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Christian Living for Women

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The reality that the world does not revolve around us is something we supposedly “outgrow” in our youth. And many of us think we have outgrown it. Yet our behavior often testifies against us that it is something we never escape completely, though we may overcome many of the obvious aspects of it. In truth, the idol of self is one of our greatest adversaries in this life. We all have desires and that in and of itself is not bad. It’s when we place these things over the will of God that it becomes a problem. Many of us will claim we do not blatantly do this, but I would disagree. How many times do we neglect prayer because we are distracted? How often do we fail to thank God for the many gifts He gives in any given day? How many times do we shake our fist at…

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Christianity, it’s not about me….

An excerpt from Lighthouse Trails.

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16777

10 Important Things to Consider About Roma Downey’s Spiritual Affinities:

roma-downey-mary

1. Roma is a devout Roman Catholic who, among other Catholic rituals, prays to Mary, as she describes in this video. Roman Catholicism teaches that Mary is a co-redeemer with Jesus.

2. Roma Downey endorsed a 2010 New Age book titled Loyalty to Your Soul by Ron and Mary Hulnick (published by the New Age publisher, Hay House), Downey endorses the book saying:

As a USM [ University of Santa Monica – a New Age metaphysical school] graduate, I know firsthand the value I received from participating with Ron and Mary  in the Master’s degree Program in Spiritual Psychology. I am so grateful to have Loyalty to Your Soul to sweetly remind me of all I have learned. Let’s just say that I went from playing an angel on TV to living more of an angelic life every day. The teachings in this beautiful book have sent me on a journey to the very center of my own being where, wrapped in the safe wings of Love, I feel as though I have come home.

Downey’s endorsement in the Hulnick’s book is nestled in with full-blown New Agers like Barbara Marx Hubbard, Joan Borysenko, and Gay Hendricks (The Corporate Mystic). (By the way, Neale Donald Walsch, the New Ager who said that Hitler did the Jews a favor by killing them,(1) wrote the foreword to Loyalty to Your Soul.)  Clearly, Downey read this book and resonates deeply with it to say what she did about it. To get an idea of this “journey” that Downey is on, listen to a few quotes from Loyalty to Your Soul:

Center your awareness in your heart and consciously look for the Loving Essence in the person in your presence. By doing so, you’re signifying your respect for the Soul before you . . .  Maintain awareness that you’re in conversation with another Divine Being who is engaged in having a human experience. (p. 209)

We ask for the presence, protection, guidance, and Love of the Divine Beings [spirit guides]  who work with each of us. (from the “Invocation” – emphasis added)

When people speak of spirituality, they simply mean awareness of the sacred reality of the Divine Essence within and beyond all creation. (p. 8, quoting favorably a New Age “spiritual teacher”)

You begin to recognize others as Divine Beings, and the situations and circumstances of your life as learning devices. (p. 31)

Those familiar with New Age teachings will recognize such statements as being the core essence of the occult (that man is divine) and that there are spirit guides who help us through life. Loyalty to Your Soul is a contemporary version of A Course in Miracles (the New Age book Warren B. Smith talks about in his biography, The Light That Was Dark).

3. Roma Downey also endorsed a 2008/2011 book called Angels in My Hair: the true story of a modern day Irish mystic by Lorna Bryne. The book is about spirit guides in people’s lives.

roma-class-of-2010

4. Roma Downey graduated in 2010 from the University of Santa Monica’s Spiritual Psychology Program. The school was founded by the late New Age spiritualist guru John-Roger Hinkins in 1971 (who also founded the Movement of Spiritual Awareness). Hinkins claimed to have had a spirit guide named Mystic Traveler.  Today, University of Santa Monica  is considered a New Age/metaphysical university. Some teaching points(2) from USM’s Spiritual Psychology program (the program is one of just three degree programs offered at the school):

a. ” If you are interested in really growing as a person and awakening more fully to your Divinity—take this course” (emphasis added).

b. “Soul-centered co-creation [a term used in New Age to signify our equality with God].”

c. “Spiritual Awakening. Designed to provide a practical working knowledge of, and appreciation for, the “giants” in the field of psychology, including Rogers, Perls, Ellis, and [Roberto] Assagioli [a world-famous occultist].”

d. “The Buddhas and the Christs are born complete.(3)

practical-praying5.  In 2010, Roma Downey did a “meditation” CD for psychic medium John Edward’s 2010 book Practical Praying: Using the Rosary to Enhance Your Life (see video of John Edwards). As of Jan. 17, 2015, John Edward’s is still selling the Practical Praying book advertising Roma Downey’s CD meditation contribution. John Edward is best known for his psychic TV show in which he talked to the dead. Downey has been on his show and allowed him to channel her mother.

6. New Age actress and ordained minister  of a New Thought church, Della Reese, plays a significant role in Downey’s life. In addition to Reese teaming with Downey for 9 years in the popular TV series Touched by an Angel, Reese is Downey’s  daughter’s godmother and also officiated at the wedding of Downey and Mark Burnett.

