Guest Post: Blurring the Lines: If Sola Scriptura is unclear what will come through the gate?


Blurring the Lines

Written by: Nancy A. Almodovar, PhD

If Sola Scriptura is unclear what will come through the gate?

The Apostles Creed drew the first line based upon Scripture which summarized the beliefs which must be held to be called a Christian.

At Nicea the line was drawn to further clarify who was a Christian and who was not in dealing with the Deity of Christ: Jesus is both equally God and Man.

In the days of Athanasius the line was dug even deeper: Jesus is God and Man, co equal, co-eternal, Very God of Very God.

At the Council of Orange that line was placed in permanent ink: This is what you must believe to be a Christian.

In today’s religious world, filled with a mix of enthusiast prophets and their false visions alongside the pseudo-calvinist who prefers to pick and choose what to believe at the schmorgasboard called evangelicalism, there is no longer any line. Gandolf said it best: This far and no farther. How far do those who hold to orthodox Christianity remain silent as the enemy routes the camp and pillages the faithful of their assurance and faith? How long do we permit the blurring of lines?

When the reformation occurred the Lutherans, Dutch, Swiss, French, Hungarian, British and Irish Reformers drew the line in the sand again: This must be believed in order to be a true Christian. Somewhere the guards began to fall asleep. They began to permit those with a history of visions and dreams to help “inspire” them onto a deeper walk with Christ. Slowly the mystical practices of the Romanists like Madam Guyon and Brother Lawrence were taught as ways to holiness and perfection. Then came the decisionalists and their free will which eventually led to a God of their own making who didn’t know the future and was subjected to His creatures. These lines which had marked out the true Church from the false began to be erased. The people clamored for popular preachers and teachers, kings of their own instead of The King of kings. They cried for their stew just like Esau and sold their birthright.

However, some of the old guard stood firm and fast refusing entry into the cities of refuge, the Confessionally reformed churches. So, the deceiver switched tactics. No longer wishing to erase the lines, which always alerted the faithful to defend the walls, they decided to blur them. Why not take on some of the language of the citizens and dress up like them in their books and on their videos. Why not look like them, talk like them, worship in a similar manner with a little more excitement added in. So they took the name of the most famous reformer and clothed themselves in sovereign election, irresistible grace and perseverance and declared themselves citizens of the king but from a far off country. Disarmed the citizens let them in the front gate welcoming them as brothers and sisters of the Reformation but from some long-lost family line. The deception had blurred the lines and they were in.

Over the next few years they spent their time teaching their form of Christianity and placed the Scriptures, formerly the only rule of faith and life, aside for some personal visions and dreams and messages from the King that they could hear in their hearts, for who can judge what is in your heart? After all, only God knows what is there. Slowly, the Book which had guided the citizens of the city of refuge was put away for a more contemplative way of the master. As the pseudo-citizens offered morsels sweet to the taste, some citizens were deceived and ate, forsaking their teachers from the past such as the Heidelberg and Westminster Catechisms. But soon, that which was sweet became bitter. Something was wrong but because they no longer looked to that old dusty book they simply asked for more morsels hoping the sweetness would assuage that bitterness.

Then the time came for these foreigners, now called fellow citizens to exact the fullness of their plan. They began to bring in their pets. But they were not pets they were timber wolves who teeth were set to destroy. They were wolves looking to devour even the elect in the city and tear their assurance to shreds, their teeth sharpened to sink into any defender against them.

But God had not left these citizens. Knowing the attacks would come, there were those who had once lived in the cities outside of the reformed and had been converted, granted citizenship in the City of Light, who were aware of the tactics of the enemy and would know from a single bark whether it was simply a pet or a timber wolf. As the Pseudo-calvinists began to bring in their pets, the Ex-Outsiders recognized the sound, the taste and the smell of that which would attempt to slaughter the citizens. They warned, they fought, they pleaded. No longer would the lines be blurred.

The citizens would be awakened again, their eyes opened to the danger, and the lines redrawn along the ancient paths. God would not have His Bride slaughtered or destroyed. He had promised the very gates of Hell would not prevail and would protect and preserve Her throughout all the ages.

The battle is fierce and each generation must sharpen the line between the true citizen of the Kingdom of Light and those whose father is the father of lies and dwell in the kingdom of darkness. The lines must not be blurred and therefore, each generation must again clear the path so that they may:

“Stand by the roads, and look,

and ask for the ancient paths,

where the good way is; and walk in it,

and find rest for your souls.

But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

Jeremiah 6:16

Time to dig in and draw the line to the ancient path of God’s Word truly being the sole, unique, and only revelation of His will for our lives. It is time, brothers and sisters, to once again clarify what we believe and where that line is. Time to stand up and say, while defending the line: This far and no farther. I pray, God grant His children the strength and grace to hold the line and that He will give sight to those He wills. His children may take solace that He will send faithful guards who will hold the line and not blur it for His children.

Trust His promise to: establish you and guard you against the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 (ESV)

Advertisements

When Gracie And Truthie Meet Tolerance And Ear Tickling


I am sure by now if you follow the blogosphere at all with regard to evangelicalism, you are aware of the controversy surrounding Andy Stanley, pastor of Atlanta’s North Point Community Church.  Plenty has already been said and plenty more I am sure is coming.  Al Mohler’s article was the first that I read and after viewing the sermon in question (see the 24:30 mark of sermon 5 Titled: When Gracie Met Truthie), I have to say, I really can’t believe there is any backlash from the Christian community against Al Mohler’s article?  Have we really reached the state in the American evangelical world when asking questions and raising concerns over the interpretations of Scripture by a  pastor of Mr. Stanley’s influence and notoriety is the most egregious of all sin?  Well, that is just absurd and contrary to the Scriptures.  Did not John the Baptist call for the leader of the Jewish Kingdom to repent of his open and flagrant sin?  Did not John the baptist call for all those wishing to become part of the Kingdom of God to show forth fruits of repentance?  Is there absolutely no need to be repentant of sin any more and still be considered a Christian?  Surely, this is a sign of these last days in which we live.


While Mr. Stanley rightly assesses the sin of adultery in this situation, he disobeys the Word as a shepherd in that he winks at the sin of homosexuality and he also fails to properly administer church discipline and show love toward these men and his congregation and reverence for the Word of God.  Mr. Stanley stated that this picture of the “modern family”, as he jokingly calls them,  is a picture of

“the marvelous, glorious, messy, pain-filled, we’ll get through this somehow…microcosm of the church”

Okay, so the big argument is, well aren’t we suppose to welcome everyone to the church? Aren’t we suppose to invite sinners to the church to hear the gospel?  The answer? Yes, of course!  Is that all that is demonstrated in this story?  No!  First of all, what Mr. Stanley is preaching is NOT THE GOSPEL but is rather a message of liberalism that says Jesus died to pay for your sin so you could continue in it.

Now, that I’ve called sin, sin, paid for it and said I don’t condemn you, I want you all to leave your life of sin…‘…and if you don’t, I love you. And if you can’t, I love you. And if the woundedness and the shrapnel of your own sin has left you to the place where you’re not even sure you’ll ever be able to walk away from the complexity of your sin, I love you. And if someone has sinned against you and it has sent you into a spiral of self destructive behavior, that you’re not sure you’ll ever recover from, I love you. And the truth is, you’re a sinner, but the grace is, I don’t condemn you…”

Where is THAT in the Scriptures?  Where is repentance in this message?

John the Baptist declared:

Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Luke 3:8

The woman caught in adultery? Jesus calls her to be repentant.

“Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:10-12

Zachhaeus the tax collector evidences himself to be a child of God by his repentance:

“And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.” Luke 19:5-9

Repentance is an evidence that we have been born again.

Secondly, since Mr. Stanley gives the impression that he considers these people a microcosm of the “church” and since he’s making THAT argument, he negates any argument thrown toward opposers that we are to welcome “sinners” to the church in an attempt to reach them. He is clearly making a distinction that he considers these people to be Christians so whether or not they are members of Northpoint, it is my assertion that Stanley has disobeyed the Word of God with regard to instructions both from Christ and the apostle Paul as to how we are to demonstrate Christian love to sinning brethren. In Matthew 18 Jesus instructs,

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17 ESV).

And in Corinthians Paul CLEARLY and UNAMBIGUOUSLY gives us instructions that we are in fact to judge and admonish and even cast out any “so-called” brother refusing to turn from a lifestyle of open and rebellious sin.

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:1-13 ESV)-

We know that Paul is not saying that as Christians we will live in sinless perfection for it is clear in Scripture that the Christian will battle with the flesh and sin and will have to daily die to himself. John instructs us in his epistles that,

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:5-10

However, John is certainly not advocating that we cower to this battle with our sin and live an open and unrepentant lifestyle of practicing sin. For in this same letter, he states,

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” 1 John 3:2-6

The whole of Scripture is pointing to the fact that God’s perfect law can not be fulfilled in a way to bring about our salvation and righteousness, except that we receive grace through faith the perfect righteousness of another: our Messiah Jesus Christ. However, having received this righteousness, as Paul asks, are we now to sin all the more so that grace may abound more? God Forbid it!

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
Rom 6:11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Romans 6:1-15

As I see it, Mr. Stanley has shown his hand at this point.

Additional Resources:

Is This Andy Stanley’s Gay Affirming Shot Accross The Bow? (Sola Sisters)

Problems At Andy Stanley’s Northpoint? (Sola Sisters)

North Point Student Ministry Volunteer Application (North Point online source)

Is The Megachurch The New Liberalism? (Dr. Al Mohler)

Andy Stanley Confounds The Church About Homosexuality (Stand Up For The Truth)

Is The Megachurch the New Liberalism? (Chris Rosebrough’s Fighting For the Faith radio show)

Homosexuality, Megachurches and Andy Stanley (Apprising)

Pastor Andy Stanley Responds to Questions Over Homosexuality Stance (Christian Post)

Andy Stanley Avoids Gay Issue in Last Sermon of Controversial 8-Part Series (Christian Post)

The Need for Elders Who Guard Their Flocks (Criticial Issues Commentary, Bob DeWaay)

Thoughts From My Reformed Self: Links to Review of The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard


Okay,
The final computer-generated Yoda as seen in t...
Since I really messed up that intro post let’s just start again.  Here are the links to all the review articles my friend, Cindy, has written thus far on Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy.  Enjoy. 🙂

“The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas Willard: A Chapter by Chapter Review — Introduction

What Happens When Philosophy Professors Write Theology Books

“The Divine Conspiracy” – Review Part 2 – When All Else Fails, Redefine Your Terms

“The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas Willard — Review of Chapter 2: Gospels of Sin Management

A Primer on Pagan Theology as Preface to the Review of Chapter 3 of Dallas Willard’s “The Divine Conspiracy”

Panentheism meets Neo-Platonism With a Dash of Yoda – Part 2 of Chapter 3 Review: “The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas Willard

And the rest to be continued this summer….stay tuned.

