Fostering a new Spiritual Discipline pt.2
Inward and onward - The promoters common origin
Foster is the main purveyor of journeying inward by his spiritual disciplines, now generally known as contemplative spirituality to the evangelical/Protestant church’s. The Vineyard church under John Wimber accepted his spiritual disciplines (being that he too was once a Quaker like Foster).
Wimber commenting on the release of the “1978 Richard Foster’s first book, Celebration of Discipline,
“Those first few readers of Celebration of Discipline began spreading the word; the true door to liberation in Christ is the spiritual disciplines. Foster, reflecting his Quaker heritage, writes about an inner life of piety and self-restraint that is both obtainable and desirable. It can even be fulfilling!
“Since 1978 hundreds of thousands of people around the world have read and re-read Celebration of Discipline. I am numbered among them, and my prayer life has been greatly aided because of it. As the book enters its second decade, [the] hope is that a new generation will discover Celebration of Discipline’s central message: that cultivating a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is truly the path to spiritual growth.” (John Wimber, founder, Association of Vineyard Churches p.210 Celebration of Discipline ANNIVERSARY Edition) underline mine
The Anaheim Vineyard Was Wimber’s pastoral church, it is pastored today by Lance Pittluck. On their church website, it stated: “We believe that every disciple is invited by the Holy Spirit into becoming conformed to the Image of Christ through the disciplines encompassed by solitude, silence, scripture-meditation and reflection” (2011 Spiritual Formation” workshop; link was removed)
Which affirms the continuation of Foster’s influence in the Vineyard.
Foster’s disciplines got into the Vineyard’s via Wimber. Mike Bickle (with the other Kansas city prophets) worked with Wimber to introduce their Latter Rain teachings. Influences can work both ways, they can be symbiotic.
Mike Bickle, founder of IHOP a 24/7 prayer ministry stated, “I want this book to be the manual for IHOP-KC.” https://store.ihopkc.org/fire-within
Bickle’s choice of a “manual” for his 24/7 praying is Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel–On Prayer written by Father Thomas Dubay. It’s about Catholic, contemplative mystics. This is Catholic mysticism. Can we expect to see prayer beads and candles next, as we see in the emerging church?
Bickle says this is, “a way to a deeper life in God”, “The protestant world is in great need of examples (like these) that will beckon us to the fullness of God. (Mike Bickle in his audio message “Contemplative Prayer part 1”)
He also says of evangelical Christians:
“The Protestant wing of the western church, which is a tiny percentage of the Body of Christ…, is nearly completely (98%) unaware that the Holy Spirit is restoring contemplative prayer—center stage—to the church… The Holy Spirit is restoring this precious jewel (contemplative prayer) to the body of Christ. This is the God ordained means of attaining the fullness of God.” He also has said … The protestant world is in great need of examples (like these) that will beckon us to the fullness of God.” (Mike Bickle audio message “Contemplative Prayer part 1” (source: https://www.discerningtheworld.com/2009/12/29/mike-bickle-everybody-is-called-to-live-in-the-contemplative-lifestyle/
Bickle actually says this is God’s way to attain the fullness if God, but that is not what the Bible says.
Col. 2:9-10 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”
Some change the name of contemplative, as Bickle has done to “communing prayer.” It does not matter what it is called but what is practiced.
It’s a fact that error begets error, and here is a factual example of its outward working of the inward disciplines.
Many of the new revelators and those who teach contrary to the Bible, have read Foster’s book using his methods and discipline use the inner voice they hear for new revelation.
An example of this is none other than Peter Wagner who was an associate of Wimber that later formed the New apostolic movement.
He says this revealing statement:
“Richard Foster was one of the first to hear what the Spirit was saying to the churches and to let the rest of the world know what he was hearing through Celebration of Discipline. The book was the central hinge on the door to God’s new era. Its message has gone far and wide and helped Christians of all walks of life to establish deeper intimacy with their heavenly Father.” (C. Peter Wagner, professor, Fuller Theological Seminary Celebration of Discipline The Path to Spiritual Growth 20th Anniversary Edition).
Wagner agrees with Bickle on this restoration to the church. Wagner is saying Celebration of Discipline is what was being spoken by God to the church. He is saying that it was Foster’s book, his practices that opened the door to a new era, which certain implies the new apostolic movement. Is the Spirit saying new things to the church as Wagner believes was taught by Foster? Certainly Wagner believed the spirit was saying to restore newer apostles and prophets than the ones who wrote the Scripture and built the church. Can we conclude that when Wagner received rhema words (fresh revelation) he was following Foster’s practice in his book?
So we have two influential leaders of a new paradigm (Wimber and Wagner) who worked together through Fuller Seminary both endorsing Foster, and those who are connected to them say the same. Many more, influential men and women in charismatic circles endorse and practice Foster’s/ Catholic mystical contemplation.
Bickle through his IHOP now also promotes contemplative prayer which leads to unity with Roman Catholicism. As recently the President of the Avila society spoke at the IHOP-KC Onething 2015. You might be surprised to know that they asked me to speak on the wisdom of St. Teresa of Avila regarding the progress of prayer from those just beginning to pray to those who know the sublime reality of contemplative prayer." (Dan Burke, President of the Avila Foundation
Also we should note that Bill Johnson who was influenced by Wimber’s Vineyard ministry (many who speak at his church today are involved with the contemplative prayers of Foster) are opened to this.
Mike Bickle or other IHOP leaders speak about Catholic mystics like Teresa of Avila, or John of the Cross. Contemplative Prayer is intimacy with God and it is promoted as core values. The language of contemplatives often has terminology like Deep communion with the Holy Spirit.
IHOP: International House of Prayer promotion of healing rooms: “The Bethany Room is designated for the critically and terminally ill. The same healing model is used in the Bethany Room except that contemplative prayer is used during the prayer time. Contemplative prayer is silent prayer communing with the Holy Spirit who dwells inside of believers in Jesus. This style of prayer provides a peaceful and restful atmosphere while those ministering cry out to the Lord in silence for healing. The one receiving ministry is taught how to pray through and meditate on scriptures concerning healing while communing with the indwelling Spirit…” (International House of Prayer – Healing Ministry – Healing Rooms)
Let’s stop here and take inventory of what is being said. The Spirits ministry is to point to Jesus, The Bible does not ever teach us to pray to the [S]pirit within, go inward. This is where Biblical doctrine becomes muddled as it conflicts with the new spiritual ways now being taught. We are to be praying to the Father through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit leads us to cry out “Abba,” Father (Romans 8:14-15). He groans along with us, in prayer to the Father (Romans 8:26.) This is especially precarious for those who are hurting in need of healing.
The Spirit is to make Christ Jesus known to us, NOT himself. John 16:13: Jesus tells us of the Spirit, “for He will not speak on his own authority, … The Spirit will not speak of himself but what He hears He will speak” (which would be according to Scripture. And most importantly Jesus says “He shall glorify me: NOT HIMSELF, which is clearly what Foster and other contemplative’s are teaching.
The Holy Spirit is the executor of God’s nature that contains the fruit of the spirit; love. “The fruit of the Spirit is love” (Gal.5:22). We are conformed to Christ’s likeness by the Spirit of Christ. When we read the Bible we are reading the Spirit’s words about the Son who points to the Father (all three are involved).
We understand the words of the Holy Spirit by the mind, whom illumines our hearts to live them out in our flesh. The Spirit of God gives us the power to apply the words in our lives. The Spirit communicates these properties to the believer, working in them through the sanctification process by our understanding the word. The Spirit brings out the nature of Christ in the individual believer by our submission to the word.
Consider 2 Tim 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Jesus taught "But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." (Matt 13:23). The seed is the word, it has life, (my word is spirit and life) and those who understand it have spiritual growth, there is no other means for this to occur.
Foster attributes the process of spiritual growth to His contemplative praying. His Spiritual Formation contains disciplines which supposedly aid in a Believer in Christ’s “spiritual development.” They are considered to be Christian (by Foster the modern rediscoverer) because they were found among monks in Roman Catholic monasteries centuries ago; Roman Catholic monks formed these practices. It is Roman Catholicism that gave non biblical traditions to become equal with Scripture and now we have non biblical practices to be equal with the word. This practice is not taught by the apostles to the church yet people are accepting it as if it is the main teaching form the apostles.
Contemplative prayer bypasses the Biblical process taught in Scripture for our spiritual growth, it is another spiritual experience that leads to a different spirit[s] authority, as we will see from Fosters own teaching, he is presenting another Jesus, one whom you imagine to call upon.
In the collection Foster says he was frustrated in his work: “How could anyone deal with all of the intricacies and difficulties of prayer in one book. I threw my hands up ready to abandon the project.
Then something happened to me that is hard for me to express to you… as best as I can discern it, I heard the voice of the true shepherd not outwardly but inwardly saying, no I do not want you to abandon the project instead I want you to tell them that my heart is broken, tell them that I am hurt at their distance and preoccupation tell them that I mourn that they do not draw near to me. Tell them I grieve that they have forgotten me; Tell them I weep over their obsession with muchness and manyness. Tell them I long for their presence” I’m telling how very much God desires our company, that God is inviting you, that God is inviting me to come home… “ (p.207)
Also that, God is desperate for your presence.”
According to Fosters discernment God’s solution is to come home BY CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER! Thus Foster has self endorsed his own book as inspired by God like the prophets. If this does not show the depth of his own deception I really don’t know what will.
Christ is resident in every believer, the only way He would be distant is if one is not reading, understanding or obedient to His word.
In his 1978 edition of celebration of Discipline, “We should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer." He is having people lose their Biblical religion to find it another way, losing their biblical perspective to find their zen.
Fosters spiritual disciplines is a main platform for today’s charismatic openness which gives new revelation, new ways. It’s one of the main COMMON denominators for nearly all the teachers of new revelation.
Not convinced? let’s go further…
Jim Goll is president of Encounters Network, director of Prayer Storm, and coordinates Encounters Alliance and an instructor at Wagner's leadership Institute. He is also a participant in contemplative. In his study guide on Consecrated Contemplative Prayer, Goll writes, “I wish to express thanks to our Lord for the writings of Richard Foster. [http://www.encountersnetwork.com/pdf/free_downloads/contemplative_prayer. pdf]
Jim Goll writes: Contemplatives sometimes speak of their union with God by the analogy of a log in a fire: the glowing log is so united with the fire that it is fire, while at the same time, it remains wood.” (James Goll, the lost art of practicing his presence (which is not what the new covenant teaches in how to follow Jesus in the Spirit)’
Same phrase used by Richard Foster "Contemplatives sometimes speak of their union with God by the analogy of a log in a fire: the glowing log is so united with the fire that it is fire ..."
"What is the goal of Contemplative Prayer? ... union with God.... our final goal is union with God, which is a pure relationship where we see nothing." (Richard Foster source: www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com)
We find that this is the saying among many mystics according to John Dalrymple.
In fact Leonard Sweet, in his book “The Three Hardest Words: In the World to Get Right” says, “Our absorption into the Presence (our oneness” with Christ) is not the oneness of Buddhism, where one’s separate consciousness and I are lost in ones absorption into the universe. Rather, our absorption into The Presence completes our personhood.”
“Contemplatives sometimes speak of their union with God by the analogy of a log in a fire: the glowing log is so united with the fire that it is fire, while at the same time, it remains wood.” Others use the comparison of a white hot iron in a furnace: “our personalities are transformed, not lost in the furnace of God’s love’ (p.81-82)
Again and again we find the people involved quoting what Foster says or quotes (“Simple Prayer” By John Dalrymple chapt.13).
Where does the Bible speak of any absorption like this, this is Christianizing a mystical experience that is completely foreign, outside the parameters of Christian teaching by the apostles who laid the foundation for the church. This is not only new revelation but unbiblical revelation!
Maybe they did not notice their analogy is flawed, as wood in a fire will eventually burn up and become useless. So be it.
How extensive is Fosters influence inside the church? There are many, too many who can influence others with Fosters practices.
Eugene Peterson, author of The Message Bible says, "Richard J. Foster has 'found' the spiritual disciplines that the modern world stored away and forgot, and has excitedly called us to celebrate them. For they are, as he shows us, the instruments of joy, the way into mature Christian spirituality and abundant life."
In other words he admits he is a participant. What did Foster find exactly? He recovered what the Desert Fathers that lived in the Middle East region and Egypt practiced. Who were influenced by other religious systems and synthesized these practices into their prayers, which also included mantras and meditation. What exactly has Foster recovered? Nothing from Scripture, what he has brought back should have been left buried in the desert sands.
Beth Moore appeared on Be Still DVD in 2006. Featured speakers included Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Max Lucado and many others. Would Beth Moore appear on this project that was all about promoting contemplative praying if she was against it? The DVD’s message was that without contemplative prayer and the state of silence entered by prayer one cannot really know God. The DVD was an intro to those who did not know what this is really about.
Moore on the DVD states “[I]f we are not still before Him [God], we will never truly know to the depths of the marrow of our bones that He is God. There’s got to be a stillness.” Moore is not talking about finding a quiet place to pray but bringing a stillness to the mind to learn. Bones has nothing to do with it, as we know God by the Spirit of God through the word of God. Many who practice this unbiblical method give the impression that the Bible is inadequate, that this method is necessary. This concept of stillness is found all throughout the DVD’s promotion.
“[W]e believe that once you view the Be Still video you will agree that there is no problem with its expression of Truth.” Moore’s ministry, Living Proof offered to send a free copy of the DVD to anyone who receives their email statement and wishes to view it. That brings clarity to what Moore agrees with.
Moore has been on this road for some time as she wrote in in her book When Godly People Do Ungodly Things in 2002 in the section on “Unceasing Prayer”: “I have picked up on the terminology of Brother Lawrence, who called praying unceasingly practicing God’s presence. In fact, practicing God’s presence has been my number one goal for the last year” (p. 109).
Practicing God’s presence is a common cliché in the contemplative movement. In fact Foster states Don’t neglect The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, among the other mystics he recommends on p.72 of Celebration of Discipline (20th anniversary ed.)
He has it in his Suggested Books for Further Study Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach. Practicing His Presence. Edited by Gene Edwards. Goleta, Calif.: Christian Books, 1981. (A helpful
bringing-together of selections from Letters by a Modern Mystic and The Game with Minutes by Laubach and a modern rewrite of Lawrence’s famous The Practice of the Presence of God.)
Beth Moore quotes Brennan Manning from his book Ragamuffin Gospel calling the book “one of the most remarkable books” she has ever read. Manning’s is another promoter of contemplative spirituality. In fact Manning quotes and draws from others that are clearly promoting these methods and others. One needs to do independent research if they are going to watch over their own soul.
I’m not going to list everyone, but there is sufficient evidence that many who endorse and use Fosters new age/eastern meditative practices go beyond denominational lines, some are the charismatic movers and shakers misleading the church. Thus the door has been opened to reshape the church into something it was never intended to be by those who already have accepted eastern ways amalgamating it with their Christianity.
This has become a very concerning problem in pastoral education. We can find these teachings pervasive in Christian Universities, disseminating it to those who attend that will become pastors in the next generation.
Christian Colleges that Promote Contemplative (i.e., Spiritual Formation) This is by no means an exhaustive list. When you find contemplative prayer disciplines (i.e. Foster) you may also find Emerging church interfaith practices alongside it.
J.P. Moreland is a professor of philosophy at Talbot University whom I had enjoyed his philosophy course at the Bible College I was attending some time ago. But that was then, now it is a very different matter.
(The Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care, from the Talbot School of Theology Institute for Spiritual Formation is published twice a year.)
Moreland’s book, Kingdom Triangle, subtitled: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit’s Power, (2007) has on the Acknowledgments page Moreland thanking John Coe, the director for Biola’s Institute for Spiritual Formation. Moreland says that Coe guided him “into spiritual formation and the inner life.” Coe’s program offers a menagerie of contemplative spirituality courses, retreats: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=2105
Dallas Willard wrote the foreword for the book; Moreland calls Willard the mentor he has had for 25 years (p.13). Williard is probably second to Foster in promoting his disciples. For more in depth information see: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=2105
Moreland encourages the writings (and practices) of St. Ignatius Loyola, (p. 156) which is a red light to all who know about the contemplative prayer movement. He says these practices will help us to “cultivate the ability to discern the divine components” within us (what does that mean?) Whatever he may write that is worthwhile is negated by endorsing this dangerous practice.
A 4 part article written by J. P. Moreland on the TrueU website (a Focus on the Family website), says, "People are coming to see that repeated bodily practice in the form of spiritual exercises/disciplines is at the heart of spiritual transformation."
