by and references to staunch New Agers like Matthew Fox, Gerald May, and M. Scott Peck. Others in the book are Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, and Brother Lawrence. These named have one thing in common - they believe in the silent altered state that is induced through contemplative prayer.

One of the mystics Thompson refers to is Thomas Keating, a father of the modern day contemplative prayer movement. In referring to Keating's philosophy, Thompson states:

A way of prayer closely related to this ancient form [the Jesus prayer] is now enjoying a revival among Christians of several traditions. It is called "centering prayer," and is a good way to introduce the person in the pew to contemplation. Centering prayer is based on a fourteenth-century treatise titled The Cloud of Unknowing. In this way of prayer, you select a single word that sums up for you the nature and being of God. Single-minded focus on this prayer word in silent concentration becomes a vehicle into the mystery of divine presence and grace. The method bears a striking resemblance to Eastern meditation with mantras but has developed independently out of the mystical strands of Western Christianity.

Most likely Thompson read Keating's statement in a book he wrote the foreword to (Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality) where he said that Kundalini (an occultic meditation) and Christian contemplative prayer were one in the same. Keating knew this was true - Thompson must also for her to write as she does.

Encouraging the practice of lectio divina and breath prayers, Thompson tells readers to find your own prayer words, then "repeat the phrase gently in your mind for several minutes" (p. 52). She adds: "Over time, the repetition creates a space in which words fall away and we become more aware of the Presence they point to." Brother Lawrence recognized this presence. In his book The Practice of the Presence of God it says he "danced violently like a mad man" when he practiced going into the presence.

Unfortunately, if Thompson's spirituality becomes indicative of "Christian living," the words of mystic Karl Rahner will ring true when he said the Christian of the future will be a mystic on not one at all.

It is clear that Thompson shares a spiritual kinship with New Age mystics. That is why she references people like Matthew Fox. Fox believes that all people (and all creation) have a Christ-consciousness. He believes Jesus also had this Christ-awareness but was not God in the flesh. We can all be just like Him.

(from a review by Lighthouse Trails discernment website).

The Altered States of "Contemplative Prayer" which is another concept used by Truett students

(From the “Stand Up for the Truth” radio broadcast, May 2015)

 

Today we’re talking about Contemplative Prayer. Right off the bat, we need to define our words. When we warn you of the dangers of Contemplative Prayer, what we’re not talking about is meditating on God’s Word or contemplating His holy nature and character. We are talking about the man-made methodologies used as a spiritual exercise to “experience God’s presence.”

 

In spite of research and warnings from those who watch the trends coming into the modern church, mysticism and New Age prayer practices are increasingly appealing.  We’re seeing more prayer labyrinths being constructed, more classes and coaching on how to go “into the silence” to get visions and voices from God, and more how-to books that borrow from those who aren’t even born-again Christians. What are these prayer practices, and why should you be concerned? Today we’re going to explore those methods with our guest, and we’ll hear from those who teach these methods – and then compare what they say to what God says.  The Radio Interview:

The Dangers of "Spiritual Formation" 
and  "Spiritual Disciplines"   by Bob DeWaay:

Who is Thomas Merton?
(Yet still another author whose false ideas are studied by Spiritual Formation students at Truett Seminary). 

He was one of the key players who influenced Richard Foster.


Discussed by Southern Baptist Pastor, Ken Silva:

 

 

Southern Baptist Pastor, Rev. Ken Silva, explains the Origin of "Contemplative/Centering Prayer" Heresy:


"Contemplative Prayer" investigated by the Christian Research Network:
Rick Warren, who wrote "The Purpose Driven Life" and "The Purpose Driven Church," endorses the "Contemplative Prayer" Heresy:

Author Ray Yungen (“A Time of Departing, For Many Shall Come In My Name”) explains contemplative prayer, the heretical teachings of Thomas Merton AND the connection between Southern Baptist teacher Sue Monk Kidd and Merton.

(Courtesy of Youtube)

SBC Endorses NAR-Charismatic

False

Teaching

 

 

 

Has your pastor endorsed this false teaching?  Prayer Walking is not biblical.  With so many false methodologies being introduced into the church today, this particular false teaching can lead to the heresy of Contemplative Prayer.

SBC Endorses NAR-Charismatic

False

Teaching


Has your pastor endorsed this false teaching?  Prayer Walking is not biblical.  With so many false methodologies being introduced into the church today, this particular false teaching can lead to the heresy of Contemplative Prayer.

The New Geographic Spirituality

 

Geographical Heresies of the New Apostolic Reformation

Do Christian Leaders Understand The Contemplative Prayer Movement?

Purpose-Driven Roman Catholic Monastic Mysticism

By Rev. Chris Rosebrough



Roman Catholic Monastic Mysticism is becoming all the rage among innovative post-modern purpose-driven pastors. Practices developed by Roman Catholic Monks such as the Lectio Divina, The Practice of the Presence of God and the Prayer Examen which was created by on of the arch enemies of the Protestant Reformation, Ignatius Loyola are openly being promoted by an alarming number of seeker-driven / Purpose-Driven pastors. These so-called 'spiritual disciplines' are being featured at Willow Creek, Saddleback, and Mars Hill to name just a few.

To give you an idea of just how false and unbliblical these Roman Catholic Monastic Mystical practices are, a sermon was preached by an up and coming Purpose-Driven pastor, Scott Hodge. In the sermon he teaches the people in his congregation how to practice the medieval Roman Catholic Monastic Mystical practice known as Lectio Divina.

While listening to his sermon, one has to keep in mind that this Roman Catholic mystical practice was developed by men who did not believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone by Christ's work alone. These monks were trying to earn their salvation through their monkery. These practices are not taught in the scriptures. Neither Jesus, his disciples, the prophets nor the patriarchs practiced Lectio Divina. This Roman Catholic practice is pure monastic mythology and spiritual fantasy and rather than helping you experience God, it is more likely that you will experience self deception or demonic spirits.


The fact that seeker-driven and Purpose-Driven pastors are adopting Roman Catholic Monastic practices in droves proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that chasing after relevance has caused them to abandon Biblical truth and they are now being blown about by every wind of false doctrine. (Eph. 4:7-19) Sadly, this is what happens when you try to marry the church to the 'spirit of the age'.

The “Why” Question is answered……………………………

 

Why are Rick Warren and a growing gaggle of Purpose-Driven and Seeker-Driven pastors embracing and promoting Roman Catholic Monastic Mysticism? In a previous post, I said that I would answer this question. It's now time to do so.

 

There is one reason and one reason only why innovative market-driven pastors are promoting Roman Catholic Monastic Mysticism. The simple answer is MARKETING.

 

Since the mid-90's market survey's and data have been pointing market-driven pastors to the fact that the spiritual market in America was undergoing a change and would soon be embracing spirituality and expect mystical spiritual experiences from their church.

 

Therefore, the market-driven church in a pragmatic attempt to make the church more appealing to pagans, who expect to have spiritual experiences, have reached back in time to find some vaguely "Christian" form of spirituality that they could promote in order to meet the felt needs of pagans and thereby grow their churches. This is growth for growth's sake with absolutely no concern for the truth and sound Biblical doctrine!

 

Leith Anderson (Doug Pagitt's Pastor at the time) said this at Leadership Network's 1995 "Re-Tooling the Church Summit":

 

    We are living in a time unprecedented for its change, a time when “the rules of yesterday have been replaced.” Three specific shifts that are impacting the church in North America are: (1) the entry point being a relationship, not a program; (2) the quest for experience before understanding and the desire for connection to God as expressed in the increasing interest in spirituality and the supernatural; and (3) the rise of non-denominationalism in favor of people’s desire for essential Biblical Christianity regardless of the denominational label. Churches that reach people in the 21st century will have four characteristics: (1) spiritually focused; (2) “socially permeable,” that is, they must be open, rather than closed to newcomers; (3) culturally relevant; and (4) outreach oriented.[1] (emphasis added)

 

Barna's market research also identified this change in the spiritual market back in the mid 1990's. According to Barna there were going to be several key issues in regard to the significance of church and culture in America. Some of these issues include:

 

    (1) the rejection of absolute truth vs. the ascendancy of moral relativism; (2) the demise of Christian orthodoxy vs. the rise of synthetic spirituality; (3) ineffective confrontational evangelism vs. Socratic evangelism; (4) academic education for clergy vs. practical training for church leaders;[2] (emphasis added)

 

Put plainly, these market-savvy church leaders via their connections with Leadership Network, the Purpose-Driven Community, the Willow Creek Association and the Emergent Church through their market data saw these changes coming in the culture and they adapted the church, its message and its practices in order to conform to the world's expectations. They sold the truth out in order to make the church more appealing to pagan spiritual sympathies and expectations. This is the epitomy of what the Apostle Paul warned about in 2 Tim. 4:1-4. The Apostle Paul warned that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

 

The Lectio Divina, Ignatius Loyola's Prayer Examen, Brother Lawrence's Practice of the Presence of God are all practices that claim that IF you follow the steps created by these Roman Catholic Monks then you will have a "spiritual experience". Yet all of these practices are Monastic Myths and Spiritual Fantasies created by men who were trying to earn their way to heaven through their asceticism, harsh treatment of the body, hair shirts, self-whippings, long prayers, and mysticism.

 

Again the Apostle the Paul warns us about these Monks and their false piety and spiritism. Said Paul, "Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God." (Colossians 2:18–19)

 

Rather than heed the warnings of the scriptures and abiding in Christ and holding fast to His word and sound Biblical Doctrine, these market-driven churches, in their harlot like pursuit of growth at all costs have sold their souls to the spirit of the age and as a result have forsaken the Biblical Gospel itself. For men do not come to God on their own terms but can only come to God on God's terms and God has said that no one can come to the Father except through Jesus Christ and through the proclamation of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus' name. It is this gospel and this gospel alone that God uses to regenerate lost sinners and grant them life and salvation.(John 14:6, Luke 24:46-47, Rom. 10:17, 1 Cor. 2:1-2)

 

Ray Yungen presents a two part lecture on Spiritual Formation:

The true spiritual direction of “Spiritual Formation”

Posted By Marsha West, 2015, Berean Research


A large number of evangelicals are involved in spiritual formation (SF) which are “disciplines” that those who wish to experience spiritual growth must practice.  Where do the disciplines come from? Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox mystics, which should be a big red flag right there.   In this piece Pamela Couvrette tells of how she was led into (Spiritual Formation (SF) by “mature believers.”  But before long she came to know the truth — she had been led into false teaching by people she trusted.  She explains in the PDF file below:

FROM SOUTHERN BAPTIST CHURCH MEMBER,

TO GODDESS WORSHIP:


SUE MONK KIDD


(She was a Sunday School teacher in a small Southern Baptist Church in rural South Carolina.  Given a book by a class member written by Thomas Merton, she 'went off the rails' into heresy.)