Guest Post: “The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas Willard: A Chapter by Chapter Review — Introduction


And her other links are here and here and here and here.  She has not completed the series and plans for it to be a summer project. So I will keep you posted. You know what…I’m going to do another post with all her links and titles, but at least for now this gets you started.
I have written much about Richard Foster and Contemplative prayer as that was my primary exposure to this topic and to Spiritual Formaiton.  However, Dallas Willard, a ministers in the SBC has had as much influence on the modern evangelical departure for Biblical Christianity as Foster has had.  I ran across a sister writing on Foster and asked her permission to share an excerpt of her article here and then direct you to further read her commentary on Dallas Willard’s, The Divine Conspiracy.  Below is the first installment and I encourage you to follow the links to the rest of her review.

Several years ago, a friend of mine, who also happened to teach my Sunday school class, urged me to read The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. He was excited about the fresh view that Willard provided towards the Bible. Years later, I no longer attend the same church as this friend, but still remain in contact with him, as well as other friends from that church who share many of his views. When we have theological debates by email or Facebook, the final point on their part often still seems to be, “You would understand better if you just read The Divine Conspiracy.

So Okay, I’m going to read it.

Considering the size of this particular volume by Willard, it seemed best to record my thoughts in installments. I’ve already read the introduction and already have more to say than I dare put in one post. For the sake of my readers, I will try to be relatively brief, but the introduction is full of his thesis for the entire book, so it is probably the most important “chapter” to examine closely.

Dr. Willard begins by lamenting the shallowness of the Church in America. He complains that the Church as a whole doesn’t seem to be taking Jesus seriously in regards to his command to “make disciples of all nations” and “teach them all I have commanded.” I actually agree with Willard on this point I suppose, and judging from the rest of the introduction, this could possibly be our only point of common ground. But I agree that the average person who confesses Christ has little root to his faith and has been indoctrinated by the World far more than by the Christian faith. But as Willard expands on what he sees as problematic in the Church, we begin to part ways as Dr. Willard departs constantly from God’s Word as the basis for his analysis and his solution.

The Clarity of Scripture and Willard’s Lack Thereof

Under the section of his introduction called “My Assumptions about the Bible”, Willard begins by describing what most theologians would call the “perspicuity of scripture”. Perspicuity is the state of being transparently clear and easily understandable. What is ironic is that the passage where he describes this belief is not, in itself, perspicuous. I found myself giggling at the irony. In the section describing Scripture’s clarity and how it was written for the common man, Willard’s verbiage and logic took a serpentine route across two or three pages, taking several paragraphs to say what I could have said in one very short paragraph. It quickly became clear to me why this book was so long.

I also noticed that Willard frequently forms sentences which were technically grammatical but devoid of any clear meaning. For instance, Willard describes what he saw as the view of Jesus from the first-century perspective:

Jesus himself was thought of as someone to admire and respect, someone you thought highly of and considered to be a person of great ability. Worship of him included this – not, as today, ruled it out.

What does this sentence mean? I think I read it three or four times and was still scratching my head. It seems that perhaps his particular definitions for the descriptive phrases “thought highly of” and “person of great ability”, are much different than what might be their most forthright interpretation, using the basic dictionary definitions of the words they contain. But despite the mental hurdles thrown in my path, several messages came through quite clearly from between the lines. For instance, I found significant meaning from one little phrase in the aforementioned quote. Willard uses the phrase “not as today… “.

Willard the Reformer?

What is Professor Willard saying when he says “not as today”? These three words expose the heart of Willard’s teaching and his attitudes towards what most would consider orthodox Christianity. He constantly implies that we need to go all the way back to the first century to find proper discipleship and worship of Jesus. He did not follow this phrase with any qualifier, such as “in liberal churches” or “in most mainstream denominations”. He gave no qualifier to imply that, at this point in history, there was anyone out there “getting it right”.

This is not the first time I’ve heard Dr. Willard display this attitude. I have heard him say that the Church has been getting the “gospel wrong” for a very long time. In fact, he mentions in his introduction of The Divine Conspiracy some of the same troubling opinions on this subject I heard him use in a recorded interview, though he is less direct in written form. (Here is a link to a page that has a recording of that interview, with commentary by Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian Radio. The part of the program with the interview begins 37 minutes in.)

Willard repeatedly laments, throughout the introduction, that believers today do not see Jesus’ teachings as having any connection to “real life” or having “practical” value. He claims that we are unfaithful to the teachings of Jesus if we arrange our beliefs and life according to a long-range view of things, with our focus fixing on what follows our departure from this world. Here is passage where he says this, though in words again less direct than in his recorded interview (I am really not sure if I would have caught on to what Willard was trying to say, at times, if I had not recently heard this interview.):

The early message [of Jesus] was, accordingly, not experienced as something its hearers had to believe or do because otherwise something bad – something with no essential connection with real life – would happen to them.


Let me first state that there is enough in Richard Foster’s teaching on contemplative prayer to rightly assert his teachings are false and against the Word of God so as I continue to write additional reasons for why I reject him as a legitimate teacher of biblical truths, understand that these are just additional red flags in his teaching that support the assertion that he is a false teacher.

In this post I wish to make a case that his endorsement of spiritual direction and spiritual directors is directly contrary to the Scriptures which teach us that Christ is our only mediator.

Paul in his letter to Timothy clearly states,

1First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the manChrist Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” -1 Timothy 2:1-6

The writer of Hebrews tells us,

14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify ourconscience from dead works to serve the living God. 15Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.16For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established.  Hebrews 9:14-16

23and to the assemblyof the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.  Hebrews 12:23-24

Now, let’s examine what exactly spiritual direction is and why it violates this principle of Christ being our mediator and high priest. According to Renovare’s definition of Spiritual Direction, (I posted the entire definition as found here on Renovare’s site because I think it is important for you to get a real sense of just what it is that Spiritual Direction claims).

