At this point as we are Meditating On Contemplative/Centering Prayer I am going to shift gears a bit and begin to take a closer look at why it is we’re told we must practice the so-called “Christian” meditation of Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP)—that actually flowered in the antibiblical monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism and which is central to the theology of alleged “Christian” mysticism.
Apprising Ministries wants you to know it’s simply beyond question that the vast majority of those in leadership within postevangelicalism and the Emerging Church hold to an existential [feelings-oriented]—and thereby highly subjective—neo-orthodox approach to Holy Scripture. And this is a major reason why the counter Sola Scriptura teachings of someone like Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster, arriving inside the walls of evangelicalism via the Trojan Horse of the Emergent Church, would even have had a chance to sully the Body of Christ in the first place.
Through radio programs like Crosstalk: Ken Silva on “Evangelicals Embrace Mystics” and with recent articles like Christianity Today Promoting the Cult of Richard Foster, Georgia Baptist Convention (SBC) Now Promoting the Cult of Richard Foster, Wesley Granberg-Michaelson Bringing Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) into the “Protestant” Reformed Church in America and Christianity Today Promoting the Roman Catholic Mystic Catherine of Siena we’re doing our best to sound the alarm. And yet still The Cult of Guru Richard Foster with an assist from Foster’s spiritual twin Dallas Willard continues with its dispersion of the neo-pietism inherent within corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) into the mainstream “Protestant” evangelical community under the guise of Spiritual Formation.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will…you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Romans 12:2, Colossians 3:9-10)
Contemplating The Practice Of “Christian” Meditation
As you will begin to see this CCP i.e. transcendental meditation for the Christian is actually a key component in a revival of neo-gnosticism in the new wrong approach to Christian spirituality of the The Ecumenical Church of Deceit (ECoD). In Celebration Of Discipline (CoD), his definitive book on the so-called “Spiritual Disciplines” of “Christian” mysticism, Richard Foster says that the meditation of CCP “very simply, is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word” (17). Why it is we can’t just spend time in conscious prayer to hear Him, and why we can’t just prayerfully read the Scriptures while carefully thinking about what we read to “hear God’s voice and obey his word” isn’t addressed.
Our Guru of Contemplation then informs us that Christian meditation:
involves no hidden mysteries, no secret mantras, no mental gymnastics, no esoteric flights into the cosmic consciousness. The truth of the matter is that the great God of the universe, the Creator of all things desires our fellowship (ibid.).
We’ll return to this topic shortly and I’ll show the above statement by Foster is actually a bit disingenuous, but for now the truth is no one is disputing that God desires our fellowship. No, what we are concerned about here is how the Lord desires that we fellowship with Him. In CoD Foster instructs us that as we meditate:
we are growing into what Thomas a Kempis calls “a familiar friendship with Jesus.” We are sinking into the light and life of Christ and becoming comfortable in that posture. The perpetual presence of the Lord (omnipresence, as we say) moves from a theological dogma to a radiant reality (ibid., 19).
In his book The Sacred Way (SW), which I have mentioned before, national coordinator for Emergent Village Tony Jones postulates, “meditation, when rightly practiced, is a focusing on the heart of Christ” (82). Then he further explains:
I say “when rightly practiced” because there are numerous examples of a distortion of Christian meditation in the history of the church. But the orthodoxy of Christian meditation can be tested, for, when rightly practiced, it always leads to the same result: “Contemplative Christian prayer always leads to love of neighbor, to action, and to the acceptance of trials, and precisely because of this it draws one close to God” (ibid.).
Resisting the urge to wrestle with the serpent here let me just quickly point out that there are serious examples of circular reasoning evident in what Jones has said. First of all, the ecumenical bent of the Emergent Church immediately becomes evident as Jones simply assumes that meditation was an orthodox practice within “the church” that could then be distorted. Those who have studied the EC know that virtually anyone or anything laying claim to the title Christian is accepted by them as part of their concept of some Christian “tradition” that allegedly exists. But the insoluble problem for Jones, as I have been pointing out, is that these contemplative disciplines simply were not practiced by Christ or His Apostles and would later grow out of the mystic musings of the apostate “Desert Fathers and Mothers.” While even the Church of Rome originally branded many of them heretics, their theology is much closer to apostate Roman Catholicism than it is to what Dr. Walter Martin often referred to as the historic orthodox Christian faith.