Beth Moore, "preaches" the heresy of Unity for the sake of Unity:

SBC’S BETH MOORE:

 

MERELY PRETENDING TO BE PROTESTANT



By Ken Silva, Southern Baptist pastor-teacher, on website “Apprising Ministries"


In recent articles like "Southern Baptist Convention Using More Counter Reformation Contemplative Spirituality" and Alabama Baptist Convention (SBC) "Encourages You To Learn Lectio Divina" From Apostate Tony Jones here at Apprising Ministries I’ve been documenting the infestation of corrupt Counter Reformation Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) into the Southern Baptist Convention.

 

Frankly, it appears to me that milquetoast leaders in the largest Protestant denomination in the United States are attempting to purge themselves of the teachings of Church Reformers like John Calvin so they can make way for the Counter Reformation spirituality—so-called Spiritual Formation—of Southern Baptist minister Dallas Willard.

 

It needs to be emphasized here again that CSM guru Willard believes in, and also teaches, the very same neo-Gnosticism as does his spiritual twin—Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster. As I told you in "Evangelicalism Now Reaping What It Has Sown," no less an authority than Emergent Church guru Brian McLaren long ago told you they were “key mentors” of the Emerging Church.[1]

 

The point being, the Emergent Church is fruit of the CSM neo-Gnosticism of this dubious duo. Well, it’s way past time that SBC leaders at these state conventions realized, at best, this cult of Foster-Willardism produces the sinful ecumenicism you’ll see below from the SBC LifeWay-sponsored Beth Moore; and at worst, the heretical Fuller Theological Cesspool Seminary prof Dr. Tony Jones and the "Love Wins" mythology of apostate Rob Bell.

 

Yet the SBC continues to inject itself with the leaven of those who dabble in, and peddle, this spurious spirituality, which is openly hostile to the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura. Is it really any wonder now—as this quickly spreads throughout the lump of the mainstream of the church visible—that most of evangelicalism is really merely pretending to be Protestant?

The clips of Beth Moore to follow come from her 2002 series Believing God (BG),

Being that this LifeWay-sponsored BG Online Bible Study is from years ago, we are safe to assume that the SBC does not feel what you’re about to hear from Beth Moore is out of line with this evangelical Protestant denomination. O yes we know, Moore is hyper-charismatic while claiming that she’s receiving direct personal revelations from God and considers the apostate Roman Catholic Church merely a Christian denomination.

 

However, at least we also know that she’s not one of those icky Calvinist boogeymen. For you see, that’s just got to go from the Slowly Becoming Catholic. Against this backdrop I now bring to your attention a post by Elizabeth Prata called Beth Moore says God lifted her into another dimension & showed her the church through Jesus’s eyes, which contains the video clip below and the transcription to follow:

Transcription: “… to beg to differ with people that are ten times smarter than I am. But I want to say to you I see something different than that. I see God doing something huge in the body of Christ. I do not know why I have had the privilege to get to travel around, see one church after another…one group of believers after another, interdenominationally, all over this country, but I have gotten to see something that I think is huge.

 

And I’ll also suggest to you I am not the only one. And tonight I’m going to do my absolute best to illustrate to you something that God showed me out on that back porch. He put a picture…I’ve explained to you before I am a very visual person…so He speaks to me very often of putting a picture in my head.

 

And it was as if I was raised up looking down on a community, as I saw the church in that particular dimension- certainly not all dimensions, not even in many, but in what we will discuss tonight, the church, as Jesus sees it, in a particular dimension.”

 

Let me point out that I happen to have this BG series so I know this isn’t taken out of context. To anyone but the Moore-ites blinded by devotion to Beth the following is crystal clear: 1) Moore is speaking of the universal Church, i.e. the Body of Christ; 2) she’s claiming extra-biblical revelation via a literal vision God showed her, and 3) it enabled her to see the Church “as Jesus sees it.” There’s simply no way around this, period.

 

It’s very important you keep that in mind as you watch this next video clip, which is taken from a section after God Himself allegedly gave Beth Moore a literal vision that afforded her the ability in a “particular dimension” to see the Body of Christ “as Jesus sees it.” Now watch as Moore illustrates the “something different” she sees “God doing” in the Church, i.e. “the body of Christ.” You’ll see she includes the Roman Catholic Church:

No; God did not give Beth Moore this vision because the Roman Catholic Church has never rescinded her condemnation of His Gospel.1 In fact, this was at the very heart of the Protestant Reformation the Lord raised up in the first place. Beth Moore needs to be called to account for this demonic vision; she is not to be admired.


The truth is, Beth Moore needs to publicly repent of taking the Lord’s Name in vain and for her sinful ecumenical teaching. Now you have a proper backdrop in which to see another example of how deluded charismaniacs like Moore are becoming.



And so we realize that apparently Beth Moore has been elevated to the status  of her fellow Southern Baptist, PDL Pope Rick Warren, in being able to decree and declare that the Protestant Reformation is officially over. Now you may remember my earlier article Rick Warren And Purpose Driven Roman Catholics; as well as recall that the PDL Pope issued the following Bull:

 

“I see absolutely zero reason in separating my fellowship from anybody.”[2]

 

I have to wonder, do people really not see that this puffed-up pronouncement places Rick Warren completely at odds with God’s Protestant Reformers? Yes, you heard me correctly; I’m absolutely saying that Jesus sent these Reformers to return His Church to the Biblical faith which He had taught His own Apostles from the very beginning.

 

Finally, specifically concerning the apostate Church of Rome, Rick Warren has stated on the public record:

 

“The small group structure is the structure of renewal in every facet of Christianity — including Catholicism.” (emphasis mine)

 

“Now I don’t agree with everything in everybody’s denomination, including my own.  I don't agree with everything that Catholics do or Pentecostals do, but

what binds us together is so much stronger than what divides us,” he said. “I really do feel that these people are brothers and sisters in God’s family. I am looking to build bridges with the Orthodox Church, looking to build bridges with the

Catholic Church,….” (emphasis mine)

 

“Most readers will be surprised to learn that the largest international network is…the Christian Church. The Church, in all its expressions—Catholic, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Protestant and many others—has 2.3 billion followers.” (emphasis mine)

 

The question becomes: Is God really now ok with the Roman Catholic Church anathematizing His Gospel?

 

End notes:

 

[1] http://www.brianmclaren.net/archives/000271.html, accessed 12/28/11.

 

[2] http://bit.ly/vETcpu, accessed 12/28/11.

 

BETH MOORE endorses heretic
JOYCE MEYER

Beth Moore (who already has contributed thousands of dollars to heretic Joel Osteen's "ministry," publically associated herself with charismatic false teacher Christine Caine; and the heretical Hillsong "church"), now offers False Teacher Joyce Meyer her respect and esteem as they talk about "Unity"

Why Your Pastor Should Say

“No More"

to Beth Moore

by Josh Buice, Pastor, Pray’s Mill Baptist Church, Douglasville, GA.  May 24, 2016

Beth Moore is an extremely popular Bible teacher, author, and founder of Living Proof Ministries, Inc. which began in 1994 with the purpose of teaching women through Bible studies and resources.  Many thousands of women (and men) study the Bible in groups who use resources from LPM and watch videos of Beth Moore’s teaching.  With wide success in the publishing world, she is a frequent keynote speaker at large conferences including Passion.  As a former member of the First Baptist Church of Houston, Texas (now a member of Bayou City Fellowship), Beth Moore has been a Southern Baptist for years and finds great success in publishing her material through B&H Publishing Group and distributing it through LifeWay – a popular bookstore closely associated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

For many years, Beth Moore’s teaching has raised eyebrows among pastors and leaders in conservative circles.  Although concerns have been raised through the years, Beth Moore continues to be welcomed into the study groups within local churches where women read her books, study guides, and watch her videos with limited, if any, oversight from the pastoral staff.  Below I’ve documented three main reasons why pastors should fire Beth Moore from the women’s ministry within their local church.


Beth Moore Clearly Violates Biblical Boundaries


In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he writes, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (1 Tim. 2:12 ).  Paul forbids women from teaching and having authority over men.  Therefore, the pattern of the early church was established by Christ who chose twelve men to be His inner circle and then entrusted the early church to their oversight.  From that point forward (post Acts 6), God raised up a plurality of men to serve as deacons who would serve alongside the plurality of men who would serve as elders.


In short, we don’t see God calling, equipping, and endorsing women to teach the Bible in the context of the church (or beyond in places such as conferences).  This position rooted in creation and upheld by a distinctive position known as complementarianism is not only consistent with Scripture, but in tandem with the early church’s design.  Beth Moore violates this early church pattern and most importantly – the text of Scripture found in 1 Timothy 2:12 .  As she appears on the platform with an open Bible, she preaches the Word to thousands of men who are in attendance at the Passion conference and other venues where she’s invited to speak.  Not only is this her personal pattern of ministry, but she likewise condones other women who preach to men as she was in attendance at Joel Osteen’s church to hear her friend Christine Caine when she preached at Lakewood.

The point of the Bible is clear, women are not permitted to have authority over men, and how is it possible to teach the Bible without authority?  Paul forbids women from occupying the office of elder, but it must likewise be noted that he forbids women from the functionality of preaching and teaching the Bible to men – even if they don’t hold the office of elder (1 Tim. 2:12 ).  Beth Moore has demonstrated a heart of rebellion in this important area where she has violated God’s original intent in women’s role in the church, and therefore, should not be accepted into the church as an acceptable women’s ministry (or any Bible teaching ministry).  The pattern of ministry Beth Moore has developed will continue to manifest itself in local churches so long as local churches continue to incorporate her resources in their ministries.


Beth Moore Employs Faulty Biblical Hermeneutics


The fancy word hermeneutics, is a reference to the science of biblical interpretation.  Anyone who teaches the Bible understands that you don’t merely approach the Bible with a flippant and disorganized manner and expect organized presentation and application.  Beth Moore does not approach the Bible with a disorganized methodology, but she does approach the Bible with a deficient hermeneutic – one that should be rejected.


The most appropriate method of biblical interpretation is known as the literal, grammatical, historical method of interpretation.  This method seeks to uncover the original author’s intent from a literal and historical lens.  This method upholds the single meaning of the text of Scripture and does so with a careful analysis upon the terms and grammar used in the text.


Beth Moore, often very animated and passionate in her delivery of her Bible teaching employs a method of biblical interpretation known as allegorical interpretation.  This is a method of spiritualizing the text and making it say something other than what the original author intended.  If you’ve ever heard a sermon preached from the text of David and Goliath where the preacher pointed out that David is Jesus and Goliath is Satan – you’ve heard allegorical interpretation in action.  This is perhaps the main interpretative method used by Beth Moore.


