From me –If you know anyone involved with Calvary Chapel, you may want to forward this information their way.I know many cringed when Greg Laurie, Chuck Smith and Rick Warren were all together at Laurie’s Harvest Crusade this past summer.
“Soul at Rest” Women’s Conference Will Connect Women with Contemplative Advocate
For those who wonder if contemplative spirituality is still making strong inroads into the evangelical Christian church, below is an indicator that this mystical spirituality is moving full speed ahead. And for most Christian leaders, there are no questions asked.
North Coast Calvary Chapel: Women’s Conference Soul at Rest (November 6th-8th) will be featuring contemplative author Tricia McCary Rhodes as the speaker of the conference. Rhodes has been a contemplative advocate for many years. From Rhodes’ book, The Soul at Rest: A Journey into Contemplative Prayer, she states:
Take deep breaths, concentrating on relaxing your body. Establish a slow, rhythmic pattern. Breathe in God’s peace, and breathe out your stresses, distractions, and fears. Breathe in God’s love, forgiveness, and compassion, and breathe out your sins, failures, and frustrations. Make every effort to “stop the flow of talking going on within you–to slow it down until it comes to a halt.” (p. 28)
Ray Yungen reveals in his book A Time of Departing that Rhodes is quoting mystic Morton Kelsey in the above passage. Kelsey says: “You can find most of the New Age practices in the depth of Christianity. I believe that the Holy One [God] lives in every soul.”1 Of Rhodes, Yungen also makes note:
Rhodes shows her affinity to contemplative prayer when she states: “Contemplative Prayer penetrates our heart of hearts, probing the deepest rooms of our interior soul. It leaves no stone unturned, no darkness unlit…. It is wonderful and painful and through it He changes us into His likeness.” Rhodes encourages readers to use the Jesus Prayer in which the name of Jesus is focused on and repeated.* She also says what so many other contemplatives have said in their discontent with simple faith and their disillusionment with the power of the Word of God: “Reading, studying or memorizing God’s Word will only take us so far in our quest for spiritual growth.” … [C]ontemplatives teach that faith in Christ and dependence on His Word is just not enough–we need a trance-like mystical experience as well.2
A comment by me – This statement tells the driving force behind this movement as well as the one behind charismania. The need for something more stemmed from discontentment in the practice of our own faith combined with methods not biblically taught, while still maintaining a Christian facade, results in the creation of a new religion and a god of their understanding. God is no longer to be revered, honored and feared, but changed into nothing more than a genie or a cheap experience with the expectation that he give to all who ask, fulfilling earthly desires and needs of the flesh. These mystical experiences are not of our God. They are demonic and it does not matter how many times a person repeats the name of Jesus. Pride comes before the fall.
Rhodes’ more recent book, Sacred Chaos: Spiritual Disciplines for the Life You Have carries a foreword by contemplative advocate Gary Thomas. Interestingly, but not surprisingly because of his continued promotion of contemplative, both Thomas and Rhodes have been promoted by Rick Warren.
Rhodes first book was written in 1998, but if her new book, Sacred Chaos is any indication, she has not ventured away from contemplative beliefs in the least. On the contrary. In this 2008 book, she continues to promote contemplative practices such as lectio divina and the Jesus prayer as well as contemplative figures like Henri Nouwen, Madame Guyon, Bernard of Clairvaux (who states: God is the stone in the stones and the tree in the trees(3)), Catherine of Siena. In one chapter, she favorably quotes panentheist Thomas Kelly when he states that “deep within us all” (all humans he means), there is a “Divine Center” (p. 76). Another whom she quotes in the book is Kallistos Ware (author of Disciplines for the Inner Life) (p. 20). You can listen to this YouTube video of Ware and hear his contemplative propensities where he discusses the “prayer of the heart.” One of the people Ware talks about in the video is Theophan the Recluse, another mystic. Rhodes book is filled with quotes and references to numerous other mystic proponents.
In Rhodes book, Sacred Chaos, she instructs on and references the value in repeating prayer words over and over, even suggesting that the speed at which the repeating of words takes place can be altered (faster or slower) (p. 92).
If Rhodes is saying (as we believe she is) that this is the way to true intimacy with God, then there is little doubt that she will introduce this to these Calvary Chapel women as something beneficial and useful in their spiritual lives. These unsuspecting Calvary Chapel women should be forewarned that there is another side to this issue, one worth examining carefully.
It is important to understand that the “fruit” of contemplative spirituality is ultimately interspirituality (all paths lead to God). In time, the spiritual outlook of those who practice these mystical prayer methods changes and leads to a perception that is common to eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism (both which negate the Gospel of Jesus Christ). This is not an unfounded assertion. Two of the major icons of the contemplative prayer movement exemplify this. Thomas Merton proudly exclaimed that he was “deeply impregnated with Sufism” (Muslim mysticism),4 and Henri Nouwen would listen to tapes on the Chakras (the basis for Hinduism) when he was exercising.5 And countless other examples could be given. This change in spiritual outlook happens because at the heart of mysticism is the occult, and rather than the contemplative practitioner hearing God in these altered states of silence as they are told by people like Tricia Rhodes, in actuality, they are entering into demonic realms. This repeating of words and phrases is more like practicing trance work than it is practicing God’s presence.
Sadly, North Coast’s pastors are recommending books by contemplative/emerging figures such as Brennan Manning, Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, John Ortberg, and Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz). But do not think that North Coast Calvary Chapel is the exception. No. Unfortunately, the majority of churches in most communities today are going in this same direction. Churches from nearly every denomination have jumped on board–Nazarene, Southern Baptist, Wesleyan, Mennonite, Assemblies of God to name a few. While there are still churches within these groups that refuse to go down this mystical path, with major influential leaders like Rick Warren and Bill Hybels doing a substantial amount of promoting of contemplative/emerging spirituality, is it any wonder such inroads have taken place?
The Bible tells us that God has given to the believer everything he or she needs to walk with God and live according to His will through faith by His grace. He has given us His Word and His Holy Spirit and the promise of redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is in this that believers must stand, not on the “religion” of the world and of God’s adversary.
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. II Peter 1:3-4
1. Charles H. Simpkinson, “In the Spirit of the Early Christians” (Common Boundary magazine, Jan./Feb. 1992), p. 19.
2. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., pp. 153-154 (from chapter 8, “America’s Pastor”), citing Rhodes, The Soul at Rest, pp. 199, 43.
3. Joseph Chu-Cong, The Contemplative Experience (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1999), p. 3.
4. Rob Baker and Gray Henry, Editors, Merton and Sufism (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999), p. 69, as cited in A Time of Departing, p. 60.
5. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey, p. 20.
*Technically, the Jesus Prayer is: Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner, but it is often shortened to just the word Jesus.
** Rhodes also spoke at the Unite in Worship Conference in BC, Canada earlier this year with Leonard Sweet and Calvin Miller.