7. Downey has been on the Oprah Show to promote her and her husband’s production Son of God. Oprah is the most influential New Ager today.

8. Downey and Burnett are proponents of Tony Robbins, a prolific New Ager. “For 25 years, Hollywood power producer Mark Burnett has applied Tony’s strategies to his life. This past year, he decided it was time to invite his wife, Roma Downey, and their 3 children to share in an experience they won’t forget.”(4)

9. Downey resonates with Eckhart Tolle, another very prolific New Age author and teacher. Warren B. Smith has written about Tolle and his New Age/New Spirituality views. One article about Downey quotes her as saying: “My kids go to school about a 40-minute  drive away. I’m open to the group’s opinion about what we listen to on the  way there. On the way back, I get my own selections—books on tape by  Eckhart Tolle, Tony Robbins . . . My husband says I’m so self-realized I’m practically levitating’” (First for Women magazine, 03/31/14, pp. 44-45). To get an idea of what Eckhart Tolle believes, listen to a quote by him:

Don’t get attached to any one word. You can substitute ‘Christ’ for presence, if that is more meaningful to you. Christ is your God-essence or the Self, as it is sometimes called in the East. The only difference between Christ and presence is that Christ refers to your indwelling divinity regardless of whether you are conscious of it or not, whereas presence means your awakened divinity or God-essence. – (Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, p. 104)

10. Former New Age followers Caryl Matrisciana, Johanna Michaelsen, and Warren B. Smith have renounced and repudiated their former New Age beliefs and have even written books warning others about the New Age. On the contrary, Roma Downey has never renounced her New Age involvement and continues to promote it in one form or another. Interestingly (and significantly), Lighthouse Trails author Greg Reid personally handed Roma Downey a copy of Warren B. Smith’s book, The Light That Was Dark: From the New Age to Amazing Grace at the 2014 National Religious Broadcaster’s Convention right after she finished premiering The Son of God movie. Roma Downey is in a perfect position to warn the church about the New Age, but rather she is bringing the New Age into the church. Greg Reid capsulates this situation well:

Roma and Mark’s open door credentials to the evangelical church is that they are committed Catholics. That, and the movies themselves, were apparently proof enough to the higher leadership of the evangelical churches to give them carte blanche. They have been, 100%, embraced as one of us.

NO ONE has asked the crucial questions: Is Jesus the only way to God? Do we all have the “Christ spirit?” Are we all Divine? Is the Bible the infallible Word of God? Knowing that the Bible forbids necromancy, are you sorry you worked with John Edward? Is what you learned from John-Roger’s University compatible with your Christian faith? Unless Roma and Mark have gone through a massive conversion since last year, then they are still the same people who listen to audio books by New Age Gurus Ekhart Tolle and Tony Robbins, and who follow a brand of spirituality that is so strong that, as Mark said of Roma, “You’re so self-realized you’re practically levitating.”

Why are none of these questions being asked? If we didn’t know, now we do. If leaders DID know and chose to ignore it, or considered these things “little differences,” then God forgive us for our spiritual blindness and willingness to let crucial spiritual darkness enter in for the sake of a movie they think will lead the masses to Christ. (from Reid’s article Son of God—Trojan Horse)

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16777

Following Deceiving Spirits in the Latter Days.

Speaking in Tongues, Questions and Answers

1.Can/should all Christians speak in tongues?
2. Is speaking in tongues to speak in the tongues of angels?
3. Is speaking in tongues a private prayer language?
4. Should we speak in tongues to edify ourselves?
5. Does praying in the Spirit mean to pray in tongues?
6. Should we speak in tongues at church when there is no interpreter?
7. Is the groanings which cannot be uttered referring to speaking in tongues?
8. Is the baptism of the Spirit a second blessing that is evidenced by speaking in tongues?
9. What is the fire of the Holy Spirit?
10. What happened at Pentecost?
11. Were tongues real human languages?
12. What was the purpose of tongues?
13. Are the tongues spoken today the same as the tongues in the bible?

1. Can/should all Christians speak in tongues?

“And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” -1 Corinthians 12:28-31

Clearly the answer is no, not all were meant to speak in tongues, as “there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. ” -1 Corinthians 12:4

“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” -1 Corinthians 12:4-11

God gave different gifts to whom He willed, not to who wanted each specific gift, and not all the gifts to everyone, including speaking in tongues.

2. Is speaking in tongues to speak in the tongues of angels?

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

“Tongues of angels” is not speaking about speaking in tongues, otherwise Paul also would have all knowledge and he would have also burned his body. We know he did not have/do all the things he listed. Paul is saying that EVEN IF angels had a language that he was able to speak, EVEN IF he burned his body, he would still be NOTHING without LOVE. Paul was simply using these illustrations to make a point, it is hyperbolic language to show that love is the greatest thing! We see that love is the more excellent way!

