This online apologetics and discernment work Apprising Ministries has been blessed of Jesus to be used as one of His “go-to” ministries in the area of the ne0-Gnostic corruption called Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM), which is now pandemic within mainstream evangelicalism through its foolish embrace of the sinfully ecumenical neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church with its quasi-universalism in a new version of Progressive Christian theology under their spiritual circus “big tent” Emergence Christianity.

You need to understand that this spurious CSM—the refried Roman Catholic mysticism “discovered” by Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster, and now perpetrated within the mainstream of evangelicalism as supposed Spiritual Formation with an able assist from his spiritual twin SBC minister Dallas Willard, was a core doctrine in the EC right from its hatching in Hell.

Dr. Gary Gilley is dead-on-target when he tells us:

Celebration of Discipline alone, not even referencing [Richard] Foster’s other writings and teachings and ministries, is a virtual encyclopedia of theological error. We would be hard pressed to find in one so-called evangelical volume such a composite of false teaching. (Online source)

One of the trends that’s developing is a neo-Reformed neo-Calvinism, which I began touching upon a while back e.g. in Confusion Concerning Calvinist Spirituality? As I said in recent posts such as Acts 29 Network And Reformed Counter Reformation Spirituality? and Acts 29 Pastor Matt Chandler On Being A Reformed Charismatic, in my estimation, there’s very good reason for concern because these people are rapidly growing in popularity and influence, particularly so within the younger sector of the Reformed Camp; blessed as they are by Dr. John Piper, who’s seen by some as a “pioneer” of this New Calvinism.[1]

Then in Spiritual Disciplines According To Martin Luther I connected some more of the dots for you concerning the Acts 29 Church Planting Network itself where you heard from Darren Patrick, its own Vice President, that they are a “neo-Reformed” section of the Emerging Church. Let me be perfectly clear: Acts 29 is most certainly not heretical in its basic theological beliefs; the concern here is the recommendation of Counter Reformation spirituality of CSM, a key component that was hidden within the Trojan Horse of the EC progressive/liberal de-formation of the Christian faith.

In Calvinist Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism? I pointed you to Mark Driscoll IS a Contemplative Proponent at From the Lighthouse blog of Lighthouse Trails Reseach (LTR); and while we wouldn’t necessarily agree with all of their conclusions, they do remind us that back in February of this year Driscoll was a featured speaker, along with CSM teacher Peter Scazzero, at the Radicalis conference put on by Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren at his Saddleback Church. LTR also informs us that:

Although Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Fellowship in Seattle Washington, is said to have denounced certain aspects of the emergent church, Driscoll is a proponent of the main element behind the emerging church – contemplative prayer. (Online source)

If you don’t know Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP), the crowning jewel of CSM, is meditation in an altered state of consciousness i.e. transcendental meditation lightly sprayed with Christian terms. LTR then goes on:

Presently, on Driscoll’s website, The Resurgence (see whois info) is an article titled “How to Practice Meditative Prayer.” The article is written by an Acts 29 (Driscoll’s network of churches) pastor, Winfield Bevins. A nearly identical article on Driscoll’s site, also by Bevins, is titled Meditative Prayer: Filling the Mind. Both articles show a drawing of a human brain. In this latter article, Bevins recognizes contemplative mystic pioneer Richard Foster:

What do we mean by meditative prayer? Is there such a thing as Christian meditation? Isn’t meditation non-Christian? According to Richard Foster, “Eastern meditation is an attempt to empty the mind. Christian meditation is an attempt to fill the mind” (Celebration of Discipline). Rather than emptying the mind we fill it with God’s word. We must not neglect a vital part of our Judeo-Christian heritage simply because other traditions use a form of meditation. (Online source)

And finally LTR brings out:

The Bevins’ reference to Richard Foster is not the only contemplative marker on Mark Driscoll’s site . In an article written by Driscoll himself, ironically titled Obedience, Driscoll tells readers to turn to Richard Foster and contemplative Gary Thomas. Driscoll states: 

If you would like to study the spiritual disciplines in greater detail … helpful are Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster, and Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas…

As for Gary Thomas, in his book Sacred Pathways (the one Driscoll recommends), Thomas tells readers to repeat a word for 20 minutes in order to still the mind. This is the basic principle in all Eastern and occultic methods. (Online source)

I previously pointed out in Who Is John Main? this form of “mantra meditation” encouraged by Thomas, and apparently also recommended by Driscoll, is traced to Dom (father) John Main (1926-1982). Main was a Roman Catholic priest and monk of the Order of Saint Benedict (OSB); he’s 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.”[2]

Earlier in John Main: Indian Swami A Holy Man Of God I showed that in his book The Sacred Way  (SW) Tony Jones, a leading progressive/liberal theologian in the Emerging Church, 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.”[3] Jones also tells is in SW:

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.[4]

