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Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual Disciplines’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What were the key influences in your early Christian faith?

One was a youth pastor at that church…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I have been searching for quotes from biblically sound Quakers. More specifically, Quakers in the Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends, from the years 1854 (the Gurneyite Schism) through 1965. Members of Ohio Yearly Meeting also referred to themselves as Gurneyite Friends, Orthodox Friends, Holiness Friends, and more recently, Evangelical Friends.

I came across the Ohio Yearly Meeting’s 1877 and 1879 statements condemning George Fox’s teaching of the “Inner Light.” Following are a few excerpts. I have emphasized certain points by bolding and [bracketing]:

The Meeting of Ministers and Elders of Ohio Yearly Meeting in 1877, “was brought into deep exercise and travail concerning unsound and mystical views and expositions which appear here and there in certain of our members, in opposition to the plain Scriptural doctrines of man’s darkness and deadness in sin by nature, and his redemption therefrom by the Lord Jesus Christ… it was concluded that a non-acceptance of this doctrine is a manifest disqualification for the station of Minister or elder…

We do not believe that there is any principle or quality in the soul of man, innate or otherwise, which, even though rightly used, will ever save a single soul; but that it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believed; and the Holy Spirit is sent to convince the ungodly of sin, who, upon repentance towards God, and faith in Jesus Christ who died for us, are justified by his blood; and we repudiate the so-called doctrine of “Inner Light,” or “the gift of a portion of the Holy Spirit in the soul of every man,” as dangerous, unsound, and unscriptural.

In 1879 the following minute was added:

“… [To teach the Inner Light] is to imply that a capacity to receive salvation, is a portion of salvation, and that Light in the heart from Christ, however dim, is actually Christ Himself… It is a dangerous mysticism which knows no distinction between a Principle or an Influence, and Deity himself, continually confusing the two…”

Source: Minutes of the Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends, 1879, pp. 28-30

I have access to additional resources – mainly by Edward Mott – discussing the OYM position against the Inner Light teaching. I have had some strong favorable feedback, expressing interest in reading more about the OYM position. I hope to place more of these OYM writings online.

Interesting – Holiness/Evangelical Friends back in 1877 condemning the “Inner Light” teaching. Yet today it seems that many members of the EFCI (Evangelical Friends Church International), especially outside the EFC-ER, see no problem associating with non-evangelical Quakers. These evangelical Friends seem to be condoning (or at least accomodating) “unsound and mystical views and expositions” including the “Inner Light” teaching. I, on the other hand, believe very strongly that we should separate ourselves from Quakers who hold such ungodly, antibiblical teachings.

Click here for my more recent blog on this, entitled “Quaker beliefs re: the “Inner Light” and salvation.”

By the way, I could not help but notice the 1877-1879 references to the “mystic” teachings of George Fox (considered one of the earliest Protestant mystics).

Interestly, Richard Foster introduced Spiritual Formation (via his book Celebration of Discipline) while pastoring an Evangelical Friends church. In essence, Richard Foster is a “modern Christian mystic”, following in the path of George Fox. (However, unlike George Fox, Foster incorporates practices from many other “faith traditions”/world religions, not just Quakerism.)

Regarding the teachings of Foster and other modern Christian mystics – why is it that the EFCI (like so many other evangelical denominations today) is not condemning the teachings of Spiritual Formation? Members of  the EFCI who hold to Spiritual Formation know that it includes the Spiritual Disciplines. And they take part in numerous practices under the discipline of contemplative prayer/contemplative spirituality. Do they not realize that these contemplative prayer/ contemplative spirituality practices are inherently mystic/ New Age-ish/occultish? God help the EFCI!

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For those unfamiliar with Spiritual Formation, here’s the scoop. Spiritual Formation was introduced by Quaker “mystic” Richard Foster with his bestselling 1978 book Celebration of Discipline. Here are the basics: Spiritual Formation consists of various spiritual disciplines. The most dangerous aspect of Spiritual Formation is the spiritual discipline of contemplative prayer (also called contemplative spirituality). (We’ll refer to this as CP/CS.)

CP/CS  practices form the very core of Spiritual Formation. It is impossible to “practice”  Spiritual Formation without including CP/CS. And CP/CS is rotten – it comes straight from the pits of Hell. Why do I say this? Because it incorporates many mystic/occult practices. These practices are drawn, as Richard Foster puts it, “from other faith traditions.” What are the these “other faith traditions?” Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, the New Age movement, and other nonbibical, anti-Christian world views!

I am particularly appalled by the “heaviest” contemplative practices among many evangelicals in Spiritual Formation currently: breath prayer, centering prayer, lectio divina – and yes – labyrinth “prayer”!  If so-called Christians do not repent of ALL contemplative practices, I believe the following saying will apply: “we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

To see where evangelical students of Spiritual Formation (SF) are headed in contemplative practices, watch carefully the Mainline/liberal SF programs and Catholic SF programs. Their contemplative practices have gone way beyond the contemplative practices of most evangelical SF programs. If evangelicals do not leave this downward path, I believe they will end up “doing” all the contemplative practices of mainline/ liberals, Catholics, and worse. As mentioned above, many gullible evangelicals are already using the New Age practice of walking the labyrinth.

Now for a list. These are a few of the many CP/CS practices to watch out for in your church or denomination – there are probably hundreds of more practices.

Art as Prayer
Blessing (The Blessing)
Breath Prayer
Candles
Care of the Earth
Catholic Mass
Centering Prayer
Chanting
Dance (Body Prayer)
Detachment
Enneagram
Examen
Fixed-hour Prayer
Gratitude
Gregorian Chant
Guided Imagery
Holy Conversations
Imaginative Prayer
Incense
Inner-healing Prayer
The Jesus Prayer
Journaling
Labyrinth Prayer
Lectio Divina (Scripture Meditation)
Listening to Wisdom
Making Crosses
Meditation
Meditation on the Heart’s Longing
Music as Prayer
Peace Poles
Practicing the Presence
Prayer of Recollection
Prayer Ropes
Prayer Walking
Praying in Color
Praying the Psalms (repetitively)
Praying the Scriptures (repetitively)
Praying with Beads
Praying with Icons
Praying with the Body
Praying with the Mystics
Retreat
Ritual
Rule for Life
Sabbath
Saints (Praying with the Saints)
Scriptio Divina (Sacred Writing)
Secrecy
Self-care
The Sign of the Cross
Silence
Simplicity
Slowing
Soaking Prayer
Solitude
Spiritual Direction
Spiritual Friendship
Stages of the Journey
Stations of the Cross
Tai Chi
Taize Worship
Truth Telling
Unity
Unplugging
Unstructured Retreats
Visualization
Walking Meditation
Walking Meditation in Nature
Writing as Prayer
Yoga (Sacred Yoga)

Note – some of the practices in the above list came from these sources:
http://www.thescl.net/670015
http://www.thescl.net/700394

[For more info on any of the above terms, try Googling them.]

And the list goes on… and on… and on…  Often, perfectly sounding practices (such as  “Devotional Reading” and “Praying the Psalms” ) can be twisted into mystic CP/CS practices.

For longer lists of CP/CS practices, see the following resources. IN NO WAY do I recommend these – these are simply resources to help you determine whether CP/CS is going on in your church:

1) Spiritual Disciplines Handbook

This is very insightful book listing contemplative practices – and explaining in detail how to “do” them. What’s really shocking about this handbook, is, this book is put out by an historically evangelical publisher (IVP):

To see the Table of Contents (which lists the contemplative practices) via Amazon.com, click on the “Read Inside” caption above the book’s cover photo.

2) 50 Ways to Pray: Practices from Many Traditions and Times, by Teresa A. Blythe (from Abingdon, a mainline Protestant publisher)

Examine this book closely. This is just one of many non-evangelical “Christian” books listing various contemplative practices.

To see the Table of Contents which lists the 50 ways to “pray,”  click on the “Read Inside” caption above the book’s cover photo.

3) The Contemplative Mind Tree (on a New Age website)

This New Age diagram also provides an online list of CP/CS practices.

And click here for a long list of Spiritual Formation individuals to watch out for. There are hundreds more not listed here.

