Spiritual formation
and contemplative spirituality
By Roger Beach

 

 

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A REFUGEE ONCE MORE

By Roger Beach

About a year ago I discovered our denomination had embraced the theology and practices of the Contemplative Movement and that it was being taught in our seminary. Leaders of the movement had been featured speakers at the annual pastor’s conferences over the past few years and so it had crept into a significant number of our local churches. After briefly looking into what these proponents of the Contemplative Movement taught I wrote to the leadership of our denomination with my concern. Their response was heartbreaking.

The denominational leader responsible for the pastors in all the churches wrote back saying, "It is my belief however, that a local church could appropriately adapt the healthy principles and practices of centering prayer..."

I researched the beliefs of the Contemplative Movement’s leaders who had spoken at the pastor’s conference and others in the movement, in greater depth. Motivated by what I found and the response of the denominational leadership, I wrote a paper to inform our church’s pastors and lay leadership of my concern. I hoped, at the very least, to keep it out of our church.

The following is what I wrote to our leadership. I have removed references to individuals and organizations within our denomination. The reason for doing so is that we have many friends who remain in the church. My wife and I do not want to needlessly anger or embarrass them, thus ending any hope of reaching out to them with the truth. In the report, the [parenthetical insertions] and emphasis in various quotations are mine. While I have added the material on Dallas Willard to the original report this is, in essence, the report I submitted.

 

To the Contemplative Spirituality Study Group:

Spiritual Formation is the Practice of Contemplative Spirituality

This is what I have found concerning Christian or Spiritual Formation as taught by Thomas Keating and others.

(1)-The heart of Spiritual Formation is Spiritual Direction and the practice of Contemplative Prayer, also know as Centering Prayer.

What is Spiritual Direction? Among the resources available to a Christian to deepen the journey with Christ is Spiritual Direction. It can be defined as a relationship of personal trust, in which God leads someone to follow a course of spiritual growth and life directed by an-other pilgrim further advanced in the journey.

What Happens? Spiritual Direction is individual, and God leads each director to unique methods of growth for each person in direction. Usually it begins with the deepening of prayer, especially the prayer of contemplation.

[What Is] The Goal: [?] The goal of Spiritual Direction is complete union with God - "that we may be one."

-From http://www.anglicancursillo.com/spiritual_direction.htm

Spiritual Formation is being widely taught across denominational and doctrinal lines in the U.S. There is an organization, Spiritual Directors International ( www.sdiworld.org), whose membership includes from Unitarian Universalism. There seems to be a strong underlying theme of ecumenism in this movement.

 

(2)-The understanding of Spiritual Formation and Contemplative Prayer are heavily influenced by the teachings and beliefs of Thomas Keating, Ruth Haley Barton, Richard Foster, Brennan Manning, Dallas Willard, and Henri Nouwen, contemplatives all.

Barton, Manning and Willard have all spoken at the annual Pastor’s Conference. Books by the others listed are recommended reading by the Department of Spiritual Formation.

Ruth Haley Barton-author of Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence, 2004 Intervarsity Press

Ruth Haley Barton was trained at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. What do they believe?

"This mystical stream [Contemplative Prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality…It is no accident that the most active frontier between Christian and Eastern religions today is between contemplative Christian monks and their Eastern equivalents." -From Spiritual Friend, Tilden Edwards, pages 18 and 19. Tilden Edwards is the founder of Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation.

Richard Foster- author of Celebration of Discipline, the Path to Spiritual Growth, and Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home

Richard Foster in his book, Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home, speaks of the practice of "breath prayer," in which a word or phrase (a mantra) is repeated (over and over again) in conjunction with the breath. (Prayer: Finding the hearts True Home, Richard Foster, p. 122) –From A Time of Departing, Ray Yungen, Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2002, p. 72

Foster wrote that "Christian meditation is an attempt to empty the mind in order to fill it."-From Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster, 1978 edition, p.15

"In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm… there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way!" -From Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster, Harper, 1992, First Edition, p. 157

"Medieval mysticism has managed to survive within small pockets of Roman Catholicism for centuries but has gone largely unnoticed by evangelicals. It is true that a few groups, such as the Quakers, have always kept some aspect of mysticism within range of evangelical awareness, and elements of mystical practices have actually thrived in charismatic circles right down to the ranks of Fundamentalism.

