As I begin this piece, let me first touch upon what I brought up in Latest Concerning Apprising Ministries. We do greatly appreciate those of you who have been praying about my ongoing health issues. If He should sustain me, I have every intention to continue trying to trust God through this difficult time. My plan is to go ahead researching and writing as health allows on a given day.
We also wish to thank those who have been sacrificing to send financial support as well; it has helped us with monthly expenses. However, at the same time, our prayer remains that the Lord will raise up a few people and/or churches whom He’s given the substantial financial resources, along with the gift of contributing in generosity (cf. Romans 12:6-8), to help us begin working on wiping out the $150,000 debt we’re currently under.
In any event, we still feel strongly led that God indeed has more plans for me to keep carrying on as I help pioneer this new mission field of online apologetics and discernment ministry here with Apprising Ministries. Sadly, we do live in a time where the heart of professing Christendom has degenerated into widespread apostasy.
A reason for this is the proliferation of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM)—along with its parallel track of hyper-charismatic excesses (i.e. charismania)—that is currently slithering throughout the entire mainstream of evangelicalism, which I warned you about a while back in On Contemplative Spirituality and Charismania.
Precept Ministries International was raised up by God for the sole purpose of establishing people in God’s Word to produce reverence for Him. It serves as an arm of the church without respect to denomination. God has enabled Precept to reach across denominational lines without compromising the truths of His inerrant Word. (source)
You might also remember my earlier piece Kay Arthur of Precept Ministries International and the Unchanged and Unchanging Neil Anderson as well. What is of concern here is the contemplative language used as Arthur wants you to Become Who You Were Designed to Be—Being Still and Knowing God.2
Using an incorrect interpretation of Psalm 46:10 a la teachers of corrupt CSM she tells us to:
It’s important for you to understand that Kay Arthur is firmly within the ostensibly conservative evangelical camp. However, phrases like learning “The Art of Being Still” sound like something we’d hear from gurus of CSM we first encountered in the postmodern liberal cult of the Emergent Church, now openly operating within evangelicalism through its foolish embrace of the Emerging Church.
From all of this by Kay Arthur’s PMI, we can see she’s appealing to — Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10), which is a classic verse misappropriated by instructors of CSM. The following is the language, originally gleaned from apostate Roman Catholic mystics, which is so often employed by gurus of the CSM:
Can you remember the last time you sat in total silence except for the sounds of nature – listening intently to hear the voice of God. It is time to:
Be still and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10
Be still (cease striving)
Rest, relax, chill out, stop fighting, drop your weapons
Know that I am God
Learn that I am God, or “see that I am God”, “Get to know me better”
God is telling His children who are living in a busy world to stop, get quiet so that they can listen and get to know Him. It is only in stillness, the quiet, that we can hear the voice of God. (source, bold theirs)
No, this passage isn’t about any kind of meditation; and it has absolutely nothing to do with sitting in some lotus position and subjectively trying to “hear” God’s voice in creeping crickets or inner burblings of bellies. Rather, this is a firm admonition and warning for all nations—particularly His people Israel—to stop worrying and to recognize God’s sovereignty. More on that in a moment.
You may recall my 2008 article Does Psalm 46:10 Teach Contemplative/Centering Prayer? In that piece I told you that it’s quite common for those who are teachers of spurious CSM, which is also known as so-called Spiritual Formation (SF), to appeal to verse 10 of Psalm 46 in an attempt to try and justify their unbiblical practice of Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP).
It’s important for you to realize that CCP, the crown jewel of CSM, is truly a type of meditation in an altered state of consciousness; i.e. transcendental meditation for the “Christian.” Let me point out here that you’ll definitely see this erroneous appeal to Psalm 46:10 to try and justify CSM and CCP in the spiritually bankrupt teaching of Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster.
Perhaps the best recent example would be the DVD Be Still And Know, which was an veritable ode to CCP. The “Bible Study Guide” that comes with it informs us:
Be Still is an interactive film that provides a contemplative look at the history, importance and power of prayer from a cross-denominational point of view… demonstrat[ing] contemplative reflection as a vital part of our everyday lives… featur[ing] some of today’s most highly respected Christian authors, educators, speakers and ministers including Dr. Henry Cloud, Richard Foster, Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shriver and Dallas Willard.3
Sure enough on page 9 under the subheading “Contemplative Prayer” we’re told that, “The Bible speaks specifically about being quiet and still before the Lord.” And the first verse used to support their contention that Scripture is speaking about being “quiet and still” in preparation for CCP meditation is Psalm 46:10. Now we’ll look at the aforementioned Richard Foster’s book Prayer: Finding The Heart’s True Home (PFTH).
This book literally teaches us how to practice CCP. In his PFTH Foster shares the following mystic mythology:
Contemplative Prayer immerses us into the silence of God. How desperately we in the modern world need this wordless baptism… Contemplative Prayer is the one discipline that can free us from our addiction to words. Progress in intimacy with God means progress toward silence… It is recreating silence to which we are called in Contemplative Prayer…
A Warning And A Precaution
At the outset I need to give a word of warning,… Contemplative Prayer is not for the novice. I do not say this about any other form of prayer… Contemplative prayer is for those who have exercised their spiritual muscles a bit and know something about the landscape of the spirit. In fact, those who work in the area of spiritual direction always look for signs of a maturing faith before encouraging individuals into Contemplative Prayer…
I also want to give a word of precaution. In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as a supernatural guidance. While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on that, there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way! … But for now I want to encourage you to learn and practice prayers of protection.4
Incidentally, you’ll even find that piece of spiritual skubalon from Richard Foster in the online library of Bethlehem Baptist Church (BBC) where new charismatic Calvinism mentor John Piper was pastor for some 33 years.5 Leaving that aside, concerning Psalm 46:10, Richard Foster tells us in PFTH:
So many passages of Scripture provide a touchstone for Meditative Prayer: “Be still and know that I am God”; “Abid in my love”; “I am the Good Shepherd”; “Rejoice in the Lord always.”6
As I close this out, for now, I’ll just point out to you that the mainstream of the professing Christian community has a serious problem as we’re witnessing more of this kind of CSMish teaching coming from supposed conservative evangelicals like Kay Arthur7 and her PMI. Remember, she’s reputed to be a great Bible teacher8 and yet she has totally missed what this verse of Psalm 46 is actually telling us.
Here’s some critical thought for you concerning all of this evangelical CSMish practice. It’s beyond question that CSM originated with Roman Catholic mystics.9 The fruit of their “being still and knowing God” would eventually so corrupt the Roman Catholic Church that it would become apostate; which would then lead to the Protestant Reformation and the Church of Rome condemning the very Gospel of Jesus Christ itself.10
Why in the world would Protestants wish to reject the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura and return to these occult “disciplines” of CSM?11 God hated this attempt to approach Him outside His means of grace then, and He hates it even more now. If you don’t believe me, then make some time to be still and meditate upon the spiritual principles the Lord shows us in Jeremiah 3. God was angry when Israel engaged in idolatry.
However, He was even more angry with Judah because:
“She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too wentand played the whore. Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree.”
“Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the Lord.” And the Lord said to me, “Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.” (Jeremiah 3:8-12)
I would suggest that if Kay Arthur et al wish to near the Voice of the Lord about this, then they should go ahead and read Jeremiah 3 out loud. Now, as it concerns a proper view of this oft-misused verse Psalm 46:10, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary series, Dr. Willem A. VanGemeren is right when he points out that:
the psalmist encourages the godly to “know” that the Lord is God. Though it was tempting to ally themselves with foreign powers, to rely on military strength, or to give themselves over to idolatry and pagan ways, the godly must learn to persevere to the end. The exhortation “be still” calls on them to stop doing one thing in favor of something else. What their temptation was may be implied from v.2: “Therefore we will not fear.”
Throughout the history of Israel and Judah, severe national distress brought the temptation to abandon true religion for the ephemeral security of political alliances, military strength, and worldly paganism (Realpolitik). Instead of choosing a negative option, the people of God distinguish themselves by the pursuit of godliness: “Know that I am God.” The “knowledge” of God includes a factual knowledge about him, his past acts, and his promises. But in this context the psalmist calls on them to commit themselves to the Lord and to seek his “refuge,” “strength,” and “fortress” (vv.1, 7, 11).12
Then in his own classic The Treasury of David Charles Spurgeon quotes Jonathan Edwards as teaching the following concerning Psalm 46:10 :
Verse 10. Be still, and know that I am God. The great works of God, wherein his sovereignty appeared, had been described in the foregoing verses. In the awful desolations that he made, and by delivering his people by terrible things, he showed his greatness and dominion. Herein he manifested his power and sovereignty, and so commands all to be still, and know that he is God. For says he, I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. In the words may be observed,
A duty described, to be still before God, and under the dispensations of his providence; which implies that we must be still as to words; not speaking against the sovereign dispensations of Providence, or complaining of them; not darkening counsel by words without knowledge, or justifying ourselves and speaking great swelling words of vanity. We must be still as to actions and outward behaviour, so as not to oppose God in his dispensations; and as to the inward frame of our hearts, cultivating a calm and quiet submission of soul to the sovereign pleasure of God, whatever it may be. (source)
I’ll now leave you with the following from Be Still: Contemplative, or Listening Prayer and Psalm 46:10 by pastor Larry Debruyn as he further instructs you what this verse, in its proper context, is actually talking about:
So as advocated by some of today’s most notable Christian communicators, what should Bible believers think about using Psalm 46:10 to promote contemplative prayer as a practice the Bible endorses? Bible Interpretation 101 teaches that every text without a context is pretext. Extracting Psalm 46:10 to be an endorsement of meditative-listening prayer is just such a pretext. Here’s why.
First, the injunction to “Be still” must be understood in the milieu it was uttered. The Psalmist addressed a cosmos in crisis. The crisis imperiled the creation (vv. 1-3); threatened the city (vv. 4-7); and besieged the country (vv. 8-11). In the crisis with their world falling apart, the people were afraid (v. 2).
Second, the verb “Be still” (Hebrew, rapah) is used 46 times in the Old Testament with meanings everywhere from describing laziness to ordering relaxation. Though the majority of versions translate the injunction “Be still”, other meanings are “Cease striving ” (NASB), “Be quiet” (NCV), “Desist” (Young’s), or “Calm down” (CEV). In no biblical usage or context does the Hebrew verb enjoin God’s people to meditate or practice contemplative or listening prayer. Rather, believers are to rest and trust in God.
Third, verse 10 contains two co-ordinate imperatives, with the emphasis being on the second command, to “know that I am God,” not the first, to “Be still.” With the first imperative functioning as an adverb, the verse might read, “Calmly (or quietly) know that I am God . . .” Thus by their focusing upon the initial command, to be still, comtemplative spiritualists ignore the greater command, and that is, to know that I am God.
The command “know” primarily means, “to know by observing and reflecting (thinking) . . .” As such, believers are encouraged to find comfort of soul by reflecting upon the saving works that God has both performed and promised. The meditation the psalm envisions is therefore objective, not subjective. “Be still” does not call persons to induce within their consciousness a wordless void or incubator in which state a mystical word from Jesus can be hatched. The cognitive command to “know” cancels that notion. In the light of God’s mighty works and providence, the psalm exhorts believers to reverence Him. As the prophet Habakkuk wrote, “. . . the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him” (Habakkuk 2:20).
Fourth, the command to “Be still” (v. 10) is specifically addressed to the survivors of a war torn nation, people that on all sides continued to feel threatened. To those scared to death by what was going on all around them (v. 2), the sovereign Lord encourages them to stop their trembling. As one commentator observed, “In this explosive context, ‘be still’ is not an invitation to tranquil meditation but a command to allow God to be God, to do his work of abolishing the weapons of war.”
And finally, in the third section the Psalmist looks forward to a new order when God will impose his peace plan upon the world (See Isaiah 2:4.). As He will have ended conflicts and destroyed the weapons of war (vv. 8-9), the Lord affirms that in the coming kingdom age he “will be exalted among the nations” (v. 10). In view of this prospect, the sovereign Lord encourages his covenant people to, “Be still, and know that I am God . . ..” In the end, the sovereign God will defeat war and end terrorism.
There resides a potential danger in mystical practices. It is this: In their attempt to journey into an altered state of consciousness, contemplative meditators may forget that God is the object and they are the subjects. As the theologian Warfield noted almost a century ago, “The history of mysticism only too clearly shows that he who begins by seeking God within himself may end by confusing himself with God.”  (source, bold his)
- ABOUT KAY ARTHUR OF PRECEPT MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL
- BETH MOORE AND LIFEWAY (SBC) HEAD DEEPER STILL INTO DECEPTION
- THE TERMINOLOGY TRAP OF “SPIRITUAL FORMATION”
- http://precept.org/who_we_are, accessed 7/5/14. ↩
- http://store.precept.org/Being-Still-and-Knowing-God.html, accessed 7/5/14. ↩
- Copy on file at AM ↩
- Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding The Heart’s True Home [New York: Harper Collins, 1997], 155, 156, 157. ↩
- You’ll find Foster’s book here: http://bit.ly/1seZ2Nc, accessed 7/5/14. ↩
- Foster, op cit. 149. ↩
- She even claims that God Himself gave her this interpretation: http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/precept/read/articles/resting-in-him-9547.html, accessed 7/5/14. ↩
- For example, Arthur’s been promoted by the SBC appearing alongside quasi-elder Beth Moore, whom they promote heavily: http://www.lifeway.com/Article/Christian-conference-deeper-still-ends-as-began-Arthur-Moore-Shirer-Cottrell, accessed 7/5/14. ↩
- Though as I showed you previously in Dangers of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism: Lectio Divina, these practices of CSM can actually be traced to heretical hermits in the desert of Egypt circa third century; and then, this antibiblical ascetism of so-called disciplines would go on to flower in the monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism. ↩
- And I already showed you year ago from the Vatican library that The Roman Catholic Church Hasn’t Changed Its Condemnation of the Gospel; the Gospel being that salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone on the Cross. This is not negotiable (cf. Galatians 1:6-9) no matter how devoutly religious someone may appear to be. ↩
- God the Holy Spirit already warned us not to return to religious bondage, e.g. Galatians 5:1. ↩
- Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., Expositor’s Bible Commentary: With the New International Version of the Bible [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976-92), Psalm 46, CD-ROM. ↩