Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)
Hammering Out The Golden Buddha Of The Mystic Mush God
It is a sad fact that a postevangelicalism has taken over most of the leadership positions in the American Christian Church. Add to this the further entrenchment of postliberalism and there has now been a successful supplanting of the awesome and majestic one true and living LORD God Almighty. In His place teeters the new golden Buddha of the mythical mush god of mysticism. So now the scene is set for these so-called “Christian” mystics to make their new ecumenical religion work. And with this Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM), anchored in apostate Roman Catholicism, we are dealing with another religion entirely.
Out goes the objective Truth of the Bible; out goes the Reformation, and now we have replaced the historic orthodox Christian faith which was once for all delivered to the saints with what Living Spiritual Teacher and mystic Matthew Fox calls a new reformation of “deep ecumenicism.” So within this reemergence of Gnosticism through the neo-pagan practice of Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP), which is really but transcendental meditation for the Christian, we now have yet another fulfillment of Scripture in that this Ecumenical Church of Deceit of postevangelicalism has a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5). But what does the rest of that verse then tell the Christian to do? Should we be inviting these Christ-denying vipers into our churches to teach this profane spiritual adultery of Gnostic mysticism to our unsuspecting young?
God forbid; grow a spiritual backbone won’t you — from such turn away. Did you hear that Southern Baptist Convention? Based on Something Not Right with Southern Baptist Convention Crossover ’08 and Something Definitely Not Right With New Orleans Seminary the answer is a definite: No. But now that the Devil has established his “deep ecumenical” beachhead of CMS through his ECoD within our Lord’s Church they just needed to find themselves a leader who also happens to be an ecumenical contemplative. Ah, this brings us to the Guru of Contemplative Spirituality Richard Foster. 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.
You may recall one of my previous articles on Foster called Who Is Richard Foster? In it I clearly show that the Quakers are as ecumenical a bunch as can possibly be found, and I further point out that mysticism is a key component of their worship. I’d add apostate as well, but I for one, am not so sure that the Quakers were ever actually in the faith to begin with. So for our purposes here let me just share a couple of interesting highlights from an entry of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience (HEMPE).
I also happen to find it interesting that this particular book is published by HarperSanfrancisco who just happens to publish Richard Foster. HEMPE informs us that the Quakers were “founded about 1650 in England by George Fox.” And that the:
Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, as it is commonly called, stresses a personal, almost mystical knowledge of God and the workings of the Lord’s “inner light” within all people… At about age twenty, George Fox,…began suffering religious misgivings and spiritual longings. He consulted with various Anglican and Puritan ministers and priests, but they dismissed him as slightly deranged. Fox felt entirely alone until 1647, when at the age of twenty-three he heard a voice saying, “There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition” (556, emphasis mine).
This is exactly where George Fox and the Quakers who would follow him jumped track because HEMPE goes on to inform us that “[i]mmediately after, Fox received the first of four insights.” It is so-called insight number four that most concerns this work as we are told:
Fox’s fourth insight was that faith is based solely on firsthand knowledge of Christ as living, personal reality, not on logic, reasoning, historical reporting, or even Scripture. This empirical proof came to be called the Quaker Way: the idea that worshippers need not consult preachers or the Bible to receive knowledge of the Holy Spirit – the so-called “inner light of Christ” present in every human heart (ibid., emphasis added).
Here we have the agreement in Fox’s theology with classic Gnostic mysticism. Gnostics also taught that there was an inner light in man which they referred to as “a divine spark within” every human being. I cover this fallacy further in Understanding the New Spirituality: God Indwells Mankind. If this isn’t bad enough it now gets worse as HEMPE points out that in 1652 Fox “prayed at a place called Pendle Hill” and then “he received a vision explaining his mission to show Christ in the Present Tense as a personal Being.” Following this vision “Fox met with a group of Seekers who, overcome with his message, converted” (ibid.). And yikes, based on all the negative response at the original Slice of Laodicea website to one of my previous—and quite Biblically sound missives—Take Off The Gloves I would shudder to think what might have happened to Fox if he had been around today.
Enter The Ecumenical Quaker Swami Richard Foster
Seriously however, this previous information is critical for you to understand the highly ecumenical theological background from which Richard Foster himself comes emerging. Now for those who are not aware of the sad saga of Foster being listed in something called Living Spiritual Teachers Project (LSTP) let me quickly tell you that in May of 2006 I was in contact with Mary Ann Brussat who was been kind enough to dialogue with me concerning the inclusion of Richard Foster and Alan Jones among other teachers in the LSTP. Mary Ann, who told me she is a Christian and a sister in Christ, along with husband Frederic is Director of SpiritualityandPractice.com (S&P). These are the people behind the LSTP, which according to their website, “spotlights people from different traditions we think you should meet on your journey.” It remains to be seen where we are actually going.
At the S&P website we are also told that “Frederic is a United Church of Christ clergyman with a journalism ministry, and Mary Ann is an interfaith minister, ordained by the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary. The Brussats are members of Judson Memorial Church, a UCC congregation in Greenwich Village, New York City. They are also initiates of the Mevlevi Sufi order that traces its inspiration to Rumi.” Unfortunately Christian/Sufi Muslim Mary Ann was not willing to answer the following two questions I asked her in regard to the LSTP:
I wish to know from you 1) Did Richard Foster and Alan Jones contact you to become a part of this project and 2) Do they in fact know that they are part of this project? Please understand that if these men do know and/or are willing participants with your multifaith Living Spiritual Teachers Project it will affect how they are perceived in the larger Christian community. As such it becomes very important that everyone be made aware of these facts. By all means if these men do wish to be part of your Project they have every right to, but the people that they work with in the evangelical community also have a right to know whether they are doing so willingly, that’s all.
Although she flatly refused to answer my questions Mary Ann Brussat was gracious enough, however, to grant permission for me to post her response on Apprising Ministries in its entirety and unedited in any way:
Dear Rev. Silva,
I am not going to answer your questions because I do not approve of the use to which I believe you will put my answers. If I answer that Richard Foster and Alan Jones are aware of the Living Spiritual Teachers Project, you, like Deborah Dombrowski, will conclude that if they do not ask to be removed from the Project, then they are “yoked” to unbelievers and heretics. If I answer that they were not aware of the Project, you will demand that they be informed (and you know as well as I do that Deborah contacted Foster’s office about this on March 28), and that they be given the opportunity to remove their names and if they don’t, you will say they are “yoked” to unbelievers and heretics. This is what I mean by saying you have an agenda, and the agenda is not getting out the truth or clearing anyone’s name. Your agenda is branding these fine servants of God as heretics.
My answer to you is very simple. The teachers in our Project are not unbelievers and heretics. They may not have the same beliefs as you do, but they are all respected and authenticated teachers in one of the world’s religions. SpiritualityandPractice.com is a multifaith site. We respect all religious traditions and the people who belong to them. We are not trying to create “one world religion” or say all the religions say the same thing. In fact, through our book reviews we point out the distinctions among religions.
For me to answer your questions about Richard Foster and Alan Jones would be for me to imply that there might be something wrong with being in a list with Ram Dass, Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron, Matthew Fox, Andrew Harvey, and Harold Kushner. I will not insult these teachers by allowing myself to be used by you to support that implication.
Mary Ann Brussat
Also in Richard Foster and the LSTP I discuss a brief dialogue I had with Lynda Graybeal, who is “Personal Assistant to Richard Foster” at Renovare, back in April of 2006. In an email I told Graybeal that I knew from the April 8, 2006 newsletter from Lighthouse Trails Research, as well as from personal contact with their editor Deborah Dombrowski, Graybeal had been personally informed “that Foster’s name may be removed if he so desires.” So I asked her why Foster is still there on the LSTP website in violation of 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. Sadly, Graybeal decided to be a bit disingenuous because in her reply she told me she didn’t feel she could answer me on such short notice because she would have to consult with Richard himself who was unavailable that day.
But the information I have currently from both Mary Ann Brussat of the LSTP and Deborah Dombrowski of Lighthouse Trails clearly indicates Graybeal was informed of Foster’s name being listed on S&P’s LSTP at least as early as March 28, 2006—a month prior to my writing her. While I have no reason to doubt that Graybeal wasn’t able to reach Foster the day I wrote her, it would seem that since nearly a month had gone by at that point, surely a “Personal Assistant to Richard Foster” could have spoken with him about such an important issue by now. I have tried reaching her again but as of today, two years later, I have yet to receive any statement from Foster, Graybeal or Renovare.
So now I think it’s safe to say that we will not have any official response coming to the following two questions that the evangelical community really has a right to have answers to:
1) Did Richard Foster contact the Living Spiritual Teachers Project to become one of them? And 2) Now that Richard knows he is “yoked” with them in violation of 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 is he going to have his name removed?
There is another vital area of concern that actually runs parallel to the issue of Richard Foster remaining listed at LSTP, and one that is most disturbing is: How is it that an ostensibly Christian teacher and spiritual leader within the evangelical community has produced a body of doctrine that is so completely in tune with e.g. teachers of New Age theology and Zen Buddhist masters that he could be so easily integrated and then be listed right along with them as a part of the interspiritualist Living Spiritual Teachers Project in the first place? Even the nearly universally loved Billy Graham, and hardly a bastion of completely sound Christian doctrine considering his romance with the apostate Roman Catholicism, has at least set himself apart enough not to be able to be included at the interfaith LSTP website.
Which begs another critical question: Why then is Richard Foster considered such a reliable source for proper Christian spirituality by “Protestant” SBC seminaries like New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary? Men and women, Foster’s discernment is so far out there we can’t get a radar fix and his myopic mystic “message” of Contemplative/Centering Prayer, TM lightly sprayed with Christian terminolgy as I pointed out before, is so “seeker friendly” that not only does it appeal to liberal mainline denominations, but it can also easily be incorporated into the “spiritual journey” of “seekers” in any “faith tradition.” And you really can’t see those flapping flags of the deepest scarlet now waving right in front of you?
In closing for now, personally I do find it interesting that another of these Living Spiritual Teachers is Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. If one does a little research they will quickly find out that Guru Foster is heavily influenced by the mystic monk Thomas Merton. It’s also common knowledge that Merton was very close friends with Nhat Hahn and as we said it’s no secret how much Foster admires Merton. Well maybe this is our explanation as to why Foster doesn’t really seem to mind his being listed at the LSTP website. And I can’t help but wonder: Foster greatly respected Thomas Merton, who was himself also closely yoked with Nhat Hahn; so it’s entirely possible that Richard Foster himself, in emulation of his spiritual hero Merton, actually wants to be associated in such a way with this Zen Roshi Thich Nhat Hahn as a fellow Living Spiritual Teacher.