WHO IS JOHN MAIN?

Appealing To Apostate Roman Catholic Monks For Protestant “Spiritual Formation”

Due to the importance of the issues concerning the influx into evangelicalism of corrupt Contemplative/Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) and its so-called “Christian” meditation of Contemplative/Centering Prayer(CCP)—which flowered in the antibiblical monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism, i.e. no longer Christian—Apprising Ministries is doing all we can to bring this to the attention of the Body of Christ. And one of the primary sources—if not the primary source—for this reimagined Gnostic mysticism infecting postevangelicalism and the Emerging Church is The Cult of Guru Richard Foster.

You need to know that this CSM has now also slithered into evangelicalism as well because right now Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic “Roshi” Richard Foster, with an able assist from ordained Southern Baptist minister Dallas Willard, 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.

In Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism As Methodology For Spiritual Formation I mentioned that as a continuing series AM will be seeking to help the Body of Christ to question various teachers so often appealed to as expert witnesses for what I see as a counterfeit form of Christianity through their neo-pagan “spiritual disciplines,” e.g. Who Is Henri Nouwen? It’s my contention that this CSM is a growing and corrupt spiritual blight, which is currently spreading apostasy under the guise of SF throughout the evangelical camp as explosively as an Oklahoma wildfire.

Transcendental Meditation For The Christian And The World Community 

We turn now to Dom (father) John Main (1926-1982) who was a Roman Catholic priest and monk of the Order of Saint Benedict (OSB). He is also universally known by those in the so-called “contemplative tradition” as the man who rediscovered “the practice of pure prayer, or Christian meditation,” using a “holy phrase” also known as a mantra. In 1975 Main  “began the first meditation groups at his monastery in London and, later, in Montreal.” These groups would later grow into:

The World Community for Christian Meditation
Meditators at the John Main Seminar held at New Harmony, Indiana in 1991 gave the community a new form in The World Community for Christian Meditation. It has now spread through a hundred countries. Individuals, groups and centres share the vision of peace and unity arising from meditation. Groups meet in homes, parishes, offices, hospitals, prisons and colleges. A network of Christian Meditation Centres helps to serve this community and its teaching work. Dialogue with other faiths has arisen from this deepening of Christian spirituality in the lives of men and women in all walks of life. The link with the Benedictine monastic family is especially valued. (Online source)

The website for The World Community for Christian Meditation further informs us that John Main:

believed that the contemplative experience creates community. His genius was to recover and to re-present a way into this experience for ordinary people from within the Christian contemplative tradition. In the teaching of the desert monks on pure prayer he found the practice of the mantra. Realising that this way of prayer could further the search of many modern people for a deeper spiritual life, he recommended two regular daily periods of meditation to be integrated with the usual practices of Christian life. (Online source)

An article by Paul T. Harris called “Silent Teaching: The Life of Dom John Main” sheds some very interesting light concerning the rotten root of Main’s mystic meditation:

There is an even deeper question and a more intriguing conjecture. To Benedictine John Main is given credit for recognizing and rediscovering the teachings of John Cassian (360-435) and the early Egyptian desert fathers on the use of short phrases in prayer. St. Benedict was deeply influenced by Cassian’s teachings. The writings of Cassian also played a decisive role in the life of John Main…

EARLY YEARS: THE SWAMI

[Main's] next adventure took him East and would dramatically change John Main’s life and the lives of countless others. He joined the British Colonial Service in 1954 and was assigned to Malaya. One day in Kuala Lumpur he was sent on an apparently routine assignment to deliver a good-will message and a photograph to a Hindu monk, Swami Satyananda, director of an ashram and orphanage-school… Main asked the swami to discuss the spiritual base of the many good works carried out at the orphanage and school. Within a few moments Main knew he was in the presence of a holy man, a teacher, a man of the Spirit whose faith was alive in love and service to others. (Online source)

Did you catch that? Main meets “a Hindu monk” who is not only practicing a pagan religion but is also a Master teacher and yet Main says he “knew he was in the presence” of a “man of the Spirit.” Harris continues:

As [Main] subsequently wrote in The Gethsemani Talks many years later:

I was deeply impressed by his peacefulness and calm wisdom. He asked me if I meditated. I told him I tried to and, at his bidding, described briefly what we have come to know as the Ignatian method of meditation. He was silent for a short time and then gently remarked that his own tradition of meditation was quite different. For the Swami, the aim of meditation was the coming to awareness of the Spirit of the Universe who dwells in our hearts… in silence.

