Apprising Ministries has been researching the rejection of Sola Scriptura, in favor of highly subjective and existential Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism, within the visible church for several years now. Developing as it has been into a veritable cult of contemplative spirituality it would certainly appear that the influence of Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster continues spreading within mainstream evangelicalism, and even within Calvinist circles.
For example in an April 17, 2009 entry at the Desiring God blog of the well-respected Calvinist pastor John Piper we read:
We’re also told that in Part Three of this interview we get “Chandler’s thoughts on being a pastor, a Calvinist, and a Complementarian.” For those who don’t know Matt Chandler is lead pastor of The Village Church (TVC). That’s why as I followed up a tip from a reader I found it odd that in a search for Richard Foster in the Recommended Books of The Village Church, “that have challenged and helped us as a staff in our faith and in our ministry work”, we find his books Celebration of Discipline, Streams of Living Water, and The Challenge of the Disciplined Life.
As you can see in the AM piece “Celebration of Discipline” By Richard Foster Dr. Gary Gilley has rightly called Foster’s magnum opus Celebration of Discipline “a virtual encyclopedia of theological error.” Then we show you in Contemplating The Inner Light Of The Quakers that the logical conclusion of the Quaker belief concerning the “Inner Light” of divinity, which is allegedly present in all of mankind, runs completely counter to the Bible and to the Calvinist doctrine of sovereign election as well.
Which makes all the more peculiar the TVC staff recommendations of Foster’s Streams Of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith (SLW). I cover this further in Contemplating The Inner Light Of The Quakers, but you see, while Foster discusses his own “generous” ecumenicism ala the “generous orthodoxy” of his friend and fellow Emerging Church leader Brian McLaren, our Guru of Contemplation enlightens us that the various faith traditions allegedly flowing from Christ are now supposedly coming together into one mighty river of the Spirit.
In his fine book A Time for Departing Ray Yungen discusses this vision of a “deep conviction that…a great new thing is coming”, which Foster shares beginning on page 273 of his SLW:
Richard Foster emanates his hoped-for vision of an “all inclusive community” that he feels God is forming today. He sees this as “a great, new gathering of the people of God.” On the surface this might sound noble and sanctifying, but a deeper examination will expose elements that line up more with Alice Bailey’s vision [of the New Age] than with Jesus Christ’s. Foster prophesies:
I see a Catholic monk from the hills of Kentucky standing alongside a Baptist evangelist from the streets of Los Angeles and together offering up a sacrifice of praise. I see a people.
The only place in “the hills of Kentucky” where Catholic monks live is the Gethsemane Abbey, a Trappist monastery. This also, coincidentally, was the home base of Thomas Merton (130).
As nice as these streams sound, this prophesy also flows right against the doctrines of grace. Let me also remind you that this contemplative spirituality was originally promulgated by Roman Catholic mystic musers such as Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the spiritual Gestapo unit known as the Jesuits; Teresa of Avila, and her disciple John of the Cross, all of whom were quite decidedly opposed to the Biblical doctrines of our Lord’s Reformers.
In fact, the website Jesuits.org tells us that in “1540, St.Ignatius founded the Society of Jesus as a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church.” And at Ignatius Insight, the online magazine of the Roman Catholic publishing arm Ignatius Press, we learn:
Jesuit service encompassed a multitude of duties, preeminent among which was catechesis of the young and uninformed… As Ignatius explained in the 1539 proposal, their goal was to propagate the Faith, especially wherever the pope desired them,… Of course such a view of the Jesuits [being the shock troops of the Counter-Reformation] has some truth to it. Jesuits participated at Trent (though in a more peripheral manner) and were instrumental in implementing the decrees of the Council.
Robert Bellarmine was one of the most distinguished persons of the era with his attacks on Protestantism and his defense of Catholic theology. Toward the end of his life, Ignatius himself was more active in the fight against the Lutherans. He frequently communicated with Peter Canisius, who was on the frontlines of the conflict in Germany, about his growing awareness for this aspect of the Society’s mission. In 1550, Ignatius revised the bull that established the Jesuits, stating that the purpose of the order was now the defense and propagation of the [Roman Catholic] faith.
And so I have to wonder: Why would a Calvinist pastor and his staff be recommending to anyone these books by a highly ecumenical Quaker mystic whose whole sorry shtick is reintroducing the unsuspecting to the apostate Sola Scriptura-denying and spurious spirituality of the Counter Reformation within the medieval Roman Catholic Church?