Does Richard Foster Understand Total Depravity and Salvation by Grace Alone?

“Everyone has a spirit or interior life that we, for the most part, cannot control. “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles,” as Jesus said (Matt 15:18). This spirit is formed in various ways by the lives we live, sometimes by intention. Other times, and arguably more often, by unplanned accident or incident. In so many ways all the days, all the minutes of our lives the spirit that God has given each of us is in formation. We all have a spiritual formation and everything that we encounter plays a role. And, to a certain extent, we are all disciples of someone or something. Unlike many of the ways our spirits are formed we can decide to what we will disciple ourselves. Jesus? Mohammed? A celebrity? A political party? The choices are myriad and endless.
So we all have a spiritual formation. And we are all disciples. The question is: to what will we disciple ourselves for our spiritual formation?” Richard Foster


As we continue to look at Richard Foster, one of the things I want to point out is that my objection to him goes beyond just mysticism. So many equate mysticism with the “relationship” side of our walk as if, without it, we all are practicing dead orthodoxy. I’m baffled at how anyone could believe that “mere words on a page” that just so happen do be words THAT TRANSLATED YOU FROM THE KINGDOM OF DARKNESS TO THE KINGDOM OF LIGHT is somehow dead? Perhaps the many who want to cling to this “experience” of mysticism would rather take the easy route and go in by jumping the gate, rather than by the prescribed methods of entering the kingdom. I believe our Lord spoke about that?

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:1-3

At any rate one of the first things that kept disturbing my spirit when being presented with the philosophy of Spiritual Formation was I never heard the words “repentance” or “born again” as a requirement for getting this closer relationship with God. You will recall in, Spiritual Formation Rude Awakening, I pointed out that Foster’s ministry clearly states on his site,

“Renovaré is a nonprofit Christian organization headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, and active worldwide. We seek to resource, fuel, model, and advocate more intentional living and spiritual formation among Christians and those wanting a deeper connection with God. A foundational presence in the spiritual formation movement for over 20 years, Renovaré is Christian in commitment, ecumenical in breadth, and international in scope.

According to our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, the above statement is a lie since NO ONE can have a “deeper connection with God” EXCEPT Christians!

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. John 6:63-66

In an article located through Renovare’s site we read,

“We are all spiritual beings. We have physical bodies, but our lives are largely driven by an unseen part of us. There is an immaterial center in us that shapes the way we see the world and ourselves, directs the choices we make, and guides our actions. Our spirit is the most important part of who we are. And yet we rarely spend time developing our inner life. That’s what spiritual formation is all about.
Spiritual Formation is a process, but it is also a journey through which we open our hearts to a deeper connection with God. We are not bystanders in our spiritual lives, we are active participants with God, who is ever inviting us into relationship with him.”

“God, you see, hid the kingdom because he wants us to seek it—“Seek first the kingdom of God . . . .” God desires that we desire him. He wants within us an inward disposition of heart to turn toward him. When Jesus said that “hearing people will not hear and seeing they will not see,” he was underscoring the fact that often people simply do not hear or see to the point that they will turn, that they will change their behavior. Their hearts are not prepared to turn.

Then I understood: The kingdom of God is veiled to us because God does not want us to see or understand until we have an inward heart disposition toward God. Without this inward heart disposition the knowledge and power of the kingdom will hurt us rather than help us. It is only when we desire God with all our heart that we can be trusted with the life of the kingdom of God.”


Mr. Foster fails to recognize that the Bible teaches that this “immaterial center” is a completely dead and depraved sinful nature from birth and the only thing it is capable of forming itself to do is sin and sin continuously in the sight of God, unless the grace of Almighty God intervenes. Mr. Foster seems to believe that the kingdom of God is veiled because God “does not want us to see or understand UNTIL WE HAVE AN INWARD HEART DISPOSITION TOWARD GOD” then he says that until we gain this inward disposition, God must hide the kingdom from us because the “power of the kingdom will HURT US”? He says that the reason many people don’t hear or see and turn and change their BEHAVIOR is because they haven’t prepared their hearts to do so. So essentially we must “turn ourselves” so we can receive the “power” of the kingdom.

What does the Bible say?

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16

He is right that we must have an inward heart dispositional change. In fact, we must have a heart transplant, but Who is the One who performs the surgery? The problem with his thinking is that WE HAVE TO change our hearts via the spiritual disciplines. Essentially, WE ARE TO CLEAN UP ourselves before God can “trust” us with the kingdom. Okay, when a dead man figures out how to clean himself up and get ready to be brought TO LIFE, you let me know. This is RANK HERESY! The Bible is clear on how a man is to be saved.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are HIS WORKMANSHIP, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10

11 there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, together they have become useless; there is no one who does good, there is not even one. Romans 3:11-12

Jesus replied, ” I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 “But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”

5 Jesus answered, ” I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. John 3:5-8

So then [it is] not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. Romans 9:16,

“No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, [that is], the Son of Man who is in heaven. John 3:13, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:13

Jesus did not show us the way to the life is by changing our behaviors first. That is works and all our works are as filthy rags to God. He declared that He is THE LIFE and that all who repent and believe will have eternal life. He is the resurrection and the life. Salvation lies in Him alone. Nothing else. We don’t experience the life as we “take on the life” of Jesus…we are given the LIFE when we are BORN AGAIN.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. John 11:25

Mark it down friends. Mr. Foster does not understand the gospel and preaches a completely different gospel than the one our Lord and the apostles taught. The Word of God has an answer for how we are to respond to anyone who comes preaching a different gospel than the one handed down to us and the advice is NOT TO CHEW THE MEAT AND SPIT OUT THE BONES!

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:6-9

7 thoughts on “Does Richard Foster Understand Total Depravity and Salvation by Grace Alone?

  1. Pingback: Why I Believe Richard Foster Is A False Teacher: Reason #3- Spiritual Direction: Another Mediator | My Sheep Hear My Voice

  2. Pingback: Why I Believe Richard J. Foster Is A False Teacher: Follow Up To Reason #2: Denies Total Depravity And Salvation By Grace Alone | My Sheep Hear My Voice

  3. Pingback: A Note Of Repentance To All Whom I Have Taught Or Endorsed Henry Blackaby or Beth Moore | My Sheep Hear My Voice

  4. Great article…especially love the amount of scripture included. That is where the power is, in the scripture, not in many, many words . It is truly an inspiration to see the scriptures put in full text, not just the references. Thanks!

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