Main was so moved by the swami’s intensity and devotion that he asked him to teach him to meditate this way. The swami agreed and invited him to come to a meditation center once a week. On his first visit the swami spoke about how to meditate:

To meditate you must become silent. You must be still and you must concentrate. In our tradition we know only one way in which you can arrive at that stillness, that concentration. We use a word that we call a mantra. To meditate, what you must do is to choose this word and then repeat it, faithfully, lovingly, and continually. That is all there is to meditation. I really have nothing else to tell you. And now we will meditate. (ibid)

Theologians And Mentors Of The Emerging Church Teach Us The Main Line of Meditation

Lord willing we’ll look into further later as the point of this article is basically to introduce you to John Main because those who currently teach CSM will appeal to him as an expert witness. For now though it’s vitallty important to firmly establish for you just where it is that John Main learned his style of “Christian” mantra meditation:

For eighteen months [that] Main meditated with the swami and it was this encounter that led him to the pilgrimage of meditation and to eventually to discover the mantra tradition as taught by John Cassian. He was never to forget this experience of holy presence. Main’s own confident openness to the religions of Asia is directly attributable to this Hindu monk who had accepted him as a Christian disciple. (ibid.) 

Now I can show you that in his book The Sacred Way  (SW) Tony Jones, Emerging Church anti-theologian and National Coordinator for Emergent Village (EV), recommends Moment of Christ: The Path of Meditation (MoC) by John Main under the category of “meditation” in his suggested “Resources.” And Jones confirm for us that, “Main combined Christian teaching with Hindu meditation to form a mantra-meditation” (215, emphasis mine). I find this information to be quite interesting because these practitioners of CSM keep trying to tell people that those of us who are pointing out that Contemplative/Centering Prayer does indeed involve the borrowing of pagan practices from Eastern religions and use of a mantra are wrong to say so.

Main, another mystic monk ala Thomas Merton also happens to be one of the “classic” writers featured in a book called Spiritual Classics (SC), which is edited by no less an authority than the Guru of Contemplation Richard Foster along with Emilie Griffin. Main’s “spiritual classic” in SC is actually a section on “The Meaning of Silence” i.e. meditation from his book MoC—recommended above by EV’s Tony Jones. In the introduction we’re told that:

Dom John Main understood well the value of both silence and solitude… Always drawn to religion and the spiritual life, Main rediscovered meditation while living in the Far East… Influenced by the fifth-century writings of John Cassian, Main learned the ancient Christian discipline of the prayer of silence… In the following selection, an essay taken from his book Moments of Christ: The Path of Meditation, Father John is not just teaching us a style of praying… Silence is a path into the reality of the universe, where God is in charge and we are not,… (155, emphasis mine)

Tony Jones further informs us in his book SW that:

At the end of the 20th century, Benedictine monk John Main pioneered a Christian form of meditation that was influenced by his study with a Hindu master. He taught a form of meditation using the word maranatha (Aramaic for “Come, Lord”) as a mantra. Sitting cross-legged, the meditator chants (either aloud or silently) “ma-ra-na-tha” for 20 minutes daily. The teachings of Brother Main and others became so popular that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a letter to all Catholic bishops in 1989, entitled “Some Aspects of Christian Meditation” to guide the bishops in their leadership of churches that were using meditation (80)

But in direct opposition to this repetitive mantra of Main the Master Christ Jesus taught us:

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (Matthew 6:7)

The Reimagined Gnosticism Of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism

I’ll have more on this spiritually corrupt CSM currently infecting the evangelical camp in subsequent articles here at AM. Right now however, I wanted to make sure the reader fully understood here that both Emergent anti-theologian Tony Jones and Swami Richard Foster are well aware of, and as I have just showed you—even recommend Main’s book MoC and/or Main’s musings in antibiblical mysticism. The main point that I wish to draw to your attention again is in relation to this warped and toxic idea espoused by many in ecumenical postevangelicalism that men can be saved apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

