The Word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the Word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!
Your prophets, O Israel, are like jackals among ruins. You have not gone up to the breaks in the wall to repair it for the house of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the Day of the LORD. Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. They say, “The LORD declares,” when the LORD has not sent them; yet they expect their words to be fulfilled. (Ezekiel 13:1-6)
Teaching From “the Central Hinge On The Door To God’s New Era” Just Disappears
As I mentioned in the Apprising Ministries article Evangelical Rip Van Winkles Employ Quaker Mystic Richard Foster For Bedtime Fables with things being the way they are, in whatever time I may have left, I’m going a little Emerging Church on you by beginning to “unpack” some things which concern Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster. I have been investigating mysticism for a couple of years now, at no little expense of my own, studying from primary sources within a number of different religious persuations.
AM has also previously pointed out that by now it ought to be quite obvious evangelicalism is deep into her sick lust affair with the repackaged so-called “Christian” mysticism of Foster who is hands down the leading proponent of spiritually corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM). And this neo-Gnosticism with its Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP) actually flowered in the antibiblical monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism but has now slithered its way deep into evangelicalism from its den in the Emergent Church.
Now some ask: Why must you use those kinds of descriptors? Can’t you just leave out terms e.g. like “Living Spiritual Teacher” and/or “Quaker mystic”? Of course I could; and the few writing on the subject of contemplative spirituality, contemplative prayer, and the like do leave them out. Unfortunately people aren’t listening to them either. This even though they essentially use the typical, safe and accepted, apologetic I’ve referred to before as a “plus/minus” approach.
You’ve seen it many times, one begins pointing a few positive things on a given subject, followed by many negative things, and then the foregone conclusion said subject cannot be “recommended.” Let me say, there is most definitely a place for this kind of non-polemic research, absolutely. However, due to the lateness of the hour I simply skip the often patronizing step one. At the outset here I’ll simply say, if you really do want to know the truth concerning these issues related to Richard Foster then make the time to actually check out the sources and links within.
If not, then you just rest assured that the rains of apostasy have softened up the sand of what’s passing for Christianity today; and no doubt your head will slide right in with no effort. However, in the case of Richard Foster, the absolute facts are: 1) Foster actually is a Quaker; 2) Quakerism is itself rooted in mysticism, and 3) Foster’s “Christian” message is so convoluted that it is considered compatible with, and he is himself listed in, what is known as the Living Spiritual Teachers Project along side such spiritual fools as “Progressive Christian” Marcus Borg, CSM Guru Thomas Keating, Deepak Chopra, The Dalai Lama, Ram Dass, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Marianne Williamson.
I’d say the above really ought to raise a flag of the deepest scarlet; um, but unfortunately for the average evangelical, it doesn’t. So, along this dead end track I remind you again of the following written in praise for Foster’s 1978 magum opus Celebration of Discipline (CoD), which Dr. Gary Gilley labeled astutely an encylopedia of theological error. First, Southern Baptist minister Dallas Willard, who used to attend a Quaker church where Foster was pastor and is quite literally Foster’s twin spiritually i.e. teaches the SAME things. In the 25th Anniversary edition of CoD Willard writes:
[it] has quietly asserted itself in the lives of multitudes around the globe, and has taken its place as a guide to the uplands of the spiritual life for the late twentieth century… If you wish to know in your self the reality of the gracious life of God seen in the Bible, you may find no better counselor than Richard Foster. (209, 210, emphasis mine)
C. Peter Wagner of Fuller Theological Cesspool Seminary and one of the leading false prophets of the man-centered Church Growth Movement then explains:
Richard Foster wrote Celebration of Discipline at the right time, and many have indeed been calling it a classic…the late 1970’s [was] when God was just beginning to move the Church in America and in other parts of the world into a new era of heightened spirituality…. Richard Foster was one of the first to hear what the Spirit was saying to the churches and to let the rest of the world know what he was hearing through Celebration of Discipline. The book was the central hinge on the door to God’s new era. (208, emphasis mine)
Charismatic leader John Wimber who founded the Association of Vineyard Churches gushes with praise as he enthusiatically states:
In 1978 Richard Foster’s first book, Celebration of Disciplines, was published with little fanfare…sales were sluggish… Few marketing experts thought…[the] book…would sell…the experts were wrong. The first few readers of Celebration of Discipline began spreading the word; the true door to liberation in Christ is the spiritual disciplines. Foster, reflecting on his Quaker heritage, writes about an inner life of piety and self-restraint that is both attainable and desireable. (210, emphasis mine)
CSM pastor-teacher-author Eugene Peterson brings out the cultic perspective of the growing camp of Foster-ites when he informs us:
Like a child exporing the attic of an old house on a rainy day, discovering a trunk full of treasure and then calling all his brothers and sisters to share the find, Richard Foster has “found” the spiritual disciplines that the modern world stored away and forgot, and has exitedly called us back to celebrate them. For they are, as he shows us, the instruments of joy, the way into mature Christian spirituality and abundant life. (206, emphasis mine)
Then Dr. J.P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy for Biola, tells us in his 2007 book Kingdom Triangle that among the four books he would “invest” himself in “absorbing” for his own “spiritual formation” is “Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline [which] has earned the title of a contemporary classic” (157). And finally Reformed theologian J.I. Packer says in the foreword of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney, “Ever since Richard Foster rang the bell with his Celebration of Discipline (1978), discussing the various disciplines has become a staple element of conservative Christian in-talk in North America. This is a happy thing” (9, emphasis mine).