Beth Moore goes beyond allegorical interpretation at times as she approaches the Bible through a mystical method of Bible reading known as Lectio Divina.  This is an old heretical form of biblical interpretation taken from Roman Catholic mystics and often closely connected to contemplative prayer.  This practice is often viewed as a spiritual method of approaching the Bible that involves emptying your brain and preparing to hear God speak. 


David Helm, in his book, Expositional Preaching, writes:

Lectio Divina advocates a method that is spiritual as opposed to systematically studious. It substitutes intuition for investigation. It prefers mood and emotion to methodical and reasoned inquiry. It equates your spirit to the Holy Spirit.” [1]


Although once a Roman Catholic method of reading and interpreting the Bible, Lectio Divina is now becoming popular in the mainstream evangelical community.  This method sidesteps the careful and historical method of biblical interpretation as it encourages people to open their minds and listen for the voice of God.  We should not be teaching people to empty their minds or open their minds while they listen for the voice of God.  God has spoken clearly and we can see what God has said as we read the Bible.


Beth Moore Is an Ecumenical Charismatic


In recent years, Beth Moore has been beating the drum of ecumenism with fervor.  In many recordings of her teachings, you can hear her categorize many liberal and conservative denominations along with Roman Catholics into the same group as if there are no distinctions or divisions.  If this isn’t enough to cause great concern, in more recent days Beth Moore has been crossing over the line into the troubled waters of the charismatic circles and aligning herself with people such as Joyce Meyer.  It’s one thing to refer to Joyce Meyer as a mentor and to embrace Roman Catholics as another denomination within evangelicalism, but why should Beth Moore be classified as a charismatic?  Beyond the obvious connection that Beth Moore has with Joyce Meyer, she also leads conferences with other charismatics and engages in teaching strange doctrines. Beth Moore participated in a Women of Faith conference held at Lakewood Church in Houston (see Roma Downey promote it on YouTube) where she taught sloppy allegorical lessons and engaged in a strange “commissioning” event at the close of the conference.


1.        Beth Moore frequently hears the voice of God and receives visions.

2.        Beth Moore aligns herself with Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer.

3.        Beth Moore engages in contemplative spirituality.

4.        Beth Moore is using charismatic language such as in a recent tweet about “binding prayers.”

5.        Beth Moore advocates receiving direct messages from God:

Beth Moore relates the story of a woman who approached her during a conference with a message from God:

With obvious anointing, she told the story we’re about to study, then she said: “I don’t know you Beth. I have no idea why God sent me with such a message to give you, but He told me clearly to say these words to you: ‘Tell her that her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much.’” [2]


Notice that Beth Moore claimed the woman had an “obvious anointing” from God.  To attach God’s name to a special message that doesn’t originate between Genesis and Revelation is to open yourself up to extrabiblical revelation and to deny the sufficiency of Scripture.


Discernment is needed today in the church like never before.  It should also be noted that God has called pastors to exercise oversight over women’s ministries within the church.  To allow women to go through church sponsored Beth Moore studies and gather for simulcast studies is to open the doors of the church to unbiblical and dangerous teaching.  Pastors, guard the doors and educate the people to exercise biblical discernment.

________________________________________

1.        David Helm, Expositional Preaching, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2014), Kindle Edition, 355 of 1576.

2.        Beth Moore, Jesus the One and Only, (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2013), 91. 

 

 

Hillsong: The Melting Pot for Apostate Women Preachers

by Jeff Maples, May 10, 2017

When apostate, egalitarian, charismaniac female preachers are no longer accepted in the more traditional, bible-believing denominations, where do they end up?

Hillsong!

That’s right, Hillsong is a repository of compromised preachers and teachers, most of whom have a low view of God and a high view of man. You see, Hillsong has a low threshold of tolerance for biblical integrity, and personal experience is elevated to a place of prestige and prominence. It counts not whether you can exegete the Scriptures and teach them within their context–it only matters if you can woo a crowd of people and have them clapping and cheering.

In Revelation 2:20, we see Christ eloquently reprimand the church at Thyatira, saying, “But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.” Indeed, this castigation from our Lord is unimpeachably relevant today. Our professing churches in this modern culture, particularly, ones like Hillsong, have become a hodge-podge of extra-biblical revelation brewed with a little bit of seeker-sensitive motivational speaking that leaves little room for purity and chastity according to the true Christian faith.

This is why women like Beth Moore, Christine Caine, and Priscilla Shirer are becoming the female face of Hillsong. Their admonitions do not come from Scripture, it comes from their personal experience. Their preaching style appeals to the flesh. It empowers the individuals who are there to have their ears tickled, and walk away not with a desire to repent and believe the gospel, but a feeling that God exists to enable man to conquer their fears and capture their dreams.

Priscilla Shirer, who will be a featured speaker at the Hillsong Colour Conference in 2018, is a creature-exalting Creator-minimizing preacher who gives nothing more than mere motivational speeches that are devoid of any actual gospel content. In the following video, you can see a snippet of her “all about me me me” style of preaching charging man with the power to battle Satan for dominion in your life.

We are not just going to be people who just lay down and let the enemy walk into our homes and to our churches and into our ministries and into our own minds and into our own hearts. No. We will stand in the doorway and say “not today Satan, not on my watch.”

Of course, this is the typical self-empowerment false gospel that so dominates charismatic, prosperity gospel churches like Hillsong. Notice that Shirer does not appeal to Christ’s finished work on the cross. Christ has already defeated sin and is victorious over Satan. There is nothing that we can do to add to that. Her false gospel is a gospel of man-centeredness. Lost people want to feel empowered and this nonsense gives them exactly what they’re looking for.

The power over Satan, sin, and the forces of darkness is not in ourselves, it’s in Christ. The power is in His word and his work. In Jude 1:9, we read of even Michael the archangel, who, while disputing with Satan over the body of Moses, did not rebuke Satan himself, but instead says, “The Lord rebuke you.”

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devilHebrews 2:14

Beth Moore is another Hillsong brand bearer who appeals to the flesh. While she regularly proclaims her fanciful dreams and visions as though they are from God, she refers to those who believe in doctrinal purity as scoffers. If you oppose ecumenical unity with false teachers like Joyce Meyer, who she regularly shares a platform with or with false Christians like Roman Catholics, then you’re just divisive–and you’re like the enemy.

The female festival of falseness is endless. From Ann Voskamp to Joyce Meyer, Christine Caine to Beth Moore, Lauren Daigle to Darlene Zschech, who, by the way, doesn’t know that the gospel of Rome is false, they’re all the same. It’s all about the experience at the events they speak at. It’s all about exalting themselves and exalting you. This is what sells in a lost in dying world. Their gospel is false. It’s a gospel of works.

The masses don’t want to hear about their fallen state, their wicked hearts, and their desperate need for a savior–one to whom they will have to come to in full submission. No. They want to hear about what they can do for themselves to make their lives better. They are looking to have their “best life now,” and that is what Hillsong is sure to deliver.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’Matthew 7:21-23

Beth Moore Teams Up With Prosperity Preachers at Hillsong Conference

by Jeff Maples May 9, 2017

Want dryness relief? You won’t find it in Beth Moore. Wherever she is, you are sure to find a hormone-filled hullabaloo of female falsity. But usually, her events are geared toward leading women astray–though many men do frequent her events. This year, she’s being shipped in all the way from the states to Sydney, Australia, to preach her flimflam at the largest Hillsong event of the year.

Slated for this year’s line-up, Beth Moore will be on stage with Craig Groeschel, John Gray, Jentezen Franklin, and Lauren Daigle. This team is sure to be a hit among the biblically inept young masses who are seeking a pious thrill with temporary motivation to “work harder” at “making life better.”

John Gray is an associate pastor at Lakewood Church. Yes, you heard that right. Lakewood Church–founded and misled by the notorious, nefarious, Bible-twisting, Gospel-perverting Joel Osteen. Gray is described as a “dynamic Bible teacher, comedian, musician, singer and actor…a talented man of God” Of course, Osteen himself is given far greater accolades than that on the same website. Therefore, it’s safe to say, you can expect nothing less than flagitious false teaching from him. Jentezen Franklin is a popular Word of faith teacher who runs around with heretics like T.D. Jakes. Franklin appeals to the masses by teaching seed-faith theology, contemplative spirituality, and seeker-sensitive drivel, while minimizing the actual gospel.

Beth Moore is no different, however, as her fanciful fables and dreams and visions she allegedly and persistently receives from God, she can sure garner an applause from a crowd that likes to be entertained. She prances around with shovels complaining about how people complain about her false teachings while pleading with evangelicals to unite with Roman Catholics in the cause for Christ because “god showed me so.” This year at Hillsong, the most notorious church for propagating a false Jesus, mainly through its music, will be nothing less than an impressive display of blither, and you can certainly count on a mediocre, if any, presentation of the true gospel.

Brannon Howse interviews Dr. Justin Peters,
a Th.D. graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, concerning new revelations concerning the heresy being taught by Beth Moore:










BETH MOORE ATTACKS THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION

By Rev. Ken Silva pastor-teacher:



HOW WOULD YOU KNOW BETH MOORE?

By Rev. Ken Silva, Southern Baptist pastor-teacher, May 30, 2009

 

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1, NASB)

But Then How Would You Know Which Is True?

 

At the 2:18 mark of the commercial below Beth Moore reads the text above and then says dramatically, “Several years ago Christ began to place a tremendous burden on my heart for the people of God to know the freedom of God.”

 

Really; how would we know? And if so, do we now have a prophetess among us with special revelation from God concerning His “freedom” because the Word of the Lord came to Beth?

 

And what if I as a pastor-teacher also was to say, “A couple of years ago Jesus placed a tremendous burden on my heart for the people of God to know the freedom of God.”

 

Now suppose I then went on to say, based upon Scripture, I believe the Lord says come away from false teaching advanced by contemplative dreamers because the best way to embrace the freedom of God is simply to read the Bible; pray consciously, and then do what it says in His Word.

 

Avoid their spirituality of the self and do not be subject again to a yoke of [its] slavery because they teach you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds (Jeremiah 14:14).

 

I mean, how would you know?

 

Beth Moore's “Living Proof”

comes to Television

Jan. 6, 2016 on

Trinity Broadcasting Network....

heretical teaching sponsored by LifeWay of the Southern Baptist Convention.


The heretical teaching of Jacob and Esau which she gave in her first broadcast on TBN, is here reviewed by Rev. Chris Rosebrough:

If you need more information about heretical teacher Joyce Meyer, see the web page: "Word of Faith" on this site.

Exposing Joyce Meyer's False Teaching - Identity Theft

BETH MOORE, JOEL OSTEEN, STEVEN FURTICK & STUART SMALLEY WITH HERETICAL

EVANGELICAL AFFIRMATIONS:

It seems as though Beth Moore has recently been promoting the book, “Jesus Calling” on one of her websites.  To me, this is yet one more reason I strongly recommend avoiding all Beth Moore material.  Reading the description of the book, it quite plainly tells us the author received messages and teachings directly from God, wrote them down, and then published them. 

This claim, if it were true, would mean that “Jesus Calling” is on equal footing with the Bible. 


This is a dangerous and heretical claim!  The fact that the author’s claim doesn’t seem to bother Beth one bit makes me (once again) seriously question her discernment and doctrine.  Where there is smoke, there is fire, folks.  I know I will draw hostile remarks for saying it, but it must be said…  There is a LOT of smoke around Beth Moore!

WHEN GODLY PEOPLE TEACH UNGODLY THEOLOGY:
The Subtle Error of
Beth Moore

Chris Rosebrough at the Reformation Montana Conference 2014, hosted by Southern Baptist pastor, Rev. J.D. Hall,  analyzes the teaching of Beth Moore and Ann Voskamp. Chris reveals how these popular women's bible teachers are teaching mysticism and false doctrine. Chris also demonstrates biblically that the apostolic gifts have ceased. (Used with permission)

BETH MOORE was featured at Round Rock Baptist Church, Texas, in the fall of 2014.

BETH MOORE'S FRIEND:


PRISCILLA SHIRER PROMOTING CONTEMPLATIVE/CENTERING PRAYER

LEARN CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY/MYSTICISM (CSM) THE SBC WAY,  

WITH BAPTIST STATE CONVENTION OF NORTH CAROLINA

"CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE" BY RICHARD FOSTER AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THEOLOGICAL ERROR

By Rev. Ken Silva, Southern Baptist pastor-teacher, Sep 22, 2008

GEORGIA BAPTIST CONVENTION (SBC) NOW PROMOTING THE CULT OF RICHARD FOSTER

By Rev. Ken Silva, Southern Baptist pastor-teacher,  Sep 14, 2008

SADDLEBACK CHURCH, RICK WARREN, AND SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES

By Rev. Ken Silva, Southern Baptist pastor-teacher, Jun 15, 2010

SOUTHERN BAPTIST SOUL SHAPING RETURN TO RELIGIOUS BONDAGE

By Rev. Ken Silva, Southern Baptist pastor-teacher, Jun 25, 2010

Contemplative Prayer Heresy.....
coming to a Texas church near you:
"Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young........
.........she has a Wrong Number

Lifeway: Jesus Wouldn’t Be Calling If They Really Had Doctrinal Guidelines

Dr. Justin Peters, Th.D. (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) on Sarah Young’s “Jesus Calling” and un-biblical divine revelation knowledge:

The Strange Saga of ‘Jesus Calling,’

The Evangelical Bestseller

You’ve Never

Heard Of:

Sarah Young, author of "Jesus Calling" has revealed that she got her inspiration from this other book of heresy, "God Calling," written by two anonymous women, who claimed that Jesus also spoke audibly to them!

Sarah Young wrote this about her experience reading "God Calling":

"Jesus Calling" gets a 're-write'

It was in 2013, when it came to light that Sarah Young had endorsed a clearly-identified New Age book, "God Calling," that the publisher 'air brushed' that from all subsequent printings of "Jesus Calling."

Like the missing 18 1/2 minutes from Richard Nixon's Watergate tapes, "God Calling" suddenly disappeared from Young's book.

There was no explanation, apology, nothing.  This was obvious damage control.  But 'thanks' to Sarah Young, "God Calling" had been resurrected from semi-obscurity and had become a best-selling book in its own right.....being reprinted in many editions; frequently featured alongside "Jesus Calling" in Christian bookstores......leading many astray.

Sarah Young never did renounce her previous involvement with "God Calling" which is where she got the idea for her own book.

The fact remains that Sarah Young stated that she was inspired by "God Calling" to receive her own messages from "Jesus" and described the channeled New Age book as "a treasure to me."

MORE AIR-BRUSHING in "Jesus Calling".........
Not only was any reference to "God Calling" removed, but also the original book that stated Young had originally described as "messages" she "received" from "God" were suddenly presented as her own "writings" and "devotions."  This was an attempt to suggest that Young was not doing the same kind of New Age channeling that was described in "God Calling."  However, Young still made it clear in her original introduction to "Jesus Calling" that this was exactly what she was doing.
(Source: "Another Jesus" Calling by Warren B. Smith)

Book Review on “Jesus Calling”

(Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, May 30, 2015)

The Jesus Calling is a book released in 2004 that is a record of supposed revelations given to its author, Sarah Young,1 by God during her quiet times of prayer and devotion. It is written from the perspective of Jesus speaking to Sarah.  Why?  Because she yearned for more from God from what her present prayer life and Scriptures could give her.  She said she decided to “'listen' with pen in hand, writing down whatever I 'heard' in my mind."2


This method of listening with pen in hand is reminiscent of an occult practice called automatic writing where a person empties his/her mind and waits for contact from the spirit world that guides the hand while writing down messages.  It is a formula for deception.  What makes things worse is that Sarah was influenced by the book "God Calling" which was written by two women in the article who received it via automatic writing.  The quote verifying this was removed from later versions of The Jesus Calling Introduction.  Is that a concern?  You bet it is.  However, I'm not saying Sarah is participating in automatic writing.  It is just that the connection is too close for comfort, especially when we find out that she was influenced by a book that was received in just that way.

 

The Jesus Calling is Inspired-ish

Sarah says that her writings are not inspired. 

  • "I knew my writings were not inspired— as only Scripture is— but they were helping me grow closer to God...The Bible is the only infallible, inerrant Word of God,"3

Okay, so she says her writings are not inspired.  Good.  But, if her revelations are from Jesus, then are they they partially inspired, not really inspired, or kind of inspired?  I have to ask because she is recording in her book what she has sensed from Jesus and then writes them as though Jesus is the one speaking.  Consider the following words from her writings that claim to be from Jesus...

  • "I do My greatest works through people with grateful, trusting hearts. Rather than planning and evaluating, practice trusting and thanking Me continually. This is a paradigm shift that will revolutionize your life.4
  • "Wear My Love like a cloak of Light, covering you from head to toe. Have no fear, for perfect Love decimates fear. Look at other people through lenses of Love; see them from My perspective. This is how you walk in the Light, and it pleases Me."5
  • "I AM ALL AROUND YOU, hovering over you even as you seek My Face. I am nearer than you dare believe, closer than the air you breathe. If My children could only recognize My Presence, they would never feel lonely again."6

Not only do these words sound like a feminized Jesus wanting to snuggle and comfort the readers, they are generic statements that sound very much like New Age philosophy.  After reading about 70 of her devotionals in the book, all I found was a series of comforting messages written in a God-is-all-about-love-and-support style reminiscent of New Age thought.  Generically warm readings that purport to be from Jesus can lull a person into believing that the Scriptures themselves aren't as beneficial as time spent alone with God with pen in hand waiting for something to come to mind.

  

A note of caution

 She says that the messages are written as though they are from Jesus.

  • "...from the perspective of Jesus speaking, to help readers feel more personally connected with Him. So the first person singular (“ I,” “Me,” “My,” “Mine”) always refers to Christ; “you” refers to you, the reader.7

Speaking for Jesus, no matter how well intentioned, is not a good idea.  We should let Jesus speak for himself and not be so presumptuous as to put words into his mouth.  This is a serious issue and should not be dismissed.


Is Sarah Young not satisfied with God's inerrant, inspired Word and has to receive feel-good messages while in prayer? Isn't the Bible sufficient?  Yes it is and we are not to trust subjective, experience based, so-called revelations from Jesus and fed to us as his words.  It opens us up to the possibility of self deception and a false Jesus. Furthermore, her methodology is dangerous because it can invite others to close the Bible, close their eyes, and sit with pen in hand, waiting to be fed from the spiritual realm instead of from God's word.


1.    It does not encourage learning from God's inspired word

2.    It risks putting subjective experience on the same level of Scripture

3.    It can encourage reliance on feelings as the means of learning what God wants from you instead of Scripture.


Again, I have to say that this is extremely dangerous and must be avoided.  Consider what God says in Genesis 3.


  • "Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’ ” 4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate,' (Genesis 3: 1-6).


If you study God's word you will learn the progression of deception offered by the enemy.

1.    Doubt God's word as being sufficient in itself.

1.    "Has God said...?" (v. 1)

2.    Contradict God's word.

1.    “You surely will not die!" (v. 4)

3.    Trust your own feelings for spiritual truth.

1.    "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate," (Genesis 3:6).


Now, I suspect that a lot of people reading this will be upset. Perhaps they might accuse me of not being open, of lacking love, of being too judgmental, or even name too legalistic. Maybe all of these accusations are true. But my job as a Christian apologist is to point people to Christ as revealed in the word of God and to help protect them from possible deception. Right or wrong, I cannot support an effort where a New-Age-styled Jesus is accessed through meditation and subjective experience.


Women love The Jesus Calling

While reading through the devotionals it did not take long to sense the portrayal of Jesus in a feminized form.  So, I went to Amazon.com and discovered that the great majority of positive comments were from women. At the time of writing this article (5/28/2015) there were 9,554 reviews. 

  • 8,891 five-star ratings
  • 389 four star ratings
  • 97 three star ratings
  • 49 two star ratings
  • 128 one star ratings.

Those are impressive numbers.  I then went through the top 10 pages of reviews looking for names of the reviewers to discern the male-female percentages. Of those author names that carried gender, this is what I found.

  • Males, 6
  • Females, 50


This means that 88% of the positive reviews were from women.  This makes sense since women generally prefer emotional, experience-based truths than do men. Now, at the risk of raising the ire of the entire female populace, when I compare the Scripture where Satan went to Eve and appealed to her emotions in order to deceive her, I cannot ignore the statistics that say 88% of the positive reviewers on this book were female.  Am I saying that all of them are deceived? No. Am I saying the book is full of evil?  It has many good things to say.  But, it appeals mostly to women because it is sentimental and comforting. The Jesus in its pages is gentle, patient, and soft.  He is rather one-sided and, I think, it is a misrepresentation of Him. In my opinion, Sarah's so-called revelations are more in line with her subjective preferences than from Christ himself.


