Friday, February 19, 2010

BEWARE of PRAYER-of the contemplative kind: part 2


THOMAS   MERTON
Greetings all!

I just recently finished reading a book by Ray Yungen called, A Time of Departing.
A very readable, engaging book I found hard to put down, full of important and useful information regarding Contemplative Prayer (CP); it was also rather heart breaking as I've read that this practice is being endorsed by stalwart defenders of the faith, and reputable Bible teachers and pastors.


UPDATE: 9/24/12 From AMOS 3:7 Ministries - The DANGERS of SPIRITUAL FORMATION. This report details the teachings and beliefs of Dallas Willard, a proponent of spiritual formation and contemplative prayer as prolific and well known among the practitioners of these mystic exercises as Richard Foster and Henri Nouwen! ~~end of update.

People like Chuck Swindoll, David Jeremiah, Max Lucado, and others. Shocking? Certainly! This is why it is absolutely IMPERATIVE that as Christians we not take any man's word for what the Truth is, but conduct ourselves as Bereans (Acts 17:11), and search the scriptures daily to determine if what we are hearing, or reading is in accord with the Divine revelation of God's indisputable Truth! We need to hold our pastors and Bible teachers accountable for what they teach and say in regards to doctrinal practices and teachings.

As many of you recall, I posted an article by the same title (minus the 'part 2' part) a couple weeks ago. You can read that article at this link if you've not done so yet:

Sunday, January 24, 2010BEWARE of PRAYER- of the contemplative kind

Even though Mr. Yungen's book is relatively short (200 pages), its packed with such information that to sum it all up would be quite a task! My best advice is to get a copy for yourself and read it (for an excerpt of this book, follow this link: Lighthouse Trails Research Project - Exposing Contemplative Spirituality).

If you don't think that contemplative prayer is that big a deal for you, that you are grounded well enough in the Word to not be deceived by such practices; realize that there have been many others who have likewise held such confidence, but today are not only practicing this occult technique, but teaching others also!

Or, even if you are secure spiritually, it behooves us all to do the research and be on the look out for the spiritual welfare of our family in Christ. This CP is coming like a dark and sinister storm, and its not going to dissipate! This will be the means by which a global religion will find its cohesion and unity in its spiritual dynamics!


To order your own copy of A Time of Departing, please follow this link: A Time of Departing.

For now however, I'd like to focus on someone Mr. Yungen deals with as one of the major promoters of this CP movement, Thomas Merton (picture shown above).

Thomas Merton lived from 1915 - 1968, and according to Mr. Yungen, "What Martin Luther King was to the civil rights movement and what Henry Ford was to the automobile, Thomas Merton is to contemplative prayer."

Read his biographical information here - http://www.merton.org/chrono.htm

"...Thomas Merton has influenced the Christian mystical movement more than any person of recent decades [and defined it as:] '... a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, ... and I now realize what we all are... If only they [people] could all see themselves as the 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. Its in everybody."

This man Merton, a Roman Catholic monk, took what was in traditional 'desert fathers' dogma of the 2nd and 3rd century A.D., which was held in high esteem and practiced faithfully by such as Trappist Monks of the Roman Catholic church, and brought it into popular usage, even among evangelical Christians!

Contemplating Contemplative Prayer: Is It Really Prayer? (Page ...

One must wonder however, by what means these evangelicals could concede to the supposed truth as portrayed by Merton, that being, at the center of our selves we are pure, sinless, so god-like that we would worship each other if only we could be made aware of it?? That this 'divine spark' is in everyone?

If God truly existed in everyone and we are all innately sinless, what need would there have been for Jesus Christ to die on the cross as our sin bearer? The LORD Jesus said, "You must be born again to see the kingdom of God." John 3:3. Only through the rebirth in Christ, does God indwell us as living temples for His glory (1Cor 6:19) and we become God's children (John 1:12).


The notion that we already are indwelt by God, that in fact He indwells everything is panentheistic (God is in everything), and a Hindu concept and is entirely anti-thetical to biblical truth.

Merton expressed a deep affinity for people of religious traditions other than his own, even Islamic Sufi's; he could do so because they shared common ground - mystical prayer! Otherwise known as contemplative or centering prayer, breath prayer (among other names).

