Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. James 3:1
Dear Sisters in Christ,
It is with regret and repentance in my heart that I am sending this letter to you. As you know over the past four years I participated in leading and facilitating several Bible studies including specifically authors Beth Moore and Henry Blackaby. This was a great privilege and opportunity, and it was something I enjoyed greatly as I fellowshipped with each of you desired to grow together in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ by the study of His Word.
However, as it has pleased our Lord to reveal to me over the past six months and while I never intended to EVER MISUSE THE WORD or take it out of context in ANY WAY so as to mislead or harm anyone, and while I am not saying that was the intent of the above teachers I mentioned, I have come to realize that my lack of full understanding of God’s Word, in particular with regard to the closure of the Cannon of Scripture and also my irresponsibility in not fully evaluating the above teachers before agreeing to promote or endorse them by leading studies, it is quite possible that I have mislead some of you. For this I sincerely ask your forgiveness and I repent. I have stepped down from teaching at this time as I desire to not take lightly the great privilege and honor it is to teach the Word of God and I recognize that I have much more to learn.
Now as to specifics for what I am referring to, it has come to my knowledge that the above teachers, while I have no intention of judging their hearts or motives, have misused God’s Word and/or aligned themselves up with others who have done so.
Regarding Beth Moore, through a series of circumstances this summer (you can read about it here: https://hearshisvoice.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/104/) I became acquainted with a movement known as, “Spiritual Formation” and in this movement in particular I became aware of a type of prayer being promoted known as “Contemplative Prayer” (also goes by the title “listening prayer” and “centering prayer” also may hear the term “God’s whispers” or listening for that “still small voice”) This type of prayer is touted as being handed down to us by what are known as the “Desert Fathers” which is used to describe many of the monks and priests of the first centuries. While on the surface this prayer seems to be about contemplating our Lord as we pray which would be Biblical, it is in fact a prayer that endorses the notion that in order to really “connect with God’ one must “empty or quiet their minds of all thought” in order to “hear God speak to us”. Many of the proponents of Contemplative prayer go so far as to say that we should learn from those who practice this type of prayer in the eastern religions, such as Hindus and Zen Buddhists. Well, sadly, NO WHERE in Scripture are we ever taught to “empty our minds”. Sure, we are told to “Be still and know that I am God” which is the most popular verse of Scripture used to endorse this prayer, a careful study of Psalm 46:10 reveals that the psalmist is referring to our anxiety and not being anxious about our lives as God is in charge. This passage is not an instruction in prayer at all. In fact, if we study scripture we know that Jesus told us numerous times to be watchful in prayer because we have an enemy that seeks to destroy us. We are told to “renew our minds” by the Word of God, not to empty them.
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. Luke 12:37
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41
One of the leading proponents of Contemplative prayer is a man named Richard Foster. The most dangerous aspect of this teaching and the movement known as “Spiritual Formation” is that there is a blurring of lines between Christianity and other religions. In fact, Mr. Foster, makes no apologies on his ministry website, Renovare, he states the following:
“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.
In his very popular book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster describes an experience of “contemplative prayer” in this way,
“In your imagination allow your spiritual body, shining with light, to rise out of your physical body. Look back so that you can see yourself lying in the grass and reassure your body that you will return momentarily. Imagine your spiritual self, alive and vibrant, rising up through the clouds and into the stratosphere. . . Go deeper and deeper into outer space until there is nothing except the warm presence of the eternal Creator. Rest in His presence. Listen quietly, anticipating the unanticipated. Note carefully any instruction given. With time and experience you will be able to distinguish readily between mere human thought that may bubble up to the conscious mind and the True Spirit which inwardly moves upon the heart. (Foster: 27, 28)”
Sisters, that is NOT biblical prayer! That is called Astral Projection by the New Age movement.
I hope you notice right away that NO ONE BUT CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE BEEN BORN AGAIN BY THE SPIRIT can have a “deeper connection with God”. Mr. Foster is endorsing that ANYONE who desires a deeper connection with God can achieve this connection practicing the many “spiritual disciplines” he endorses which include “contemplative prayer” and other extra biblical means.