Note – make sure you know what your children are being taught. Believe it or not, there are church groups teaching teens various CP/CS practices without informing the parents. In some churches, pre-teens and children even younger are being taught these practices.

If you see any of these practices in your church, confront your pastor about them. If your pastor does not realize these practices are mystic/occult, try to share resources with him about the dangers of these practices. If he still refuses to believe and/or acknowledge that these practices are mystic/occult, take your family and leave the church!

Here are a few more Christian articles exposing Contemplative Prayer/ Contemplative Spirituality:

“Contemplative/Centering Prayer“, by Ken Silva
Contemplative Prayer and the Evangelical Church, by Ray Yungen

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Regarding Spiritual Formation, I must admit that I do know various people who are into it, who seem fairly orthodox/biblical otherwise. The danger, according to numerous discernment ministries, is that the core of Spiritual Formation is contemplative spirituality (also called contemplative prayer). And contemplative spirituality is made up of many different levels. Someone can start out at a level which appears to be “normal prayer”, then begin exploring numerous “deeper” levels of practices which are more dangerous.

I have never seen any biblical guidelines put forth by teachers of Spiritual Formation, explaining where to draw the line between what is biblical and what is dangerous.  Quite the contrary. Recently, on Spiritual Formation pioneer Richard Foster’s own website (www.renovare.us), there was a statement worded something like this: “We encourage you to explore contemplative practices from other  faith traditions [i.e. other world religions].” Scary stuff!

Few if any articles favoring Spiritual Formation will mention its dangerous aspects.

Now for some links:

1) Here is an article on its dangers, from Lighthouse Trails, one of the most thorough discernment websites critiquing Spiritual Formation:

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=695&zoom_highlight=spiritual+formation

2) An article on Foster et al, from another go-to discernment website for info on Spiritual Formation – Apprising Ministries:

http://apprising.org/2010/07/26/the-inward-journey-of-contemplativecentering-prayer/

3) Here is a blog I wrote that discusses its dangers. Actually, most of my blog quotes from a far longer article. Here’s my link:

https://davemosher.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/what-is-spiritual-formation-and-why-is-it-so-dangerous/

4) Now check out Richard Foster’s website, http://www.renovare.us. The website presents a number of principles of Spiritual Formation. For example, the following article describes various disciplines including Meditation:

http://www.renovare.us/SPIRITUALRENEWAL/PracticingLikeJesus/WhyPracticeLikeJesus/tabid/2518/Default.aspx

Foster has claimed elsewhere to be an “evangelical” Quaker. Yet reading between the lines here, it seems pretty obvious to me that Foster is extremely liberal. Plus, he endorses the interfaith movement (and practices from Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.):

And this is just scratching the surface of the dangers in Spiritual Formation.

For those who are still skeptical, take a look at the Nazarene Church denomination. It seems that of all evangelical denominations, this denomination is perhaps the most deeply ensnared in Spiritual Formation.  In recent years, the denomination has become dominated – even headed –  by individuals endorsing Spiritual Formation (and all its dangerous practices). And the denomination is literally being torn apart – countless concerned members and their families are leaving in search of denominations which are still biblical.  Check out this article (you will notice that Spiritual Formation is intrinsically tied with the Emerging Church movement):

http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/nazarene-denomination-losing-its-way/

Bottom line – stay away from Spiritual Formation. It is impossible to separate its “safe” aspects from its dangerous contemplative prayer/contemplative spirituality practices.

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(revised 08/13/12)

Update: I have made an attempt to “tone down” most of my blogs about Evangelical Friends/Quakers, to not be so hurtful to my many friends in the EFCI (and EFC-ER). Yet when I see what is going on, I still feel compelled to speak out. Read on.
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In a previous blog I discussed how the EFCI (and EFC-ER) is becoming more and more liberal due largely to Richard Foster and company. I am very “protective” of the EFC-ER if you will. The EFC-ER historically has been more biblically sound, more “old fashioned” than the other Regions of the EFCI. It appears the EFC-ER is being drawn into the progressive/ liberal leanings of the other Regions, particularly Northwest Yearly Meeting.

On 11/05/10 I perused the EFC-ER home page (the EFC-ER falls under the denominational umbrella of the EFCI):

There I saw a link to the Friends Youth Summit 2010:

When I clicked on the above link, one of the first items that popped up was a photo of Dan Kimball with a brief bio. The Youth Summit website provided a link to more biographical info.

My question for the EFCI and EFC-ER: “Do you know Dan Kimball promotes not only the Emerging Church, but also New Age-ish prayer labyrinths?”

See the following article for Kimball’s praises of labyrinth walking:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2001/fall/4.38.html

Did the EFCI invite Kimball without knowing he espouses the labyrinth? Even if they were unaware of the Kimball-labyrinth connection, they have no problem endorsing the labyrinth. Check out the following schedule of EFCI Youth Summit activities:

http://www.friendssummit.com/about-summit/summit-schedule

I immediately noticed  Spiritual Formation activities on the schedule. Here are the details, copied verbatim:

Kingdom. Mission. Passion.
Conversations that could change your life!

Keep up with latest schedule updates and info here!

    The Summit 2010 Schedule is designed with the goal of multiple conversation venues and options around the theme: Kingdom. Mission. Passion. You will have conversations that could change your life…your community…the church!

Start “the Summit Conversation” with a Six Week Study of Dan Kimball’s They Like Jesus But Not The Church.

Christ-Centered Prayer Walk Labyrinth, directed by Frank Penna

– Under the Prayer Walk Labyrinth link:

Summit Prayer Labyrinth
Sign-up for the Summit Prayer Labyrinth during the conference. Participants will “journey” through the labyrinth guided by a CD that soars with provocative, devotional narration set against a worshipful music backdrop. Eleven stations on their journey will lead them to “let go” of busyness, hurt and distractions that can spoil relationships, “center” their lives on God and spend time with him, and reach out to the world with Christ’s love.

– Under the Frank Penna link:

Frank Penna – Summit Labyrinth Director
Frank Penna loves the Evangelical Friends Church! Frank grew up at First Denver Friends and had some of the greatest spiritual experiences of his life in youth group and at Quaker Ridge Camp, where God called him into ministry in December of 1972. Frank graduated from Barclay College (FBC) in 1978, married Janet Smith that summer, and has since served the Friends church as a minister of music and pastor. He currently lives in Wichita, Kansas and is in Ministry Development for World Renewal International, a church planting mission. He also serves as a Field Representative for EFC-ER, who is actively planting Evangelical Friends churches in northeast Brazil in partnership with WRI and World Renewal Brazil.

Prayer Room including Prayer Stations, directed by Jen Prickett

– Under the Prayer Room link:

Prayer Room
The Summit Prayer Room will be a station-based worship experience where we invite you to use time and space to listen to God’s Spirit. Through reading, reflection, action, worship and prayer you are welcomed to use solitude to engage God’s Kingdom, Mission and Passion while at Summit.

– Under the Jen Prickett link:

Jen Prickett – Summit Prayer Room Director
Jen Prickett grew up in the community of Rose Drive Friends Church, Yorba Linda, CA and served for seven years in their youth department. She says, “my season there helped me intersect my three big passions of theology, missions, and discipleship.” Jen recently finished an MDiv with an emphasis in Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. She is also a part of an intentional community of eight college/post-college students in Pomona, California, attempting to learn how to live openly and simply through spiritual practices and relationships with our community. Jen recently accepted a job serving EFC-SW through helping with the F.E.A.T.S. program (Friends Equipping And Training System). Her hope is to use this role to continue to make biblical and theological training more accessible to our Friends Churches.

Jen says, “If you’re ever in Southern California, I would love to tell you more of my story over a warm cup of fair-trade coffee or on a hike through the San Gabriel foothills. Grace and peace to you all as you savor the Summit experience and find insight and encouragement for a life lived in response to God’s great love.”

Private or group sessions with Summit Spiritual Director David Williams

– Under the Private or group sessions link:

Sign up for time with the Summit 2010 Spiritual Director just outside the Cheyenne Room at the resort.

According to Fil Anderson of Journey Resources, spiritual direction is “the gift to be sensitive, present and supportive to the spiritual journey of another … the director not only gives you direction in your spiritual life along each stage of the journey, but also becomes a soul-friend, a companion on the way.”

As a Summit leadership team, we want you to know that you are not alone on your journey with Jesus. We are here to offer our support as fellow travelers on the way. David Williams, Summit 2010 Spiritual Director, has agreed to make himself available each afternoon during the conference for individual or group spiritual direction.

– Under the David Williams link:

David Williams – Summit 2010 Spiritual Director
David Williams serves as Associate Professor of Pastoral Ministries, College Chaplain, and Director of the Center for Spiritual Renewal at Barclay College in Haviland, Kansas. A graduate of Malone University (BA) and Ashland Theological Seminary (MA), Dave completed his doctorate (DMin) in leadership and spiritual formation at George Fox Evangelical Seminary.

Having served as a youth pastor, family pastor, senior pastor and campus pastor, Dave has been blessed with a wealth of experience in preaching, teaching, discipleship and spiritual direction. A frequent speaker at Christian camps, conferences, retreats and seminars, Dave has a deep passion to raise up workers for the harvest field, encouraging and equipping God’s people for the work of ministry in order to build up the body of Christ and fulfill the Great Commission.

Dave and his wife, Carol, have been blessed with six beautiful children and have been partners together in full-time Christian service throughout their 27 years of marriage. In addition to his love for students, Dave enjoys sports, nature, travel and spending lots of time with his family. When away from home, Dave’s favorite destination is a hiking trail or ski run anywhere above timberline in the Rocky Mountains.

Private or group sessions with Summit Life Issues Coach Tony Wheeler

– Under the Tony Wheeler link:

Dr. Tony Wheeler is an expert on family strengths and family dynamics. He is the Co-Founder of the Dr. John Trent Institute for The Blessing based on the campus of Barclay College in Haviland, KS. Dr. Wheeler has been a counselor for 18 years, a speaker for 14 years and has seen many relationships repaired and individuals healed through his counseling and seminars. He has been married to Stacey for 23 years and they have three children, ages 21, 19, and 15.

The rest of the Summit activities listed on this web page:

EFM Track for Future Career Missionaries Directed by Craig Davis hosted by Gregg Prickett

Friends Ministry and Higher Education display booths

Fair Trade Friends Coffee donated and served at Summit 2010 Coffee House

Express Yourself Art and Creativity Space directed by Doreen Dodgen-Magee

Twitter Wall directed by Josiah Williams

Declaration one.one.eleven directed by Jason Morones

Regarding the youth of the “old fashioned” EFC-ER, many of whom have never been exposed to labyrinth prayer: I have not seen such transparent references to labyrinth prayer, spiritual directors, etc. in the local EFC-ER churches themselves. Why is the EFCI presenting these heresies to the youth of the EFC-ER? This comes across to EFC-ER parents as being underhanded. It appears that EFCI youth leaders and EFC-ER youth leaders know youth are more impressionable than their parents. It appears they are purposedly exposing the youth to labyrinth prayer, etc. when they are away from their local church setting.

Question – do the EFCI and EFC-ER youth leaders seriously believe they are HELPING the youth grow in their Christian faith? Whether the youth leaders believe or it not, nothing could be further from the Truth. I believe the EFCI and EFC-ER youth leaders will be held responsible on Judgment Day – these “pied pipers” are leading undiscerning youth down the broad path to Hell!!

To the leaders of the EFC-ER: do you remember the “good old days” of Quaker Canyon children’s camps and Camp Caesar youth camps? Those were the days of passionate evangelists and gospel preachers, with “The Blood and The Cross” salvation messages (not watered down “seeker sensitive” talks) and altar calls. How far you have fallen – I pray the EFCI and EFC-ER will wake up and see the apostasy before it’s too late.

