Does Richard Foster TeachTotal Depravity And Salvation By Grace Alone: A Follow Up

As I began to prepare my final entry on Richard J. Foster, Living Spiritual Guru, Quaker, and founder of Renovare’, 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. (begs the question who is the “and those” that can have a deeper connection with God besides Christians), I found myself feeling the need to add a follow up post to Why I Believe Richard Foster Is A False Teacher: Reason 2: Denies Total Depravity and Salvation By Grace Alone.

In Why I Believe Richard Foster Is A False Teacher: Reason 1: Centering Contemplative Prayer , we discussed the dangerous practice of contemplative prayer and it’s unbiblical eastern mystical roots. We also covered in greater detail the dangers of Contemplative prayer in, Are You Bowing To The Golden Calf of Mysticism? If you still need further evidence that the end result of contemplative prayer is a satanic one, watch Fr. Thomas Keating tell us in the following video that the final destination of contemplative prayer is, “that we not only become God, but are God”.

A quick search for the name, Thomas Keating, on Renovare’s ministry page yields this plethora of recommendations to look to Thomas Keating as a resource for contemplative prayer.

In Why I Believe Richard Foster Is A False Teacher: Reason 2: Denies Total Depravity and Salvation By Grace Alone,we reviewed some statements made by Foster in various articles he has written over the years and determined that clearly Foster believes there is something man must do in order to receive the Kingdom of God. Foster says,

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.”

What is missing so often in Mr. Foster’s descriptions of salvation, the need for repentance and spiritual rebirth. When salvation is discussed it is wrapped in such scripture twisting lingo, that it is nearly impossible to detect exactly how it is that Mr. Foster believes a man is justified before the Lord. It is apparent, however, that Mr. Foster has a misunderstanding of man’s totally depraved nature with regard to salvation as well as a misunderstanding of the reason for the cross. In an article written in 1977, entitled, “The Day God Died” Foster writes,

“Now the usual notion of what Jesus did on the cross runs something like this: people were so bad and so mean and God was so angry with them that He would not forgive them unless somebody big enough could take the rap for the whole lot of them. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It was love–not anger–that brought Jesus to the cross. He saw that by His vicarious suffering, he could actually internalize all the evil of mankind and so heal it.”

Nothing could be farther from the truth? Does the Scripture say nothing of the wrath of God against the sinfulness of man?

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience Ephesians 5:6

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:8-10

The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the

wrath of God abides on him. John 3:35-36

His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it andbe satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Isaiah 53:9-11

This is basic fundamental Christianity 101.

Later in a paper written for Theology Today in 2004 entitled, “Salvation Is For Life”, Mr. Foster muddies the water further when he states,

“Now all of this new life comes to us by the grace of God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith”, says Paul, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9) Grace is the action of God bringing to pass good things that we neither deserve nor can accomplish on our own. It is this tremendous dynamic of personal experience in which the reality of God’s life enters in to what we are doing and feeling and thinking, and the grace-filled power of Jesus life moves into every aspect of our own. Grace is, of course, “unmerited favor”, but the form it takes is NOT USUALLY A “CREDIT” TO OUR ACCOUNT. No, the form it MOST COMMONLY TAKES is an interactive relationship between God and us: God’s initiating action and our responding action. We know that we have done nothing more than receive a gift.”

Well, let’s see if the Scriptures speak to exactly how it is that this “unmerited favor” is transferred to believers? Is it by this “interactive relationship” of taking on the life of Christ, as Mr. Foster purports as the “most commonly” acquired means or is it that salvation comes from this “not usually ‘Credit[ed]’ to our account” method? Incidentally, I find it interesting that in Mr. Foster’s line of thinking there are some cases where it is merely a “credit” to our account, but that isn’t the “common” way. Perhaps that is how he explains away the salvation of Abraham, in which the Scriptures clearly state,

“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:“BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.” Romans 4:4-8

No, Mr. Foster, I am afraid that it is your words that couldn’t be farther from the truth! Salvation is BY GRACE ALONE through FAITH ALONE to the GLORY OF GOD ALONE!

Make not mistake folks, his teachings and the teachings of his cohort, Dallas Willard, are making inroads into modern-day evangelicalism in a fast and furious manner. Of the four or five ministers I spoke with regarding Foster, only one was able to quickly tell me what he was teaching is not biblical. Several told me his book, Celebration of Discipline, was a “Christian Classic”–now this is the book which contains the following quote:

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)

There is nothing in Scripture either from Christ or the apostles that instructs us in any way shape or form to practice such forms of so-called ‘prayer’. Nothing Folks! There is nothing classically “Christian” about this man’s instruction. Listen carefully in as Richard Foster says, “This Zoe (life) is built into the very DNA of who we are as beings created in the image of God it is an inward principle and it will do it’s work” he goes on to say, “there is also a principle of death within us that stems from the fall and it is warring against the principle of life”.

The Bible tells us as a result of the fall, we have all received complete spiritual death. There is no zoe life in our DNA spiritually speaking UNLESS the Spirit of God by grace through faith regenerates us; thereby making us a new creature in Christ.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,Ephesians 2:1-6

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. Romans 5:12-14

To Foster, it seems, salvation is always an ongoing process that is a cooperative effort between us and God. There is no one justification by faith. There is a definite blurring of justification and sanctification, and he can re-label it all he wants, but what he advocates is a justification by works. Be on guard church.


6 thoughts on “Does Richard Foster TeachTotal Depravity And Salvation By Grace Alone: A Follow Up

    • Great post. I agree. The problem I come up against is people not caring. I mean Christians not caring. Apathy is a great obstacle to overcome when talking about these things. Thank you, Doylene

  1. Thank you for this excellent and well-researched post.
    Its so disturbing to see men like Foster and Willard being promoted by both Evangelicals and those in the Reformed camp as well. Donald Whitney, in his book “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” quotes both Willard and Foster frequently, yet few people seem to have an issue with that. That book was even offered on

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

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