You have abandoned your people, the house of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans. (Isaiah 2:6)
Foster Drinks Deeply From The Murky Mystical Well Of Roman Catholic Monk Merton
Apprising Ministries continues pointing out that the Contemplative/Centering Prayer, or so-called Christian meditation, of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) is really nothing more than transcendental meditation lightly sprayed with Christian terminology. This is why there’s such grave danger in the practice of this neo-Gnosticism masquerading as Spiritual Formation, which has been spreading like a spiritual cancer through the evangelical community for a few years now. And without a doubt the most prominent purveyor of this so-called “Christian” mysticism rooted in the Counter Reformation spirituality of apostate Roman Catholicism is Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster.
In his fine series called Mysticism, which I highly recommend, Dr. Gary Gilley did great job whittling down this massive subject to its most important elements. Regarding Foster’s work Gilley brings out just how deeply he was influenced by mystic Thomas Merton:
Foster cites and/or quotes Merton on at least nine separate occasions in Celebration of Discipline, yet Merton was not a Christian as far as we can tell. He was a twentieth-century Roman Catholic who had so immersed himself in Buddhism that he claimed he saw no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity and intended to become as good a Buddhist as he could.
But despite his doctrinal views and New Age leanings Foster considers Merton’s Contemplative Prayer, “A must book,” and says of Merton, “[He] has perhaps done more than any other twentieth-century figure to make the life of prayer widely known and understood.” Merton wrote, “If only [people] could see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed…. I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other.” (Online source)
The quote from Merton cited by Gilley above comes from his Conjectures Of An Guilty Bystander. In this book Merton reveals his pelagianism and clearly denies the doctrine of original sin when he says at, “the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth” (158, emphasis mine). Here’s some more information on the theology that Thomas Merton “received” as a result of his years of “Christian” transcendental meditation. The following comes from Merton’s Message off The Thomas Merton Foundation, a website favorable to this deceased heretic:
He takes people into deep places within themselves… At the core of Thomas Merton’s spiritual writings is the search for the “true self” and our need for relationship with God, other people and all of creation… He concludes that we must discover God as the center of our being to which all things tend…
Merton’s interests were prophetic,…he foresaw…the source of the problem [we face] is that man “has become alienated from his inner selfwhich is the image of God.” [The solution] requires a social conversion,… The first step in this turning is a transformation of consciousness and Thomas Merton is a preeminent guide to us in this first step…[and] a spiritual master whose influence crosses generations and religious affiliations.
Of course it would cross “religious affiliations” because there is no mention of the inherent sin nature of man; his need of being regenerated, or of the Cross of Christ as the only real solution for sin. What we have just read from a website sympathetic to Merton and his mysticism could be agreed to by virtually anyone from any spiritual background; and, this is precisely my point. This same message of a New Age spirituality, which comes through the “transformation of consciousness,” comes to all those who practice this transcendental meditation long enough to anger God until He finally abandons them to their reprobate mind (see—Romans 1:18-32).
What is happening here with men like Richard Foster, and others, who teach and practice this new spirituality is simply equivocation with words. The goal of contemplative spirituality, which is actually meditation for the “Christian” every bit as consistent as that practiced in Zen, is clearly spelled out in the following from Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience. Meditation we are told consists of any “of the various disciplines of mind and body that enable one to achieve higher states of consciousness.” And further, exactly as in Merton’s Message above, we see that “the goal toward which [meditation] is applied is the transformation of consciousness.” (355, emphasis mine)
It’s this “transformation of consciousness” that has now become a major source of concern in my work here at AM. What makes this new Emergence Christianity so very dangerous spiritually is that we have quite questionable “theologians” like Foster, Tony Jones, and engaging story-tellers like Rob Bell, molding the impressionable minds of young people who are simply not equipped to see through this non-Christian and neo-pagan spirituality. And for that matter, it seems we have very few leaders within the evangelical community itself who are capable of recognizing just how deeply the Devil has penetrated into the Church of our Lord with his Gnostic mysticism all over again.