I have strongly felt led to put a few of my other projects on hold in order that I might more fully train some of the guns of Apprising Ministries onto a counterattack of the Devil’s penetration into the mainstream of the Church of Jesus Christ. This he has largely accomplished through his “reimagined” spiritually corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) and its Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP), which flowered in the antibiblical monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism, i.e. no longer Christian. With an able assist from ordained Southern Baptist minister Dallas Willard currently The Cult of Guru Richard Foster is conditioning more and more mainstream evangelical pastors, leaders, and ministers (think frog in the kettle) through spurious Spiritual Formation (SF) courses in college and/or seminary to see this CSM as a viable approach to God.
And AM reminds you that primary among the textbooks used in these SF classes, not only in SBC seminaries but in most evangelical schools, are works by Willard and his associate Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic “Roshi” Richard Foster from which their so-called “spiritual disciplines” largely culled from heretical Roman Catholic and Quaker mystics is then taught. CSM was given a boost a while back with a DVD project promoting contemplative prayer entitled Be Still…And Know That I Am God. Space here doesn’t allow further discussion on this definite DVD disaster, which includes “noted Christian authors, ministers and educators” such as Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and amazingly enough Be Still even initially had the support of Dr. Charles Stanley. For your convenience let me direct you to Be Still and Know … that you are being deceived. which is an accurate assessment of the DVD Be Still.
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” (Isaiah 29:13-14)
Meditation Is The Root Of The Ecumenical Church Of Deceit
Now the first thing we have to remember as we begin is the Bible says that — our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). As such then I am not attacking these men personally. In regard to Dr. Stanley, while his voiceover was not used in the final product, the fact alone that he was providing one more than indicates his support for this dubious project.
You also need to know this Be Still DVD promoting the practices of Contemplative/Centering Prayer is reputed to cross “all denominations,” which is Ecumenical Church Of Deceit (ECoD) speak for “out goes the Reformation.” O yes, the meditation of this new spirituality is now a very serious infestation within the evangelical camp itself.
So although I have been addressing other topics within the Bible-denying neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church it now seems best in the Lord to stop and meditate on the subject of Contemplative/Centering Prayer a little further. In this work I will begin to fire some rounds at an argument that is becoming the norm as we expose the misguided neo-pagan messed up mysticism at the rotten root of postevangelicalism.
If you wish to understand how CSM-lite has even found its way into the work of men like Chuck Swindoll and now apparently even Charles Stanley it becomes vital to remember that this mystic new spirituality with roots in the monastic traditions of the Roman Catholic Church is a key component of the Emerging Church. My research shows that a major reason thise postliberal cult was started in the first place was to bring this so-called “Christian” mysticism into the mainstream of evangelicalism. And like a lightening rod this topic of transcendental meditation for the Christian has brought unfavorable attention down on my work here at AM; undoubtedly we have struck a vital nerve center in the Devil’s command center.
As we look at this argument presented in favor of the “spiritual discipline/practice” of so-called “Christian” meditation you’ll see it is actually two-pronged in that it’s usually stated 1) the practice of Contemplative/Centering Prayer is consistent with meditation in the Bible, and 2) this discipline is not really like that practiced in Eastern religions. However, the immediate problem that comes emerging is that this type of meditation was never even part of the orthodox Judaism of Christ’s time; there is no actual evidence in the Gospel accounts of the Master’s life on earth showing that He practiced it Himself, nor was it ever a part of His Apostles’ doctrine (see—Acts 2:42).
Since God the Holy Spirit tells us in Holy Scripture that — A wise man attacks the city of the mighty and pulls down the stronghold in which they trust (Proverbs 21:22), it is the second prong of the argument that we will be attacking and pulling down as my work in this area develops. The primary thrust of this particualr article will be to connect Contemplative/Centering Prayer i.e. transcendental meditation for the Christian to its pagan sources in Eastern religions, e.g. Hinduism, and most particularly the quest for a Zen Buddhism-like satori (“enlightenment”).
Equivocation About The Meditation Of “Christian” Mysticism
First let me very clearly point out that no one who is critical of this practice of “Christian” meditation is talking about meditating upon Holy Scripture which the Bible unequivocally speaks of and encourages. Christianity, following the godly example of Judaism in this instance, has always taught contemplation of–or thinking about–the texts of God’s Word as we are reading them. In no uncertain terms we are commanded by God the Holy Spirit to do exactly that in the Scriptures He wrote.