Spiritual direction provides an “address” on the house of your life so that you can be “addressed” by God in prayer.  When this happens, your life begins to be transformed in ways you hadn’t planned or counted on, for God works in wonderful and surprising ways.
~ Henri Nouwen, Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith

While the phrase “spiritual direction” may sound a bit lofty, it is simply a relationship through which one person assists another in attending to the presence and call of God in all of life.  Though not always called by this name, spiritual direction has been a vital ministry in many streams of the Church for hundreds of years.

Spiritual direction is for anyone yearning for God.  Sometimes this desire appears as a sense of longing for something greater or a sense of discontent with the status quo.  For others this pining is more focused, rising from a clear understanding that a sense of God’s presence is missing from particular parts of life.

Of course, an underlying assumption and basis for spiritual direction is that God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is actively drawing us into the Eternal Presence.  God is the one, true “director,” working constantly, actively, powerfully in the very midst of our ordinary, everyday routines and life circumstances.  A spiritual direction relationship is one way to help us pay attention to this Divine work.  It interrupts our typical routine long enough to help us notice God’s wooing of us and become more deeply aware of God’s presence with us.The spiritual direction relationship includes a director and directee, with the director often being called a “spiritual director.”  While different directors have different approaches to their practice, typically she takes an active/passive role, simply creating the environment for the direction to take place.  The director intentions to do more listening than talking, asking leading and, sometimes, probing questions as needed and appropriate.  Times of silence are apropos and welcomed.  There is very little actual direction given as this is commonly understood.  Rather, the spiritual director convenes a conversation during which a direction will be determined by the directee and director together, co-laboring with God.  Both directee and director explore together what God might be doing in the areas being discussed.

While the lines may be blurry at times depending on the style of the spiritual director or present circumstances, spiritual direction is different from pastoral counseling.  People usually enter a counseling relationship because something is wrong with life.  Counseling tends to be crisis-oriented or problem-driven.  Solving particular problems or handling specific crises is not the goal of spiritual direction.  The spiritual direction relationship takes the long view.  It looks for how God is working, calling, prodding, and inviting us to new ways of being with Jesus in the midst of our circumstances.  It focuses on building an intimate relationship with God over a lifetime, through all the problems, crises, joys, and blessings.

What else is that but a description of a man or woman attempting to act as the Holy Spirit in another’s life?  Notice it does not say that they come alongside and help you with Biblical understanding or counseling. There is no indication that they are there to help you understand and learn what God has already said in his revealed and closed cannon of Scripture with regard to His will for your life.  It is very clear that their purpose is to guide you into some sort of mystical prayer experience and to somehow interpret for you what it is that God is doing and saying in your life.  I think the most blasphemous assertion is that this person is “co-laboring with God” to help in the direction of your soul as well as the assertion that “Spiritual Direction is for anyone yearning for God”. Notice again, there is no mention of the necessity for this “anyone” to be a regenerated believer in Jesus Christ, no need for being born again, sealed with the Spirit, or regenerated in order to enter into the presence of God.  Again, I stand by my previous articles when I say that Foster does not believe it is necessary for a person to be born by the Spirit into the Kingdom of God, rather he endorses a works based philosophy whereby anyone can enter into a relationship with God via the many extra biblical means that he promotes.

D.A. Carson has written an excellent article explaining some real concnerns with the confusing terminology that is “Spiritual Disciplines”. I highly recommend you give it a read as it really hits on a lot of the concerns I have been writing about with regard to Richard Foster.


http://thegospelcoalition.org/themelios/article/spiritual_disciplines

 

 

 

 

Contemplative Prayer by Gary Gilley


Spiritual formation seeks to lure evangelicals into ancient Catholic and Orthodox contemplative practices in order to draw closer to God, experience His presence, and hear His voice apart from Scripture. In order to embrace this mystical form of spirituality, contemplatives are willing to compromise at virtually every turn. Central doctrines such as sola fide and sola Scriptura are shrugged off as secondary. Methods never found in the Bible as the true means of spiritual growth and of knowing God, are emphasized. And complete heretics such as Thomas Merton are seen as reliable spiritual guides to spirituality. The contemplatives have sold out to Catholic mysticism and abandoned the clear teaching of Scripture. Sadly, in the process many undiscerning evangelicals will follow suit.      Gary Gilley

Gary Gilley of Southern View Chapel is spending the entire year of 2012 reviewing the Spiritual Formation movement. I strongly encourage everyone to read his articles as well as several great book reviews of those involved in this movement. He has recently reviewed contemplative prayer. I also recommend his article on the wildly popular Ann VosKamp book, One Thousand Gifts.

The Justice Conference: Another Ecumenical Emergent Event?


A stitched panorama of downtown Portland, OR a...

Image via Wikipedia

I received a request from a reader to take a look at The Justice Conference 2012 being held in Portland, Oregon this weekend. The reader had some concerns regarding the conference and wanted me to give my opinion. Rather than offer just an opinion, as I am certainly no expert, and for that matter man’s opinions are of little real value,let’s instead view the facts with regard to the conference and a few of the numerous speakers. Then as the Bereans were commended by Paul, let’s compare the teaching of these speakers with the sure truth of the Holy Word of God. As one who continues to observe the various movements occurring in today’s visible church and “evangelical” world (and I definitely use that term loosely in this regard), it is inevitable that trends can be seen in gatherings of this magnitude. Boasting over 60 speakers comprising the pre-conference and conference panel this is no small event.

The theme of the conference: Justice: Love is a Thread states,

Justice is a garment, a billion threads, interwoven, interlocked, knit together with strength and integrity. Pull one thread from the fabric and the garment begins to fray. Pull ten million threads and justice unravels into injustice. The work of justice is to mend the holes injustice inflicts upon the garment. It is a brave, challenging, courageous work and it does not begin with expertise or duty. It begins with love… and love is a thread. The Justice Conference 2012 is the second annual international gathering of advocates, activists, artists, professors, professionals, prophets, pastors, students and stay-at-home moms working to restore the fabric of justice. For some it means speaking. For others it means singing. For some it means going. For others it means giving. For all, it means living with mercy and love. You are invited to come weave your voice and gifts into the conversation. Join us, and discover that in the garment of justice, your love is an irreplaceable thread.

To be fair, nothing in that description boldly declares this is a gathering of “Christians” for the purpose of spreading the gospel so, perhaps, this is just a humanitarian gathering to help facilitate humanitarian efforts, but with the inclusion of the term “prophets and pastors” one does get the impression that there is an intention of representing Christianity in this gathering. Furthermore, when evaluating some of the speakers and their vocations and/or “ministries” clearly the participants see this event as one in which God is “speaking” into the issue of “social justice”.

In the following promotional video we are told,

“The vision is revealed by the light, there like a gift God speaks our calling to create. The same Voice that calls us to make calls us to come.” “We stand as one and give thanks because we believe THE SAME GOD that called us to create and come together is the ONE (emphasis mine) who raises justice from the ground”

So evidently there is at least some implied understanding that this conference is a call from “a Voice” or a “god” of some sort. Additionally, many of the speakers certainly claim to represent the God of the Bible. Such speakers include,

Francis Chan, author of books, Crazy Love and Forgotten God, and founding pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California, and is the founder of Eternity Bible College.

Walter Brueggemann Old Testament scholar, author, and featured speaker at a 2004 Emerging Theological Conversation at All Souls PCA Church in Decatur

Shane Claiborne, described on his website as: Bestselling Author, Prominent Christian Activist, Sought-after Speaker and Recovering Sinner

Lynn Hybels, wife of pastor Bill Hybels of the large seeker sensitive church, Willow Creek

Certainly based upon those represented here, one can only assume the “voice” or “god” being represented is that of the Holy Bible. So having made this conclusion, let’s look further at the doctrinal fruit, if you will, of some of these speakers, authors, and pastors. We are certainly told in Scripture to test every spirit that claims to represent God and the gospel.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

Now let’s examine the fruit of some of these and a few of the other listed speakers.

Of Walter Brueggemann we are told,

“Walter Brueggemann is the world’s most important Old Testament scholar. In passionate prose best described as poetry, Brueggemann exegetes the Hebrew text and reveals God to be squarely on the side of the oppressed. Through countless articles, lectures and over 50 books, Brueggemann has inspired, enlightened and confounded. It takes courage to listen to Walter Brueggemann talk about the systemic injustice that threatens both the vulnerable poor and the shaky witness of the Church, and even more courage to invite this 21st century Jeremiah to speak at a conference titled Justice.”

So what does Mr. Brueggemann, the Old Testament scholar, think of the God of the Old Testament which, incidentally, IS THE SAME GOD of the New Testament? Walter Brueggemann, has stated that “God is a recovering practitioner of violence.” Wow, Mr. Brueggemann, so at what point did God recover from this “violence”? Was there a therapist to help Him work through that? Isn’t that akin to accusing God of having a flaw in His nature that required some form of improvement?

Miroslov Volf – is one of the key architects of the “Loving God And Neighbor Together: A Christian Response To A Common Word Between Us And You” document (an ecumenical document that claims that Muslims and Christians have the same God) – from “A Common Word”

“Indeed, together with you we believe that we need to move beyond “a polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders” and work diligently together to reshape relations between our communities and our nations so that they genuinely reflect our common love for God and for one another.”

So, is there now a “common love” for the God of the Bible and the god of Muslims or other religions? Do we all serve the same God? According to Mr. Volf Muslims and Christians do serve a “Common God”

“The Jews worship God without acknowledging God’s Trinitarian nature; Christians worship God while acknowledging God’s Trinitarian nature. Both cannot be right about God’s Trinitarian nature, but both can worship the same God. The same holds true of Muslims.”

Is Jesus a deity in the Muslim faith or just a good teacher? Are there multiple paths to the same god? Do other religions view Jesus as John describes Him?

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Dr. Christina Cummingsformer abortion doctor and director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Pasadena, CA.who now speaks about healthy eating and holistic medicine. Contact has been made to inquire as to whether she has had a conversion to Christianity and repented of her former life as an abortion doctor and director of Planned Parenthood clinic. We are still awaiting a response.

Rev. Dr. Randy S. Woodley is Distinguished Associate Professor of Faith and Culture and Director of Intercultural and Indigenous Studies atGeorge Fox Seminary in Portland. He is an author, teacher, poet, activist, former pastor and missionary, missiologist and historian. Dr. Woodley is a Keetoowah Cherokee Indian, leading a local indigenous gathering at his home in Newberg, Or.

Mr. Woodley speaks on his blog about his working relationship with Mr. Brian McLaren, Emergent Church Leader, and denier of the atonement of Jesus Christ and writes articles for the Emergent Church blog, The Emergent Voice.

Lynne Hybels, wife of Bill Hybels pastor of Willowcreek Church, a leading seeker sensitive church that has quickly gone the way of New Age Mysticism and heavily promotes and teaches Spiritual Formation, writes on her blog about prayer,

“What I received as an answer to my prayer about prayer was a visual image of the spiritual realm. In this picture, there were thin wire tubes, not unlike electrical conduits, twisting and turning throughout the spiritual realm, connecting God with people and people with God and people with people (sometimes I see freeways and clover leafs). The loving, healing, transforming, embracing, challenging, pure power of God is flowing out from God all the time along these spiritual conduits (because it is, in fact, God’s nature to be always giving out what is good). But here’s the catch: the conduits along which God’s power flows are made of our prayers. Each prayer we pray creates another conduit along which the power of God can flow into the world that so desperately needs it. I don’t know why our prayers create the conduits. That God would choose to shrink his divine energy into bits of power tiny enough to fit the frail, twisted conduits of prayer we offer seems ludicrous. Perhaps God values teamwork and community far more than we realize. At any rate, according to the picture in my head, that’s just the way things work in the spiritual realm. -Lynne Hybels

A quick scan of Ms. Hybels’ blog includes the following book titles that she is reading:

  • Centering Prayer in Daily Life and Ministry, Edited by Gustave Reininger
  • A Christianity Worth Believing, Doug Pagitt
  • The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard

And lastly, but certainly not least or exhaustive with regard to the over 60 speakers of this “Justice” conference is a speaker of great interest and concern with regard to the true gospel of Christ, Mr. Shane Claiborne. In a conversation with emergent leader Tony Compolo, we see just exactly what Mr. Claiborne believes about the gospel of Jesus Christ and Muslims.

SC: Both Muslims and Christians are very evangelical in the sense of desiring others to come to faith in their God. When we talk about inter-religious cooperation, does that mean that we need to stop trying to convert each other?
TC: We don’t have to give up trying to convert each other. What we have to do is show respect to one another. And to speak to each other with a sense that even if people don’t convert, they are God’s people, God loves them, and we do not make the judgment of who is going to heaven and who is going to hell. (emphasis mine)
I think that what we all have to do is leave judgment up to God. The Muslim community is very evangelistic, however what Muslims will not do is condemn Jews and Christians to Hell if in fact they do not accept Islam.
SC: That seems like a healthy distinction—between converting and condemning. One of the barriers seems to be the assumption that we have the truth and folks who experience things differently will all go to Hell. (emphasis mine) How do we unashamedly maintain a healthy desire for others to experience the love of God as we have experienced it without condemning others who experience God differently…

What do the Scriptures say about salvation?

let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. 11 He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:10-12 (NASB)

In this issue of Esquire Magazine, Mr. Claiborne, apologized to unbelievers for the way in which believers in the past have misrepresented Jesus and Christianity.

“I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians”

“I was recently asked by a non-Christian friend if I thought he was going to hell. I said, “I hope not. It will be hard to enjoy heaven without you.” If those of us who believe in God do not believe God’s grace is big enough to save the whole world… well, we should at least pray that it is.”

Mr. Claiborne, this could have been a good time to share the gospel, but since it is clear you feel that it’s not for us to judge or pronounce judgments on anyone or to obey the clear mandate of the great commission, for the sake of your friend, “I hope” he looked elsewhere for his answers.

Let me remind my readers what Scriptures say about ALL MEN. It is not that we are pronouncing any judgments upon anyone, but rather clearly heralding the Word of God which states that NO MAN is good and that all are under condemnation apart from Christ. This is not the judgment of man; this IS the judgment of God.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18

In closing, what is my opinion of The Justice Conference?

Whatever the stated purpose of the conference is, the obvious implication remains that the ecumenical nature of this gathering is to, yet again, further blur the lines between true theological conviction based upon a solid Biblical understanding of the objective truth of the Holy Bible and the true gospel of Jesus Christ with the softer, mystical, subjective, and tolerant “new kind of Christianity” of the Emergent Church.

I leave you with this charge from the apostles Paul and John:

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed Galatians 1:8

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. 3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully 2 Corinthians 11:2-4

Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. 2 John 1:9-11

Gary Gilley has recently written some articles dealing with the Social gospel movement that might also be of interest to you.

Social Gospel part 1

Social Gospel part 2

Richard Foster Promotes Spiritual Direction: Another Mediator


For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 1 Timothy 2:5

Spiritual direction provides an “address” on the house of your life so that you can be “addressed” by God in prayer. When this happens, your life begins to be transformed in ways you hadn’t planned or counted on, for God works in wonderful and surprising ways.
~ Henri Nouwen, Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith

My final post (certainly not my final area of concern) regarding Richard Foster deals with his promotion of Spiritual Direction. The above quote is taken from Renovare’s site on Spiritual Direction. The Henri Nouwen Society describes Nouwen’s spirituality as follows,

“Henri Nouwen was a spiritual thinker, a synthesist and one of the first in our time, along with Thomas Merton, to consciously develop a “theology of the heart” and to lay this down as a template for both clergy and lay persons. Henri had an unusual capacity to write about the life of Jesus and the love of God in ways that have inspired countless people to trust God more fully.

He showed, and continues to show, a generation of ministers, teachers and seekers how one’s gifts are to be placed at the service of those whom God places in our path. He gives us a model for building the kinds of relationships and communities that will allow each person to find his or her personal mission.

As Merton before him, Henri always stressed the relational. He writes very directly about our contemporary longings for meaning, belonging, and intimacy and, at the same time, integrates this with a powerful vision of service and social justice. Fr. Nouwen often used the three core themes of solitude, community, and compassion to help people enter into a fresh vision of the spiritual life.

“I believe you can look at solitude, community, and ministry as three disciplines by which we create space for God. If we create space in which God can act and speak, something surprising will happen. You and I are called to these disciplines if we want to be disciples.
–Henri J. M. Nouwen

As a side note, you will find books by Henri Nouwen recommended by Rick Warren’s Saddleback under the “spiritual formation” heading. (along with a few other questionable authors-but that’s a post for another day.) Of course, we must also point out what is said of Thomas Merton,

“During his last years, he became deeply interested in Asian religions, particularly Zen Buddhism, and in promoting East-West dialogue. After several meetings with Merton during the American monk’s trip to the Far East in 1968, the Dali Lama praised him as having a more profound understanding of Buddhism than any other Christian he had known. It was during this trip to a conference on East-West monastic dialogue that Merton died, in Bangkok on December 10, 1968, the victim of an accidental electrocution. The date marked the twenty-seventh anniversary of his entrance to Gethsemani.”

On Richard Foster’s ministry site, Renovare, we read the following about Spiritual Direction,

“The spiritual direction relationship includes a director and directee, with the director often being called a “spiritual director.” While different directors have different approaches to their practice, typically she takes an active/passive role, simply creating the environment for the direction to take place. The director intentions to do more listening than talking, asking leading and, sometimes, probing questions as needed and appropriate. Times of silence are apropos and welcomed. There is very little actual direction given as this is commonly understood. Rather, the spiritual director convenes a conversation during which a direction will be determined by the directee and director together, co-laboring with God. Both directee and director explore together what God might be doing in the areas being discussed.”

The first obvious question to be begged is, “Is this Biblical?” What Scriptural support is there that anyone needs to be a co-laborer with God to help another “explore what God might be doing” in the areas discussed? Certainly, seeking Godly counsel is spoken of in Scripture.

Proverbs 11:14 tells us,

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls,
but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

Is that perhaps all this is? Is this simply seeking a counselor to aide in making wise and godly decisions in life? Well, let’s let Renovare answer that question.

While the lines may be blurry at times depending on the style of the spiritual director or present circumstances, spiritual direction is different from pastoral counseling. People usually enter a counseling relationship because something is wrong with life. Counseling tends to be crisis-oriented or problem-driven. Solving particular problems or handling specific crises is not the goal of spiritual direction. The spiritual direction relationship takes the long view. It looks for how God is working, calling, prodding, and inviting us to new ways of being with Jesus in the midst of our circumstances. It focuses on building an intimate relationship with God over a lifetime, through all the problems, crises, joys, and blessings.

So Spiritual Direction is NOT pastoral counsel or Biblical guidance. Okay, what is it then? We know Henri Nouwen has told us it is putting an “address” on the house of our life. So, does this mean that God can’t find me if I don’t practice this discipline? Does this mean He needs the help of this “spiritual director” to “co-labor” with Him to assist Him in finding His children?

In the account of Zacheaus in Luke, Zacchaeus confesses, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” Luke 19:8b after which Jesus declares: “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:9b-10

Here we see a confession of repentance and a declaration by Christ that Salvation has come to the house of Zaccheaus since Zachaeus’ confession has revealed him to be a son of Abraham. We see Jesus declare that He came to seek and save the lost. Jesus didn’t need any help from a co-laborer to find the house of Zacheaus. Jesus doesn’t need a co-laborer today to find any of His children. Christ is the Sovereign God and Creator of the Universe, and His children hear His voice. He needs no help from anyone to find the “address” of His children.

To further emphasize that this “spiritual direction” is not one in which a brother or sister in Christ is assisting another brother or sister in counseling or guidance from a perspective of Biblical wisdom, read the following guidelines for appropriate spiritual direction:

Other items for consideration include:
• Direction sessions are usually one hour in length, once per month and can be held anywhere conducive to intentional conversation—a quiet office, coffee house, or park bench.
• The director may or may not give the directee a spiritual practice to work with between sessions.
• There is a place for group spiritual direction, but the classical model and that in mind here is the one-to-one interaction between director and directee.
• Many spiritual directors will discourage the relationship extending beyond the direction sessions so that they might remain objective and not get caught up in personal feelings and opinions.

So clearly this is not a situation where Godly counsel and brotherly edification, encouragement, admonition, and prayer support is taking place. No! This is mediation; plain and simple! This is seeking a human being to act as a mediator between you and God. That, my friends, is strictly forbidden by Scripture! And why not? Why do we NEED a mediator when we have Jesus Christ, the great High priest?

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 1 Timothy 2:5

how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9:14-15

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly[a] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Nancy Almodovar, author of, A Modern Ninety-Five: Questions For Today’s Evangelicals, writes in Through the Doctrines of the Bible in a Year,

“Scripture also guides us in our daily lives. Many people wonder what they are supposed to do with their lives and look for signs and visions or someone coming to them telling them, “God told me…” But that would mean we still needed a mediator to arbitrate between us and God in order to “hear” from God. Our gracious heavenly Father has not left us in the hands of others but has given us all things necessary for life and godliness.”

John Calvin’s commentary on 1 Timothy 2:5 so clearly lays out the problem with Richard Foster’s and others’ endorsement of using some human “spiritual director” as a mediator between us and God.

“When he declares that he is “a man,” the Apostle does not deny that the Mediator is God, but, intending to point out the bond of our union with God, he mentions the human nature rather than the divine. This ought to be carefully observed. From the beginning, men, by contriving for themselves this or that mediator, departed farther from God; and the reason was, that, being prejudiced in favor of this error, that God was at a great distance from them, they knew not to what hand to turn. Paul remedies this evil, when he represents God as present with us; for he has descended even to us, so that we do not need to seek him above the clouds. The same thing is said in Hebrews 4:15,

“We have not a high priest who cannot sympathize within our infirmities, for in all things he was tempted.”

And, indeed, if this were deeply impressed on the hearts of all, that the Son of God holds out to us the hand of a brother, and that we are united to him by the fellowship of our nature, in order that, out of our low condition, he may raise us to heaven; who would not choose to keep by this straight road, instead of wandering in uncertain and stormy paths! Accordingly, whenever we ought to pray to God, if we call to remembrance that exalted and unapproachable majesty, that we may not be driven back by the dread of it, let us, at the same time, remember “the man Christ,” who gently invites us, and takes us, as it were, by the hand, in order that the Father, who had been the object of terror and alarm, may be reconciled by him and rendered friendly to us. This is the only key to open for us the gate of the heavenly kingdom, that we may appear in the presence of God with confidence.

I think one of the fundamental issues with Foster as I continue to read his teachings and writings is he is so opposed to the total depravity of man, that he must contrive to use all manner of other methods to get to God rather than the simple gospel message of repent and believe. I’ve outlined this problem in his theological understanding here and here.

Calvin goes on to state in his commentary on 1 Timothy 2:5, ”

Hence we see, that Satan has, in all ages, followed this course, for the purpose of leading men astray from the right path. I say nothing of the various devices by which, before the coming of Christ, he alienated the minds of men, to contrive methods of approaching to God. At the very commencement of the Christian Church, when Christ, with so excellent a pledge, was fresh in their remembrance, and while the earth was still ringing with that delightfully sweet word from his mouth,

“Come to me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28,)

there were, nevertheless, some persons skilled in deception, who thrust angels into his room as mediators; which is evident from Colossians 2:18. But what Satan, at that time, contrived secretly, he carried to such a pitch, during the times of Popery, that scarcely one person in a thousand acknowledged Christ, even in words, to be the Mediator. And while the name was buried, still more was the reality unknown.

Now that God has raised up good and faithful teachers, who have labored to restore and bring to the remembrance of men what ought to have been one of the best-known principles of our faith, the sophists of the Church of Rome have resorted to every contrivance for darkening a point so clear. First, the name is so hateful to them, that, if any one mentions Christ as Mediator, without taking notice of the saints, he instantly falls under a suspicion of heresy. But, because they do not venture to reject altogether what Paul teaches in this passage, they evade it by a foolish exposition, that he is called “one Mediator,” not “the only Mediator.” As if the Apostle had mentioned God as one out of a vast multitude of gods; for the two clauses are closely connected, that “there is one God and one Mediator;” and therefore they who make Christ one out of many mediators must apply the same interpretation in speaking of God. Would they rise to such a height of impudence, if they were not impelled by blind rage to crush the glory of Christ?

There are others who think themselves more acute, and who lay down this distinction, that Christ is the only Mediator of redemption, while they pronounce the saints to be mediators of intercession. But the folly of these interpreters is reproved by the scope of the passage, in which the Apostle speaks expressly about prayer. The Holy Spirit commands us to pray for all, because our only Mediator admits all to come to him; just as by his death he reconciled all to the Father. And yet they who thus, with daring sacrilege, strip Christ of his honor, wish to be regarded as Christians.

In addition to the violation as Christ being our ONLY MEDIATOR, I invite you to watch this PBS documentary on Spiritual Direction. I apologize as the video won’t embed properly in my post for some reason (WP experts I invite your help :), but please just follow the link. You will quickly see that the real aim of Spiritual Direction is a combining of ALL FAITHS into one. In this video you will hear the following:

“SEVERSON: At this spiritual retreat, they learn how different faith groups reach out to God, including the Muslim prayer of Salat, always facing Mecca five times a day.

RAHMAN: An Islamic prayer is essentially about praising God and thanking God, and when we bow to God, the wonderful saying is: one prostration of prayer to God liberates you, frees you, from a thousand prostrations to your ego.

SEVERSON: The Sufi’s whirling dervish, performed here by Reverend Karen Lindquist, the Interfaith Church’s co-founder, is also a mode of prayer, although it requires a life-long commitment.

FALCON: One of the benefits of ritual is it gives us a form, for example, the ritual of prayer. But every ritual that we do in our lives also has us going on automatic. So there comes a time where I might be doing it outwardly, I might be saying the words, but I’m no longer conscious of them.

Woman speaking at retreat: “Months later, I realized it was an act of surrender to God, that my life is not in my own hands.”

SEVERSON: A common theme among spiritual directors is that first it’s necessary to value and love oneself as God’s creation.

MARQUIS: So what I’ve been doing is using the Buddhist prayer to quiet me down, quiet my thoughts down and open myself up, and then the Sufi prayer to just reassure and love my own heart so that I can feel really full and complete, and then from that place I can pray for people that are struggling, people that are sick, people that I feel like need some extra love.

SEVERSON: Even Sister Joyce Cox, in describing her method of personal or centered prayer, finds herself borrowing the language originally of the ancient Indian Vedic tradition.

COX: What I do in centering prayer is I choose a mantra, which is my sacred word, doesn’t have to have any meaning for me. What I simply do is return to that sacred word as a method of intention and just sit.

SEVERSON: Liz Ellmann says it’s a sign of our times that so many people have turned from searching for material things to the pursuit of spirituality, and, she says, it’s a good thing.”

Brothers and sisters, we’ve no need of another mediator: dead or alive. We know that these men and women fumble around in the dark trying to discern the spiritual things because the natural man can not discern them, but this ought not be so of us who have been bought by the blood of Christ and given every spiritual blessing. I pray that my brothers and sisters will consider the gravity with which you ought to take your responsibility to study and know the Word of God in this dark age of falling away and apostasy. Be on guard and verify EVERY THING that you are being told is from God. Test ALL THE SPIRITS. Do not believe because someone can point to a so-called “rich tradition” of prayer or practice, that it is a “tradition” that is grounded in the Word of God. Be warned and turn from the evils of contemplative prayer, lectio divina, and spiritual formation. Do not be dragged back to Rome, but study to show yourselves approved dear ones.

I also point you to several other resources for your own research into the true intent of Spiritual Direction. It is most certainly not of the Holy Spirit for we know that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is this:

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. John 16:13-14

Additional direct sources for Spiritual Direction:

Renovare

Yukon Angel Productions

Religion & Ethics

Spiritual Directors International

Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

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.