But classical mysticism was virtually unknown in Evangelical circles until 1978 when Quaker minister Richard J. Foster published Celebration of Discipline, the Path to Spiritual Growth. Hailed by Christianity Today as one of the ten best books of the twentieth century and voted by the readers of that magazine as the third most influential book after the Bible, Celebration of Discipline has blown the doors off evangelicals’ understanding of spirituality. What Foster has done, in essence, is reintroduce to the church the so-called "masters of the interior life," as he likes to call the medieval mystics. He declares that they alone have discovered the key to true spiritual life and slowly, over the last few years, convinced multitudes that he is right." –From Bible Discernment Ministry, Rick Miesel, editor

Brennan Manning-author of The Ragamuffin Gospel, Abba’s Child, Above All, and Signature of Jesus.

"This is a typical patriarchal notion of God. He is the God of Noah who sees people deep in sin, repents that He made them and resolves to destroy them. He is the God of the desert who sends snakes to bite His people because they murmured against Him. He is the God of David who practically decimates a people ... He is the God who exacts the last drop of blood from His Son, so that His just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased. This God whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger, This God does not exist." -From Above All, Brennan Manning pg. 58

This God does not exist? Genesis 6 recounts man’s sin and their judgment by God with the flood. God did send snakes to bit His people for murmuring against Him as told in Numbers 21: 4-6. The Gospels record God sending Jesus to die for man’s sin, that Jesus might be the final and sufficient sacrifice for all. Manning denies the Historical God of the Bible and his anger over sin.

"I am deeply distressed by what I only can call in our Christian culture the idolatry of the Scriptures. For many Christians, the Bible is not a pointer to God but God himself. In a word [it’s] bibliolatry. I develop a nasty rash around people who speak as if mere scrutiny of its pages will reveal precisely how God thinks and precisely what God wants" -From Signature of Jesus, Brennan Manning, pp. 188-89.(page 174 in a later edition)

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

Manning denies the sufficiency of scripture to bring us to maturity in our walk with Jesus.

"The first step of faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer." -From Signature of Jesus, Brennan Manning, p. 212 (page 198 in a later edition)

How does one pray to God and at the same time stop thinking about God? Does that make any sense at all? Is it taught anywhere in Scripture?

In Abba's Child, (NAVPRESS, 1994) Brennan Manning says that Dr. Beatrice Bruteau is a "trustworthy guide to contemplative consciousness." (p. 180.) Who is Beatrice Bruteau and what does she believe? She is the founder of The School for Contemplation, and she believes God is within every human being. She wrote the book, What We Can Learn from the East.

"We have realized ourselves as the Self that says only I AM, with no predicate following, not "I am a this" or "I have that quality." Only unlimited, absolute "I AM."1 -From A Song That Goes on Singing - Interview with B.B.-The full text can be found at http://www.wie.org/j21/bruteau.asp?page=3

When Brennan Manning says she is trustworthy, does he mean we can trust her when she says we are all I AM?
-From
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/manning.htm#newsletter

In his book Signature of Jesus (pgs 203-205) Manning teaches a form of "prayer" where you chant a mantra to empty your mind (stop thinking) just like a Zen Buddhist. It is called "contemplative" or "centering prayer" and it supposedly brings you into the immediate, unmediated, presence of God. This "prayer" promotes the concept that one may enter the immediate presence of God via human technique, by the power of human effort.

Manning says the "scandal of the gospel of grace" is that even those who take the "mark of the beast" will get into Heaven. -From The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning, pages 20, 21

Revelation 14:9-11 says the exact opposite, that those who take the mark of the beast will be tormented forever. Manning teaches the opposite of what Scripture teaches and that makes him a false teacher.