Interesting Quotes

  • "Deep within themselves, most people have some awareness of My imminent Presence."8
    • Most people?  Does she include unbelievers who are aware of Jesus imminent presence?  Where is this in scripture?
  • "If you want to work with Me, you have to accept My time frame. Hurry is not in My nature. Abraham and Sarah had to wait many years for the fulfillment of My promise, a son."9
    • Really?  Hurry isn't in God's nature?  Yes it is.  Jesus told Zaccheus to hurry.
    • Luke 19:5, "When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house,” (NASB).  The NIV says "come down immediately".  The KJV says "make haste, and come down".
    • If these devotions are really from Jesus, then why do they contradict Jesus' words?
  • "Bring Me the sacrifice of your precious time. This creates sacred space around you— space permeated with My Presence and My Peace."10
    • Creating sacred space around you?  Is this in scripture anywhere?  No, it is not.  It is more consistent with New Age philosophy.
  • "The garden was filled with luscious, desirable fruits, but Eve focused on the one fruit she couldn’t have rather than being thankful for the many good things freely available. This negative focus darkened her mind, and she succumbed to temptation."11
    • Again, this is phraseology that is used in the New Age movement.  It is vague.
  • "This sacrifice of thanksgiving rings golden-toned bells of Joy throughout heavenly realms. On earth also, your patient suffering sends out ripples of good tidings in ever-widening circles."12
    • Really?  Golden toned bells of Joy in heaven?  Ripples of good tidings?  Is that true?  Where is this in scripture?  This is exactly how New Age writers speak and it is a violation of 1 Cor. 4:6 which says NOT to exceed what is written.
  • "LEARN TO LISTEN TO ME even while you are listening to other people. As they open their souls to your scrutiny, you are on holy ground."13
  • "As you entrust others into My care, I am free to shower blessings on them."14
    • This is a subtle heresy. Jesus is not freed to do something based on our behavior. He is the sovereign King who moves the heart of the King where he wishes it to go (Proverbs 21:1).  The problem is that it implies that we have the power to set Jesus free to work in people's lives.


OOOOPPSSS!!

If these are really the words of Jesus and why are they changed?  Consider the alteration for August 23 from the 2004 edition compared to the 2011 edition. 

2004

2011

AUGUST 23
ENTRUST YOUR LOVED ONES TO ME; release them into My protective care. They are much safer with Me than in your clinging hands. If you let a loved one become an idol in your heart, you endanger that one—as well yourself. Remember the extreme measures I used with Abraham and Isaac. I took Isaac to the very point of death to  free Abraham from son-worship. Both Abraham and Isaac suffered terribly because of the father’s undisciplined emotions. I detest idolatry, even in the form of parental love. When you release loved ones to Me, you are free to cling to My hand. As you entrust others into My care, I am free to shower blessings on them. My Presence will go with them wherever they go, and I will give them rest. This same Presence stays with you, as you relax and place your trust in Me. Watch to see what I will do.

AUGUST 23
ENTRUST YOUR LOVED ONES TO ME; release them into My protective care. They are much safer with Me than in your clinging hands. If you let a loved one become an idol in your heart, you endanger that one— as well as yourself. Joseph and his father, Jacob, suffered terribly because Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other sons and treated him with special favor. So Joseph’s brothers hated him and plotted against him. Ultimately, I used that situation for good, but both father and son had to endure years of suffering and separation from one another. I detest idolatry, even in the form of parental love, so beware of making a beloved child your idol. When you release loved ones to Me, you are free to cling to My hand. As you entrust others into My care, I am free to shower blessings on them. My Presence will go with them wherever they go, and I will give them rest. This same Presence stays with you as you relax and place your trust in Me. Watch to see what I will do."
 

So Abraham was accused of "son-worship" as well as "undisciplined emotions". Where in the heck is she getting this from? Furthermore, notice that these supposed words of Jesus have been altered.  The 2011 version changes Abraham and Isaac to Jacob and Joseph and removes the blatant "son-worship" error.

I must ask that if what she receives in her meditations are really from Jesus. I would say that obviously they are not since they have to be corrected.


Conclusion

The Jesus of the Jesus calling seems to be nothing more than the musings of a woman who "feels" her way through devotional material and in the process makes numerous mistakes? I do not recommend this book. Christians should look to Scripture instead of it for their devotions and comfort.

  • 1. Sarah Young has a masters in counseling and biblical studies from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis.  Another degree in counseling from Georgia State University
  • 2. ibid. (p. xii)
  • 3. ibid. (p. xii)
  • 4. ibid. (p. 85),  March 22
  • 5. ibid. (p. 168), June 9
  • 6. ibid. (p. 247), August 24, capitals original
  • 7. ibid. (p. xiii)
  • 8. ibid. (p. 247),   August 24
  • 9. ibid. (p. 362),  Dec. 11. underline added
  • 10. ibid. (p. 157),  May 30, underline added
  • 11. ibid. (p. 101),  April 6, underline added.
  • 12. ibid. (p. 301),  October 14, underline added
  • 13. ibid. (p. 318), October 31, Capitals original
  • 14. ibid. (p. 246),  August 23

Jesus Calling: The New Age Implications

Jesus Calling Devotional Bible?—Putting Words in Jesus’ Mouth—And in the Bible

By Warren B. Smith

Jesus Calling Devotional "Bible" mixes false Jesus with pure Scripture

That's Not Jesus Calling

 

by Jeremiah Johnson

-Grace to You

 

By now it is unlikely that you have not heard of Jesus Calling. That book—a daily devotional by Sarah Young—has sold more than 15 million copies, along with several sequels, children’s storybooks, and mobile apps. Today the Christian world is thoroughly saturated with Young’s writing, as her little devotional has exploded into a phenomenal success.

 

However, I wouldn’t call it unprecedented success. Christian publishers excel at creating these types of fads. Like its predecessors The Prayer of Jabez and The Purpose-Driven Life, Jesus Calling has managed to find the sweet spot of mass appeal: man-centeredness.

 

In the case of Jesus Calling, the devotional entries are presented as the actual words of Christ, with Him speaking words of encouragement and hope directly to the reader. Here’s how Young explains it in her introduction:

 

    I have written from the perspective of Jesus speaking, to help readers feel more personally connected with Him. So the first person singular (“I,” “Me,” “My,” “Mine”) always refers to Christ; “you” refers to you, the reader. [1]

 

Young pushes back against the notion that her book is inspired. But that distinction seems to be nothing more than a semantic façade. Here’s how she describes her writing process:

 

    The following year, I began to wonder if I could change my prayer times from monologue to dialogue. I had been writing in prayer journals for many years, but this was one-way communication: I did all the talking. Increasingly, I wanted to hear what God might want to communicate to me on a given day. I decided to “listen” with pen in hand, writing down whatever I “heard” in my mind. [2]

 

Only Young understands the balance she’s attempting to strike between divine revelation and her own imagination. In that sense, her books have a lot in common with modern prophecy—we’re told to believe they are the words of God without assigning them the authority of the Word of God.

 

And whether it’s a daily reading from Jesus Calling, an outburst of tongues, or a personal revelation from the Lord, there is a consistent and troubling theme gaining influence in the church today: The Bible is not enough.

 

In an earlier, unrevised version of Jesus Calling, Young made that point abundantly clear.

 

    I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. Increasingly, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day (emphasis added). [3]

 

This desire to hear personally from the Lord is nothing new to the church, but it may be enjoying unprecedented acceptance among God’s people. Lately I hear phrases like “the Lord told me,” “God revealed to me,” and “I heard God say” from a wide variety of Christian ministries—it’s no longer the exclusive territory of the charismatic church.

 

The truth is God has already said everything He intended to say to us—His Word makes that clear. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible we have is neither incomplete nor inadequate—we already have all the revelation we need from God. As our good friend Justin Peters says, “If you want to hear God speak, read the Bible. If you want to hear Him speak audibly, read it out loud.”

 

I’ll admit, I don’t fully understand this desire to receive personal messages from the Lord. I’m enough of a Bible student to know that if I did truly hear God’s audible voice, it would likely knock me off my feet, or worse (cf. Matthew 17:5-6; John 18:6).

 

Instead of chasing special revelation from the Lord, we need to recommit ourselves to the sufficiency and authority of what He has already said. Moreover, we need to consider the special care the Lord took in recording and preserving His Word. As the apostle Peter wrote, “No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

 

Regarding that passage, John MacArthur writes,

 

    By contrast, true prophecy does not come to mind through psychic intuition or New Age mysticism, and it is not discerned by guesswork. . . . Those who equate their own personal impressions, imaginations, and intuition with divine revelation err greatly. [4]

 

The great danger of books like Jesus Calling is that they drive a wedge between God’s people and His Word, encouraging them to look beyond the scope of Scripture for additional words from the Lord. In simple terms, they devalue the Bible and elevate emotional experiences and imaginary voices to the level of divine authority. And when anything you hear or feel could be the Lord speaking, you leave yourself open to all sorts of heresy and satanic lies.

 

God’s people need to be wary of anyone who assumes to speak for Him. We need to defend the authority of His Word against all pretenders. And we need to help shepherd other believers away from the popular desire for special revelation and back to the all-sufficient Word of God.

Who is Ann Voskamp?

“The Doctrines of Ann Voskamp:

Original sin = ingratitude
Result = broken union
Answer = “lifestyle gratitude”

Let’s see anyone support THAT with Scripture.”

Romantic Panentheism:

A Review of “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp

Romantic Panentheism:


A Review of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

by Bob DeWaay

 

If I were to write this review in the style Ann Voskamp used in writing her book, it would read like this:


Sunlight streams through window. Shadows on keyboard. I sit here. I want to separate substance from style and deal only with substance as I contemplate a book. Before me lies The Thousand Gifts, a book written by Ann Voskamp, farmer's wife, Canadian. Ann writes in person first, tense present, style poetic. Two hundred thirty-seven pages speak of angst personal and thankfulness God-given and quote Julian of Norwich, Annie Dillard, Brennan Manning, Henri Nouwen, Teilard de Chardin and others. The style I find difficult. Of that I will not speak. The substance is of concern. Of that I will speak.

But let us leave the first person present poetic to her and deal with her message.

Let me state this clearly: Ann Voskamp has written a book sharing her pain and offering help through her discovery of eucharisteo_ (to give thanks). She chose a literary style that I and other reviewers found difficult to work with, but the style she chooses is her prerogative. Where her work warrants challenge is in her reliance on panentheism, romanticism, sensual language and those whose viewpoints she approvingly cites. What follows is my evaluation of Voskamp's contribution, and, through my analysis I intend to protect her readers from the errors she has introduced.


We live in a postmodern theological age where the sensual and mysterious have replaced the rational and cognitive; where many churches promote the idea of worshiping God with all five senses; where feelings trump clear Biblical exegesis, systematic theology, statements of faith—rational approaches to Christian theology. Into this milieu comes One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, a book that takes romanticism to a new level, using sensuality to invoke religious feelings and, ostensibly, true devotion.1

Voskamp weaves a tale of discovery, finding devotion to God through encounters with nature and art, and in her experience, uncovering the secret to joy through what she calls eucharisteo_ ("giving thanks" transliterated from the Greek).


Begrudging Voskamp her religious feelings is not my purpose here, nor is disagreeing with the basic thesis that Christians ought to give thanks to God in all things. But I do object to the panentheistic worldview Voskamp espouses in the book and the accompanying romanticism. First we will explore panentheism and romanticism to show why these ideas are of concern.


