In this feature piece Apprising Ministries will introduce the Body of Christ to an epidemic disease in the American Christian Church that might come to be referred to as: “Me-no-wanna-see-i-tus.” As one who has been an SBC pastor myself since 1994, this illness is particularly evident concerning my ongoing look at the growing influence of decidedly anti-Reformation Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) within the Southern Baptist Convention, which is the largest so-called “Protestant” evangelical denomination in the United States.
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)
Hear No Apostasy, See No Apostasy, Speak Of No Apostasy
Now, anticipating some reader’s reactions, I am not the least bit angry or offended by what I am going to show you below. Criticism simply goes with this turf, being that I often use the unconventional tactics necessary to do Special Ops along the Internet Front of this spiritual Vietnam, which Dr. John MacArthur rightly deemed the “Truth War”. We move over now to the Baptist Board (BB), where we’re informed, “the Truth will set you free.” Apparently that is, unless you happen to disagree with it, as you’ll see in a moment.
As a new thread called Contemplative Spirituality & Prayer begins at BB we read:
Is the SBC involved in Apostasy?
On another site, they are saying that the SBC is guilty of apostasy? What are your thoughts? (Online source)
That “another site” just happens to be here at AM. First, let’s make sure it’s understood what I am not saying: I have never said that the entire SBC is apostate. What I have said, and in my mind made a strong case for, is that within the SBC we can see growing evidence of apostasy. CARM gives us a good working definition of apostasy: “Apostasy means to fall away from the truth.” And I also agree with their conclusion: “Apostasy is all around us in varying degrees” (Online source).
In fact, let me quote the late Southern Baptist Dr. Walter Martin, who was renowned for being one of the greatest defenders of “the historic orthodox Christian faith,” who said circa 1986 — “Anyone who does not know that the Church in the United States—and in denominational structures world-around—is in an accelerating apostasy does not know; I repeat, does not know, what is going on.”
And I think I’m on solid Rock to say that the SBC is certainly not exempt from “varying degrees” of apostasy. Now back at BB one commenter says:
Being an SBC member, Pastor, and Church planter for the SBC, in what way(s) are we involved in apostasy? If you want an answer I will state — No.
But you see the thing is; what then happens with an argument that begins like this, when I, as an SBC member, Pastor, who has planted a church for the SBC, turn right around and say, “If you want an answer I will state — Yes.” Now where are we? They also go on to say:
I have no desire to look into that site any further, nor will I return to the so called Christian forum which I was on, and is preaching that the SBC is following and condoning Contemplative Spirituality and Prayer.
I had not seen this anywhere else and was only interested in what others thought about it.
It is here where we can see the epidemic disease of me-no-wanna-see-i-tus rear its obtuse head. Translation of the above: “I’m not going to look at any evidence because I’m not interested to see if it might be so.” But this is exactly how apostasy spreads. So, we need to begin to pray for the Lord to cure us of me-no-wanna-see-i-tus. And in good faith I’ll present some evidence—not too much; no, we wouldn’t want to push too far too fast—that indeed we can see some degree of apostasy in the SBC along with this spurious CSM.
Rick Warren Takes It Upon Himself To Reverse The Protestant Reformation
How about within the Saddleback Church of “America’s Pastor” Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren? Will this do? Warren is arguably the SBC’s most famous pastor and he is on record controverting Reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin. For example in this piece from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PPG) we’re told that “Dr. Warren, [is] a Southern Baptist pastor in an affluent California suburb,” who is also “arguably the world’s most influential Protestant pastor,” and he said:
“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,….” (Online source, emphasis mine)
And to be clear that Dr. Warren is not speaking of individual Roman Catholics, some of whom may indeed be born again in spite of the false gospel of the Church of Rome, in Forbes magazine America’s Pastor—who is SBC—informs us, “The Church, in all its expressions—Catholic, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Protestant and many others—has 2.3 billion followers” (Online source, emphasis mine). O, without a doubt this ecumenical view scratches itching ears, but this is also to fall away from the beliefs of the Protestant Reformation, i.e. Biblical Christianity.
And to those of us who are former Roman Catholics delivered from the religious bondage of apostate Roman Catholicism into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, we sure do see this as apostasy by Rick Warren. And as evidenced by the secular paper PPG, he is quite obviously someone representative of the Southern Baptist Convention; and so, in my view this at least involves a degree of apostasy within the SBC. Not to mention that in Rick Warren and Saddleback Church: Prayer Is Not For The Novice I provide links with pictures proving they promote The Cult of Contemplative Guru Richard Foster.
As does an entire SBC state convention who is now openly embracing this corrupt CSM and its Contemplative/Centering Prayer, which flowered in the antibiblical monastic traditions of the Roman Catholic Church considered apostate—no longer Christian—by the Lord’s Reformers. In Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) in Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (SBC) we give you the links where you can view the current SpiritLines Newsletter, “Written by: Wendy Minton Edwards, Spiritual Formation Coach,” of BSCNC as well as View [A] Past Edition of SpiritLines.
Contemplative/Centering Prayer—TM-Lite For Southern Baptists in NC
In closing this for now, let me point out that the current May 2008 issue of SN, is absolutely chock full of counter Reformation CSM skubalon. For example under Prayer Resources we have books by teachers of CSM such as Quaker mystic and Living Spiritual Teacher Roshi Richard Foster, Jan Johnson, and the late Roman Catholic priest Henri Nouwen:
Foster, Richard J. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. New York: Harper & Row, 1978, 1988.
_______. Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992.
Johnson, Jan. When The Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Navpress, 1999.
Nouwen, Henri J. M. With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life. New York: Ave Maria Press, 1972. (Online source)
Then there’s the “BOOK REVIEW” for “THE SOUL AT REST: A JOURNEY INTO CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER by Tricia McCary Rhodes” where Spiritual Guru Edwards tells us:
Anyone desiring a more reflective quiet time, greater intimacy with God, or genuine rest for his/her weary soul will find The Soul at Rest to be just what the doctor ordered. In fact, the book is designed to accommodate five daily quiet time experiences for eight weeks. Each session builds on the previous ones, providing an “inner prayer journey” that explains and prepares one to experience contemplative prayer.
Author Tricia McCary Rhodes defines contemplative prayer as “communing with God through quiet moments of meditation, listening, and reflecting on Him. (ibid.)
And finally Spiritual Formation Coach Edwards of the BSCNC state convention of the SBC wants to make sure that we know about the:
Five-Day Intensive Centering Prayer Retreat
June 16-20, 2008
St. Francis Springs Prayer Center, Stoneville, NC
Retreat Leaders: Joan Ricci Hurst, Paul Supina
The 5-Day Intensive Centering Prayer retreat is an in-depth experience into profound stillness and silence. (ibid.)
So it is as I said before; anyone who can’t recognize that this spurious CSM has zero place in the allegedly “Protestant” SBC, and that it does not belong in what SBC minister Rev. Dr. Walter Martin so often called “the historic, orthodox Christian faith,” really needs to get on their face and call upon the Great Physician because you do have a most serious case of me-no-wanna-see-i-tis.