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.





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:


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.

Lectio Divina– A breaking heart as I see continued compromise

My heart breaks as I continue to see the compromise of the Evangelical church and the counter reformation taking place. Please read prayerfully. All I ask is that you consider history and Scripture. The following is Ken Silvas post in its entirety…but I encourage you to do your own research by following his many links and sources. Pray for discernment brothers and sisters.

Apprising Ministries has been warning for years concerning the evil effects of the neo-liberal in the Emerging Church aka the Emergent Church.

It’s an incontrovertible fact that right from its hatching in hell corruptContemplative Spirituality/Mysticism(CSM), such as that taught by Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mysticRichard Foster along with his spiritual twin and Southern Baptist ministerDallas Willard, was a core doctrine.

Spreading as a spiritual cancer throughout apostatizing evangelicalism, we even see that it’s slithered all the way into the New Calvinst neo-reformed camp e.g. as in Acts 29 Network And Reformed Counter Reformation Spirituality? One of the fruits of CSM is a blurring of doctrinal lines, which is particularly dangerous in this time of postmodernism and growing spiritual blindness.

It’s also giving rise to a rebirth of Pietism; this isn’t surprising when you consider that CSM flowered in the antibiblical monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism. As the evangelical fad of CSM expands there’s a decided charismania also developing, which is producing a syncretism where Word Faith heretics like Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes are essentially considered mainstream now. With all of this has come more and more people claiming to have direct experience with God.

The end result is making the climate more condusive for things like Beth Moore Recommending “Jesus Calling” Book Claiming Direct Divine Revelation. This is the backdrop upon which to better see what’s happening as you watch the video clips to follow below from the Passion 2012 Conference. This conference has been going on in Atlanta, and was largely aimed at young adults and students.

Hosted by Louis Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Passion featured an interesting lineup of speakers such Francis Chan, Beth Moore and New Calvinist mentor John Piper. Not surpisingly the conference had a distinctive charismatic and even contemplative flair; e.g. prayer walking. After one session the crowd was urged to break into “love groups” and go out to pray and “take back the city of Atlanta.”

Years of emerging bombardment of pro-CSM propaganda aimed at younger sectors of the Christian community fired right out of evangelical publishing houses has also had much effect upon the broader culture of the more charismatic/emotion-driven side of the church visible as well. To serve as an illustration, below we have SBC Lifeway-sponsored Beth Moore praising an apostate (at best) Roman Catholic mystic and the crown jewel of CSM.

If you didn’t know, this is a form of meditation in an altered state of consciousness commonly known asContemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP):

Moore’s admitted practice of some form of CCP, which is actually divination, has opened her up to even receive direct revelation and visions from God. Below from a 2002 series called Believing God, available right now at Lifeway’s website, Moore describes a vision God gave her concerning His Church.

Sounding not too unlike Word Faith wingnuts she tells us God took her into some kind of dimension where she was able to see the Body of Christ as Jesus sees it:

Apparently the Protestant Reformation was really some sort of horrible mistake because Moore’s Jesus sees the Roman Catholic Church as another Christian denomination. This becomes clear below as Moore demonstrates what she saw in her vision from God:

Yet despite this obviously false vision ten years ago, there was Beth Moore preaching to thousands alongside New Calvinists John Piper and Francis Chan. I guess we really should expect this because Piper has told us before:“I’m Happy To Learn From Beth Moore.”

Who knows, perhaps he even shares Moore’s view that men like John MacArthur are guilty of teaching extreme error in the Body of Christ:

By the way, the other extreme teaching in the Body of Christ that Beth Moore sees is what she calls “sensationalism.” Something I personally think she’s now become involved in. As I said earlier, the CSM being dabbled with now in mainstream evangelicalism is bringing about a form of Pietism; an emotional, sentimental, emotion-driven form of worship. What you saw at Passion 2012.