So First You See It; Then Poof! Now You Don’t…
As I was researching Richard Foster’s teachings on meditation a while back, in my personal copy of the 1978 edition of Celebration of Discipline, I discovered the section following below. Remember now, Dr. Packer has just told us it was because of this book that “discussing the various disciplines has become a staple element of conservative Christian in-talk in North America,” which Packer also believes is such “a happy thing.” Yes indeed, what you’re about to read sure does sound like someone who is *ahem* happy alright. Let me also note that in later editions this astral travel-lite went into a footnote and now in my 1998 edition the below section is gone completely.
People have asked, “Then why bring this up again; Foster removed it from his book.” Oops, wrong question; the correct question is: Why was this kind of foolishness ever even in his writings to begin with? Answer: Because this is all part of his spurious CCP; that’s why:
A fourth form of meditation has as its objective to bring you into a deep inner communion with the Father where you look at Him and He looks at you. In your imagination, picture yourself walking along a lovely forest path. Take your time, allowing the blaring noise of our modern megalopolis to be overtaken by the sound of rustling leaves and cool forest streams. After observing yourself for a bit, take the perspective of one walking, rather than the one observed. Try to feel the breeze upon your face as if it were gently blowing away all anxiety. Stop along the way to ponder the beauty of flowers and birds. When you are able to experience the scene with all your senses, the path breaks onto a lovely grassy knoll. Walk out into the lush large meadow for a time, lie down on your back staring up at blue sky and white clouds. Enjoy the sights and smells. Thank the Lord for the beauty.
After awhile there is a deep yearning within to go into the upper regions beyond the clouds. In your imagination allow your spiritual body, shining with light, to rise out of your physical body. Look back so that you can see yourself lying in the grass and reassure your body that you will return momentarily. Imagine your spiritual self, alive and vibrant, rising up through the clouds and into the stratosphere. Observe your physical body, the knoll, and the forest shrink as you leave the earth. Go deeper and deeper into outer space until there is nothing except the warm presence of the eternal Creator. Rest in His presence. Listen quietly, anticipating the unanticipated. Note carefully any instruction given. With time and experience you will be able to distin-(27)guish readily between mere human thought that may bubble up to the conscious mind and the True Spirit which inwardly moves upon the heart. Do not be surprised if the instruction is terribly practical and not in the least what you thought of as “spiritual.” Do not be disappointed if no words come: Like good friends, you are silently enjoying the company of each other. When it is time for you to leave, audibly thank the Lord for His goodness and return to the meadow. Walk joyfully back along the path until you return home full of new life and energy.” (28)
[footnote * Another very enjoyable meditation entitled “pull the plugs” has the same purpose in mind and is described by Joy Kimmel in Chapter One of her book Steps to Prayer Power published by Abington Press. I have used this meditation numerous times with real profit.]
And in closing, here’s a little something for Emergent Church pastor Doug Pagitt; uh-oh, it looks like “Christian” Roshi Richard Foster, a key mentor of the Emerging Church along with Dallas Willard, is a “Platonic dualist” because he wrote, “In your imagination allow your spiritual body, shining with light, to rise out of your physical body. Look back so that you can see yourself lying in the grass and reassure your body that you will return momentarily.” Hmm, I do believe Pagitt would now say something along the lines of, “Wow. wow. wow. Just wow.”