As far as Jones’ other point regarding the results that “Contemplative Christian prayer” will “always” lead to, this is also the exact same claim made by numerous other religious groups concerning the results of following their own prescribed methods of worship. For example Islam, the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses all point to their own moral commitment to social action in helping their fellow man, to bearing persecutions, and will also speak of their so-called “faith tradition” as the pathway to drawing closer to God. So in point of fact Jones’ argument actually proves nothing.
In CoD Roshi Richard Foster goes on to instruct us that as we practice meditation:
we create the emotional and spiritual space which allows Christ to construct an inner sanctuary in the heart… He desires a perpetual Eucharistic feast in the inner sanctuary of the heart. Meditation opens the door,…[to] a portable sanctuary that is brought into all we are and do. Inward fellowship of this kind transforms the inner personality (20).
Men and women, it is precisely this spiritual transformation of “the inner personality” that is the very grave spiritual danger for all those who continue with this practice of CCP of spurious CSM, which was unquestionably borrowed adapted from pagan religions of the East by those aforementioned mystic monks and nuns aka Desert Fathers and Mothers.
I’ve quoted this before, but it does bear repeating. In SW Tony Jones himself informs us that:
Centering prayer grew out of the reflections and writings of the Desert Fathers. John Cassian (ca.360-ca.430) came from the West and made a pilgrimage to the desert to learn the ways of contemplative prayer (70).
What needs to be understood here is that with this CSM we are now entering a realm of spiritual realities which are totally out of the control of man. Unfortunately modern evangelicalism has all but obscured the spiritual side of the Christian faith in favor of good ol’ pragmatic American business savvy to grow our churches. And as a result many people really don’t give much thought to the very real spiritual side of the Christian faith. And it is this void into which Satan has currently slithered to exploit the undiscerning through his neo-pagan repainted Gnostic mystic spirituality. So the mind-altering spiritual poison of transcendental meditation is beginning to seep deeply into the very mainstream of our Lord’s Church.
Panentheism And The Mush God Of Meditation
I haven’t space to allow further discussion on that particualr subject here so the interested reader is referred to Emerging With The Spiritual Side Of Christianity where I cover this mortal mistake in a little more depth. However, what is so imperative is that we recapture in the Church of our Lord today is that this is God’s universe and in it — He does whatever pleases Him (Psalm 115:3) and the Lord also works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will (Ephesians 1:11).
But as this work of Apprising Ministries moves on you will be coming to see that the completely sovereign LORD God Almighty Who raised up His Reformers to wrest His Church back from the apostate Church of Rome is not the god who is ultimately found through the spiritual discipline of meditation practiced in the so-called “Christian” mysticism of the ECoD. Instead of the majestic and transcendent God of the Bible we are inevitably introduced to the panentheistic “Mush God” of unconditional love whose entire creation already dwells within him.
In time you will also come to see that through this Gnostic mysticism the door is then opened to the theology of panentheism, which was unquestionably espoused by the earlier “Christian” mystics so often quoted by proponents of Contemplative/Centering prayer. But for our purposes here while Foster is explaining various forms of meditation in COD we can learn something about this spiritual transformation of “the inner personality”. One type of meditation in particular Foster calls “meditation upon creation” where one contemplates “the created order” (31).
The Swami Foster then explains:
Now, this is no infantile pantheism, but a majestic monotheism in which the great Creator of the universe shows us something of his glory through his creation. The heavens do indeed declare the glory of God and the firmament does show forth his handiwork (Ps. 19:1). Evelyn Underhill recommends, “…begin with that first form of contemplation which the old mystics sometimes called ‘the discovery of God in his creatures’ ” (ibid., emphasis added).
Again there is much to wrestle with here but you can see Foster is already sensitive to charges of pantheism, and the hint of panentheism, within the above quote from “the old mystics”. But in keeping with our current focus on the results of mystic meditation I draw your attention to the name of Evelyn Underhill. The above quote that Foster uses is taken from her book Practical Mysticism. In CoF Foster quotes Underhill twice as an expert witness on the subject of mysticism. So now I may also do the same; only, as I do, you will be able to clearly see where this mystic refried Gnosticism of Contemplative/Centering Prayer will inevitably take all those who persist in its perverted practice.
In Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience (HEMPE) Underhill once again is called on for her proficient testimony concerning the subject of mysticism:
Evelyn Underhill, in her classic study, Mysticism (1955), defined five psychological stages along the mystical path. Not all may be experienced by any one mystic. The path itself is characterized by a vacillation between states of intense pleasure and intense pain. The five stages are:
1. The Awakening of the Self to Conciousness of Divine Reality. Typically, this is a well-defined, often sudden experience and is characterized by great joy.
