Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2011

(revised 10/05/12)

Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Eugene Peterson, and James Houston were early promoters of Spiritual Formation. In my research, I was surprised to learn that Spiritual Formation was around long before Richard Foster’s classic Celebration of Discipline (published in 1978).

I am providing excerpts from an article by Chris Armstrong, which I found to be both insightful and shocking. Click here for the original source of the article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding and entered comments in [brackets].

Note – observe below how these four pioneers of Spiritual Formation spin the history of fundamentalism and “born again” evangelicalism to sound like something negative.

The Rise, Frustration, and Revival of Evangelical Spiritual Ressourcement (Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care 2009, Vol. 2, No. 1, 113–121)
Chris Armstrong, Bethel Seminary (St. Paul, MN)

It started in the 1950s and 1960s. It “broke out” in 1978, with the publication of Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline. But today, evangelicalism’s recovery of spiritual traditions from past centuries—led by such popularizers as Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson, and James Houston—seems to have reached an impasse. What opened evangelicals to the riches of spiritual tradition? Why has this movement seemingly stalled out? Are there grounds for hope that it will soon move forward again? [Stalled out? Not moving forward? They’re wrong on this I think – I see more and more youth, especially, getting involved in occultish contemplative practices.]

There is no denying that by the time Foster’s Celebration hit bookstores in 1978, the conciliatory, culture-engaging “New Evangelicals” (represented by the National Association of Evangelicals [NAE], Christianity Today, and Fuller and Gordon-Conwell) had already begun to initiate themselves into the world of traditional Christian spirituality. They were using contemplative prayer techniques, attending retreats, sitting under spiritual directors, and reading Catholic and Orthodox books.

This new openness emerged out of two decades of radical change and barrier-crossing within evangelicalism. The Age of Aquarius saw evangelicals hungering for genuine spiritual experience [key word – “spiritual” – this is far different from genuine “Christian” experience]. If this meant breaking out from the narrow biblicism and constrictive intellectual boundaries of their fundamentalist roots, then so be it.  They sought a deeper Christian wisdom both about what makes disciples truly Christ-like and, simply, about what makes people tick. [The author seems to be admitting that New Evangelicalism – with its ungodly ecumenical, anti-fundamentalist mindset – opened the door for occultish, New Age-ish Spiritual Formation. He even uses the blatantly New Age term “Age of Aquarius.”]

Baseline: The “Sanctification Gap”

Among the leaders of this movement to Christianity’s spiritual taproots we find four men: James Houston grew up Plymouth Brethren in England, taught for years at Oxford University, led in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and then in 1970 was called to Vancouver, British Columbia to become the founding principal of a new evangelical graduate school: Regent College. Eugene Peterson, raised Pentecostal, attended a holiness college and then served for decades as pastor of a Baltimore-area Presbyterian church before joining Houston at Regent and penning his famous Bible paraphrase, The Message. Dallas Willard, Southern Baptist by upbringing and ordination, trained in philosophy, has taught for decades in that field at the University of Southern California, and has written an acclaimed series of books on the spiritual life. Richard Foster took a new-minted doctorate from Fuller to the pastorate of a small evangelical Friends church in Southern California, where he met and was influenced by Willard, and now leads an interdenominational ministry in the area of spirituality.

In recent interviews with these four men, each spoke of both the historical rise and the current stagnation [again, I don’t think there is a “stagnation”] of this impulse toward traditional spirituality. In their own journeys through the ferment of the 1960s, each had discovered what they were looking for in the historical spiritual traditions of the Christian faith. Each one eagerly began to teach that the spiritual resources of the past are a much-needed medicine, potent to heal us from a serious disease. This is the disease Gordon-Conwell historian Richard Lovelace labeled “the sanctification gap.”1 Bluntly, it is the dismal failure of American evangelicals to mature spiritually—a failure with roots in early twentieth-century fundamentalism. [Oh really – so is he saying “spirituality” is more crucial than “holiness”?]

The movement represented by Foster’s Celebration was one of reaction. The fundamentalist movement of the 1920s–1950s had dedicated itself to defending important doctrines such as the divinity and personal return of Christ against liberal modifications. In so doing, it had come to identify the Christian life with cognitive belief. [Fundamentalism is more more than cognitive belief – it is the Truth of God’s Word.] What that meant, says Willard, is that “if you believe the right things, you go to heaven when you die—and in the meantime, there’s not much to do.” Discipleship, or growth in spiritual things, took a back seat. This was one seed of the “sanctification gap” in fundamentalism’s evangelical progeny.

Another seed was fundamentalism’s essential pragmatism. D. L. Moody’s cry echoed down the decades: “This world is like a wrecked vessel. . . . God puts a life-boat in my hands and says ‘Rescue every man you can.’”2 A rescue mission allows precious little time to engage in contemplation or protracted disciplines. This unreflective pragmatism was intensified both by fundamentalism’s inherited anti-traditionalism and its dispensational eschatology. If elite theology grounded in the traditions of the historic church served only to confound the ordinary believer and lead them away from spiritual vitality,3 and if the world is not our home and it is only getting worse and worse until the Rapture,4 then why delve into historical documents or work through arcane disciplines? [As the author states later in this article, “disciplines” includes contemplative practices.]

