Lectio Divina, the new rage of the Emergent Church as they run pell mell back to Rome. The subject itself is very serious but sometimes laughter is much needed medicine to the soul. In this light, I’ve included a link here for your listening enjoyment. It is a satirical radio sketch of Rob Bell’s Lectio Divina by Marty Python’s Flying Circus Church which, if you have a sense of humor like mine, will not only give you a great laugh but also will, in a more serious way, reveal the foolishness and absurdity of this so-called spiritual practice. [Thanks to A Little Leaven!]
You must have been reading my email! I recently bought a book from a ministry founded upon the legacy of Francis Schaffer, written by Richard Krejcir, entitled “Into Thy Word” – from Into Thy Word Ministries, located here: http://70030.netministry.com/
I have benefited from a Bible reading plan I downloaded from there, so I bought the book.
I found part 1 to be instructive, but somewhat distracting by the various fonts and sizes used routinely to make points. Upon turning to part 2, on page 89, I found reason to regret buying this book: the author recommends Roman Catholic monks and their anti-biblical methods of mind-numbing mantras, with the aim of providing “spiritual experience”. By such advice from this author and myriad others, many have been led astray from the narrow path of God’s Word, resulting in sinful rebellion against God rather than humble obedience to Him.
Thank you for standing firm on the Word. These are dangerous times in which we live.
Why is praying the hours absurd? This practice goes back to pre-christian Judaism and was followed by the Apostles as we read in Acts. It is the norm in Christianity. It is an attempt to fill each day with prayer and Bible reading. What’s wrong with that? We are told to pray without ceasing.
Tradition counts for nothing if it contradicts Scripture. Praying without ceasing does not mean mindlessly spouting phrases. It means to be consistent in prayer – not literally without ceasing, as we do not/cannot pray without ceasing in the literal meaning.
To repeat phrases – even those lifted from Scripture – as a mantra is NOT praying.
Mat6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Please refer to the sermon critique from a podcast found on this post. You can download the podcast from Chris Rosebrough from that link in which Chris reviews a sermon that was promoting the Lectio Divina. It is very eye-opening and has nothing to do with ‘praying without ceasing.’ You will be shocked by what you hear.
– The Pilgrim
I listened to Chris’ podcast and to Hodges’ sermon. Unfortunately, Chris really doesn’t deal with the Lexio Divina. He just casts aspersions on Roman Catholicism and “medievalism”. His argument seems to be: everything associated with the RC is bad. That’s the kind of argument often used by traditionalist, fundamentalist missionaries when dialoguing with people of other faiths, “your religion is totally false.” But this argument doesn’t hold water: clearly not everything in RC is bad or false. I would say that Chris has a strong case of Romaphobia. Because of this, his commentary on Hodge’s sermon is not helpful at all. Actually, the techniques of Lectio Divina are pretty simple and transparent, not really that mystical at all, and line up quite well with modern psychology and memory techniques. If you want to really learn something or memorize it you have to think about it in several ways, including picturing it. It also helps to learn something multi-modally, that is hearing it, seeing it and feeling it physically. Repetition is very important, also, in learning. The things that you remember the best are the things that you’ve done or thought repeatedly and these are the things that you’ve absorbed to a deeper level, that become just natural to you. Lectio Divina didn’t have to be a revelation from God, it’s just human nature and how we learn. Call it something else, it doesn’t matter.
Unless you can convince me otherwise, this seems like a false issue. This isn’t “vain repetitions” but simply a method of interacting on a deeper level with written text. You could use this technique while reading James Joyce minus the prayer part.
Manfred, no one who prays liturgically would agree that we should mindlessly spout phrases. People who don’t understand liturgical prayer make this kind of unjust judgment all the time. Shane, vain repetitions are wrong because “vain” means pride. The Pharisees were praying in a proud way in public, believing that repeating prayers made them holier. That is not at all what liturgical prayer is about. Or personal prayer. It really is all about what the purpose of prayer is. Is it using a certain technique as magic or power? That is wrong. Is it used to help me interact with scripture on a deeper level? That is right. Is it used to make me feel more worthy or more justified in God’s sight? That is prideful and wrong. We must pray sincerely and with humility. However, using the “vain repetitions” argument as a broad brush to condemn all liturgical prayer or anything practiced by “Catholics” is just way too simplistic and not helpful.