What does this have to do with Beth Moore? Ms. Moore participated and endorsed contemplative prayer WITH MR. RICHARD FOSTER in a video on 2006 called “Be Still”. (And Yes I viewed it myself) She unashamedly endorsed contemplative prayer as a means by which we can hear God in our lives and have a deeper connection to God. She also quotes other contemplatives in many of her studies (including one I led with you called, “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things”) such as two men by the names of Basil Pennington and Brennon Manning.
Here are some online references that speak more about Beth’s participation and endorsement in this unbiblical form of prayer.
I highly recommend this video done by former Roman Catholic Priest who was converted years ago and is warning people about this very type of teaching: http://youtu.be/OfI9H1ZajLs
I can provide you much more evidence that Richard Foster who is a Quaker and sadly he is widely accepted as offering Christians much to learn regarding prayer, is not handling the Word of God correctly and in fact, promotes that ANYONE desiring a closer relationship with God can have it. ANYONE: regardless if they are Christian or not. In fact I have started a blog where I am writing about what God has shown me this summer and you are welcome to go there for more information. http://www.hearshisvoice.wordpress.com There is a dangerous movement coming into many evangelical churches and if I were to write to you all that I have learned this past six months, this letter would be even longer. But I am happy to share more with any of you who desire to know and I sincerely hope you will at least consider giving an ear to what I have to say as one who loves the Lord and loves you as my sisters. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will send you as much material as you want documenting my concerns over Richard Foster and the endorsement of him by Beth Moore and others in the evangelical world. And again, I sincerely ask your forgiveness for my not being more cautious myself as to who I endorse or align myself with in teaching.
We are told in the Word several times that when false teachers, as Foster is one, are discovered we are not to promote them, but to flee from their teaching and expose them. By endorsing him and being in his video, Beth Moore is lending a full endorsement to him. Just so you know, I did contact Living Proof Ministries with my concerns, but received no reply. Several others online have indicated that she has been contacted and either has not contacted them back or has maintained that she stands behind her promotion and participation in the Be Still video of 2006.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles CONTRARY TO THE DOCTRINE THAT YOU HAVE BEEN ; AVOID THEM. 18For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. Romans 16:17-`8
I want to also thank a few of you who during the time that I was leading “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things” were alert that something wasn’t quite right and came to me about Beth Moore and her teachings. At that time my discernment skills were not as sharp as they should have been, but your questioning planted a seed that the Lord later used to deliver me from her bad teaching and I hope now to set that straight for you and any others who may have been led astray by me. Again, I am truly sorry.
Now, as to Mr. Blackaby, my concern with him is similar but hinges more on the endorsement that God is still speaking to us and giving us revelations today. LET ME BE CLEAR HERE while, I do not disagree that the Holy Spirit guides us by conviction of sin, bringing to our remembrance passages of Scripture that we have studied, and pointing always to Jesus, I do not believe that the prophetic gifts and visions are still occurring today, Scripture and church history has taught and confirmed via numerous trials over various heresies that these gifts were poured out during the days of the apostles to verify they were from God and for the writing down of the canon of Scripture, but as the cannon was closed, these charismatic gifts ceased. Again we are not taught in scripture to sit in silence and empty our minds in an attempt to “listen to God”
In his book, Hearing God’s Voice, Mr. Blackaby even states this,
“There is nothing more important in life than understanding when God is speaking to you. If you are disoriented to God’s voice, your life is dangerously vulnerable. The Bible indicates conclusively that God does speak to people and that he does guide them in his will. The problem of not hearing from God never lies with God. He does communicate his will. It is not a matter of us searching in vain for God’s hidden will. He readily reveals it to those who show themselves obedient to do it. If you do not hear God’s voice, could it be your heart is not ready to respond to what he says?”
This is pretty typical of Blackaby’s teaching. Indicating that if you don’t “hear God speaking to you” it is a problem with you and probably because you are sinning or unwilling to obey. Well, what if you have searched and confessed every sin you know to do so, and still don’t “hear” God? Who of us is ever completely free from sin? Why do we continue to seek to “hear God” when He has already given us a written revelation for our lives.
It was this teaching that tormented my soul, kept me paralyzed as to how to serve God many times, and caused a class system in thinking that some Christians are just more “holy” than others. Friends, this is simply NOT TRUE. Your heavenly Father loves You dearly and He has given you a closed cannon of Scripture to study and obey. We pray to God using words as He instructed in the Lord’s Prayer, then by the Holy Spirit, does answer our prayers and providentially does guide us, but He uses the Word to do so and He never instructs us that if we aren’t “hearing Him speak” it is because we aren’t righteous enough or haven’t learned the proper techniques to sit in silence and “hear Him”.
Again, I reiterate, I am not at all saying that Ms. Moore or Mr. Blackaby are intentionally misleading folks any more than I was intentionally misleading you. I believe they have the best of intentions in their teaching, but the bottom line is we are instructed in scripture to test everything and to be Bereans and take it back to scripture to see if it is so.
The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, [a]and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, [b]for they received the word with [c]great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, [d]along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. Acts 17:10-12
For some other references to help you understand my concerns over Mr. Blackaby I refer you here:
When Ms. Moore promotes contemplative prayer and silence which is akin to eastern mystical mediation and when Mr. Blackaby threatens Christians that if they aren’t “hearing God” it is because they don’t have a right relationship with God and haven’t rightly learned how to read the signs of circumstances, people, and random Bible reading, they both mislead Christians into a more mystical experiential driven walk with God rather than one built upon solid Bible understanding an Biblical decision making.
I offer a few more articles and videos at the end of this letter for you to read to understand more than I can express in this short letter. If you do not use the internet or have access, please contact me. I am happy to print out these articles and mail them to you. Essentially, this is an issue over what was termed by the Reformers of the protestant Reformation, Sola Scriptura. It means Scripture Alone. It was a fundamental issue that the Reformers stood upon when protesting the Roman Catholic Teaching that men need additional teaching and experiences outside of Scripture in order to fully know how to be saved, how to know Christ, and how to know what He wants for their lives. The Reformers staunchly defended the idea that Scripture is all that is necessary for faith and living. Basing this upon the Scriptures that tell us,
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 PERFECT, THOROUGHLY FURNISHED UNTO ALL GOOD WORKS.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
I want to add that historically, Baptists, have been the ones to stand firmly against the charismatic false teachings that tried to enter the church. I really don’t know what is happening today, but many have sadly been led astray from this foundational truth and are compromising the Word by promoting eastern mysticism as a valuable tool for Christians.
Again, I want to say. I am NOT SAYING the Holy Spirit doesn’t lead us and guide us into God’s providential will. Not at All!! In fact, I truly believe that God is Sovereign and NOTHING HAPPENS that isn’t according to His decree and Sovereign will. What I am saying, however, is that in our prayer life we are never taught to sit in silence to summons God to reveal to us through inner hunches His will for our lives. We are never taught that we can’t make decisions until we know what God is “saying to us” or “revealing” to us. God has already “revealed” His will for every believer in His written Word. The cannon has been closed and all we need is to study it in CONTEXT, obey what we are told which includes renewing our minds and not being conformed to this world, so that by this renewal of our mind and knowledge of the Word, as we go through our lives, the Holy Spirit will guide us and bring to our remembrance Scripture in order to enable us to make wise decisions. But to seek to “hear Him” in some mystical fashion, and worse, to threaten Christians that if they aren’t “experiencing God” in this manner it is likely because of sin or unwillingness to obey, is at best a misrepresentation of the correct way to pray, and at worse tormenting to the soul of a genuine believer longing to follow Christ.
I love you dear sisters and I hope you understand my heart is only to warn you and apologize for not being more discerning in the past. I recognize these are heavy topics and may take you completely by surprise. I only pray, that you will understand my heart is only desirous of honoring our Lord and His Word and in loving my sisters by not refraining to speak the truth in love.
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13
In His Name and For His Glory Alone,
Who is Richard Foster and what is Spiritual formation? These are the articles I’ve written on my blog. There are numerous more citations and reference links should you wish further proof or explanation for my claims.