Christian apologist Bob DeWaay is dead-on-target as he explains:

Pietism is difficult to define because it can be taught and practiced in an unlimited number of ways. Some versions appear to be innocuous while others are so radical that most people would see that something is wrong. I now know that no version of pietism is actually innocuous. If a teaching is called pietism but teaches no more than what God has always used to sanctify Christians, then it is not really pietism. Real pietism always harms those who embrace it.

The essence of pietism is this: It is a practice designed to lead to an experience that purports to give one an elite or special status compared to ordinary Christians. The Bible addresses this error in the book of Colossians. The false teachers in Colossae claimed to have the secret to a superior Christian experience that would cause people to rise above the bad “fate” they feared. Paul went on to explain that they already had everything they needed through Christ and His work on the cross. Another way of stating this is: If after having fully trusted Christ’s finished work on the cross, you are told that you are still lacking something, you are being taught pietism.

Church history is littered with misguided pietistic movements. Many of them are linked with mysticism… Pietism can be practiced many ways including enforced solitude, asceticism of various forms, man made religious practices, legalism, submission to human authorities who claim special status, and many other practices and teachings.
(Online source)

In closing this, for now, I’ll show you something that gives us real cause for concern in the seeming dangerous drift of Beth Moore and John Piper. Following are clips from Session 5 of Passion 2012 where we were to enter into the silence to let God speak to us, not only through Scripture, but directly inside of us as well. However, this is language actually straight out of CSM and can also refer to the TM-lite of CCP.

Beth Moore, John Piper et al each took turns reading from the Book of Ephesians; then they each would ask for silence and say something along the lines of: “Be still and let Jesus speak to you.” This is Beth Moore:

Now John Piper:

Finally, here’s Louis Giglio closing out Session 5. Any doubt about what’s been going on in the silence is dispelled at :20 below. To all but the most naive it will become clear to you that, contra the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura, Giglio is talking about direct encounters with God in addition to Holy Scripture:

How many of you heard the voice of God speak specifically, clearly, directly, and personally, to you? Can you just put a hand up? I’d like you to share it. Can you put a hand up for a minute?

Just want you to look around; that’s people saying, “God Almighty (pause) the Maker of heaven (pause) the one Who’s sitting on the only throne (pause) that’s not under threat (long pause, audience cheers)—He spoke to me. He spoke to me.”

“God spoke to me.” (long pause) Don’t let the voice of the darkness, tell you that you are not (pause) worth (pause) that God would not speak to you. (pause) Don’t let him tell you, you don’t matter. (pause) God spoke to you.

Perhaps this is why more and more in the charismatic camp have been embracing the Roman Catholic Church as another Christian denomination; like Rome, they now also have the Bible…plus…

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Apprising Ministries has been an invaluable resource in staying aware of the movement of Contemplative Spirituality into many churches in the SBC.  This article is another example and is very comprehensive in pointing you to many of the problems with this movement.

“I’ve been monitoring Intel along the Internet Front for years now so I can tell you that a major factor contributing to the rapidly growing apostasy within spiritually spineless evanjellyfish is the spread of Counter Reformation spirituality through Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) ala gurus Dallas Willard and his spiritual twin Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster.

You need to realize that it’s even slithered deeply into the weakened heart of the evangelical community as you can see e.g. in Moody Publishers Publishes Book On Contemplative/Centering Prayer. Because it’s my job, here I’ll tell you again that CSM is not a neutral practice; and know this, my research shows that once someone begins dabbling in this they almost immediately begin to drift away from proper Biblical doctrine.

It is possible to dance in a minefield, but it doesn’t make it a good idea. Sure, to paraphrase Phil Johnson, you can rummage through the garbage and find enough edible scraps to make up a meal; but I’d rather eat one made with fresh food. The church visible is now suffering much from the libertine legacy of the sinfully ecumenical neo-liberal cult operating within the Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church with its postmodern obfuscation.

What seems to have been forgotten, because of the relentless bombardment of EC Humpty Dumpty language, is Jesus tells us to be on our guard against the leaven of false teachers:

Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread?”

“Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:6-12)”

Go here to read more: Apprising Ministries