This is part of an ongoing series here at Apprising Ministries on key players involved with Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) within postevangelicalism and the Emergent Church, in particular its chief corruption Contemplative/Centering Prayer. Here we take a look at “St.” Teresa of Avila who was one of the superstars as it were of CSM. The idea here is to keep exposing the most prominent people associated with this spurious CSM of so-called “Christian” mysticism which has launched a full-scale invasion into our Lord’s Church.
And without a doubt one of the primary sources that most who teach this modern Gnosticism will often appeal to concerning the pursuit of the alleged “Inner Light” is Teresa of Avila. In this piece you will come to see the context in which the heretical visions and teachings of this devout and troubled sixteenth century Roman Catholic nun actually occurred.
Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. (3 John 1:11)
The Religious Friends Of “St.” Teresa
I began this series with a background on Quaker mystic Richard Foster. We now move on to examine this mystic known as Teresa of Avila. You may recall that in his book Celebration of Discipline (COD), while Richard Foster is discussing “imagination” the head Guru of Contemplation tells us:
We can descend with the mind into the heart most easily through the imagination… We must not despise this simpler, more humble route into God’s presence… Jesus himself taught in this manner, making constant appeal to the imagination, and many of the devotional masters likewise encourage us in this way. St. Teresa of Avila says, “…as I could not make reflection with my understanding I contrived to picture Christ within me.” Many of us can identify with her words, for we too have tried a merely cerebral approach and found it too abstract, too detached (25, emphasis mine).
And one of the people most responsible for laying the foundation for the kind of theological suicide outlined above is this Roman Catholic nun Teresa of Avila whom Richard Foster, who as I said is a Quaker, promotes as an orthodox source for Christian doctrine. I’ve already thoroughly documented elsewhere the extent that the Quakers are involved in this type of mysticism. The respect Foster has, and the Quakers themselves have, for so-called “St.” Teresa becomes all the more evident as we consider the following from Quaker.org in an article entitled The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) as a Religious Community by Anne K. Riggs, who just happens to be a member of the “staff of the Ecumenical Secretariat of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.” Yet another confirmation of the ecumenical bent the Quakers and Foster still have toward the apostate Church of Rome. Riggs informs us that:
To speak of God primarily as Light, as Friends do, limits discursive articulation and lends itself to apophatic [silent] ways of thinking about and approaching God ¬ ways which emphasize the incomprehensibility of God to the human mind. Friends consider the infused prayer ascribed by Teresa of Avila to the Fourth Mansions of the Interior Castle to be a mysterious universal gift God offers to any one who will receive it. Teresa’s description of the fountain filled directly from the source, God, is very close to Friends’ expectations for prayer, both public and private, in which,… Friends “sit down in pure stillness and silence of all flesh, and wait in the light:”
Let me highlight a couple of points here. In his book on spiritual disciplines The Sacred Way, which even comes highly recommended by Richard Foster’s friend Brian McLaren, Emergent Church anti-theologian Tony Jones tells us that “[a]pophatic meditation requires silence. Like the Jesus Prayer and Centering Prayer, the required self-emptying demands that the meditator finds a place of true quiet” (82). So now you can see that when Riggs tells us about “the infused prayer ascribed by Teresa of Avila” and that Quakers “sit down in pure stillness and silence” while they wait “in the light” (God), she is talking about this alleged type of self-emptying “Christian” meditation. This becomes even clearer as under the subheading “Silence Mysticism” Riggs tells us a bit more about “the Inner Light”:
In silence [meditation] which is active, the Inner Light [supposedly God] begins to grow ¬ a tiny spark. For the flame to be kindled and to grow, subtle argument and the clamor of our emotions must be stilled. It is by an attention full of love that we enable the Inner Light to blaze and illuminate our dwelling and to make of our whole being a source from which this Light may shine out.
Words must be purified in a redemptive silence if they are to bear the message of peace. The right to speak is a call to the duty of listening. Speech has no meaning unless there are attentive minds and silent hearts. Silence is the welcoming acceptance of the other. The word born of silence must be received in silence.
This understanding of silence as an active arena of nurture and communication is very close to monastic understandings of silence. Basil Pennington speaks of silence as “enough.”
“In the end the monk learns that God speaks by silence and can be heard in silence.”
Can you see the Gnostic influence here? Only these “enlightened” Christians who understand and practice the spiritual discipline of Contemplative/Centering Prayer, the silence of this alleged “Christian” meditation, will really learn to hear God speak. Why? Pennington says that “in the end” we have to learn that “God speaks by silence and can be heard in silence.” This brings to light that it is actually this subjective experience (meditation) which determines what God has allegedly “said” and thus we bring this new gnosis (knowledge) back to the Scriptures as we then use it to interpret them. And please note the name Basil Pennington, we will be talking more about this man of whom Tony Jones says “is a leading authority on Centering Prayer” as this series moves along.
For now though you just need to remember that “silence” is simply another way to refer to the “spiritual discipline” of Contemplative/Centering Prayer, which itself is actually transcendental meditation dressed up for the Christian. I do wish to be fair here; Pennington, who is a member of the Roman Catholic “Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappist),” does not necessarily mean that God isn’t speaking through the Scriptures. However, and this is very important; by saying that “God speaks by silence” Pennington is adding another work–that of meditation–for one to be able to hear God. And as you get deeper into the study this new spirituality you soon learn that, just the same as taught by Fox and Teresa of Avila before him, what one allegedly “hears” in the “silence” will inevitably outweigh what the text of the Bible actually says.
The “Devotional Master” of Avila
Here’s where we are at this point: Richard Foster, the Guru of Contemplation himself, has introduced so-called “St.” Teresa of Avila, aka “Teresa of Jesus,” as a foremost authority on “Christian” mysticism in COD, and we have also just seen the very same appeal above from Quaker.org the official website of The Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers) that Foster also belongs to. So now it becomes all the more critical that we examine a little closer just who “St.” Teresa, who according to Guru Foster was a “devotional master,” actually was. Encyclopedia Americana informs us that in “1560, with the approval of Roman ecclesiastical authorities” Teresa “founded the first of her monasteries on an ancient and more rigorous Carmelite rule.” It was during this same time that:
in obedience to her confessor, she wrote the Vida (Life), an account of her spiritual experiences…with Rome’s approval, [Teresa] establish[ed] several more reformed Carmelite monasteries…
During this period [1563-1568] Teresa also wrote for the nuns of her monasteries The Way Of Perfection, an instruction on the methods of prayer and the means of achieving virtue. In 1567, through her friendship with St. John of the Cross, she began to influence the setting up of reformed Carmelite monasteries for men.
In the midst of these cares she continued to mature spiritually and, in 1572, according to her own account, she was raised to “spiritual marriage,” the highest stage of the spiritual life, through which the soul remains absorbed in God…her greatest spiritual work [was] The Interior Castle (513, emphasis mine).
Then in Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience (HEMPE) we get some more interesting background concerning this “Spanish mystic and Carmelite nun,” Teresa of Avila. It seems she “was plagued by ill health much of her life.” In 1538 Teresa became very sick with what may “have been malaria” and due to some “experimental cures” she was “in a death-like coma for three days, and unable to walk for three years” (610) We are then told that:
During her illness and convalescence, she took to daily mental prayers, which in turn led to her experiences with mystical prayer. She attributed her recovery to St. Joseph. In 1555 she experienced visions and revelations. In 1557, after a two year gap, she experienced her first ecstasy, when she felt carried out of herself. After that she had many extraordinary mystical experiences, including visions of Christ and a sense of his presence at her side…
She spent long periods in intense meditation, which she called the “prayer of quiet” and the “prayer of union.” During these prayers she often fell into a trance, and at times entered upon mystical flights in which she felt as though her soul were lifted out of her body. She likened ecstasy to a “delectable death,” saying that the soul becomes awake to God as never before when the faculties and senses are “dead” (ibid, emphasis mine).
Mysticism Approved By Papal Rome
And lest you think I am being unfair in presenting the above from HEMPE, this is also confirmed in the Catholic Encyclopedia (CE), which would certainly have to be considered a source sympathetic to Teresa of Avila. Obviously she has been “canonized” by the Church of Rome as a “saint,” and she is also one of only two women to have the title Doctors of the Church conferred upon them. In the CE we read that “on Nov., 1535” at age 20 Teresa Sanchez Cepeda Davila y Ahumada entered:
the Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation at Avila,… After her profession in the following year she became very seriously ill, and underwent a prolonged cure and such unskillful medical treatment that she was reduced to a most pitiful state, and even after partial recovery through the intercession of St. Joseph, her health remained permanently impaired. During these years of suffering she began the practice of mental prayer, but fearing that her conversations with some world-minded relatives, frequent visitors at the convent, rendered her unworthy of the graces God bestowed on her in prayer, discontinued it, until she came under the influence, first of the Dominicans, and afterwards of the Jesuits.
This is most interesting information from the CE itself that further confirms the papal approval for this kind of contemplative spirituality in the “practice of mental prayer.” Then we find out that Teresa had apparently “discontinued” her decent into mysticism,” well, at least “until she came under the influence,” or perhaps under the spell might be more precise, “first of the Dominicans, and afterwards of the Jesuits.” And not only that, but we have also confirmed Rome’s blasphemy of attributing an alleged “healing” to a deceased human being, in this case “St. Joseph.” The CE now continues:
Meanwhile God had begun to visit her with “intellectual visions and locutions”, that is manifestations in which the exterior senses were in no way affected, the things seen and the words heard being directly impressed upon her mind, and giving her wonderful strength in trials, reprimanding her for unfaithfulness, and consoling her in trouble.
You need to know that this is still a very common deception Satan uses to ensnare those who are not faithful to what God has told us about the spiritual life in the Bible. One has a spiritual encounter of some sort and because it is a “good” experience they assume it is actually God Who brought it about. However, a careful look at the temptations of Christ will show that the Devil can give people what might appear to be good on the surface, but instead turns out to be something that will actually bring them harm in the long run. In Teresa’s sad case these “visions and locutions” led her further into the deception of this so-called “Christian” mysticism, and then in turn they would also lead her even deeper into the unrepentant heart of the apostate Church of Rome.
Next we will see witness the way reprobates will go to great lengths in order to try and reconcile their aberrations and heresy as the CE tells us that Teresa was:
Unable to reconcile such graces with her shortcomings, which her delicate conscience represented as grievous faults, she had recourse not only to the most spiritual confessors she could find, but also to some saintly laymen, who, never suspecting that the account she gave them of her sins was greatly exaggerated, believed these manifestations to be the work of the evil spirit. The more she endeavoured to resist them the more powerfully did God work in her soul. The whole city of Avila was troubled by the reports of the visions of this nun. It was reserved to St. Francis Borgia and St. Peter of Alcantara, and afterwards to a number of Dominicans (particularly Pedro Ibañez and Domingo Bañez), Jesuits, and other religious and secular priests, to discern the work of God and to guide her on a safe road.
The Broad Path For The Coming Global Family
Men and women, this is hardly the kind of testimony we would expect of someone that was truly being led by God. And herein we see one of the ways that the Lord is testing His Church today. If the Reformation, which was centered around the doctrine of justification–the very heart of the Gospel–truly was brought about by God, then Teresa of Avila, as a devout Roman Catholic was not even a Christian. And if she was not a Christian, this would have to mean that the source of her spiritual experiences were not from the Lord, but were instead guided by deceiving spirits who actually brought her things taught by demons.
We are now left with the realization that the postevangelical Ecumenical Church of Deceit (ECoD) is about undoing the Reformation; and then through practices of the new spirituality e.g. Contemplative/Centering Prayer, i.e. transcendental meditation for the Christian, people who are spreading the mystic musings of deceivers like Teresa of Avila are actually helping to lay the foundation for the Global Family that the Antichrist is going to rule over one day “soon”…