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Posts Tagged ‘Evangelical mystics’

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

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

RICHARD FOSTER: THE BIBLE A RELIABLE GUIDE DESPITE INCONSISTENCIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

________________________________________________________________________________
Endnotes:

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

See also:

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

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

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

IS DALLAS WILLARD A CHRISTIAN?

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

THE TERMINOLOGY TRAP OF “SPIRITUAL FORMATION”

9 MARKS: INTERVARSITY PRESS SEEMS ADRIFT

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(revised 06/06/14)

I grew up in the Evangelical Friends denomination (now known as the EFCI), during a time period in which it was much more biblically sound. Yes, between the years of 1854-1965, many Evangelical Friends aka Gurneyite Friends held a born again, biblically sound separatist fundamentalist Wesleyan Holiness theology – particularly in Ohio Yearly Meeting (OYM). Never once did I hear the terms Inner Light, direct revelation, etc. in the church services of Ohio Yearly Meeting. My fondest memories are of a small OYM church where we:

* heard regular altar calls
* sang gospel hymns such as “The Old Rugged Cross” and “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood”
* attended Wednesday night prayer meetings where many old saints of God prayed fervently on their knees

Unfortunately, like myself, Richard Foster also grew up in the Evangelical Friends denomination. And he latched on to the contemplative teachings of heretical Quaker founder George Fox. Foster’s bestseller Celebration of Discipline came out in 1978; it was eagerly welcomed by Evangelical Friends. And the rest is history. Along with Eugene Peterson, Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet and many other Emerging/Emergents,  Foster has wrought immeasurable damage to the Evangelical Friends and most other evangelical denominations. (I’m not sure who is more culpable – these Emerging/Emergent pioneers, or the Evangelical Friends denominational leaders who have welcomed them with open arms.)

What exactly are the heresies of Richard Foster, and why are they so dangerous? And what is the connection between the heresies of Foster and the heresies of Quakers? Ken Silva explains the connection in the article I’ve reposted below. Click here for Silva’s original article.

RICHARD FOSTER AND QUAKER BELIEFS

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

Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. (Jeremiah 14:14, NASB)

Richard Foster Is Not An Evangelical Christian He Is A Quaker

This well-documented piece from Apprising Ministries is designed primarily as a reference article as it concerns The Cult of Guru Richard Foster. Founder of Renovare “Christian Roshi” Richard Foster is not an evangelical Christian; but rather, he is a Quaker:

Richard J. Foster (Quaker) — Richard is the founder of RENOVARÉ and author of six books including Celebration of Discipline, PRAYER: Finding the Heart’s True Home, and Streams of Living Water which effectively promote personal spiritual renewal. From his base near Denver, Colorado, where he and Carolynn, his wife, live, Richard travels throughout the world, speaking and teaching on the spiritual life. (Online source).

Next this from QuakerInfo.com:

Perhaps the best known Quaker in the world today is Richard J. Foster, although many are at most dimly aware that he is associated with the Religious Society of Friends. He is clearly one of the leading contemporary writers and speakers on Christian spirituality. While maintaining his ties with Friends, Foster deliberately speaks to a much broader audience.

Richard Foster grew up among Evangelical Friends. In adult life, he has been a Friends pastor and a professor of theology at Friends University among the many positions he has held. In his books and speaking, he frequently makes reference to Quaker historical figures and his own Quakerism. (Online source)

And then the interspiritual website Spirituality & Practice website, which lists Foster among their “Living Spiritual Teachers” such as Marcus Borg, Deepak Chopra, and the Dali Lama, also confirms the above:

Richard J. Foster is the founder of RENOVARÉ, an international, ecumenical Christian organization working for the renewal of the Church of Jesus Christ in all her multifaceted expressions. Members are dedicated to following the powerful movement of the Spirit of God by bringing together the best spiritual treasures of several great Christian streams of faith and witness… Foster is an Evangelical Friend, one of the Quaker groups.
(Online source)

With the “Evangelical” Quakers we are again dealing with a reinterpretation of what is meant by evangelical. I’ll show you what I mean from the website of the Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI). They tell you they are “evangelical,” and in their mind they are. However, in the “History” section of EFCI we read:

The Friends Church, originally called the “Religious Society of Friends” began in England under the leadership of George Fox… His spiritual experience led him to witness to what he called the “Inner Light” of Christ (the Holy Spirit) that dwells in the hearts of ordinary people

Through the years many changes have occurred, producing differences among various groups of Friends. Some groups maintain “quiet meetings” [without pastors or musical instruments]. Evangelical Friends Church International [EFCI] churches have forms of worship similar to other Protestant denominations. However, like Fox their focus remains an individual, personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. (Online source, emphasis mine)

If you go back and just read the hightlighted within that section above it will show you where one needs to focus to see through the EFCI redefined evangelical double-speak. I cover this in excruciating detail in Contemplating the Inner Light of the Quakers (Pt. 2) so all I’m going to do here is draw your attention to a couple of key points as it concerns the warped theology of Richard Foster. To be a Quaker is to follow the movement—regardless of what window dressing you may later add to, or subtract from, it—begun through George Fox in England in the mid-1640s, as allegedly the restoration of genuine Christianity.

The Personal Revelation From God To George Fox Of “Inner Light”

Men and women, George Fox is the bad tree that all other flavors of Quakerism branch out from. But you need to understand that Fox was heretical; he was not an evangelical or even an orthodox Christian in the first place; and he flatly rejected the essential doctrine of Sola Scriptura. The absolute fact is that Fox focused on “individual, “personal” revelation outside of Scripture, which becomes crystal clear through the following entry from his own journal:

I heard a voice which said, “There is one, even Jesus Christ, that can speak to thy condition”: and when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy. Then the Lord did let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give Him all the glory; for all are concluded under sin, and shut up in unbelief, as I had been, that Jesus Christ might have the pre-eminence, who enlightens, and gives grace and faith and power. Thus when God doth work, who shall let it?

And this I knew experientially. My desires after the Lord grew stronger, and zeal in the pure knowledge of God, and of Christ alone, without the help of any man, book, or writing. For though I read the Scriptures that spake of Christ and of God, yet I knew Him not, but by revelation, as He who hath the key did open, and as the Father of Life drew me to His Son by His Spirit…

Now when the Lord God and His Son Jesus Christ sent me forth into the world, to preach His everlasting gospel and kingdom, I was glad that I was commanded to turn people to that inward light, spirit, and grace, by which all might know their salvation, and their way to God; even that divine Spirit which would lead them into all Truth, and which I infallibly knew would never deceive any.  (Online source)

Note here that Fox is claiming God spoke to him directly’ and this apart from any “book, or writing,” and what is more he “infallibly knew” this revelation was of the Holy Spirit. Ah—one would have to say this doesn’t exactly give anybody much room to disagree, eh. “Thus saith George”—oops, make that God; or um, maybe it really was just George after all? Had you been one of the ones Fox approached with this revelation how would you have known if what he claimed was of God or not? Hint: B-i-b-l-e.

The well-respected Handbook Of Denominations In The United States (HoD) from Mead and Hill informs us that the Quakers date “from the late 1650’s in England” and “ the Society of Friends, or Quakers, is an unconventional but esteemed Protestant body.” *heavy sigh* Well, that all depends on how we define “Protestant.” As a matter of fact Bill Samuel, the Quaker who runs the aforementioned Quaker Info.com, has a most *ahem* enlightening piece that asks “Are Quakers Protestant?” where some interesting information comes…well, emerging:

It is quite clear from reading the works of early Friends that they did not identify with the Protestant movement. They considered the Protestant churches of their day, as well as the Roman Catholics, to be apostate… There were a number of differences early Friends had with Protestants of their day. Some of the key differences were:

  • The Protestants replaced the authority of the church with the authority of the Bible. Friends, while accepting the validity of the scriptures and believing in the importance of the faith community, gave first place to the Spirit of Christ. Pointing to the prologue of the Gospel of John, they viewed Christ, not the Bible, as the Word of God. The scripture was secondary, a declaration of the fountain rather than the fountain itself. (See also Friends (Quakers) and the Bible.)
  • The Protestants replaced liturgy with a sermon as the center of worship. Friends center worship in the divine presence. Even though Friends disdain outward liturgy, in some sense Quaker worship may be closer to Catholic than Protestant in nature. Both Catholics and Quakers believe in the actual presence of Christ in worship, for Catholics centered in the host and for Quakers spiritually. (Online source)

Does any of that ring, O I dunno, a Rob Bell? In any event, as we return to HoD we’re told the Quakers are unique because “they affirm the ‘Inner Light,’ the spiritual nerve center that God has placed in every person.” And in addition “classical Friends deny the validity of clergy, liturgy, and sacraments” (140, emphasis mine). HoD then gives us a further historical background:

The Society of Friends began with the vision of George Fox (1624-91), a British seeker after spiritual truth and peace during the turmoil of the English Civil War and its aftermath. After failing to find satisfactory truth and peace in the churches of his time, Fox discovered what he sought in a direct personal relationship with Christ:

“When all my hopes in [churches] were gone… I heard a voice which said, ‘That is the Inner Voice, or Inner Light, based upon the description of John 1:9: ‘the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (KJV)’ ”

“This voice,” Fox maintained, “is available to all and has nothing to do with the ceremonies, rituals, or creeds over which Christians have fought. Every heart is God’s altar and shrine.” (140,141, emphasis mine)

Well, it’s about time for you to awaken from your snooze now because Richard Foster is teaching the same stupid doctrine of ol’ “Inner Light” George Fox who was so special to the LORD God Almighty that He would even have personal chats with him. In fact, Foster’s been teaching his apostate refried Roman Catholic and Quaker mysticism in your evangelical seminaries for years so now he’s got plenty of evangelical pastors as his deluded disciples—maybe even yours.

Next time I’ll document—again—what this doctrine of the Inner Light actually is. But for a little preview we’ll turn to a book called The Living Testament: The Essential Writings of Christianity Since the Bible (TLT). In fact the reason I went and acquired a copy of TLT is because it’s even recommended by Guru Foster himself in his classic textbook of ascetic-lite neo-pietism Celebration of Discipline.

TLT was edited by M. Basil Pennington, Alan Jones, and Mark Booth. A couple of these men—Spiritual Master M. Basil Pennington and Living Spiritual Teacher Alan Jones—should be quite recognizable to those of you familiar with my writings on the postliberal cult of the Emergent Church and its core doctrine of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism. While discussing their entry George Fox: Epistles to the New World and to Friends Everywhere in TLT we’re told:

George Fox (1624-1691) was the founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers). He preached reliance on the “Inner Light”, the Holy Spirit watching from within; in this he represented a development of the Puritan “spirit mystic” tradition. He believed that everyone has a divine spark within that can respond directly and personally to God. His plain open style has a peculiar force in enthusiasm and moral earnestness.
(379,380, emphasis mine)

But as you’ll see in more depth next time this false idea of an inner light, or a “divine spark,” is a very key issue to grasp before one can come to understand the root of the flawed semi-pelagian “gospel” preached by much of mainstream evangelicalism within which Foster has now become a major player. I cover this spiritually fatal idea of “a spark of the divine” allegedly inside all of mankind further in The Emergent “One” and Understanding the New Spirituality: God Indwells Mankind.

So in closing this for now I tell you in the Lord that this musing is actually classic Gnostic mysticism, which itself has already been condemned within the pages of the New Testament. Particularly in the Book of Colossians as well as in 1 John we find the Apostles dealing with Gnosticism. And again concerning all of this messed mysticism the Lord warns us through His chosen vessel Peter — In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up (2 Peter 2:3).

See also:

WHO IS RICHARD FOSTER?

