By Ken Silva pastor-teacher on Nov 5, 2011 in AM Missives, Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism, Current Issues, Dallas Willard, Emergence Christianity, Emergent Church, Features, Richard Foster, Southern Baptist Convention, Spiritual Formation, Youth Ministry
In earlier Apprising Ministries articles like and Christian Soldiers Standing Up For Jesus? and the semi-satirical Recipe For Spiritual Disaster I’ve been trying to bring to your attention how a Rodney King theology of, “Can’t we all just get along” is serving to cripple the witness of the church visible.
A major factor contributing to this is the spread of Counter Reformation spirituality and Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) ala gurus Dallas Willard and his spiritual twin Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster.
You need to realize that it’s even slithered deeply into the mainstream of evangelicalism as you can see e.g. in Gospel Coalition Contributor Mike Cosper Defends Retreat With Roman Catholics. CSM is not a neutral practice; know this, my research shows that once someone begins dabbling in this they almost immediately begin to drift away from proper Biblical doctrine.
The following quote is from Richard Foster — Celebration Of Deception Evangelical Mysticism, an important Critcal Issues Commentary article by Christian apologist Bob DeWaay. It also highlights another aspect of the rancid fruit of CSM; a growing rebellion within evanjellyfish against Sola Scriptura. With this article DeWaay sends a clear Biblical warning concerning a core teaching of spurious CSM.
Foster’s musings are really rooted in classic mysticism and actually comprise a large part of the faulty foundation of the deformation of the faith originally espoused in the evangelical camp by the Emerging Church aka the Emergent Church. We’re now beginning to experience the price paid when leaders in mainstream churches turned their younger sectors over to wolves like Rob Bell with his Love Wins mythology.
And there’s no excuse; for example, two years ago I warned you that Rick Warren Now Openly Promoting Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism as he brought Protholic CSM guru Peter Scazzero in to the first Radicalis conference. Sadly however, as you can see in John Piper, Rick Warren & Foster-Willardism and Tim Keller And Contemplative Spirituality CSM has now infected the Reformed community.
Now there’s virtually no place left in the visible church where one can escape the ecumenical effects of the divination of CSM. Listen carefully; because I tell you in the Lord that Bob DeWaay is dead-on-target as he explains to you:
In February 2008, Christianity Today ran a glowing cover story about Evangelicalism’s recent embrace of medieval Roman Catholic mysticism entitled The Future lies in the Past… The article views Foster as one who continues to guide the movement… Foster’s “journey inward” is unbiblical and dangerous. I will show [in this article] that most of the spiritual disciplines that he calls “means of grace” are no means of grace at all—but a means of putting oneself under spiritual deception.
The Journey Inward
The Bible nowhere describes an inward journey to explore the realm of the spirit. God chose to reveal the truth about spiritual reality through His ordained, Spirit-inspired, biblical writers. What is spiritual and not revealed by God is of the occult and, therefore, forbidden. We have discussed this in many articles and have produced DVD seminars on the topic. But the concept of sola scriptura is totally lost on mystics such as Richard Foster. They, like the enthusiasts that Calvin and Luther warned against, believe they can gain valid and useful knowledge of spiritual things through direct, personal inspiration. Foster describes the idea of the disciplines that are the topic of his book: “The classical Disciplines of the spiritual life call us to move beyond surface living into the depths. They invite us to explore the inner caverns of the spiritual realm.”
So Foster has conceptually repudiated sola scriptura on page one to replace it with a journey inward to explore the realm of spirits. Something must have been seriously amiss in evangelicalism already in 1978 to render this book a bestseller! It ought to have been repudiated on the spot. In a footnote to that statement Foster writes, “In one form or another all of the devotional masters have affirmed the necessity of the Disciplines” (Foster: 1). The devotional “masters,” by the way, are mostly Roman Catholics who never were committed to the principle of sola scriptura.
It is not surprising that they looked for spirituality through experimentation. But as an “inner light” Quaker, Foster never was committed to sola scriptura either. Forgetting that the Bible forbids divination, Foster explains what he is after: [W]e must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation. In their writings, all of the masters of meditation strive to awaken us to the fact that the universe is much larger than we know, that there are vast unexplored inner regions that are just as real as the physical world we know so well. . . . They call us to the adventure, to be pioneers in this frontier of the Spirit. (Foster: 13)
Realizing that his readers would likely take this as an endorsement of Eastern religions, he makes a disclaimer that it is not Transcendental Meditation (TM) or something of that ilk: “Eastern meditation is an attempt to empty the mind; Christian meditation is an attempt to empty the mind in order to fill it” (Foster: 15). But what Foster wishes us to fill our minds with are personal revelations from the spirit realm that we naively are to think are the voice of God. This sort of meditation is not meditating on what God has said, but uses a technique to explore the spirit world. In other words, it is divination. (Online source)