“But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.” (Psalm 81:11-12)
Contemplative Spirituality In Evangelicalism
This online apologetics and discernment work Apprising Ministries has been documenting for you how doctrinal lines continue to be erased with great rapidity in what’s becoming The Ecumenical Church Of Deceit (ECoD). I’ve already warned you that evanjellyfish is only just beginning to pay a heavy price for its foolish embrace of the sinfully ecumenial Emerging Church aka Emergent Church—which has now grown into a full-blown neo-liberal cult operating within its walls. You need to know that a key core doctrine for these snakes—designed to blow up Sola Scriptura—is corrupt Counter Reformation Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM), which incontrovertibly flowered within long apostate Roman Catholicism.
Seriously, if you actually want to understand how the church visible has become so murky and muddied then it’s also important for you to realize that the EC was a Trojan Horse from which enemy forces unloaded this spurious CSM ala Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster, perpetrated within the mainstream of evangelicalism as supposed Spiritual Formation with an able assist from his spiritual twin SBC minister Dallas Willard. You only have to look at recent posts like Staff Of Saddleback Church Recommend Mystic Henri Nouwen, Tim Keller And Contemplative Pastrix Adele Calhoun, Christian Broadcasting Network Peddling Contemplative Spirituality, and Priscilla Shirer Promoting Contemplative/Centering Prayer to see this centered on the self lunacy in the Lord’s Name has now penetrated virtually every sector of *cough* Protestant evangelicalism.
has rooted herself with Sojourners magazine and ministry. She has worked as a peace organizer, intern director, community pastor, poetry editor, and, currently, as an associate editor of Sojourners magazine. She writes a monthly column for Sojourners on spirituality and social justice…
Raised in radical Catholic communities heavily influenced by Franciscans and the Catholic Worker movement, she served for nine years on the pastoral team for Sojourners Community Church; five as its co-pastor. (Online source)
Over at her personal website Berger further informs us, “I am an award-winning religion journalist, author, public speaker, poet, and [Roman] Catholic who specializes in writing about spirituality and art, social justice, war and peace.” Our other teacher for our little lectio divina lesson is Web Editor Jeannie Choi who, though raised in San Diego:
the masochist in her decided she needed to subject herself to more bad weather, and so she moved to Wheaton, Ill., to study American church history at Wheaton College…finally enter[ing] the working world as an editor at Outreach Magazine and youth pastor at Temecula Calvary Korean Church…[later] God called her to Sojourners in Washington, D.C. (Online source)
Now we consider that Reverend Jim Wallis Practices Corrupt Contemplative Spirituality, as well as his being a fellow Red Letter Christian (RLC) with two-thirds of the unholy trinity of the Emerging Church; EC guru Brian McLaren and Tony Jones, heretical “theologian in residence” at the Emergent Solomon’s Porch church of the third member, equally heretical universalist pastor Doug Pagitt. Add to this friendship with another RLC, Living Spiritual Teacher and Franciscan Roman Catholic mystic Richard Rohr—Franciscans are as contemplative a bunch as they come—along with the fact that Wallis himself also adhere’s to the new postmodern form of “big tent” Progressive Christianity—a Liberalism 2.0—sometimes referred to by these rebels against the final authority of God’s Word as Emergence Christianity, and it comes as no real surprise at all that Wallis et al practice this kind of spurious CSM.
The brief intro for these videos below, courtesy of SojoTube, tells us:
Description: A how-to video on simple contemplative prayer practices that anyone can adopt into their own worship habits.
As our contemplative former pastrixes instruct us first, the videos are much more about the CSM practice known as Lectio Divina, which I showed you in Dr. Gary Gilley On Lectio Divina is Latin for “holy reading.” Secondly, along the way I’ll also have to clear up some revisionist history, and fanciful Bible-twisting, so common with self-centered mystics who love to use allegory [read: make stuff up] to bend and shape the Bible like Gumby. I’ve told you before that the crown jewel of CSM is a form of meditation in an altered state of consciousness known as Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP); i.e. transcendental meditation lightly sprayed with Christian terminology. After her introduction of instructors in the first video Berger tells us they’re going to “talk a little bit about contemplative prayer, and to use Psalm 46:10 — Be still and know that I am God, as an intro to contemplative prayer.