Panentheism


Voskamp sees God in everything, and that concept has a name—panentheism. We must distinguish panentheism from pantheism, the belief that God is everything. If we accept that God is in everything, then we accept that God can be discovered and understood through encounters with nature. Voskamp shows that she knows what is wrong with pantheism:


Pantheism, seeing the natural world as divine, is a very different thing than seeing divine God present in all things. I know it here kneeling, the twilight so still: nature is not God but God revealing the weight of Himself, all His glory, through the looking glass of nature. (Voskamp: 110)

But she falls into a trap when she replaces it with panentheism.2 Furthermore, her conclusion that passages like those in Psalm 19 and Romans 1 speak of God in everything is not a valid implication. Why? Because these passages speak of general revelation. Nature, the vehicle for God's expressing general revelation, is fallen and does not reveal "all His glory." Christ does that, and what can be discerned about God through nature is not saving knowledge, but condemning knowledge. The book of Romans makes that clear:


For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:20-23)

The nature religions of the pagans see God in creation, worship creation, and do not come to messianic salvation. Paul claims that salvation comes only through the gospel, which comes to us through special, not general, revelation. Voskamp confuses these two categories throughout her book. For example: "And every moment is a message from the Word-God who can't stop writing His heart" (Voskamp: 86). Voskamp claims that the ability to see God in everything is the key to getting such messages. Pagans live in the same time-space world we do and do not receive infallible, inerrant, and binding revelation from God from that world. Instead, they live in darkness, and if they seek messages from God through the moments in this world, what they receive will lead to pagan mysticism and not anything that is clearly and bindingly revealed by God.


Voskamp would likely recoil from the notion that she is promoting pagan nature religion. But she puts Christians on the same footing as the pagans by taking them on a journey to find God in nature and art. She thereby promotes mysticism. Her concepts about God that are distinctively Christian are borrowed from special revelation (the Bible). But she never makes a distinction between general revelation and special revelation, and by integrating the two so seamlessly, she elevates nature to the status of saving revelation. Since God is supposedly in everything, then God can be found in everything. And that is panentheism.

Much of the current evangelical world is being seduced by panentheism, and we need to understand what is unbiblical about it. Many think that panentheism is a logical implication from the Christian concept of omnipresence—that God is everywhere. Their confusion has left the door open for the New Age to enter the church.


Here is what we are dealing with. God is not limited spatially—that is a valid Biblical concept. This means there is nowhere where He is not – Psalm 139:7-10. But panentheism describes an ontological (ontology—the study of being, what a thing is in its essential nature), not spatial category. Panentheism teaches that God's essence or being is in everything. This is not the same as the doctrine of omnipresence, though panentheism would agree that God is everywhere.


Here is the problem. If God in His essence and essential being is found in everything, then there is nothing unique about Christ (which is precisely the New Age claim). Biblically, Christ reveals God and His glory in a way nature does not. Nature reveals God obliquely, not concretely and verbally. Jesus, on the other hand, spoke inerrant, binding words that will judge us on the last day (John 12:48). The moon does no such thing.

Panentheism permeates Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. As an example of her panentheism, Voskamp describes an experience where she finds salvation by gazing at a full moon in a harvested wheat field:


Has His love lured me out here to really save me? I sit up in the wheat stubble, drawn. That He would care to save. Moon face glows. We are head to head. I am bare; He is bare. All Eye sees me (Voskamp: 115).

Her experience is described in salvific terms: "It's dawning, my full moon rising. I was lost but know I am found again" (Voskamp: 118). She claims an "inner eye" that sees God in a panentheistic way: "If my inner eye has God seeping up through all things, then can't I give thanks for anything? . . . The art of deep seeing makes gratitude possible" (Voskamp: 118). In Romans 1, "seeing" God through general revelation in a way that makes all humans culpable is true for all, not just for special enlightened ones like Voskamp.


The claim that salvation can be found in seeing God in the harvest moon introduces some troubling factors. One is that Voskamp implies that for her, "salvation" is being saved from an unhappy life filled with ingratitude. She never mentions God's wrath against sin (she does mention sin but not in the context of substitutionary atonement). Another is that she completely confuses then merges general and special revelation. General revelation does not offer saving knowledge, whatever she meant to convey of her experience "chasing the moon" (her terminology). Yet another is that panentheism is again implied here as it has been throughout the book.


Before we go further we must consider two theological terms important in Christian teaching: immanence, meaning God is close at hand, and transcendence, meaning God is exalted above and beyond us and the creation. These are relational and ontological categories and not spatial ones as I mentioned before. Voskamp confuses these two concepts and, like many liberal and Emergent theologians, promotes God's immanence at the expense of His transcendence. I am concerned that her confusion will likely be imparted to most of her readers.


Consider this passage from Isaiah that reveals both immanence and transcendence: "For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite'" (Isaiah 57:15). That God is "high and exalted" means that the Creator is separate from His creation, is above and beyond it, and thus transcendent. God is not one of the many nature gods of the pagans. "Above" and "beyond," when used in this way, denote God's essence and being (ontology), not His spatial relationship to the universe.


But God is also "with the contrite." Here we see the key to understanding immanence. It does not say that God is universally "with" all people only if they have the right "inner eye." The Bible says "The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous" (Proverbs 15:29). "Far from" and "near" in such contexts are also relational and not spatial. God hears prayers and personally relates to those who seek Him and are willing to come to Him on His terms. This relationship is available through Jesus Christ who is to be believed and trusted and is not available through the moon. God is near to all sinners spatially, because in Him they live and move and have existence (Acts 17:28). But if they refuse to repent and believe God as He has revealed Himself through Jesus Christ whom He raised from the dead, they will remain far from Him in a relational sense (see Acts 17:30-32). The moon cannot resolve the problem of sinners' lost condition, but the Son will if they repent (Acts 17:30, 31).


Voskamp's panentheism is not compatible with Christian theism. This worldview is very popular in today's culture, inside and outside the church, but it is not from God. Rather, it is a departure from the faith once for all delivered to the saints. My notes taken as I read Voskamp reveal panentheism on many pages (16, 31, 54, 89, 109, 110, 112, 118, 119, 124, 137, 138, 185, and 195). It is no exaggeration to say that the entire book is written from a panentheistic perspective.


Voskamp even finds Christ in everyone, including the lost encountered in the inner city: "A long night doing what we've come to do, to bless Christ in the other" (Voskamp: 185). The Bible claims that only believers are indwelt by Christ through the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9). Voskamp's panentheism spills into universalism as it does in Emergent and the New Age. It colors everything she teaches.


Romanticism


Voskamp displays Romanticism throughout her book so we must address its impact here. Romanticism—the idea that truth could be found in feelings, art, and the intuitive rather than through empirical investigation and the rational—arose in the early 19th Century as a reaction against the Enlightenment and rationalism. I believe the Emergent movement is a new Romanticism,3 and I am quite sure that this assessment is accurate. Romanticism, old and new, has a common enemy which is the Enlightenment.


Voskamp is not so concerned about the Enlightenment or other philosophical considerations but presents Romanticism throughout her book. In fact, One Thousand Gifts could be mistaken for a romance novel with God the desired lover. Here is an example:


I long to merge with Beauty, breathe it into lungs, feel it heavy on skin. To beat on the door of the universe, pound the chest of God . . . No matter how manifested, beauty is what sparks the romance and we are the Bride pursued, the Lover pursuing, and known or unbeknownst, He woos us in the romance of all time, beyond time. I ache for oneness (Voskamp: 119).

The Bible speaks of the church as the Bride of Christ but does not describe the universal call of the gospel in sensual terms of a lover pursuing His love interest (who may have no interest in return). God is commanding sinners to repent. The gospel calls for repentance and faith, not romantic feelings looking for satisfaction.


Voskamp's romanticism is enhanced by her skill at describing things in a most sensual manner. The sensual terminology is designed to create a mood, a feeling, a sense of romantic mystery that longs for discovery and fulfillment. Those like me who relish clear description of theological concepts meant to be understood and discerned, will be horribly frustrated by the book. Her book is not meant to be a theological text filled with ideas to be judged true or false, but is instead a literary piece filled with feelings to be relished. For example:


The full life, the one spilling joy and peace, happens only as I come to trust the caress of the Lover, Lover who never burdens His children with shame or self-condemnation but keeps stroking the fears with gentle grace (Voskamp: 146).

This sensuality finds its apex in the last chapter of the book which begins with this sentence: "I fly to Paris and discover how to make love to God" (Voskamp: 201). As a true romantic, she finds the ultimate intimacy (her term) through various experiences in Paris. I will deal with that in a section about mysticism, but for now I will point out that the term "intimacy" is not found in the Bible. It is a sensual term that enhances the romantic appeal of Voskamp's book.


As a reviewer I would like to skirt the subject of intimacy and other sensual terminology, but sensual terminology permeates the book. There is a whole chapter inspired by a soap bubble in a sink, one about driving across a bridge, and the aforementioned one on gazing at the moon. For those who have not read the book, I offer an example of over-wrought sensual (in the broad sense of appealing to one's senses) terminology:

April sun pools into a dishwater sink, liquid daylight on hands. The water is hot. I wash dishes. On my arms, just below the hiked sleeves, suds leave delicate water marks. Suds glisten. And over the soaking pots, the soap bubbles stack. This fragile tension arched in spheres of slick elastic sheets. Light impinges on slippery film. And I only notice because I'm looking for this and it's the rays falling, reflecting off the outer surface of a bubble . . . off the rim of the bubble's inner skin . . . and where they meet, this interference of light, iridescence on the bubble's arch, violet, magenta, blue-green, yellow-gold. Like the glimmer on raven wing, the angles, the hues, the brilliant fluid, light on the waves (Voskamp: 62).

This is how the entire book reads. Sensuality pervades throughout. Romanticism, which values feelings and experience over truth and concrete data, reigns. If washing dishes can be turned into a romantic experience, the job becomes something special, as does life. Yes, this is a literary style, but I'm afraid it is employed at the expense of truth. Voskamp delivers what she seems to want for her readers: an escape from the mundane through seeing beauty in all things.


God and Time

In the soap bubble chapter Voskamp teaches the theological error that time is the essence and nature of God when she writes: "Time is where God is. In the present. I AM – His very name" (69). She gains that idea through wrongly interpreting the self-designation of God as I AM to be proof that time is of the essence of God, so therefore God is to be found in the present (Voskamp: 69, 70). Her ideas are remarkably similar to Echkart Tolle's (New Age pantheist) ideas taught in his books The Power of Now and The New Earth,4 where he speaks of "Presence, and I AM" as realities to be discovered by enlightened ones. Voskamp writes: "Time is where God is. In the present. I AM – His very name" (69). When God referred to Himself as I AM, His point in revealing Himself to Moses was not that God is in the present. He was telling Moses that He, God, is the eternal existent One whose being is not contingent on anything outside of Himself. Finding God in the present is the point driven home by Eckhart Tolle; it is not a Biblical idea.


