Much has been written showing that most contemplative practices within Spiritual Formation have been drawn from “other faith traditions.” “Other faith traditions” is a Spiritual Formation “code word” for other world religions – including the New Age movement.
The books and articles of so-called “Christian” contemplative writers are filled with references to contemplative practices from other world religions. Yet born again Christian readers are drawn to their writings, accepting and practicing them without question. For the life of me, I cannot understand how Christians who claim to be born again and Bible believing can accept these writers without question, incorporating their ungodly, nonchristian practices into their daily Christian faith and practices.
Following is an excerpt describing just a few examples of “Christian” contemplative writers referring to other world religions. The entire article by Carol Brooks, entitled “Contemplating the Alternative,” can be found here:
In fact quite a few of the major players in the contemplative prayer movement have incorporated Eastern Religions into Christianity. Although many think that people like Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton and Thomas Keating were devout Christians, the truth is that they were all Catholics who not only could not see through Rome’s foundational heresies, but promoted the integration of pagan practices such as Zen Buddhism and Hindu yoga with Christianity.
In the foreword to Thomas Ryan’s 1993 book, Disciplines For Christian Living, Henri Nouwen wrote:
The author shows a wonderful openness to the gifts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Moslem religion. He discovers their great wisdom for the spiritual life of the Christian and does not hesitate to bring that wisdom home.
While in his own book Pray to Live (p.19-28) he says the following about Thomas Merton:
Merton had encountered Zen Buddhism, Sufism, Taoism and Vedanta many years prior to his Asian journey. Merton was able to uncover the stream where the wisdom of East and West merge and flow together, beyond dogma, in the depths of inner experience…. Merton embraced the spiritual philosophies of the East and integrated this wisdom into (his) own life through direct practice.
Other Evangelicals followed suit. In Celebration Of Discipline Richard Foster heartily endorses Tilden Edward’s book, Spiritual Friend, which says:
“This mystical stream [contemplative prayer and other monastic traditions] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality (and to that of Sufis Moslems)…this exchange, together with the more popular Eastern impact in the West through transcendental meditation, Hatha Yoga, the martial arts, and through many available courses on Eastern religions in universities, has aided a recent rediscovery of Christian apophatic mystical tradition.… [Pgs. 18 and 19]
While Contemplative Prayer is widely accepted as Christian, Eastern religions such Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism and Occult/New Age devotees have long practiced an almost identical form of ‘prayer’, which however, does not mean the same thing to every person experiencing it, since what is considered sacred varies from group to group. The experience is therefore interpreted according to the beliefs and practices of the practitioner.