3. Is speaking in tongues a private prayer language?

“For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” 1 Corinthians 14:2

Sounds like a very spiritual and commendable thing at first glance. It is an interesting passage, let’s look at the context:

“Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification. ”

-1 Corinthians 14:1-5

“Speaking mysteries to God” is not meant as a commendation but as a rebuke, it was not a good thing, but a bad thing. This passage is telling us that it was loveless to pursue speaking in tongues unless it was interpreted, otherwise it was worthless, it was like speaking mysteries that no one understood and that did not edify the Church.

4. Should we speak in tongues to edify ourselves? 

“He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself” is also a rebuke. The gifts of the Spirit were meant to edify the Body, not to edify self, that is why prophesy is greater because it edifies the church. People speaking in tongues without an interpretation were misusing speaking in tongues for their own selfishness, maybe to appear as more spiritual or to experience some sort of elevated ecstatic feelings. Self-edification is never promoted in the bible, it is condemned. We are to edify one another, not to please ourselves. “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself.” -Romans 15:1-3a. “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.” -1 Corinthians 12:7.

Paul says “I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied.” Paul knows that not all do nor can speak in tongues, not all do nor can prophesy (as the same Spirit gives different gifts), he just wishes that everyone had the gifts so they would edify the church, and stop playing games with the gifts to show off and appear more spiritual than the next person.

“Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” -1 Corinthians 14:13-19

Tongues were not meant to be a private prayer language because they were meant to be a gift to edify the Church.

5. Does praying in the Spirit mean to pray in tongues?

“Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.”

“Unfruitful” is never a good thing. We don’t want our understanding to ever be unfruitful.

This again is a correction and rebuke for the misuse of tongues.

“I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.” This is not saying that sometimes I will pray in tongues where I don’t understand it (“in the spirit”) and then other times I will pray in my real native language (“in the understanding”), this is saying I will pray with the spirit and understanding AT THE SAME TIME. Praying in the spirit is not praying in tongues. Praying in the Spirit is much like walking in the Spirit, and being filled with the Spirit, which has nothing to do with speaking in tongues, it has to do with submission to His will, to be led and controlled by the Spirit.

We want to pray with understanding EVERY single time that we pray, we want to pray in the spirit and in the understanding.

We should always be praying without ceasing and it should always be with the Spirit and in understanding.

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
-Ephesians 6:18.

“These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” -Jude 1:19-20

6. Should we speak in tongues at church when there is no interpreter? 

“How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. ”  -1 Corinthians 14:26-28

Clearly, there should never be someone speaking in tongues in church unless an interpretation is given.
7. Is the groanings which cannot be uttered referring to speaking in tongues?

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[a] with groanings which cannot be uttered.” -Romans 8:26

Let’s look at the context of this verse:

“For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body….Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” -Romans 8:22, 23, 26-27.

Notice that it is the Holy Spirit who groans and not believers, furthermore the groans that the Spirit makes cannot be uttered.

In this passage, we see that the creation is groaning and obviously the earth and universe and plants and animals do not speak in tongues, this is a metaphor. In this passage we ourselves are also groaning within ourselves, and that cannot be referring to speaking in tongues either because it is within us, not vocalized. Then we see the Holy Spirit making intercession with groaning that cannot be uttered, and we cannot hear nor understand this. The Holy Spirit is interceding for us, not through us or in us or by our tongues, but by His own groanings that cannot be uttered.

8. Is the baptism of the Spirit a second blessing that is evidenced by speaking in tongues?

The baptism of the Spirit happens to ALL believers, at the very moment of salvation. If we are not baptized with the Spirit, we are not His. It has nothing to do with speaking in tongues.

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” – 1 Corinthians 12:13

“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” -Romans 8:9-10

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” -Ephesians 4: 4-6

9. What is the fire of the Holy Spirit?

“John answered, saying to all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” Luke 3:16-17.

The fire is a judgement, it is damnation, while the baptism of the Spirit is salvation.

10. What happened at Pentecost?

Pentecost was the coming of the promised Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, ‘He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” -John 7:38-39

“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.'” -Acts 1:4-5

In John and in Acts 1, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit, and in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit came, as promised.

He did not come because He was invoked by earnest prayer or seeking, but by the exact plan, promise, and will of God. They were told to wait for the Holy Spirit, they waited, and they prayed while they waited for the promise, and SUDDENLY the Holy Spirit came.

Acts 2 is where the Church was born, a new era began, at Pentecost.

Acts 2 is where the Holy Spirit first baptized believers. The first time the Holy Spirit baptized was the only time it occurred after the believers were saved, there had to be a first time at some point, but after that first time, all new believers were/are baptized with the Holy Spirit at the very moment of salvation.

Acts 2 is also the first time believers spoke in tongues.

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” -Acts 2:4

They spoke in different tongues, representing that God was taking the gospel throughout the whole world, into all nations.

11. Were tongues real human languages?

“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” -Acts 2:1-12

Note, tongues were known human languages. There is a list of 16 languages noted in this passage. Tongues did not then change from being human languages to being a heavenly prayer language. This is the clearest description and example of tongues we have in the bible, it is evident that they were real intelligible languages, never meant to be used for self-deification or for personal prayer.