Voskamp makes other statements that teach serious theological errors: "I hardly breathe . . . time is only of the essence, because time is the essence of God, I AM" (Voskamp: 69, 70).5 The theological debate about God's relationship to time is very complex. Some teach that God is timeless based on the idea of God's changelessness and the fact that time involves change. But changeless and timeless are two different things—that time is God's essence is not an implication of I AM terminology and is theologically false. Tolle teaches a concept called "being present" which to him is linked to consciousness of deity. Voskamp has a similar idea: "When I'm present, I meet I AM, the very presence of a present God" (Voskamp: 70). What would it mean to be "not present"? Evidently "being present" for Voskamp has to do with some sort of consciousness that is not always true.


God's relationship to time is a worthy topic, albeit a very difficult and complex one. But Voskamp is not really interested in theology understood cognitively, but rather in romantic feelings about God. Her chapter on time, based as it is on the soap bubble, is about feelings and discovery, not theological conceptions:


I am a hunter of beauty and I move slow [sic] and I keep the eyes wide, every fiber of every muscle sensing all wonder and this is the thrill of the hunt and I could be an expert on life full, the beauty meat that lurks in every moment. I hunger to taste life. God. (Voskamp: 71)

This is about seeing God in the moment (an art for the spiritually enlightened) and in all things (panentheism). Voskamp's chapter is not really about God's relationship to time, but about our attentiveness and awareness that will cause us to see God (Voskamp: 77). In her view, God's relationship to time is a romantic notion, not so much a theological one.


New Age Sensibilities

One Thousand Gifts is filled with New Age ideas. For example, Voskamp cites Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a darling with New Age writers: "Nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see" (Chardin as cited by Voskamp: 122). It is possible that a false teacher like de Chardin could have some true ideas, but Voskamp cites him as part of the heading of a chapter precisely at his point of error (and hers). The idea that everything is holy and nothing profane is popular, but unbiblical, and comports with the idea of panentheism. If indeed God is in everything, then nothing is profane. Rob Bell makes the same error in Velvet Elvis when he claims everything is holy.6 The Bible tells us to separate the holy from the profane: "Moreover, they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean" (Ezekiel 44:23). The concept of the profane is also found in the New Testament. What is holy and what is unholy are revealed by God, and to say that certain enlightened ones with an elevated ability to see everything as holy is unbiblical. Heightened feelings and sensibilities that cause everything to be holy and beautiful—Voskamp's point—is a wonderfully romantic notion, but it leads her readers astray because it is wrong. She cites de Chardin because she shares his ideas.

New Age panentheist Matthew Fox also approves of de Chardin:


Teilhard de Chardin calls the Cosmic Christ the "third nature" of Christ, meaning that it takes us beyond the fourth-century conciliar definitions of Christ's human and divine natures into a third realm, "neither human nor divine, but cosmic." He comments that this has "not noticeably attracted the explicit attention of the faithful or of theologians." Clearly Chardin saw the paradigm shift that was implicit in powerful celebration of the Cosmic Christ.7

Fox describes himself as a panentheist who sees God in all things.8 Though Voskamp may not have gotten her ideas from Fox, the similarity of their ideas is easy to see. But why are Christian authors like Voskamp teaching panentheism and promoting New Age ideas?

Emergent writers speak of the "rhythm of God in the world." In their thinking one can tune into this rhythm through man-invented practices.9 The ideas that nothing is profane and that God's rhythm can be found in all things are panentheistic, not Christian. The Christian view is that the created order, because of sin and rebellion, contains good and evil, the holy and the profane. Satan deceives people into thinking that they can tap into something good by using the right techniques rather than by listening to what God has said in the Bible.

Voskamp promotes a means of "seeing" that reminiscent of Emergent teachers:


I speak the unseen into seeing and I can feel it, this steady breathing in the rhythm of grace—give thanks (in), give thanks (out). The eyes focus, apertures capturing Beauty in ugliness. There's a doxology of praise that splits the domestic dark. (Voskamp: 128).

What she means is that seeing God (holiness) in all things is a special spiritual ability obtained by those who learn how: "Contemplative simplicity isn't a matter of circumstances; it's a matter of "focus" (Voskamp: 127). Voskamp cites postmodern mystic Annie Dillard favorably in regard to "seeing" in the contemplative sense (Voskamp: 127). Voskamp tells her son about "seeing" as she understands it—which is so very New Age:


"The practice of giving thanks . . . eucharisteo . . . this is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. We don't have to change what we see. Only the way we see." (Voskamp: 135).

Seeing God in all things in Voskamp's view, becomes the mechanism for transcending the sorrows of the mundane and finding good feelings to overcome the bad ones. She continues to teach: "The only way to fight a feeling is with a feeling" (Voskamp: 136). I counter that Biblical truth would be an alternative. Like all postmodern panentheists, for her the subjective rules over the objective. This, by the way, is also the essence of romanticism.

The real problem is not our failure to see God in everything, but our failure to believe what God has said, and by grace obey. The grand claim of the Bible is that "God has spoken" (Hebrews 1:1, 2). The question is whether we will listen to what God has said or not. Those who are totally alienated from God and teach pagan ideas claim to see God in everything (e.g. Echart Tolle). Voskamp offers what is also offered by the New Age panentheists. The reality is that feeling close to God is not the same as the drawing near to God as discussed in the Bible. Voskamp offers romantic feelings.


A Romantic Encounter with God


Voskamp's romanticism reaches its pinnacle in chapter 11. There she describes a trip to Paris where she has an intimate encounter with God through art and architecture. God "woos" her through this encounter and she falls in love. She writes, "I am falling in love. . . . I'm accompanied by this Voice whispering to me new words, new love—urging me, "Respond, respond" (Voskamp: 206). The entire chapter is laced with sensual terminology.

At Notre Dame Cathedral, carried away by the experience, she claims to have found the holy: "This air is old, the ground, holy" (Voskamp: 207). Hold it. On the contrary, the New Testament does not describe holy places, especially not Roman Catholic cathedrals filled with pagan icons and grotesque gargoyles such as at Notre Dame (which means "our lady" referring to the virgin Mary). What exactly, from a Biblical perspective, makes Notre Dame Cathedral "holy"? Are Roman Catholic buildings and statuary inherently holy? Evidently Voskamp thinks so. But then again, a romantic will see that which is good and desirable in any and all things.


There, in a Roman Catholic cathedral which ought to invoke our objection, Voskamp, as do her role models, the mystics of the Middle Ages, finds "intimate union" with God. She describes her experience in this way:


My eyes follow the stone arches rising over us, granite hands clasped in prayer over souls. I think of all who have gone before, the hands of medieval peasants who chiseled the stone under which I now stand. I think of those long-ago believers who had a way of entering into the full life, of finding a passage into God, a historical model of intimacy with God. I lean back to see the spires. (Voskamp: 208).

As mentioned before, the Bible never uses the term "intimacy." We take a huge leap of faith to assume that medieval mystics found a secret to intimacy with God through means other than the gospel itself. Medieval mystical practices are not prescribed in the Bible. Yet Voskamp favorably cites Catholic mystic Henri Nouwen (Voskamp: 205). Mystical teachers and a pagan religious site inspire Voskamp's journey to find romantic intimacy with God.


Purgation, Illumination, Union: Mystical Union with God


Then, without apology, Voskamp teaches "purgation, illumination, union," the path to mystical union that has its roots in ancient, pagan, Rome. This path is taught in the Catholic Encyclopedia.10 This threefold path is "common to all forms of mysticism, Christian or otherwise" writes Pastor Gary Gilley who rightly warns the church about it.11

Voskamp next extols the medieval mystics who were instrumental in the building of Notre Dame (Voskamp: 208). She writes about them:


I think how lives, whole generations, were laid down to built this edifice, to find a way in. But they thought the steps to God-consummation were but three: purgation, illumination, union. (Voskamp: 208)

She then describes these steps in glowing terms as she experienced them (Voskamp: 209).

New Age teacher Matthew Fox also endorses these steps and others as the means of a paradigm shift from the Christ of the Bible to the cosmic Christ:


In terms of the history of spirituality, this paradigm shift is from the three stages of purification, illumination, and union that mysticism inherited from Proclus and Plotinus (not from Jesus or the Hebrew Bible since neither of these thinkers was either Jewish or Christian) to the four paths of delight (via positive), letting go (via negative), creativity (via creativa), compassion, i.e., celebration and justicemaking (via transformative). Today "to enter the mysteries" means to enter the mysteries of the four paths of creation spirituality—mysteries of delight, darkness, birthing, compassion. In this section we will explore more fully how the paradigm shift can also be named as moving from the quest for the historical Jesus to the quest for the Cosmic Christ.12

Mysticism and the practices Voskamp endorses that promote it, do lead to a Cosmic Christ, that is a creation-centered one rather than the Christ who bodily ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God. The mystical Christ is immanent only, not transcendent. He is contacted by unbiblical, mystical means rather than through the gospel that saves us from God's wrath against sin.


Voskamp admits that union with Christ is true for all who have repented and believed (Voskamp: 209, 210). She thereby has an understanding that was lacking for the Roman Catholic mystics she extols. So to keep the experience and practice, she posits the union of the threefold path as a higher order experience for Christians: "An ever deepening union, one we experience on the skin and in the vein, feel in the deep pit of the being, an ever-fuller realization of the Christ communion" (Voskamp: 210). So, ordinary Christians have union, but not the deep union that mystics enjoy. This union is what she has as a sister to Brother Lawrence (Voskamp: 210). She describes the experience of union:


I remember this feeling. The way my apron billowed in the running, the light, the air. The harvest moon. I remember. The yearning. To merge with Beauty Himself. But here . . . Now? Really? . . . I am not at all certain that I want consummation. (Voskamp: 211)

She then describes this consummation in yet more sensual terms, as being "courted by God" (Voskamp: 211).


Sensuality


Since this idea of consummation (union) is obviously a higher order experience she seeks and finds in Paris, it is therefore something beyond what ordinary Christians have. Voskamp is a mystical pietist.13 She ponders: "I am not at all certain that I want consummation . . . And who wouldn't cower at the invitation to communion with limitless Holiness Himself?" (Voskamp: 211). Obviously, for her "consummation" is a sensual term, that is not true for all Christians or reserved for the eschaton (and still true for all Christians). It is a higher order experience for certain Christians to be had now if they have the ability to see and experience. This experience is mediated, for Voskamp, by the romantic feelings of Paris.