Another comment on the podcast by Chris. I don’t think it’s fair to make inferences about Hodge’s complete approach to scripture based only on this one sermon. What I’m hearing is one technique to personalize scripture. Is Scripture not therapy, also? I would agree with Chris that it’s important to take into consideration the context of the verse that one is meditating on. It’s also possible here that Hodge is not practicing Lectio Divina correctly. I don’t see anything in Lectio Divina that precludes understanding the actual meaning of the scripture in question. In fact, I would say that knowing the actual meaning of the scripture is the basis of any spiritual experience.
Personally, I don’t think that the gathering of the whole body is the appropriate place to talk about psychological techniques to experience written text. He should be preaching the Good News.
concerning lectio divina….
It is no secret that chanting a mantra indeed empties the mind of thought and opens one up to a different state of consciousness. Mantras are used in yoga, Zen, Hindu, and Transcendental Meditation. Here is what some of these websites say about mantras:
*From a Yoga website:
“Modern science has reaffirmed what yogis have known for thousands of years – that SOUND is able to effect the chemistry of the body and mind, and alter thought patterns. (…) Mantra Meditation is a VERY Powerful technique!
You will discover that the repetition of Mantra allows your mind to focus and concentrate more completely on sound, and clear away other thoughts, emotions and distractions which divert our energies. Our senses become more acute and our mind become sharper and more perceptive as the mind clears away the jumble of unnecessary inner dialogue.”
*From a Meditation website:
“The repetition of a mantra…is meant as a method of practice which brings about a power (siddhi) to reach the supreme state of consciousness. In this state there is silence within the mind which becomes still (shaant) and eventually you will merge the mind or individual awareness with the whole, which is Pure Consciousness and Knowingness. Every time you practice you obtain the result, as this fourth state of consciousness is always with you.”
In spite of the well known purpose of mantra repetition to clear the mind and achieve this state of altered consciousness, many Christians today are mistakenly teaching that this is how to meditate on the Word of God. But is this how we fill our minds with God’s Word – by emptying our minds?
True biblical meditation involves thinking and understanding, as we read at bible.org in an article called Biblical Meditation:
What Does It Mean to Meditate?
The first question we must consider concerns the meaning of meditation and what meditation involves. This is particularly important to the Christian because of the great and growing emphasis on meditation in eastern religions. Transcendental meditation, as it is often called, is not biblical meditation. It is dangerous and actually opens up one’s mind for Satanic attack as it is found in New Age thinking.
Meditation means “the act of focusing one’s thoughts: to ponder, think on, muse.” Meditation consists of reflective thinking or contemplation, usually on a specific subject to discern its meaning or significance or a plan of action.
In Eastern forms of meditation as in TM there is an attempt to empty the mind. Biblical meditation, however, is an attempt to empty the mind of the wrong things in order to fill it with what is right and true according to the index of God’s inspired Word.
-Biblical Meditation by J. Hampton Keathley
The fact that this practice is used in false religions should be enough to discourage anyone from delving into this eastern mysticism practice. God does not desire repetitious prayers, He desires for us to pray from the heart, as the Spirit prompts us.
Hodge’s lecture and practice of this mysticism with his congregation sent chills up my spine, as it smacks of Eastern mysticism and the New Age. The fact that this not only didn’t alarm you, but you actually defend it, speaks volumes.
It is apparent that your expressed purpose for commenting here was to defend this Roman Catholic mysticism. Anyone seriously listening to Hodge’s sermon will clearly see that this 11th century meditation practice is not biblical and not of Christ . . . that is, anyone who has even a shred of discernment.
If your future comments defending this wicked practice do not get posted, please refer to our Rules of Engagement for an explanation.
P.S. Oh, and yes, Rome and everything about her is wicked. Can a bad tree produce good fruit?
I am blown away how sectarian this whole discussion is! It’s hard to believe any thinking person could be so afraid and condemnatory of such a simple and spontaneous communion with God as the practice of lectio divina.
Superstition is at the root of it.
Thomas – superstition is the root of the pagan practice (embraced by the cult of Rome) of lectio divina. No blood-bought child of the living God should embrace this practice – it is an abomination before Holy God.
In your view how is “spontaneous communion with God” via falling down and worshipping before a totem pole any different than via lectio divina?
“Superstition is at the root of it.” – I agree with this portion of your comment wholeheartedly, but probably not in the way you originally intended.