12. What was the purpose of tongues?

Besides being edifying to the Church, they also validated the gospel or authenticated the gospel message, and were a sign to unbelieving Israel as a judgement.

“Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.

In the law it is written:

“With men of other tongues and other lips
I will speak to this people;
And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,”
says the Lord.

Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.” -1 Corinthians 14:20-22.

“With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; and yet, for all that, they will not hear Me” is a prophesy from Isaiah 28: 11-12.

Tongues were also to show that God was saving Gentiles, which in itself is a judgement to Israel as well (although God has not cast away His people Israel and their judgement is not final. Read Romans 11).

“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, ‘Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’” Acts 10:44-47.

It was the same gift as it was in Acts 2, it was intelligible human languages. They heard them magnifying God, they understood the tongues. Peter says that they (the Gentile) received the same Holy Spirit that the Jews received at Pentecost.

13. Are the tongues spoken today the same as the tongues in the bible? 

An honest evaluation of the biblical description and prescription for tongues leads to the conclusion that the tongues that Charismatics/Pentecostals, Mormons, Catholics, Hindus, Shamans, Muslims, Buddhists, and Voodooists practice today are not the same tongues of the bible.

This report is excerpted from our book Contemplative Mysticism: A Powerful Ecumenical Bond, which is available in print and eBook editions from Way of Life Literature, http://www.wayoflife.org.  

Richard Foster’s writings have been at the forefront of the contemplative movement since the 1970s. No one has done more than this man to spread contemplative mysticism throughout Protestant and Baptist churches. 

Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline, which has sold more than two and a half million copies, was selected by Christianity Today as one of the top ten books of the 20th century. (For this review I obtained multiple editions of Celebration of Discipline, plus three other books by Foster.)

The Quaker Connection

He grew up among the Quakers (the Religious Society of Friends), was trained at George Fox College, has pastored Quaker churches, and has taught theology at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, and at George Fox. One website calls him “perhaps the best known Quaker in the world today.”

The Quaker connection is important, because one of their peculiar doctrines is direct revelation via an “inner light.” This is defined in a variety of ways, since Quakerism is very individualistic and non-creedal, but it refers to a divine presence and guidance in every man. There is an emphasis on being still and silent and passive in order to receive guidance from the inner light. Other terms for it are “light of God,” “light of Christ,” “inward light,” “the light,” “light within,” “Christ within,” and “spirit of Christ.” 

George Fox used the expression “that of God in everyone.” In his journal Fox said, “I was glad that I was commanded to turn people to that inward light, spirit, and grace, by which all might know their salvation, and their way to God; even that divine Spirit which would lead them into all Truth, and which I infallibly knew would never deceive any” (The Journal of George Fox, revised by John Nickalls, 1952, p. 35).

Another prominent Quaker, Robert Barclay, called this “the light of the heart” and said “there is an evangelical and saving Light and grace in all.” 

Isaac Pennington said, “There is that near you which will guide you; Oh wait for it, and be sure ye keep to it.”

The inner light teaching is said to be based on John 1:9 — “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” Yet this verse does not say that there is a divine light in every man. It merely says that Christ gives light to every man. The epistle of Romans tells us more about this. There is the light of creation (Romans 1:20), the light of conscience (Romans 2:14-16), and the light of Scripture (Romans 3:2). When men respond to the light that they have, they are given more light (Acts 17:26-27). 

Because of the fall, man’s heart is darkened and foolish (Rom. 1:21; Eph. 4:18). 

The inner light teaching was exalted above reliance on the Bible. Martin Meeker says, “… the early Quakers’ reliance on the Bible as a source of spiritual knowledge and inspiration was secondary to their belief in the Inner Light as the primary path to salvation and communication with God” (The Doctrine of the Inner Light).

George Fox would say to his listeners:

“You will say, Christ saith this and the Apostles say this, but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of Light and hast thou walked in the Light, and what thou speakest, is it inwardly from God?”

Fox claimed that he received the doctrine of the inner light without help from the Scriptures (The Journal of George Fox, revised by John Nickalls, 1952, pp. 33-35).

In a bold rejection of the principle of the Bible as the sole authority for faith and practice, influential Quaker teacher William Barclay said,

“Nevertheless, because they [the Scripture] are only a declaration of the fountain, and not the fountain itself, therefore THEY ARE NOT TO BE ESTEEMED THE PRINCIPAL GROUND OF ALL TRUTH AND KNOWLEDGE, NOR YET THE ADEQUATE PRIMARY RULE OF FAITH AND MANNERS. Yet because they give a true and faithful testimony of the first foundation, they are and may be esteemed a SECONDARY RULE, subordinate to the Spirit, from which they have all their excellency and certainty” (Barclay, An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, “The Third Proposition: Concerning the Scriptures”).

This is an unscriptural and very dangerous position that opens the door for every sort of heresy. It is a recipe for spiritual delusion. The Scripture is able to make the man of God perfect; obviously, then, nothing more is needed (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Spirit never leads contrary to the Scripture. The Bereans were commended for testing every teaching by the Scripture (Acts 17:11), not by their “inner light.” 