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

PRAYER: JESUS VS. RICHARD FOSTER

RICHARD FOSTER AND CONTEMPLATIVE MYSTICISM: A POWERFUL ECUMENICAL BOND

DELUSIONS OF DALLAS WILLARD

SPIRITUAL FORMATION IS PIETISM REIMAGINED

ROB BELL IN A NUTSHELL: CONTEMPLATIVE MYSTICISM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shedding Light On Quaker Origins

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

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

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

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

The well-respected Handbook Of Denominations In The United States (HOD) from Mead and Hill adds that the Quakers date “from the late 1650’s in England” and “ the Society of Friends, or Quakers, is an unconventional but esteemed Protestant body.” The Quakers are unique because “they affirm the ‘Inner Light,’ the spiritual nerve center that God has placed in every person.” As we saw in Part One as well “classical Friends deny the validity of clergy, liturgy, and sacraments” (140, emphasis mine). HOD then gives us a further historical background:

The Society of Friends began with the vision of George Fox (1624-91), a British seeker after spiritual truth and peace during the turmoil of the English Civil War and its aftermath. After failing to find satisfactory truth and peace in the churches of his time, Fox discovered what he sought in a direct personal relationship with Christ: “When all my hopes in [churches] were gone… I heard a voice which said, ‘That is the Inner Voice, or Inner Light, based upon the description of John 1:9: “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (KJV)” ‘ “ This voice, Fox maintained, is available to all and has nothing to do with the ceremonies, rituals, or creeds over which Christians have fought. Every heart is God’s altar and shrine (140,141, emphasis mine).

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

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

The Divine Spark Emerges In The Inner Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

The True Light Of Holy Scripture

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

As we get set to shed additional light on the unique Quaker doctrine of the “Inner Light” we need to remember that George Fox was a seeker and a mystic by nature, well versed in the Scriptures, and a man who chose to rebel against solid Biblical preaching. This is actually not too unlike what we see leaders within the Emergent Church doing today. Fox apparently didn’t like the fact that God instituted an authority structure within the local church so he decided to seek the Lord on his own terms. And sure enough Fox finally hears what he wanted to hear all along as he tells us “I heard a voice which said, ‘That is the Inner Voice, or Inner Light, based upon the description of John 1:9: “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (KJV)” (HOD, 141). Not only that but this seducing spirit allows for Fox’s defiance of authority as well as he is told that this Inner Light “is available to all and has nothing to do with the ceremonies” of the local church. Then in the mystic tradition of classic Gnosticism Fox hears that all mankind has a spark of divinity because every human being “is God’s altar and shrine” (141).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Inner Light Reveals The Global Family

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

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

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

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

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

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(revised 03/31/15)

NOTE – In the past, I have reposted entire articles by David Cloud. Recently I read David Cloud’s statement at the bottom of his articles, giving permission to repost excerpts from his articles. Thus, I have taken nearly all of my reposted David Cloud articles offline. However, I am leaving this repost online for now, since it is directly tied to a primary purpose of my blogs: exposing Richard Foster and other apostate teachers in my former, “birthright” denomination the Evangelical Friends. The following article by David Cloud is excellent.

The more I read about Evangelical Friend Richard Foster, the more I am ashamed of the Evangelical Friends denomination (EFCI). For the life of me, I cannot understand why this denomination accepts and endorses Foster’s Spiritual Formation, with its occultish contemplative teachings.

The EFCI was formed in 1965 (as the EFA aka Evangelical Friends Alliance) from various Friends Yearly Meetings which had a (relatively) biblically sound, Wesleyan Holiness theology at the time. Yet today the EFCI continues to sink deeper and deeper into Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings.

Note: click here for a Google.com listing of my other blogs mentioning Richard Foster.

Below I have reposted Independent Fundamentalist Baptist David Cloud’s article exposing the heresies of Evangelical Friend Richard Foster. Click here for Bro. Cloud’s original article. In my repost, I have emphasized certain points by bolding and inserted comments in [brackets].

RICHARD FOSTER: EVANGELICALISM’S MYSTICAL SPARKPLUG
October 8, 2008 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service)

The following is excerpted from our new book Contemplative Mysticism: A Powerful Ecumenical Bond, which is available from Way of Life Literature. If it is not yet available through the online catalog, it can be ordered by phone or e-mail with a credit card.
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Richard Foster’s writings have been at the forefront of the contemplative movement since the 1970s. No one has done more than this man to spread contemplative mysticism throughout Protestant and Baptist churches.

Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline, which has sold more than two and a half million copies [as of 2008], was selected by Christianity Today as one of the top ten books of the 20th century. (For this review I obtained multiple editions of Celebration of Discipline, plus three other books by Foster.)

The Quaker Connection

He grew up among the Quakers  (the Religious Society of Friends)[specifically, Foster grew up in the Evangelical Friends denomination, which is the only evangelical aka born again Quaker denomination], was trained at George Fox College [now George Fox University], has pastored Quaker churches [technically Evangelical Friends churches], and has taught theology at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, and at George Fox. One website calls him “perhaps the best known Quaker in the world today.”

The Quaker connection is important, because one of their peculiar doctrines is direct revelation via an “inner light.”  This is defined in a variety of ways, since Quakerism is very individualistic and non-creedal, but it refers to a divine presence and guidance in every man. There is an emphasis on being still and silent and passive in order to receive guidance from the inner light. Other terms for it are “light of God,” “light of Christ,” “inward light,” “the light,” “light within,” “Christ within,” and “spirit of Christ.”

George Fox used the expression “that of God in everyone.” In his journal Fox said, “I was glad that I was commanded to turn people to that inward light, spirit, and grace, by which all might know their salvation, and their way to God; even that divine Spirit which would lead them into all Truth, and which I infallibly knew would never deceive any” (The Journal of George Fox, revised by John Nickalls, 1952, p. 35).

Another prominent Quaker, Robert Barclay, called this “the light of the heart” and said “there is an evangelical and saving Light and grace in all.”

Isaac Pennington said, “There is that near you which will guide you; Oh wait for it, and be sure ye keep to it.”

The inner light teaching is said to be based on John 1:9 — “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” Yet this verse does not say that there is a divine light in every man. It merely says that Christ gives light to every man. The epistle of Romans tells us more about this. There is the light of creation (Romans 1:20), the light of conscience (Romans 2:14-16), and the light of the Scripture (Romans 3:2). When men respond to the light that they have, they are given more light (Acts 17:26-27).

Because of the fall, man’s heart is darkened and foolish (Rom. 1:21; Eph. 4:18).

The inner light teaching was exalted above reliance on the Bible. Martin Meeker says, “… the early Quakers’ reliance on the Bible as a source of spiritual knowledge and inspiration was secondary to their belief in the Inner Light as the primary path to salvation and communication with God” (The Doctrine of the Inner Light).

George Fox would say to his listeners:

“You will say, Christ saith this and the Apostles say this, but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of Light and hast thou walked in the Light, and what thou speakest, is it inwardly from God?”

Fox claimed that he received the doctrine of the inner light without help from the Scriptures (The Journal of George Fox, revised by John Nickalls, 1952, pp. 33-35).

This is an unscriptural and very dangerous position that opens the door for every sort of heresy. The Scripture is able to make the man of God perfect; obviously, then, nothing more is needed (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The early Quakers misinterpreted 2 Corinthians 3:6, claiming that the “letter” referred to the Scripture in general.

“Along these lines, we might note that early Quakers tended to give an expansive reading of 2 Cor. 3:6, which states that God has made us ‘ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.’ This verse, if ‘letter’ is taken to mean ‘Scripture,’ obviously places strong limits on the use of Scripture while extending preference to Spirit, at the very least. One thus is not surprised that it is a favorite of early Quakers, appearing as an allusion in the postscript of the Letter from the Elders of Balby, cherished by many contemporary Friends” (Stephen Angell, “Opening the Scriptures, Then and Now,” QUEST, Fall-Winter 2007-2008).

If the “letter” of 2 Corinthians 3:6 refers to the Scripture in general, it would mean that Paul was exalting “the Spirit” above the Scripture. It would mean that the Scripture is not the sole authority for faith and practice, but it is only one authority and that men are free to follow their inner lights.

This is a gross misinterpretation of the passage. In truth, 2 Corinthians 3 contrasts the Law of Moses with the Gospel of Grace, the Old Covenant with the New.

2 Corinthians 3:7 leaves no doubt about this, which tells us that the “letter” that killeth is “the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones.” That refers, of course, to the Law of Moses given on Mt. Sinai. It was a covenant of death because it requires of fallen sinners what they cannot perform, which is perfect holiness. It was not given to provide a way of salvation but to show men their sinful, lost condition (Romans 3:19-20).

To interpret the “letter” of 2 Corinthians 3:6 as a reference to the Scripture in general also contradicts the fact that verse 11 says the “letter” has been “done away.” Obviously the Scripture has not been done away with, but the Law of Moses has. Its purpose was to act as a “schoolmaster” to lead men to Christ and once it performs that glorious function its work is finished (Galatians 3:24-25).

It is easy to see how the Quaker philosophy paved the way for Foster to accept Catholic mysticism. It did this by its emphasis on an “inner light” and its tendency not to judge things in an exacting manner with the Bible.

Other Quakers have followed the same path, and some, like Mary Conrow Coelho, have followed it all the way to the New Age. Conrow believes in evolution, the oneness of the universe, and the unity of man with God, and she traces her New Age mysticism to deep third generation Quaker roots and its inner light teaching:

“The adults in our Quaker community spoke often of the Inner Light, the seed of God, the indwelling Christ. [Thomas Kelly] said, ‘It is a Light within, a dynamic center, a creative Life that presses to birth within us’” (“Of Leadings and the Inner Light: Quakerism and the New Cosmology,” http://www.thegreatstory.org/QuakerMetarelig.html).

(Richard Foster quotes Thomas Kelly favorably and frequently in his books, and the Renovarè Spiritual Formation Bible quotes Kelly as saying: “Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center.”)

From its inception Quakerism was a heretical movement that downplayed the Bible and exalted personal revelation, and Foster is a product of that heresy even though he is on the “evangelical” side of Quakerism.

In this light it is not surprising to find him promoting Roman Catholic mystics who exalted their tradition and mystical revelations above the Scripture.

Salvation Not Clear

One thing that is glaring in its absence from Foster’s books on spiritual living is a clear biblical testimony of salvation and a clear exhortation for his readers to be born again.

When he does mention salvation, he speaks of it in a confused manner.

He says, for example, that reconciliation has already been achieved in Christ.

“In some mysterious way, through shedding his blood Jesus took into himself all the evil and all the hostility of all the ages and redeemed it. He reconciled us to God, restoring the infinitely valuable personal relationship that had been shattered by sin” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 42).

This is not true. Though the redemption price has been paid, sinners are not reconciled until they individually put their faith in the gospel (John 3:16, 18, 36).

Foster also speaks of salvation as a process.

“One more thing is needed, namely, our response of repentance–not just once but again and again. Martin Luther declares that the life of the Christian should be one of daily repentance” (Prayer, p. 42).

We must understand that the previous statement is made in the context of a discussion of salvation. Foster makes no clear distinction between the one repentance for salvation (Acts 17:30; 2 Peter 3:9) and continual repentance for sanctification (2 Cor. 12:21). Foster’s statement describes either universalism or sacramentalism, but it is not the once-for-all new birth doctrine of the New Testament.

Further, Foster describes salvation in terms of an emotional experience and in association with baptism. In Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Foster tells of a non-Christian who attended one of his contemplative seminars. Part way through the course the following event transpired.

