Regarding Spiritual Formation, I must admit that I do know various people who are into it, who seem fairly orthodox/biblical otherwise. The danger, according to numerous discernment ministries, is that the core of Spiritual Formation is contemplative spirituality (also called contemplative prayer). And contemplative spirituality is made up of many different levels. Someone can start out at a level which appears to be “normal prayer”, then begin exploring numerous “deeper” levels of practices which are more dangerous.
I have never seen any biblical guidelines put forth by teachers of Spiritual Formation, explaining where to draw the line between what is biblical and what is dangerous. Quite the contrary. Recently, on Spiritual Formation pioneer Richard Foster’s own website (www.renovare.us), there was a statement worded something like this: “We encourage you to explore contemplative practices from other faith traditions [i.e. other world religions].” Scary stuff!
Few if any articles favoring Spiritual Formation will mention its dangerous aspects.
Now for some links:
1) Here is an article on its dangers, from Lighthouse Trails, one of the most thorough discernment websites critiquing Spiritual Formation:
2) An article on Foster et al, from another go-to discernment website for info on Spiritual Formation – Apprising Ministries:
3) Here is a blog I wrote that discusses its dangers. Actually, most of my blog quotes from a far longer article. Here’s my link:
4) Now check out Richard Foster’s website, http://www.renovare.us. The website presents a number of principles of Spiritual Formation. For example, the following article describes various disciplines including Meditation:
Foster has claimed elsewhere to be an “evangelical” Quaker. Yet reading between the lines here, it seems pretty obvious to me that Foster is extremely liberal. Plus, he endorses the interfaith movement (and practices from Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.):
And this is just scratching the surface of the dangers in Spiritual Formation.
For those who are still skeptical, take a look at the Nazarene Church denomination. It seems that of all evangelical denominations, this denomination is perhaps the most deeply ensnared in Spiritual Formation. In recent years, the denomination has become dominated – even headed – by individuals endorsing Spiritual Formation (and all its dangerous practices). And the denomination is literally being torn apart – countless concerned members and their families are leaving in search of denominations which are still biblical. Check out this article (you will notice that Spiritual Formation is intrinsically tied with the Emerging Church movement):
Bottom line – stay away from Spiritual Formation. It is impossible to separate its “safe” aspects from its dangerous contemplative prayer/contemplative spirituality practices.