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Why Evangelical Leaders Shouldn

Why Evangelical Leaders Shouldn't Be Promoting Contemplative/Centering Prayer, Part III


 


By Ken Silva


 


The idea behind this work is to present you with accurate information so you can then judge for yourself if this type of Contemplative/Centering prayer (i.e. transcendental meditation) is a viable way to "experience the presence of God." Or whether it is instead a very dangerous spiritual practice that has adopted pagan practices actually condemned by the Lord. I hold that this form of transcendental meditation is in reality a discipline practiced by those who, not content with a relationship with God through His prescribed means of prayer and study of the Scriptures, are instead seeking a type of "spiritual buzz." 


 


Now please also keep in mind at this point that I'm already on record elsewhere that my theology regarding the Holy Spirit falls squarely between Dr. Walter Martin and A.W. Tozer. This is to say that I am not a cessationist and I am also very actively involved in a pursuit of God. However, at the same time I'm also constrained by Holy Scripture never to venture further than what is contained within the actual text of my God's Word in the Bible. So the idea here is that the Christian certainly can experience God, but each and every experience itself must then be tested by the Word of God. [1]


 

At this point we will shift gears a bit and begin to take a closer look at why it is we are told we must practice the meditation of Contemplative/Centering prayer that is so central to the theology of "Christian" mysticism. And this meditation, says Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline (COD), "very simply, is the ability to hear God's voice and obey his word." [2] Why we can't just read the Scriptures and carefully think about what we read to "hear God's voice and obey his word" isn't addressed. Foster then informs us that Christian meditation:


 


involves no hidden mysteries, no secret mantras, no mental gymnastics, no esoteric flights into the cosmic consciousness. The truth of the matter is that the great God of the universe, the Creator of all things desires our fellowship. [3]


 


No one is disputing that God "desires our fellowship", what we are concerned about is how the Lord desires that we fellowship with Him. In COD Foster instructs us that as we meditate:


 


we are growing into what Thomas a Kempis calls "a familiar friendship with Jesus." We are sinking into the light and life of Christ and becoming comfortable in that posture. The perpetual presence of the Lord (omnipresence, as we say) moves from a theological dogma to a radiant reality. [4]


 


In his book The Sacred Way (SW) Emergent theologian Tony Jones postulates, "meditation, when rightly practiced, is a focusing on the heart of Christ." [5] Then he further explains:


 


I say "when rightly practiced" because there are numerous examples of a distortion of Christian meditation in the history of the church. But the orthodoxy of Christian meditation can be tested, for, when rightly practiced, it always leads to the same result: "Contemplative Christian prayer always leads to love of neighbor, to action, and to the acceptance of trials, and precisely because of this it draws one close to God." [6]


 


Resisting the urge to wrestle with the serpent, I quickly point out there are serious examples of circular reasoning evident here. First of all, the ecumenical bent of the EmergentChurch is evident as Jones simply assumes meditation was an orthodox practice within "the church" that could then be distorted. The problem is that these contemplative disciplines were not practiced by Christ or His Apostles and later grew out of the musings of the apostate "Desert Fathers and Mothers." Jones' other point regarding the results of "Contemplative Christian prayer" could also be made by numerous other religious groups e.g. Islam, the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses. So this really proves nothing.   


 


In COD Foster goes on to tell us that as we practice meditation:


 


we create the emotional and spiritual space which allows Christ to construct an inner sanctuary in the heart… He desires a perpetual Eucharistic feast in the inner sanctuary of the heart. Meditation opens the door,…[to] a portable sanctuary that is brought into all we are and do. Inward fellowship of this kind transforms the inner personality. [7]


 


Men and women, it is precisely this spiritual transformation of  "the inner personality" that is the very heart of the grave spiritual danger for those who continue with this practice borrowed as it was from pagan religions of the East by the aforementioned mystic monks and nuns. What needs to be understood here is that we are now talking about spiritual realities which are totally out of the control of man. Unfortunately modern evangelicalism has all but obscured the spiritual side of the Christian faith in favor of good ol' pragmatic American business savvy to grow our churches. As a result many do not really give much thought to the spiritual side of Christianity. And this void is what Satan is exploiting with his neo-pagan Gnostic spirituality.


 


Space doesn't allow further discussion here so I refer the interested reader to Emerging With The Spiritual Side Of Christianity where I cover this mortal mistake in more depth. However, what is so imperative that we recapture in the Church of our Lord today is that this is God's universe and in it He does whatever pleases him [8] and the Lord also works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. [9] But as this series moves on you will be coming to see this completely sovereign LORD God Almighty Who raised up the Reformers to wrest His Church back from the apostate Church of Rome is not the god who is found through the spiritual discipline of meditation practiced in the so-called "Christian" mysticism of the Ecumenical Church of Deceit.      


 


     


 






[1] Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21.



[2] Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, (HarperCollins, 1998), p. 17.



[3] Ibid.



[4] Ibid., p. 19.



[5] Tony Jones, The Sacred Way, (Zondervan, 2005), p. 82.



[6] Ibid.



[7] Foster, COD, op. cit., p. 20.



[8] Psalm 115:3.



[9] Ephesians 1:11.