“Throughout the weekend the Spirit of God rested tenderly upon the entire group, so much so that on Sunday afternoon this same gentleman asked quietly, ‘Would you pray for me that I might know Jesus the way you know Jesus?’ What were we to do? None of the normal responses seemed appropriate. We waited in silence. Finally one young man stood up and gently placed his hands on the man’s shoulders. I have never forgotten his prayer. I felt like taking off my shoes–we were on holy ground. Strange as it may seem, he prayed a commercial. He described a popular advertisement of the day for NesTea in which different people, sweltering from the summer sun, would fall into a swimming pool with a thirst-quenching sense of ‘ahhh!’ on their faces. He then invited this man to fall into the arms of Jesus in the same way. The gentleman suddenly began to weep, heaving deep sighs of sorrow and grief. We watched in reverent wonder as he received the gift of saving faith. It was a tender, grace-filled moment. Later he shared with us how the prayer touched a deep center in his past relating to his baptism as a child” (pp. 48, 49).

While it is true that the Bible describes salvation in terms of drinking and eating of Jesus, the scene described by Foster is confusing at best. What was this man trusting? What was he receiving? He mentions his infant baptism. Had he come to believe that his baptism had brought him into a saving relationship with God that he was only now learning to enjoy? What Jesus was he trusting? What gospel? What was the nature of his faith? The Bible warns that the devils believe in God. Only a certain kind of faith is saving faith. Foster doesn’t clarify any of this. His doctrine of salvation is exceedingly murky at best. When the unbeliever asked the group to pray for him, why didn’t they share with him the gospel? They didn’t need to pray about what to say. They didn’t need to hesitate. Jesus has already commanded us to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). Why did they preach a NesTea commercial rather than the gospel?

And while we are talking about Richard Foster and the gospel, if he believes the true gospel of the grace of Christ without works, why does he constantly and uninhibitedly promote Catholic mystics who hold to a sacramental gospel? If he doesn’t believe Rome’s gospel of process salvation, why does he never warn about it plainly?

Personal salvation is foundational to prayer and Christian living. It is criminal to write books on these subjects for broad public consumption and not make salvation absolutely clear.

Roman Catholic Mysticism

Foster advocates Roman Catholic mysticism with absolutely no qualms, building his contemplative practices unequivocally upon this heretical foundation.

He recommends Ignatius of Loyola, Francis of Assisi, Benedict of Nursia, Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Genoa, Julian of Norwich, Brother Lawrence, Dominic, Catherine of Siena, John of the Cross, the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing, Madame Guyon, Thomas à Kempis, Catherine Doherty, Meister Eckhart, Thomas Aquinas, Hildegard of Bingen, Francis de Sales, Alphonsus de Liguori, Bernard of Clairvaux, John Henry Newman, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, G.K. Chesterton, Andrè Louf, Henri Nouwen, Dorothy Day, Karl Rahner, John Main, Mother Teresa, Thomas Merton, Brennan Manning, John Michael Talbot, and many others.

Foster’s recommendation of these Roman Catholic mystics is not half-hearted. In the introduction to the 1998 edition of Celebration of Discipline, he says that they taught him spiritual depth and substance (pp. xiii, xiv), and he calls them “Devotional Masters of the Christian faith.” Of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, Foster says, “… it is a school of prayer for all of us” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 59).

There is no warning of the fact that these mystics trusted in a works gospel, venerated Mary, worshipped Christ as a piece of consecrated bread, believed in purgatory, and scores of other heresies. (For extensive documentation of this see the chapters “A Description of Catholic Monastic Asceticism” and “A Biographical Catalog of Contemplative Mystics.”)

Bible Not Sole Authority

Like his Roman Catholic friends, Foster’s foundational error is in not exalting the Bible as the sole authority for faith and practice.  Nowhere in Celebration of Discipline or Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home does he instruct his readers that the Bible alone is God’s infallible revelation and that everything must be carefully tested by it. This should be the very starting point for books on Christian spirituality and worship, but it is glaring in its absence. Foster encourages his readers to find revelation beyond Scripture through meditation, dreams, and personal prophecies.

Foster describes how Francis of Assisi found spiritual guidance. When he was puzzled as to whether he should devote himself exclusively to contemplative practices or also to engage in preaching missions (which is plainly answered in Scripture), he sent word to two “trusted friends” and accepted their replies as the very will of God. Foster says that Francis “was seeking a method that would open the gates of heaven to reveal the mind of Christ, and he took it as such” (Foster, Celebration of Discipline, 1978, pp. 154, 155). Nowhere does Foster chide Francis of Assisi for depending on the word of man rather than the Scripture.

Neo-Orthodox Approach to Scripture

Foster’s approach to Scripture is a neo-orthodox, existentialist one. It is not by accident that he quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer frequently and non-critically. (He also quotes the other two fathers of neo-orthodoxy, Karl Barth and Emil Brunner.)

“This is not a time for technical word studies, or analysis, or even the gathering of material to share with others. … Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, ‘… just as you do not analyze the words of someone you love, but accept them as they are said to you, accept the Word of Scripture and ponder it in your heart, as Mary did. That is all. That is meditation’” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 26).

Yet the Bible is not merely a love letter. It is much more. It is the infallible Word of God, and we are commanded to “analyze” it. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries exposes the error of Foster’s approach:

The idea expressed above by Bonhoeffer of accepting Scripture subjectively as spoken to you is completely in line with the flawed view of the text of the Holy Scripture spread by neo-orthodox theologian Karl Barth. In neo-orthodoxy the Scripture only becomes the Word of God when the Holy Spirit illuminates it. We can sum up this wrong idea this way: ‘The Bible is a divine mailbox in which we receive letters from Heaven.’ But no, it isn’t. The Bible itself–in full–is the letter, the message, from God.

In his book Reckless Faith Dr. John MacArthur hits the target dead on as he shows why neo-orthodoxy is a perfect fit for contemplative mysticism as well as why it’s a necessity for it to flourish:

‘Neo-orthodoxy is the term used to identify an existentialist variety of Christianity. Because it denies the essential objective basis of truth–the absolute truth and authority of Scripture–neo-orthodoxy must be understood as pseudo-Christianity. … Neo-orthodoxy’s attitude toward Scripture is a microcosm of the entire existentialist philosophy: the Bible itself is not objectively the Word of God, but it becomes the Word of God when it speaks to me individually. …

‘Thus while neo-orthodox theologians often sound as if they are affirming traditional beliefs, … they relegate all theology to the realm of subjective relativism. … Mysticism is perfectly suited for religious existentialism; indeed, it is the inevitable consequence. The mystic disdains rational understanding and seeks truth instead through the feelings, the imagination, personal visions, inner voices, private illumination, or other purely subjective means’ (MacArthur, Reckless Faith) (Ken Silva, “Contemplative Mysticism in the Southern Baptist Convention,” April 30, 2008, http://www.apprising.org/archives/2008/04/contemplative_m.html).

Instead of seeing the Scripture as divinely inspired and profitable in every part as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, and therefore studying it diligently in order to rightly divide it as 2 Timothy 2:15 commands, neo-orthodoxy sees the Scripture as inspired only as it speaks to me experientially through a mystical approach.

Foster’s School of Contemplative Mysticism

Foster invites his readers to “enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 13), promoting thoughtless centering prayer, visualization, guided imagery, the repetition of mantras, silence, walking the labyrinth, even out of body experiences.

Foster says, “Christian meditation is an attempt to empty the mind in order to fill it” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 15).

Apparently Foster got some criticism for this statement, because in the next edition of Celebration of Discipline he omitted it and tried to contrast Eastern meditation with Christian meditation with the following words:

“Eastern meditation is an attempt to empty the mind; Christian meditation is an attempt to fill the mind. The two ideas are quite different” (Celebration of Discipline, 1988, p. 20).

This sounds nice and tidy, but it contradicts the practice of Catholic contemplation. In reality, both Eastern meditation and Catholic meditation are an attempt to empty the mind in order to arrive at a transcendental experience. Consider the following quotes from the mystics that Foster heartily recommends:

Thomas Merton: “… the deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. IT IS WORDLESS. IT IS BEYOND WORDS, AND IT IS BEYOND SPEECH, and it is BEYOND CONCEPT” (The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton, 1975 edition, p. 308).

The Cloud of Unknowing: “I URGE YOU TO DISMISS EVERY CLEVER OR SUBTLE THOUGHT no matter how holy or valuable. Cover it with a thick cloud of forgetting because in this life only love can touch God as He is in Himself, never knowledge” (chapter 8).

John Main: “Recite your prayer-phrase [mantra] and gently listen to it as you say it. DO NOT THINK ABOUT ANYTHING. As thoughts come, simply keep returning to your prayer-phrase. In this way, one places everything aside” (The Teaching of Dom John Main: How to Meditate, Meditation Group of Saint Patrick’s Basilica, Ottawa, Canada).

Teresa of Avila: “All that the soul has to do at these times of quiet is merely to be calm and MAKE NO NOISE. BY NOISE I MEAN WORKING WITH THE INTELLECT to find great numbers of words and reflections with which to thank God. … in these periods of quiet, the soul should repose in its calm, and learning should be put on one side” (The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself, chap. 15, pp. 106, 107, 108).

Foster’s attempt to set Catholic contemplation apart from pagan mysticism cannot be sustained.

Foster encourages his readers to go deep into their inner world of silence and explore it:

“[W]e must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation. In their writings, all of the masters of meditation strive to awaken us to the fact that the universe is much larger than we know, that there are vast unexplored inner regions that are just as real as the physical world we know so well. They tell us of exciting possibilities for new life and freedom. They call us to the adventure, to be pioneers in this frontier of the Spirit” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 13).

Amazingly, he says that these practices are not only for believers but also for unbelievers.

“We need not be well advanced in matters of theology to practice the Disciplines. Recent converts–for that matter people who have yet to turn their lives over to Jesus Christ–can and should practice them” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 2).

Since the contemplative practices are supposed to enable the practitioner to commune with Christ within himself, how could an unsaved person “practice them”? This is evidence of Foster’s Quaker belief in an “inner light” in every man.

Some might protest that I have only focused on the more controversial parts of Foster’s teaching and have ignored the truth contained therein. I will admit that Foster’s books contain some true insights about traditional biblical prayer that in another context could be helpful, but this is ruined by his promotion of Catholic mysticism, Jungian dream interpretation, healing of memories, and other heresies. Anyone that uses his writings is in imminent danger of being snared by error.

And though he does give many lessons about traditional biblical prayer, he considers this a shallow level of Christian living. To reach the truly “deep” levels, he urges believers to aspire to move beyond normal conversational prayer. He quotes C.S. Lewis:

“I still think the prayer without words is the best–if one can really achieve it. … [But to] pray successfully without words one needs to be ‘at the top of one’s form’” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 156).

In reality, contemplative practices are beyond the bounds of Scripture and are completely “off the deep end.”

Visualization

Foster encourages the exceedingly dangerous practice of guided imagery and visualization:

“The inner world of meditation is most easily entered through the door of the imagination. We fail to today to appreciate its tremendous power. The imagination is stronger that the conceptual thought and stronger than the will. … In his autobiography C. G. Jung describes how difficult it was for him to humble himself and once again play imagination games of a child, and the value of that experience. Just as children need to learn to think logically, adults need to REDISCOVER THE MAGICAL REALITY OF THE IMAGINATION. …

“Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises constantly encouraged his readers to VISUALIZE THE GOSPEL STORIES. Every contemplation he gave was designed to open the imagination. He even included a meditation entitled ‘application of the senses,’ which is an attempt to help us utilize all five senses as we picture the Gospel events. His thin volume of meditation exercises with its stress on the imagination had tremendous impact for good upon the sixteenth century.’ …

“Take a single event like the resurrection, or a parable, or a few verses, or even a single word and allow it to take root in you. Seek to live the experience, remembering the encouragement of Ignatius of Loyola to apply all our senses to our task. … As you enter the story, not as a passive observer but as an active participant, remember that since Jesus lives in the Eternal Now and is not bound by time, this event in the past is a living present-tense experience for Him. Hence, YOU CAN ACTUALLY ENCOUNTER THE LIVING CHRIST IN THE EVENT, BE ADDRESSED BY HIS VOICE AND BE TOUCHED BY HIS HEALING POWER. It can be more than an exercise of the imagination; IT CAN BE A GENUINE CONFRONTATION” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, pp. 22, 23, 26).