For further research and leads to Spiritual Formation and Emerging Church connections at the Friends Youth Summit, see the following two webpages:

http://www.friendssummit.com/about-summit/resources
http://www.friendssummit.com/about-summit/seminars

For a critique of Dan Kimball, see:

http://apprising.org/2008/08/25/is-emergent-church-pastor-dan-kimball-really-a-conservative-evangelical/

For a detailed expose of the New Age-ish prayer labyrinth (which by the way quotes Dan Kimball), see:

http://www.inplainsite.org/html/the_labyrinth.html

See also this excellent expose, which includes a discussion of the labyrinth:

http://apprising.org/2010/06/04/mysticism%E2%80%94part-4/

And here is Lighthouse Trails’ commentary on Dan Kimball’s article “A-maze-ing Prayer.” Read it very closely – the discernment author points out many occult aspects of labyrinth prayer:

Click to access whitingsarticle.pdf


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May 12, 2011: More thoughts on youth groups and youth leaders in the EFCI (and EFC-ER)

One of the issues which makes me most angry is this: when dangerous false teachings are presented to church youth groups. Specifically, Spiritual Formation (with its contemplative practices) and Emerging/ Emergent teachings. I am finding more and more articles on the Internet about such materials being presented to youth groups in various denominations –  often without parents’ prior knowledge or approval. When parents have given permission to be exposed to such teachings, they often haven’t learned of the dangers. They don’t understand the “dark side” of  Spiritual Formation and Emerging/ Emergent teachings their youth will be absorbing.

I’m sure I am making many people in the EFCI angry with my criticisms, but these things need to be said. It is that important – the eternal destiny of souls is at stake.

I grew up in the EFCI (specifically the EFC-ER). I attended Junior FY and Senior FY regularly. I graduated before Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline came out in 1978, so I was never exposed as a youth to Spiritual Formation.

My parents have spent a lifetime in the EFC-ER; my father was a pastor there for many years (off and on). What if I were in today’s younger generation? What if I were attending Junior FY and Senior FY currently?

I saw it right there on the Internet: the EFCI invited every EFC-ER church’s youth group to attend the EFCI Friends Youth Summit 2010. And the EFCI Friends Youth Summit 2010 then exposed them to labyrinth prayer and other contemplative prayer/ contemplative spirituality practices. There is no denying this.

If I had attended the EFCI Friends Youth Summit 2010 and been exposed to its contemplative practices, here’s what I believe would have gone down. I believe my parents would have “yanked me outta” that church, “up and left” the EFCI, and never came back. And, as they found out more about Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings, I believe  they would have spoken out and condemned the EFCI for having any involvement in such things.

This is what I am doing as a member of  “the older generation” – speaking out and condemning the EFCI for having any involvement in such things. Yet I am being criticized for speaking out against what to me and many other concerned Evangelical Friends is so obviously wrong.  Where have we come to in the EFCI (and the EFC-ER), when we as born again, godly evangelicals cannot even speak out against ungodly practices in the denomination?

I know for a fact, there are many parents (particularly in the more biblically “old fashioned” EFC-ER) who would be furious if they understood the dangers of the labyrinth, etc. that were presented to their youth at the Friends Youth Summit 2010.

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Christian involvement in New Age practices goes far beyond Spiritual Formation programs. As we know, many Christians (including evangelicals) are heavily into mind/body practices (e.g. yoga, relaxation techniques, Reiki), entertainment (e.g. Twilight, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Diablo videogame, Harry Potter), horoscopes, even Ouija boards.

And how do most of these Christians react when confronted about their occult involvement?  They resist, refusing to give up their practice(s). For the life of me, I will never understand the mindset of Christians who refuse to give up these practices when confronted.

Following is one of many Bible passages which refers to the eternal destiny of all those involved in the occult:

“But the fearful, and UNBELIEVING, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and SORCERERS, and IDOLATORS, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8, KJV)(EMPHASIS MINE)

Only God knows our hearts, and He will be our Judge. No offense to my Christian brethren who hold to eternal security, but I believe there is a point where born again Christians can become so involved in the world and the occult, so backslidden, that they can lose their salvation. At this point, these former Christians (who still label themselves as “Christians”) become part of the “unbelieving” listed in the Bible verse above.

Just to clarify my use of the word “lose.” I don’t believe a person “loses” his salvation in the sense of losing something he loves dearly. On the contrary, a person “loses” his salvation because he does NOT love it dearly. A born again Christian can choose to turn his back on Christ. He can say he no longer trusts Christ as his Saviour. He can say he chooses to follow the Buddha instead, or a Hindu “god”, or whoever. When he turns his back on Christ, he loses his salvation. God does not turn His back on people – people turn their back on Him.

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