And they end up believing this lie, sometimes known as the “wider mercy” view of the Gospel and also called “natural theology,” largely because of their heretical practice of so-called “Christian” mysticism. In his sermon “Preaching the Gospel Message (Pt. 1)” Dr. John MacArthur notes:

Perhaps the dominate myth in the evangelical church today is the myth that the kingdom of God and the glory of Christ somehow advance on the back of public favor. This is the fantasy that the path for gospel influence is paved with popular acceptance of the Christian message… Whether it’s Athens or whether it’s Rome or whether it’s Cambridge or Oxford or Harvard or Stanford or Yale or Princeton or wherever else, take all that wisdom that is outside the scripture and the revelation of the gospel and it all adds up to foolishness.

Romans 1 says, they give themselves degrees for it, “Professing themselves to be wise, they are however”—what? “Fools.” [1 Corinthians 1, v]erse 21: “For [since] in the wisdom of God, the world through its own wisdom didn’t come to know God…” God made the wisest determination. God wisely established it this way: that no one could ever come to know Him by human wisdom. Do you see that? That has tremendous implications. The only way you will ever come to know God is by divine revelation and through the Holy Spirit. You cannot come to know God by human wisdom.

That has a lot to say to this new natural theology movement where the assumption is that, by whatever degree of enlightenment the unconverted man has, he can find his way to some idea about God, which God will accept as sufficient to save him if he hasn’t heard the gospel. So, this is the final word on human wisdom: nonsense. Nonsense, when it comes to that which is eternal, cannot lead to the knowledge of God. Man, by wisdom, cannot know God… Cannot know God. (Online source)

So the reason I have been continually hammering away at this so-called “Christian” mysticism, which is actually a form of neo-pagan spirituality, is that in reality this amounts to a reimagined form of the very same Gnosticism that the ancient Church itself was battling. Evil men who ran forth claiming to be Christian and then spread their foolish teachings which said that to actually be “saved” one needed more than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These Gnostics taught that people had to become initiated into their secret “knowledge” (Greek: gnosis), and further, that all men contained “a spark of the divine” within them. For the interested reader I have covered this in more detail in The Emergent “One” and Understanding the New Spirituality: God Indwells Mankind.

But for now I will show you in John Main’s book MoC that this is exactly what he taught right in line with classic mysticism. And mysticism is itself in ludicrous lockstep with ancient Gnosticism—which, do you sense the theme here; is itself also right in line with Satan’s own statement of selfish stupidity — “I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Trying to combine proper Christian spirituality with practices borrowed from pagan religions in the East is exactly what John Cassian did and it is this same pathetic pattern of developing a so-called “Christian” form of transcendental meditation that John Main himself would later follow in.

And in the warped work of men like Dom John Main we read the root thinking behind this whole Emerging Church idea of interspiritual dialogues such as in Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, Dalai Lama and the Interspiritual Seeds of Compassion Event. Main tells us in MoC that:

Every great spiritual tradition has known that in profound stillness the human spirit begins to be aware of its own Source. In the Hindu tradition, for example, the Upanishads speak of the spirit of the One who created the universe as dwelling in our heart. The same spirit is described as the One who in silence is loving to all. In our own Christian tradition Jesus tells us of the Spirit who dwells in our heart and of the Spirit as the Spirit of Love. (76, emphasis mine)

There in about as succinct a manner as possible is the poisoned root of the postliberal Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism movement currently poisoning the more mainstream evangelical section of our Lord’s Church just the same as the original cult of liberal theology once did the mainline denominations. How many more times does one have to read these denigrations, and even outright denials, of Holy Scripture before they wake up to the fact that this whole Emergent rebellion against Sola Scriptura cannot possibly have come from God? Above Dom Main writes about: “Every great spiritual tradition.” However, an insoluble problem immediately comes emerging because there is no such thing as “great spiritual traditions” in God’s eye. The Holy Spirit has already clearly told us — the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. (1Corinthians 10:20).