Note that Foster recommends Carl Jung, who followed a demonic spirit guide, as well as Ignatius of Loyola, who founded an organization dedicated to blind obedience to the pope at the very height of the murderous Inquisition. The “spirit realm” to which these men connected through meditative practices was the realm of darkness.

Foster recommends Loyola’s practice of visualizing a personal encounter with Jesus, which is presumptuous foolishness. We don’t even know what Jesus looks like and we are not supposed to. Faith is simply believing God’s Word (Romans 10:17). Faith is not putting oneself into the biblical account and letting one’s imagination run wild.

(For more about visualization and the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises see “Ignatius of Loyola” in the chapter “A Biographical Catalog of Contemplative Mystics.”)

Interpretation of Dreams

Foster promotes the interpretation of dreams, which is not surprising in light of his recommendation of Carl Jung.

“In learning to meditate, one good place to begin is with our dreams, since it involves little more than paying attention to something we are already doing. … If we are convinced that DREAMS CAN BE A KEY TO UNLOCKING THE DOOR TO THE INNER WORLD, we can do three practical things. First, we can specifically pray, inviting God to inform us through our dreams. … Second, we should begin to record our dreams. … That leads to the third consideration–how to interpret dreams. The best way to discover the meaning of dreams is to ask. ‘You do not have, because you do not ask’ (Jas. 4:2). … Benedict Pererius, a sixteenth-century Jesuit, suggested that the best interpreter of dreams is the ‘…person with plenty of experience in the world and the affairs of humanity, with a wide interest in everything human, and who is open to the voice of God’” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, pp. 23, 24).

Though God did speak from time to time to the prophets of old in dreams, the New Testament does not encourage God’s people to seek revelation in dreams nor does it instruct us in how to interpret dreams. Foster takes James 4:2 out of context applying it to the interpretation of dreams, though it has nothing to do with such a thing. He quotes a Jesuit heretic who held a false gospel of sacramentalism. The fact is that we do not need dream revelations for we have the perfect and sufficient “voice of God” in the Scriptures. It is “a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed” (2 Peter 1:19).

Dream interpretation is one of the things that led Sue Monk Kidd astray as she pursued the contemplative path. She came to believe that God was speaking to her through weird dreams, and those dreams led to self-deification and goddess worship! (See “Sue Monk Kid” in the chapter “Biographical Catalog of Contemplative Mystics.”)

Communing Face to Face with God in Outer Space [astral projection]

Foster even urges the contemplative practitioner to commune face to face with God the Father.

“A fourth form of meditation has as its objective to bring you into a deep inner communion with the Father where you look at Him and He looks at you” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 27).

Foster says that this amazing feat can be accomplished via visualized out of body experiences [astral projection].

“In your imagination, picture yourself walking along a lovely forest path. … When you are able to experience the scene with all your senses, the path breaks out onto a lovely grassy knoll. Walk out into the lush large meadow encircled by stately pines. After exploring the meadow for a time, lie down on your back looking up at blue sky and white clouds. IN YOUR IMAGINATION ALLOW YOUR SPIRITUAL BODY, SHINING WITH LIGHT, TO RISE OUT OF YOUR PHYSICAL BODY. Look back so that you can see yourself lying in the grass and reassure your body that you will return momentarily. IMAGINE YOUR SPIRITUAL SELF, ALIVE AND VIBRANT, RISING UP THROUGH THE CLOUDS AND INTO THE STRATOSPHERE. Observe your physical body, the knoll, and the forest shrink as you leave the earth. Go deeper and deeper into outer space until there is nothing except the warm presence of the eternal Creator. Rest in His presence. Listen quietly, anticipating the unanticipated. NOTE CAREFULLY ANY INSTRUCTION GIVEN … Do not be disappointed if no words come; like good friends, you are silently enjoying the company of each other. When it is time for you to leave, audibly thank the Lord for His goodness and return to the meadow. Walk joyfully back along the path until you return home FULL OF NEW LIFE AND ENERGY” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, pp. 27, 28).

Foster thus claims that the believer can go into outer space and receive direct revelation from Almighty God! Who needs the Bible and who needs faith when we can actually meet Christ in the center of our being, talk face to face with God the Father, and have personal revelations from Almighty God?

(The previous passage was dropped out of subsequent editions of Celebration of Discipline, but to my knowledge Foster has never renounced the practice. My e-mail to him about this was not answered.)

This technique is occultic. It is exactly what I was taught by Hindu gurus in the early 1970s.

In Out on a Limb New Ager Shirley MacLaine describes an out of body journey to the moon that follows the same playbook!

Consider the following description of what Brian Flynn was taught when he was training to be a psychic before his conversion to Jesus Christ:

“Carolyn then instructed us to lie on the floor, close our eyes and imagine we were lying in a field of wildflowers on a beautiful summer’s day. The wind was calm, and the smell of flowers awakened our senses. As we were lying in the field, she asked us to now leave our bodies and look down upon ourselves. Carolyn then guided us to raise our souls to the heavens and to leave our earthly bodies behind. When we reached what we believed to be the outer edges of the universe she told us to ask for a message from the universe and what we needed to know at this time. ‘Listen to the voice inside you. Ask what it is you need to know to help you release the burdens you carry,’ she said softly” (Flynn, Running against the Wind, 2005, p. 50).

There is no significant difference between the psychic practice and Foster’s so-called contemplative practice. When we go outside the realm of the Bible we put ourselves in the way of spiritual harm and deception.

Other Occultic Practices

Foster recommends other occultic practices.

One is channeling the light of Christ through visualization. Consider his description of how he taught visualizing prayer to a little boy:

“Imagination opens the door to faith. If we can ‘see’ in our mind’s eye a shattered marriage whole or a sick person well, it is only a short step to believing that it will be so. … I was once called to a home to pray for a seriously ill baby girl. Her four-year-old brother was in the room and so I told him I needed his help to pray for his baby sister. … He climbed up into the chair beside me. ‘Let’s play a little game,’ I said. ‘Since we know that Jesus is always with us, let’s imagine that He is sitting over in the chair across from us. He is waiting patiently for us to center our attention on Him. When we see Him, we start thinking more about His love than how sick Julie is. He smiles, gets up, and comes over to us. Then let’s both put our hands on Julie and when we do, Jesus will put His hands on top of ours. WE’LL WATCH AND IMAGINE THAT THE LIGHT FROM JESUS IS FLOWING RIGHT INTO YOUR LITTLE SISTER AND MAKING HER WELL. Let’s pretend that the light of Christ fights with the bad germs until they are all gone. Okay!’ Seriously the little one nodded. Together we prayed in this childlike way and then thanked the Lord that what we ‘saw’ was the way it was going to be” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 37).

This is not biblical prayer; it is occultism. Mind Science practitioners and New Agers have promoted this type of thing for a century.

Biblical prayer is not the attempt to accomplish something through the power of our minds. It is talking to God and asking Him to accomplish things. There is a vast difference between these two practices, as vast as the difference between God and the Devil.

Foster recommends that parents pray for their sleeping children after this fashion:

“Imagine the light of Christ flowing through your hands and healing every emotional trauma and hurt feeling your child experienced that day. Fill him or her with the peace and joy of the Lord. In sleep the child is very receptive to prayer since the conscious mind which tends to erect barriers to God’s gentle influence is relaxed” (Celebration of Discipline, p. 39).

There is not the hint of support in Scripture for this practice. To attempt to bypass “the conscious mind” is occultism.

Foster’s descent into occultism is further evident by his recommendation of “flash prayers” and “swish prayers”:

“Flashing hard and straight prayers at people is a great thrill and can bring interesting results. I have tried it, inwardly asking the joy of the Lord and a deeper awareness of His presence to rise up within every person I meet. Sometimes people reveal no response, but other times they turn and smile as if addressed. In a bus or plane we can fancy Jesus walking down the aisles touching people on the shoulder and saying, ‘I love you…’ Frank Laubach has suggested that if thousands of us would experiment with ‘swishing prayers’ at everyone we meet and would share the results, we could learn a great deal about how to pray for others. … ‘Units of prayer combined, like drops of water, make an ocean which defies resistance’” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 39).

This depicts prayer as an occultic entity rather than a simple communication addressed to God.

Foster also recommends a practice called “palms up, palms down.” The practitioner is instructed first to hold his palms down in order to “release” his worries and concerns, such as anger, lack of finances, or fear of an upcoming event.

“Whatever it is that weighs on your mind or is a concern to you, just say, ‘palms down.’ Release it. YOU MAY EVEN FEEL A CERTAIN SENSE OF RELEASE IN YOUR HANDS” (Celebration of Discipline, 1998, p. 31).

Then the practitioner is to turn his palms up in order to “receive from the Lord.”

“Perhaps you will pray silently: ‘Lord, I would like to receive your divine love for John, your peace about the dentist appointment, your patience, your joy.’ Whatever you need, you say, ‘palms up.’”

There is not a hint of support for such a thing in Scripture, but this practice is found in New Age and pagan religions.

Palms up, palms down is used in walking the labyrinth (http://www.lessons4living.com/three_fold_path.htm).

It is used in Nia Technique to channel energy fields (http://www.nianow.com/teachers/continuingedu/sharingthejoy/0606/t_tip.html).

It is used in Tai Chi to manipulate the flow of the occultic chi energy (http://groups.ku.edu/~kungfu/instructions/instructions.htm).

Sufi dervishes hold one palm up and one palm down while whirling in order to channel their mystical experiences. I have observed this in Turkey.
Union with God

Foster has adopted the contemplative doctrine of union with God. To the question, “What is the goal of Contemplative Prayer?” Foster answers:

“To this question the old writers answer with one voice: UNION WITH GOD. … Bonaventure, a follower of Saint Francis, says that our final goal is ‘union with God,’ which is A PURE RELATIONSHIP WHERE WE SEE ‘NOTHING’” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, 1992, p. 159).

The “old writers” are old Catholic writers, but the Bible nowhere describes or encourages such a practice. The believer’s complete relationship with God is an accomplished fact in Christ.

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:6-10).

We receive Christ by faith in the gospel, and Paul says that we are to walk in Him in the same way. It is a walk of faith. We walk “from faith to faith” (Romans 1:17). God gives the believer many wonderful “experiences” along the way, but we are not to seek after experiences; we are to be content with knowing Christ by faith.

The believer is complete in Christ and his “union” with Christ, is an accomplished fact. It is not something we have to pursue through mysticism.

Further, the believer’s relationship with Christ in this world is not an experience of “seeing nothing.” It is, rather, an experience of knowing the Saviour through faith in His written Word and through the power of the indwelling Spirit. It is an objective, mindful experience. As former Catholic priest Richard Bennett says, “Seeing ‘nothing’ [is] just an Evangelical rehashing of Catholic irrational superstitious myth.”

Promoting Heretics

God’s Word commands us to mark and avoid those who cause divisions contrary to the apostolic faith (Romans 16:17), but Foster ignores this and draws his material from a bewildering assortment of heretics.

The following are just a few of the many examples we could give of the man’s disturbing, dangerous, and unbiblical habit of quoting heretics in the most recommending manner.

For a starter, as we have noted, he asks his readers to join hands with Catholic “saints” and mystics (all of whom are committed to a gospel of works and many of whom are pantheists, panentheists, and universalists). (See the chapter “A Biographical Catalog of Contemplative Mystics” for studies on Francis of Assisi, Benedict of Nursia, Teresa of Avila, Ignatius of Loyola, Catherine of Genoa, Julian of Norwich, Brother Lawrence, Dominic, Catherine of Siena, John of the Cross, Madame Guyon, Thomas à Kempis, Meister Eckhart, Hildegard of Bingen, Bernard of Clairvaux, Karl Rahner, John Main, Mother Teresa, Thomas Merton, Brennan Manning, John Michael Talbot, and others cited by Foster.)

Foster quotes ALPHONSUS DE LIGUORI (he spells his name Luguori) at least three times in Celebration of Discipline (1978, pp. 132-134). Liguori was one of the greatest worshippers of Mary the Roman Catholic Church has ever produced. His book The Glories of Mary (1750) is a simply blasphemous. Note the following quotations:

“… though the sinner does not himself merit the graces which he asks, yet he receives them, because this Blessed Virgin asks and obtains them from God, ON ACCOUNT OF HER OWN MERITS” (The Glories of Mary, edited by Eugene Grimm, Brooklyn: Redemptorist Fathers, 1931, p. 73).

“IT WAS THEN BY THIS GREAT OFFERING OF MARY THAT WE WERE BORN TO THE LIFE OF GRACE; WE ARE THEREFORE HER VERY DEAR CHILDREN, SINCE WE COST HER SO GREAT SUFFERING” (p. 59).

“This was revealed by our Blessed Lady herself to St. Bridget, saying, ‘I am the Queen of heaven and the Mother of Mercy; I AM THE JOY OF THE JUST, AND THE DOOR THROUGH WHICH SINNERS ARE BROUGHT TO GOD” (p. 43).

“Let us, then, have recourse, and always have recourse, to this most sweet Queen, IF WE WOULD BE CERTAIN OF SALVATION … LET US REMEMBER THAT IT IS IN ORDER TO SAVE THE GREATEST AND MOST ABANDONED SINNERS, who recommend themselves to her, that Mary is made the Queen of Mercy” (pp. 43,44).

Foster heavily promotes the Catholic Trappist monk THOMAS MERTON recommending many of his books and quoting from him frequently, at least 15 times in Celebration of Discipline, not giving the slightest warning about the man. Foster says that Merton “has done more than any other twentieth century figure to make the life of prayer widely known and understood” (Spiritual Classics, pp. 17, 21). He calls Merton’s Contemplative Prayer “a must book” and What Is Contemplation “an excellent introduction to contemplative prayer for everyone.” In Meditative Prayer, Foster gushes that “Merton continues to inspire countless men and women.” Foster includes an entire chapter by Merton in his book Spiritual Classics.

Foster does not tell his readers that Merton was at the forefront of interfaith dialogue, that he claimed to be both a Buddhist and a Catholic, that he had powerful mystical experiences while meditating before Buddha idols, and that he was a universalist. Nowhere did Merton say that Buddhists and Hindus and Sufis worship false gods or that they are hell-bound because they do not believe in Jesus. When writing about Zen Buddhists, Merton always assumed that they were communing with the same “ground of Being” that he had found through Catholic monasticism.

Foster recommends the universalist mystic MEISTER ECKHART, quoting him at least two times in various editions of Celebration of Discipline and saying, “Today Eckhart is widely read and appreciated, not so much for his theological opinions as for his vision of God” (Spiritual Classics, p. 206). How can Eckhart have had a proper vision of God when he believed that God is everything and that man is divinity?

Foster recommends the universalist DOROTHY DAY. He has an entire chapter by and about her in his book Spiritual Classics. Day wrote:

“Going to the people is the purest and best act in Christian tradition and revolutionary tradition [she is referring to Marxism] and is the beginning of world brotherhood. Never to be severed from the people, to set out always from the point of view of serving the people, not serving the interests of a small group or oneself. … It is almost another way of saying that we must and will FIND CHRIST IN EACH AND EVERY MAN, when we look on them as brothers” (Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness).

Foster promotes KARL RAHNER. There is a chapter by him in Spiritual Classics. Yet he believed in evolution and in salvation apart from faith in Christ. He spoke of the “anonymous Christian,” referring to an individual who unconsciously responds to God’s grace operating in the world, though he might even reject the gospel.

Foster promotes Benedictine priest JOHN MAIN, saying that he “understood well the value of both silence and solitude” and he “rediscovered meditation while living in the Far East” (Spiritual Classics, p. 155). Indeed, he did. Main learned meditation from a Hindu guru! Main combined Catholic contemplative practices with yoga and in 1975 began founding meditation groups in Catholic monasteries based on this syncretism.

Foster recommends HILDEGARD OF BINGEN. There is an entire chapter by her in Spiritual Classics. She had wild-eyed visions and wrote as the direct mouthpiece of God, yet her prophecies taught Catholic heresies, including the veneration of Mary. One of her songs was entitled “Praise for the Mother.”

Foster recommends AGNES SANFORD, saying, “I have discovered her to be an extremely wise and skillful counselor in these matters” and calls her book The Healing Gifts of the Spirit “an excellent resource” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 136, footnote 1). Foster includes an entire chapter by Sanford in his book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home and another chapter by her in Spiritual Disciplines. Sanford delved deeply into New Thought, Jungian psychology, and other dangerous fields. She said that she got her doctrine that there is a “spiritual body” within the physical body from New Thought teacher Emmet Fox (Sealed Orders, p. 115), who also believed that man is God. Sanford was a universalist and the founder of the dangerous field of healing of memories. She taught healing through meditation, visualization, and positive confession. She said that if she spilled hot oil on her hand in the kitchen, she would confess: “I’m boss inside of me. And what I say goes. I say that my skin shall not be affected by that boiling fat, and that’s all there is to it. I see my skin well, perfect and whole, and I say it’s to be so” (The Healing Light, p. 65). (For more about Sanford see the report “Agnes Sanford” at the Way of Life web site.)

Foster recommends MARTIN MARTY, who wrote the foreword to Streams of Living Water. Yet Marty is a relativist and a modernist who denies the divine inspiration of the Bible and eternal judgment in hell. Marty supports abortion and the ordination of homosexuals, and in an interview with Playboy in 1974 he recommended adultery in some situations.

Foster quotes HARVEY COX, who repudiates the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith and has described himself as a fellow traveler of the Hare Krishna movement.

Foster also quotes sympathetically and non-critically from the psychoanalyst CARL JUNG who rejected the Bible as mythical and communicated intimately throughout his life with a spirit guide.

Foster even recommends New Age mystics. He quotes MARTIN BUBER, who rejected the God of the Bible and the fall of man and believed that God is found through interaction with human society and non-doctrinal mysticism. Buber believed that the Bible is largely mythical.

Foster quotes ELIZABETH O’CONNOR, who was a universalist and praised the Hindu guru Krishnamurti. O’Connor believed that Christ has saved all of mankind and is creating a new world through social-justice action. There is no need for individuals to be saved; they are already children of God and merely need to find God’s will for their lives and see “the divine life throbbing in the whole of the world” (O’Connor, “Each of Us Has Something Grand to Do,” Faith At Work magazine, Nov.-Dec. 1979).

Foster recommends the writings of DAG HAMMARSKJÖLD (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 62; Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 33; Spiritual Classics, p. 156, 251-260). He was a universalist who built the UN Chapel in 1952 as a New Age meditation center. There is a six-and-a-half ton block of iron ore in the center of the room, the polished top of which is lit by a single beam of light from the ceiling. The light depicts “divine wisdom,” and the block depicts an empty altar representing “God worshipped in many forms” (http://www.aquaac.org/un/sprtatun.html). The iron ore also represents the metal from which weapons are made and the New Age hope that through the power of meditation world peace can be achieved. Hammarskjöld said, “… we thought we could bless by our thoughts the very material out of which arms are made.”

Foster recommends PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN. He includes a chapter by him in Spiritual Disciplines. Teilhard taught that God is the consciousness of the universe, that everything is one, and that everything is evolving in greater and greater enlightenment toward an ultimate point of perfection. He called this perfection CHRIST and THE OMEGA POINT. Teilhard spoke much of Christ, but his christ is not the Christ of the Bible. For this reason, Teilhard is a favorite with New Agers.

Foster also recommends the writings of pagan mystics LAO-TSE of China (founder of Taoism XE “Taoism” ) and ZARATHUSTRA of Persia (founder of Zoroastrianism) (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 62).

These are only some of the heretics that Foster quotes and recommends in his books!

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).

Renovarè: Foster’s ecumenical program

In 1988 Foster founded RENOVARÈ (pronounced ren-o-var-ay), which is Latin, meaning “to make new spiritually.” This is an ecumenical organization that promotes spiritual renewal through contemplative exercises, charismatic practices, and other things.

Renovarè’s ecumenical thrust is radical. Its objective is “to work for the renewal of the Church of Jesus Christ in all her multifaceted expressions.” Its slogan is “Christian in commitment, international in scope, ecumenical in breadth.” Renovarè’s ministry team represents men and women “from Mennonite to Methodist, Roman Catholic to Church of God in Christ, Assembly of God to American Baptist.”

Foster describes the breadth his ecumenical vision in these words:

“God is gathering his people once again, creating of them an all-inclusive community of loving persons with Jesus Christ as the community’s prime sustainer and most glorious inhabitant. This community is breaking forth in multiplied ways and varied forms. …

“I see a Catholic monk from the hills of Kentucky standing alongside a Baptist evangelist from the streets of Los Angeles and together offering up a sacrifice of praise. I see a people” (Streams of Living Water, 2001, p. 274).

In his book Streams of Living Water Foster “celebrates the great traditions of the Christian faith.” These are contemplative, holiness, charismatic, social justice, evangelical, and incarnational, claiming that all are “true streams flowing from the fountain of Jesus Christ.” In emerging church fashion, he believes that these “traditions,” which represent diverse and contradictory doctrines and practices, are “complementary” and needed.

At the October 1991 Renovarè meeting in Pasadena, California, Foster praised Pope John Paul II and called for unity in the Body of Christ” (CIB Bulletin, December 1991).

In Renovarè Foster works closely with Dallas Willard . Willard attended Foster’s Quaker church in the 1970s, and today he is one of Renovarè’s Ministry Team members. [Actually Willard was Foster’s assistant pastor at a California Evangelical Friends church. Foster states in his intro to Celebration of Discipline – at least an early edition – that Willard was being even more knowledgable about Spiritual Formation and gave Foster the ideas for his book.] The  Renovarè web site in March 2008 advertised an upcoming “conversation” between Willard and Foster.

Willard says that “it is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved” (“Apologetics in Action,” Cutting Edge magazine, winter 2001, vol. 5 no. 1, Vineyard USA, http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=14).

Anti-Dispensationalism/Kingdom Gospel

Foster calls Dispensationalism a “heresy” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 46, footnote). Thus, he believes that Christians are building the kingdom of God today and that Christ’s coming is not imminent.

Dallas Willard believes the same thing. In his book The Divine Conspiracy he preaches a “kingdom gospel” that downplays the centrality of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. (He calls it a “theory.”) The apostle Paul said that if anyone preaches a different gospel than the one given to him by God he is accursed (Galatians 1:6-9). Paul’s gospel is plainly stated in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, and it is not a kingdom gospel. It is the gospel of personal salvation through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

We have refuted the kingdom gospel error in What Is the Emerging Church, which is available from Way of Life Literature.

Accepting the Catholic Mass

Foster allows for Rome’s abominable doctrine that the consecrated wafer of the Mass is actually the body of Christ. He says it doesn’t matter to him what one believes about the “eucharist”:

“Christian people of honest heart have long differed over how the life of Christ is mediated to us through the Communion feast. Complicated words are used to make important distinctions: transubstantiation, consubstantiation, memorial, and the like. … I have no desire to unsettle the convictions of any person, irrespective of the tradition by which he or she is able to enter fully into the Communion service” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 112).

Foster’s position sounds sympathetic and kind, but it is blantant disobedience to God’s Word, which commands us to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). The apostle Paul received directly from the Lord the teaching that the Lord’s Supper is a memorial (1 Cor. 11:23-25). Christ is not “mediated” through the Lord’s Supper in any sense, and we are not authorized to allow heresies and private doctrines not supported by Scripture. Foster refuses to exercise this obligation. He is willing to allow his Catholic readers to believe that a piece of bread becomes Christ through priestly hocus pocus and that it is perfectly acceptable to pray to this piece of bread and to venerate it as Jesus, which is what all of his Catholic mystic friends do.

The Pentecostal-Charismatic Connection

Foster is closely associated with the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement. He believes this movement has wonderful and important things to offer to the “body of Christ” and he accepts some of the most radical charismatic practices, including spirit slaying, holy laughter, and spiritual drunkenness. He calls these things the “prayer of the heart” but they are actually doctrines of devils.

“Another expression of the Prayer of the Heart” is what is sometimes referred to as ‘resting in the Spirit.’ It is the experience of being taken up by the Spirit’s power in such a way that the individual loses consciousness for a time. Some enter a trancelike state; others lie quietly on the ground or floor. …

“‘Holy laughter’ is still another expression of the Prayer of the Heart. The joy of the Spirit seems to simply well up within a person until there is a bursting forth into high, holy, hilarious laughter. It sometimes is given to the individual in personal prayer, but more frequently it comes upon the gathered community. That is as it should be, for laughter is, after all, a communal experience. To the uninitiated it might appear that these people are drunk, and so they are–with the Spirit” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, pp. 138, 139).

See the book The Pentecostal-Charismatic Movements: History and Error for a biblical refutation of these practices. This is available from Way of Life Literature.

Healing of Memories

Foster believes in the heresy of the “healing of memories,” which he doubtless learned from the aforementioned Agnes Sanford.

“My first experience was with a man who had lived in constant fear and bitterness for twenty-eight years. He would wake up at night, screaming and in a cold sweat. He lived in constant depression, so much so that his wife said that he had not laughed for many years.

“He told me the story of what had happened those many years before that had caused such a deep sadness to hang over him. He was in Italy during the Second World War and was in charge of a mission of thirty-three men. They became trapped by enemy gunfire. With deep sorrow in his eyes, this man related how he had prayed desperately that God would get them out of that mess. It was not to be. He had to send his men out two by two and watch them get killed. Finally in the early hours of the morning he was able to escape with six men–four seriously wounded. He had only a flesh wound. He told me that the experience turned him into an atheist. Certainly, his heart was filled with rage, bitterness, and guilt.

“I said, ‘Don’t you know that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who lives in the eternal now, can enter that old painful memory and heal it so that it will no longer control you?’ He did not know this was possible. I asked if he would mind if I prayed for him–NEVER MIND THAT HE WAS AN ATHEIST; I would have faith for him. He nodded his consent. Sitting beside him with my hand on his shoulder, I invited the Lord Jesus to go back those twenty-eight years and walk through that day with THIS GOOD MAN. ‘Please, Lord,’ I asked, ‘draw out the hurt and the hate and the sorrow and set him free.’ Clmost as an afterthought I asked for peaceful sleep to be one of the evidences of this healing work, for he had not slept well for all those years. ‘Amen.’

“The next week he came up to me with a sparkle in his eyes and a brightness on his face I had never seen before. ‘Every night I have slept soundly, and each morning I have awakened with a hymn on my mind. And I am happy … happy for the first time in twenty-eight years.’ His wife concurred that it was so. That was many years ago, and the wonderful thing is that although this man has had the normal ups and downs of life since then, the old sorrows have never returned. He was totally and instantaneously healed” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 205).

The bottom line is that this experience is strictly and profoundly unscriptural. There is not a hint of such a thing taught in the Bible.

Some are impressed with the results of such practices, but if the only standard for the truth of a practice is its effectiveness, then we are left with no certain standard, because the devil can imitate many “spiritual” things. Psychics and psychoanalysists have produced the same results that Foster achieved with his “healing of memory prayer.” Note that he does not say that the man was scripturally born again through this experience. He just became happy, and the manipulation of the emotions is easily within the realm of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Foster’s Interfaith Activities

Foster is involved in the LIVING SPIRITUAL TEACHERS PROJECT, a group that associates together Roman Catholics, liberal Protestants, Zen Buddhist monks and nuns, universalists, occultists, and New Agers. Members include the Dalai Lama, who claims to be the reincarnation of an advanced spiritual entity; Marianne Williamson, promoter of the occultic A Course in Miracles; Marcus Borg, who believes that Jesus was not virgin born and did not rise from the grave; Catholic nun Joan Chittister, who says we must become “in tune with the cosmic voice of God”; Andrew Harvey, who says that men need to “claim their divine humanity”; Matthew Fox, who believes there are many paths to God; Alan Jones, who calls the gospel of the cross a vile doctrine and says there is no absolute authority; and Desmond Tutu, who says, “… because everybody is a God-carrier, all are brothers and sisters.”

God’s Word unequivocally reproves Foster’s activity with the commandment, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).

Conclusion

Richard Foster believes he is promoting a true spiritual revival within Christianity, but he is the blind leading the blind. His writings are an exceedingly dangerous mixture of truth and error. Pastors and teachers need to warn their people to stay away from him, for “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9).
__________________

This report is excerpted from our new book Contemplative Mysticism: A Powerful Ecumenical Bond, which is available from Way of Life Literature. If it is not yet available through the online catalog, it can be ordered by phone or e-mail with a credit card.

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More and more Protestant churches are practicing Ash Wednesday. Why?

The postmodern (Emerging, Emergent and Emergence) movements are growing by leaps and bounds within the Protestant denominations. Many postmodern Protestant denominations (mainline/liberal as well as evangelical) are getting increasingly involved in Spiritual Formation (which quotes many Catholic mystics), as well as Ash Wednesday, Lent, Advent, and other liturgical “holy days” first practiced in Roman Catholicism.

My point is, more and more Protestant churches are “giving in” to Catholic teachings and practices, not vice versa. Which brings us to the five solas. Protestant church leaders, who have traditionally held to the five solas, are presenting more and more practices from Catholicism, which does not hold to the five solas. As a Protestant who believes the five solas are the true teachings of God’s Word, I find this very troubling.

Here is a helpful Wikipedia article, which mentions the various Protestant views of the five solas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_solas

Now on to a discussion of Ash Wednesday itself.  Regarding Ash Wednesday and Lent as times for true repentance, there are certainly many Catholics (and Protestants) who do not truly repent during these times. Why else the huge popularity of Mardi Gras the day before Ash Wednesday? In fact, there is an entire Catholic “Carnival” period between Christmas and Ash Wednesday: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/mardigras/ In light of this, it seems to me many Catholics are not truly repentant during Ash Wednesday and Lent – they are just playing church and/or trying to get to Heaven by “good works” and abstaining during Ash Wednesday and Lent.

I came across an excellent article by Craig Portwood exposing the pagan origin of Ash Wednesday.  Click here for the original text of this article. In my repost below, I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

“The pagan origin of Ash Wednesday”
by Craig Portwood

It’s not mentioned in the Bible. None of the apostles observed it. Nowhere are Christians commanded to keep it. It was not even officially practiced until nearly 1000 years after Christ’s resurrection. Like so many other non-biblical “Christian” customs, it has pagan roots. It’s a sad fact that modern Christianity has appropriated so many customs from the practice of the heathens, that one might wonder if it should still be called Christianity.

The early Pagan origins of Ash Wednesday

[The following drawing may appear irreverent, but I am including it anyway  to illustrate how unbiblical the practice of Ash Wednesday is. Throughout the Old Testament, God condemned Israel for borrowing a number of  “trivial” pagan practices from its neighbors. I believe our sinless Lord Jesus, knowing the pagan origin of “ashes on the forehead,” would have refused to take part in this sinful practice.]

This ritual “imposition of the ashes” is purportedly in imitation of the repentant act of covering oneself in dust and ashes. The marking of believers on Ash Wednesday is done in combination of another extra-biblical routine called “Lent.” Despite Christ’s command to his followers to abstain from the practice of disfiguring their faces during fasting, it has become a regular practice. He also told us to wash our faces during a fast.

The practice of putting ashes on one’s forehead has been known from ancient times. In the Nordic pagan religion, placing ashes above one’s brow was believed to ensure the protection of the Norse god, Odin. This practice spread to Europe during the Vikings conquests. This laying on of ashes was done on Wednesday, the day named for Odin, Odin’s Day. Interestingly enough, according to Wikipedia, one of Odin’s names is Ygg. The same is Norse for the World Ash. This name Ygg, closely resembles the Vedic name Agni in pronunciation.

The Norse practice which has become known as Ash Wednesday was itself, drawn from the Vedic Indian religion. Ashes were believed to be the seed Agni , the Indian fire god. It is from this name that the Latins used for fire, ignis. It is from this root word that the English language got the words, ignite, igneous and ignition. Agni was said to have the authority to forgive sins. Ashes were also believed to be symbolic for the purifying blood of the Vedic god Shiva, which it is said had the power to cleanse sins.

Lent

Lent is a period of 40 days preceding the observance of Easter, where the observers are expected to fast or cease from having the use of some other “luxury.” Like the majority of modern, so-called Christian practices, its beginning can be traced to heathen practices.
In his book The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop observed:

Let any one only read the atrocities that were commemorated during the ‘sacred fast’ or Pagan Lent, as described by Arnobius and Clemens Alexandrinus, and surely he must blush for the Christianity of those who, with the full knowledge of all these abominations, ‘went down to Egypt for help’ to stir up the languid devotion of the degenerate church, and who could find no more excellent way to ‘revive’ it, than by borrowing from so polluted a source; the absurdities and abominations connected with which the early Christian writers had held up to scorn. That Christians should ever think of introducing the Pagan abstinence of Lent was a sign of evil; it showed how low they had sunk, and it was also a cause of evil; it inevitably led to deeper degradation. Originally, even in Rome, Lent, with the preceding revelries of the carnival, was entirely unknown….

In the early 19th century, German explorer Alexander von Humboldt noted the practice among the pagans in Mexico, being held in the spring. His account states:

Three days after the vernal equinox…began a solemn fast of forty days in honour of the sun.

A Lent of forty days was also commemorated in Egypt. According to by English scholar John Landseer, in his Sabean Researches (1823), an Egyptian Lent of forty days was held in honor of Osiris.

There is a spiritual signature which bears witness to the spirit of these traditions. It is called Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras. It is the custom of living it up to get our fill of all the enjoyment the world has to offer before setting off to “Church” in mock repentance on Ash Wednesday. Such celebrations are an indication of the spirit behind the facade.

[Click here for the Wikipedia article on Ash Wednesday. And click here for the Wikipedia article on Mardi Gras, which includes a description of the “Carnival” time period between Christmas and Mardi Gras.]

The Truth

Christ made it plain in John 4:23-24:

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

To be sure, those who observe modern “Christian” practices are religious. They may have personal conviction, but they are missing a vital element of the faith. They are lacking truth.

Mark 7:7

Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

The Bible tells us in chapter 9 of the book of Hebrews, that we are made clean by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. No amount of ritual or work of the hand of man can accomplish this.

1st Peter 1:13-16 tells us:

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 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.

The word holy means set apart, different from the rest. If we keep traditions which are not of God, how can we be holy? From what then are we different if we do as they do?

Not everyone has the conviction nor the courage to be set apart from the rest of the world. The sad truth is that mainstream Christianity lost her way, having fallen into apostasy long ago. This apostate tradition is continued by priests, pastors and preachers, ordained not by God in the power of the Holy Spirit, but by men in the spirit of the world.

And their followers wouldn’t have it any other way.

© 2010 Craig Portwood

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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

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(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

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(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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I have written various blogs about Richard Foster and his connection with the Evangelical Friends. It is obvious to me that Richard Foster is not a born again Christian.

In the following excerpt, David Cloud confirms that Richard Foster is not born again. Click here for the entire original text of Bro. Cloud’s article.  I have only copied and pasted the section dealing with Richard Foster’s view of salvation. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

RICHARD FOSTER: EVANGELICALISM’S MYSTICAL SPARKPLUG
October 8, 2008 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service)

Salvation Not Clear

One thing that is glaring in its absence from Foster’s books on spiritual living is a clear biblical testimony of salvation and a clear exhortation for his readers to be born again.

When he does mention salvation, he speaks of it in a confused manner.

He says, for example, that reconciliation has already been achieved in Christ:

“In some mysterious way, through shedding his blood Jesus took into himself all the evil and all the hostility of all the ages and redeemed it. He reconciled us to God, restoring the infinitely valuable personal relationship that had been shattered by sin” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 42).

This is not true. Though the redemption price has been paid, sinners are not reconciled until they individually put their faith in the gospel (John 3:16, 18, 36).

Foster also speaks of salvation as a process:

“One more thing is needed, namely, our response of repentance–not just once but again and again. Martin Luther declares that the life of the Christian should be one of daily repentance” (Prayer, p. 42).

We must understand that the previous statement is made in the context of a discussion of salvation. Foster makes no clear distinction between the one repentance for salvation (Acts 17:30; 2 Peter 3:9) and continual repentance for sanctification (2 Cor. 12:21). Foster’s statement describes either universalism or sacramentalism, but it is not the once-for-all new birth doctrine of the New Testament.

Further, Foster describes salvation in terms of an emotional experience and in association with baptism. In Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Foster tells of a non-Christian who attended one of his contemplative seminars. Part way through the course the following event transpired:

“Throughout the weekend the Spirit of God rested tenderly upon the entire group, so much so that on Sunday afternoon this same gentleman asked quietly, ‘Would you pray for me that I might know Jesus the way you know Jesus?’ What were we to do? None of the normal responses seemed appropriate. We waited in silence. Finally one young man stood up and gently placed his hands on the man’s shoulders. I have never forgotten his prayer. I felt like taking off my shoes–we were on holy ground. Strange as it may seem, he prayed a commercial. He described a popular advertisement of the day for NesTea in which different people, sweltering from the summer sun, would fall into a swimming pool with a thirst-quenching sense of ‘ahhh!’ on their faces. He then invited this man to fall into the arms of Jesus in the same way. The gentleman suddenly began to weep, heaving deep sighs of sorrow and grief. We watched in reverent wonder as he received the gift of saving faith. It was a tender, grace-filled moment. Later he shared with us how the prayer touched a deep center in his past relating to his baptism as a child” (pp. 48, 49).

While it is true that the Bible describes salvation in terms of drinking and eating of Jesus, the scene described by Foster is confusing at best. What was this man trusting? What was he receiving? He mentions his infant baptism. Had he come to believe that his baptism had brought him into a saving relationship with God that he was only now learning to enjoy? What Jesus was he trusting? What gospel? What was the nature of his faith? The Bible warns that the devils believe in God. Only a certain kind of faith is saving faith. Foster doesn’t clarify any of this. His doctrine of salvation is exceedingly murky at best. When the unbeliever asked the group to pray for him, why didn’t they share with him the gospel? They didn’t need to pray about what to say. They didn’t need to hesitate. Jesus has already commanded us to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). Why did they preach a NesTea commercial rather than the gospel?

And while we are talking about Richard Foster and the gospel, if he believes the true gospel of the grace of Christ without works, why does he constantly and uninhibitedly promote Catholic mystics who hold to a sacramental gospel? If he doesn’t believe Rome’s gospel of process salvation, why does he never warn about it plainly?

Personal salvation is foundational to prayer and Christian living. It is criminal to write books on these subjects for broad public consumption and not make salvation absolutely clear.

I would also ask, why did the EFCI (Evangelical Friends) allow Richard Foster unfettered access to preach and teach in the first place?

Tragically, the EFCI now allows many such individuals to spread their false doctrines – including Tony Campolo, Leonard Sweet, etc. The EFCI, which once was rooted in born again, fundamentalist evangelical Quakerism (Gurneyite Quakerism), has now all but lost its way. Except for parts of the EFC-ER, it seems the EFCI is well on its way to turning away from born again, evangelical faith, replacing it with Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings. God help the EFCI!

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[blog under construction – I have written a number of related blogs which I will be linking to this blog]

George Fox’s Universalist “Inner Light” teaching has had a deadly effect on Evangelicalism over the years. Two of the most recent big names who seem to have no problem with George Fox’s teaching on this are Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. Foster and Willard both played a huge part in popularizing Spiritual Formation, with its occultish spiritual discipline of contemplative prayer/contemplative spirituality. Interestingly, Foster and Willard co-pastored an Evangelical Friends church, and Foster actually grew up in the Evangelical Friends. Yet Foster and Willard both seem as equally comfortable with non-evangelical universalist Quakers.

I came across the following article, written by Quaker univeralist Samuel J. Chadwick. In the article, he makes a case for uniting Universalism with evangelical Christianity via George Fox’s universalist Inner Light/Inward Light teaching. I do not approve of this article. I am merely providing this article in its entirety to show how destructive George Fox’s Inner Light/Inward Light teaching has been to Evangelicalism. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [bracketing].

The entire article is also found here.

The Inward Light: How Quakerism Unites Universalism and Christianity, by Samuel D. Caldwell

We are all well aware of the long-standing tension in the Religious Society of Friends between Christianity and Universalism. Each pole of this historic tension has had its partisans over time. The Quaker Universalist Fellowship represents one pole of the contemporary debate. Evangelical Friends International [renamed Evangelical Friends Church International] is an example of a group that represents the other. Each side of the debate claims that its own view of Quakerism is the true one, and each side feels that the other side’s position is a negation of its own. Typically, the debate is cast in logically exclusivist terms: if one position is true, then the other must of necessity be false; both cannot possibly be true at the same time.

For my part, I have never accepted the terms in which the debate has been cast. It is my own view that Quakerism is neither exclusively Christian, as some Quaker Christians would have it; nor is it exclusively Universalist, as some Quaker Universalists would have it. The fact is Quakerism has always been a powerful amalgamation of both. My thesis is that not only is it possible to be both Christian and Universalist at the same time, but it has always been the very essence and peculiar genius of Quakerism to join the two in holy matrimony! I wish to explain how this is so.

Let me start with the Universalist side of the equation. What many Christian Quakers fail to understand or accept about the Quaker approach to Christianity is that it is Universalist to the core. Universalism is thoroughly embedded in the Quaker perspective precisely because it is intrinsic to our most central and distinctive religious insight: the principle of the Inner Light.

It is helpful to remind ourselves of the essential core of this important insight. Historically, it is this: God gives to every human being who comes into the world a measure of the divine spirit as a Living Witness and a Light to be inwardly guided by. Those who learn to heed the promptings of this Light within them come to be “saved” – that is, they come into fullness and wholeness of life and right relationship with God, themselves, and one another.

Those who resist, ignore, or otherwise deny the workings of this pure spirit within them, though they make a profession of faith, are “condemned” – that is, they become alienated from God, from themselves, and from one another. The chief end of religious life, therefore, is to hearken to and act in accordance with the promptings of the Inner Light in one’s life.  This description closely parallels George Fox’s original “opening” concerning the Light in 1648, as recorded in his Journal (Nickalls edition, p. 33).

A number of important characteristics of the Light can be readily inferred from this description. First, this Light is “divine” or “supernatural.” That is, it pertains to God and God’s activity. Numerous Friends, among them George Fox and Robert Barclay, have been urgent in cautioning us against confusing the Inner Light with such natural phenomena as reason or conscience, both of which are physically and socially conditioned. Rather, they have emphasized that the Light is God’s eternal and indwelling power resident within our mortal frames, there to enlighten and inform the natural reason and conscience with truth of a higher order.

This Light is personal. It is no mindless, purposeless, undifferentiated force or power. It is the mind and will of God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Sarah – who indwells our souls. To claim, as we do, that we are led or taught by the Light is to accept by inference that the power by which we are led or taught is capable of actively leading or teaching us. This requires a personal or theistic conception of the Spirit, which Friends have traditionally held.

This Light is saving. It is the instrument or means by which we are drawn into fullness and wholeness of life and right relationship to God, ourselves, and one another. It is not primarily through the mechanism of assent to certain theological propositions, however heartfelt, nor by participation in certain established rituals, however sincere, that one comes to be “saved” in Quaker faith and practice; it is chiefly through the operation of this Saving Light in human hearts – in the hearing and doing of the Living Word as inwardly revealed in the course of common life.

This Light is eternal. It was before time, is now, and will be forevermore. As the writer of John says, “in the beginning was the Word.” Friends have always identified the Inner Light with this “logos” or Eternal Word [Evangelical Friends however, say, as the book of John says, that this Logos is Jesus Christ the Son of God, not the Inner Light]. It is by this Eternal Light and Word that all of the saints and sages down through the ages have known and spoken the Truth. It is by this Light that the Holy Scriptures of the ages have been written (and must be read). It is by this Light that whatever is true, good, and beautiful has been brought forth in human community over time. This Light is and has always been the source and fountain of all human creativity.

This Light is resistible. It is not an inevitable force or automatic power; it can be resisted, ignored, or otherwise denied in the human heart. To quote C. S. Lewis, “God does not ravish; He only woos.” Although we receive this Light freely and from birth, we are free to choose whether or not and how to respond to its promptings. As someone once remarked, “We are predestinated and foreordained to decide for ourselves!”

This Light is persistent. The Light never ceases to make its Living Witness within each and every human heart, even when it is resisted. Although stubborn resistance and persistent disobedience may greatly dim its luminosity, the Light can never be fully extinguished within us. This is the unfailing love and mercy of God which passes all understanding.

This Light is pure. It is utterly infallible and perfectly good. Although we may err in our discernment of the Light’s witness within us, for any and all who turn to it in humility of heart, the Light is an inerrant guide to truth and wisdom. And, because it is the pure love of God within us, this Light is completely good and trustworthy.

This Light is ineffable. It defies complete and accurate description. Like much in the realm of spirit, the Light cannot be completely understood, but it can be experienced and known.

Lastly, and perhaps most important to the present discussion, this Light is unequivocally universal. It is freely given by God to each and every human being who comes into the world, regardless of race, sex, nationality, philosophical orientation, religious creed, or station in life. It is the divine birthright and inheritance of all, not the privileged possession of a few. To paraphrase the scripture, it is the Good News of God “preached to every creature under heaven” (Colossians 1:23).

Now it can readily be seen from these characteristics that the Quaker concept of the Inner Light is radically universalist in its thrust. As such, it offers a strong challenge to many of the exclusivist assumptions of conventional Christian faith. Here is where the tension between Christianity and Universalism in Quakerism begins to be felt.

It is hard to overstate, for instance, how radically different the Quaker view of salvation is from the popular Christian conception. According to our understanding of the Inner Light, any person of whatever religious persuasion, who turns in sincerity of heart to the Divine Light within, and lives in accordance with its promptings, will be saved. All of God’s children, Christians and non-Christians alike, have equal access to salvation through the Light.

This view constitutes an outright denial of the exclusivist Christian assumption that salvation comes only to those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and participate in certain established rituals of the Church. One need not be a professing Christian, in other words, to be saved; and many who are professing Christians are (apparently) not saved.

Similarly, Quaker Universalism challenges the now-prevalent evangelical Christian view that the Holy Spirit “comes into one’s heart,” presumably from outside, at the moment of conversion. Friends have testified throughout their history that this Holy Spirit is already resident as a Divine Seed in every human heart, waiting to be decisively accepted and nurtured through attentive obedience in daily life. This difference in viewpoint explains the real distinction between Quaker “convincement” and evangelical “conversion. ”

[Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI) today tends to explain away this Inner Light as being the Holy Spirit.  This is in direct contradiction to a statement made in 1877-1879 by one of its own regions, the Ohio Yearly Meeting (Gurneyite) – now the EFC-ER. The Ohio Yearly Meeting (Gurneyite) was the only Quaker yearly meeting ever to condemn George Fox’s Inner Light teaching. Also, the EFCI’s definition of the Inner Light as the Holy Spirit flies in the face of the previous paragraph, which explains clearly that the Inner Light is vastly different from the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit.]

Salvation and conversion are not the only fronts on which Quaker Universalism challenges conventional Christianity. From the beginning, for instance, Friends have vociferously challenged the fundamentalist Christian assumption that the Bible is the Word of God, insisting instead that the Holy Spirit, the Christ Within, is the Word of God. The Bible is a declaration of the fountain; it is not the fountain itself The fountain is Christ, the Living Word. George Fox argued disarmingly that, if the Bible were really the Word of God, then one could buy and sell the Word of God and carry it around in one’s pocket!

In a similar vein, the Quaker doctrine of “continuing revelation,” which says that God continues to reveal Truth to those who have ears to hear, directly challenges the fundamentalist Christian belief that God’s revelation was completed when the books of the biblical canon were finalized by the Church.

Quaker Universalism also challenges the conventional Christian definition of the Church, insisting that the Church is not a building. Nor is it an identifiable group of confessing Christians. It is, rather, the universal fellowship of all those persons, of whatever background or persuasion, who know and live in accordance with the Living Witness of God’s Light within them. Unlike the standard Christian definition, the Quaker definition of the Church embraces non-Christians, and even theoretically excludes professing Christians who have no real inward, life-changing experience of God. [Now this is a contradiction if every I’ve seen one. How can any non-Christian ever have a “real inward, life-changing experience of God”?]

These few examples should make it clear how deeply-rooted and fundamental the Universalist perspective is in Quakerism, and how profoundly, in turn, this perspective affects the Quaker approach to Christianity – so much so that Quakerism takes a strongly prophetic stance over and against a number of widely accepted interpretations of Christian faith.

It should also be clear, however, that Quaker Universalism, as we have described it here, has little or nothing to do with that brand of eclectic, humanist philosophy called “universalism” that is so prevalent in liberal Quaker circles today. This sort of pseudo-universalism – “pseudo” because it bears a superficial resemblance to Quaker Universalism, but is really contrary to it in a number of crucial ways – poses such an insidious threat to the true Quaker view that I would like to spend a few moments describing in more detail how the two are different.

[I must admit, in the following paragraphs, the author does a good job of condemning “pseudo-universalism” – what I would call Unitarian Universalism.]

While Quaker Universalism is strongly religious in content and devotional in orientation, pseudo-universalism typically maintains a pronounced philosophical detachment from all religious traditions (especially, as we shall see, from Christianity). Unlike Quaker Universalism, which calls for a faith commitment to a specific religious path, pseudo-universalism teaches non-adherence to any particular religion at all, referring a kind of smorgasbord approach to religious ideas instead.

Quaker Universalism acknowledges the differences between the major religions of the world, but calls them all to the same universal standard of Truth: the Living Witness of God within. Pseudo-universalism often ignores, trivializes and obfuscates the real differences between world religions, claiming that “all religions are essentially the same.” In effect, it denies all religions by affirming all equally and embracing none.

While Quaker Universalism is a specific religious path that leads the seeker toward transformation and salvation, pseudo-universalism institutionalizes seeking and is highly suspicious of finding in religious life. Partly because it considers the major religions of the world to be primitive (and therefore false?), and partly because it is highly intellectual in orientation, pseudo-universalism discourages the sort of existential faith commitment that is essential for real spiritual growth and transformation. It offers no genuine spiritual path of its own, while discouraging its adherents from embarking on any established path.

Because it is a view of religion and not a religion itself, and because it accepts no particular religious tradition as normative, pseudo-universalism has within it no principle whereby it can discriminate between what is true and what is false in any particular religious view. To what standard, for instance, would pseudo-universalism appeal regarding a membership application from an avowed practitioner of the religion of Satanism? Quaker Universalism, on the other hand, is founded on the premise that there is one true principle of discernment, and that is the Inner Light. In addition, as we shall see momentarily, although Quaker Universalism radically challenges Christianity at many points, it also has historically accepted Jesus Christ and the gospel tradition as normative for faithful living. [Yes and no. Quaker Univeralists profess Jesus as “Teacher and Lord,” but not as “Lord and Saviour.” In another blog, I quoted a liberal Friends General Conference fellow who sang, “I’m not a Christian but I’m a Quaker, I’ve got Christ’s Inner Light but he’s not my Saviour.” What an abomination.]

Lastly, while Quaker Universalism is firmly rooted in the Christian tradition (albeit not always comfortable with it), pseudo-universalism often acts as a smoke screen for anti-Christian sentiment. In my conversations with Friends who have been influenced by this kind of universalism, I frequently encounter significant discomfort with, if not open hostility to, Christians and the Christian faith. This, of course, is in direct contradiction to their own professed principles. To this sort of universalist, it seems, all religions are equal except Christianity!

Perhaps you have heard of H. L. Mencken’s famous definition of a “puritan” as someone who is obsessed with the fear that somehow, somewhere, someone is having fun? The pseudo-universalist is one who is obsessed with the fear that somehow, somewhere, someone has “gotten religion,” especially the Christian religion.

As you can see, the two types of universalism, while similar on the surface, are as different as night and day. It is easy to see why pseudo-universalism is uncomfortable with the practice of Christianity. The two are philosophically incompatible. True Quaker Universalism, however, has a uniquely symbiotic relationship with Christianity. And this brings us to the Christian side of the equation.

If I did not make the Christian party happy with my remarks on Quaker Universalism, it is certain that I will not make the Quaker Universalist party happy with my remarks on Christianity. As we have seen, Christian Quakers have to accept the fact that Quakerism is radically universalist in its interpretation of Christianity. Universalist Quakers, on the other hand, have to accept the fact that Quakerism is radically Christian in its interpretation of Universalism. For, the truth is that, despite its somewhat testy relationship with conventional Christianity, Quakerism is and always has been decidedly Christian.

We have already sketched how the Quaker view of Christianity is distinctively Universalist. How is the Quaker view of Universalism distinctively Christian? It is really quite simple: Friends have always identified the Inner Light with the living Christ. Christ, in Quaker theology, is the Light [but non-evangelical Quakers do not believe that we are saved by accepting Christ as our Saviour]. “There is One, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition,” said the voice to George Fox at the moment of his convincement [notice again that the author uses the term “convincement” – which is vastly different from “conversion”]. And this Christ Jesus, Fox perceived and subsequently preached, was the Eternal Risen Christ, the Light of the World, come to teach all people who would hear his voice, not just professing Christians. To be Quaker is to be a follower of Christ, Who witnesses Within each one of us as we walk through life.

This strict equivalency of Christ with the Inner Light is the key to understanding how it is that Christianity and Universalism are so inextricably bound together in Quaker faith and practice. Not only is it possible to be both Christian and Universalist at the same time; it is the very essence and peculiar genius of Quakerism to marry the two in one powerful synthesis through the doctrine of the Inner Light. In the final analysis, the Quaker doctrine of the Inner Light is really a radically Universalist interpretation of the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit. To be Quaker is, therefore, to be radically Christian.

As a result of this unique marriage that Quakerism has effected, the quintessentially exclusivist text of the Christian faith – “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes unto the Father except by me” (John 14:6) – is transformed into a powerful Universalist message for the whole world. Friends have witnessed for 350 years that the Light of Christ Within is indeed the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to God except by it. This Light is the universal, saving, eternal, personal, resistible, persistent, and pure witness of God within every human heart, and no one is excluded from partaking of its riches. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, “Christ has returned, and everyone is invited to the reception!”

And, how fortunate for both Christianity and Universalism that Quakerism has joined them together. Fully embedded in the context of Christianity, Quaker Universalism is richly informed by all of the pregnant imagery and profound meaning of the Judeo-Christian tradition and the transforming story of Jesus Christ. In the Quaker synthesis, Christianity saves Universalism from the vapid sterility of mere abstraction. Universalism, in turn, saves Christianity from the spiritual poison of religious parochialism and exclusivity. The two not only complement each other, they are essential to one another.

In the end, the marriage metaphor we have been using is not very satisfactory, for it implies a kind of voluntary association that is not applicable here. The union of Christianity and Universalism in Quakerism is one of mutual entailment – more like two sides of one coin than like a marriage. Friends on both sides of the discussion need to face the fact that divorce is out of the question. Quakerism is, by definition, both Universalist and Christian at the same time.

After reading the above defense of Quaker universalism – and the damage the Inner Light teaching has done to evangelical Christianity – how could any member of the Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI) accept or fellowship with non-evangelical universalist Quaker denominations?

Amazingly, the EFCI is proud of its Quaker ecumenism with all non-evangelical Quaker groups. If we dig beneath the surface, we find that non-evangelical Quakers have many ungodly beliefs and practices – everything from universalist Quakers to LGBT Quakers to atheist Quakers to Buddhist Quakers.

There is no way around it. To insist on ecumenism with non-evangelical Quaker groups is, in essence, to endorse the heresies of these non-evangelical Quaker groups. Leaders in the EFCI who insist on Quaker ecumenism know very well the heresies of these non-evangelical groups, yet they still proclaim “let the conversation continue.” What an abomination!

Edward Mott, one of my favorite fundamentalist Evangelical Friends, warned against Quaker ecumenism. Tragically, Quakers eventually ignored the warnings of Mott and others, developing ecumenical ties with non-evangelical Quakers. Click here for my blog about Edward Mott, in which I included the following quote:

“Edward Mott, who was a leading minister and teacher in [Northwest Yearly Meeting] for many years earlier in [the twentieth century], strongly and bitterly opposed any moves toward ecumenical contacts or fellowship among what were then much more fragmented groups of Friends. In his memoir, Sixty Years of Gospel Ministry, published in the late 1940s, he insisted, as he had for decades, that such efforts “cannot have the blessing of the Lord upon them.” In fact, he insisted that “The attempt to fellowship and work with unbelievers [which is what he considered other Friends to be–Ed.] spells death. Any conclusion to the contrary is ruinous to all concerned.”

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