The early Quakers misinterpreted 2 Corinthians 3:6, claiming that the “letter” referred to the Scripture in general.

“Along these lines, we might note that early Quakers tended to give an expansive reading of 2 Cor. 3:6, which states that God has made us ‘ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.’ This verse, if ‘letter’ is taken to mean ‘Scripture,’ obviously places strong limits on the use of Scripture while extending preference to Spirit, at the very least. One thus is not surprised that it is a favorite of early Quakers, appearing as an allusion in the postscript of the Letter from the Elders of Balby, cherished by many contemporary Friends” (Stephen Angell, “Opening the Scriptures, Then and Now,” QUEST, Fall-Winter 2007-2008). 

If the “letter” of 2 Corinthians 3:6 refers to the Scripture in general, it would mean that Paul was exalting “the Spirit” above the Scripture. It would mean that the Scripture is not the sole authority for faith and practice, but it is only one authority and that men are free to follow their inner lights. 

This is a gross misinterpretation of the passage. In truth, 2 Corinthians 3 contrasts the Law of Moses with the Gospel of Grace, the Old Covenant with the New. 

2 Corinthians 3:7 leaves no doubt about this, which tells us that the “letter” that killeth is “the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones.” That refers, of course, to the Law of Moses given on Mt. Sinai. It was a covenant of death because it requires of fallen sinners what they cannot perform, which is perfect holiness. It was not given to provide a way of salvation but to show men their sinful, lost condition (Romans 3:19-20). 

To interpret the “letter” of 2 Corinthians 3:6 as a reference to the Scripture in general also contradicts the fact that verse 11 says the “letter” has been “done away.” Obviously the Scripture has not been done away with, but the Law of Moses has. Its purpose was to act as a “schoolmaster” to lead men to Christ and once it performs that glorious function its work is finished (Galatians 3:24-25). 

It is easy to see how the Quaker philosophy paved the way for Foster to accept Catholic mysticism. It did this by its emphasis on an “inner light” and its emphasis on seeking revelation directly from God and having direct experiences of God and its tendency not to judge things in an exacting manner by the Bible.

Other Quakers have followed the same path, and some, like Mary Conrow Coelho, have followed it all the way to the New Age. Conrow believes in evolution, the oneness of the universe, and the unity of man with God, and she traces her New Age mysticism to deep third generation Quaker roots and its inner light teaching:

“The adults in our Quaker community spoke often of the Inner Light, the seed of God, the indwelling Christ. [Thomas Kelly] said, ‘It is a Light within, a dynamic center, a creative Life that presses to birth within us'” (“Of Leadings and the Inner Light: Quakerism and the New Cosmology,” http://www.thegreatstory.org/QuakerMetarelig.html). 

(Richard Foster quotes Thomas Kelly favorably and frequently in his books, and the Renovaré  Spiritual Formation Bible quotes Kelly as saying: “Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center.”)

From its inception Quakerism was a heretical movement that downplayed the Bible and exalted personal revelation, and Richard Foster is a product of that heresy even though he is on the “evangelical” side of Quakerism. 

In this context, it is not surprising to find him promoting Roman Catholic mystics who exalted Catholic tradition and mystical revelations above Scripture. 

Salvation Not Clear

One thing that is glaring in its absence from Foster’s books on spiritual living is a clear biblical testimony of salvation and a clear exhortation for his readers to be born again. 

When he does mention salvation, he speaks of it in a confused manner. 

He says, for example, that reconciliation has already been achieved in Christ.

“In some mysterious way, through shedding his blood Jesus took into himself all the evil and all the hostility of all the ages and redeemed it. He reconciled us to God, restoring the infinitely valuable personal relationship that had been shattered by sin” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 42).

This fits with universalism of Quakerism, but it is a heresy. Though the redemption price has been paid by Christ, sinners are not reconciled until they individually put their faith in the gospel and are born again (John 3:16, 18, 36). Jesus taught that most men will not be saved (Mat. 7:14).

Foster also speaks of salvation as a process.

“One more thing is needed, namely, our response of repentance–not just once but again and again. Martin Luther declares that the life of the Christian should be one of daily repentance” (Prayer, p. 42). 

We must understand that the previous statement is made in the context of a discussion of salvation. Foster makes no clear distinction between the one repentance for salvation (Acts 17:30; 2 Peter 3:9) and continual repentance for sanctification (2 Cor. 12:21). Foster’s statement describes either universalism or sacramentalism, but it is not the once-for-all new birth doctrine of the New Testament. 

Further, Foster describes salvation in terms of an emotional experience and in association with baptism. In Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Foster tells of a non-Christian who attended one of his contemplative seminars. Part way through the course the following event transpired.