Along with this anti-traditionalist pragmatism, a theological misunderstanding about the nature of grace also contributed to the loss of healthy spiritual formation among evangelicals. Foster likes to quote Willard on this: “Many people are not only saved by grace, they are paralyzed by it.” In other words, from its fundamentalist beginnings evangelicalism has been infected with a kind of “cheap grace” theology—a misunderstanding of Reformation teaching that has tagged all moral effort as works-righteousness. By these lights, grace is only for forgiveness from guilt; it has nothing to do with spiritual growth.  Says Willard, “all you have to do is open the pages of the New Testament and you see that this is far, far from the truth.” [Oh really?  I don’t see occultish contemplative practices in the New Testament.]

Challenge and Hunger

In 1947, NAE co-founder and future Christianity Today editor Carl F. H. Henry sounded the alarm with his Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism. Evangelicals could no longer deny the stark reality: the character of professing Christians was misshapen. Willard recalls that as early as the 1950s, younger Christians especially ransacked their fundamentalist heritage and found little there to satisfy their hunger for teachings and practices that would address not just salvation and the hereafter, but spiritual depth, integrity, and personal growth in the here-and-now. The search took some to the religions of the East. Others stuck it out within Christianity but went beyond evangelicalism. The desire was to find “some kind of spiritual reality—not just some sort of performance from the church.” … Peterson remembers his Presbyterian church in suburban Maryland: “I can’t tell you how many people came to me and said, ‘Pastor, don’t ask me to do anything.’ And I’d say, ‘Take as long as you’d like.’ …

Jumping the Barriers

The solution to all of this was not immediately obvious. Blocking the way back to traditional spiritual resources was the problem of evangelicalism’s deep-rooted anti-traditionalism [anti-Catholicism?],5 which continues today. “Americans in particular,” remarks Foster, “jump from the early church of the Book of Acts, to us today. For a few, there may be a little blip at the Reformation, but that’s it. And they miss that whole wonderful sense of the communion of saints.”

Second, there were the seemingly insurmountable barriers between Protestants and Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Such explicitly Catholic practices as monasticism, spiritual direction, and contemplative prayer were beyond the pale for most mid-twentieth-century evangelicals. Almost all practices and beliefs that dated from before the Reformation— including all the great spiritual resources of the medieval and early churches—seemed somehow “Catholic,” too, though of course they are the heritage of all Christians 6 [but just because heresies are part of church history, does not mean born again Christians should take part in them].

How were these barriers to the classical spiritual disciplines overcome? First, printed material from the older traditions trickled through: Willard remembers his own discovery of the Methodist-published Upper Room daily devotional guides during the 1960s, excerpting everyone from Augustine to Jeremy Taylor. These were printed in the millions. Another key disseminator of classical Christian spirituality was A. W. Tozer, the Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor and author who quoted freely from many great medieval and early church “saints.” Peterson discovered Tozer as a teenager in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and says, “I got my taste for the nature of the holy life from him.”

For all but a few evangelicals, such writings would have been off-limits were it not for the breakdown of traditional denominational barriers. It is hard for us to remember now how radical a change this “opening” was, because we do not remember today how unyielding denominational boundaries once were…  But by the late 1950s, “people were beginning to understand,” Willard recalls, “that what the particular denomination prescribed for their members was not necessarily what Christ prescribed.”

Building Bridges

A number of trends built bridges across denominations: First, in America’s increasingly mobile social environment, people were frequently meeting members of other denominations and thinking “These people are OK!” Second, the charismatic movement arose in the late 1950s, the Holy Spirit giving gifts that made it clear, as Willard puts it, that “I’m over here where you thought I was not.” Third, Billy Graham was unapologetically committed to working with all Christians. “He would be seen,” says Willard, “around the world preaching in all kinds of contexts, including Eastern Orthodox, and at first there was great criticism of him for doing this—even from the New Evangelicals.” His example, however, opened “a kind of practical ecumenism” among evangelicals—the upside of a breakdown of Protestant denominations whose effects we are still seeing today.

The downside of this breakdown is that despite the anti-traditionalist tendencies of the old fundamentalists, their denominations had taught some helpful spiritual practices. “If you said, for example, in the 30s and 40s, that you were a Baptist,” says Foster, “it meant certain things about the way you approached the Bible—your study, evangelism, and so forth. You look back at the history read by Baptists—some of those great pietist people, Lottie Moon, David Brainerd, Jonathan Edwards—you’d read that stuff, and there was practice that these folks did in their lives.” Willard reminds us that the United Methodist Church still to this day has a Book of Discipline, enjoining such practices as Christian conference, Scripture memorization, and fasting. [I’m surprised that Foster and Willard did not mention George Fox’s Quaker mysticism here. In this blog, for example, both Foster and Willard laud Quaker mysticism – including Fox’s Inner Light heresy.] But increasingly, as denominations became less important in the life of individual Christians, the remnant of historical spirituality built into their structures was lost.

Crossing the Rubicon—to visit

What took the place of this denominational spirituality was at first “just nice evangelistic church services” (Willard)—lacking the kind of rigor and maturity embodied in the term “discipleship.” Committed evangelicals who recognized that lives were not changing in their churches increasingly began to peer across the Great Divide into Catholic traditions. [I just don’t get it –  why would Willard, Foster, etc. think that spiritual disciplines are more beneficial for Christian growth than evangelistic services, Bible study, etc.?] Willard, who attended a Southern California Evangelical Friends church pastored by the young, fresh-from-Fuller Richard Foster [actually Willard co-pastored with Foster and outshined Foster in his contemplative prowess], remembers that in the late 1960s, Foster discovered “a little Catholic nun who played the guitar and sang,” and invited her to perform at their church. “A lot of [Evangelical Friends] people were worried by this, because they had been raised in opposition to Catholicism.  Some people, though, were touched.”

In fact, the door to Catholic spirituality was opened for American Protestants by a number of events and influences. 1960 saw the election of America’s first Roman Catholic president. Vatican II opened the windows of ecumenical dialogue. Henri Nouwen came into the consciousness of lay evangelicals, opening up the desert tradition to them. The charismatic movement crossed confessional boundaries too.

By the 1970s, evangelical Protestants began going on retreats at monasteries where they experienced Catholic spirituality on the ground. [Nazarenes have told me that their denomination was going on such retreats BEFORE 1970; I wonder how many additional denominations were  going on these retreats before 1970.] They would come back refreshed, Willard remembers [so obviously Willard took part in these], and others would worry about their orthodoxy. An evangelical speaker at one of the movement’s better-known colleges [what speaker and what college?] exemplified the confusion: “Why are all these people going to Catholic monasteries,” he asked, “when we have all these good books here?” The truth was supposed to take care of everything. The trouble was, it did not.

The trend of engagement with Catholic spirituality continued, and of course Foster’s 1978 Celebration would become a great part of that. Nor did the trend stop with the Catholic Church. Though the defection of Campus Crusade leaders in the 1960s to Orthodoxy [Greek Orthodox, etc.] was more an isolated event than a bellwether, Willard says that today, “I constantly find pastors who discover the Philokalia—the great treasure on the Christian life of the Greek and Russian church—and people wallow in the riches of it.”

What Was Recovered, And What It Meant

What, then, has really been “recovered” by those who have found sustenance in historical Christian spirituality[i.e. primarily Catholic mysticism]? Willard offers this theological definition of the term “spiritual disciplines”: “Doing what we can do with our body, mind, spirit [interesting – these three terms are also used by New Agers], to receive from God power or ability to do what we cannot do by human effort.” Peterson offers a different slant, less focused on activities that we do or perform: “There’s a certain learned passivity about the spiritual life that is hard to program and hard to make popular. People who give leadership in spiritual direction [Spiritual Directors], the good ones, that’s basically what they’re doing: they’re trying to train us and teach us how not to be in control of our lives; to enter into what God is doing already.”

Of course, for most of us, experience has preceded definition. “People would experiment with solitude or silence,” says Willard, “and they would find themselves becoming less angry, or no longer contemptuous.” A quick check with the gospels would reveal these practical values, hidden there in plain sight. Discipleship, which for many evangelicals had meant nothing more than a certain kind of evangelism or Bible memorization [sorry to tell you this, Foster and company, this is true Christianity], would suddenly come into focus as “a way of living with Jesus so that the fruit of the spirit begin to work their way into our system” (Foster).

A key element of the evangelical recovery of spirituality has been the return to history [i.e. a return to the reading of Catholic mystics, primarily]. As models for imitation, the “communion of saints” is an untapped power among Protestants. This is what Foster describes as he first encountered such figures as A Kempis, Saint Patrick, Francis, Teresa, and Augustine—and among these, Protestants such as Bonhoeffer and Hudson Taylor, his heroes as a young man. Foster describes his encounter: “I saw a vision for a way of life that can produce a truly good person—that is, a person penetrated throughout by love, a person who can see everything in the light of God’s overriding governance for good, a person who can stand in the most difficult of circumstances, a person who has the power to overcome evil and do what’s right.”

Hitting a Wall

Despite the popularity of such [primarily Catholic mystic] historical resources since the 1970s, the evangelical move toward spiritual ressourcement [Spiritual Formation] seems to have stalled out [supposedly]. Discipline requires, by definition, submission. Still marked by the antitraditionalism and pragmatism of their fundamentalist roots, evangelicals seem by and large unwilling to submit their spiritual growth to anything that looks like a mediating practice or tradition. They start from the assumption of unmediated access to the throne of God [this is no assumption – born again evangelicals DO have access to the throne of God via prayer] and rush ahead in fevered activism. Evangelical leadership is not helping. Foster observes that the ABCs of evangelical ministry are still “attendance, buildings, and cash” [does Foster really believe that is all that evangelicals are doing?] rather than the basics of discipleship [Spiritual Formation]. True, many evangelicals have been opened to the riches of Christian spiritual tradition, but we have barely scratched the surface.

At its heart, the failure seems one of theological formation. Evangelical theological education has in many ways, reflects Houston, “failed as an educative process for the soul.” Overwhelming the crucial impulse to spiritual formation has been the tendency of many evangelical seminarians to “play to the gallery of academia—seeking intellectual respectability.” [I disagree with this assessment – there are very few Christian colleges and seminaries today that are not teaching Spiritual Formation with its occultish contemplative prayer/contemplative spirituality practices.] In other words, modern evangelical seminaries are still engaged in the famous medieval debate between the mystic Bernard of Clairvaux and the scholastic Peter Abelard: “Is knowledge for knowledge’s sake or for the love of God?” The burden of their response seems to have fallen on Abelard’s side.

The fault is not often that of the students. A syndrome of disconnection between theology and spirituality marks most seminary programs. Willard observes, “most of the programs of spiritual formation in evangelical seminaries remain outside the theology departments, marginalized from the mainstream of seminary life and thought.” As a result, although evangelical seminarians have dabbled in the “spiritual classics,” their theology has not caught up to their practice. Spiritual formation teachings have not been rooted in theological understandings about who God is and how we relate to him.

Emblematic of this disconnect is the fact that the most notable champions of evangelical spiritual ressourcement have come from outside the theological guild. Foster and Peterson are pastors, Willard a philosopher, and Houston a geologist. We owe them much, but without theologians willing to embrace broader definitions [broader definitions? – there is only one definition] of “being saved”—definitions that go beyond “going to heaven” to the “living out” of a graced life on earth—spirituality would seem destined to languish, an orphan among the disciplines of our seminaries.

A Cloud The Size of a Man’s Fist

Yet, there is a glimmer of change. We see it in Wheaton College’s Sixteenth Annual Theology Conference, held in April of 2007. Under the guidance of the late Robert Webber, this annual meeting of evangelical theologians took as its theme “The Ancient Faith for the Church’s Future.” The tone was set by the call for papers, which rejoiced that “one of the most promising developments among evangelical Protestants is the recent ‘discovery’ of the rich biblical, spiritual, and theological treasures to be found within the early church.” Evangelicals, it said, are beginning to “reach back behind the European Enlightenment for patterns and models of how to faithfully read Scripture, worship, and engage a religiously diverse culture.”

The titles of some of these papers indicate this awakening. Paul Kim examined “Apatheia and Atonement: Christology of Cyril of Alexandria for the Contemporary Grammar of Salvation”; Darren Sarisky explored “Basil of Caesarea on Theological Exegesis”; John Witvliet advocated for “Recovering the Genius of Ancient Liturgical Forms and Patterns: Some Instructive Fourth Century Models of Prayer and Liturgical Catechesis”; Bradley Nassif looked to “The Ecumenical Councils (C.E. 325–787): The Untamable Life of the Spirit in the Orthodox Reception of Truth.”

The energy of these and other papers indicates an evangelical trend not just among scholars but also among graduate students. Conference presenter D. H. Williams, author of the illuminating Evangelicals and Tradition (2005), testified to the recent upsurge of evangelical commitment to the theological study of patristics (the study of the “church fathers” in the first seven centuries of the church): “Who would have thought, a decade ago, that one of the most vibrant and serious fields of Christian study at the beginning of the twenty-first century would be the ancient church fathers? There has been an opening of new avenues, especially among free-church Protestants, by the almost overnight popularity of bishops and monks, martyrs and apologists, philosophers and historians who first fashioned a Christian culture 1500 years ago.”7 One is reminded of Thomas Oden’s observation, “The sons and daughters of modernity are rediscovering the neglected beauty of classical Christian teaching. It is a moment of joy, of beholding anew what had been nearly forgotten, of hugging a lost child.”8

Admittedly, these signs still amount to a cloud the size of a man’s fist on evangelicalism’s theological horizon. But could the evangelical movement toward traditional spiritual disciplines [primarily Catholic mysticism] be poised to receive a much-needed theological makeover? Is evangelical theology about to catch up with evangelical spiritual practice?…

NOTES

1 Richard Lovelace, “The Sanctification Gap,” Theology Today 29:4 (January, 1973): 363–369.

2 D. L. Moody, “The Gospel Awakening” (Chicago: Fairbanks and Palmer, 1885), 667.

3 See Nathan Hatch, Democratization of American Christianity (Yale University Press, 1991) and Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (Vintage, 1966).

4 See the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.

5 Hatch, Democratization.

6 On the history of evangelicalism’s anti-Catholicism, see Mark Noll and Caroline Nystrom, Is the Reformation Over?: An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism (Baker Academic, 2008).

7 D. H. Williams, “Similis et Dissimilis: Gauging our Expectations of the Early Fathers,” paper given at the Sixteenth Annual Wheaton Theology Conference, April 12–14, 2007. Note that this and other papers from the conference have been published in Ancient Faith for the Church’s Future, ed. Mark Husbands and Jeffrey P. Greenman (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2008). My brief review of that book may be found at http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/booksandresources/reviews/alexandriawheaton.html.

8 Thomas Oden, After Modernity . . . What? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992), 14.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Update:  I have made an attempt to “tone down” most of my blogs about Evangelical Friends/Quakers, to not be so hurtful to my many friends in the EFCI (and EFC-ER). Yet when I see what is going on, I still feel compelled to speak out. Read on.
————————————————————————————————–
I stumbled across this interview with Spiritual Formation founder Richard Foster. I was especially interested in Foster’s connections with the Evangelical Friends, now the EFCI (Evangelical Friends Church International) denomination.

I am providing some excerpts below, which provide further details concerning Foster’s early connections with Evangelical Friends.  I am emphasizing some points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets]. Click here for the original article.

A Life Formed in the Spirit
Interview by Mark Galli, with Richard Foster. posted 9/17/2008

Thirty-one years ago, not many evangelicals thought much of the “spiritual disciplines,” and when they did, they thought of them negatively—as one more form of works righteousness. That began to change substantially 30 years ago, with the publication of Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster [in 1978]. This book, arguably more than any other, introduced evangelicals not only to the disciplines, but also to the wealth of spiritual formation writing from the medieval and ancient church. Today you are almost as likely to hear an evangelical talk about Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ as Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life.

The idea for Celebration grew in the heat of pastoral work, as Foster explains below. The church of his youth supported him financially and in prayer as he made his way through college (George Fox) and seminary (Fuller)…

(The full story of the publication is told in the introduction to the [second] edition of Celebration.)
[Christianity Today] Senior managing editor Mark Galli sat down with Foster in his home in Colorado to talk about the genesis of his lifelong work in spiritual formation, and how the disciplines have shaped him personally.

Let’s begin at the beginning of your spiritual formation: How did you become a Christian?

My conversion came as a young teenager, early high-school years. Youth for Christ was prominent in that, as well as a local congregation, Alameda Friends Church in Garden Grove in Orange County, Southern California. This is pre-Robert Schuller days…

What were the key influences in your early Christian faith?

One was a youth pastor at that church…

A second was Bonhoeffer and his writings, especially The Cost of Discipleship

How did you start to become interested in spiritual formation in a more focused way?

My first church out of [Fuller Seminary] was a Friends church in San Fernando Valley in Southern California, with between 55 and 80 people on Sunday mornings. Dallas Willard and his wife attended there—she was the organist, and he led singing. Dallas also taught classes at the church, material that eventually became The Divine Conspiracy.

In that little church, when I taught, people might come, but when Dallas taught, they brought their tape recorders. And I did too! I cancelled all adult Sunday school classes when he taught.

We not only had teaching, but we would also visit in homes…

I don’t know exactly why—I instinctively went to the old writers. I just felt like Augustine’s Confessions and Teresa’s Interior Castle—this was real meat…

You were conceiving of pastoral work primarily as spiritual formation, which would have been pretty unusual at the time.

God was gracious. We were there doing what we could do and fumbling around and learning and growing and teaching and trying it. All the stuff that later came out in Celebration of Discipline, we were doing it all. And we had really good experiences and we had failures, too. I tried to get the congregation to have experiences of fasting. I never was very good at that. People would always have headaches from caffeine withdrawal. I found it was much better for just a few of us to try things out and see what we learned and go from there.

We were a small congregation. Dallas once told me that I should really be glad that that was the case, because we could experiment with all these things. And also, we were far removed from the powers. We weren’t a significant anything…

Writing has been a large part of your spiritual formation work. When did you first start writing for publication?

Writing emerged early on in my ministry. At the time, I never told anybody about this, not even Carolyn. I was too embarrassed about it. But I began to think about it. Churches in those days would often have a midweek newsletter. In that newsletter I would write an essay. It was a teaching, a 500-word essay every week…

I began writing for magazines, initially anonymously as John Q. Catalyst. I did maybe 50 or 60 little articles that way for publications like Quaker Life, and one for Moody Monthly

Throughout the interview, Richard Foster treads lightly, conveniently failing to mention the occult, New Age-ish aspects of contemplative prayer/contemplative spirituality.  He mentions the disciplines of fasting and of solitude, but hardly a word about contemplative prayer.  I assume that, by the time this interview took place (2008), Foster had received a great deal of backlash regarding contemplative prayer practices. This could be why Foster skirted this issue in his interview.

Read Full Post »

You will find that some of my blogs are password protected. Most of these blogs have to deal with very personal issues. For example, a list of individuals in the EFCI (Evangelical Friends Church International) who are promulgating Spiritual Formation.

Some readers have gotten very upset about these blogs, saying they have been hurt by my naming names. I feel this information is important to get out – yet I also understand this can cause hurt feelings.

As a compromise for now, I have made these blogs password protected.  To read password protected blogs on my blogsite, simply type “Password request” in the Comment box below (which is private), then hit “Post Comment”. I will write back to you with the password.

Read Full Post »

(revised 03/16/13)

Click here for my new blog on David Crowder’s book Praise Habit, in which he teaches occultish, contemplative Lectio Divina to young teens.
———————————————————————————————–

Here’s the skinny on the heretical Emergent David Crowder and his band. David Crowder played at Willoughby Hills Friends Church, in the  EFC-ER (Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region), on 09/18/11. My question is WHY? Why did this heretical musician play there?

Note – the following blog describes the Roman Catholic  practices of David Crowder. But this is only the tip of Crowder’s destructive theological iceberg. Crowder is heavily promoting  postmodern (Emerging/Emergent/Emergence) teachings. We can see this on his website, as well as in his participation at numerous postmodern events.

Click here for the original critique, by Defending Contending, copied verbatim. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Following is the Defending Contending expose:

And now the latest pockmark to appear on the already scarred face of CCM comes from one of evangelicalism’s favorite “worship leaders,” David Crowder of the David Crowder Band.

    Crowder, who is the

author of the contemplative-promoting book, Praise Habit (referring to the habits worn by Catholic nuns),

also participated in a contemplative/emergent conference with the likes of

Leonard Sweet, Chuck Fromm (founder of the event and of Worship Leader magazine), emerging leader Sally Morgenthaler, Brennan Manning proponent Michael W. Smith . . . contemplative/emerging Marva Dawn, Alpha Course leader and contemplative proponent Todd Hunter, and others.

(See more about this from the source Lighthouse Trails.)

But Crowder’s lack of discernment doesn’t end here. He recently granted an interview to the Roman Catholic “movement” known as Life Teen (whose promo video was previously featured on DefCon here) in which they state on their website:

Because of our deep Eucharistic devotion, Life Teen has developed a spirituality that is

  • 100% Catholic
  • Obedient to the Magisterium
  • Centered on the Eucharist
  • Scriptural
  • Liturgical
  • Catechetical
  • Sacramental
  • Focused on social justice

And:

On December 9, 2007, [at] the Feast of St. Juan Diego, we consecrated the Life Teen movement to the Blessed Virgin Mary and will renew our consecration annually by prayerfully participating in the St. Louis Marie de Montfort Total Consecration. [Emphasis theirs]

And:

Our entire ministry is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary so that we may be led to the feet of her son with the obedience she exemplified.

If you’re wondering why Crowder (or any evangelical for that matter) would grant an interview with the idolatrous Romanists whose teachings and beliefs are antithetical to biblical Christianity, wonder no more. Crowder–whose music may very well be in your car stereo or on your teenager’s ipod right now–concedes in this interview a rather interesting source of influence in the “formation of [his] faith.”

Here’s the question from the interviewer Matt Smith:

You are not Catholic, but on your “Illuminate” album, you sing a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. What’s your connection?

Here’s the evangelical “worship leader’s” answer:

Much of the Catholic traditions and writings have been influential in my formation of faith and to be quite contradictory of what was stated earlier, I’ve found much inspiration there. St. Francis is a figure I’m equally attracted to and repelled by. I long for his powers of disassociation from the trappings of “stuff.” I’m beset with consumption and materialism, and he is a compelling symbol of contentment. His contentment and way of suffering terrify me.

You can read the whole interview here.

Let this be a warning fellow pilgrims, not all that glitters is gold, and not everything labeled “Christian,” that’s sold in “Christian” bookstores, and that’s played on “Christian” pop-music stations is what it’s purported to be.

Be cautious that you are not influenced by those who’ve been influenced by Rome. Be careful little eyes what you see; be careful little ears what you hear; and always be sure to choose your entertainment wisely.

FOR FURTHER READING

David Crowder Band Appears at Emergent YS Convention in Nashville (May 2004)

Heretical musician David Crowder’s book “Praise Habit” teaches occultish, contemplative Lectio Divina to young teens

 

Read Full Post »

I received this wonderful message from a reader on 05/14/11.  I am omitting some personal details to keep this reader’s identity anonymous. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets]:

Hi Dave –

I was a birthright Hicksite Quaker… We attended progressive Quaker schools such as Swarthmore College and George School.

My Quaker [acquaintances] were appalled when I became a born again Christian…

The senior pastor of my church [not a Quaker church] where I have been a member for [many] years has recently recommended the devotional discipleship of Richard Foster. I looked him up. I was intrigued that he was an Evangelical Quaker, but I was quick to discover that the core of Foster’s teaching is not Biblical. He denies man’s birth in spiritual death and denies that the only way to be born spiritually alive is to accept Jesus Christ as Savior. This new spirituality looks to me like the heresy of mysticism deceptively cloaked in seemingly Biblical teaching…

… I look forward to reading about this on your website.

Late in my research, I was linked to your 1877 quote from an Ohio Quaker meeting condemning George Fox’s [Inner Light] mysticism which succinctly summed up my angst…

[I have withheld this person’s name]

Read Full Post »

I was under the impression that the Emerging/Emergent church movements started in 1995. Not so – their roots date back as far as 1970. Check out the following blog posted by Discernment Research Group. The original post can be found here.

I am emphasizing certain points by bolding, and adding comments in [brackets]. Also, I am hoping to add links for more info on various individuals. Here is the blog:

How Leadership Network created the “Emerging Church”

There are many interconnections between Bob Buford of the Leadership Network (1), Rick Warren of “purpose-driven” fame, and Brian McLaren of the “Emerging Church.” On the website http://www.anewkindofchristian.com/archives/000226.html, “The website for A New Kind of Christian, Brian McLaren answers the question, “How did Emergent start?”

“1. Emergent grew out of the Young Leader Networks, which was launched in the mid-90’s by Leadership Network, a Dallas-based foundation. Doug Pagitt, Chris Seay, Andrew Jones, Brad Smith, and others were involved before I was, and they did a great job of setting a tone and direction for the emergent conversation.”

In order to understand the significance of this answer, a bit of background information might be helpful. This is a movement that is bringing in new doctrines and new church structures, particularly targeted at a younger generation of Christians. Berit Kjos, writing about Brian McLaren, notes the connection between McLaren and Rick Warren and comments on the methods of changing doctrine:

“While many pastors and church leaders have written books that describe this spiritual transformation, the message of Pastor Brian McLaren carries more weight since he is an acknowledged leader in this movement. Some of his articles are posted at http://www.pastors.com/, a website founded by Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life. McLaren’s book, A New Kind of Christian, is written as a semi-fictional dialogue, so that readers can experience the thrill of questioning old truths and discovering new truth through the dialectic process. . . . [T]he introduction touts the postmodern worldview while raising doubts about Biblical faith . . . . ” [http://www.crossroad.to/News/Church/Klenck2.html]

Robert Klenck, in an excellent and comprehensive article at http://www.crossroad.to/Excerpts/church/new-kind-christian.htm entitled “What’s Wrong With the 21st Century Church?” writes about the purpose of the Emerging Church:

“The Mission of the Leadership Network is to ‘Accelerate the emergence of the 21st-century church,’ and that the (emerging) ‘paradigm (of the 21st century church) is not centered in theology, but rather it is focused on structure, organization, and the transition from an institutionally based church to a mission-driven church.’ [emphasis added]

“The Young Leader Networks, affiliated with the Leadership Network, under the heading ‘People We Connect’ state that they connect ‘Theologians who construct new theologies that emerge out of practice.’ and that ‘We need your help to move to this “new age” of ministry built upon various experiences and expressions (emphasis added).’ ‘Our vision is to contextualize our message…by narrative preaching opposed to propositional. … within the framework of relationship. We prefer the mediums of art, expression, and experience opposed to a 95-point sermon used by generations before us to communicate truth.‘” [emphasis added]

[A more comprehensive history and explanation of Bob Buford and the Leadership Network is found in Robert Klenck’s report, “How Diaprax Manifests Itself in the Church (Growth Movement),” available in a booklet published by the Institution for Authority Research’s “Readings in the Dialectic” (e-mail iardeangotcher@yahoo.com for information on how to purchase this excellent report). For more information on the Leadership Network and Rick Warren, see “The Shepherding Movement Comes of Age,” at http://www.discernment-ministries.org/NLjanfeb_2003.htm and “The Pied Pipers of Purpose,” http://www.discernment-ministries.org/Purpose_Driven.pdf.]

“What Is Emerging?”

In an article with this title, Chuck Smith, Jr. wrote in April 28, 2005, under a section entitled “Rewind to the 1970s” that Leadership Network had a direct role in setting up the Emergent Church:

“As far back as 1970, Larry Richards was calling for A New Face for the Church and in 1975 Howard Snyder pointed out The Problem with Wineskins. The student revolution of the 1960s marked the beginning of change in western society, and prescient believers were already discovering that the church would have to alter some of its structures in order to recast biblical community in the new world, still forming. The recommended changes of the ‘60s, however, had more to do with tweaking existing structures rather than calling the entire structure, right down to its foundation, into question.

“In the last decade of the 20th century, a small group of Christian leaders were drawn together by their mutual conviction that evangelicalism had produced a subculture that was no longer the best possible representation of Christianity. The world that had given birth to North American evangelical institutions (established basically through the 1940s to the 1960s) had disappeared by 1990. These believers realized that pushing the same methodologies (perhaps even the idea of methodology) and striving to salvage the old worldview would increasingly alienate popular culture and future generations of Christian youth.

“The group that met together to discuss these issues was fortunately blessed with astute and theologically informed thinkers like Brian McLaren and Tony Jones; ecclesiastical innovators like Todd Hunter, Chris Seay, and Brad Cecil; advocates of worship renewal like Sally Morgenthaler; and world-Christians like Andrew Jones. Scholars who had been discerning the times—Len Sweet, Stanley Grenz, N. T. Wright, Robert Webber, and Dallas Willard, to name a few—forged a biblical vocabulary that enabled the early team to converse intelligently on issues that were their passion. All of them shared two basic beliefs: western culture had radically changed since the 1950s, and the church desperately needed renovation to respond to cultural changes.

“The more the original crew talked among themselves, the more their numbers grew. In the early 1990s, Leadership Network provided the initial platform for them to generate more discussions and host conferences. Later they adopted the name The TerraNova Project, and when Leadership Network withdrew its support, they became Emergent, which Brian McLaren insists is a conversation rather than a movement.” [New link
http://www.forministry.com/vsItemDisplay.dsp&objectID=A670797B-0CBE-43D1-A877B4F9EA43CC4F&method=display&templateID=C3435351-D45C-4B52-867A3F794D1CD85C, emphasis added]

Brian McLaren confirms this history in an interview at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week846/interview.html, July 15, 2005, in answer to the question “How did all of this get started?”

“Well, back in the early 1990s there was an organization called Leadership Network funded by an individual in Texas, and Leadership Network was bringing together the leaders of megachurches around the country. By the early and mid-’90s, they noticed, though, that the kinds of people that were coming to their events were getting a year older every year, and there wasn’t a [group of] younger people filling in. They were one of the first major organizations to notice this.

“They started realizing that there was a sentence that was being said by church leaders of all denominations across the country, and that was, “You know, we don’t have anybody between 18 and 35.” When they started paying attention to this increased dropout rate among young adults in church attendance, that opened up a discussion in the mid-’90s about Gen X. And so they starting bringing together young leaders in the Gen X category to talk about what was working in the church, what wasn’t working, what was going on.

“After a couple of years some of these young Gen X guys said, ‘You know, it’s not really about a generation. It’s really about philosophy; it’s really about a cultural shift. It’s not just about a style of dress, a style of music, but that there’s something going on in our culture. And those of us who are younger have to grapple with this and live with this.” The term that they were using was the shift from modern to a postmodern culture. And so what began to happen — and as this thing had a life of its own, they said, ‘If it’s not just about Gen X, then we have to make sure that we get some older people who aren’t just in that age frame to talk about this.’

“I had just written a book on the subject. That’s how I got involved, and it turned out that there were a number of us, all simultaneously thinking we were the only one talking about it and thinking and writing about it, who all around the same time were noticing the same phenomenon. So it was a very exciting coming together of these younger leaders and some of us a little bit older, saying, ‘This is our world, and this is the future. And the Christian faith and our individual churches, we’ve got to engage with and deal with it.'”

The Truth:

Pastor Enrique Ivaldi, at www.freewebs.com/luteranos/ in a recent sermon entitled “Ye are Clean, But Not All,” observed:

“There is much truth in what the devil teaches. Remember, the devil is called the master deceiver in Scripture and to deceive people, you have to use truth. You cannot use all error. Nobody would be deceived if it were all error. You have to mix truth and error together and that is what the devil is a master at doing. There is much truth in what the devil teaches. In fact, there is so much truth in it that you may not be able to find anything wrong with it. In these last days that truth will be so combined with error that unless the Holy Ghost is working on your mind, you will not be able to tell the difference.”

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

posted by Discernment Research Group @ 11/09/2005 10:36:00 AM

ENDNOTES

(1) Links with info about the Leadership Network:
http://leadnet.org//about/page/mission

Read Full Post »

Several Emerging/Emergent readers have responded negatively to my blogs. They have said things like, “You don’t really understand what the Emerging and Emergent movements are all about.” Or, “Our denomination is still conservative and evangelical, not Emerging/Emergent.” Or, “Our Holiness denomination still believes the way it did 100 years ago.”

This last statement is fairly easy to disprove. Holiness denominations 100 years ago held strongly to The Fundamentals of 1910-1915. If we list the “fundamental doctrines” of The Fundamentals, we can then go through the list and determine which (if any) of the doctrines today’s New Evangelicals and Emerging/Emergent Evangelicals still hold to. (Nearly all evangelicals today are either New Evangelical or Emerging/ Emergent.) The results will not be very encouraging, I can assure you…

Before I provide a list of fundamental doctrines – and determine which (if any) of the fundamentals today’s evangelicals still hold to – I am providing the Wikipedia article on The Fundamentals below.  (Wikipedia is not necessarily accurate.) I will add links, emphasize by bolding, and insert comments in [bracketing]:

The Fundamentals

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Fundamentals or The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth edited by A. C. Dixon and later by Reuben Archer Torrey is a set of 90 essays in 12 volumes published from 1910 to 1915 by the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. They were designed to affirm orthodox Protestant beliefs and defend against ideas deemed inimical to them. They are widely considered to be the foundation of the modern Fundamentalist movement.

The essays were originally financed by Lyman Stewart[1] in 1909[2] to set out what they believed to be the fundamentals of Christian faith.[2] These were to be sent free to ministers, missionaries, Sunday School superintendents and others active in Christian ministry.[3]

The volumes defended orthodox Protestant beliefs and attacked higher criticism, liberal theology, Catholicism (also called by them Romanism), socialism, modern philosophy, atheism, Christian Science, Mormonism, Millennial Dawn (an early term for a particular Christian Bible Student movement which mostly later became the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” denomination), Spiritualism, and evolutionism (an article by geologist George Frederick Wright). (Wright did not attack biological evolution.)[I oppose Wright’s article; he supported theistic evolution. It is unfortunate that his unbiblical position was included in The Fundamentals.]

The previous paragraph alludes to “orthodox Protestant beliefs.” The Fundamentals defended five “basic doctrines” as follows (click here for a detailed discussion of these five doctrines):

1. The Trinity: God is one “What” and three “Whos” with each “Who” possessing all the attributes of Deity and personality.

2. The Person of Jesus Christ: Jesus is 100% God and 100% man for all eternity.

3. The Second Coming: Jesus Christ is coming bodily to earth to rule and judge.

4. Salvation: It is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

5. The Scripture: It is entirely inerrant and sufficient for all Christian life.

Now back to the Wikipedia article:

Contents of The Fundamentals

The 90 articles are available online in various places. I am pointing readers to this online source, rather than the Wikipedia list of articles. I assume the Wikipedia list is from an earlier edition of The Fundamentals. The “online article” website lists 90 articles in four volumes, while the Wikipedia list organizes the 90 articles in twelve volumes, in a different sequence.

I like this online source:

Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4

Authors of The Fundamentals Articles

Robert Anderson (1841-1918)
http://cgi.ebay.com/Sir-Robert-Anderson-26-ebooks-Full-Collection-Cd-New-/160363854913
– http://www.phc.edu/gj_philjohnsonpap.php
Henry H. Beach
F. Bettex
George S. Bishop
Thomas Boston
Charles A. Bowen
James Burrell
J.L. Campbell
William Caven
Howard Crosby
A. C. Dixon
– another link – http://www.dbts.edu/journals/1996_1/ACDIXON.PDF
Charles R. Erdman
W. J. Erdman
J. M. Foster
Henry W. Frost
Arno C. Gaebelein
James M. Gray
Dyson Hague
David Heagle
Franklin Johnson
Howard A. Kelly
M.G. Kyle
George W. Lasher
http://baptisthistoryhomepage.com/lasher.george.w.bio.html
Lord Lyttleton
Daniel Hoffman Martin
Philip Mauro
R.G. McNiece
John McNicol
T. W. Medhurst
William G. Moorehead
G. Campbell Morgan
H. C. G. Moule
E. Y. Mullins
L. W. Munhall
John L. Nuelsen
James Orr
Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis (I added this link)
George F. Pentecost
http://books.google.com/books?id=9WXozG4cLPIC&pg=PA435#v=onepage&q&f=false
Arthur T. Pierson
A. W. Pitzer
Algernon J. Pollock
William C. Procter
J.J. Reeve
Andrew Craig Robinson
George L. Robinson
Bishop Ryle
C. I. Scofield (I added link)
Robert E. Speer
Thomas Spurgeon
E.J. Stobo
John Stock
John Timothy Stone
Charles T. Studd
H. M. Sydenstricker
W.H. Griffith Thomas
R. A. Torrey
Canon G. Osborne Troop
Charles Gallaudet Trumbull
Benjamin B. Warfield
H. W. Webb-Peploe
Thomas Whitelaw
Charles B. Williams
Joseph D. Wilson
Maurice E. Wilson
George Frederick Wright

References

  1. ^ Marsden, George M. (2006). Fundamentalism and American Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 118. ISBN 0-19-530047-5. OCLC 61445933.
  2. ^ a b Malone, David (May 29, 2009). “Fundamentals”. Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections. Retrieved 2009-07-18.
  3. ^ Marsden, George M. (2006). Fundamentalism and American Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 119. ISBN 0-19-530047-5. OCLC 61445933.

Online copies

Further reading

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: