Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Apprising Ministries’ Category

Below I’ve reposted Ken Silva’s blog re: a great testimony by an Episcopalian. I especially like the expose of Dallas Willard, who was once an Evangelical Friends (EFCI) co-pastor with Richard Foster – and Foster’s mentor in heretical, occultish Spiritual Formation. Willard downplays and criticizes the gospel of salvation, of “the Blood and the Cross.” Check out this excerpt, in which Brian McLaren refers to Willard’s book The Divine Conspiracy:

Atonement-centered understandings of the gospel, [Willard] says, create vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and little else. He calls us to move beyond a “gospel of sin management” – to the gospel of the kingdom of God. So, rather than focusing on an alternative theory of atonement, I’d suggest we ponder the meaning and mission of the kingdom of God. – Brian McLaren (Online source)[emphasis mine]

[For some anti-Cross views of Brian McLaren’s, an Evangelical Friends adjunct professor, see the Endnotes below.]

Dallas Willard, Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, Tony Campolo, and other Emergents have been making the rounds of the Evangelical Friends (EFCI) as well as many other evangelical denominations. (Richard Foster is retired I think.)

For years, pastors in the EFCI and many other evangelical denominations have been New Evangelical/Emerging – often DOWNPLAYING/OMITTING the gospel message of “the Blood and the Cross” (except perhaps during Easter time) so they don’t turn off unsaved “seekers” and send them scurrying off to “less offensive” churches.

Willard, McLaren, Sweet, Campolo, and other Emergents seem to be drawing New Evangelical/Emerging pastors (in the EFCI and elsewhere) further into apostacy, to become mainline/liberal/Emergent, to actually CRITICIZE the gospel message of “the Blood and the Cross.” Scary – and blasphemous.

Back to Ken Silva’s blog. The testimony giver proceeds to describe Episcopalian coworkers as follows:

I went to work for an Episcopal church shortly after college… I think I finally understand how they think, how they can put so much emphasis on the kingdom of God (which they define as service to others) and virtually ignore the sinful conduct rampant here (‘wedding’ reception for a gay couple here next week). These people, my co-workers and friends, believe in an inner light, a True Self (I remember that term from class) that is intimately connected to the Divine. Everyone has this light, so we are all a part of God. As such, there is no need for a substitutionary penal atonement (i.e. the cross) because there is no separation to atone for.

This teaching sounds almost identical to the teaching of the various non-evangelical Quaker denominations. Interesting.

I have reposted Ken Silva’s entire blog below. Click here for the original site of this blog.

AM TESTIMONY RE. CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY/MYSTICISM

By on Sep 13, 2012 in AM Missives, Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism, Current Issues, Features

One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.(Galatians 6:6)

In the interest of showing that things are not all bad, may the Lord be praised as a reader of Apprising Ministries shares the following encouraging testimony of God’s faithfulness:

Thank you for your website. I have been using it to further my personal study for some time now. It has truly been a blessing.

I was raised in a Bible-believing church and home, saved as a child and a missionary as a teenager, so I was first exposed to this sort of emerging spirituality when I went to work for an Episcopal church shortly after college. The lead priest there (along with several others) routinely teaches courses covering all kinds of mysticism and contemplative spirituality. He invited me to attend one of his classes, so I did.

Nothing he taught in that class made me feel comfortable, although I couldn’t put my finger on a reason. Several times in my notes, I wrote, “What about the cross?” Nearly two years have passed and I still couldn’t figure out why this place, my workplace, makes my spirit uneasy. The people here are loving and kind, they do great acts of service in the community. Yet there is something missing.

Today I read your article Brian McLaren and Evangelical Panentheism and this quote you referenced made it all begin to click:

Dallas Willard also addresses this issue in The Divine Conspiracy. Atonement-centered understandings of the gospel, he says, create vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and little else. He calls us to move beyond a “gospel of sin management” – to the gospel of the kingdom of God. So, rather than focusing on an alternative theory of atonement, I’d suggest we ponder the meaning and mission of the kingdom of God.

I think I finally understand how they think, how they can put so much emphasis on the kingdom of God (which they define as service to others) and virtually ignore the sinful conduct rampant here (‘wedding’ reception for a gay couple here next week). These people, my co-workers and friends, believe in an inner light, a True Self (I remember that term from class) that is intimately connected to the Divine. Everyone has this light, so we are all a part of God. As such, there is no need for a substitutionary penal atonement (i.e. the cross) because there is no separation to atone for.

It follows, then, that the only “sins” we commit are those that do harm to others (ergo, to God), which is why they can, without so much as a flinch, condone homosexuality but at the same time condemn those (like me) who fail to practice “tolerance” because we insist that there are such thing as moral absolutes. It is also why they can place acts of service (e.g. to the poor – extremely important here) above acts of evangelism (which display intolerance of others’ belief systems).

Contrast this with my understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is that we are born sinners, are separated from God, and are in need of a Savior to reconcile us to Him. I do believe in a “Punitive Father” but one who only punishes when rejected after repeated attempts to redeem us – and even then it is less punishment than letting us have our own way. To those that call out to Him, He is merciful and loving and wants to show us the boundlessness of His grace – but only to those who accept His gift of salvation.

As I said, I’d been searching for nearly two years for a way to wrap my mind around what seems to be a warped – but strangely appealing – theological view. Your article made it fall into place for me. Thank you so much for your faithful service to God through your website.

Further reading

ENDNOTES

Dallas Willard and Brian McLaren both have Evangelical Friends connections. And both have an anti-Cross theology. Check out this excerpt regarding McLaren, in this blog by Ken Silva. Silva writes:

… This would then be a credible explanation for McLaren’s own personal hedging whenever he’s asked about the Gospel:

Theory of Atonement

Could you elaborate on your personal theory of atonement? If God wanted to forgive us, why didn’t he just forgive us? Why did torturing Jesus make things better?

This is such an important and difficult question. I’d recommend, for starters, you read “Recovering the Scandal of the Cross” (by Baker and Green). There will be a sequel to this book in the next year or so, and I’ve contributed a chapter to it.

Short answer: I think the gospel is a many faceted diamond, and atonement is only one facet, and legal models of atonement (which predominate in western Christianity) are only one small portion of that one facet.

Dallas Willard also addresses this issue in “The Divine Conspiracy.” Atonement-centered understandings of the gospel, he says, create vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and little else. He calls us to move beyond a “gospel of sin management” – to the gospel of the kingdom of God. So, rather than focusing on an alternative theory of atonement, I’d suggest we ponder the meaning and mission of the kingdom of God. (Online source)

 

Read Full Post »

(revised 01/10/14)


(image source: http://provoketive.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/hearing_from_god-500×250.jpg)

I mean no disrespect to the late Dallas Willard. But the truth is, he was a major heretical impetus to Richard Foster’s writing of the bestselling, heretical Celebration of Discipline.  Willard’s false teachings (as well as those of Foster, etc.) need to be exposed for what they were/are.

A number of articles have been written about the “Inner Light/Inward Light” heresy of George Fox and the Quakers. I too am researching this; I have written blogs about Quaker heresies here, as well as reposting the articles and blogs of others.

As Evangelical Friends co-pastors, Richard Foster and his Spiritual Formation mentor Dallas Willard taught the Quaker concepts of 1) the Inner Light (the light of Christ in every man), 2) direct revelation/immediate revelation/illumination, etc. Of course these teachings have been around for centuries (at least since the Gnostics I think). Many “non-evangelical” Quakers today believe in a “hybrid” of the Quaker Inner Light teachings and New Age beliefs (Christ consciousness, the inner voice, etc.).

So how exactly do “Inner Light” Quakers believe God speaks to us? Let me illustrate. Suppose a Spiritual Director were to say to a nonchristian (who has never heard the gospel of salvation), “Go sit on top of a mountain, cross your legs and hold your hands up praising God.  Engage in contemplative prayer, empty your mind, and then God can speak to you.” (Remember, this person has never heard the gospel, never read the Bible, has no concept of the Trinity, the Atonement, etc.) According to the Inner Light teaching, Christ is already in every man. (This is some mysterious presence of Christ – not the Holy Spirit.) So the person would supposedly receive direct revelations from God via the presence of Christ within him. Then – when he finally reads a  Bible – it will line up with the direct revelations he received from God. The main problem here: the Inner Light teaching does NOT view God’s Word the Bible as the primary way in which God “speaks” to us. 

I came across an excellent article by Gary Gilley. His article critiques the “hearing God’s voice” teaching of Dallas Willard  – Richard Foster’s former Evangelical Friends (EFCI)  co-pastor and heretical mentor in Spiritual Formation. Gilley’s article has been reposted on some other major discernment websites. I have reposted his article below; click here for Gilley’s original article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets]. And I have made a few grammatical corrections, such as underlining the titles of books.

Note – Willard was just one of many who taught/is teaching the heresy of “hearing God’s voice”. Justin Taylor writes here:

Books like Dallas Willard’s Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God and Bill Hybels’s The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond and Henry and Richard Blackaby’s Hearing God’s Voice continue to popularize the idea that a true relationship of intimacy with God requires ongoing private and personal revelations as a normative part of the Christian life.[emphasis mine-DM]

Now on to Gilley’s article:

“Hearing God, Developing a Conversational Relationship With God”
Written by Gary Gilley


(image source: http://images.betterworldbooks.com/159/Hearing-God-9781596440555.jpg)

Hearing God was previous published by Regal (1984), then by Harper (1993), and finally InterVarsity (1999) under the tital [sic] of In Search of Guidance. This updated and expanded edition is published under the Formatio wing of InterVarsity Press which offers numerous books promoting spiritual formation and “Christian” mysticism. At the heart of both spiritual formation and mysticism is God speaking beyond the pages of Scripture. For this reason Hearing God is an important book, written by one of the premiere leaders within the movement. That Willard is merely updating the same message he delivered nearly 30 years ago shows that the spiritual formation movement has not changed its basic teachings. And what are they? In essence, that we can live “the kind of life where hearing God is not an uncommon occurrence” (p. 12), for “hearing God is but one dimension of a richly interactive relationship and obtaining guidance is but one facet of hearing God” (p. 13). In other words, the maturing Christian should expect to hear the voice of God, independent from Scripture, on a regular basis and that voice will reveal God’s individual, specific will for his life. Such individual communication from the Lord, we are told, is absolutely essential because without it there can be no personal walk with God (pp. 26, 31, 67). And it is those who are hearing from God today who will redefine “Christian spirituality for our time” (p. 15).

This premise leads to a very practical problem, however, one Willard will address throughout the book in many ways. The problem is, how does one know that he has really heard from God? Could he not be confusing his own thoughts, or even implanted thoughts from Satan (pp. 235-237), with the voice of God? This is even more problematic because Willard believes that while God can speak audibly or use dreams and visions, normally His voice will come as a “still small voice” heard only within our own hearts and minds. In fact, so vital is this “still small voice” that the author devotes his largest chapter to exploring what it means (chapter 5, pp. 114-153). Yet in all of his discussion on the topic, it never seems to dawn on Willard that the original “still small voice” to Elijah (1 Kings 19:12-18) was in fact an audible voice, not an inward impression or thought.

Since Willard believes that God normally speaks to us through an inner, inaudible, subjective voice (p. 130) and that it is possible that God is speaking and we do not even know it (pp. 118-120), how can we be certain when God is speaking to us? In answer Willard boldly informs us that we can only learn the voice of God through experience (pp. 9, 19, 21, 63, 143). He clearly states, “The only answer to the question, how do we know whether this is from God? is By experience” (p. 218) (emphasis his). The author will use the word “experience” over 130 times, and equivalents hundreds of times more. The mechanics of learning the voice of God is detailed on pages 217-251 but ultimately it all boils down to experience. And until we have the experience it will apparently be necessary for those who have themselves supposedly heard from God to guide us. Without such help we may not be able to detect the voice of God (p. 221). Never mind that the Scriptures never tells us how, nor supplies techniques, to know when God is speaking, nor does the Bible ever tell us that we need to learn the voice of God. This is all pure fabrication on Willard’s part. As a matter of fact every time God speaks in Scripture it is through an audible voice, never through an inner voice, impressions or feelings, and that includes Elijah’s still small voice. Willard is advocating a form of communication from God never found in the pages of Scripture; he then elevates this inner voice to the very essence of our relationship with God. He attempts to prove this not only through his own experience but also by the examples of others such as Ken Taylor, George Fox, Teresa of Avila, St. Francis, Henri Nouwen and many others (see pp. 23-27). Willard attempts to intimidate his readers as well by telling them that God’s communication in this way to early Christians was a normal experience (pp. 70, 119) (which it wasn’t), that if we are not hearing from God it may be that we are out of tune with Him (p. 90), and that the Bible and the church are inadequate for developing a personal relationship with God (pp. 140, 186).

Willard teaches many theological errors as well. For example, as might be expected the author has a low view of Scripture. He believes the Bible is God’s inspired written word given to “provide us with a general understanding of God to inspire and cultivate a corresponding faith” (p. 87). But if we want to find out what God is saying to us personally we must go beyond the Bible (p. 218). Further Willard warns us of what he calls “Bible deism,” which is the view that God communicates to us today through Scripture alone (p. 142). As a matter of fact the Bible may prove a deadly snare: “We can even destroy ourselves by Bible study; specifically, by the study of Paul’s epistles” (p. 187). And even if the Bible is inerrant in the original texts it “does not guarantee sane and sound, much less error-free, interpretations” (p. 185). Willard clearly has a postmodern understanding of Scripture (i.e. it can never be rightly understood apart from God’s present-day communications) (p. 185). In conjunction with this view of Scripture is the idea (wrongly drawn from Luke 17:7-10) that an obsession to obey God “may be the very thing that rules out being the kind of person that He calls us to be” (p. 14).

Willard teaches a number of other deviate ideas including:

• God plans His life around us (p. 47).

• We become the royal priesthood of God when we have learned to hear from God (pp. 69-71).

• Similarly we become the temple of God through the same means (p. 76).

• As well, we do not start the Christian life as the slave of God, we become His slave in time through a maturing process (p. 77).

• Based on Colossians 1:19-29 he believes the resolution of the world’s problems, although finalized at Christ’s return, begins now (p. 75).

• The gospel is not reconciliation to God by faith but, “The good news that the kingdom rule of God is available to humankind here and now” (p. 202, cf. pp. 203-204).

In order to learn to hear the subjective voice of God, Willard recommends the use of lectio divina, which is custom made for this imaginative endeavor. As a result a co-writer provides six lectio exercises to pave the way (pp. 48-51, 104-105, 132-133, 165-166, 208-209, 247-250). The ultimate goal in all of this is to have the mind of Christ (pp. 71-72) which means to Willard that “we understand what God is doing so well that we often know exactly what God is thinking and intending to do” (p. 71).

The danger of Willard’s imaginative teachings on hearing from God through an inner voice can hardly be exaggerated. Rather than turning people to the inspired authoritative Scriptures for God’s word today, Willard turns us toward the subjective, unreliable self. The result is a people who believe they have heard from God even as they turn from the Word of God itself.

FOR FURTHER READING

Amy Spreeman, God told me to tell you…

Read Full Post »

In researching Quakerism and the Evangelical Friends, I’ve come across a number of discernment articles revealing how Spiritual Formation pioneer (and Evangelical Friend) Richard Foster has promulgated the heretical “Inner Light” teaching of Quakerism’s founder George Fox.

In the following blog by Ken Silva, which I have reposted, Foster once again is exposed as teaching this Quaker “Inner Light” heresy. Click here for Silva’s original post.  Now on to the repost:

RICHARD FOSTER: THE BIBLE A RELIABLE GUIDE DESPITE INCONSISTENCIES

By on Mar 18, 2010 in AM Missives, Current Issues, Dallas Willard, Features, Richard Foster

Apprising Ministries has long been warning you about the danger of listening to neo-Gnostics like Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster. For years now Foster, along with his his spiritual twin Dallas Willard, has been teaching corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) under the guise of so-called Spiritual Formation. But what we’re actually dealing with is really a romanticized version of Roman Catholic Counter Reformation spirituality.

It’s not evangelical Protestant Christianity; and worse, this highly subjective CSM is truly hostile to the proper Christian spirituality of Sola Scriptura. Here’s a couple of examples from Foster. The first is from a 2005 piece in Quaker Life called The With God Life: An Interview with Richard Foster.  While hawking The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible, which had just come out, the Quaker mystic tells us how the experience-oriented Quakers subjectively approach God “in the gathered silence.”

And while explaining this to us Foster also reveals that he personally does not hold to the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture:

“The Immanuel Principle is ultimately cosmic,” according to Foster. “We are to reign with God and be with God forever and forever. In the past God worked first directly, then indirectly with his people. Since Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection, God works both directly and indirectly. Quakers in the gathered silence experience God both directly and indirectly.”

I noticed that the focus on the with-God life circumnavigates inconsistencies found in Scripture and differing opinions about theology. By looking at how God revealed himself to people throughout Biblical history negates all those arguments. “You bypass it all,” stated Foster. “You put your focus on how God has been with a person and what does that say to me, now? What are their strengths and weaknesses and how does that apply to me? It’s all about developing charact — character that goes on into the future where we will reign with God and be with God eternally. (Online source, emphasis mine)

According to Richard Foster the infallible and inerrant Bible has “inconsistencies” that, as one of the new Gnostics, his “with-God life” helps him ”circumnavigate.” Foster’s practice of CSM supposedly allows him to negate and then ”bypass” all the “differing opinions about theology” because, well obviously, he and his fellow neo-Gnostics like Willard have gleaned superior direct gnosis (means knowledge) from God through their CSM:

Dallas Willard understands Quaker thinking about as well as anybody,” Foster acknowledged. “I had him do a study once on George Fox and his insights just blew me away.” (Online source)

If you didn’t know, George Fox is the heretical mystic who founded the original Quaker sect and, right in lock-step with classic mysticism which believes God indwells all of mankind, taught of “the Inner Light.” Now we can consider Foster’s teaching in the video below, which is a segment from GET A LIFE!: The With-God Life. In this clip Foster is talking about the “zoe-life [aka with-God life] that we receive from God” which “will accomplish its work; sustaining us, and moving us inevitably forward into Christlikeness.”

However, the “we” Foster is talking about here is not restricted to Christians; as a practicing Quaker, Foster is speaking of “the Inner Light”—which they teach is Christ—within all of mankind as he says:

This is a life! Powerful; irrepressible, self-sustaining, life—a with-God life. You see, this zoe is built into the very DNA of who we are as beings created as the image of God. (:41-1:00)

What you’ll hear Foster teaching is classic Quaker doctrine, which is itself, right in line with classic Gnostic mysticism with its fantasy of “the divine spark” of God within all of mankind. [1] Since this isn’t the subject of this piece I’ll simply tell you that in John 14:6 Jesus tells us that He is zoe and the Bible teaches one receives the gift of zoe [aka eternal life] is given only by God’s grace alone; through faith alone, in the finished work on the Cross of Christ Jesus alone. In other words, by believing the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins in Christ’s name.

Concerning our topic of Foster’s low view of Scripture, after talking about how supposedly this with-God life “flows from God through scripture and into the thirsty wasteland of the human soul,” at 7:09 into the video the Quaker mystic talks “very specifically about the role of the Bible in all of this.” First he sets up, and then knocks down, a couple of straw men, i.e. things those of us who adhere to Sola Scriptura are not actually teaching. Afterward Foster says:

Let me share with you what the Bible is. The Bible is a most reliable guide into this zoe life. You see, the Bible is God’s book; no one owns it, but God. And God has so superintended the writing of Scripture that it serves as a most reliable guide for our own spiritual formation. So you see, the purpose of the Bible is, a most reliable guide into the zoe life that God intends for you and for me. (8:20-9:10)

Right in line with classic Quakerism, and what he said above in the aforementioned interview, Quaker mystic Richard Foster has just told us that his experience in CSM will trump what Scripture says because it’s merely ”a most reliable guide”; but for these neo-Gnostics, the Bible simply is not the most reliable guide as in the proper Christian spirituality of Sola Scriptura. Those following people like Richard Foster had better wake up soon…

________________________________________________________________________________
Endnotes:

1. I refute this idea biblically in Understanding The New Spirituality: God Indwells Mankind.

See also:

CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY OF RICHARD FOSTER ROOTED IN THE EASTERN DESERT AND THOMAS MERTON

“CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE” BY RICHARD FOSTER AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THEOLOGICAL ERROR

“INWARD JOURNEY” ESPOUSED BY RICHARD FOSTER IS A FORM OF DIVINATION

IS DALLAS WILLARD A CHRISTIAN?

CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY/MYSTICISM (CSM) OF SPIRITUAL FORMATION IS RECKLESS FAITH

THE TERMINOLOGY TRAP OF “SPIRITUAL FORMATION”

9 MARKS: INTERVARSITY PRESS SEEMS ADRIFT

Read Full Post »

(revised 06/06/14)

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.

RICHARD FOSTER AND QUAKER BELIEFS

By on Oct 22, 2008 in AM Missives, Current Issues, Features, Richard Foster

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.
(Online source)

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).

See also:

WHO IS RICHARD FOSTER?

“CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE” BY RICHARD FOSTER AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THEOLOGICAL ERROR

PRAYER: JESUS VS. RICHARD FOSTER

RICHARD FOSTER AND CONTEMPLATIVE MYSTICISM: A POWERFUL ECUMENICAL BOND

DELUSIONS OF DALLAS WILLARD

SPIRITUAL FORMATION IS PIETISM REIMAGINED

ROB BELL IN A NUTSHELL: CONTEMPLATIVE MYSTICISM

Read Full Post »

Before I present Ken Silva’s article, I want to present some background from my own experiences with Quakers. I grew up in what today is called the EFCI (Evangelical Friends Church Intl.), traditionally known as Gurneyite Friends. I thank the Lord that, between approximately 1854-1965, Gurneyite Friends held a born again, biblically sound Wesleyan Holiness theology – particularly in Ohio Yearly Meeting.

Unfortunately, the Evangelical Friends/Gurneyite Friends never completely broke away from the heretical heritage of the Quakers. I would estimate that from approximately 1930 on, Evangelical Friends leaders behind the scenes were increasingly pushing for more relations with non-evangelical (aka heretical) Quaker denominations.  These Evangelical Friends leaders were very hesitant to point out the history and heresy of George Fox’s “Inner Light” teaching (perhaps for fear of alienating nonevangelical Quaker denominations). Even today, Evangelical Friends professors and pastors paint George Fox  as a born again, biblically sound evangelist. This, despite the fact that Fox’s own writings show he was a heretical “Christian mystic.”

Only in recent years, after reading articles like the following by Ken Silva, did I realize just how heretical and nonchristian my own Quaker ancestors had been (prior  to 1854).

I would note that today the Quakers (both evangelical and nonevangelical denominations) vary widely in theology. Evangelical Friends speak very little of the Inner Light; many newer members have never even heard the term. Yet as we know, the Evangelical Friends have fallen head over heals in love with Spiritual Formation’s Richard Foster, who grew up, pastored and taught in the Evangelical Friends denomination.

I find it very odd that Foster chose to preach and teach among Evangelical Friends. His heretical teachings line up much more closely with two other major Quaker denominations, both considered nonevangelical: 1) the moderate Friends United Meeting (FUM) which nonetheless has many Christian universalists, and 2) the liberal Friends General Conference (FGC).

I’m sure Richard Foster fancies himself as walking in the footsteps of George Fox. It’s obvious in his various writings that Foster loves Fox’s “Inner Light” teaching. So what exactly did George Fox mean by the “Inner Light”, and why is this heresy so dangerous? Ken Silva explains, in his article reposted below. Click here for the original site of Silva’s article.

CONTEMPLATING THE INNER LIGHT OF THE QUAKERS (PT. 2)

By on Aug 25, 2008 in Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism, Features, Richard Foster

We now continue this examination of the history of the Quakers and their core doctrine of the Inner Light that is allegedly within all of mankind and which supposedly was “revealed” by God to their founder George Fox. In Part One I opened with testimony concerning current Quaker beliefs from author and mystic Dr. Mary Conrow, a third generation member of The Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers). We also got further corroboration through an article by Friend Anne K. Riggs which as of today (5/5/06) is found at the official Friends website Quaker.org.

Shedding Light On Quaker Origins

Dr. Riggs by the way is also co-editor of QUEST: Quaker Ecumenical Seminars in Theology. I then showed that the contemplative spirituality currently taught by Quaker Richard Foster is so consistent with the mysticism of New Age teachers and the meditation of Zen Masters that he is listed (as of 5/5/06) at the Living Spiritual Teachers Project among an odd assortment of heretics and unbelievers.

The New Encyclopedia Britannica brings out that the term “Quaker,” according to founder George Fox came to be applied to this group “because we bid [people] tremble at the word of God.” In addition however, it is “likely that the name, originally derisive, was also used because many early Friends, like other religious enthusiasts, themselves trembled [i.e. quaked] in their religious meetings and showed other physical manifestations of religious emotion” (9/838). This is confirmed in New Religions: A Guide while Richard Hoskins is teaching about a sect of “healers and ‘spiritual’ leaders” from the Dominican Republic called “The Ngunzist movement.” Hoskins tells us the “Ngunzists are often called trembleurs because of their ecstatic shaking (rather like the origin of the term Quakers) (55,emphasis mine).

Next, from his fine work Christianity Through The Centuries (CTTC) noted Church historian Dr. Earle Cairns tells us that:

The Quakers appeared on the English religious scene during the chaotic period of the Civil War and the Commonwealth. They set aside the doctrines of an organized church and the Bible as the sole and final revelation of God’s will in favor of the doctrine of the Inner Light, by which they meant that the Holy Spirit can give immediate and direct knowledge of God apart from the Bible (381, emphasis mine)

The well-respected Handbook Of Denominations In The United States (HOD) from Mead and Hill adds 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.” The Quakers are unique because “they affirm the ‘Inner Light,’ the spiritual nerve center that God has placed in every person.” As we saw in Part One as well “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).

In World Religions: From Ancient History to the Present we find out further it was in the wake of “the struggle” within various religious sects following the Reformation that:

Quakerism was born. These “seekers,” [sound familiar?] as they called themselves, abandoned all traditional Christian outward forms – ministry, creeds, sacraments, liturgy, systems of theology – and waited in silence, meditating on the Bible until they felt the “inner light” of God dawning within them and the Holy Spirit to speak. In their small communities they stressed the comradely life of love and works or charity inspired by the mystical experience of Christ through the Spirit (445, emphasis mine)

The Divine Spark Emerges In The Inner Light

Christian researcher Ray Yungen shares an interesting bit of information about the Quaker Guru of Contemplation Richard Foster with us in A Time of Departing when he asks:

Just how influential has Foster become in Christian circles? For certain, his effect on the evangelical church cannot be overestimated. In a 1993 poll by Christianity Today, the magazine revealed that Foster’s book, Prayer: Finding The Heart’s True Home, was the number one most popular books with its readers. Astoundingly, this is the same book that well-known New Ager Rosemary Ellen Guiley has on her suggested reading list in the back of her book, The Miracle of Prayer (80).

Guiley is also the author of Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience (HEMPE) published by HarperSanFrancisco, the company that also happens to publish Foster himself. It should strike us as odd that a “Christian” sect should be found in such a secular publication devoted to spiritualism. And yet Guiley tells us in HEMPE that Quaker theology “stresses a personal, almost mystical knowledge of God and the workings of the Lord’s ‘inner lightwithin all people.” And Fox himself taught:

faith is based solely on firsthand knowledge of Christ as a living, personal reality, not on logic, reasoning, historical reporting, or even Scripture. This empirical proof came to be called the Quaker Way: the idea that worshippers need not consult preachers or the Bible to receive knowledge of the Holy Spirit–the so-called “inner light of Christpresent in every human heart (556, emphasis mine).

This idea in Quaker theology that every man has this alleged “Inner Light” is further corroborated in GREAT RELIGIONS of the World which tells us that Fox “insisted that the ‘light of Christ’ glimmered in all men” (375, emphasis mine) We’ll be coming back to this “inner light” that is supposed to glimmer “in every human heart,” but first, in his classic two volume set A History Of Christianity (AHOC) the great historian Kenneth Scott Latourette adds a bit more background information about the person through whom the Quakers originated:

Their founder was George Fox (1624-1691). Of humble birth, from boyhood he had heard Puritan preaching and had acquired an intimate familiarity with the text of the English Bible… For four years he suffered severe spiritual depression induced by the spectacle of human suffering,…and by the doctrine of predestination which he heard expounded from Puritan pulpits. By temperament a mystic, he was eager for direct and unhindered access to God… Eventually (1647) the light broke. He came to feel Christ could speak to “his condition,”… He believed that God is love and truth and that it is possible for all men so to open their lives to Him… [Fox] would follow and have others follow the Inner Light” (Vol. II, p. 822, emphasis mine)

The True Light Of Holy Scripture

The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. (John 1:9-10)

As we get set to shed additional light on the unique Quaker doctrine of the “Inner Light” we need to remember that George Fox was a seeker and a mystic by nature, well versed in the Scriptures, and a man who chose to rebel against solid Biblical preaching. This is actually not too unlike what we see leaders within the Emergent Church doing today. Fox apparently didn’t like the fact that God instituted an authority structure within the local church so he decided to seek the Lord on his own terms. And sure enough Fox finally hears what he wanted to hear all along as he tells us “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)” (HOD, 141). Not only that but this seducing spirit allows for Fox’s defiance of authority as well as he is told that this Inner Light “is available to all and has nothing to do with the ceremonies” of the local church. Then in the mystic tradition of classic Gnosticism Fox hears that all mankind has a spark of divinity because every human being “is God’s altar and shrine” (141).

This above information is extremely important to understand regarding the spiritual excesses of the Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers). Now you should be able to see an aberrant view of mysticism is already rooted in the base theology of the Quakers. Their founder George Fox, who was himself prone to mysticism, wished for a “personal” approach “to God” that ended up being “apart from the Bible.” As such Fox began with his theology already turned backward by believing that it is man who seeks after God and as a result the Scriptures were forced to take a back seat to his own way of approaching the Lord. We need to carefully consider the above information. Fox is seeking a “direct” and “mystical experience” with God. Admirable yes, but it is the LORD God Almighty–the glorious and transcendent Creator of the universe–Who set the prescribed means of interacting with us through conscious prayer and His Words in Holy Scripture.

I will show you more about this “Inner Light” below, but notice that Fox was “eager” long enough while waiting “in silence” until “the light broke.” And he finally received his mystic delusion that “it is possible for all men” to “open their lives” to God. As I said, the “experience” of George Fox shoved the Truth of the Bible into a secondary place in favor of this mystical view that it is possible that “all men” are capable of opening themselves up to God. Clearly this would appear to be a reaction on his part to the strong Biblical “Puritan preaching” which assisted him in acquiring “an intimate familiarity with the text of the Bible.” For you see Fox has absolutely no excuse for missing this critical Truth from God’s Word:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.(Psalm 14:1-3)

And it’s not like this is some obscure passage the Puritans latched onto but is open to various interpretations, because it appears again in Psalm 53 below almost verbatim:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one (vv.1-3).

We aren’t able to escape this absolute Truth concerning the actual nature of mankind in the New Testament either. O the sappy sentimentality of new evangelicalism just loves to focus on the goodness of God and to tell us that He sent Jesus to meet our every need and to solve all of our problems. However, as I will continue to say, Christ Jesus of Nazareth is the Creator–the dreadful and awful–holy and majestic LORD God Almighty standing upon His planet. And concerning the fallen nature of humankind the Master unequivocally tells his Own disciples – “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

And then Jesus even clarified what He meant by “though you are evil” as He says – “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly” (Mark 7:21-23). Why you’d almost have to think our Creator is trying to get a point across to self-centered and arrogant mankind when later the inspired Apostle Paul is led by God the Holy Spirit to pick up those very same passages in the Psalms mentioned earlier:

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one (Romans 3:10-12)

You won’t hear all of this preached by e.g. by men like Joel Osteen in The Ecumenical Church of Deceit, but the bottom line in all this simply couldn’t be any clearer than Ecclesiastes 7:20 – There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins. Ah, that is except – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One (1 John 2:1). So tragically, because George Fox denied this clear teaching from God’s Word, two major and spiritually fatal flaws emerged in his theology. Out went the Pastoral Epistles for God’s prescribed method of spiritual leadership within His local churches; and instead of objectively judging all experience by Holy Scripture, “the Quaker way” became proper understanding of the Bible would be determined by subjective mystical experience in “the Inner Light.”

And it is this very same mortal theological wound of interpreting the text of the Bible by the spiritual experiences a given person may have that is also central to the postmodern approach of the Emergent Church, of which Richard Foster is unquestionably “a key mentor.” I’ve already pointed out that Foster considers mystic Teresa of Avila as one of “the great writers of the devotional life.” You will come to see that even this is also consistent with Quaker theology and interestingly enough, on the page prior to the coverage of the Quakers by Dr. Cairns in CTTC is a short piece about a mystic movement within “the Roman Catholic Church during the seventeenth century” that would come to be known as “Quietism.”

The Inner Light Reveals The Global Family

I now draw your attention to the fact that “the Inner Light” just happened to be a core teaching of this Quietism. Dr. Cairns informs us that this theological view within the Church of Rome:

emphasized an immediate intuitional approach to God by the passive soul opening itself to the influence of the inner light. It was a reaction to the emphasis on the rationalization of dogma. [Sound familiar?] Forerunners of the Quietists were Ignatius Loyola; the godly Charles Borromeo (1538-84), cardinal and archbishop of Milan; Teresa of Avila (1515-82); and Francis de Sales (1567-1622) of France… These mystics of the Counter-Reformation were succeeded by the Quietists of the seventeenth century. (ibid., 380, emphasis mine)

You can see that Teresa of Avila was prominent among those who influenced what would itself become a “quiet” reformation within the Roman Catholic Church and would end up bringing it further and further away from Biblical doctrine in favor of this mystic superstition. George Fox and the Quakers would somewhat parallel this quiet decent into the mystical silence of demonic deception. It’s a trap as old as the Garden of Eden where the Devil promises good will come to men who follow him in opposition to what God has said in the Bible. There have been mystical approaches to God virtually since the time of the Fall and the LORD God Almighty has already told us that rather than “emptying” our minds of all thought we are instead to – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

In AHOC Latourette also supplies another key piece of information in understanding the deadly flaw which has emerged from the theology of Fox when he brings out that “Fox and other Quakers insisted that every man who comes into the world is illuminated by an inner light which is Christ” (Ibid., p. 981, emphasis mine). Men and women, here we glean some critical insight into why we are seeing the reemergence of interest in Contemplative/Centering Prayer (meditation) within new evangelicalism. This above view by “Fox and other Quakers” is also indicative of the inevitable result of the practice of this “Christian” mysticism as well. Can you see it: If this alleged Inner Light is already within every man then we don’t have to risk persecution as we stand for the exclusivity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because now we will have opened the door to a universalism which negates any real need for anyone to have to be “born again.”

And here we have uncovered the reason why so many professing Christians today can believe that all religions should be friends now and seek our common ground as we work together to usher in “the kingdom” of God’s Global Peace. Take an honest look at the warped and toxic theology of men like Richard Foster, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Alan Jones, Steve Chalke and even the Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren–all men involved to one degree or another in the practice of contemplative spirituality. You see no bold stance on their part that the only way any human being anywhere upon God’s planet can ever be saved from an eternity of conscious torment in a literal place our Creator called Hell is personal faith in Jesus Christ of Nazareth and His vicarious penal substitutionary atonement on the Cross. In fact, you will see in my article “Evangelicals” Attacking The Atonement it is actually quite the contrary.

Read Full Post »

In other blogs, I have written about Spiritual Formation pioneer Richard Foster and his background in the EFCI (Evangelical Friends Church International) denomination.

Discernment writer Ken Silva provides this additional info, regarding Richard Foster and Quaker founder George Fox. (Click here for the entire text of Silva’s expose.) Note: I have inserted some comments in [brackets].

… now that the Devil has established his “deep ecumenical” beachhead of CMS through his ECoD within our Lord’s Church they just needed to find themselves a leader who also happens to be an ecumenical contemplative. Ah, this brings us to the Guru of Contemplative Spirituality Richard Foster. Foster, who is a member of the Religious Society of Friends, aka the Quakers, [actually Foster belonged to the Evangelical Friends denomination as I mentioned above; why Foster did not join with “Inner Light-based” Hicksite Friends or the  liberal Friends General Conference is puzzling – unless Foster purposely remained among evangelicals to lead evangelicals astray]  is even touted by the Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren as a leader within the evangelical church itself as I showed you in Rick Warren Guilty For Endorsing The Cult Of Guru Richard Foster And His Reimagined Gnostic Mysticism.

You may recall one of my previous articles on Foster called Who Is Richard Foster? In it I clearly show that the Quakers are as ecumenical a bunch as can possibly be found, and I further point out that mysticism is a key component of their worship. I’d add apostate as well, but I for one, am not so sure that the Quakers were ever actually in the faith to begin with.  [Perhaps Ken Silva is not aware that Ohio Yearly Meeting (Gurneyite), which eventually joined the EFCI, was biblically sound between approx. 1854-1965; in fact, in 1877 and 1879 they condemned George Fox’s Inner Light teaching.] So for our purposes here let me just share a couple of interesting highlights from an entry of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience (HEMPE).

I also happen to find it interesting that this particular book is published by HarperSanfrancisco who just happens to publish Richard Foster. HEMPE informs us that the Quakers were “founded about 1650 in England by George Fox.” And that the:

Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, as it is commonly called, stresses a personal, almost mystical knowledge of God and the workings of the Lord’sinner lightwithin all people… At about age twenty, George Fox,…began suffering religious misgivings and spiritual longings. He consulted with various Anglican and Puritan ministers and priests, but they dismissed him as slightly deranged. Fox felt entirely alone until 1647, when at the age of twenty-three he heard a voice saying, “There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition” (556, emphasis mine).

This is exactly where George Fox and the Quakers who would follow him jumped track because HEMPE goes on to inform us that “[i]mmediately after, Fox received the first of four insights.” It is so-called insight number four that most concerns this work as we are told:

Fox’s fourth insight was that faith is based solely on firsthand knowledge of Christ as living, personal reality, not on logic, reasoning, historical reporting, or even Scripture. This empirical proof came to be called the Quaker Way: the idea that worshippers need not consult preachers or the Bible to receive knowledge of the Holy Spirit – the so-calledinner light of Christpresent in every human heart (ibid., emphasis added).

Here we have the agreement in Fox’s theology with classic Gnostic mysticism. Gnostics also taught that there was an inner light in man which they referred to as “a divine spark within” every human being. I cover this fallacy further in Understanding the New Spirituality: God Indwells Mankind. If this isn’t bad enough it now gets worse as HEMPE points out that in 1652 Fox “prayed at a place called Pendle Hill” and then “he received a vision explaining his mission to show Christ in the Present Tense as a personal Being.” Following this vision “Fox met with a group of Seekers who, overcome with his message, converted” (ibid.). And yikes, based on all the negative response at the original Slice of Laodicea website to one of my previous—and quite Biblically sound missives—Take Off The Gloves, I would shudder to think what might have happened to Fox if he had been around today.

Enter The Ecumenical Quaker Swami Richard Foster

Seriously however, this previous information is critical for you to understand the highly ecumenical theological background from which Richard Foster himself comes emerging…

Read Full Post »

(revised 02/18/15)

Granted, A.W. Tozer said and wrote many wonderful things, and has been quoted by various discernment ministries.  But – did you know there is a great amount of controversy over Tozer? Specifically, Tozer quoted Catholic mystics profusely.

Different ODMs (online discernment ministries) feel differently about Tozer:

1) Dave Hunt, for example, gives a great description of “the Tozer controversy” –  then concludes that Tozer is acceptable.

2) Ken Silva of Apprising.org and Christian Research Network provides biblical quotes from Tozer from time to time. [I would agree with Silva that Tozer did make a number of biblically sound statements. But “a little leaven (Tozer’s mystic leanings) leaveneth the whole lump” (I Cor. 5:6).]

“Iggy,” an Emerging/Emergent heretic, blogs here regarding Silva’s affinity for quoting Tozer. Very interesting – an Emerging/Emergent heretic criticizing an ODM for quoting a Christian mystic. If “Iggy” had done a bit more research, he would have uncovered Silva’s statements regarding his position on Tozer. Following is Silva’s disclaimer regarding Tozer (I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets]):

I read almost all of the works of A.W. Tozer early in my relationship with Jesus Christ; while he did quote Roman Catholic mystics in a postive light, he condemned the false gospel of the Roman Catholic Church and considered it apostate. Unfortunately, Tozer’s mystic bent—though there’s no evidence that he practiced mysticism—and his pietistic teaching of a “deeper life” have tarnished his legacy to the point that I can only recommend his work with this qualification.

And in the following excerpt, Silva further explains his position on Tozer (click here for the entire original text of Silva’s article). I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets]. Now on to Silva’s comments:

Emerging Mysticism in New Evangelicalism (Part Two)

… No one is arguing that spending time alone with God is a bad idea for the regenerated Christian, nor am I saying it is necessarily wrong to spend time alone with the Lord silently contemplating in wondrous amazement just Whom it is that dwells within you. And this is what men like A.W. Tozer are talking about when they refer to being in silence before God. Unfortunately in a more innocent spiritual climate Tozer unwisely gave some credence to these so-called “Christian” mystics.

As one who has read much from Tozer and from the current “mystics” I can tell you with assurance that Tozer was not involved in the same type of contemplative prayer/mediation that is being encouraged by many leaders in the Emerging Church movement. You will see when this series moves along that the easiest way to tell those who practice the type of neo-pagan mystic “disciplines” encouraged in the EC from those who simply silently spend time in God’s presence is the message that each will come away with.

In closing this piece we take as examples Emergent spiritual director Brian McLaren and A.W. Tozer. The result thus far for McLaren as he’s practiced his friend Richard Foster’s version of mysticism has been his emerging message that the Christian faith should become “a welcome friend to other religions of the world.” While Tozer, more of a “mystic” than I comfortable with [so in essence Silva provides biblical quotes from Tozer from time to time although he is not comfortable with Tozer’s mysticism], came forth from his moments of “silence” with the message that “the task of the Church is to spread New Testament Christianity throughout the world.”

Undoubtedly these messages from McLaren and Tozer did not come from the same Spirit. The purpose of this study is to show you that the meditation practiced in the emerging mysticism in new evangelicalism most certainly does not lead to a mystical union with the one true and living God of the Bible.

3) I found these comments in a Puritan Board forum here:

A.W. Tozer the Mystic?

Posted 04-01-2005 by heartoflesh, Puritanboard Junior:

A group of us, led by our pastor and the assistant pastor, have been meeting at a restaurant on Wednesday evenings going through A.W. Tozer’s “The Pursuit of God”. I really like Tozer, and although I assume he was Arminian in his theology, he seemed to have a great grasp of the glory of God.

I’ve been told that Tozer was a “modern-day mystic”, but I’m not sure what is meant by this. His writings do sometimes appear to be like those of a man who possesed some sort of extra-biblical, subjective revelation. Is this what is meant?

Our next book is going to be Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence of God, which I’ve been told was one of Tozer’s favorite reads. I really don’t know anything about this fellow, Brother Lawrence, only that he was a monk.

To be honest, I’m starting to smell a rat. I’ve recently become aware of the subject of Contemplative Prayer, and how it is sweeping the church. I’m afraid I’m going to get a little bit punchy if the discussion starts to veer in the direction of special prayer practices– breath prayers, breathing exercises, “quieting the mind”, “palms up/palms down”, etc. Nothing has been brought up yet, but I’m ready to put in my 2 cents if it does.

Anyway, back to Tozer. I’ve never read anything by him where he suggests any such techniques, or claims any special mystical knowledge, so I guess I’m trying to figure out why he would be classified as a mystic.

Any ideas?

Rick Larson
Seeking new church home. Currently worshipping at South Suburban EV Free Church, Apple Valley, MN.

Response, posted 04-02-2005 by openairboy, Inactive User:

Rick,

To my knowledge, Tozer doesn’t promote any such techniques. He, especially early on in my Christian life, was instrumental in helping me love God through “Knowledge of the Holy” and “The Pursuit of God”. Another article that is a must read, I believe, is his “The Old Cross and the New”. He says in a page and a half what others try to say in books. It is a stroke of genius.

The mystic? Yes, he is a bit of mystic due to his readings and influences, but I don’t believe in a negative way. The following is a quote from Snyder’s “In Pursuit of God”:

Tozer’s hunger for God led him to study the Christian mystics. Their knowledge of God and absorbing love for him profoundly attracted Tozer. They were spirits kindred to his own. ‘These people know God, and I want to know what they know.’ But at the same time, the Bible remained absolutely central.

‘Once’, Martyn Lloyd-Jones recalled, ‘Dr. Tozer and I shared a conference years ago, and I appreciated his ministry and his fellowship very much. One day he said to me: ‘Lloyd-Jones, you and I hold just about the same position on spiritual matters, but we have come to this position by different routes.’ ‘How do you mean?’ I asked. ‘Well,’ Tozer replied, ‘you came by way of the Puritans and I came by way of the mystics.’ And, you know,’ said Lloyd-Jones, ‘he was right.’

With anyone there are caveat’s, but I strongly recommend Tozer for the simple fact of his love for God and how his works stir that in my soul and those I know that have spent time with him.

openairboy

Posted 04-02-2005 by heartoflesh, Puritanboard Junior:

I actually re-perused my copy of “The Pursuit of the Holy” today to see if I could find anything that matched up with blatant mysticism, of the type I’ve been studying about in today’s Contemplative Prayer movement. The only thing that I found minutely questionable was when he quotes from the author of “The Cloud of Unknowing” on pg. 19:

“Again, he recommends that in prayer we practice a further stripping down of everything, even of our theology. “For it sufficeth enough, a naked intent direct unto God without any other cause than Himself….lapped and folden in one word, for that thou shouldest have better hold thereupon, take thee but a little word of one syllable: for so it is better than of two, for even the shorter it is the better it accordeth with the work of the Spirit. And such a word is this word GOD or this word LOVE”

Of course, the Contemplative Prayer movement takes it lead from just this very practice— repeating a word such as “love” or “Jesus” over and over until one enters into “the Presence”. Even the title of the work “The Cloud of Unknowing” betrays the mystical intent of the writer. The gist is that we must enter the presence by UN-knowing, as opposed to meditating on an objective reality, i.e., the Scriptures.

I don’t believe Tozer practiced this, in fact, on pg. 76 he writes:

“It is important that we get still to wait on God. And it is best that we get alone, preferable with our Bible outspread before us…..Then the happy moment when the Spirit begins to illuminate the Scriptures, and that which had been only a sound, or at best a voice, now becomes an intelligible word, warm and intimate and clear as the word of a dear friend”.

To summarize: I can only assume that Tozer had an appreciation for the mystics, for their devotion, but that this appreciation didn’t translate into his following their practices.

4) Tom Riggle takes a more critical view of Tozer, presenting a number of points that others quoted here did not touch upon. Click here for the entire list of Riggle’s blogs critiquing Tozer.

5) The Just the BOOK blogsite has many blogs criticizing A.W. Tozer’s quoting of “Christian” mystics.

To his credit, Tozer was a prolific writer – see the list of books in his Wikipedia article. Unfortunately, it appears he made a habit of quoting mystics throughout his various books.

In conclusion, here is my take on “the Tozer controversy” while I do more research: I admire Tozer and view him as a wonderful man of God. but I see no need for Tozer (or any other born again Christian) to quote Catholic (aka nonchristian) mystics – period. There are many biblically sound, born again Christians he could have quoted instead to make his points.  (C.H. Spurgeon and D.L. Moody are a few names that come to mind.)

Tozer does indeed seem to have been a wonderful, born again Christian. However, by quoting Catholic mystics, Tozer (and others) set a dangerous precedent. Since Tozer’s passing, followers of Richard Foster and company have claimed Tozer himself was a “Christian mystic” due to his quoting of Catholic mystics. Whether Tozer truly was a Christian mystic to the degree of a “Richard Foster” is highly doubtful. Nonetheless, by quoting Catholic mystics, Tozer did give the impression he was sympathetic to Christian mysticism.

Addendum:  A.W. Tozer was not alone in quoting Catholic mystics. Many writers in the Wesleyan Holiness tradition have quoted Catholic mystics, for various reasons, dating clear back to John Wesley himself. (All of these writers innocently set a dangerous precedent for Spiritual Formation people today to quote Catholic mystics.) Consider this excerpt from an article by M. James Sawyer:

[Wesley’s] doctrine of Sanctification was not traditional Arminianism. Wesley was also heavily influenced by the mystics. [J.I.] Packer has observed that he superimposed:

“on the Augustinianism of the Anglican prayer book and the heaven aspiring High Church moralist in which he was reared a concept of perfection . . . that he had learned from the Greek Patristic sources. “Macarius the Egyptian” . . . and Ephraem Syrus were chief among these. There idea of perfection was not of sinlessness, but of an ever deepening process of all around moral change. To this idea Wesley then added the lesson he had learned form those whom he called the “mystic writers” (a category including the Anglican William Law, the Roman Catholics Molinos, Fenelon, Gaston de Renty, Francis de Sales, and Madame Guyon, the Lutheran Pietist Francke, and the pre-Reformation Theologia Germanica)…  (Keep in Step with the Spirit, p. 134)

I need to study John Wesley and other born again Catholic-quoters more, to determine exactly why they felt the need to quote Catholic mystics at all. Regarding the quoting of Catholic mystics by Tozer, Wesley and many other wonderful, born again men of God of his time, I would summarize the enigma this way. It seems to me that born again Christians quoted the “Christian” sayings of Catholic mystics (while overlooking the nonchristian sayings of Catholic mystics). Emergent mystics such as Richard Foster, on the other hand, quote the heretical sayings of Catholic mystics (while ignoring the “Christian” sayings of Catholic mystics).

FOR FURTHER READING

Google hits for search on [“Tozer” “mystic”]  – Some links say Tozer was a Christian mystic and support him; others say Tozer was a Christian mystic and critique him; yet others say Tozer was not a Christian mystic.

James Stuart Bell, Compiler, From the Library of A. W. Tozer: Selections From Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey (much of this book is viewable online)

Gilley, Gary, review of A Passion for God, the Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer by Lyle Dorsett “Tozer’s endorsement and love for Catholic mystics is problematic. While not agreeing with all their theology, Tozer truly believed that mystics such as Bernard of Clairvaux, Peter Abelard, Frederick Faber, Jeanne Guyon, Meister Eckhart and Thomas Merton knew something about intimacy with God that the evangelical world had missed. Much of Tozer’s methodology for seeking God was shaped not by Scripture, but by the mystics. Even his natural tendency to remain aloof from people was justified by Thomas á Kempis’ brand of Christianity, not the Bible (p. 183).”

Harris, Lynn (1992). The Mystic Spirituality of A.W. Tozer. Edwin Mellen Pr. ISBN 0-7734-9872-9
– The Amazon reader reviews of this book provide further insights into Tozer’s theology, as well as his rationale for quoting Catholic Mystics. Note – I assume this book is not written from a born again Christian perspective.

Snyder, James L. The Life of A.W. Tozer: In Pursuit of God – The Authorized Biography (many pages viewable online). See especially Ch. 13 (starting on p. 153), entitled “Mystic and Prophet.”

Sola Scriptura Ministries, “The Very Best of A.W. Tozer” (online pdf document)

Stanford, Miles J. Dr. A.W. Tozer. This online article mentions several famous Christian writers and preachers who were influenced by Tozer, particularly in his views regarding the Holy Spirit.

Tozer, A.W. The Christian Book of Mystical Verse (1963).
summary of book and list of chapters; provides some of the names Tozer quotes
Amazon description of the book; provides more of the names Tozer quotes

Was A.W. Tozer a Mystic?  – includes many links for further research

Wegter, Jay. Taking Every Thought Captive: A Critique of the Higher Life Movement.
– This online article mentions Tozer and many others. The author presents a good discussion of the pros and cons of the Higher Life movement (also called the Keswick movement). I identify with parts of this movement; I label myself as “born again, separatist fundamentalist Wesleyan Holiness”. I define “fundamentalist” as holding to the Fundamentals of 1910-1915. I also admire separatist fundamentalist groups such as Independent Fundamentalist Baptists; prior to New Evangelicalism, nearly all Wesleyan Holiness denominations were separatist fundamentalist.

A list of Christian mystic works quoted by Tozer (I am providing this info for research purposes not as recommendations); click here for the original source of the following list and intro:

James L. Snyder wrote The Life of A.W. Tozer: In Pursuit of God. In his book, Snyder mentions 34 Christian mystical books and works recommended by A.W. Tozer.  I’ve added links to all those offered by ChristianBooks.com so you can explore them further…

[Note – this article (broken link) describes how Tozer himself compiled the following list of “Christian” mystic works. Again it boggles my mind that, as a Christian who claimed to be born again, Tozer could recommend or at least quote all of the following. At best, he was undiscerning and encouraging an ecumenical mindset; at worst he was deceptive]

I have rearranged the original list in alphabetical order by author:

Lancelot Andrews
Private Devotions

Anonymous
The Cloud of Unknowing

Anselm of Canterbury
Proslogion in Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works

Athanasius
On the Incarnation

Saint Augustine
Confessions of St. Augustine

Bernard of Clairvaux
On the Love of God
Song of Songs
Both in On the Love of God and Other Selected Writings

Berdardeno de Laredo
The Ascent of Mt. Zion

Jakob Boehme
Way to Christ (read online)

Brother Lawrence
The Practice of the Presence of God

Miguel de Molinos and others
A Guide to True Peace
Miguel de Molinos: The Spiritual Guide

De Sales
Introduction to the Devout Life

de Tourville
Letters of Direction

Meister Eckhart
Talks of Instruction

Fredrick Faber
Poems

Francois Fenelon
Christian Perfection in The Complete Fenelon

Walter Hilton
The Goad of Love
Walter Hilton: The Scale of Perfection

John of the Cross
Ascent of Mount Carmel – St. John and the Cross
Dark Night Of The Soul

Juliana of Norwich
Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love in Encounter with God’s Love: Selected Writings of Julian of Norwich

Thomas Kelly
A Testament of Devotion

Thomas a Kempis
The Imitation of Christ

Nicholas of Cusa
The Vision of God

Richard Rolle
Amendment of Life

Lorenzo Scupoli
Spiritual Combat: How to Win Your Spiritual Battles & Attain Peace

Heinrich Suso
The Book of Eternal Wisdom

Johannes Tauler
Johannes Tauler: Sermons

Gerhard Tersteegren
Hymns
The Quiet Way

Thomas Traherne
Centuries of Meditations

Jan van Ruysbroeck
The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage

Issac Watts
Poems

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

%d bloggers like this: