Warning Against Contemplative Spirituality

In the short time I have been researching this topic I have been asked repeatedly, what is WRONG with that?  What is wrong with breathing, with meditating, etc. if they “work”?  These methods are wrong because they are not taught in the bible. The fact that they are used by other religions should be enough to scare us away.  As we become more and more bogged down with muddying our own water the truth is getting harder to see.  It is a simple answer – stay away.

Should Pastors Warn Their Congregations About Contemplative Spirituality?

This article taken in it’s entirety from Lighthouse Trails http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/index.php?p=1542&c=1

Lighthouse Trails believes that contemplative spirituality must be addressed head on. Recently, we were contacted by a pastor who told us he did not see the reason to focus on these “negative” aspects (such as contemplative and emerging). He wanted to know why we did what we did. We believe the Bible instructs believers to specifically warn about spiritual deceptions, which means naming names and identifying the deception for what it is. Right now, contemplative mysticism is making its way into virtually every denomination and evangelical group. Does that mean that every church in those groups or denominations has been influenced? No. There are churches who have rightly warned their congregations and together have made the decision that this new spirituality will not be part of their church life. But there are many churches that are ignoring this deception, saying that it is not necessary to talk about it.

This is baffling to us. If pastors don’t want to talk about these things on Sunday mornings, then the least they can do for their people is hold special meetings that address the contemplative/emerging issues and allow the well-informed to teach the less-informed.

As our newsletter and website have been showing for several years, mystical spirituality has gained a foothold in much of Christianity today. In 1992, Newsweek magazine did a cover story called “Talking to God,” which informed its readers that this spiritual practice had gained significant momentum in church life.

The article stated: “[S]ilence, appropriate body posture and, above all, emptying the mind through repetition of prayer-have been the practices of mystics in all the great world religions. And they form the basis on which most modern spiritual directors guide those who want to draw closer to God.” (Newsweek, 1/6/92) Newsweek was reporting on this over fifteen years ago. You can imagine the impact contemplative has had since then.

If the beloved apostle Paul saw the need to warn the flock and exhort Christian “overseers,” then how is it that many of today’s Christian pastors and leaders do not seem to have the same concerns?

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” Acts 20:28-31

22 thoughts on “Warning Against Contemplative Spirituality

  1. Hi Mkayla
    The above article paints a sad picture of the supposed church of Christ.Its one thing to have such discernment lacking among the rank and file of the church, but completely unacceptable to have this same lack of discernment among the “sheperds”.Its only logical that poor discernment leads to even poorer discernment and soon there is nothing left to discern at all .Exactly as the enemy would have it.
    God bless you as you continue to bring these issues to our attention.

    ps , i haven’t had the meeting yet , but i will certainly keep you informed of the outcome.


    • Hi Ray.

      It seems like deception is taking many forms. It isn’t just a matter of the false teachers and prophets and the NAR, but also the buddhist – RC – let’s -all -be- one wannabees. I’m suprised to find this contemplative/emergent thing has been around for as long as it has. Years ago I heard so many warnings against the New Age movement by the church, and yet here it all is right within its walls!

      Good to hear from you again!


  2. Mkayla, it seems like you are really passionate about these topics on your blog.

    What I’m wondering in a completely questioning standpoint, not accusatory or judging, is what should we do with those verses that talk about meditation and such? Should we have a physical pose while “thinking” on these things. Or should we continue with everyday life, while ruminating?

    Just curious…


    • Hi Alan.
      It’s a good question to ask. When we use the word “meditate” we have to keep in mind the meaning of how it is used in Christianity which is different than the eastern religions meaning and practices. What we are doing now is a good example as we take in the fullness of the word of God and His intentions taught in His word.

      Psalm 119:97, 98 Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me.
      It is to consider the commandments of the Lord throughout the day to deal with situations that arise, so that we do so in a Godly manner. v. 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate very false way. Our understanding is through knowing the word of God, not through a mystical or supernatural experience.

      Philipians 4:8,9 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. The things which you learned and recieved and heard and saw in in me these do and the God of peace will be with you. It is to think on the positive rather than the negative and practice the things taught through the Christians of the bible not through another source, finding the peace of God therein.
      Psalm 4:4 Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord. Here there is anger, but in stillness there is no sin because of it. It is a spiritual discipine of our righteousness to be angry and not act out. Or just to say an avoidance of any sin.

      It is good to do a word study and in doing you will find we are not taught the spiritual practice of meditation in a breathing method, repeating the same word or phrase, or taking a specific physical position. Anything not taught in the bible should be avoided. God never intended for his people to use methods taught by other religions which have no place or part in Christianity. Our faith is separate and distinct. The bible teaches us all we need to know, how to pray, how to worship, etc. We are warned against other gospels, false teachers and false messiahs, and are urged to remain pure in our worship and in our lives. To practice methods of the hindus and buddhists, etc. is to open ourselves to demonic influence.

      Thanks for stopping in. I hope and pray this has been helpful to you.


  3. The first time I was exposed to this kind of thing, was at a church around the corner. The pastor said, “Let’s take a moment for creative silence.” I looked at my husband and went, “Whaaaaa?” The rest of the service was very strange and new agey. And that was at some kind of so-called Baptist church!

    It seems like this false teaching has entered a majority of churches in one way or another. some say to think on a word and repet it over on over until you get “peace” or whatever. sorry, I just don’t see it in the Word, however I DO remember when I was in the occult standing on my head and chanting “Ooomm.” Same thing!


    • The pastor of my last church was a big fan of Richard Foster, Dallas Willard and some others. I worked in the bookstore there and we stocked their books. I had no idea what they were really about. It was odd. When I tried to read, at first it would be very interesting, but after a while I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on the words and would just loose interest. Glad it worked that way.

      After we left and I began researching churches I was stunned to find that the Baptist church close to us had a bible study or so they called it using a Dallas Willard book!

      No one is paying any attention to who these guys really are. It’s just like Charismania. It’s like it just sneaks in, like a snake.


      • I just came across this and thought it fit right in with the conversation. This is a clip from an article taken from Apprising Ministries:

        Southern Baptist minister Dallas Willard is Foster’s twin spiritually, who was once Willard’s pastor.

        DeWaay is dead-on-target in his Critical Issues Commentary piece, where he quite capably Biblically dismantles these “disciplines” of neo-Pietism:

        To hear evangelicals like Dallas Willard and Richard Foster tell us that we need practices that were never spelled out in the Bible to become more like Christ or to get closer to God is astonishing… The ideas of total depravity, the wrath of God against sin, the blood atonement, and the cross are either absent or distorted in Willard’s theology. What replaces these truths is the hope that we will realize our potential through tapping into the spiritual kingdom of God. This is to be done by the use of spiritual disciplines to obtain the necessary power to transform the world. The terminology that Willard uses is strange and unbiblical…

        [His] ideas are more akin to Eastern Religion than Biblical Christianity… The spiritual disciplines that are supposedly necessary for spiritual formation are not defined in the Bible. If they were, there would be a clear description of them and concrete list.

        Read the article here: http://apprising.org/2009/07/disciplines-to-deception-in-southern-baptist-convention/

        The article referred to written by Bob Dewaay: The Dangers of Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Disciplines: A Critique of Dallas Willard and the Spirit of the Disciplines found here: http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue91.htm


  4. Amen, M’Kayla.

    When Christ has shed His own blood to reconcile us to God, then it’s a gross error to think that there’s any technique one can employ to ‘reach’ God or get ‘nearer’ to God. or to ‘improve’ ones relationship to Him. Faith alone. And if we are believing He has reconciled us and made us a new creation, His child, then we spend much time thinking about Him and His Word.

    Considering that God is a Person : what would your best friend think if you said to them, I want to know you better so i’m going to try out these techniques on you to see if they work, i will just keep mumbling your name and then maybe i will know you better. ?? Weird?


    • Good point Ian.
      I think there are a lot of people not considering true Christianity. To me, this is just as dangerous as the false holy spririt anointing. Not much different than asking the Holy Spirit to “come”. When did He ever leave?


