Recently, there have been a few events in our lives and interactions that have brought some issues to the forefront once again. We have seen more and more Christians are being duped by what appears to be good theology, but is actually dangerous teaching.
One of the dangers that is assaulting the true church of Jesus Christ is in the area of contemplative prayer, also referred to as contemplative mysticism. In a nutshell, this teaching is based on a combination of New Age and Roman Catholic mysticism.
The danger of overrunning the evangelical church is immense. This teaching is heresy with many well known evangelicals touting this as biblical theology. There is NOT ONE Scripture that teaches the emptying of our minds.
Here is an example of what contemplative mysticism/prayer is according to one of the main teachers of this system known as “Spiritual Formation.”
“In your imagination allow your spiritual body, shining with light, to rise out of your physical body. Look back so that you can see yourself lying in the grass and reassure your body that you will return momentarily. Imagine your spiritual self, alive and vibrant, rising up through the clouds and into the stratosphere. . . Go deeper and deeper into outer space until there is nothing except the warm presence of the eternal Creator. Rest in His presence. Listen quietly, anticipating the unanticipated. Note carefully any instruction given. With time and experience you will be able to distinguish readily between mere human thought that may bubble up to the conscious mind and the True Spirit which inwardly moves upon the heart. (Foster: 27, 28)”
In the coming weeks, it is my intention of defending truth and contending for the faith by pointing out the dangers of this movement. We will also expose the people promoting this heresy. Our hope is that you will give prayerful consideration to this matter. Read the Scriptures. Be a Berean Christian. Realize the dangers that now seem more prevalent in the church than out of it.
If you are a pastor, elder, or teacher, please do not jump on the bandwagon and use materials just because every other church seems to use it. Go against the flow. Stand for what is right. You will be held accountable for what you teach to others.
With that said, I am posting three links here from Southern View Chapel. The pastor is Dr. Gary Gilley and has an excellent series of books on the church, which includes “This Little Church Stayed Home.” These links below detail the heresy that is being spread throughout many churches, even Baptist ones have bought into Henry Blackaby’s promotion of contemplative prayer.
Experiencing God – Part 1
Experiencing God – Part 2
Experiencing God – Part 3
Good warning. I’ve read Gilley’s review – it’s very good. I went through Experiencing God years ago and it have me the creeps. I’ve seen lives wrecked by people following Blackaby’s advice.
Thank you, Mark.
God told us to read and meditate on the Scriptures.
Blackaby & co tell us to empty our minds.
(“This Little Church Stayed Home” is a superb book.)
We were in a church that started using “Experiencing God” almost as soon as it hit the shelves in the early 1990’s. I was theologically shallow at that point in many areas, but it never set well with me. It would not be until many years that I learned where and what the dangers are.
Jon, have you read “This Little Church Went to Market”? It is also a good book.
I’ve not read it, Mark. I’ve heard good things about it, but I was completely disillusioned of the whole church marketing scam long before it was written, and I have limited reading time, so I just never got around to it.
I agree with you totally. Thanks for putting this out there. I have a question that I have had to deal with in my church. Would you throw out and/or avoid ALL teachings by those who might pander this type of teaching? I say this specifically regarding Tim Keller, who has definitely promoted CSM, yet has seemingly solid teaching in regard to the Gospel. Is this a case of throwing out the baby with the bath water? Maybe its a justified throwing? Thank you for your consideration.
Thanks for stopping by. Others may disagree with me, but I have often used an analogy to describe the current situation within evangelicalism.
Assume I had a barrel of apples sitting on my porch. In one of those apples I place one single drop of cyanide. Welcoming you to my porch, I tell you that you are welcome to enjoy one or more of the beautiful shiny red apples. You start to reach into the barrel, but before your hand touches the apples, I decide to tell you what I have done with the cyanide. However, my concluding statement is this, “Don’t worry about the ONE apple with the ONE drop of poison, I am sure you won’t pick that one up anyway.”
Only a foolish person would be willing to take an apple and bite into it.
The point is this. If there is poison in the barrel, why take a chance in placing that in front of your people when there are so many other barrels that have not been tainted by poison? As a minister of the gospel, I am required to be accountable for what how I protect the sheep who belong to God.
Gary also has his most recent series of articles on the Spiritual Formation (SF) Movement, which will be coming together as his newest book. That, and he has an excellent book “Is that You Lord?, Hearing the Voice of the Lord”, which addresses the subjectivism and mysticism involved in Blackaby’s and SF Contemplative’s teachings. I was in an SBC church back in the late 1980’s and they had a class that started on “Experiencing God”. I attended the first class, and didn’t go back.