To state this simply: The sensuality of her terminology is inappropriate. She cites 1Corinthians 6:17 which is a warning against fornication and is about all Christians being "joined to the Lord" and applies it to the sensual, higher order experience to which she is wooed in Paris (Voskamp: 211). Since 1Corithians 6:17 is about what is already true for all Christians, how does it apply to her invitation to some sort of sensual consummation for Christians? It does not. So she is abusing the passage to promote her unbiblical, pietistic experience. Here is her description of what happens (found in the same paragraph with the citation from 1Corinthians 6:17):


I run my hand along the beams over my loft bed, wood hewn by a hand several hundred years ago. I can hear Him. He's calling for a response; He's calling for oneness. Communion (Voskamp: 211).

This sensually described invitation to oneness and consummation is presented as a union that is a higher order experience, otherwise she would not need it and would, frankly, have nothing special to offer her readers. She is being "wooed" into "mystical union" (Voskamp: 212, 213) which she calls a romance (Voskamp: 213).


The sensual terms she applies are piled one upon another, painting a picture quite graphic and I think horribly inappropriate. Terms found just on two pages include: "wooing, intimate pursuit, passionate love, caressed, making love, embrace, union, burning of the heart, intercourse disrobed, and etc." (Voskamp: 216, 217). She makes explicit what she is speaking of: "To know Him the way Adam knew Eve" (Voskamp: 217). This terminology goes on, page after page: "intercourse, climax, cohabit, delight wildly, union experientially, leap into Arms" (Voskamp: 218, 219).


She offers a higher order experience for Christians, described in the most sensual and provocative terms. This experience is to be had now, and is not the eschatological consummation all Christians await. It helps to go to Paris and to a Roman Catholic cathedral to find this experience. There is nothing in this that is Biblical. There are not two types of Christians—ordinary ones and others who have achieved the ultimate, mystical union. This sort of false thinking is what led people into monasteries to waste their lives looking for something that evidently the gospel itself does not offer. Do we need to mimic the error of the monastic mystics?


Conclusion


As fraught with theological error that this book is, its basic premise is true: as Christians we ought to be thankful people who give thanks in all things. The Bible teaches us that. But do we need to jettison Christian theism in favor of panentheism, subjectivism, romantic feelings, and higher order experiences to become thankful? No! God has already provided everything that pertains to life and godliness (2Peter 1:3). When Peter urged Christians to grow in their faith and in Christian virtues, he did not point to a higher order experience based on romantic feelings—he called them to remember:


Therefore, I shall always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, (2Peter 1:12, 13)

Peter also mentions sensuality and it is not good: "For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error," (2Peter 2:18).


There is enough sensuality in the world without us having sensual desires stirred up under the guise of a higher order religious experience in the context of a panentheistic worldview. Voskamp's book feeds into the romantic sensibilities of its postmodern readers, but it does nothing to promote the faith once for all delivered to the saints. One Thousand Gifts pushes the church even farther down the unbiblical road of mysticism that so many are already on. We need to reject this and instead return to objective, Biblical truth.


End Notes

  1. Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts; (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010). All further references from this book will be in brackets within this article.
  2. We first warned our readers about panentheism in 1994: Issue 23.
  3. Bob DeWaay, The Emergent Church – Undefining Christianity; (Minneapolis: DeWaay, 2009), 204.
  4. http://www.eckharttolle.com/ see my review of Tolle’s The New Earth: http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue114.htm
  5. The ellipses are in the original and used to create a pause.
  6. See http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue104b.htm for a discussion of Bell’s misuse of the term “holy.”
  7. Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, (New York: HarperCollins, 1988), 83.
  8. Ibid. 70.
  9. I discuss Doug Pagitt’s idea of God’s “rhythm” here: http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue99.htm
  10. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14254a.htm
  11. http://www.svchapel.org/resources/book-reviews/4-christian-living/121-finding-our-way-again-the-return-to-the-ancient-practices-by-brian-mclaren
  12. Op. Cit.; Fox, 82.
  13. See this article on pietism: http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue101.htm

 

Ann Voskamp Gets "Original Sin" Wrong

“What that first and catastrophic sin of ingratitude ruptured…union…can be repaired by exact inverse of the Garden: lifestyle gratitude …” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p220)


On the subject of Ann Voskamp,  what I keep hearing is, Hey look, nobody has perfect doctrine, why are you picking on poor Ann? And my point is.....doctrine matters. As another friend noted on a rather frisky discussion thread on Facebook:

"Ann Voskamp makes it seem like Adam/Eve were ungrateful for all the Lord had given them. When in reality they were disobeying God's clear command to not eat of the tree - they listened to the serpent twist God's words and the doubt placed in their minds caused them to think they knew better for themselves than God did. Voskamp seems to be saying that just by living a life of gratitude, that will restore the union between God and man. There is nothing in regard to repentance for sinning against a holy God. Thankfulness does not bring escape from the wrath of God. True repentance brought by the Holy Spirit brings forgiveness and life. She done got the gospel wrong."

 

WHO IS CHRISTINE CAINE?

........she is a pastor of Hillsong Church at large here in the United States and has quite a following. Because she has been promoted by well Joel Osteen, Rick Warren – you know the list goes on and on. Even recently Beth Moore tweeted out that she has spent some quality time with Christine Caine and even went to see Christine Caine preach (A WOMAN WHO PREACHES?) at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood.  Christine Caine appeared on stage at Liberty University in a 2014 convocation; which says a lot about the direction in which that institution is headed.

Christine Caine Says Word Faith false Teacher Joyce Meyer Is Her "Spiritual Mother":

An example of Christine Caine's
false teaching:

You can read more about the heretical Hillsong "Church" on the web page: "Worship in the 21st Century."  Here is a short revealing interview with a former member of Hillsong:
The "Contemplative Prayer" Heresy is being spread by: Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Beth Moore, Mark Driscoll, Winfield Bevins, Richard Foster, Gary Thomas, Brennan Manning, Dallas Willard.
Also, a discussion of the "Taize" approach:
Pastor Joe Schimmel, Good Fight Ministries, discusses the Contemplative Prayer heresy
(Courtesy of Youtube and Good Fight Ministries):
Ray Yungen discusses "Mysticism in the Church"
(courtesy of Youtube):

Are You Bowing To The Golden Calf Of Mysticism?

Labryinths:
the latest craze in "Contemplative Prayer"
The churches that employ labyrinth techniques are drawing their people down the slippery slope of neo-pagan mysticism, under the false guise of Christianity. For those who embrace this ‘new’ contemplative pattern they can expect a similar shift in their philosophical perspective. They will increasingly blend into their counterfeit Christian ethos an Eastern mystical inclusion. If one continues to embrace such unbiblical practices their ‘theology’ will be radically altered and transform their understanding, from Christian into a spiritually amorphous paganism.
Researching the Labyrinth: The above film is now available in a 3 part Video Series and in one video mp4 format.
(courtesy of Youtube):

"Researching the Labyrinth" now in one combined film:
Covenant Baptist Church

now dabbles in heresy..........
because the Bible is not sufficient.
Southern Baptist Churches
are not immune to heresy:

Covenant Baptist Church
in Garden Ridge, Texas,
has fully embraced the
Contemplative Prayer heresy.
Covenant Baptist is now an "Emergent" Church with Worship "in the round" with lit "prayer candles arranged in the fireplace at one end.
(See and compare with Doug Pagitt's "Solomon's Porch" church on "The Emergent Church" web page)
Contemplative "Prayer Candles" lit in the church fireplace. 
These come from the Catholic votive candle tradition.
Contemplative Worship "in the round"
A Labryinth created behind
Covenant Baptist Church.
 

Their website even offers a booklet telling you "how to pray" using this form of heresy.  They advocate "breath prayers" and "centering prayer," which is pure Medieval-era heresy; and have profaned the observance of the Lord's Supper, by offering it occasionally, in the center of their Labryinth.

One Protestant minister had this to say (and it's well said):


The labyrinth is described as a place of “meditative prayer” and “contemplative prayer” - two concepts that have been largely absent from Protestantism until recent days when the teaching of Catholic mystics like Nouwen and Manning have found wide acceptance by evangelicals. Today such concepts, which might involve chanting a single word for 20 minutes or deliberately turning off one’s mind, are considering effective ways of deepening one’s walk with Christ - or at least appealing to those who have no use for the church.


Avoid the labyrinth and any other method that might seek to convince you that you can know and experience God apart from His Word. Immerse yourself in the Word and God will speak to you with clarity, conviction and power!

Emergent Church leaders often encourage their congregation to walk labyrinths.  A labyrinth is a maze like pattern that has no forks in the road or dead ends.  It simply winds its way into the center.  There is only one way in and one way out.  Labyrinth walkers will often repeat a mantra or meditate while they journey to the center.  Once in the center the labyrinth walker will sit and meditate, opening themselves to the divinity of their choice.  After they finish meeting with their divinity, they will exit the labyrinth.  Walking a labyrinth is a subjective mystical experience where the walker believes that they are really communing with a god.  This creates situations where people elevate their own personal experiences above what God has clearly stated in His word.  The other obvious problem is that walking a labyrinth is a pagan practice.  It did not originate with Christianity.  God abhors when His followers take a pagan practice and then preform it unto Him.
"Experiencing God"
by Henry and Richard Blackaby:
another example of Heretical teaching

Like most wrong views of divine guidance, the Blackabys' scheme is wrong from the outset because it fails to give proper emphasis to the doctrine of divine Providence.

 

In the Blackaby system, faith in the goodness and reliability of Providence is replaced by fortune-cookie thoughts generated by one's own imagination--or perhaps by that tainted hot dog you bought from a street vendor.


(This not a commentary about the Blackabys, but about the view they advocate in this book. It is not about anything else they've ever written or done, nor is it about them as Christians or men.  My thanks to Rev. Phil Johnson, of Grace Community Church, and Chris Rosebrough for their informative guidance about the heresy found in some of the Blackaby teaching).

"Experiencing God"
by Henry & Richard Blackaby:

How Mysticism Misleads Christians

Mysticism in the Church – The Contemplatives – Henry & Richard Blackaby


There is an alarming promotion of the mystic contemplatives from Christian ministries lately. One would be wise to avoid Henry Blackaby, Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster, Thomas Keating, Brennan Manning, Thomas Merton, etc.  I would recommend reading “A Time of Departing” by Ray Yungen to protect your spiritual life from deception. On the surface these teachings from these men may sound lovely but they are misleading you.

50 Questionable Teachings From Experiencing God

By Reese Currie, Compass Distributors

Unbiblical Teachings on Prayer and Experiencing God

How Mysticism Misleads Christians

BY BOB DEWAAY

"Experiencing God" by Henry and Richard Blackaby:  How Mysticism Misleads Christians
by Southern Baptist Pastor, Rev. Ken Silva
An in-depth examination of "Experiencing God" by Henry and Richard Blackaby, by Rev. Chris Rosebrough: