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Archive for the ‘Catholic mystics’ Category

(revised 11/11/13)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/elizaio/5485585137/
CAPTION:  Soren [Gordhamer], Congressman Tim Ryan, and Jon Kabat-Zinn discuss Mindfulness, Politics and Society: Extending into the World
[at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference 2011]

Among the fifty states, Ohio could hardly be considered the most liberal, or the most anti-Christian, or the most New Age state. Yet, for whatever reason, a young Congressional Representative from Ohio – Tim Ryan – has become a darling of New Agers. Why? Because he has become a strong advocate of New Age/Buddhist “mindfulness” (also called “mindfulness meditation”). I am especially concerned that he is pushing this practice for public schools – including preschools and grade schools.

A number of New Agers are endorsing Ryan’s new book A Mindful Nation. Ryan is also pushing legislation that will increase the practice of mindfulness in public schools.  Other  New Agers championing mindfulness in public schools are Jon Kabat-Zinn and Goldie Hawn.

http://www.today.com/moms/goldie-hawn-helps-kids-get-zen-smart-837758
CAPTION: Rep. Tim Ryan, D-OH, practices meditation with kids at Robert Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore.

So when and how did Ryan get involved in mindfulness (also called “mindfulness meditation”)? Check out excerpts from this interview (I have emphasized certain points by bolding in orange, and inserted comments [in brackets in bolded orange].

Q: Why did you write this book?

A: The book came out of my going around the county to meet scientists studying mindfulness; teachers using it in schools; health care practitioners implementing it in our health care system; our military using it to treat veterans and build mental resilience. And I thought the world needed to see what they are doing. They are pioneers in what will be the next great movement in the United States: the movement of mindfulness.

Q: When did your interest in mindfulness start?

A: It started a long time ago. My grandparents and my mom prayed the rosary a lot, and later in life I had a priest friend of mine teach me centering prayer, based on Father Thomas Keating’s work. That led to practicing different kinds of meditation off and on as I got older.

Q: And when did you begin to consistently practice meditation?

A: I had been running extremely hard with my job and traveling across Ohio and the country to help Democrats take back the House in 2006, and then there was the presidential election. I was 35 and I thought, “I’m going to be burned out by the time I’m 40. I really need to jump-start my meditation practice.” Two days after the presidential election, I spent five days at a retreat [led by mindfulness “guru” Jon Kabat-Zinn] in increasing levels of silence. It reminded me of how I felt when I played sports: being in “the zone” with mind and body grounded in the present moment.

Q: And you continue to meditate every day?

A: Yes, 40 to 45 minutes every morning before I leave the house and go out into the world…

After some discussion of “Washington politics”, the interview continues as follows:

Q: Because of mindfulness’ Buddhist roots, a lot of people think it’s a religious practice. How does your meditation relate to your Catholic faith?

A: If you love your neighbor and are compassionate, are you automatically a Christian? Practicing present-moment awareness does not entail joining any religion or accepting any belief system. [Yes it does – the core of mindfulness is a New Age/Buddhist worldview.] As a Catholic, I find mindfulness helps me participate in my religion more wholeheartedly. If you are praying the rosary, participating in the rituals at Mass or listening to the priest preach, you will actually be paying attention! Whatever your religion is, it can enhance the experience of participating in that religion. What’s more beautiful than that?

Q: There do seem to be some Buddhist concepts in your book, such as the interconnectedness of all beings. Has meditation made you more interested in Buddhist philosophy?

A: I love studying different religions. For me, learning and drawing from the different religious traditions is essential to being a good public servant. And the connections between our various religious traditions become our public ethic; they tie us together.

And in a 2012 article originally posted here, a Buddhist website asks Youngstown, Ohio Congressional Representative (D) Tim Ryan:

How have you helped introduce mindfulness in the education system?

Ryan replies:

About three years ago [2009] I got a million dollars to put social and emotional learning and mindfulness in two school districts in Ohio, and the teachers have responded in a wonderful way. In the Warren City School District they just added another fifty teachers—the teachers who were in the program spoke so highly about it that other teachers wanted to do it too. The programs we’re running also have a parental component. Parents are learning how teachers are talking to the kids about being aware of their emotions. This makes a connection with the families. Mindfulness is not a silver bullet. But there’s nothing else right now cutting against the huge influx of information and technology coming at our kids. We want to give kids the ability to choose what they put their attention on. I’ve seen it in my own district— parents and teachers love it.

FOR FURTHER READING

List of Google hits on [“Tim Ryan” “centering prayer” “mindfulness”]

Christian discernment articles critiquing Ryan

Stand Up for the Truth!, U.S. Congressman Advocates Mindful Meditation as Solution to Global Conflict – followed by links to a number of additional Christian discernment articles

Lighthouse Trails Research, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan’s Meditation Crusade – Hopes to Influence Other Congress Members (and All Americans)

Religious (but not necessarily Christian) articles mentioning Ryan’s motives and Catholic background

Lisa Joan Reardon, Mindfulness and Centering Prayer (08/06/12)

Ohio congressman Tim Ryan on a mission to bring meditation to the masses

Buddhist articles favoring Ryan

Politically Aware: A Q&A with Congressman TIM RYAN

Congressman Tim Ryan to talk “A Mindful Nation” at InsightLA fundraiser, June 4 [2012]

Secular articles favoring Ryan

CASEL, Congressman Tim Ryan, U.S. Representative, 17th District, Ohio
Mary Utne O’Brien Award for  Excellence in Expanding the Evidence-Based Practice of Social and Emotional Learning in the Area of Policy

Tim Ryan, Ohio Congressman, Shares His Mindfulness Vision For The Country – Arianna Huffington, editor of the Huffington Post, graduated from the New Age University of Santa Monica mentioned in this article

Washington was making Rep. Tim Ryan sick … until he found mindfulness

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Click below for the various parts of this series on New Ager Roma Downey (and husband Mark Burnett):

Like Oprah, New Agers Roma Downey and hubby Mark Burnett now falsely claiming they’re Christians – why?

Roma Downey’s comments about “Touched by an Angel” show she is not a Christian as she claims, but a New Ager

Roma Downey’s comments about her ties with New Thought/New Ager Della Reese  show Downey is not a Christian as she claims, but a New Ager

Roma Downey’s comments about her “Little Angels” series show she is not a Christian as she claims, but a New Ager

Roma Downey’s comments about her New Age “Spiritual Psychology” degree show she is not a Christian as she claims, but a New Ager

NEW: Roma Downey’s comments and connections with psychic medium John Edward show she is not a Christian as she claims, but a New Ager

Roma Downey’s comments about her theology show she is not a Christian as she claims, but a New Ager

Roma Downey’s comments about her “biographical trivia” show she is not a Christian as she claims, but a New Ager

NEW: New blogs I’m working on, showing in Downey and Burnett’s own words that they are not Christians as they claim, but New Agers

Note – all above blogs © 2012-2014 Dave Mosher, all rights reserved. Excerpts may be quoted up to 300 words, as long as credit is given to my original blogs and links are provided to my original blogs. Thank you.
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Now on to the current blog:

(revised 03/21/13)

New blogs I’m working on, showing in Downey and Burnett’s own words that they are not Christians as they claim, but New Agers

I’m finding more documentation that Downey (and hubby Mark Burnett) are not born again Christians as they claim, but today are still New Agers. I’m hoping to incorporate this newly found documentation into new blogs. I will list these proposed blogs below, but first, some comments:

Some viewers of “The Bible” may think Downey has changed – that she was New Age but is now a born again Christian. NOT! For one, Downy and her hubby are both claiming that Downey has been a “person of faith” all her life. Yet, even today there is no mention of a conversion experience in Downey’s life.

Up until Downey’s 2010 graduation from the University of Santa Monica (with a degree in New Age “Spiritual Psychology”), one could find many references to Downey being New Age. Actually,  her so-called “Christian faith”/spiritual journey seems to be an occult New Age smorgasboard of Roman Catholicism, Celtic “Christianity”, Della Reese (New Thought), John Edward (Rosary-praying psychic medium), John-Rogers (New Age), Eckhard Tolle (New Age), etc. Not to mention a New Age obsession with “angels” (who in “Touched by an Angel” never mention our Lord Jesus Christ) and “miracles” (in the “It’s a Miracle” TV series these mostly consist of occult manifestations).

On top of all this, in recent years Downey (and her hubby) seem to have adopted theological bits and pieces from Joel Osteen (evangelical prosperity gospel, positive thinking), Rick Warren (evangelical seeker sensitive, global P.E.A.C.E. Plan), T.D. Jakes (evangelical prosperity gospel, hints of Jesus-Only/Oneness Pentecostalism), etc.

So where does Downey stand today? I do not believe she is a born again Christian as she has claimed recently. (In  various interviews, she’s maintained that she’s known Jesus all her life, that she’s born again, and that she’s accepted Jesus as her Saviour.) Yet nowhere have I heard Downey mentioning a conversion to true Christianity – repenting of 53 years of an ungodly New Age mishmash, being born again, accepting Christ as her Saviour so she won’t spend eternity in Hell/the Lake of Fire.

Now on to the new blogs I’m working on for this series:

New Blog #1) Why are New Agers endorsing “The Bible” miniseries? – Many New Agers love “The Bible”. Examples: 1) psychic medium John Edward (a good friend of Downey’s) tweeted his endorsement of the miniseries, 2) this New Age blogger recommends the miniseries, 3) various articles refer to Oprah Winfrey (who is New Age) tweeting her enthusiastic endorsement of  “The Bible”.

I was puzzled at first – why did Roma Downey feel so compelled to produce “The Bible” miniseries, having received a New Age Spiritual Psychology degree? Why is someone so into New Age teachings so obsessed with sharing the Bible? It just doesn’t make sense. Unless perhaps she wants to share New Age themes she sees in the Bible. (After all, there are many unbiblical points in the miniseries.) Two obviously New Age themes are an overemphasis on angels (reminiscent of “Touched by an Angel”), and an overemphasis on miracles (reminiscent of Downey’s hosting some  “It’s a Miracle” episodes – and perhaps with hints of “A Course in Miracles”).

I believe the key can be found in how New Agers interpret the Bible.  Check out this Christian discernment article  – an introduction to New Age interpretations of the Bible. Perhaps a study of John-Roger (born Roger Delano Hinkins) and his New Age interpretations of the Bible will show more subtle New Age themes in “The Bible” miniseries. (Downey graduated from John-Roger’s New Age school). For more information on John-Rogers and his movement, see this Christian article . Also, see my blog on Downey’s New Age Spiritual Psychology degree here.

Even if “The Bible” was not produced with an exclusively New Age agenda, it was definitely produced with an ecumenical, interfaith bias. It is a watered down Bible, reducing Christ in many places to merely a great man – not the God-Man, the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, our Saviour. “The Bible” pleases everyone (except born again Christians) and offends no one (except born again Christians).

New Blog #2) In “The Bible” miniseries itself – the portrayal of angels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1YhLpDv7PE Clips like this remind me of Downey’s New Ageish “Touched by an Angel” TV series. (It has always shocked me that the angels in “Touched by an Angel” never mention Jesus.)

Again, in “The Bible” miniseries itself: Downey and Burnett’s claims of three miracles while filming – see http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/03/11/3-real-life-miracles-that-took-place-on-the-set-of-the-bible/ The original article (with different photos) can be found here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2291441/The-Bible-Blockbusters-producer-claims-miracles-took-place-set.html I believe these are just as likely three counterfeit miracles from the Enemy of our souls, making these ungodly people think the miracles are from God. How can there be miracles from God on set, when the producers are New Age and the actors are nonchristians? In Jesus’ ministry, one of the purposes of miracles was to verify His authenticity; Downey and Burnett’s “ministry” is not authentically Christian.

Remember when Downey hosted various episodes of “It’s a Miracle” (see proposed blog below)? Downey seems to call every supernatural phenomena a “miracle” – whether it is from God or from Satan and his minions.

New Blog #3) Their 100-day devotional book based on “The Bible”. Many days have New Ageish lingo if read very closely. Here is the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Story-God-All-Reflections-Inspirations/dp/1455525677/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363010459&sr=8-1&keywords=the+bible+reflections+downey

New Blog #4) “Christian” Roma Downey hosting demonic “Touched by an Angel” marathon on GMC … on Easter Sunday 2013. (When the listing becomes available, I plan to list the episodes of TBAA being shown.) If she were truly born again, Downey would certainly have wisdom, common sense,  and biblical discernment. She would realize how irreverent/blasphemous it is to host TBAA on – of all days – a Christian “holy day”. (I oppose Catholicism – I’m trying to come up with a term more appropriate than “holy day”.) Want proof that TBAA has a demonic theme in its 212 episodes? As mentioned above, throughout  the series, the “angels” never mention the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a trait of demonic angels, not heavenly angels. Yet even today Downey continues to praise the TBAA episodes, maintaining she and the other “angels” did a wonderful thing by bringing viewers God’s word (small w, I say).

In a commercial on GMC March 13 and other days in March 2013, Downey says, “Hello, this is Roma Downey encouraging you to gather your family for a very special “Touched by an Angel” marathon [clip inserted of “angel”/New Thought minister Della Reese saying “and that oughtta be good”] – a full day featuring some of my fondest show memories and a collection of episodes that will remind us all what Easter is really about” [clip inserted of “angel” Della Reese saying “miracles happen around you every day”, then guest star Valerie Bertinelli responds “Amen”]. Join me for Miracle Sunday.” GMC then makes an announcement: “All day this Easter, leading up to the GMC World Premiere Movie, “The Carpenter’s Miracle” [another occult/New Age show] at 7.” Downey then closes the commercial, quoting GMC’s motto, “Uplifting Entertainment”.

First of all, does “born again” Christian Roma Downey really believe TBAA – which never mentions our Lord Jesus Christ – reminds of us of what Resurrection Day is really about? (Unless of course Downey is not a born again Christian, but actually a New Ager.) And second, GMC started out as “Gospel Music Channel” – why are they now showing the “non-heavenly angel”/”occultish miracle” genre of TV shows?

New Blog #5) Roma Downey’s comments on hosting various episodes of  “It’s a Miracle” from 2003-2004.  Click here for details on this TV series. And click here for a list of the episodes; I’m trying to determine which of the 267 episodes Downey hosted. Born again Christians viewing this TV series believe most of the “miracles” were not from God but were demonic, occult manifestations (ESP, psychic mediums, past life experiences, astral travel, etc.).

New Blog #6) Roma Downey’s comments about her music (which is New Age). Click here for her discography.

I am currently in the process of adding more info to this blog – keep  checking back. And thank you for your patience. New info on Roma Downey and hubby Mark Burnett is coming out almost daily – it’s hard to keep up with!

© 2012-2014 Dave Mosher, all rights reserved. Excerpts may be quoted up to 300 words, as long as credit is given to my original blogs and links are provided to my original blogs. Thank you.

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Since posting this blog (which includes a repost about David Crowder’s contemplative practices and Catholic-leaning mysticism), I’ve read additional bits and pieces here and there about  Crowder’s contemplative and Emergent heresies. I decided to peruse Amazon.com, to see what I could find in Crowder’s own writings.

It didn’t take long to find what I was looking for. One of Crowder’s books is Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi (Experiencing God). It is immediately apparent  that the youthful, loved-by-youth Crowder is one of many poster children for occultish Spiritual Formation/Contemplative Spirituality, as well as the Emerging/Emergent movements.

Consider these quotes from Amazon.com. And these were found before I even clicked on Amazon’s “Read Inside” feature!

First, consider Amazon’s book description:

Praise is something we are, not something we do. Musician David Crowder redefines our perspective of God and helps us develop a habit of praising Him by reflecting on targeted psalms from The Message//REMIX.

Ideal for teens and those who love the beauty and music of the Psalms.

The above sounds okay – except for the reference the Eugene Peterson’s The Message paraphrase. This should be a huge red flag.

In the Reader Comments, Crowder’s heresies become really evident. Consider this excerpt from the Reader Comments, by Amos M. Rawley (April 27, 2007):

Crowder uses the ancient practice of “Lectio Divina”, which he later explains. This method consists of reading Scripture not to try and pull things out of it, but rather slowly reading through a passage of Scripture, chewing it up, and just being quiet and meditating on what you just heard. Breathe it in slowly, absorb the perfume of God’s Word, let it settle in on you. Then, after some time, when settled, write your own response.

Crowder examines 21 different Psalms from the Old Testament (starting w/ Ps. 1 and ending w/ Ps. 150) in Lectio Divina style. In each of these very short chapters, he starts by writing the Psalm for the reader. All Psalms are taken from Eugene Peterson’s “The Message Remix”. This was for me reading these 21 Psalms in a new light than ever before. And the view was breathtaking. (I’m buying a Psalm book in “The Message” now, because I was so taken aback.)

After the Psalm, the reader will find Crowder’s own “lectio divina” on that Psalm. Crowder is an extremely unique writer and an amazing communicator.

[Following is a quote from his Psalm 29 “lectio divina”]: “”Let the knowledge of His transcendence bring us back to life. Let it flow like blood to sleeping limbs, and feel them tingle as they awake in awe. Shake life back into your legs and let them carry you running with wind and thunder. Shake life back into your chest and let your heart beat in pounding reverence. Let praise come face to the ground, trembling with life an awareness that we are found by a holy God.”

– pg. 70, on Psalm 29

Does a nun have to decide what to wear in the morning? No, she just puts on her habit… day in, and day out. And so should we, our Praise Habit, until it becomes “habit”ual.

On the back cover is a reference to Psalm 64:10; “… Good-hearted people, make praise your habit.” There’s a brief, three paragraph synopsis of the book, starting out, “Praise is something we are, not something we do.” This first of Crowder’s books is, on the back cover, recommended by Donald Miller (Blue Like JazzTo Own A DragonThrough Painted Desserts) and Brian McLaren (pastor, author of A New Kind of Christian, voice for the today’s emergent church). [Note – Miller and McLaren are just a few of the contemplatives and Emergents who recommend- and are recommended by – Crowder.]

Note – I plan to add more comments on the heresies of David Crowder. This is just the tip of Crowder’s deadly theological iceberg.

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(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 »

(revised 09/22/12)

I have been repeatedly warning how  liberal/”progressive evangelical” the Evangelical Friends (EFCI) denomination is becoming. More specifically, it is becoming mired in Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent/Emergence teachings.

This is especially true of Northwest Yearly Meeting (NWYM), home of George Fox University (GFU) and George Fox Evangelical Seminary (GFES).

I came across an excellent discernment ministry article questioning George Fox University (GFU) for having Emergent heretic Leonard Sweet on their visiting faculty. The article regards correspondence between James Sundquist (click here and here for bios) and GFU Vice President Dr.  Chuck Conniry. The article exposes the heresies of GFU professors Leonard Sweet and Randy Woodley. But just as important in my mind, is how the comments from Dr. Conniry show the reprobate minds and resistance of GFU faculty to being told there are heretical professors at GFU. (I believe Dr. Conniry’s opinions represent the views of GFU as a whole.)

I am providing excerpts from the article. Click here for the entire original text of the article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets]. I have also occasionally corrected grammatical errors to make the excerpts more readable.

FALSE TEACHINGS AND FALSE ACCUSATIONS
OF
LEONARD SWEET AND RANDY WOODLEY

[this article could more clearly be titled “False Teachings by Leonard Sweet and Randy Woodley, and False Accusations of This Discernment Ministry by Leonard Sweet and Randy Woodley”]

June 4, 2010

Dear Vice President & Dean of George Fox University and Seminary:
Chuck Conniry,

INTRODUCTION

Thank you for your response to my warning letter to George Fox University regarding Leonard Sweet, distinguished visiting professor at your school. I appreciate your measure of kindness and use of Scripture to attempt defend your friend Leonard Sweet. I commend you for that. Having read your response to me, it is almost as though you have obscured if not obliterated the role of watchman on the wall. To to a great extent you quote Scriptures which are certainly true in general for all Christians, but I can’t see how the Scriptures you quote specifically refute any of my charges or any charges against Leonard Sweet by myself, Richard Bennett (Berean Beacon), Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries, Warren Smith, Roger Oakland, Deborah Dombrowski of Lighthouse Trails, or Sandy Simpson of Apologetics Coordination Team. In your response, this is what you should be addressing. All of our charges are simply comparing line by line and precept upon precept Leonard Sweet’s own published teachings directly with Scripture, exactly what Scripture commands us to do.

The following expose on Leonard Sweet should have been written years ago when I first learned of his collaboration with Rick Warren in 1995 Tide of Change project. I am grateful and indebted to those above named good Bereans and Biblical scholars all of whom I know well, and others, who have preceded me in telling the truth about Leonard Sweet. I should also point out that most of these online discernment ministries are not just “online” on the Internet, but have written books exposing these false teachers…many have written two or more books. In any case, ODM is a perfectly noble and biblically legitimate calling and discerner of spirits is a Gift of the Holy Spirit. But the letters ODM could just as easily be invoked to describe Sweet and Emerging Church as Online Deception Ministries. But I could remain silent no longer in the face of iniquity when Leonard Sweet writes his own attack accusing good Bereans of bearing false witness against him. If he is going attack online discernment ministries, that he labels ODM, he should at least have the courage to name names, as the Apostle Paul would require. If it is us that are bearing false witness against Leonard Sweet, then Leonard Sweet needs to prove it and if we don’t repent, he should names names and tell our pastors in order to warn our church. I would be happy tell him who our pastors are and where they are (something he is unwilling to do). But I know who these so called slanderers are, and I am compelled to defend these good brothers and sisters in Christ who have been maligned by Leonard Sweet and his defenders. The Apostle Paul does not warn us about “seducing spirits” in I Timothy 4:1, for nothing, for the reason they are seducing is that they are Leonard Sweet to the taste, but poison in the end for the individual believer as well as the church.

Therefore, I have these things against thee and Leonard Sweet which must stand. I will respond as to why you are clearly in the wrong, as the Apostle Paul would say. I also find it shockingly ironic that Leonard Sweet defender Michael Newnham aka Phoenix Preacher would accuse ODM Christians of Inquisition tactics (see: http://phoenixpreacher.net/?p=1652), when in fact it is Sweet, Warren, and host of Emerging Church leaders who promote mystic Ignatius Loyola, the head of the gestapo of the Jesuit Order who launched The Inquisition that tortured and burned at the stake close to a million true Christian martyrs and defenders of the faith against Roman Catholicism…the real heretics…

[This writer goes on to explain to George Fox University various aspects of Leonard Sweet’s heresies. I am just providing the titles of these sections here.]

LEONARD SWEET/RICK WARREN UNHOLY ALLIANCE

THE LIGHT THAT IS IN MOHAMMED IS DARKNESS

… Leonard Sweet published teaching that “the union of the human with the divine” which is the “center feature of all the world’s religions” (Quantum Spirituality, p. 235). He says it was experienced by Mohammed, Moses, and Krishna. Some of the “New Light leaders” that have led him into this new thinking are Matthew Fox, M. Scott Peck, Willis Harman, and Ken Wilber, all of whom believe in the divinity of man, plus the Catholic-Buddhist monk Thomas Merton. Sweet says humanity needs to learn the truth of Merton’s words, “We are already one” (Quantum Spirituality, p. 13).” SOURCE: [David Cloud], “Friday Church News Notes,” April 2, 2010, http://www.wayoflife.org fbns@wayoflife.org, 866-295-4143)…

Regarding Matthew Fox possessing this light according to Leonard Sweet, read what Renew America has to say about Matthew Fox:  “Leonard Sweet, a founding father of the emerging church, was deeply influenced by Matthew Fox’s book The Cosmic Christ.” This is Fox’s “gospel”:

• “Mother earth” is being “crucified.”
• The human psyche is being “resurrected” through mystical spirituality.
• The “cosmic christ” is healing “mother earth.”
• The “messianic spirit” has come to transform mankind.
• All religions will become one, as their common roots in the “cosmic christ” are revealed.
• There will a one-world government, a utopia, and a sexual paradise on earth.

Source: http://www.renewamerica.com/analysis/hutchison/090518

So Dr. Conniry, in standing with your friend Leonard Sweet, is this is what you believe?…

LEONARD SWEET CONTRADICTS HIMSELF

Leonard Sweet protests that he says he is not divine, yet promotes and quotes one teacher after another that says we are. Have you publicly stated that Mohammed, Krishna, Matthew Fox (Universalist), Carl Jung, Thomas Merton, Barack Obama (who promotes Planned Parenthood infanticide and defiling the body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit), or Rick Warren are false teachers? Or do you stand with Leonard Sweet as does Jeremy Armstrong Managing Editor, Worship Leader Magazine? Whom have you or Leonard Sweet marked as false teachers or heretics?

GEORGE FOX PROFESSOR RANDY WOODLEY SLANDERS GOOD BEREANS

Randy Woodley, your colleague and professor at George Fox was both sarcastic and provided no proof of his own very unkind response to this letter where is he states:

“This would make a great advertisement for unbridled ignorance. May I use it in my classes?”

Here is the next correspondence from Randy Woodley to David Flang:

From: Randy Woodley
To: Warneveryone
Sent: Tuesday, June 01, 2010 10:37 AM
Subject: Re: Dear professor Woodley

Dave,

I find it interesting that when fundamentalists make an
argument they often attribute the judgement of un-christlike motives to their opponent but their own motives are always seen by themselves as “pure” and pointing out “truth.” I consider my statement to be one of love in the same way Jesus pointed out the ignorance of the Pharisees, Paul pointed out the ignorance of the Judaizers and the Prophets in the Old Testament pointed out the ignorance of Israel. They were all in the realm of tough love. If you publish my original statement, you’ll need to publish this as well. Now, if you wish to have a healthy debate on theology or history please let me know.

Do’hi (“Peace,” in Cherokee)
Randy Woodley, Ph.D.
Distinguished Associate Professor of Faith and Culture,
George Fox University and Seminary
[Woodley’s personal website follows]
http://www.EaglesWingsMinistry.com

“It is not enough to undertake works of charity to alleviate the suffering of the poor; we must transform the structures that create this suffering.” ~Archbishop Oscar Romero (1917 –1980)

“…a concern arose to spend some time with the Indians, that I might feel and understand their life and the spirit they live in, if haply I might receive some instruction from them, or they might be in any degree helped forward by my following the leadings of truth among them.”-John Woolman (1720-1772)

On the Bible in Cherokee translation: “Well, it seems a good book – strange that the white people are no better, after having had it so long.” -Chief Yonaguska (1759-1839)
*****
Well Mr. Woodley disqualifies himself as a minister of righteousness on five grounds:

1. He promotes Roman Catholicism by citing Archbishop Oscar Romero.
2. Romero promoted Ignatius Loyola and his spiritual exercise which we exposed in the DVD and my written expose on Mystic Plague.
3. The Pharisees were hypocrites and the Judaizers were false teachers so Jesus Christ and Paul had ever reason to expose them and warn the saints. Judaizers tried to put the people back under the law, so Paul thrice cursed them in Galatians. Rick Warren, Sweet’s collaborator puts Christians back under the bondage of the law with his enforced covenants. So it would be Sweet, Warren and Woodley that Jesus Christ would be castigating, not the Bereans who are simply the messengers who sought out Scripture to see if their teachings be true. So Woodley has it quite backwards. Woodley wants to debate, but we have already given him and open door to debate the charges inviting and appealing to him to refute them from Scripture and reason from Scripture. To date he has done neither. So we should no longer be debating Woodley since he won’t repent upon a second warning and refuses correction, by publicly rebuking him and marking him. Woodley is the one displaying his ignorance of Scripture in full bloom. The Prophets of the OT teach exactly what we are teaching. The Israelites perished for lack of knowledge (ignorance) of Scripture, precisely what Woodley continues to exhibit. Woodley has still failed abysmally to refute a single charge any of us have made with Scripture from against Leonard Sweet. But he certainly has made a great case against himself, setting a snare that he himself gets caught in, so we will be happy to comply with his wish to publish his latest retaliation as well and include it in the full report on Leonard Sweet and his defenders and collaborators. Woodley has no problem dishing out “tough love” but can’t take it himself.

4. He promotes Liberation Theology another false gospel which pits rich and against poor, white men against black, red vs. white, male vs. female. Even Leonard Sweet opposes Liberation Theology in his critique of Brian McClaren and other Emergent Leaders in his response to Online Discernment Ministries (see: http://www.leonardsweet.com/response.php). But this is hypocritical of Sweet, in light of the fact that his Drew Seminary brought in Rev. [Jeremiah] Wright, Obama’s former pastor as a speaker in Spring 2010, a major player in Black Liberation Theology. Here is Leonard Sweet’s Drew University Spring 2010 newsletter extolling the virtues of Romero and Rev. Wright: http://www.drew.edu/newspost.aspx?id=77940

And why is Woodley bringing up Oscar Romero? I wondered why in the world Woodley would introduce Liberation Theology into this conversation, given that we hadn’t even been discussing it. Then I discovered that Drew University, where Leonard Sweet is a professor, was promoting both Romero and Rev. Wright in their “god-talk” courses which I read online where they are extolled and not exposed…virtually no disclaimers or warnings about them. Romero was a major ringleader of Liberation Theology (in spite of his denials), as is Rev. Wright (Black Liberation Theology), Obama’s former pastor, and now Obama himself. It is Marxist to the core but clothed in the scarlet garments of Roman Catholicism in the name of Jesus. Woodley has not reasoned from Scripture, but Ron Rhodes has in this demolition of Liberation Theology:

“Christian Revolution in Latin America:
The Changing Face of Liberation Theology”
http://home.earthlink.net/~ronrhodes/Liberation.html

Woodley would uses the term “fundamentalist” derisively,  just like Rick Warren who calls fundamentalist Christian enemies of the 21st Century. So Warren, Sweet and Woodley make great bedfellows. Like Ken Silva, Apprising Ministries, and Richard Bennett, Berean Beacon (Richard knows more than anyone about false religions in Latin America, as that is where he spent most of his years as a Roan Catholic priest). I am not a fundamentalist as in the denomination [I assume Sundquist is referring to Independent Fundamentalist Baptists], but we are fundamentalists in that we believe in fundamentals in the 1920s declaration [actually The Fundamentals were a series of articles written between 1910-1915] :

1. The Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:1; John 20:28; Hebrews 1:8-9).
2. The Virgin Birth (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27).
3. The Blood Atonement (Acts 20:28; Romans 3:25, 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:12-14).
4. The Bodily Resurrection (Luke 24:36-46; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 15:14-15).
5. The inerrancy of the scriptures themselves (Psalms 12:6-7; Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20).
SOURCE: http://www.eaec.org/bibleanswers/Five_Fundamentals_of_the_Faith.pdf

Conclusion, Mr. Woodley could not have made a better case to alert true saints throughout the world to sound the alarm on His Holy Hill about Woodley, than Woodley himself. He is indicted by his own testimony. But it is good to know who the wolves in sheep’s clothing are who masquerade as servants of righteousness. Woodley removed his own mask. To date, Randy Woodley still has not provided a shred of evidence that I have borne false witness against Leonard Sweet nor a single Scripture to refute me or any other brother or sister in Christ that has confronted him or his teachings. For that matter Leonard Sweet has never responded to any of my emails to him. Ad hominem attacks are the last refuge for a person who can’t attack the merit of an argument or provide any evidence, so they simply lash out.

Sincerely in Christ,
James Sundquist

[Interesting, and amazing. George Fox University belongs to the Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI), originally composed of born again, conservative evangelical Gurneyite Quaker Yearly Meetings. And the Gurneyite Quakers in the early 1900s were strongly fundamentalist. Yet professors like Randy Woodley now have the gall to criticize fundamentalists. Perhaps they should study the history of the denomination that sponsors the school that pays their salaries!]

[Following is a response from Chuck Conniry; James Sundquist has inserted his comments.]

On May 18, 2010, at 8:34 PM, Chuck Connirywrote:

Dear James,
I’ve read through this email (and the ones that have followed up to this point).

I wonder if we can engage each other in the spirit of Christ’s love. I pray so…

WHAT IS LOVE? (JAMES SUNDQUIST RESPONSE):
I pray the same. Is that what your Professor RandyWoodley did? Is that what Leonard Sweet did in his response to ODM ministries or when he contacted Lighthouse Trails, or his complete failure to ever respond to me? …

CHUCK CONNIRY:
L
en Sweet is a close friend of mine, so it troubles me to see him accused of being a heretic. I know him to be a person of deep faith, with a strong commitment to Scripture.

IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHAT THE DEFINITION OF HERETIC IS
(JAMES SUNDQUIST RESPONSE):

What should trouble you is not that someone calls him a heretic, but whether or not he is a heretic. If you are truly his friend then you would stop him from promoting false teachings and teaching at your university. “The wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of the enemy.” Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness and Roman Catholics (whom Sweet and Rick Warren extol) also claim commitment to Scripture. I know many Catholics who are friendly. But are we truly their friend if we do not tell them the truth that their religions are false? I am sure Paul was a friend of Peter’s. But that did not stop him from confronting him and opposing him publicly to his face.

CHUCK CONNIRY:
Our differences, James, are based largely on interpretation. I do not question your love for Jesus Christ…and I hope you do not doubt my love for him.

SUBJECTIVE VS. OBJECTIVE TRUTH (JAMES SUNDQUIST RESPONSE):
So weren’t the Judaizers differences with the Apostle Paul simply a matter of interpretation of Scripture? One as good as the next? Any interpretation wise in one own eyes is a valid as the next ? If that is true that subjective interpretation vs. objective interpretation is the standard, then no one could could be called a false teacher. There could be no such thing as sound doctrine to refute anyone. If that is the case, then why did Paul curse them three times in Galatians? After all many of them also would have claimed a religious zeal (as Paul even conceded) and commitment to Scripture. And doesn’t Peter state that Scripture is not open to private interpretation?

2 Pe 1:20 “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.”

Furthermore, in Sweet’s case, it is not even often a matter of interpretation of Scripture but Sweet completely inventing and vain imagination what Scripture states. Now he plans to launch still another translation of the Bible. God help us if he infuses the ideas we quote into his translation.

As to whether or not I doubt your love for Jesus. I certainly pray that it is so. However, you systematically dismantle my confidence because you of your indefensible statements defending Leonard Sweet. But Sweet is not the only false teacher you promote and finance at your University. Richard Foster and Dan Kimball are two others, to say nothing about the fact that you promote Psychology there. [Others welcomed by George Fox University are Dallas Willard as well as a number of Emerging/Emergent seminar speakers.]

CHUCK CONNIRY:
The Apostle Paul’s words come to mind: “Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice (Phil. 1:15-18a).

LEONARD SWEET PROMOTES ANOTHER JESUS, ANOTHER GOSPEL AND ANOTHER HOLY SPIRIT, EVOLUTIONIST (JAMES SUNDQUIST RESPONSE):
I am glad you cite Scripture. But first let me say that I never accused Leonard Sweet of preaching out of strife or envy or impure motives. But Sweet is preaching “another Jesus” (Christ) and another gospel. Paul would certainly not have countenanced that. The key in that verse you quote is whether or not Christ is being preached. And even if by some herculean stretch, that Sweet is
preaching Christ crucified and him only, the very term Christ-Consciousness and Cosmic Christ (Matthew Fox) are welcome buzz words used in the New Age which I well remember in my encounter with Theosophy and my discussion with my friend Warren Smith, a former New Ager and author of can attest to in his book: The Light That Was Dark: From the New Age to Amazing Grace. [See] http://www.newagetograce.com/books.htm

Leonard Sweet extols Pierre Teilhard de Chardin [who taught many New Age concepts].  [Sweet writes] “[Pierre Teilhard de Chardin] is twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice.”   – Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality (Dayton, OH, Whaleprints, 1994), p. 106.
Source: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4332

… for Leonard Sweet to say that Chardin is twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice is untrue, absurd and an abomination. But he certainly would qualify as one of the 20th Century’s greatest heretics! Why doesn’t Sweet select a non-Roman Catholic Evangelical Orthodox Christian as the 20th century’s major voice?

So, do you still stand with Sweet?

The Apostle Paul said:

1 Cr 14:8 “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”

The terms that Leonard Sweet uses are confusing at best and you know who the author of confusion is, I pray.

CHUCK CONNIRY:
What I appreciate about Paul’s statement is the clarity with which he embraces his highest priority — the preaching of Christ. Elsewhere he writes, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings” (1 Cor. 9:19-23).

WHOM SWEET PROMOTES VS. THE APOSTLE PAUL’S RESPONSE
(JAMES SUNDQUIST RESPONSE):
Once again, I am glad you cite Scripture. But not once did Paul corrupt Christ’s teachings to win the lost. Not once did Paul, or any other Apostle for that matter ever present the demon-possessed, the demonically-inspired, the atheist, the spiritists, the mystics, and the necromancers favorably to the people, as Leonard Sweet and Rick Warren his collaborator and admirer have done. I should also point out that though Paul personally put himself temporarily under the law with a vow, he also eternally damned the Judaizers for compelling the Jews to be put under the law. And he demolishes the righteousness under the law in Romans. Paul did not become a Greek Philosopher in order to win the Greeks. He made it perfectly clear in his writings that Greek Philosophy was also a false religion. So would Paul become an evolutionist in order to save an evolutionist as Roman Catholics and much the liberal church has done?

CHUCK CONNIRY:
For his part, the Apostle Paul recognized the importance of contextualizing the gospel for each audience. He never compromised the essence of the gospel, but he freely nuanced the message in whatever ways he deemed necessary to connect with those who desperately needed the salvation offered through Jesus Christ alone. Paul tolerated (even celebrated) the preaching of Christ from those whose motives were less than pure. How much more would he have appreciated the preaching of Christ from pure hearts…even if those preachers and teachers ended up presenting the gospel in ways that he would have never imagined in his lifetime?

JAMES SUNDQUIST RESPONSE:
I was waiting for the term “contextualizing the gospel”. This sounds like it is straight from Fuller Theological Seminary and fits right into Warren and Robert Schuller and Willowcreek methodology.

I invite you to read: http://apprising.org/2009/09/22/contextualization-or-removingcontext-and-content/

Once again you harp on motives…which I never addressed regarding Sweet. But in any case it is a straw man argument because it presumes the Christ is being preached in the first place.

CHUCK CONNIRY:
The Apostle John writes, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him” (1 John 2:9-11).

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR RICK WARREN AND LEONARD SWEET OPPONENTS
(JAMES SUNDQUIST RESPONSE):
I certainly agree with this Scripture. But what did I write for you to suggest or imply that I hate my brother, particularly in light of the fact that you are confident that I love the Lord Jesus Christ? As Paul would say, “I am now therefore the enemy because I tell you the truth?” I am glad you quote John’s Epistle, for one of them contain both the warning about antichrists as well as marking Diotrephes who did to Christians exactly what Rick Warren (Leonard Sweet collaborator) does and prescribes in his Purpose Driven Blueprints for resisters and Fundamentalist Christians he calls enemies of the 21st Century. Where is the love of the brethren there? Was Paul unloving for marking Philetus and Hymenaus? Was John unloving to mark and expose Diotrephes?

CHUCK CONNIRY:
It is easy to love those we deem loveable, either because we agree on every point of interpretation we see as fundamental to the faith or because we find the person generally likeable.

MARGINAL POINTS ARE CENTRAL PILLARS OF DOCTRINE?
(JAMES SUNDQUIST RESPONSE):
I am not opposing Leonard Sweet for marginal points of interpretation, but for corrupting central pillars of the faith.

CHUCK CONNIRY:
One can live in the flesh and manage to do that. One can also live in the flesh and hate and anathematize those he or she finds unloveable for the same corresponding reasons. Those who claim to be followers of Christ sometimes do this — with a sense of self absolution — by categorizing such people as heretics, even though the love of Christ is manifest in their lives, and the fruit of the Spirit is evident in abundant measure. None of that matters to those walking in this darkness. “Doctrinal purity is what matters,” they claim. “We must defend the Truth!” They forget that Jesus did not die for principles; he did not die for “truth.” Jesus died for lost people, which includes all of us (Rom. 3:23) — lost sheep upon

JAMES SUNDQUIST RESPONSE:
Doctrinal purity or sound doctrine is not my subjective opinion, it is what Scripture commands. If truth is that disposable then why did Paul say “I am now therefore the enemy because I tell you the truth”? And why did the Apostle John say:

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” I John 3:18

I exhort you to read Dr. John MacArthur’s book: The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in the Age of Uncertainty. I don’t know of any of the writers making charges against Leonard Sweet who are doing it for “self-absolution”. They are doing it because they are commanded to do so biblically, irrespective of how they personally feel about it. What part of Paul, Peter, Jude and John’s words did you apparently miss in making that statement suggesting that we are not required to contend for the faith, expose the deeds of darkness, mark and expel false teachers and wolves in sheep’s clothing from our midst? Were Paul, Peter, Jude and John doing so for self-absolution? You say that Leonard Sweet manifests the fruit of the spirit. But Jesus Christ says that it is what comes out of the mouth of man that defiles him. What comes of out the mouth of Leonard Sweet is his published teaching. False teaching can hardly qualify as fruit of the spirit. But it certainly would qualify as fruit of another spirit. A thorn bush can not produce figs. And if you are that concerned about the lost, then why would you stand by Leonard Sweet who promotes the lost? Why would you or Leonard Sweet want to introduce the lost to another Jesus? Mohammed and Krishna are lost for Eternity, so what possible light could they have to offer has Mr. Sweet postulates?

CHUCK CONNIRY:
We demonstrate the truthfulness of the gospel by our love for one another (John 13:35; 17:22-23). When we show hatred and contempt toward one another…

JAMES SUNDQUIST RESPONSE:
Again you begin with a false or presumed premise that Leonard Sweet is even a brother in the first place. Why wouldn’t you say these same things to Paul, Jude, Peter, and John, who named names?? I am simply agreeing with them and obeying what they commanded us to do with people like Leonard Sweet who is masquerading as a servant of righteousness. Jesus Christ himself even described many coming in his name but he responded with “depart from me you wicked and accursed, I never knew you.” So who was he talking about?

CHUCK CONNIRY:
… each of whom claims faith in the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and who together trust in Jesus’ death on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for sin…and who share in the Blessed Hope of Christ’s return and the dawn of everlasting glory — we deny by those very actions the truth we claim to defend.

LEONARD SWEET DISCIPLE OF CARL JUNG DISCIPLE
(JAMES SUNDQUIST RESPONSE):
The Apostle Peter agreed with all of these tenets of the faith too. Yet Paul still publicly confronted him. The Roman Catholic Church would agree with those tenets, though redefining them, but it remains a false apostate religion of works and necromancy. If Leonard Sweet whom you stand with believes this, then why does he admire and promote Joseph Campbell and others who do NOT believe in the physical resurrection and ascension of Christ instead of marking them as false teachers? Here [is] what Joseph Campbell has to say about Christ’s physical ascension:

[On] The Power of Myth, an outgrowth of the PBS series, he responds to Moyers with the following statements:

“We know that Jesus could not have ascended to heavenbecause there is no physical heaven anywhere in the universe.

SOURCE: Campbell, J., with Moyers, B., The Power of Myth, Doubleday, New York, p. 56, 1988.

Joseph Campbell celebrates myth, the Apostle Paul demolishes the strongholds of myth. So why aren’t you?

CHUCK CONNIRY:
Paul states that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Then in the next two verses he adds, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (vv. 9-10).

GEORGE FOX UNIVERSITY, MULTNOMAH UNIVERSITY AND LEONARD SWEET NEVER ANSWER THE QUESTIONS OR REFUTE CHARGES
(JAMES SUNDQUIST RESPONSE):
You keep bringing out more Scripture which I heartily agree with. But how is this relevant to any of our charges against Leonard Sweet? I am still waiting for a single Scripture that refutes our charges. We all used Scripture as good Bereans to test the spirits and search them to find where in the world Leonard Sweet came up with his philosophy. Had you done so, you should agree. If you don’t, then sadly you too become his accomplice.

CHUCK CONNIRY:
No matter how strenuously we try this side of eternity to get everything “right,” we won’t. But “walking in the light” is not sinless perfection, it speaks of the general tenor of one’s life — a life forever imperfect through its own efforts…but perfected by Jesus’ atonement (cf. Rom. 8:1-4; 1 John 1:5-10). If God loved us when we weren’t even trying, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Jesus’ atonement now!

To imitate God’s love is to give one another the benefit of the doubt and extend to each other the hospitality of open hearts and listening ears.

BE SURE TO BE HOSPITABLE TO DOCTRINES OF DEMONS THAT ENTER YOUR HOUSE? (JAMES SUNDQUIST RESPONSE):
NO IT DOESN’T. Paul warned us about heaping upon ourselves teachers with itching ears. We are not to even let them into our house, let alone our house of God, or pulpit or stumble the least of these my little children.

2Jo 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into [your] house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

Shouldn’t we let them in…be more hospitable? After all none of us gets everything right. Paul should have left Peter alone, after all, look at all the good Peter had done. To imitate God’s love, Paul should have given Peter the benefit of the doubt…cut him some slack, right? Of course not. If Paul spared not Peter, and God is not a respecter of persons, how much more should the benefit of the doubt not be given to a clearly false teacher that he might lead away that many more unsuspecting disciples.

CHUCK CONNIRY:
It also means erring on the side of mercy, as a matter of course, rather than judgment. As Scripture attests, “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13b).

JAMES SUNDQUIST RESPONSE:
But mercy is NEVER at the price of judgment. Jesus Christ certainly taught against hypocritical judging. But most of the New Testament is a blueprint for how to judge false teaching and what to do with false teachers. Without judging there would be no such thing as church discipline. Please cite one Scripture in which any Prophet of the Old Testament or Apostle in the New Testament in which they were merciful to a false teacher? Now certainly were
they to have repented publicly, mercy would have been shown them. But we are never to remain silent in the face of iniquity. Where in Scripture do you find this advice as to how we are to imitate God’s love? What manual of church discipline are you following?

CHUCK CONNIRY:
As Job sat amid his judgmental friends, who called into the question the veracity of his faith, he proclaimed, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God!” (Job 19:25-26).

JOB’S FRIENDS OR GOOD BEREANS?
(JAMES SUNDQUIST RESPONSE):
I am staggered that you would compare Leonard Sweet to Job. First of all, it assumes that Sweet is a Christian vs. a Christ-Consciousness or Cosmic Christ New Ager that promotes a trainload of false teachers. Secondly, it compares Job’s friends to Good Bereans who are simply obeying Scripture…fatally flawed analogy. All of the Bereans who confronted Leonard Sweet in the articles I sent you and myself agree with Job’s words and all sing “I know that my redeemer lives” and I recorded a classical guitar instrument of that very hymn. We all side with Job. None of us would take Job’s friends side. But Job would not side with Leonard Sweet, based on his teachings.

CHUCK CONNIRY:I stand alongside my friend, Len Sweet, and sing, “I know that my Redeemer lives….”

Faithfully,
Chuck Conniry
Charles J. Conniry, Jr., PhD
Vice President and Dean
George Fox Evangelical Seminary

*******

HIPPIE THEOLOGY AND BOB DYLAN’S THEME SONG FOR LEONARD SWEET’S NEW REFORMATION, [by] JAMES SUNDQUIST

[Dr. Conniry], if you stand with Leonard Sweet, then you are self-indicted and deceived and render yourself an accomplice. As Vice President and Dean of  George Fox University and Seminary, you should be the chief of watchmen. When the watchmen are derelict on duty, who remains to guard the city? “When the foundations be destroyed what do the righteous do?” Worse your unholy alliance with him will continue to hurt him as well as students you subject to him.

You can not serve two masters. You seem so alarmed that I would call Leonard Sweet a “heretic”. I am only surprised that you are surprised. You should be disturbed that Sweet is a heretic not the messengers who rightfully point it out. “Heretic” means to cause division (from sound doctrine) which is precisely what Leonard Sweet has done and by changing the incorruptible Word into corruptible and warning us that we need to change according to Bob Dylan’s song? Bob Dylan had a supposed temporary conversion to Christianity but was never a member of a local church let alone an elder in the faith… So Bob Dylan, is now the leader and poster child of a new Reformation in Christianity and Leonard Sweet’s billboard for change?! What an example! …

BOB DYLAN & LEONARD SWEET’S “TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN” & THE VINEYARD
… would Mr. Sweet like us to attend his church, if indeed there is one near Madison, New Jersey, for you certainly can’t easily locate it on any search on the Internet. He has written 30 books and 1200 sermons, many of which address the topic on how to do church and he taught seminars on the subject, yet where is his own local church? …

What changes does Sweet have in mind in order to launch his New Reformation with Dylan’s “Times They Are a Changin” theme song? Here are those lyrics:

http://www.metrolyrics.com/the-times-they-are-achangin-lyrics-bobdylan.
html

And Christ crucified would be where in those lyrics? The gospel would be where in those lyrics? Where in the church would Leonard Sweet have us put those lyrics? In the prayer book? Add it to the rubric liturgy in the Methodist Church? All Purpose-Driven Churches? And what is there in Dylan’s song that Sweet would have us change into, as there is certainly nothing evident in Dylan’s song? Sweet and Rick Warren say this change will be enforced. But how do you enforce the change when we are not even told what change is written in Dylan’s decree? … 

Christians and non-Christians should be concerned about the “change”  described in the Bible not change described in Dylan’s lyrics. The change being born again! The change that counts is becoming a New Creation. Once saved they should concern themselves with the “change” described in this Scripture when Christ physically returns in Glory:

1Cr 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Sweet’s role models who possess the New Light such as Mohammad, Krishna, Thomas Merton and a host of others will not be changed into incorruptible bodies but will perish eternally in the Lake of Fire who are deceased. And those who are alive will suffer the same fate if they do not repent.

WHO IS LEONARD SWEET’S PASTOR AND WHERE IS HIS LOCAL CHURCH?

As if it is not enough of a problem to track down Bob Dylan’s church, I found it virtually impossible to find Leonard Sweet’s local Church or pastor, upon an exhaustive search on the Internet and dialogue with his close friends and colleagues. Leonard Sweet offers no help. How bizarre is it that The Church Report states: “he was voted “One of the 50 Most Influential Christians in America” (www.thechurchreport.com)”, yet not report which local church he is in? Remember this is a “church report”. I even wrote a gentleman who is doing his doctoral dissertation under Leonard Sweet. He was very kind, but didn’t know either. I asked the VP and Dean of George Fox where Sweet also teaches if he knew. He either doesn’t know, or won’t tell. I twice asked the bishops and UMC Church leaders of Northern New Jersey district and West Virginia Districts (Bishops Sudarshana Devadhar, Bishop Lyght, and Rev Paul Mathew Maliel, Rev Robert E Costello, Rev Renee L Mccleary and Rev Sung Hoon Ah) of the United Methodist Church who ordained him as well as his own booking agent. No response…totally stonewalled. This doesn’t surprise me because the United Methodist Church promotes Yoga at its churches. They have become so apostate that you have to wonder if there is even such a thing as a false teacher to mark in this denomination. Is there any such thing a “unsound doctrine” with this organization? Leonard Sweet, who supposedly upholds church standards has made it almost impossible to carry out Matthew 18 should anyone have an offense against him. You could try to exercise Titus 3:15 to warn him and his local church, if indeed it even exists, or could find it, but his UMC denomination [apparently] is in cahoots with him as are Drew University and George Fox University...

SHIRLEY MACLAINE OR LEONARD SWEET?
MORE RESOURCES…THE BEST ONES ARE LEONARD SWEET HIMSELF

If you still don’t have enough published quotes by Leonard Sweet in his QUANTUM SPIRITUALITY book, to biblically mark him and separate from him, here is more evidence:

1. Unitary thinking, the highest level of understanding reality, opens us up to a wider sensory realm and mystical dimension of the divine; it also heals the divisions that separate us from one another and life’s highest values. 2. Wholeness unites, not eliminates, opposites, bringing them into dynamic balance—the coming together of earth and water, air and fire, through the merger of the Antaean sensibility (Antaeus the hugger of the ground, from which came his strength) with the Herculean sensibility (Hercules the master of air and fire, who defeated Antaeus by lifting him off the ground.) 3. The discovery of the euphoric state of wholeness will prove to be the highest form of ecstasis.” (Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, pg. 250)

“Spirituality refers first of all to the universal gift of aliveness that exists within all religions and outside of religions. It breathes out the air that “inspires.” Those who have been inspired with aliveness by the kiss of God will “con-spire” to kiss others into coming alive to the spiritual dimensions of existence. “In-spire” means to breathe in. “Con-spire” means to breathe together. “Conspiracy” enters by the same door as “spirituality.” A world gagging on smog and smut needs a breath of fresh air. The New Light movement begins as a fresh air conspiracy of “aliveness.” But it is more than that. Spiritual consciousness can be something greater than aesthetics or aliveness. The Bible tells us that the human species has been twice kissed by the divine.” (Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, pg. 253)

“As a cosmion incarnating the cells of a new body, New Lights will function as transitional vessels through which transforming energy can renew the divine image in the world, moving postmoderns from one state of embodiment to another.” (Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, pg. 38)

“Postmodern culture is hungry for the intimacy of psychospiritual transformations. It wants a “reenchantment of nature.” It’s aware of its ecstasy deprivation. It wants to know God “by heart.” It wants to light an inner fire, the circulating force of divine energies flowing in and flowing out. The primal scream of postmodern spirituality is for primal experiences of God.”(Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, pg. 56)

“Through the synergy of the divine-human exchange of energies, an unbelievable field of healing and transforming energy is rounded up and released in the universe. Humans are constructed out of mutually attracting energy particles with positive and negative charges. Negative or neutral charges too often dominate human contacts. Positive charges in the church are about as rare as “strange matter”–positively charged lumps of quarks know as “quarknuggets”–is in the quantum world. “Consciousness is catching,” psychologist/ medical scholar/ professor Frances E. Vaughan reminds us. Destructive, negative, constricting states of consciousness are caught as readily as creative, positive, expanding states of consciousness. All energy states are contagious.” (Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, pg. 62)

A surprisingly central feature of all the world’s religions is the language of light in communicating the divine and symbolizing the union of the human with the divine: Muhammed’s light-filled cave, Moses’ burning bush, Paul’s blinding light, Fox’s “inner light,” Krishna’s Lord of Light, Böhme’s light-filled cobbler shop, Plotinus’ fire experiences, Bodhisattvas with the flow of Kundalini’s fire erupting from their fontanelles, and so on. Light is the common thread that ties together near-death experiences as they occur in various cultures.” (Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, pg. 146)

Leonard Sweet exposed by Brannon Howse : Rick Warren’s Church is Teaching The Same Thing As Oprah?
From Brannon Howse at Christian Worldview Network:

Best Selling Christian/New Age Author Leonard Sweet will be speaking for Rick Warren’s church this April of 2008. For those of you who did not think  Rick Warren was part of the Emergent Church movement, time to think again. Leonard Sweet is as Emergent Church, New Age, New Spirituality as you can get. In his book, Quantum Spirituality, Sweet states:

“The power of small groups is in their ability to develop the discipline to get people “in-phase” with the Christ consciousness and connected with one another.”

Here are some more quotes from Leonard Sweet’s book Quantum Spirituality:

“Austrian/American physicist Wolfgang Pauli perceived, are the traceable connections that exist between ourselves and others or objects, and the underlying holism of the universe. Transcendent state of consciousness” (Quantum Spirituality, p.234)

“New Light embodiment means to be “in connection” and “information” with other Christians…The church is fundamentally one being, one person, a communion whose cells are connected to one another within the information network called the Christ consciousness.” (Quantum Spirituality, p. 122).

“Postmodern missions must have a geomantic imagination and geomantic design. What I am calling a geomantic style of evangelization will ensure harmonious habitation patterns as the gospel interconnects and interacts with all life-and landforms.” (Quantum Spirituality, p.168)

LEONARD SWEET exposed by Sue Winter:

Leonard praised and endorsed Rick’s [Warren’s] PDC [Purpose Driven Church] book on the inside cover. (E p. 2 and O p.6-7) And Rick praised and endorsed Sweet’s book Soul Tsunami on the front and back cover encouraging the reader to use Sweet’s methods to communicate with God. Sweet uses such things as labyrinths and meditation centers. (*6 p.158) Sweet and Warren, it’s like “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.

Sweet favorably references Carl Jung. (Jung practiced astrology and channeled two spirit guides [demons] called Philemon and Ka. More on this further on. O p.10)

Sweet’s books and writings are found in Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox as well. (O p.7)

Sweet thanks Matthew Fox and other mystics for helping him find the “New Light” and he further states that the “old teachings” of Christianity must be replaced with the “New Light” which comes from the ancient teachings of the Desert Fathers which include “a channeling of Christ energies through mind-body experience.” (*6 pps. 158-159) By telling us to follow Sweet just where is Rick Warren taking us? God’s Word does not tell us that Jesus is an “energy” to be channeled through us, but the New Age embraces this “cosmic” force of “Christ” instead of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sweet teaches that humans and creation are one. By accepting the “New Light” earthlings will then know the truth that Thomas Merton revealed, “We are already one…And what we have to recover is our original unity.” Why would Rick
promote such unbiblical garbage on his website for pastors? (*6 pps. 159-160)

Rick Warren and Sweet did an audio tape series together called “Tides of Change”. (O p.7)

Leonard teaches interconnection as a world view in that “The church is fundamentally one being, one person, a communion whose cells are connected to one another within the information network called the Christ
consciousness.” And that “…the gospel interconnects and interacts with all life-and-landforms.” (O p.6) “Google” Christ consciousness and see that this is NOT Biblical Christianity!

Sweet writes that “the church…must be first Christianized… with alterity of rituals by which they (postmoderns) can turn and tune to one another and feel connected to the cosmos. (Quantum Spirituality p. 137 and O p.7) Seriously, “connected to the cosmos”??? “Google”  interconnection to the cosmos to find out where Sweet, and evidently rick, want to take us. You don’t want to go there if you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Sweet praises Jesuit philosopher Karl Rahner and quotes him
favorably in his book Quantum Spirituality (p.76), where he says, “The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, one who has experienced something or he will be a nothing….We need a new feeling of what it is to be ‘I’ “(O p.8-9) Dear reader, are we supposed to base our relationship to the Lord on feelings…on experiences in place of knowledge of God through His Word? Is this the
teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ and of God’s Holy Word? NO!

Sweet, like Schuller and Rick Warren, employs many favorable quotes in his writings from people hostile to or at odds with Biblical Christianity like Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who writes, “I can be saved only by becoming one with the universe.” (O p.9)

Remember that Warren and Sweet promote each other’s books. Birds of a feather… SOURCE: By Sue Winter B.S., M.Ed. (another good friend
of mine)

Roger Oakland has written a book entitled Faith Undone which is a comprehensive proof of Leonard Sweet and other Emergent Leaders false teaching: Leonard Sweet names Ken Wilbur as one of his role
models as one of his “New Light” teachers. “Here a just a few of these spiritual activities that Wilbur promotes: yoga, Zen, centering prayer, Kabbalah, TM, tantra (Hindu-based sexuality), and kundalini yoga” SOURCE Faith Undone, Roger Oakland, pp 30-33, 110, Lighthouse Trails Pub., 2007.

CONCLUSION

I tried to warn you. Leonard Sweet and his Emerging Church colleagues have put an axe to the root of the tenets of Orthodox Christianity. But one day the Lord Himself will put an axe to the root of the entire Emerging church and those promoting the mystic plague. In the meantime, since the watchmen who should be warning and protecting the church won’t do it, I warn as many as I can in our media and broadcast alerts about Leonard Sweet, as many
pastors and Bible-believing brothers and sisters in Christ are already doing. But I had hoped that I would not have to include you and George Fox University as a collaborators. Emergent Church leaders like Leonard Sweet are destroying the foundation of Christianity, so what will the righteous do? It is no wonder then that Scripture prophesied about people like Leonard Sweet in describing a Great Falling Away in the Last Days as described in these passages:

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;”
I Timothy 4:1

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit
you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” 2 Peter 1:21-2:3

So I must stand by my statement that Leonard Sweet is a heretic, in accordance with this (and many other) Scriptures:

“A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;” Titus 3:10

Leonard Sweet is touted as one of the leading futurists in this generation. But remind him of his future and anyone who follows him, unless he repents of his teachings!

I have had many people tell me that I am wasting my time confronting these false brethren and that I won’t change them. Well it is probably true that they won’t change and repent. But I am compelled to expose their deeds of darkness for three critical reasons:

1) I am commanded to do so from Scripture whether they listen or fail to listen.
2) I do so to alert those that have ears to hear.
3) To equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.
4) To bring the Balm of Gilead to wounds of the saints of churches who have been destroyed by Purpose Driven, Emerging Church and Mystic Plague

END OF COMMENTARY

Original Letter to George Fox University regarding Leonard Sweet

On 5/18/10 9:24 AM, “James Sundquist” < rock.salt@verizon.net>
wrote:

Dear President Robin Baker, Dean, Faculty and Administration of George Fox University and fellow defenders of The Faith,

Please be alerted to the following news release concerning Leonard Sweet vs. Scripture: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/leonardsweetquotes.html
&
http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/Church/post- modern/leonard-sweet.htm

Also, I invite you to hear former Roman Catholic priest (22 years)
Richard Bennett, President and Founder of Berean Beacon video exposing Leonard Sweet and Emerging Church:
http://www.bereanbeacon.org/audio/Hazards_unfolded_by_Emerging_Church_leaders.mp3

Richard Bennett, who also taught at Multnomah Bible College (now also becoming increasingly mystical) will be sounding the alarm on His Holy Hill later this month when he releases his DVD on the Mystic Plague in the Church. Having been a Roman Catholic priest for 22 years, he knows as much as anyone about the false teachings of the very Roman Catholic mystics that Leonard Sweet so admirably quotes. Richard Bennett is shocked that Christians leaders would promote the very heretics he just escaped from. I also invite you to consider Pastor Bob DeWaay’s new book comparing Emerging Church to Scripture at: http://cicministry.org/

In Leonard Sweet’s response (http://www.leonardsweet.com/response.php) to online discernment ministries who are simply good Bereans searching the Scriptures to see if “these things (Sweet’s teachings) “be true”, Leonard Sweet attacks these defenders of the faith, but gives absolutely no Scriptural refutation, as the Apostle Paul requires, and ODMs have done, as I document in the websites enclosed in this letter. I remind Mr. Sweet that slanderers and those who bear false witness against a brother will not enter the Kingdom of God.

In this response Leonard Sweet uses Colossians Chapter 3 to defend his own teaching and philosophy. But Colossians refutes the very Colossian Heresy that Sweet espouses:

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) In other words mixing Eastern and Western philosophy, exactly what Sweet’s Cosmic Christ (and Rick Warren) and many Emerging Leaders promote. Many scholars confirm that gnosticism, mysticism and a higher spiritual formation experience and its variations is what the Colossian heresy was referring.
See: http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue69.htm

Sweet further states in his response to defenders of the Faith: “Jesus did not come to make us divine. Jesus came to show us how to be authentically what God made us to be–human. Because of the culture in which we live, I have encouraged the daily ritual of starting the day by standing in front of a mirror and saying: “God is God and I am not.””  It is true that God did not come to make us divine, but which Scripture (that Sweet can’t cite) teaches that Jesus came to teach us how to be authentically more human? This is completely heretical! Jesus did not come to teach use how to be more human but appease
his Father’s wrath through the substitutionary atonement, and to crucify the old human (man) and become a New Creation, that many of Sweet’s friends and colleagues renounce in the Emerging Church Movement.

Leonard Sweet may very well be friends with his fellow Emergent Church leaders such as Brian McLaren and others like Rick Warren and Richard Foster (another Carl Jung promoter), but Scripture states:

“know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4

So Sweet should not be simply critiquing Brian McLaren, rather exposing his deeds of darkness and publicly marking him and other mystics as a false teachers not quoting them and promoting them and repenting of the promoting them himself and stumbling countless children of the Most High God!

Finally, Leonard Sweet gives thanks for being introduced to Joseph Campbell (“Power of Myth”) disciple of occultist Carl Jung [whom Rick Warren — a collaborator with Leonard Sweet] promotes in his SHAPE Personality Temperament Divination Profiling that I documented in my own book Who’s Driving the Purpose Driven Church (published by Southwest Radio Church swrc.com <http://swrc.com&gt; ), also published in The Conservative Theological Journal at Tyndale Theological Seminary and the Journal of Biblical Apologetics, and now posted on Youtube at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qW6aroPRx8

I find it ironic that Leonard Sweet and his colleague Rick Warren would BOTH threaten whom Rick Warren call “resisters” and “enemies of the 21st Century” and Sweet himself says “change of be changed…Reinvent yourself for the 21st Century or die.” (Leonard Sweet, Soul Tsunami: Sink or Swim in the New Millennium Culture (Zondervan, 1999), p. 74-75). If you want to find out what happens to saints in churches who do resist these change agents? Read the case studies in my second book Rick Warren’s Global Peace Plan vs. Scriptural Teachings on Peace at theperfectpeaceplan.com
<http://theperfectpeaceplan.com&gt; .

Both Rick Warren and Rick Warren are bitter/sweet as Scripture records sweet to the taste but bitter to the victims:

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20

Sincerely in Christ,
James Sundquist
Director
Rock Salt Publishing
http://www.voiceoftruthradio.com/james.htm

FOR FURTHER READING

Randy Woodley’s blogsite

Read Full Post »

 

(revised 01/30/15)

I stumbled across the folllowing blog which addresses a number of issues I have written about. Namely, Quaker George Fox’s “Inner Light” heresy, universalism, Spiritual Formation, the Renovare Spiritual Formation Study Bible, etc.

I am providing excerpts from the blog below. Click here [broken link] for the entire original text of this blog. As of 01/30/15  I found this blogsite run by Tom Lessing, but could not find his 2009 article presented below. I am emphasizing certain points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets]. I have also corrected the grammar in a few places to make the excerpts more readable.

The Unholiness of the Renovaré Brotherhood’s “Holiness”

Posted by Tom Lessing on July 9, 2009

Adherents to the Emergent Church have an uncanny ability to tell their congregants what to do without explaining what they really have in mind. They have the knack to use biblical terminology very skillfully and expertly but often fail to elucidate the biblical meaning of the words they hit to and fro like a little ping-pong ball. “Holiness” is one of these words. I encountered this again in one of Stephan Joubert’s regular contributions on e-church under the title “No Steroids for Holiness.”Although it may be a very clever post-modernish title it wreaks of heresy from the very outset, especially when one takes into account who it was who coined the witty little maxim. But allow me to use Stephan’s own words:

You can’t cheat your way to holiness. Or can you? Presently, I am at the Renovare Conference in San Antonio, Texas where the theme is “The Jesus Way.” Yesterday evening I listened to one of my spiritual heroes, Eugene Peterson. In his fine presentation he stressed that there are no spiritual steroids for holiness. You have to live a holy life, one day at a time (emphasis added).

Have you noticed the little ink spots in Stephan’s declaration of holiness?

[The Spiritual Formation definition of  “holiness” is quite different from the born again, biblical Christian definition. For those in Spiritual Formation, “holiness” basically means proficiency in practicing the spiritual disciplines, particularly occultish contemplative prayer/contemplative spirituality. And one usually learns these contemplative techniques from a Spiritual Director who sympathizes with Catholicism in some way. The Spiritual Director, in my mind, acts as sort of a “guru”, a “master teacher”, an “expert” in Spiritual Formation.

Conversely, for the born again, biblically sound Christian, “holiness” means “personal holiness” – obeying the commandments of God’s Word the Bible (the 66 books of the Canon), dying to sin, living for Christ in purity, etc. One passage that describes this is Romans 12:1-2:1) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”]

What is Renovare?

Here are a few facts about “Renovaré”:

Renovaré is a movement within the Emergent church that was started in 1988 by Richard Foster, a Quaker theologian. [Although Foster has been  an Evangelical Friend, preaching and teaching in the EFCI, his writings betray him as a nonchristian with positions akin to  those of nonchristian, non-evangelical Quaker denominations.] The [nonchristian, non-evangelical] Quakers’ theology is based on the belief that everyone (believers and unbelievers) have an “inner light” which can lead them to truth while they wait and listen to its subjective leading, particularly with the assistance of contemplative practices such as “the silence” and “centering prayer.” Paul Lacout, in Quaker Faith and Practice, described a “silence which is active” causing the Inner Light to “glow.” Their complete reliance on the leading of the inner light has just about ousted the objectivity of God’s Word and its clear-cut doctrines. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Stephan Joubert pledges not to return to the Bible and the church but to advance forward to God (the inner light that guides all of mankind into the Truth).

As soon as you begin to tamper with biblical doctrine, heresy becomes your way and not as the Renovaré brotherhood claims “The Jesus Way.” The Quakers’ assertion that believers and unbelievers have an “inner light” substantiates their equally heretical belief in Universalism. George Fox and Robert Barclay as well as other respected leaders in the Quaker movement hold to the lie that all people are already saved from sin or will eventually be saved from it, the reason being that the Light is within everyone and nobody will therefore be cast into hell. Then there are those within the Quaker movement, such as the Quaker Universalist Group, who believe that it is unnecessary to have any faith in Jesus Christ. [According to Quaker Universalists] people of other faiths or no faith at all have no need of salvation because they already have Light within them… 

What does the Word of God teach us about the Light?

John 3:19-21 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God (emphasis added).

Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (emphasis added).

Richard Foster, the author of the Renovaré study Bible, endorses many Universalists and pantheists. Here are some of the revealing things they have said in their books:

“The Inner Light, the Inward Christ, is no mere doctrine, belonging peculiarly to a small religious fellowship, to be accepted or rejected as a mere belief. It is the living Center of Reference for all Christian souls and Christian groups – yes, and of non-Christian groups as well” Thomas Kelly:A Testament of Devotion.

“It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, … now I realize what we all are …. If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are … I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other … At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth … This little point… is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody. Thomas Merton: Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

Asia, Zen, Islam, etc., all these things come together in my life. It would be madness for me to attempt to create a monastic life for myself by excluding all these. I would be less a monk. Rob Baker & Gray Henry: Merton and Sufism.

The common denominator between Merton’s brand of Christianity and other religions is mysticism, in particular Buddhism. Stephan Joubert’s spiritual excursion to the Renovaré Conference in San Antonio, Texas is consequently no coincidence. He is merely strengthening his affiliation with his brothers and sisters who are extending a hand of brotherly affection to religions such as Buddhism, and affirming his agreement with Rob Bell who said that truth may also be found in other religions such as Buddhism. When Merton could no longer resist the mystic appeal, he intended to turn his back on Christianity. Guess who advised him to remain a Christian? No! You’re wrong. It was not a concerned Christian but a Hindu swami named Dr. Bramachari. He assured Merton that he could find the very same mysticism within the ranks of the Christian mystics. (Henri J M Nouwen: Contemplative Critic). Dr. Bramachari seems to be far better informed than most Christians of Paul’s warning in II Corinthians and seems to know that Merton can do more damage within the ranks of Christianity if he remains therein stead of becoming a converted Buddhist or Hindu.

II Corinthians 11:13-15 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Merton affirmed that he could incorporate these mystical traditions into his own Christian tradition if he practiced tolerance of and an openness to Buddhism, Hinduism and other Asian mystical religions. Richard Foster’s entire philosophy is based on Merton’s and others’ contemplative spirituality and their efforts to bridge the gap between Western and Far Eastern spiritualities. Why would someone like Foster who claims to follow The Jesus Way endorse and follow Merton’s heresies? The underlying reason is to forge a new Christianity which gullibly utilizes Christian terminology, such as The Jesus Way and holiness, and gathers together every conceivable religious persuasion under a single umbrella called mysticism, simply because “everyone has the Inner Light.” Roger Oakland asks a similar question in his book Faith Undone:

Why would someone who claims to be a Christian as Foster does, after reading and understanding Merton’s position on East­ern religion, promote his ideas? Foster knows the kind of prayer Merton stood for was different from biblical prayer. He admits that Merton’s prayer lined up with that of Zen masters and Bud­dhist monks. And yet he said, “Merton continues to inspire count­less men and women.” [i]

Stephan Joubert  is obviously one of the countless men and women who have been inspired to follow in the Jesus Way of spurious disciples such as Richard Foster, Eugene Peterson and Thomas Merton. The Renovaré Spiritual Formation Study Bible which was released in 2005 has impacted many people to strive for a [so-called] renewal in the church. Besides Foster, editors included Dallas Willard, Walter Brueggemann, and Eugene Peterson…

[Blogger Tom Lessing then lists a number of heresies in the Renovaré  Spiritual Formation Bible, mostly dealing with prophecy. To read his excellent critique of the Renovaré  Spiritual Formation Bible, click here [broken link] for the entire original blog. Now for the rest of Tom Lessing’s blog…]

So, what is holiness anyway?

Holiness, in a nutshell, is to be like your Creator and Saviour.

I Peter 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

In practice it means that God’s children should talk, think and act completely different from what our world system expects its citizens to do. It comes down to separateness, severance, apartness from the world system and everything it advocates and stands for. The idea of separateness is seen throughout the Bible. Let’s ponder the following verses from Scripture.

Mark 10:34-36 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

II Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

If you proclaim to be a Christian who follows The Jesus Way you dare not associate with false teachers and preachers. Holiness also means to separate yourself from them. It is impossible to plead holiness (without steroids) while you associate with people whose false teaching God hates, to such an extent that He said through the mouth of His disciple Paul:

Galatians 1: 8 and 9 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Here are a few verses that warn us not to associate with false teachers and preachers.

II John 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

II Timothy 3:5-14 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; (emphasis added).

I have pleaded with you many times before, Stephan, and I want to do so here again: Repent of your disastrous way which is clearly NOT The Jesus Way and definitely NOT the way of holiness. It is the way that leads to destruction. You are misleading many people in South Africa. Please stop playing with fire and repent!


[i] Richard Foster, Devotional Classics, op. cit., p. 61.

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(revised 10/05/12)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baseline: The “Sanctification Gap”

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

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

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

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

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

Challenge and Hunger

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

Jumping the Barriers

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

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

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

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

Building Bridges

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

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

Crossing the Rubicon—to visit

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

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

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

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

What Was Recovered, And What It Meant

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

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

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

Hitting a Wall

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

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

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

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

A Cloud The Size of a Man’s Fist

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

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

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

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

NOTES

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

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

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

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

5 Hatch, Democratization.

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

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

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

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