The Bible Knows Nothing Of Mindless Meditation In Some Stupefied Silence
I’ve covered this more in depth in Does Psalm 46:10 Teach Contemplative/Centering Prayer? so suffice here to say that this verse has nothing at all to do with the subject of prayer period. Taken in the context of this Psalm, which is an exclaimation of praise for the glorious absolute sovereignty of the LORD God Almighty, we have a reminder here that those who belong to Him should “cease striving”; stop worrying, “be still,” as in resting quietly without fear—in any kind of situation—because the LORD is your God. So you see, we’re already off-track by the time Berger asks Choi about her experience with contemplative prayer; however, her answer’s vindication for the online apologetics and discernment work Lighthouse Trails Research—a leading ministry exposing CSM—who’ve taken a lot of flak for saying things like Wheaton College was promoting contemplative spirituality.
Below is an excerpt from the March 2006 LTR Newsletter:
What Choi tells us confirms the above as she explains that she didn’t really hear about CSM until she “got to grad school.” Choi continues:
I did a program at Wheaton…it wasn’t until a professor of mine kind of sat and taught us, ah, some simple ways to do contemplative practice that I actually had personal experiences with it myself.
Very nice, Choi had never been involved with spurious CSM until a professor at Wheaton College (WC) taught her these practices of Counter Reformation (hello) spirituality. The WC Statement of Faith says it’s the Protestant Church Reformers:
Welcome to the postmodern Wonderland of Humpty Dumpty language where anti-sola Scriptura romanticized Roman Catholic mysticism is also compatable with Protestant evangelicalism even though said Reformers rejected it. Next our guru Berger barfs the standard party line of people involved with CSM, “what I have understood is that contemplative practices, and [contemplative] prayer styles, have always been part of Christian tradition.” Apparently these contemplative folks hope this myth will finally become true if they repeat it enough; but as I showed you in Origin Of Contemplative/Centering Prayer, the truth is even progessive Christian theologian Tony Jones has revealed:
“Like the Jesus Prayer, Centering Prayer grew out of the reflections and writings of the Desert Fathers. John Cassian (c.360-c.430) came from the West and made a pilgrimage to the desert to learn the ways of contemplative prayer …
A couple of quick things here: 1) you can see that the words centering and contemplative are used interchangably for this meditation in an altered state of consciousness; and 2) one of the most revered Golden Buddhas of contemplative spirituality is the Roman Catholic mystic monk Thomas Merton (1915-1968). Merton’s devotion to the practices of CSM, with its mind-numbing meditation of CCP, had him so whacked spiritually, that by the time he was tragically electrocuted he was far more like the Buddha than the Christ; you can see his nauseating idolatry for yourself from his own diary in Thomas Merton And The Buddhas. Having said that, Merton also confirms what Jones just told us when he writes:
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.
However, these “solitaries” moved out away from the Christian community and into the desrts of Egypt in the third century; having long ago gone through revisionist history, these hermits are now known as the desert fathers and mothers. What this tells us is that guru Berber is mistaken because contemplative practice/prayer has not at all “always been part of the Christian tradition”; in other words, Jesus did not practice or teach CSM nor did His Apostles. Christian researcher Ray Yungen is correct in what he tells us below concerning these desert models for later antibiblical monastic traditions that would fester within the church visible eventually leading to the Roman Catholic Church:
The contemplative movement traces its roots back to these monks. They were the ones who first promoted the mantra as a prayer tool. One meditation scholar made this connection when he said:
The meditation practices and rules for living of these earliest Christian monks bear strong similarity to those of their Hindu and Buddhist renunciate brethren several kingdoms to the East … the meditative techniques they adopted for finding their God suggest either a borrowing from the East or a spontaneous rediscovery.
Then the Roman Catholic Berber shares a skewed view of the Protestant Reformation as she continues spinning her yarn:
especially during the Reformation, when there was, ah, desire to sort of—by Luther and the whole Protestant Reformation—there was a desire to get rid of the things that were deemed “Catholic”; then part of what happened was the church sort of lost, um, a lot. There were some things that needed to be gotten rid of, and some things that needed to be kept; and the one thing I noticed is that—certainly in the Protestant tradition—um, there was a loss of alot of this contemplative, inner, life.