This insinuates a Christian’s life without these exercises has us lack the transformation that we once was taught (accurately) comes by the Holy Spirit and the Word.
Focus on the Family has also spoken favorably on contemplative spirituality endorsing such teachers as Gary Thomas (who teaches mantra meditation) http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16466
Contemplative spirituality has become mainstream Christianity through books and DVD’s, (see www.lighthoustrailsresearch.com/publishers.htm
Books that promote contemplative to be avoided: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=9707 )
And certainly radio programs (see A Fortress of Solitude … Entering the SILENCE Jim Burns President of HomeWord)
The Christian magazines Not only promote him but advertise him. Here are just a few snapshot examples.
2004 People Worth Knowing http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-83/people-worth-knowing.html
2008 A Life Formed in the Spirit http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/september/26.41.html
2009 What Is Spiritual Direction? http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/january/27.30.html
Rick Warren a main promoter, he writes: that spiritual formation is a “valid message for the church” (Purpose Driven Church, p. 127.)
Rick Warren likewise encourages the use of breath prayers, (pp. 89, 299 Purpose Driven Life) and on pastors.com. This is what Foster recommends in his disciplines. Richard Foster states, The most famous of the breath prayers is the Jesus Prayer. It is also possible to discover your own individual breath prayer.... Begin praying your breath prayer as often as possible."
Warren’s Pastors.com website also recommends numerous contemplative practitioners: Brennan Manning, Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster, Thomas Merton, Jan Johnson … the listing is many not a few.
UK Telegraph wrote that Pope “Francis is a Jesuit and his long, arduous formation as a priest was founded on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius.”
After claiming to have seen a vision of the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus (more than once in his life) he went to the shrine of Our Lady at Montserrat in Aragon and became a hermit living in a cave near Mantua (1522) practicing extreme asceticism. He spent his time in rags confessing and scourging himself also helping the sick. “I will follow like a puppy dog if I can only find a way to salvation.”
Afterwards he wrote his Spiritual Exercises. All those trained to become Jesuits are expected to follow Loyola’s ‘Spiritual Exercises’ to the letter. Here is just a glimpse of some of those requirements.
Second Rule: To praise confession to a priest, and the reception of the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar once in the year; Third Rule: To praise the hearing of Mass; Sixth Rule: To praise relics of the saints, giving veneration to them and praying to the Saints; Thirteenth Rule: To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black if the hierarchical Church so decides it.
This Spirituality of Ignatius is often found in Spiritual Formation programs. Loyola founded of the Society of Jesus, the order of the Jesuits, in 1534. One of the missions of the Jesuits was countering the ongoing reformation, to fight the infidels and heretics; those who do hold to Roman Catholicism.
So when we find those who lift up Loyola’s Catholicism or any Jesuit, we should understand what they are about.
Richard Foster, quotes a Jesuit Priest (18th century) on his Be Still DVD. "O Divine Master, teach me this mute language which says so much." Does Jesus teach such a language, do the apostles? This becomes as obvious as Bozo the clowns red nose.
Return home, to whom?
The AJCU Federal Relations Network is the lobbying arm of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universitie. (AJCU) Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities affirms the Pope Francis’ “Ignatian spirituality,” stating that:
“All Jesuits share the experience of a rigorous spiritual formation process marked by a transformative experience with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. To think that the leader of the Catholic Church is one who follows in the tradition of Ignatius, whose life has been devoted to finding God in all things, and who is committed to the service of faith and the promotion of justice, fills me with great hope. This is a great day for the Jesuits and the worldwide Church. (source)
Foster’s influence has introduced a number of practices that the church would have refused years ago, but not now. Because we live in an era of openness it is easily accepted. We now have churches practicing what Jesuits practice from Ignatius of Loyola (as well as the other monastic desert monks of Roman Catholicism).
This is what the Emerging church movement is about. They incorporate practices from other religious systems whose promoters try to fit with and merge into Christianity. The churches who are not discerning are adopting the Emerging philosophy
God’s solution is what he has spoken
1 Peter 2:2 “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby”
2 Peter 3:17-18 “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Where is that knowledge found? In the word; we are not to go within like occultists, mystics do.