2. The Purgation of the Self. The mystic, through discipline and/or mortification, attempts to rid himself or herself of imperfections and material desires, which are obstacles to unity.
3. Illumination. A happy state of apprehension of the Divine Presence, experienced in contemplation and meditation. It is not true union. Many mystics never get beyond Illumination. Artists and highly creative people tend to have Illumination experiences.
4. The Purification of the Self. Also called the “Dark Night of the Soul.” The mystic attempts total surrender of Self, personal identity, and will to the Divine, and is plunged into a painful and unhappy state of the absence of the Divine Presence.
5. Union with the One. The mystic achieves a permanent and transcendent level of reality.
In Eastern mysticism a still higher stage is reabsorption of the individual soul into the Infinite. The Sufis, too, consider such annihilation the only true attainment of God.” (389, 390)
Meditation For The Coming Global Family
Now you should also begin to see why I have spent such a great deal of time here at AM bringing you quotes from the work of Emergent theologian Brian McLaren and his cohorts such as Emergent prophet Tony Campolo, as well as Gurus Alan Jones and Marcus Borg, who like Foster are listed at the Living Spiritual Teachers Project. This is certainly no “guilt by association”; but rather, you should be able to see these men—along with the Dali Lama—also believe on some level they have discovered that the spiritual transformation arrived at through practicing this kind of meditation is the way to Global Peace. You may recall in Part One that in Zen Buddhist master Nhat Hanh’s book Peace Is Every Step the Dali Lama himself did say that “world peace [will come] through the internal transformation of individuals” (vii).
The following quote in the secular HEMPE will clearly show you why this malignant mysticism of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism is so important to all of these so-called “living spiritual teachers.” And we’re also told that the “belief in or pursuit of unification with the One or some other principle; the immediate consciousness of God; or the direct experience of religious truth. Mysticism is nearly universal and unites most religions in the quest for the One” (387). I cover this further in The Emergent “ONE”; however, what we are being enlightened to is that Contemplative/Centering Prayer as a transcendental meditation for the Christian just may well pave the broad pathway to create the One World Global Family which the Antichrist can then rule over.
All of this should be quite disturbing to the Christians who are right now watching this quasi-Christian brand of mysticism-lite infiltrate more and more of their local churches because HEMPE also informs us that mystics of whatever strain:
subscribe to one of two theories of Divine Reality; emanation and immanence. In the emanation view, all things in the universe are outflowing from God. In the immanence view, the universe is not projected from God, but is immersed in God (ibid., 387, 388).
The Practice Of Transcendental “Christian” Meditation
As we begin to examine how we are to perform this so-called “Christian” meditation, which all of these men mentioned above practice—it’s essentially Zen for the Christian—let me remind you we’ve already seen in CoD that Sensei Foster told us that CCP:
involves no hidden mysteries, no secret mantras, no mental gymnastics, no esoteric flights into the cosmic consciousness. The truth of the matter is that the great God of the universe, the Creator of all things desires our fellowship (17).
The reason I said that this is a bit disingenuous on Foster’s part is because he says there are “no hidden myteries” or “secret mantras” involved with this meditation. However, in line with the classic goal of mysticism, “the quest for the One” stated above, this CCP as meditation is part of what the Guru refers to as the “classical Disciplines of the spiritual life.” Further Foster tells us these disciplines that he’s rediscovered “call us to move beyond surface living into the depths.” And finally this special knowledge about these supposed spiritual disciplines which Foster is revealing to us in CoD “invite us to explore the inner caverns of the spiritual realm” (1).
As you should be able to see we are now involved in a mystical “quest for the One” within “the inner caverns of the spiritual realm” through these spiritual “Disciplines” Foster is illuminating for us. The point being, we’ve been told that we need these alleged Disciplines so that we can “move beyond the surface” and then “explore the inner depths of the spiritual realm.” And if this is indeed so then we are in fact dealing with a new kind of Gnosticism which does involve “hidden” and “secret” information apparently deep enough of a mystery to us uninitiated that Swami Foster had to write CoD in the first place. Hence his original disclaimer to the contrary is shown to be a bit disingenuous.
And if this Contemplative/Centering Prayer truly “involves no hidden mysteries” then how are we to explain the following from Guru Foster:
In the Middle Ages not even the greatest saints attempted the depths of the inward journey [contemplative meditation] without the help of a spiritual director. Today the concept is hardly understood, let alone practiced, except in the Roman Catholic monastic system… Many of the first spiritual directors were the desert Fathers and were held in high regard for their ability to “discern spirits” (185, emphasis mine).