“Throughout the weekend the Spirit of God rested tenderly upon the entire group, so much so that on Sunday afternoon this same gentleman asked quietly, ‘Would you pray for me that I might know Jesus the way you know Jesus?’ What were we to do? None of the normal responses seemed appropriate. We waited in silence. Finally one young man stood up and gently placed his hands on the man’s shoulders. I have never forgotten his prayer. I felt like taking off my shoes–we were on holy ground. Strange as it may seem, he prayed a commercial. He described a popular advertisement of the day for NesTea in which different people, sweltering from the summer sun, would fall into a swimming pool with a thirst-quenching sense of ‘ahhh!’ on their faces. He then invited this man to fall into the arms of Jesus in the same way. The gentleman suddenly began to weep, heaving deep sighs of sorrow and grief. We watched in reverent wonder as he received the gift of saving faith. It was a tender, grace-filled moment. Later he shared with us how the prayer touched a deep center in his past relating to his baptism as a child” (pp. 48, 49). 

While it is true that the Bible describes salvation in terms of drinking and eating of Jesus, the scene described by Foster is confusing at best. What was this man trusting? What was he receiving? He mentions his infant baptism. Had he come to believe that his baptism had brought him into a saving relationship with God that he was only now learning to enjoy? What Jesus was he trusting? What gospel? What was the nature of his faith? The Bible warns that the devils believe in God. Only a certain kind of faith is saving faith. Foster doesn’t clarify any of this. His doctrine of salvation is exceedingly murky at best. When the unbeliever asked the group to pray for him, why didn’t they share with him the gospel? They didn’t need to pray about what to say. They didn’t need to hesitate. Jesus has already commanded us to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). Why did they preach a NesTea commercial rather than the gospel? 

And while we are talking about Richard Foster and the gospel, if he believes the true gospel of the grace of Christ without works, why does he constantly and uninhibitedly promote Catholic mystics who hold to a sacramental gospel? If he doesn’t believe Rome’s gospel of process salvation, why does he never warn about it plainly? 

Personal salvation is foundational to prayer and Christian living. It is criminal to write books on these subjects for broad public consumption and not make salvation absolutely clear. 

Roman Catholic Mysticism

Foster advocates Roman Catholic mysticism with absolutely no qualms, building his contemplative practices unequivocally upon this heretical foundation. 

He recommends Ignatius of Loyola, Francis of Assisi, Benedict of Nursia, Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Genoa, Julian of Norwich, Brother Lawrence, Dominic, Catherine of Siena, John of the Cross, the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing, Madame Guyon, Thomas à Kempis, Catherine Doherty, Meister Eckhart, Thomas Aquinas, Hildegard of Bingen, Francis de Sales, Alphonsus de Liguori, Bernard of Clairvaux, John Henry Newman, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, G.K. Chesterton, André Louf, Henri Nouwen, Dorothy Day, Karl Rahner, John Main, Mother Teresa, Thomas Merton, Brennan Manning, John Michael Talbot, and many others. 

Foster’s recommendation of these Roman Catholic mystics is not half-hearted. In the introduction to the 1998 edition of Celebration of Discipline, he says that they taught him spiritual depth and substance (pp. xiii, xiv), and he calls them “Devotional Masters of the Christian faith.” Of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, Foster says, “… it is a school of prayer for all of us” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 59). 

There is no warning of the fact that these mystics trusted in a works gospel, venerated Mary, worshipped Christ as a piece of consecrated bread, believed in purgatory, and scores of other heresies. (For extensive documentation of this see the chapters “A Description of Catholic Monastic Asceticism” and “A Biographical Catalog of Contemplative Mystics.”)

Bible Not Sole Authority

Like his Roman Catholic friends, Foster’s foundational error is in not exalting the Bible as the sole authority for faith and practice. Nowhere in Celebration of Discipline or Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home does he instruct his readers that the Bible alone is God’s infallible revelation and that everything must be carefully tested by it. This should be the very starting point for books on Christian spirituality and worship, but it is glaring in its absence. Foster encourages his readers to find revelation beyond Scripture through meditation, dreams, and personal prophecies. 

Foster describes how Francis of Assisi found spiritual guidance. When he was puzzled as to whether he should devote himself exclusively to contemplative practices or also to engage in preaching missions (which is plainly answered in Scripture), he sent word to two “trusted friends” and accepted their replies as the very will of God. Foster says that Francis “was seeking a method that would open the gates of heaven to reveal the mind of Christ, and he took it as such” (Foster, Celebration of Discipline, 1978, pp. 154, 155). Nowhere does Foster chide Francis of Assisi for depending on the word of man rather than the Scripture. 

Neo-Orthodox Approach to Scripture

Foster’s approach to Scripture is a neo-orthodox, existentialist one. It is not by accident that he quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer frequently and non-critically. (He also quotes the other two fathers of neo-orthodoxy, Karl Barth and Emil Brunner.)

“This is not a time for technical word studies, or analysis, or even the gathering of material to share with others. … Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, ‘… just as you do not analyze the words of someone you love, but accept them as they are said to you, accept the Word of Scripture and ponder it in your heart, as Mary did. That is all. That is meditation'” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 26). 