Reformed Protestants Encouraging Counter Reformation Roman Catholic Mysticism

You should also know that John Main, every bit a mystic monk ala CSM Golden Buddha Thomas Merton, is one of the “classic” writers featured in a book called Spiritual Classics (SC), which is edited by no less an authority on CSM than the Guru of Contemplation Richard Foster along with Roman Catholic mystic Emilie Griffin. Main’s supposed “spiritual classic” in SC is actually a section on “The Meaning of Silence”; i.e. it’s the meditation of CCP Main teaches in his book MoC—just recommended above by Tony Jones. In the introduction to Main’s piece in SC 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,…[5]

So now you have a much better idea of what Gary Thomas, recommended by neo-Reformed New Calvinist Mark Driscoll, is leading his readers into in his book Sacred Pathways (SP). As I’ve said before, I happen to have SP and, the fact is, that chapter 9 is a veritable ode of praise for contemplatives. And below we have more reason for concern with Mark Driscoll and his emerging neo-Calvinist Acts 29 Network recommending corrupt contemplative practices of the very CSM which flowered in the anti-biblical monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism and is counter Sola Scriptura.

The first picture below is from page 93 of On Church Leadership (A Book You’ll Actually Read) by Mark Driscoll where he presents a Sample Church Membership Covenant. Notice Driscoll recommends that members of a Acts 29 church promise they will “maintain” the “practice of spiritual disciplines”; and we’ve just seen above that Driscoll himself appears to openly, and unqualifiedly, recommend people who teach contemplative spiritual disciplines of spurious CSM such as guru Richard Foster:

As I said earlier, it’s a fact that under the guise of “Spiritual Formation” these neo-pagan so-called “spiritual disciplines” have now slithered right into the heart of the visible church. One can look long and hard throughout the history of the on-going Protestant Reformation and you will not see “spiritual formation” until guru Richard Foster arrives with his book Celebration of Discipline (CoD) in 1978. And if you won’t believe me then listen to Foster himself from SPIRITUAL FORMATION: A Pastoral Letter by Richard J. Foster:

Dear Friends,

By now enough water has gone under the Christian Spiritual Formation bridge that we can give some assessment of where we have come and what yet needs to be done. When I first began writing in the field in the late 70s and early 80s the term “Spiritual Formation” was hardly known, except for highly specialized references in relation to the [Roman] Catholic orders. Today it is a rare person who has not heard the term. Seminary courses in Spiritual Formation proliferate like baby rabbits. Huge numbers are seeking to become certified as Spiritual Directors to answer the cry of multiplied thousands for spiritual direction. (Online source, emphasis mine)

The aforementioned Gilley is correct when he points out:

Medieval mysticism has managed to survive within small pockets of Roman Catholicism for centuries but has gone largely unnoticed by evangelicals. It is true that a few groups, such as the Quakers, have always kept some aspect of mysticism within range of evangelical awareness, and elements of mystical practices have actually thrived in charismatic circles right down to the ranks of Fundamentalism. But classical mysticism was virtually unknown in Evangelical circles until 1978 when Quaker minister Richard J. Foster published Celebration of Discipline, the Path to Spiritual Growth.

Hailed by Christianity Today as one of the ten best books of the twentieth century and voted by the readers of that magazine as the third most influential book after the Bible, Celebration of Discipline has blown the doors off evangelicals’ understanding of spirituality. What Foster has done, in essence, is reintroduce to the church the so-called “masters of the interior life” as he likes to call the Medieval mystics. He declares that they alone have discovered the key to true spiritual life and slowly, over the last few years, convinced multitudes that he is right. (Online source)

So the Quaker mystic Richard Foster didn’t discover anything that had been part of the proper Protestant, and Biblical, spirituality of sola Scriptura; it makes one wonder why emerging New Calvinist Mark Driscoll and his Acts 29 Network recommend Foster and his deceived disciplines. All the more curious when just the other day Driscoll would write in What Is Idolatry?:

(Online source)

Um, what? Well now, perhaps Emerging Church pastor Mark Driscoll now wants to take us into the postmodern Wonderland of Humpty Dumpty language where words are warped to mean whatever the speaker wants them to mean. That’s why, in my opinion, new Calvinism is actually a postmodern form of Calvinism; where Calvinists can claim to hold to Reformation theology, while also embracing the Counter Reformtation spirituality that Protestant Reformers like John Calvin clearly rejected. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to take a long swim upon my nice dry, warm, icy pool for a minute.


[1], accessed 7/21/10.

[2], accessed 7/21/10.

[3] Tony Jones, Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life [Grand Rapids: Zondervan/Emergent YS, 2005], 215, emphasis mine.

[4] Ibid., 80, emphasis mine.

[5] Richard Foster, Emilie Griffin, Spiritual Classics [San Francisco: Harper One, 2000], 155, emphasis mine.

HT: Discern The Time

See also: