One of the many areas of apostasy within evangelicalism that Apprising Ministries has been covering over the past two years or so is the increase of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM), along with its parallel arm of charismania, within the mainstream of the church visible.
This kind of occult experience is no longer restricted to the fringes of Christendom. Let’s take, for example, previous articles like Acts 29 Pastor Matt Chandler On Being A Reformed Charismatic and Mark Driscoll And Neo-Reformed New Calvinist Contemplative Spirituality.
Four Ways ‘New Calvinism’ is So Powerful
- Old Calvinism was fundamental or liberal and separated from or syncretized with culture. New Calvinism is missional and seeks to create and redeem culture.
- Old Calvinism fled from the cities. New Calvinism is flooding into cities.
- Old Calvinism was cessationistic and fearful of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. New Calvinism is continuationist and joyful in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
- Old Calvinism was fearful and suspicious of other Christians and burned bridges. New Calvinism loves all Christians and builds bridges between them. (source)
Leaving aside the broadbrushing of “Old Calvinism,” point number 3 is the concern here. As one who holds to the doctrines of grace, though I wouldn’t call myself a Calvinist, and being that I fully believe in the sovereignty of God, I have zero fear “of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.”
Now, you need to be aware that John Piper is a key pioneer and mentor of this postmodern form of Calvinism,2 which is an attempt to marry Counter Reformation spirituality to some parts of Reformation theology. I warn you, it’s a recipe for spiritual disaster.
As an example of one of those who frequent New Calvinist circles who’s already drifting well off track we have Francis Chan Is Wrong For Endorsing NAR Teacher Mike Bickle. It also illustrates another grave danger in charismatic and/CSM excess.
Its persistent practitioners always end up in a sappy sentimentalism that replaces the robust Christian faith. To make a long story short, they eventually receive a delusion that feels to them like “God’s love washing over me.” The result is a theology based upon feelings.
So, instead of the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura, those like Francis Chan begin to go astray as they “feel” what they think God says. No one is saying we don’t experience God; the issue is: How do we test our experiences? They must be tested by God’s Word.
I’m afraid, for more and more influential evangelicals—just as in hyper-charismatic and hyper-Pentecostal sectors—it ends up being the Bible is tested by feelings such as these are trying to read back into Scripture. As I see it, this explains why we now see evangelicals welcoming IHOP.3
All of which brings us to the upcoming Linger Conference scheduled for February 14-15, 2014. Among the speakers we find NC mentor John Piper, a well-known charismatic, and current Acts 29 president Matt Chandler, a “reformed charismatic” as he describes himself:
Since the concern I’m bringing to your attention has to do with hyper-charismatic practices, and considering what appears to be a further mainstreaming of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) within evangelicalism, the other speaker to note is Stephen Venable:
As you can see, Venable is “a missionary at” IHOP who’s also currently serving “as an instructor” at IHOP University. In addition, he’s “part of the senior leadership team of the Antioch Center for Training,” which is an extension of IHOP. The point being, Stephen Venable is as dedicated to IHOP as it gets.
It’s critical you understand that IHOP is the brainchild of New Apostolic Reformation “apostle/prophet” Mike Bickle. Space doesn’t allow a critique of Bickle, so for more information I’ll refer you to the many resources concerning Bickle and his IHOP compiled by Steve Lumley of Apostasy Watch.4
Here let me just share with you what Christian apologist Bob DeWaay discovered about the occultic origin of IHOP itself. In his commentary Mike Bickle and the International House of Prayer: The Latter Rain Redivivus DeWaay brings out that:
Bickle claims that he began his ministry through the hearing of an audible voice of God in 1983 that told him to start 24-hour prayer in the spirit of the tabernacle of David.He further claims that he erected a sign to that effect and that he himself did not even know what prayer in the spirit of the tabernacle of David was, despite that God had told him to establish it. It turns out that it is “prophetic singing prayers.”5 Once they figured out what it was, IHOP was born. (source)
No way around it; we don’t get IHOP without Mike Bickle. It’s curious that since Louie Giglio, Passion 2013, And Jesus Culture we seem to be witnessing a joining together of various youth movements. Jesus Culture is a movement which extends from the ministry of NAR wingnut Bill Johnson.
His Bethel Church is another hyper-charismatic group a la Bickle’s youth movement of his IHOP. Lord willing, I’ll uncover more of this for you in the coming days. In getting set to close this out, for now, it would appear that Stephen Venable is actually to be a highlight of this Linger Conference (LC).
Notice from the Saturday February 15th schedule below that Venable looks like he’s going to be teaching on the very namesake of the LC:
As you can see, Venable has a Special Session on “Lingering” and the LC will be featuring a “Linger Room,” which actually opens at 8am when the conference begins on Friday. So, it seems to me that this lingering as taught by Stephen Venable is going to be quite important to this LC gathering as a whole.
Let me also bring to your attention that any doubt the Linger Room is a room for “worship” is dispelled in the following from a spokesperson for the Linger Conference itself:
The Linger Room is a “Get away” space. Before and after conference hours and during meal times, there will be worship leaders in that space leading the room in worship. At other times there will be worship music played on CD. We have licensed Biblical counselors there throughout the conference and space set up for prayer. We will adhere in that space and elsewhere to our theological statement, found here: http://www.lingerconference.
If you have additional questions, please let me know. We hope you can join us in February.
I must tell you that after some 25+ years in the ministry fields of Christian apologetics, counter-cult evangelism, and Comparative Religion, I’ve never heard of this lingering. My initial guess is that we’re going to be told we should “linger in the presence of God.” Let’s turn to Venable’s Beholding Jesus to see.
Well, I think it’s odd that a search of his Articles reveals nothing on this apparently important topic of lingering. A search for linger does reveal three articles that use the word linger one time each. The one which may give us a clue as to what Venable means by lingering is The Antidote of Gospel Meditation.
Since Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP) is a part of the teaching at IHOP,6 the title above seems to hint that this lingering is going to be connected with CCP; a form of meditation in an altered state of consciousness. The fact that we’ll need a Lingering Room may also indicate the practice of “silence.”
You’ll often see practitioners of CSM and its crown jewel of CCP refer to spending time in silence and solitude. Those are code words for CCP. However, as I discussed in Origin Of Contemplative/Centering Prayer, CCP was never taught by Jesus nor will you find it in the teachings of His Apostles contained in Scripture.
With this in mind, in his aforementioned article Venable would seem to be describing spending time in Lectio Divina.7 Gary Gilley’s article Sacred Reading (Lectio Divina) will prove helpful concerning this practice of CSM that originated with apostate Roman Catholic monks, and which, is the prelude to their CCP.
Stephen Venable begins by sounding just the same as writers within the Emerging Church, as well as other contemplatives, in their attacks upon sola Scriptura as he opines, “Due to distance and dullness, our hearts seem to possess an invariable proclivity toward reducing Jesus to a mere concept.”
the danger is to have Jesus remain in our rhetoric (even impassioned rhetoric) but cease to be a devastatingly real Person whom we love and relate to. One of the surest antidotes to this threat is meditation on the Gospels.
Time and time again it is only as I return to this practice that I realize the extent to which Jesus had degenerated into a noble idea in my soul. Baffled as to how such a thing could have transpired, I remember once more the dire necessity of grounding my life, my devotion, and my ministry in His life and His words. (source)
Now, I don’t know Stephen Venable personally so I can’t tell you exactly what he means by “rhetoric” or “meditation on the Gospels.” However, I can tell you that even the most out there practitioners of CSM who decry sola Scriptura, e.g. think Rob Bell, have written virtually the same things.
Such as these refer to those of us Bible-believing Christians who stay away from CSM as being stuck “in our rhetoric,” as in we take the Bible too literally, i.e. are “impassioned” about God’s Word. And for them, “meditation on the Gospels” is to use mysticism in order to move beyond the mere words of Scripture.
In the end, do I think John Piper himself will be involved in practices of CSM/CCP at this upcoming LC. No, I actually don’t. However, we have seen Beth Moore And John Piper Lead Lectio Divina-Lite At Passion 2012, and on New Year’s Eve of 2011 Piper’s Desiring God blog recommended Lectio Divina.8
Then there’s NC leader Mark Driscoll himself recommending books for NCs by Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster and Gary Thomas who actively promote CSM/CCP. The below concerning so-called spiritual disciplines associated with CSM comes from Driscoll’s own 2008 post Obedience:
The video clip to follow was published at The International House of Prayer You Tube account 11/22/13. Stephen Venable’s discussing his A Theology of 24-7 Worship class at IHOP U and informs us that it’s really an extension of the IHOP youth “prayer movement” God is supposedly raising up:
- JOHN PIPER TO PREACH WITH HILLSONG PASTRIX CHRISTINE CAINE AT PASSION 2014
- DR. MICHAEL BROWN SAYS FRIENDS MIKE BICKLE AND LOU ENGLE “TRUE MEN OF GOD”
- JESUS CULTURE’S KIM WALKER-SMITH’S ALLEGED ENCOUNTER WITH GOD THE FATHER AND JESUS CHRIST
- http://bit.ly/1daoGZn, accessed 1/16/14. ↩
- http://ti.me/19Rk4r4, accessed 1/16/14. ↩
- e.g. consider Chan’s recent time at IHOP where he explains his rationale: FRANCIS CHAN DECLARES “I LOVE MIKE BICKLE” OF IHOP ↩
- You’ll find them here: http://bit.ly/JJSncx, accessed 1/16/14. ↩
- Mike Bickle audio message #2; given March 6, 2008. ↩
- http://bit.ly/1dUmWVb, accessed 1/16/14. ↩
- As I pointed out in DANGERS OF CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY/MYSTICISM: LECTIO DIVINA Lectio Divina means “sacred reading” and is considered “the ladder by which the monks ascend from earth to heaven.” It is comprised of four steps with the first three preparing one for the final step which is CCP. ↩
- That DG post was later amended: DESIRING GOD PULLS LECTIO DIVINA ENDORSEMENT ↩