Thanks Mark. Thats a good illustration. I also like to share the “dog-poo brownies” story. However, i frequently get shouted down by the “can’t-we-all-get-along” crowd. A little leaven is still leaven. Anyway, thanks again and keep up the good work!
This comment is from Jeremy Tan but accidentally got deleted in the Spam.
Mark, as an independent Baptist, I have to tell you that I have often heard variations of this analogy.
My mentors repeatedly warned me about John Calvin. “Surely nothing good can come out of Calvin”; or, “Would you let John Calvin teach a Sunday School class in your church?” These kinds of suggestions build a mental wall. I had to suspend all these negativity before I was able to learn and accept the doctrines of grace, and also some other doctrines.
I think the remedy is to study the Scriptures and know it as well as we can, consider carefully what others have written but heed the warnings, and get in the fellowship of a multitude of counsellors, such as here.
As a preacher, one has to be very careful because not only will we be judged (James 3:1), but our own credibility is at stake.
I apologize for missing the comment. I managed to get a copy of it though as you can see.
I was raised in the IFB movement and familiar with how the analogy can be used. I would have been in the same boat as yourself in regards to the doctrines of grace had I not chosen to think outside of “the box.”
However, I should clarify with my analogy. I am convinced there is a difference between dealing with matters of doctrine over which we should not divide with another individual, versus outright heresy. I can disagree with somebody over matters of eschatology, aspects of CT versus NCT versus dispensationalism, Bible versions, music styles, etc. What I do not believe we can do is when somebody openly takes steps to be inclusive of Roman Catholic teaching and claims to use it as a means to “get closer to God” or to “have a meaningful relationship and conversation with your heavenly Daddy.”
My intention is not to exclude any and all who disagree with us at DefCon (or even myself for that matter), but to make us aware of the heresies and false teachers that are becoming more and more prevalent. When we consider the importance of Sola Scriptura, we find that Blackaby, Beth Moore, and others who believe like they do are NOT proponents of Sola Scriptura. Sadly, there move to the left of center has shown them to be inclusive of rank heretics like Richard Foster and Thomas Merton as brothers in Christ.
Love rejoices in the truth, even when someone who is in serious error elsewhere states it. But rejoicing when someone speaks truth on one topic does not mean we should endorse their other writings.
I’ve read some things by Keller but won’t be giving out his books in our church. In the areas where he has written well, it is not as if we are dependent on his writings. Other people have written well, too, and without the baggage.
Blackaby is so popular among Evangelicals–I am thankful this was written.
I don’t understand why you so oppose this — it has been long considered a form of prayer to go into the wilderness and open oneself to Divine inspiration. Moses did it on Mt. Sinai and found the burning bush — Jesus went into the desert for forty days and forty nights to fast and pray, to see visions of His Father. It was done in His name by early Church fathers long before the calcification of the Church by the Roman State, and is one of the practices of the early Church which survived Rome.
Thank you for stopping by at Defending Contending. There are actually several issues that are at stake with contemplative prayer / spiritual formation. We err when we do not look to the finished canon of Scripture for our inspiration and look to our emotions to discern the will and Word of God. There is a vast difference between Moses hearing directly from God in a day when the Scriptures were not complete and going out to “empty our minds” as SF promotes. What is promoted by Blackaby and Moore though does not line up with Scripture and we would be wise not to base our practices on the traditions of men instead of the Scriptures.
The danger is much deeper than many realize. I suggest you become familiar with ancient Persian dualistic gnostic teachings. This the beginnings of Jewish cabalism and the Gnostic Gospels and Platonism. Every sect of Islam has a subset of contemplative proponents mainly the whirling dervishes. Hinduism has contemplative aspects known as kundalini. The Catholic mystics practiced contemplative meditation. It is part of the American Indian religions.
This is the common false ecumenical unity thread that is binding disparate faiths together. I personally believe it to be the vehicle, the great delusion, for the acceptance of the antichrist himself.
Mark, thank you very much for retrieving my response. There is great benefit from reading widely, as widely as possible. Perhaps it is like General Patton reading the book Field Marshal Erwin Rommel wrote, to understand the thinking of one’s adversary.
But this is not to rebut your warning at all, which is entirely valid and much needed.
All of us do not have the same width of vision. So we are blessed when a fellow believer comes along to stretch our thinking, ask tough questions to test our presuppositions, and show us the areas where we have blind spots in our theology.
Thanks for maintaining this site. You are a blessing to me and to many. God bless.