"Merton saw the Sufi concept of fana (the merging with the Divine Oneness) as being a catalyst for Muslim unity with Christianity despite the obvious doctrinal differences. In a dialogue with a Sufi leader, Merton asked about the Muslim concept of salvation. The master wrote back stating:

'Islam inculcates individual responsibility for one's own actions and does not subscribe to the doctrine of atonement or the theory of redemption.'"

Merton saw such a doctrinal dichotomy as something "of little value because it takes away from the spiritual realities into the realm of words and ideas. . ." (Words as contained in the Holy Scriptures?) and has stated many times, "I am deeply impregnated with Sufism".

The fact of the matter is that in every major religion, be it Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, even Judaism (Kabbalism) and Christianity (the desert fathers-whose basis for their own practice was gleaned from Buddhist sources!) mystical prayer has a home, and its practitioners find themselves 'at one' not only with the Divine, but with one another and the entire universe, regardless of any disparity according to their respective dogmas and doctrines.

One can easily see how this subjective (non-objective), experiential (based on feelings and perception rather than the truth as found in God's Word) practice can and will be the mortar that will hold together the building of the new Babel global religion!

Thomas Merton was without a doubt the leading protagonist for CP and such authors as Richard Foster, in his own book Celebration of Discipline, refers to Merton eleven times.

Foster, and 'contemplatives' that he uses as examples to follow in his book all agree with Merton on truths gleaned from times involved in CP:"'The soul of the human family is the Holy Spirit.' Basil Pennington.

'I saw that God is in all things.' Julian Norwich.

'My beloved [God] is the high mountains and the lovely valley forests, unexplored islands, rushing rivers.' John of the Cross.

'Here [the contemplative state] everything is God. God is everywhere and in all things.' Madam Guyon."

Calling this phenomena Contemplative Prayer is a misnomer in reality; for its in prayer that we communicate with God, and yet in CP nothing is communicated to 'God' but a mindless repetition of a word or phrase. There is no substantial meaning to such 'prayer' but only the very kind of "vain repetitions" that the LORD forbade His followers! See Matt 6:7

What is communicated is directed toward the contemplative who receives such esoteric and 'ecumenically correct' messages (from seducing spirits - 1Tim 4:1) that we are all 'one' and that we worship the same God; that we ourselves are all indwelt by God and thus, being part of God, are God ourselves, thus the truth is within us, and not from an outside source (such as the Bible; see more on this from Sue Monk Kidd later in this article).

Yet Richard Foster insists, "Thomas Merton has perhaps done more than any other twentieth-century figure to make the life of prayer widely known and understood." He considers Merton's book, Contemplative Prayer "a must book".

It's worth noting that Richard Foster's books are widely sold in New Age book stores! One blatantly New Age book entitled The Miracle of Prayer has for suggested reading at the back of the book is Foster's own book, Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home."

Mr. Yungen aptly tracks the spiritual trail by which CP is making headway into the evangelical church:

"From India (guru's and swamis) to Alexandria (the Gnostics), to the desert fathers (John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, etc), to Thomas Merton..." to Richard Foster and more recently through many other contemporary leaders in Evangelical Christianity, to you and I.


Essentially spiritual truth for the believer in the LORD Jesus Christ should be more like: "From the Tri-une God, to His Holy prophets and apostles as contained in the Word, to us the church, and then onto the world."
In as much as Thomas Merton has had an undeniable effect on pastors and leaders of the church, and in the adoption of this unbiblical practice of CP, its vital to understand that another figure (that pre-dates Mr. Merton) predicted a viable use of the 'different branches [of the Christian church]' could serve to bring illumination to the world:

This person is Alice Bailey (see T.T.U.F. Profiles -


Monday, January 25, 2010T.T.U.F. Profiles - Alice Bailey and The PLAN
Saturday, January 30, 2010T.T.U.F. PROFILES: A Look at Alice Bailey and The PLAN Pt. 2
Sunday, February 7, 2010T.T.U.F. Profile: A Look at Alice Bailey and The PLAN Pt. 3)

Bailey stated: "The Christian church in its many branches can serve as a St. John the Baptist, as a voice crying in the wilderness, and as a nucleus through which world illumination may be accomplished."

Mr. Yungen comments:

"In other words, instead of opposing Christianity, the occult would capture and blend itself with Christianity and then use it as its primary vehicle for spreading and instilling New Age consciousness! The various churches would still have their outer trappings of Christianity and still use much of the same lingo... on the inside [however] a contemplative spirituality would be drawing in those open to it."

This CP phenomena is being used as the very instrument whereby Christians (so-called) are forsaking the Word of God (the falling away from The Faith as portrayed in scripture) and conforming to this world (Rom 12:1-Rom 12:2) and its prevailing belief systems and world view, and preparing the way for the wicked one, the Beast of Revelation.

This mirrors closely to what Bailey, the occult apostle for the New Age, stated: "That once the world is ready, the Coming World Teacher would present himself." She [has told] the world the path it will be taking and how its to be done, and much of what she predicted has in fact been implemented; case in point, this CP movement that's spreading like a wild and "strange fire" globally, and flooding evangelical churches in America.

Merton expressed that the most important need in the Christian world today is:

"...this inner truth nourished by this Spirit of contemplation... Without contemplation and interior prayer the Church cannot fulfill her mission to transform and save mankind." (emphasis mine)

That such a blatant rebuttal to the necessity for the Gospel need be explained to Christians who find nothing wrong with Merton's miasmatic message demonstrates how far away we have fallen from...

Jude 1:3
. . . the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.


We as the church are called to preach the Gospel, not to engage in esoterically inspired pagan meditative techniques for the "transformation ... of mankind". No where does it indicate in scripture that all of mankind will be saved, but that there will be those called out of the world of mankind, and that these would be "few" in comparison to the world at large (all the world will one day fall into a strong delusion however because they have not received the love of the truth that they might be saved; see
2Thess 2:10-12):


Matt 7:14
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

We are not called to make conversions of the lost, but to preach the Gospel, to sow the seed of God's Word, to water that seed in accord with God's will, but then acknowledge that it is God Himself that gives "the increase" and that He "...the Lord add[s] to the church daily such as should be saved." Act 2:47


Yet Merton has made plenty of converts himself, among them, one Sue Monk Kidd, a one time Southern Baptist Christian and Sunday School teacher who was handed a book written by Thomas Merton by a fellow Sunday School teacher.

Today Monk Kidd is a prolific New Age writer who embraces the virtues and ideologies of Wicca, and the Mother Goddess (Mother Sophia) belief; she has written many books, among them - God's Joyful Surprise (her first book, actually written from a Christian perspective, but endorses CP nonetheless) promoted by Virtue, Today's Christian Woman and Moody Monthly.

Monk Kidd states: "We also need Goddess consciousness to reveal earth's holiness...Matter becomes inspirited; it breathes divinity. Earth becomes alive and sacred...Goddess offers us the holiness of everything."

In The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, Monk Kidd relates an experience she had while listening to a minister preaching:

"He was holding up a Bible...saying that the Bible was the sole and ultimate authority of the Christian's life. The sole and ultimate authority. I remember a feeling rising up from a place about two inches below my navel.
"It was a passionate, determined feeling, and it spread out from the core of me like a current so that my skin vibrated with it. If feelings could be translated into English, this feeling would have roughly been the word no!

"It was the purest inner knowing I had experienced, and it was shouting in me no, no, no! The ultimate authority in my life is not the Bible; it is not confined between the covers of a book. It is not something written by men and frozen in time. It is not from a source outside of myself. My ultimate authority is the divine voice in my own soul! Period."

Who are some others who have mentioned favorably, even endorsed this sort of esoteric Contemplative Prayer as taught by Thomas Merton?