Henri Nouwen-author of The Way of the Heart, Sabbatical Journey, Here and Now, and Bread for the Journey

"Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God's house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not.2 Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God….I am using my little daily reflections to articulate my own theology of evangelization, mission, salvation and redemption." From Sabbatical Journey, Henri Nouwen's last book released by his estate, page 51, 1998

Nouwen denies the words of Jesus when he said, "….."I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6 Nouwen has his "own theology of…..salvation and redemption."

"The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being .1"-From Here and Now, Henri Nouwen, page 22

"Prayer is soul work because our souls are those sacred centers where all is one ... It is in the heart of God that we can come to the full realization of the unity of all that is."3 -From Bread for the Journey, Henri Nouwen, Harper, San Francisco, 1997, Jan. 15, and Nov. 16.

"It is critical to note here that Nouwen did not say all Christians are one; he said ‘all is one’, which is the fundamental panentheistic concept of God-the God in everything unites everything(i.e. God is the all in all)." -From A Time of Departing, Ray Yungen pg. 65.

Dallas Willard-author Revolution of Character, The Great Omission, and Renovation of the Heart.

On February 25, 2006 Dallas Willard participated in a conference where unbiblical concepts were taught.

"This conference will be about spiritual transformation, spiritual principles and practices as they were actually taught by Jesus and his early followers." (Meaning Contemplative Prayer)

"The spiritual realm can be accessed through the ancient practices of Via Contemplativa (bodily quiet and stillness) and Via Activa (bodily engagement)."

In this promotional it says of Dallas Willard, "He reveals how the practice of "spiritual disciplines" affirms life to the fullest and is the key to self-transformation."

Is access to the spiritual realm permitted by Scripture? Where is it written? Are we, by human effort able to transform ourselves? If so, why do we need the Bible?

–From the promotional web page for the Ancient Spiritual Wisdom- Principles and Practices for Life Conference, February 25,
2006, found at
www.viavita.us/ under "Conference"

 

(3)-Thomas Keating is the driving force behind the Contemplative Prayer Movement.

"Father Thomas Keating, a spiritual leader of the Centering Prayer movement and a founder of Contemplative Outreach…" -From www.thecentering.org Home page.

To learn more about centering prayer, visit the centering prayer website at www.centeringprayer.com and select the centering prayer link.

 

(4)-The teachings of Thomas Keating are based upon an allegorical view of scripture.

The term ‘mysticism,’ comes from the Greek μυω, meaning “to conceal.” In the Hellenistic world, ‘mystical’ referred to “secret” religious rituals. In early Christianity the term came to refer to "hidden" allegorical interpretations of Scriptures and to hidden presences, such as that of Jesus at the Eucharist. Only later did the term begin to denote "mystical theology," that included direct experience of the divine.-From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosopy

"Those commentaries opened my eyes once and for all to the fact that the contemplative dimension of the Gospel is the most important aspect of the Christian religion. The Fathers of the Church interpreted the Gospel from that perspective. They called their interpretation the "spiritual sense" or the "allegorical sense" of scripture." –From Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit, Thomas Keating, Part One, Chapter 9

Dr. Harvey Martin, retired Professor of the Bible at Northwestern College, has commented and said, "If you understand the scripture from an allegorical point of view you can make it mean anything. You throw out the Bible."

 

(5)-Contemplative Prayer, as taught by Thomas Keating and these others, is practiced in the very same manner as Transcendental Meditation. Both Contemplative Prayer and Transcendental Meditation use a 20 minute meditation twice a day. Both use a mantra.

The Method of Centering Prayer -The Guidelines:  "Choose a sacred word"(mantra)

  • Some Practical Points: The minimum time for this prayer is 20 minutes. Two periods are recommended each day…

  • From 
    http://www.centeringprayer.com/methodContemplative Prayer.htm

     

    (6)-Catholics agree Contemplative Prayer and Transcendental Meditation are the same practice.

    Johnnette Benkovic has interviewed people on her show and in her book who have done both Contemplative Prayer and Transcendental Meditation. They claim it is basically the same. The only difference would be that in Transcendental Meditation the mantras are names of Hindu gods, and in Contemplative Prayer the sacred word is usually Jesus, God, peace, or love. Fr. Finbarr Flanagan, who was involved in both Contemplative Prayer and Transcendental Meditation, says "Contemplative Prayer is Transcendental Meditation in a Christian dress." He says, "Fr. [Basil] Pennington has endorsed Transcendental Meditation . . . without hesitation."

    Let's look at the similarities:

    1) Both Contemplative Prayer and TM use a 20-minute meditation.

    2) Both Contemplative Prayer and Transcendental Meditation use a mantra to erase all thoughts and feelings.

    3) Both Contemplative Prayer and Transcendental Meditation teach that in this meditation you pick up vibrations.

    In regard to vibrations, Fr. Keating says, "As you go to a deeper level of reality, you begin to pick up vibrations that were there all the time but not perceived." Fr. Pennington also speaks of ". . . physical vibrations that are helpful" (Vibrations are common Transcendental Meditation, New Age language.) Using mantras and reaching a mental void are also New Age, not Catholic. In fact, reaching a mental void is described in the Catechism as an erroneous notion of prayer (#2726).  - From Centering Prayer Catholic Meditation or Occult Meditation?-From  The Cross and the Veil, The Contemplative Prayer Online Magazine

    4) Both Contemplative Prayer and Transcendental Meditation claim that this meditation will give you more peace and less tension.

    5) Both Contemplative Prayer and Transcendental Meditation teach you how to reach a mental void or altered level of consciousness.

    6) Both Contemplative Prayer and Transcendental Meditation have the common goal of finding your god-center [3].

  • -From Centering Prayer Catholic Meditation or Occult Meditation?

  • on  The Cross and the Veil, The Contemplative Prayer Online Magazine

  •  

    (7)-The goals of both Contemplative Prayer and Transcendental Meditation are the same, the suppression of all thought and entering an altered state of consciousness.

    "That is why we say, ‘Don't resist thoughts.’ In Contemplative Prayer, not thinking is the important thing." –From Resting In God...An Interview with Fr. Thomas Keating, OSCO by Anne A. Simpson, editor of Common Boundary, Common Boundary, September/October 1997 (pro Thomas Keating article)

    Centering prayer is essentially a form of self-hypnosis. It makes use of a "mantra," a word repeated over and over to focus the mind while striving by one's will to go deep within oneself. The effects are a hypnotic-like state: concentration upon one thing, disengagement from other stimuli, a high degree of openness to suggestion, a psychological and physiological condition that externally resembles sleep but in which consciousness is interiorized and the mind subject to suggestion. After reading a published description of centering prayer, a psychology professor said, "Your question is, is this hypnosis? Sure it is." –From The Danger of Centering Prayer By Rev. John D. Dreher, Pastor of Our Lady of Czenstochova Church in Coventry, Rhode Island

     

    (8)-Contemplatives teach anyone can hear directly from God if they are just quiet enough.

    Ruth Haley Barton implies anyone can hear directly from God. She uses Elijah as her example.

    After Elijah had been in solitude for quite some time, God asked him again, ‘What are you doing here Elijah?"….

    Elijah was still in a state that clearly indicated he needed to make some changes in his life. In response to Elijah’s condition, God graciously responded with some very specific instruction…This guidance seemed to come not so much because Elijah asked for guidance but rather as a natural result of the fact that he had gotten quiet enough to hear. –From Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence, Ruth Haley Barton, p. 138

    Elijah was a prophet. The prophets are gone and Christ has spoken. The canon of scripture is closed. Scripture is sufficient.

     

    (9)- Thomas Keating teaches that one may come into "divine union," man is basically good, and that sin is "refusal to grow."

    As a student at Yale in the early 1940s, Keating, the scion of a wealthy but not particularly religious Park Avenue family, found his Roman Catholic worldview sufficiently challenged by a freshman philosophy class to seriously investigate the roots of his faith. While in the library reading Thomas Aquinas's Catena Aurea, a line-by-line exposition of the four Gospels by the great Church fathers, he experienced a profound conversion: He deeply grasped the fact that Christianity was a contemplative religion. He realized that the spiritual sense of the Scripture was much more important than the literal and that union with the Divine was not only possible but available to all. "That insight," says the 74-year-old Trappist monk 'was the seed that has continued to grow all through my life. What I am doing now is trying to share that insight."….In his taped lectures and his books Open Mind, Open Heart; Intimacy with God; and others, he describes the inner changes that occur, including the process of letting go of the false self (a self-image that impedes one's relationship with God) in favor of expressing one's true self , "our basic core of goodness." Keating is so convinced that a spiritual life involves ever-deepening levels of growth and awareness that he often startles those raised in a traditional Catholic setting with his definition of sin as the refusal to grow, to choose to stay as we are." From Resting in God by Anne A. Simpson, editor of Common Boundary. Common Boundary, September/October 1997

     

    (10)-Contemplative Prayer, as taught by Thomas Keating and others is syncretism, the blending of Eastern religious practices and principles with the doctrines of the Christian faith.

    "We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and ‘capture’ if for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible...Many Christian who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices..."Finding Grace at the Center, Basil Pennington and Thomas Keating, pp.5-6

    "This mystical stream [Contemplative Prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality…It is no accident that the most active frontier between Christian and Eastern religions today is between contemplative Christian monks and their Eastern equivalents." –Spiritual Friend, Tilden Edwards, pages 18, 19. Edwards is the founder of Shalem Institute

     

    (11)- Thomas Keating is not trustworthy.

    Throughout their books, Fr. Keating and Fr. Pennington mention St. Teresa of Avila, implying that she is an advocate of their prayer techniques. However, after reading her books, I have found that her teachings on prayer are the opposite of what Keating and Pennington are teaching. First of all, she says that contemplation is a gift from God, and no technique can make it happen. She says it is usually given to people who have a deep prayer life and are practicing many virtues, although God can give it to anyone he chooses. She repeatedly insists that contemplation is divinely produced. She said that entering into the prayer of quiet or that of union whenever she wanted it "was out of the question"8 She also said in her book, Interior Mansion, "For it to be prayer at all, the mind must take a part in it."9 Cardinal Ratzinger, in his booklet, also quotes St. Teresa as saying "the very care not to think about anything will arouse the mind to think a great deal", and that the separation of the mystery of Christ from Christian meditation is always a form of "betrayal." St. Teresa advised her nuns to meditate or think about the Passion of Christ as a preparation for contemplation. The Catechism describes contemplation as "a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus" (#2715). The focus is Jesus and the heart is involved. 

    In Cardinal Ratzinger's booklet, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation, he quotes the Pope. On p. 34, footnote 12, he writes "Pope John Paul II has pointed out to the whole Church the example and doctrine of St. Teresa of Avila who in her life had to reject the temptation of certain methods which proposed a leaving aside of the humanity of Christ in favor of a vague self-immersion in the abyss of divinity. In a homily given on November 1, 1982, he said that the call of St. Teresa of Jesus advocating a prayer completely centered on Christ "is valid even in our day, against some methods of prayer which are not inspired by the gospel and which in practice tend to set Christ aside in preference for a mental void which makes no sense in Christianity. Any method of prayer is valid insofar as it is inspired by Christ and leads to Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life" [(cf. John 14:6). See Homilia Abulae habita in honorem Sanctae Teresiae: AAS 75 (1983) 256-257].)

    -From Centering Prayer Catholic Meditation or Occult Meditation?

    -on  The Cross and the Veil, The Contemplative Prayer Online Magazine

     

    On the Contemplative Outreach site under "The Method of Centering Prayer-Points for Further Development" Thomas Keating says: During this prayer we avoid analyzing our experience, harboring expectations, or aiming at some specific goal such as: 

    Repeating the sacred word continuously 

    Having no thoughts

    Making the mind a blank 

    Yet in his interview with Anne A. Simpson of Common Boundaries he says, "That is why we say, ‘Don't resist thoughts.’ In Contemplative Prayer, not thinking is the important thing."

     

    (12)-Finally, the practice of Contemplative Prayer takes the one deeply into the spirit realm and into possible if not probable contact with familiar spirits which is forbidden in scripture.

    Richard Foster agrees. "In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm… there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way!" -From Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster, Harper, 1992, First Edition, p. 157

    Brain Flynn agrees as well. "As a [New Age] medium, I performed psychic readings and, through meditative practices, contacted spirit guides. At the time, I did not realize these guides were demonic." -From Christians Should Dump Contemplative Prayer, by Brian Flynn. Found at http://www.onetruthministries.com/Contemplative Prayer article.htm

    There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. Deuteronomy 18:10-12 NKJV

    Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:31 NKJV

    And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people. Leviticus 20:6 NKJV

    A man or a woman who is a medium, or who has familiar spirits, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones. Their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:27 NKJV

     

    Conclusions

    Over this past year of study I have come to believe:

    Contemplative Prayer, as taught by Thomas Keating and the others listed above, is a practice not found by the normal literal interpretation of scripture.

    Contemplative Prayer, as taught by Thomas Keating and the others listed above, is the same as New Age Transcendental Meditation, mantra meditation, which is the same practice as Muslim Sufism, Hindu Hatha-Yoga, Zen Buddhism, and Jewish Kabbalah.

    Contemplative Prayer, as taught by Thomas Keating and the others listed above, leads those who practice it to Universalism1, Monism2, and Pantheism3.

    The proponents of Thomas Keating’s version of Contemplative Prayer are ecumenical in the extreme, placing the goal of man-made unity above doctrinal differences, even to looking at Contemplative Prayer as the "Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality." What reason has a Christian to seek unity with practitioners of a pagan religion? They are the Children of Wrath.

    The proponents of Thomas Keating’s version of Contemplative Prayer deny the Reformation principle of sola scriptura, the sufficiency of scripture. They deny it by implication when they say Contemplative Prayer is a way to deepen your relationship with God, yet scripture says a man instructed by scripture is complete. The proponents of Contemplative Prayer say there is more. Proponents of Contemplative Spirituality affirm sola scriptura in principle, yet deny it in practice.

    Look again at the statements of the contemplative teachers above, at Manning’s disgust with those who believe the Bible is sufficient, and at Nouwen’s universalism. Are these men speaking the truth? Does the Bible teach us to love God with all our heart, all our strength and our empty mind? Even Teresa of Avila and Pope John Paul II disagreed with emptying the mind.

    30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. Mark 12:30

    This practice of "prayer" has now spread into the Evangelical Protestant Church and is practiced in every major religion in the world. I believe it is a deception. I believe the contemplatives do hear a "still small voice" and it is lying to them.

    1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron…… 1 Timothy 4: 1, 2 NKJV

    The Contemplatives have traded the literal-grammatical-historical meaning of Scripture for a subjective and emotional spiritual experience not found in Scripture.

     

    Endnotes

    1 Universalism, a theological doctrine that all human beings will eventually be saved

    2 Monism is the view that reality is one unitary organic whole with no independent parts.

    3Pantheism is the belief that God is the universe and its phenomena. (God is everything and everyone.)

     

    End of the research paper.

    After reading my research, our senior and associate pastors saw nothing wrong with Contemplative Prayer and defended it to the study group we had formed to investigate my concerns. The senior pastor praised Brennan Manning from the pulpit, and distributed tapes of his presentations at the annual pastor’s conference to the congregation. The Chairman of the Church Council told me, "We have not come to the same conclusions you have reached." I did not want to believe what I heard. I was sick at heart.

    I discussed this turn of events with several friends in the church and showed them what I had found. Apparently the word spread quickly.

    The lay leadership of our church accused me of "disseminating divisive materials and/or opinions" that were "discouraging" people and causing "dissention" and asked me to stop. They asked me to meet with them "to work through the issues of how we should handle disputes in a Biblical manner." This was not a personal dispute to be handled by the instructions in Mathew 18:15-17. My efforts were a case of defending the faith as in Jude, verse 3, Beloved, while I was very diligent to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

    They said, "We are asking you to repent of your behavior." Repent of what "behavior"? I was trying to expose false teaching as commanded in Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the works of darkness, but rather expose them. They just did not want to hear it.

    While the practice of contemplative prayer had not yet occurred in our church, denominational churches pay "taxes" to support their denominations, colleges and seminaries. We could not have any part of our gifts to the church support the propagation of the false teaching and practices of the Contemplative Movement. We had to leave.

    My report to the leadership had fallen on deaf ears. There was no reason to believe another meeting with some of the same people would bring a different result. I wrote the leadership committee that accused me of misbehavior. Here is my letter.

     

    To the Members of the Executive Committee of X________ Evangelical Church

    Dear Bothers and Sisters in Christ,

    The Bible tells us to know the truth so it will set us free and to speak the truth in love. It didn’t promise everyone would like it or that we would never be discouraged by it. The rich young ruler heard the truth and left Christ.

    Let me ask you a question. If you had curable cancer, would you want to know? You wouldn’t like it! You would be discouraged. Let’s say you’re 55 with 2 kids in college and have a type of cancer that has a 100% cure rate. But out of concern for you and your family’s immediate comfort, your doctor decided he didn’t want to discourage you or put you through the discomfort of chemotherapy, so he didn’t tell you that you had cancer.

    Would you thank him from your deathbed for the relatively short period of discouragement and the discomfort of chemotherapy he spared you by not telling you the truth?

    Or would you rather have been discouraged and uncomfortable from chemotherapy for a short time when you faced with the truth of your situation and dealt with it, to then have been set free of the cancer to enjoy your children and grandchildren?

    Brennan Manning is a false teacher.

    Look at the enclosed page and see with your own eyes what Manning teaches on pages 20 & 21 of his book The Ragamuffin Gospel. He says the "scandal of the gospel of grace" is that even those who take the "mark of the beast" will get into Heaven. Revelation14:9-11 says the exact opposite, that those who take the mark of the beast will be tormented forever. Manning teaches the opposite of what Scripture teaches and that makes him a false teacher. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    In his book Signature of Jesus (pgs 203-205) he teaches a form of "prayer" where you chant a mantra to empty your mind (stop thinking) just like a Zen Buddhist. It is called "contemplative" or "centering prayer" and it supposedly brings you into the immediate presence of God. On page 198 Manning says, "That is why the first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer." How does one pray to God and at the same time stop thinking about God? Does that make any sense to you? Is it taught in Scripture?

    I just gave you divisive information because, our pastor likes Manning. I reject Manning as a false teacher. This information has divided us. I encourage you to investigate Manning further. Decide about Manning for yourselves.

    Jesus came to bring division between those who believe the truth and those who do not. Luke 12:51-53 and Matt 10:34-36.

    The thing that is discouraging to me is to know that our denomination’s leadership would invite such a teacher to speak at the annual pastor’s conference. People ought to know, even though it is discouraging.

    You say I have caused division and discouragement by telling people about Manning and you are right. I have done it with a clear conscience. I believe with all my heart that our denomination is going in the wrong direction and tried to warn people by first presenting information to the leadership of ______ (our church), information confirmed as accurate by a Professor of the Bible. It has been basically ignored. Now, I am trying to warn you.

    K_____(my wife) has resigned as co-superintendent of Sunday school. It broke her heart. I wish you had heard her sobs and seen her tears. A______ (our son) wept too. They broke my heart. We have requested that we be removed from membership at the next business meeting. We have stopped attending Xxxxx (our church) I won’t be coming to meet with you.

    K_____ and A_____ will finish up the AWANA year at X______ (our church). Please let them do so in peace.

    Respectfully, Roger Beach

    God bless you and keep you;

    Ministry of Hope
    God Bless

     

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