There are many things in todays evangelical churches that are actually leading Christians away from Biblical Christianity. Things like the social justice gospel, CRT, the Emerging Churches thinking of being “missional” basically redefining how to be a Christian (which you cannot change without changing the gospel), pursuing ecumenicism, affirmation of LGTBQ and in some denominations welcoming LGTBQ, moving away from teaching the scriptures soundly to telling stories, motivational speeches, and using scripture out of context to fit unbiblical agenda’s for the church, and utilizing spiritual formation or by its truer name, contemplative spirituality (Centering/Listening prayer, Breath prayer, Lectio Divina, spiritual guides etc.) and still so much more. The interesting thing is, all of the above are unbiblical elements being brought into our churches through pastor’s and leader’s who have aligned themselves with the Progressive/Emerging Church movement. This post is going to focus on Contemplative Spirituality.
If you listen to what Progressive/Emerging Church leaders say in regard to going back to the early church or the ancient church, they are not referring to the NT Church found in scripture, the one in Acts. They actually are referring to “Christians” from after the first century, most often they draw from the Early Desert Fathers and even quote Early Desert Mothers. The scriptures, the inspired Word of God, is the manual for the NT Church period, but many pastor’s and leaders are following men who have combined the Bible with the teachings of many who are not Christian influences, but are Catholic theologians, Jewish theologians, Catholic mystics, Jewish mystics, new age influences etc. This is really problematic for the NT Church and these influences are leading Christians away from Biblical Christianity.
Contemplative spirituality comes from the Early Desert Father’s and Mother’s (beginning around the 3rd century. They focused on austerity, prayer/contemplation, works/social justice…not the Great Commission), they were essentially Roman monastics or monks and nuns. Contemplative spirituality is really monastic mysticism which the Desert Father’s and Mother’s took from Eastern Religions like Buddhism and Hinduism, and is essentially the same spirituality used in the New Age/New Thought spirituality. Contemplative or Mystical practices have been a long standing integral part of the Eastern Orthodox Church (Catholic) and Roman Catholic churches, and focuses on “stillness” and “silence”… these practices are not rooted in scripture, nor are they rooted in the early NT church. So, why are our churches introducing us to unbiblical practices? Honestly, the only thing I can come up with is a lack of discernment. These practices are demonic and are dangerous, but more and more churches are introducing them to its people. Not to long ago I saw an event advertising this very thing not to far from where I am located. The thing with contemplative spirituality is it focuses on experience by utilizing pagan religious ways and these open the mind up to spiritual influences that are in opposition to the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches the NT Christian to seek God through prayer and through scripture by setting our minds toward God, conscious minds and hearts not with an empty mind. The NT Christian is filled with the Spirit of God and we don’t have to use false spirituality to gain access to Him, if we are truly seeking Him we will find Him, He will make himself known to us and we do this to grow in the intimacy of a personal relationship with Him! (Jer. 29:13, Ps. 63:1, Matt. 7:7, Ps. 34:4) We are not (or should not be) seeking some higher spiritual plane that we can only get to by being silent and empty minded. This is so dangerous. Matt. 6:7 tells us not to use vain repetitions when we pray because that is what heathens do. This can also mean chants or mantras these are apart of contemplative prayer and are not Biblical.
So, who are some contemplative spirituality influences impacting evangelical churches? Richard Rohr (Catholic Mystic), Richard Foster (Quaker Mystic), Thomas Merton (Catholic Mystic who draws from Buddhism), Brother Lawrence (Carmelite Monk), Henri Nouwen (Catholic Mystic), Leonard Sweet (Emerging Church Leader/New Age), Tilden Edwards (Founder of Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation), Brian McLaren (Progressive/EMC Leader), Dallas Willard (Philosopher/Spiritual Formation), Brennan Manning (author/Laicized priest), Thomas Keating (Catholic Monk). There are many more that can be mentioned and their influence into our churches through the Emerging Missional Church/Progressive Christianity is nuts! The influence of contemplative spirituality is Catholicism and Eastern Religion, it is demonic and not Biblical. I encourage you to watch out for it and to reject it. It has no place in the NT Church or in the practice of NT Christian’s. That’s it. StraightUp!