Would you believe Chuck Swindoll and David Jeremiah? Granted, these endorsements are not as bold or precise as others, such as Kidd, but the fact remains that a concilliatory tone is demonstrated in the writings and statements by these men of God.
"David Jeremiah, pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church. and speaker on the Turning Point Radio program, has certainly been aware of the New Age movement . In 1995 , Jeremiah wrote a book titled Invasion of Other Gods: The Seduction of New Age Spirituality... yet contemplative spirituality seems to have flown right under Jeremiah's radar, to the degree that he too appears to be promoting it. If indeed this is the case, then those who admire and follow him could become ipen to this dangerous path also."
2003 - Life Wide Open-Unleashing the Power of A Passionate Life by David Jeremiah: In this book he names and quotes such people as Sue Monk Kidd, Peter Senge (Buddhist-style meditation advocate), Brother Lawrence, Eugene Peterson, Erwin McManus (an emergent church leader) and Calvin Miller.

Into the Depths of God, a book by Calvin Miller (pro-contemplative) states that centering prayer (another name for contemplative) is "a union between man and God" is quoted favorably by Jeremiah:

Miller explains: "Centering is the merger of the two "selves" - ours and his [God's]. Centering is union with Christ. It is not a union that eradicates either self but one that heightens both."

When Jeremiah quotes from Peter Senge, he does so from this Buddhist advcate's own book which also states:

"Deep down, all of the contemplative traditions of the world, of which there are an extraordinary variety, stem form the same source ... Before there were all the religions of the last 3,000 yrs or so, there was a common religion that was shared by indigenous people all around the world."

Chuck Swindoll is another Christian leader, more well known perhaps than even David Jeremiah. in 2005 on his Insight For Living radio program, he quotes from Henri Nouwen and Richard Foster, both of these men are advocates of contemplative prayer as well as practitioners! In Swindoll's book So You Want to be Like Christ: Eighte Essentials To Get You There that Swindoll seems to have been influenced by such Contemplatives . . .

According to his book, he "...sensed a genuine need ...for the cultivation of intimacy with the Almighty. [t]here is a deep longing among Christians and non-Christians" for intimacy with God and that intimacy with God should be our goal, and "discipline is the means to that end. In chapter 3: Silence and Solitude he tells readers that "there are secrets...that will deepen our intimacy with God" so that we can see "what others miss."

"As we continue our journey toward intimacy with the Almighty, Ps. 46:10 (a verse often quoted by Contemplatives) calls us to the discipline of silence (a Contemplative term)." When in an interview with Dan Rather, Swindoll along with Mother Theresa (also a practitioner of contemplative spirituality) Mother Theresa explains to Rather what this prayer style actually is, and then Swindoll tells viewers to "discover its secrets for yourself" (cited from page 62 of Swindoll's book, So You Want To Be Like Jesus.)

"After quoting Henri Nouwen again from his own book The Way of the Heart, Swindoll stated that "I do not believe anyone can become a deep person [intimate with God] without stillness and silence."

"While at this point Swindoll does not actually teach mantras or altered states, his promotion and extensive quoting of contemplatives gives every indication that he is moving towards the contemplative camp.

It's essential to understand that Henri Nouwen's book, The Way of the Heart, is a practical primer for contemplative spirituality. Why is Swindoll making reference to such a book, and speaking about silence and solitude, both key phrases in this movement?

Thomas Merton, Roman Catholic Monk of the Trappist Order, one who claimed to be "impregnated with Sufism" and as a young man once asked a Hindu mystic about his Eastern form of meditation, was pointed back to the Desert Fathers of the West for an example that would explain his own Eastern form. Why would a Hindu point to so-called Christians and their own brand of contemplative prayer? Because they are one and the same!

As I suggested at the beginning of this article, please get a copy of this book A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen for yourself, and read it, as well as the footnotes, as he cites his sources for you to do your own research.

Mr. Merton, while he is dead, still influences people today by his books, and those he led into contemplative spirituality: people like Rick Warren and Dallas Williard, whose books have been read by well known Christian musicians and artists. One Christian artist that I will for now remain nameless, was once asked, what single book most influenced your life.

His answer? Apart from the Bible, I would have to say Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster. It's quite a scary thought to think that Christian artists whose music and concerts are attended to faithfully by our youth would avidly hearken to any recommendations they might make regarding such authors as these!

UPDATE (as of 5-21-10) - See the following article on Contemplative Prayer and associated links at the end of it; click on the following link:

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4443

May the LORD guide and protect us by His Word of Truth, our only Fortress in a world overtaken with seduction, deception and lies!

agape,
brother James FIRE