I grew up in the Evangelical Friends denomination (now known as the EFCI), during a time period in which it was much more biblically sound. Yes, between the years of 1854-1965, many Evangelical Friends aka Gurneyite Friends held a born again, biblically sound separatist fundamentalist Wesleyan Holiness theology – particularly in Ohio Yearly Meeting (OYM). Never once did I hear the terms Inner Light, direct revelation, etc. in the church services of Ohio Yearly Meeting. My fondest memories are of a small OYM church where we:
* heard regular altar calls
* sang gospel hymns such as “The Old Rugged Cross” and “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood”
* attended Wednesday night prayer meetings where many old saints of God prayed fervently on their knees
Unfortunately, like myself, Richard Foster also grew up in the Evangelical Friends denomination. And he latched on to the contemplative teachings of heretical Quaker founder George Fox. Foster’s bestseller Celebration of Discipline came out in 1978; it was eagerly welcomed by Evangelical Friends. And the rest is history. Along with Eugene Peterson, Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet and many other Emerging/Emergents, Foster has wrought immeasurable damage to the Evangelical Friends and most other evangelical denominations. (I’m not sure who is more culpable – these Emerging/Emergent pioneers, or the Evangelical Friends denominational leaders who have welcomed them with open arms.)
What exactly are the heresies of Richard Foster, and why are they so dangerous? And what is the connection between the heresies of Foster and the heresies of Quakers? Ken Silva explains the connection in the article I’ve reposted below. Click here for Silva’s original article.
Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. (Jeremiah 14:14, NASB)
Richard Foster Is Not An Evangelical Christian He Is A Quaker
This well-documented piece from Apprising Ministries is designed primarily as a reference article as it concerns The Cult of Guru Richard Foster. Founder of Renovare “Christian Roshi” Richard Foster is not an evangelical Christian; but rather, he is a Quaker:
Richard J. Foster (Quaker) — Richard is the founder of RENOVARÉ and author of six books including Celebration of Discipline, PRAYER: Finding the Heart’s True Home, and Streams of Living Water which effectively promote personal spiritual renewal. From his base near Denver, Colorado, where he and Carolynn, his wife, live, Richard travels throughout the world, speaking and teaching on the spiritual life. (Online source).
Next this from QuakerInfo.com:
Perhaps the best known Quaker in the world today is Richard J. Foster, although many are at most dimly aware that he is associated with the Religious Society of Friends. He is clearly one of the leading contemporary writers and speakers on Christian spirituality. While maintaining his ties with Friends, Foster deliberately speaks to a much broader audience.
Richard Foster grew up among Evangelical Friends. In adult life, he has been a Friends pastor and a professor of theology at Friends University among the many positions he has held. In his books and speaking, he frequently makes reference to Quaker historical figures and his own Quakerism. (Online source)
And then the interspiritual website Spirituality & Practice website, which lists Foster among their “Living Spiritual Teachers” such as Marcus Borg, Deepak Chopra, and the Dali Lama, also confirms the above:
Richard J. Foster is the founder of RENOVARÉ, an international, ecumenical Christian organization working for the renewal of the Church of Jesus Christ in all her multifaceted expressions. Members are dedicated to following the powerful movement of the Spirit of God by bringing together the best spiritual treasures of several great Christian streams of faith and witness… Foster is an Evangelical Friend, one of the Quaker groups.
With the “Evangelical” Quakers we are again dealing with a reinterpretation of what is meant by evangelical. I’ll show you what I mean from the website of the Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI). They tell you they are “evangelical,” and in their mind they are. However, in the “History” section of EFCI we read:
The Friends Church, originally called the “Religious Society of Friends” began in England under the leadership of George Fox… His spiritual experience led him to witness to what he called the “Inner Light” of Christ (the Holy Spirit) that dwells in the hearts of ordinary people…
Through the years many changes have occurred, producing differences among various groups of Friends. Some groups maintain “quiet meetings” [without pastors or musical instruments]. Evangelical Friends Church International [EFCI] churches have forms of worship similar to other Protestant denominations. However, like Fox their focus remains an individual, personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. (Online source, emphasis mine)
If you go back and just read the hightlighted within that section above it will show you where one needs to focus to see through the EFCI redefined evangelical double-speak. I cover this in excruciating detail in Contemplating the Inner Light of the Quakers (Pt. 2) so all I’m going to do here is draw your attention to a couple of key points as it concerns the warped theology of Richard Foster. To be a Quaker is to follow the movement—regardless of what window dressing you may later add to, or subtract from, it—begun through George Fox in England in the mid-1640s, as allegedly the restoration of genuine Christianity.
The Personal Revelation From God To George Fox Of “Inner Light”
Men and women, George Fox is the bad tree that all other flavors of Quakerism branch out from. But you need to understand that Fox was heretical; he was not an evangelical or even an orthodox Christian in the first place; and he flatly rejected the essential doctrine of Sola Scriptura. The absolute fact is that Fox focused on “individual, “personal” revelation outside of Scripture, which becomes crystal clear through the following entry from his own journal:
I heard a voice which said, “There is one, even Jesus Christ, that can speak to thy condition”: and when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy. Then the Lord did let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give Him all the glory; for all are concluded under sin, and shut up in unbelief, as I had been, that Jesus Christ might have the pre-eminence, who enlightens, and gives grace and faith and power. Thus when God doth work, who shall let it?
And this I knew experientially. My desires after the Lord grew stronger, and zeal in the pure knowledge of God, and of Christ alone, without the help of any man, book, or writing. For though I read the Scriptures that spake of Christ and of God, yet I knew Him not, but by revelation, as He who hath the key did open, and as the Father of Life drew me to His Son by His Spirit…
Now when the Lord God and His Son Jesus Christ sent me forth into the world, to preach His everlasting gospel and kingdom, I was glad that I was commanded to turn people to that inward light, spirit, and grace, by which all might know their salvation, and their way to God; even that divine Spirit which would lead them into all Truth, and which I infallibly knew would never deceive any. (Online source)
Note here that Fox is claiming God spoke to him directly’ and this apart from any “book, or writing,” and what is more he “infallibly knew” this revelation was of the Holy Spirit. Ah—one would have to say this doesn’t exactly give anybody much room to disagree, eh. “Thus saith George”—oops, make that God; or um, maybe it really was just George after all? Had you been one of the ones Fox approached with this revelation how would you have known if what he claimed was of God or not? Hint: B-i-b-l-e.
The well-respected Handbook Of Denominations In The United States (HoD) from Mead and Hill informs us that the Quakers date “from the late 1650’s in England” and “ the Society of Friends, or Quakers, is an unconventional but esteemed Protestant body.” *heavy sigh* Well, that all depends on how we define “Protestant.” As a matter of fact Bill Samuel, the Quaker who runs the aforementioned Quaker Info.com, has a most *ahem* enlightening piece that asks “Are Quakers Protestant?” where some interesting information comes…well, emerging:
It is quite clear from reading the works of early Friends that they did not identify with the Protestant movement. They considered the Protestant churches of their day, as well as the Roman Catholics, to be apostate… There were a number of differences early Friends had with Protestants of their day. Some of the key differences were:
- The Protestants replaced the authority of the church with the authority of the Bible. Friends, while accepting the validity of the scriptures and believing in the importance of the faith community, gave first place to the Spirit of Christ. Pointing to the prologue of the Gospel of John, they viewed Christ, not the Bible, as the Word of God. The scripture was secondary, a declaration of the fountain rather than the fountain itself. (See also Friends (Quakers) and the Bible.)
- The Protestants replaced liturgy with a sermon as the center of worship. Friends center worship in the divine presence. Even though Friends disdain outward liturgy, in some sense Quaker worship may be closer to Catholic than Protestant in nature. Both Catholics and Quakers believe in the actual presence of Christ in worship, for Catholics centered in the host and for Quakers spiritually. (Online source)
Does any of that ring, O I dunno, a Rob Bell? In any event, as we return to HoD we’re told the Quakers are unique because “they affirm the ‘Inner Light,’ the spiritual nerve center that God has placed in every person.” And in addition “classical Friends deny the validity of clergy, liturgy, and sacraments” (140, emphasis mine). HoD then gives us a further historical background:
The Society of Friends began with the vision of George Fox (1624-91), a British seeker after spiritual truth and peace during the turmoil of the English Civil War and its aftermath. After failing to find satisfactory truth and peace in the churches of his time, Fox discovered what he sought in a direct personal relationship with Christ:
“When all my hopes in [churches] were gone… I heard a voice which said, ‘That is the Inner Voice, or Inner Light, based upon the description of John 1:9: ‘the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (KJV)’ ”
“This voice,” Fox maintained, “is available to all and has nothing to do with the ceremonies, rituals, or creeds over which Christians have fought. Every heart is God’s altar and shrine.” (140,141, emphasis mine)
Well, it’s about time for you to awaken from your snooze now because Richard Foster is teaching the same stupid doctrine of ol’ “Inner Light” George Fox who was so special to the LORD God Almighty that He would even have personal chats with him. In fact, Foster’s been teaching his apostate refried Roman Catholic and Quaker mysticism in your evangelical seminaries for years so now he’s got plenty of evangelical pastors as his deluded disciples—maybe even yours.
Next time I’ll document—again—what this doctrine of the Inner Light actually is. But for a little preview we’ll turn to a book called The Living Testament: The Essential Writings of Christianity Since the Bible (TLT). In fact the reason I went and acquired a copy of TLT is because it’s even recommended by Guru Foster himself in his classic textbook of ascetic-lite neo-pietism Celebration of Discipline.
TLT was edited by M. Basil Pennington, Alan Jones, and Mark Booth. A couple of these men—Spiritual Master M. Basil Pennington and Living Spiritual Teacher Alan Jones—should be quite recognizable to those of you familiar with my writings on the postliberal cult of the Emergent Church and its core doctrine of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism. While discussing their entry George Fox: Epistles to the New World and to Friends Everywhere in TLT we’re told:
George Fox (1624-1691) was the founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers). He preached reliance on the “Inner Light”, the Holy Spirit watching from within; in this he represented a development of the Puritan “spirit mystic” tradition. He believed that everyone has a divine spark within that can respond directly and personally to God. His plain open style has a peculiar force in enthusiasm and moral earnestness.
(379,380, emphasis mine)
But as you’ll see in more depth next time this false idea of an inner light, or a “divine spark,” is a very key issue to grasp before one can come to understand the root of the flawed semi-pelagian “gospel” preached by much of mainstream evangelicalism within which Foster has now become a major player. I cover this spiritually fatal idea of “a spark of the divine” allegedly inside all of mankind further in The Emergent “One” and Understanding the New Spirituality: God Indwells Mankind.
So in closing this for now I tell you in the Lord that this musing is actually classic Gnostic mysticism, which itself has already been condemned within the pages of the New Testament. Particularly in the Book of Colossians as well as in 1 John we find the Apostles dealing with Gnosticism. And again concerning all of this messed mysticism the Lord warns us through His chosen vessel Peter — In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up (2 Peter 2:3).