Even the living spiritual teacher Richard Foster, the Guru of Contemplation himself, brings this to our attention in Celebration of Discipline (COD), his “classic” book on the subject of these supposed “disciplines” of spiritual enlightenment. While discussing “The Discipline of Meditation” Guru Foster writes:
Repentance and obedience are essential features in any biblical understanding of meditation. The psalmist exclaims, “Oh, how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day…. I hold my feet from every way, in order to keep thy word”… It is this continual focus upon obedience and faithfulness that most clearly distinguishes Christian meditation from its Eastern and secular counterparts. (15,16, emphasis mine)
We stop here for a moment to ask the question: Just how is it we know that this so-called “Christian meditation” is really so “clearly” distinguished “from its Eastern and secular counterparts”? Um, well…because Richard Foster says it is, that’s why. Now we should begin to see that we are already caught up in circular reasoning with this “discipline of meditation.” Wrested from its proper biblical context “meditation” has now been forced into an artificial category that has been dubbed by alleged “Christian” mystics as “contemplative spirituality.”
However, in his book The Sacred Way (SW) even Emergent theologian Tony Jones admits this type of Contemplative/Centering Prayer actually originates in the monastic traditions of “the Desert Fathers” (70). And these people come long after Christ and His Apostles established the historic orthodox Christian faith. The fact alone that the Master and the men He instructed Himself did not teach this kind of contemplative spirituality culled from pagan religions of the East is the prime reason to avoid these “rules taught by men.”
Merton On A True Monk
By the way, the above comment by Jones about the monks from the Desert is also confirmed by Thomas Merton in his book The Silent Life (TSL). As a matter of fact I got this book because it is recommended by Jones in SW and is specifically devoted to helping one understand the contemplative spirituality of Trappist monks. At this point it becomes critical for the reader to understand that Merton himself is universally quoted as an authority on the practices of meditation as Contemplative/Centering Prayer.
In A Time Of Departing Christian researcher Ray Yungen correctly states that what “Martin Luther King was to the civil rights movement” so “Thomas Merton is to contemplative prayer” (60). For those who may not know Merton was a Roman Catholic monk whose last act was convening an ecumenical conference of “Christians” and Buddhists in Bangkok in 1968, not long after Vatican II, to seek alleged common ground between their faith traditions. Does this eerily begin to sound familiar, almost as if it were coming from the mouth of Emergent Guru Brian McLaren or from his friends the radical Emergent prophet Tony Campolo and Doug Pagitt? By the way Brian Flynn, whom I mentioned earlier, was at the debate between Pagitt and Pastor Bob DeWaay. Afterward Flynn told me Pagitt sounded more like Deepak Chopra–another of those living spiritual teachers Pagitt’s buddy McLaren is so fond of–than a Christian pastor.
So you see, I’m really not making this stuff up about the ECoD because all of this New Light foolishness in the eyes of God has been done before. By the way, I see the Lord’s hand in the fact that Merton, who undoubtedly was a leading advocate for this kind of “Christian” contemplative spirituality, was also electrocuted just after that aforementioned conference. It’s way past time that we revisit what happened to the first century real estate team of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. Regardless however, the fact remains that as you begin to investigate Contemplative/Centering Prayer you will immediately see Merton quoted as an “expert” on the subject this type of “Christian” meditation.
We take for example the following from the book Peace Is Every Step (PIES) by Thich Nhat Hanh, who is a “[w]orld-renowned Zen master.” (back cover) Hanh, by the way, also happens to be yet another member of the Living Spiritual Teachers Project. Isn’t it interesting how this particular assemblage of seducing spirits keeps reentering our discussion of truly warped things Emergent? It makes one wonder if people will ever recognize the emerging new spirituality of the Global Church of Antichrist.
Let’s look a little further at Nhat Hanh’s PIES for a moment, which the Dali Lama says in the foreword is actually “a guidebook” toward bringing about “world peace through the internal transformation of individuals” (vii, emphasis mine). You must come to realize that this is the exact same reason for which the ECoD has emerged at this late hour; and Contemplative/Centering Prayer, which truly is transcendental meditation for the Christian, is to be the vehicle to bring about this internal spiritual transformation. I tell you in the Lord this contemplative spirituality is most certainly not something to “play” at and surely has no place in a real Christian church.
As we turn to the “Editor’s Introduction” to PIES we read:
When Thomas Merton, the well-known Catholic monk and mystic, met Thich Nhat Hanh at his monastery, Gethsemani,… [Merton] told his students, “Just the way [Hanh] opens the door and enters a room demonstrates his understanding. He is a true monk (Ibid., xi, emphasis mine).
Further we are told that “Merton went on to write an essay, Nhat Hanh Is My Brother,…” (Ibid.) Men and women, the very fact that this information is included in a book by a world-renowned Zen master and “living spiritual teacher,” with a foreword written by H.H. the Dali Lama himself speaks volumes about just where Merton’s misguided mysticism ultimately led him. It’s no wonder Merton was on record as saying that he wanted to become as good a Buddhist as he could.
In an article called Thomas Merton and the Wisdom of Nonviolence, Living Spiritual Teacher, Jesuit Priest and Retreat Leader, Rev. John Dear tells us that “Thomas Merton has been one of my teachers.” And then Dear goes on to inform us:
On his way to Asia, Merton told David Stendl-Rast [yet another of those Living Spiritual Teachers] that “the only way beyond the traps of Catholicism is Buddhism.” In other words, every Catholic has to become a good Buddhist, to become as compassionate as possible, he said. “I am going to become the best Buddhist I can, so I can become a good Catholic.”
And as we begin now to look at Merton’s own book TSL, let’s also keep in mind above it was Merton himself who pronounced that Nhat Hanh, a practicing Zen Buddhist, is “a true monk.” But it will prove most unfortunate for those who wish to use the heretical Merton as a source for the practice of “Christian” meditation because he would then go on to give us a clear definition of exactly what a monk is.
In TSL Merton the Mystic Monk informs us that a “monk is a man who has been called by the Holy Spirit” who is to “devote his entire life to seeking God” (vii., emphasis mine). Now here’s the point that must be grasped. Based on what Merton has just said we are now going to have to consider Merton’s “brother” Nhat Hanh, a practicing Zen Buddhist master, as “a man who has been called by the Holy Spirit” in order to “devote his entire life to seeking God” through this pagan religion. Sadly he was seriously deluded.
Are we really to believe that God the Holy Spirit called Nhat Hahn to seek the Lord “his entire life” through a religion that is agnostic at best? This is a little hard to swallow. And if this isn’t enough to help you see the rapid rise of immense warning flags of the deepest scarlet wildly flapping in the Spirit of God, then consider also that Merton informs us the monastic tradition teaches that the monk:
travels to God by the direct path, recto tramite. He withdraws from “the world.” He gives himself entirely to prayer, meditation, study, labor, penance, under the eyes of God. The monk is distinguished even from other religious vocations by the fact that he is essentially and exclusively dedicated to seeking God, rather than seeking souls for God (Ibid., viii, emphasis mine).
But you see, ol’ Beelzebub’s “fly in the ointment” here is the absolute fact that this monastic system of the apostate Church of Rome, which gave birth to these contemplative practices in the first place, clearly develops a couple of centuries after the Apostles. And not only that but it also runs counter to what Christ Himself said He was sending His Church into the world to do in the first place. Men and women, this undoubtedly should arrest your attention. Although one is free to make whatever dubious choices they wish in life, the monastic tradition of hiding one’s self away from the world is in direct opposition to what Jesus tells His servants we are to do.
This really shouldn’t be that hard to understand because as we contemplate this further we receive enlightenment that it becomes impossible to preach the Gospel if one is cloistered away from those who need to hear it. Hmm, I wonder, just who might have come up with this idea? We will look at this a little further, but for now we note that in 2 Corinthians 5:20 God frankly announces to the world what the mission of His Christian Church actually is — we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (ESV).
Contemplating The Mystic Merton
Let’s meditate a little further on what I quoted above from TSL, the definitive book by the late Thomas Merton that he himself called “a meditation on the monastic life by one who,…[knows] that life from the inside” (back cover). As I stated previously TSL is all about the contemplative practices that grew out of these monastic traditions of long apostate Roman Catholicism. Here we should begin to see the rotten Roman root from which this whole idea of contemplative spirituality deep in the core of her daughter the ECoD truly springs.
As you have just seen in TSL Merton instructs us that this monastic tradition teaches that the monk “travels to God by the direct path,” and that his role is to be accomplished as he “withdraws from the world.” Merton then told us the monk does this because “he is essentially and exclusively dedicated to seeking God, rather than seeking souls for God.” What should immediately jump out here is that we have just received teaching from the Mystic Monk which in point of fact is diametrically opposed to the actual mission Jesus has for His Church.
In TSL Merton says: “We have defined a monk as a man who leaves everything else in order to seek God” (1). However, in contrast the Bible teaches instead that in gratitude the true Christian forsakes all to willingly serve the Lord because it was God Who has actually been seeking him all along. God the Son also specifically tells us that He – “came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). And while praying to God the Father in John 17 our Lord says unmistakably — “As You sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (v.17).
As a matter of fact Christ Jesus would then go on to repeat this mandate for the Christian following His resurrection from the dead — “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). If you think about it for a moment, most of us have heard the phrase “be in the world, but not of it.” Well, now you can see that there’s a pretty reliable Source—the Master Himself—from which it originated.
At this point I also wish the reader to know I am well aware that I have covered the so-called “Christian” mystic Thomas Merton in quite some depth but I do have my reasons. It is essential for you to better understand Merton’s teachings on the meditation of Contemplative/Centering Prayer because the Trojan Horse of the Emergent Church which unloaded this new spirituality within our Lord’s Church in the first place also contained one Richard Foster the Guru most responsible for spreading this neo-pagan Gnosticism. And that Foster himself is heavily influenced by Thomas Merton is simply beyond any question of a doubt.
For instance in Celebration of Discipline (COD) Foster quotes Merton to open his chapter on “The Discipline of Meditation.” And in that reference from COD Merton informs us “true contemplation [meditation] is not a psychological trick but a theological grace” (15). However, he is dead wrong. I’ll share more about this another time, but those of us who study the effects of transcendental meditation can tell you there is indeed a “psychological shift” that ultimately takes place within those who practice it long enough.
This is why I have taken such great care to carefully document and expose Merton’s heretical teachings. Though he is not their only source, the truth is that proponents of Contemplative/Centering Prayer such as Richard Foster and Tony Jones do derive at least some of their doctrine from Merton’s mystical musings on this subject. This next point must now be stated bluntly; although many in the Church today have little regard for what the Bible actually says, God still happens to take His Word with the utmost seriousness. And you should know that when He was standing on His planet the LORD God Almighty most clearly said — “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” (Matthew 7:18)
This absolute truth spoken by Christ Jesus of Nazareth forever slams the door shut in the face of the foolish argument continually pressed forth by Merton supporters that says: “We just take the good in his teaching and use discernment to ignore the bad.” But this is what the Lord says — “A bad tree [Thomas Merton] cannot bear good fruit.” Think about it: Before we accept someone as a teacher of Christians, shouldn’t we at least insist that one first become a Christian? Not only do we see no indication that Merton was a regenerated Christian, but the truth is the evidence actually speaks strongly against it.
The Transformation Of Mysticism
Another important aspect in learning about the deceptive dangers involved with this practice of Contemplative/Centering prayer, which is in actuality transcendental meditation for the Christian, is that those who persist in it will invariably be lead to universalism. This is one reason why I wanted to clearly establish for you that Merton called the “living spiritual teacher” Thich Nhat Hanh, who we must remember just happens to be a Zen Buddhist roshi (master), “a true monk.” Then as we turned to Merton’s TSL I showed you that this “spiritual director” defined a monk as “a man who has been called by the Holy Spirit” who is to “devote his entire life to seeking God.”
So now we should be able to see that logically this can only mean that Nhat Hanh, whom Merton considered his “brother,” would also have to have “been called by the Holy Spirit” in order to “devote his entire life to seeking God” through Zen Buddhism. Here we have opened the door to a theology of inclusivism at the very least, and universalism at its very worst. There’s just no way around it. That is, unless, you happen to ascribe to the Devil’s “fool-osophy” of postmodernism.
This is the reason why those of us sounding the alarm regarding Contemplative/Centering prayer consider it such a grave spiritual danger to the Christian Church. Lord willing, as we progress, another time we’ll go into more depth regarding the spiritual “enlightenment,” also called “transformation,” that inevitably happens to those who practice this so-called “Christian” meditation long enough to be given over to deception by the Lord.
But for now, from years of studying transcendental meditation from many religious sources, I can definitively tell you that Ron Comer is dead on target when he observes in the foreword to Ray Yungen’s excellent book A Time of Departing mentioned earlier:
Through these mystical [contemplative] prayer practices the church today has opened its door to a subtle abandonment of the gospel… Like two rivers merging together, Eastern and Western religious thought are joining together, thus gaining momentum towards a one world religion in which all paths lead to God (15).
And with our case thus established, now we can see that Thomas Merton does indeed stand as the quintessential example for the neo-pagan Gnostic mysticism of contemplative spirituality in the ECoD, as well as for the absolute truth of the following solemn words of Holy Scripture. Through the mystic Merton’s ignominious example, with his denial of historic orthodox Christian theology, the transcendental meditation of Contemplative/Centering prayer that he championed is clearly revealed to be:
the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, ESV)
Do Not Follow Their Practices
The seriousness of the above passage of God‘s Word further illustrates the need for this work to present you with accurate information so you can then judge for yourself if this type of Contemplative/Centering prayer is a viable way to “experience the presence of God.” Or is it instead a very dangerous spiritual discipline that has adopted pagan practices actually condemned by the Lord. And it is here that leaders in the Christian Church have seriously erred in not presenting enough of the Old Testament revelation of God to the Church.
What has happened instead is that by focusing almost exclusively on the New Testament we have actually “dumbed down” the absolute holiness of God in an attempt to make the Lord more “palatable” to arrogant Americans and we have neglected verses such as Leviticus 18:3 — “You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices.” And Deuteronomy 18:12 — “Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.”
The Emergent protest would be: “But that’s for the nation of Israel and has nothing to do with today.” Spiritually dead wrong. The wise man knows that these injunctions are for God’s people period, and for as long as we happen to be in this fallen world. So where did Emergent spiritual director Brian McLaren come up with his completely erroneous idea expressed in A Generous Orthodoxy (AGO) that the Christian faith should be “a welcome friend to other religions of the world” (254)? He got it from his dabbling in this type of meditation long enough to anger God Who may well have sent McLaren the delusion of Jesus he currently has. He most certainly did not get the ridiculous notions that he postulates in AGO about the mission of the Church of the one true and living God from the Bible.
Because the truth of what I have been teaching you here can be clearly seen by those who have eyes to see when the Apostle Peter tells the Christian:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-12).
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Men and women, the serious flaw in today’s emerging ecumenical “jellyfish” Christianity that’s so busy seeking common ground with other religions is thus exposed. The LORD God Almighty does not change and He certainly did not want His people adopting pagan practices in the Old Testament. As He brings us into the new “land” of such a great salvation God still commands His people not to adopt these detestable practices in the pagan religions we see all around us. The Christians is also told the same thing through the Apostle Paul when God the Holy Spirit reminds us that our citizenship is in Heaven (see—Philippians 3:20) as we are a people called out of this present darkness to live as aliens and strangers in the world as a living testimony to Christ superiority’s over the Devil.
And there is simply no change here in the approach of God’s people regarding pagan religions, and in these following verses of Scripture you will see why. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods (Galatians 4:8). And — the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons (1 Corinthians 10:20). In addition our mandate from God is to beseech them in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20, (KJV).
This is exactly why I hold that this “Christian” form of transcendental meditation to which I am alerting you is in reality a discipline practiced by those who are not content with a relationship with God through His prescribed means of prayer and study of the Scriptures. Instead, in violation of the above Scriptures, they are actually seeking for a type of “spiritual buzz.” As the work here at Apprising Ministries progresses you will hear from advocates of this type of Contemplative/Centering prayer the feelings produced can be quite intense and intoxicating.
Now I also ask you to please keep in mind at this point that I’m already on record elsewhere that my theology regarding the Holy Spirit falls somewhere between Dr. Walter Martin, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and A.W. Tozer. This is to say that I’m not exactly a cessationist as I am also very actively involved in a pursuit of God and therefore I’m not attacking an “experience” with our Lord per se. However, at the same time I’m also constrained by Holy Scripture never to venture any further spiritually than what is contained within the actual text of my God’s Word in the closed Canon of the Bible. So the idea here is not whether the Christian can experience God; no, rather my point is to insist that each and every experience must itself then be tested by the Word of God (see—Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Lord willing the test of principles taught in the Bible will indeed be applied to this Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism which is currently sweeping through our Lord’s Church. As we meditate further on Contemplative/Centering prayer next time we’ll compare this “Christian” meditation to the way others approach this discipline of “contemplative” meditation in their own “faith traditions.” Then you will be able to see for yourself that we are dealing with the exact same practices as in transcendental meditation; but be forewarned, all those who persist in it will inevitably be given over to the exact same spiritual deceptions as those experienced by Thomas Merton himself (see—2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).