Contemplative Spirituality Is Mysticism Attacking The Final Authority Of Holy Scripture
No, the Protestant Reformation centered around the Gospel and the fact that these contemplative practices had so corrupted the theology of the Roman Catholic Church she became so apostate she would anathematize the very Gospel of Jesus Christ itself; therefore, the Church of Rome was no longer part of the holy and apostolic catholic (Greek: katholikos, means universal) church of the ancient Creeds. As I’ve shown you above guru Berber is wrong that there was ever any of “this contemplative, inner, life” in the sense she’s speaking of. Let us not wrestle with the snake here; no one is saying the life of the Christian isn’t “spiritual.” What we are saying was put well by Bob DeWaay, pastor of Twin City Fellowship who also heads their apologetics outreach Critical Issues Commentary, when he pointed out that Reformers like:
Luther believed in means of grace, [which] God has provided all true believers that they might grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. The difference is that means of grace are what God has provided for all Christians for all ages and they are determined by God, not man. These are revealed in the Bible. Spiritual disciplines are man-made, amorphous, and not revealed in the Bible. (Online source)
Next Berger tells us that in apostate Roman Catholicism “some of the contemplative life continued on in the experience of celebrating Mass”; she is correct, and this unbiblical re-sacrificing of Christ—over and over again—is further fetid fruit of mysticism. Guru Berger then says that CSM was “carried on in the monastic traditions”; which we would expect because CSM finds its development within those monastic traditions in the first place. What she says next though is, not only a recipe for spiritual disaster, it provides us another vivid example of just how far the Reformation has been reversed within mainstream evangelicalism:
So now there’s a chance, I think we see a coming together, both in Protestant evangelicals—and even Catholics—wanting to return to that, sort of, deep experience of a contemplative understanding of God.
But it was this so-called “deep experience” of CSM practices, with its “contemplative understanding of God,” that would end up driving the Roman Catholic Church over the spiritual cliff into apostasy in the first place; it’s ludicrous to think God wants His church visible to return to approaches to Christian spirituality that are counter to the means of grace expressed by the principle of Reformation theology known as sola Scriptura. As guru Berber asks Choi “what kind of contemplative practice” she was taught “at Wheaton,” her answer is rather illuminating:
there was one professor who, ah, taught us a method of lectio divina. Which um, we participated by him providing, providing to us certain passages from the Bible; and we would get into groups of four or five, and we’d pass the verse around, and each of us would read it out loud. Um, and it wa interesting because people emphasized different words, and different segments, different phrases, touched each of us in different ways; and so, just to meditate on those words as we were reading them, um, it was really incredible.
And it was great to be able to view the Bible as um—not something that I need to necessarily extrapolate meaning out of—but to just find meaning in hearing the words being read aloud. Ah, and therefore, the reading of the passages became worship, rather than a tool for worship.
You’ll probably notice the irrational philosphy underlying this postmodern version of mysticism; we don’t necessarily have to extrapolate “meaning” out of the Bible, rather we, ah-well, “just find meaning” doing lectio divina. Huh? Okay, so now we’re told that with lectio “the passages became worship, rather than a tool for worship.” But wait a minute, the progressive liberal emerging types often accuse those of us who adhere to sola Scriptura of worshipping the Bible; um, isn’t that what Jeanni Choi herself just described we are to do in lectio? O, but I almost forgot; you see, the nifty thing about the postmodern playground is that each of us can have our own synthetic worldview where we embrace paradox. Postmoderns ignore the logical Law of Non-Contradiction; so now we can wrongly accuse someone like me of worshipping the Bible, while we ourselves are *ahem* actually worshipping the Bible.
At about 3:18 into the first video guru Berber decides since the two of them are in “the Sojourners prayer room, where we gather for noon prayer” they may as well practice lectio divina for our instruction. She mentions this is a “fixed hour of prayer” in that this ritual is normally done for an hour at a specific time each day. Berber tells us “the way that the monks do it is that they set aside a particular time and a particular place.” And this is supposed to impress us? The monks do it; yeah, so what. Here’s what a former monk thought of these kinds of rituals:
Idolatry is all manner of seeming holiness and worshipping, let these counterfeit spiritualities shine outwardly as glorious and fair as they may; in a word, all manner of devotion in those that we would serve God without Christ the Mediator, his Word and command. In popedom it was held a work of the greatest sanctity for the monks to sit in their cells and meditate of God, [solitude] and of his wonderful works; to be kindled with zeal, kneeling on their knees, praying, and having their imaginary contemplations of celestial objects, with such supposed devotion, that they wept for joy. In these their conceits, they banished all desires and thoughts of women, and what else is temporal and evanescent. They seemed to meditate only of God, and of his wonderful works.
Yet all these seeming holy actions of devotion, which the wit and wisdom of man holds to be angelical sanctity, are nothing else but works of the flesh. All manner of religion, where people serve God without his Word and command, is simply idolatry, and the more holy and spiritual such a religion seems, the more hurtful and venomous it is; for it leads people away from the faith of Christ, and makes them rely and depend upon their own strength, works, and righteousness. In like manner, all kinds of orders of monks, fasts, prayers, hairy shirts, the austerities of the Capuchins, who in popedome are held to be the most holy of all, are mere works of the flesh; for the monks hold they are holy, and shall be saved, not through Christ, whom they view as a severe and angry judge, but through the rules of their order. (Tabletalk, 1626 AD)
Hmm, seems Martin Luther, who would have forgotten more about spiritual monk-ee business than guru Berber will ever know, took a rather dim view of pious acts trying to perfect sinful flesh; better we trust Christ to do this for us through His prescribed means of grace. Sadly though, so-called monks have been romanticized and—just as it was within the medieval Roman Catholic Church—today they are being revered as men more “holy” than the rest. It’s unfortunate more people don’t realize that down through the centuries these messed up mystic monastic traditions would produce the warped theology of the Roman Catholic Church in the first place; and it’s asinine to think returning to their ascetic pietism with their so-called spiritual disciplines is anything other than ignoring this — For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).
This brings us up to 5:26 in the first video where guru Berber then leads us into a “prayer” time preparatory to our monk-ee time lectio lesson. After a segment of the video that looks like it’s straight out of Deepak Chopra—what; you don’t think that’s a fair comparison? Wait a minute, let’s back up the guilt-by-association wagon; you’d better think again because, as I showed you in Jim Wallis Says Your Salvation Isn’t Yours, this CSM is part of the new postmodern Progressive Christianity—a Liberalism 2.0—that people like progressive Christian theologian Philip Clayton and his friend uber-liberal theologian Harvey Cox are cobbling together. Of the latest book by Cox Jim Wallis raves:
Cox brings the eye of an historian and the heart of a theologian to explain where we’ve come from and where we’re going. The Future of Faith is an essential guide to that future.
—Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners and author of The Great Awakening
Well, here’s what pantheist mystic of New Spirituality Deepak Chopra says of the same book:
Harvey Cox has been a voice of both reason and faith in our cynical times. Now, he offers a fresh vision for the resurrection of a new global Christianity that will restore our faith both in ourselves and in the divine.
—Deepak Chopra, author of Jesus: A Story of Enlightenment
Did you catch that; a new global Christianity that can be our faith, now through the transformation that takes place as we practice CSM, everybody’s in; no matter what you believe. So don’t worry; be sappy, as in silly centered of the self sentimentality. This brings us to 8:25 where guru Berber tells us lectio divina is also called “feasting on the Word.” She explains there are “four parts to it,” and since it’s covered in more depth in the aforementioned Dr. Gary Gilley On Lectio Divina, here I’ll just tell you they are:
Now there are those who try and tell you that lectio divina doesn’t involve the so-called “Christian” meditation in an altered state of consciousness i.e. the Contemplative/Centering Prayer I mentioned earlier; but they are wrong. No less an authority than the late Roman Catholic monk and supposed “Spiritual Master” M. Basil Pennington, a fellow Trappist with his good friend Thomas Merton, explains in his book Lectio Divina:
For the past twenty-five years we have been sharing Centering Prayer in all parts of the world. In all our prayer workshops we have always included lectio. For the monk and nun, lectio and contemplation, Centering Prayer, are all part of one reality.
As guru Berber talks about the questions we’re supposed to ask while doing our lectio divina, beginning at 8:53, you’ll see that the typical evangelical Bible study where the foolish question is asked, “What does that verse mean to you?” has always been right in line with lectio anyway:
There are four questions associated with each part. So with the Lectio—the Reading—you ask the question, “What does the Scripture say?” And with the Meditation you say—you ask the question, “What does the Scripture say to me?” And then, with the Oratio—or Prayer part—um, (pause) you, you ask the question, “What do I want to say to God; about this reading?” And then, with the Contemplatio—or the Contemplation part—um, you ask God to help this Scripture take root in, in, your life; so that you can act.
This now brings us through the first video and sets the record straight concerning the myths endemic in guru Berger’s ode to CSM. The second video really doesn’t need any additional commentary, as left to stand on its own, it really does provide us with a disgusting demonstration of wannabe nuns with their Protestant version of lectio divina-lite; all of which amptly demonstrates the futility of reading the Bible backward toward the self. Lectio divina and practices of CSM; the wise person will just say no.
Sojourners editors Rose and Jeannie demonstrate contemplative prayer practices #1
Sojourners editors Rose and Jeannie demonstrate contemplative prayer #2
 http://rosemarieberger.com/about/, accessed 9/18/10.
 Tony Jones, The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005], 70, emphasis mine.
 Thomas Merton, Spiritual Direction & Meditation [Collegeville: The Liturgical Press], 11, emphasis mine.
 Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing 2nd. ed. [Eureka: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2006] , 42.
 Harvey Cox, The Future Of Faith [New York: HarperOne, 2010], back cover.
 M.Basil Pennington, Lectio Divina: Renewing the Ancient Practice of Praying the Scriptures [New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1998] , ix.