  5. mkayla and Ian, boy does that hit home! more than once I have been at a Bible study or worship service and hearing people sing or chant, “Come holy spirit, come.” Maybe it’s just me but it remeinded me of having a seance as in INVOKING a spirit. One person even said, “We invoke you holy Spirit.” Sorry, but that just does not set right with me. The Holy spirt is everywhere all ready, right? correct me if i’m wrong here cause i really do want the truth about this. and doesnt it say somewhere (I can not find it, I’ve been looking for it) that when the Holy Spirit comes He will bear withnes not to himself, but to Jesus?


    • Yes, when Jesus explained the coming of the Holy Spirit to His disciples:
      John 16:13-15 “However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak of His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come; 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.


  6. I’m so glad you gave those verses M’Kayla, they really speak to me.

    He will not speak of His own authority…

    Therefore when a spirit speaks thru a person and that spirit is it’s own authority, then we know that spirit is not the Holy Spirit.

    To pluck an example out of the air: the pope in rome. The spirit which speaks thru his mouth is it’s own final authority, it is not submitted to the Father and the Son, and it is an independent authority bcos it’s teaching is independent from scripture and considered greater than scripture.


    • Hi Ian. Glad you were helped here. If you take a look at the article, Holy Spirit Manifestations it gets into all of that. It is a long read, but I felt there was much to address in regards to the false “spirit” against the true One. It could have been even longer had I addressed all the aspects of the Holy Spirit. Hmm…sounds like another article I could write.

      The pope is a good example of the blind leading the blind. Those who follow are convinced of the questionable experiences and claims rather than the pure word of God. Good point you made there!



  7. Thanks for the scripture verse John 16: 13-15 I have marked it down cause it truly speaks. I agree with all what the above have been saying I’m so glad there are others out there who speak and talk the same language, this is such a great site I have under my favourites now. God Bless P.S. No wonder we must pray for Widsom, Good comon-sense and the Holy Spirit everyday, & the suit of armour


  8. Thank you, Mykala, for helping to warn people about this insiduous leaven that is popping up everywhere. Here’s an example of it being accepted at Abilene Christian University:

    Prof. Harris mentions Lebh Shomea House of Prayer in South Texas, participation in Jesuit and Franciscan retreats and trappist monasteries, and a celtic retreat on the Island of Lindesfarne. Check out who they accept as being “in the family of God”: http://www.lebhshomea.org

    Ditto for Shalem Institute. It’s a very upfront ecumenical and all faiths organization, so it’s incredible to me that anyone who has faith in Christ Jesus can fall for this spiritual whoredom.


    • Hello Prodigalknot.

      Thanks for your comment and the links.

      So many have turned from the truth of the word. Jesus taught us how to pray. Why isn’t that enough for those who claim to be His disciples? Do they not understand that in participating in practices of other religions they have gone after other gods? That thought alone should make them cry out in repentance. Instead they turn to these teachers who are like the pied piper leading them to hell. It appears there are more and more turning to these practices and leaders endorsing them all the time.


  9. Have you read “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” ? The idea of contemplative spirituality is far from the picture being painted by the extremely closed minded legalists portray it… Please find something in scripture against contemplating and meditating on the scriptures, or try exploring the topic of slowing down ( remember Mary and Martha ) to think there is nothing of value from thousands of years of people seeking is foolish and absurd.


    • Foolish and absurd? There is nothing in scripture to support contemplative prayer. Nothing. However, it is found as a practice in other religions having nothing to do with Christ who is the only way to God. There is plenty in scripture to warn us of following after other gods and paganism.


  10. The use of Mary and Martha has given a lot of mileage to the contemplative prayer movement. In their view, Mary = meditatively listening (with an empty mind?). Martha = too busy serving to do so.

    In my reading, Martha was scolded (rebuked) for being “worried and bothered about so many things.” At another time, the scriptures mention Martha and she is, again, in service mode. However, this time there is no rebuke for being too busy, OR for being worried and bothered. Me thinks she learned the lesson the first time around.

    So, let’s pick on Martha for the same reasons the Lord did, all the while loving her enough to correct her in the first place. And let us observe Mary for what she was doing well: sitting at the Lord’s feet and listening to what He had to say. Mind fully engaged. Good article, M’Kayla.


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