The question now becomes: If there are “no hidden mysteries” as we approach this exploration of “the inner depths of the spiritual realm,” then why would we need a “spiritual director” in the first place? And what book does Foster turn to for help in explaining the purpose of these spiritual directors? I’ll tell you: Spiritual Direction And Meditation (SDM) by Thomas Merton. As I said previously it’s simply beyond question that the Guru of Contemplation is greatly influenced by Merton the Mystic Monk. And it is little wonder that this unneccessary position for the Christian of some spiritual director is primarily practiced in the apostate Church of Rome, for that is where it came from in the first place.
In fact in SDM Thomas Merton, the man Foster says shared “priceless wisdom for all Christians who long to go deeper in the spiritual life,” explains the origin for the Guru of Contemplation’s supposed requirement of a spiritual director for “the inward journey.” As Merton does you will be able to see where this whole messed up mysticism immediately went off-track. The Mystic Monk tells us the:
original, primitive meaning of spiritual direction suggests a particular need connected with a special ascetic task, a peculiar vocation for which a professional formation is required. In other words, 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).
“Christian” Roshis, Living Spiritual Teachers And Repainted/Reimagined Gnosticism
And at this point in our meditation on Contemplative/Centering Prayer the prosecution brings into this discussion Brian Flynn who is our own expert Christian witness in this case. Author of the important book Running Against The Wind (RATW) Flynn is a former New Age medium and longtime practitioner of Transcendental Mediation. He is more than qualified to speak on these subjects. In answer to the question “What’s the purpose of this type of [Contemplative/Centering] prayer?” Flynn says:
Merton and Foster say it is to talk to God, to get closer to God or achieve union with God. And yet this method is not described or supported in Scripture (in fact, according to Matthew 6:7, vain repetitions are condemned), this is not really talking with God. It is subjective experience and cannot be trusted (144)
We’ll return to this idea of “subjective experience” another time, but for now the following puts to rest once and for all Foster’s incorrect statement that “Christian” meditation involves no “hidden mysteries.” In RATW Flynn brings out the truth when he informs us that in Foster’s book Prayer: Finding The Heart’s True Home:
Richard Foster continues explaining the reason for seeking the silence [of meditation]:
The desert father Ammonas, a disciple of Saint Anthony, writes, “I have shown you the power of silence, how thoroughly it heals and how fully pleasing it is to God…. Know that it is by silence that the saints grew, that it was because of silence that the power of God dwelt in them, because of silence that the mysteries of God were known to them.” It is this recreating silence [of meditation] to which we are called in Contemplative Prayer (173, emphasis mine).
So as should now be able to see we certainly are indeed dealing with a secret knowledge which then needs to be imparted to the initiate by someone who has already been enlightened to this new gnosis. By any definition we are involved with secret hidden mysteries that Guru Foster tells us are only to be found in the “recreating silence” of the meditation of “Contemplative Prayer.” But in RATW Flynn brings out a trenchant point regarding this repainted [read: reimagined] Gnostic mysticism when he writes:
When Foster quotes Ammonas as saying “because of silence that the mysteries of God were known to them,” he has revealed the underlying layer of contemplative prayer. The attraction to contemplative prayer lies in the secrets that are not revealed in Scripture but are supposedly revealed in the “silence.” The voice conjured in the mind by vain repetition is said to reveal the secrets that the non-contemplative Christians aren’t privy to. But I ask then: Has God orchestrated a different class of Christians, the upper contemplatives who get the inside scoop while the rest of us wallow in the darkness with only God’s Word revealed to us in the Bible (173).
And this is where the charge of Gnosticism now applies this CSM because this is the exact same type of esotericism the historic orthodox Christian faith was battling from its very inception. In fact these are the type of counterfeit teachers and false apostles that John and Paul in particular were specifically warning the Church about. Suffice here to say that these false prophets of Gnosticism were attempting to blend their own kind of philosophies and religious ideas in with the Christian faith. They were teaching that only those who were “enlightened” by their special brand of knowledge (Greek: gnosis) really understood Who Jesus was and/or could ever hope to grasp truth about the Pleroma aka God.
And now it all starts to sound mighty familiar, doesn’t it…the same old peas in the same old corrupt spiritual pod…and we’re right back around to Ecclesiastes 1:9-10:
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.