Yet the Bible is not merely a love letter. It is much more. It is the infallible Word of God, and we are commanded to “analyze” it. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries exposes the error of Foster’s approach:

The idea expressed above by Bonhoeffer of accepting Scripture subjectively as spoken to you is completely in line with the flawed view of the text of the Holy Scripture spread by neo-orthodox theologian Karl Barth. In neo-orthodoxy the Scripture only becomes the Word of God when the Holy Spirit illuminates it. We can sum up this wrong idea this way: ‘The Bible is a divine mailbox in which we receive letters from Heaven.’ But no, it isn’t. The Bible itself–in full–is the letter, the message, from God.

In his book Reckless Faith Dr. John MacArthur hits the target dead on as he shows why neo-orthodoxy is a perfect fit for contemplative mysticism as well as why it’s a necessity for it to flourish:

‘Neo-orthodoxy is the term used to identify an existentialist variety of Christianity. Because it denies the essential objective basis of truth–the absolute truth and authority of Scripture–neo-orthodoxy must be understood as pseudo-Christianity. … Neo-orthodoxy’s attitude toward Scripture is a microcosm of the entire existentialist philosophy: the Bible itself is not objectively the Word of God, but it becomes the Word of God when it speaks to me individually. …

‘Thus while neo-orthodox theologians often sound as if they are affirming traditional beliefs, … they relegate all theology to the realm of subjective relativism. … Mysticism is perfectly suited for religious existentialism; indeed, it is the inevitable consequence. The mystic disdains rational understanding and seeks truth instead through the feelings, the imagination, personal visions, inner voices, private illumination, or other purely subjective means’ (MacArthur, Reckless Faith) (Ken Silva, “Contemplative Mysticism in the Southern Baptist Convention,” April 30, 2008, http://www.apprising.org/archives/2008/04
/contemplative_m.html). 

Instead of seeing the Scripture as divinely inspired and profitable in every part as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, and therefore studying it diligently in order to rightly divide it as 2 Timothy 2:15 commands, neo-orthodoxy sees the Scripture as inspired only as it speaks to me experientially through a mystical approach. 

Foster’s School of Contemplative Mysticism

Foster invites his readers to “enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 13), promoting thoughtless centering prayer, visualization, guided imagery, the repetition of mantras, silence, walking the labyrinth, even out of body experiences. 

Foster says, “Christian meditation is an attempt to empty the mind in order to fill it” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 15). 

Apparently Foster got some criticism for this statement, because in the next edition of Celebration of Discipline he omitted it and tried to contrast Eastern meditation with Christian meditation with the following words:

“Eastern meditation is an attempt to empty the mind; Christian meditation is an attempt to fill the mind. The two ideas are quite different” (Celebration of Discipline, 1988, p. 20). 

This sounds nice and tidy, but it contradicts the practice of Catholic contemplation. In reality, both Eastern meditation and Catholic meditation are an attempt to empty the mind in order to arrive at a transcendental experience. Consider the following quotes from the mystics that Foster heartily recommends:

Thomas Merton: “… the deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. IT IS WORDLESS. IT IS BEYOND WORDS, AND IT IS BEYOND SPEECH, and it is BEYOND CONCEPT” (The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton, 1975 edition, p. 308).

The Cloud of Unknowing: “I URGE YOU TO DISMISS EVERY CLEVER OR SUBTLE THOUGHT no matter how holy or valuable. Cover it with a thick cloud of forgetting because in this life only love can touch God as He is in Himself, never knowledge” (chapter 8).

John Main: “Recite your prayer-phrase [mantra] and gently listen to it as you say it. DO NOT THINK ABOUT ANYTHING. As thoughts come, simply keep returning to your prayer-phrase. In this way, one places everything aside” (The Teaching of Dom John Main: How to Meditate, Meditation Group of Saint Patrick’s Basilica, Ottawa, Canada).

Teresa of Avila: “All that the soul has to do at these times of quiet is merely to be calm and MAKE NO NOISE. BY NOISE I MEAN WORKING WITH THE INTELLECT to find great numbers of words and reflections with which to thank God. … in these periods of quiet, the soul should repose in its calm, and learning should be put on one side” (The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself, chap. 15, pp. 106, 107, 108).

Foster’s attempt to set Catholic contemplation apart from pagan mysticism cannot be sustained.

Foster encourages his readers to go deep into their inner world of silence and explore it:

“[W]e must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation. In their writings, all of the masters of meditation strive to awaken us to the fact that the universe is much larger than we know, that there are vast unexplored inner regions that are just as real as the physical world we know so well. They tell us of exciting possibilities for new life and freedom. They call us to the adventure, to be pioneers in this frontier of the Spirit” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 13).

Amazingly, he says that these practices are not only for believers but also for unbelievers.

“We need not be well advanced in matters of theology to practice the Disciplines. Recent converts–for that matter people who have yet to turn their lives over to Jesus Christ–can and should practice them” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 2).

Since the contemplative practices are supposed to enable the practitioner to commune with Christ within himself, how could an unsaved person “practice them”? This is evidence of Foster’s Quaker belief in an “inner light” in every man. 

Some might protest that I have only focused on the more controversial parts of Foster’s teaching and have ignored the truth contained therein. I will admit that Foster’s books contain some true insights about traditional biblical prayer that in another context could be helpful, but this is ruined by his promotion of Catholic mysticism, Jungian dream interpretation, healing of memories, and other heresies. Anyone that uses his writings is in imminent danger of being snared by error.

And though he does give many lessons about traditional biblical prayer, he considers this a shallow level of Christian living. To reach the truly “deep” levels, he urges believers to aspire to move beyond normal conversational prayer. He quotes C.S. Lewis: 

“I still think the prayer without words is the best–if one can really achieve it. … [But to] pray successfully without words one needs to be ‘at the top of one’s form'” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 156).

In reality, contemplative practices are beyond the bounds of Scripture and are completely “off the deep end.”

Visualization

Foster encourages the exceedingly dangerous practice of guided imagery and visualization:

“The inner world of meditation is most easily entered through the door of the imagination. We fail today to appreciate its tremendous power. The imagination is stronger that the conceptual thought and stronger than the will. … In his autobiography C.G. Jung describes how difficult it was for him to humble himself and once again play imagination games of a child, and the value of that experience. Just as children need to learn to think logically, adults need to REDISCOVER THE MAGICAL REALITY OF THE IMAGINATION. … 

“Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises constantly  encouraged his readers to VISUALIZE THE GOSPEL STORIES. Every contemplation he gave was designed to open the imagination. He even included a meditation entitled ‘application of the senses,’ which is an attempt to help us utilize all five senses as we picture the Gospel events. His thin volume of meditation exercises with its stress on the imagination had tremendous impact for good upon the sixteenth century.’ …

“Take a single event like the resurrection, or a parable, or a few verses, or even a single word and allow it to take root in you. Seek to live the experience, remembering the encouragement of Ignatius of Loyola to apply all our senses to our task. … As you enter the story, not as a passive observer but as an active participant, remember that since Jesus lives in the Eternal Now and is not bound by time, this event in the past is a living present-tense experience for Him. Hence, YOU CAN ACTUALLY ENCOUNTER THE LIVING CHRIST IN THE EVENT, BE ADDRESSED BY HIS VOICE AND BE TOUCHED BY HIS HEALING POWER. It can be more than an exercise of the imagination; IT CAN BE A GENUINE CONFRONTATION” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, pp. 22, 23, 26).

Note that Foster recommends Carl Jung, who followed a demonic spirit guide, as well as Ignatius of Loyola, who founded an organization dedicated to blind obedience to the pope at the very height of the murderous Inquisition. The “spirit realm” to which these men connected through meditative practices was the realm of darkness. 

Foster recommends Loyola’s practice of visualizing a personal encounter with Jesus, which is presumptuous foolishness. We don’t even know what Jesus looks like and we are not supposed to. Faith is simply believing God’s Word (Romans 10:17). Faith is not putting oneself into the biblical account and letting one’s imagination run wild. 

(For more about visualization and the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises see “Ignatius of Loyola” in the chapter “A Biographical Catalog of Contemplative Mystics.”)

Interpretation of Dreams

Foster promotes the interpretation of dreams, which is not surprising in light of his recommendation of Carl Jung.

“In learning to meditate, one good place to begin is with our dreams, since it involves little more than paying attention to something we are already doing. … If we are convinced that DREAMS CAN BE A KEY TO UNLOCKING THE DOOR TO THE INNER WORLD, we can do three practical things. First, we can specifically pray, inviting God to inform us through our dreams. … Second, we should begin to record our dreams. … That leads to the third consideration–how to interpret dreams. The best way to discover the meaning of dreams is to ask. ‘You do not have, because you do not ask’ (Jas. 4:2). … Benedict Pererius, a sixteenth-century Jesuit, suggested that the best interpreter of dreams is the ‘…person with plenty of experience in the world and the affairs of humanity, with a wide interest in everything human, and who is open to the voice of God'” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, pp. 23, 24). 

Though God did speak from time to time to the prophets of old in dreams, the New Testament does not encourage God’s people to seek revelation in dreams nor does it instruct us in how to interpret dreams. Foster takes James 4:2 out of context applying it to the interpretation of dreams, though it has nothing to do with such a thing. He quotes a Jesuit heretic who held a false gospel of sacramentalism. The fact is that we do not need dream revelations for we have the perfect and sufficient “voice of God” in the Scriptures. It is “a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed” (2 Peter 1:19).

Dream interpretation is one of the things that led Sue Monk Kidd astray as she pursued the contemplative path. She came to believe that God was speaking to her through weird dreams, and those dreams led to self-deification and goddess worship! (See “Sue Monk Kid” in the chapter “Biographical Catalog of Contemplative Mystics.”)

Communing Face to Face with God in Outer Space

Foster even urges the contemplative practitioner to commune face to face with God the Father. 

“A fourth form of meditation has as its objective to bring you into a deep inner communion with the Father where you look at Him and He looks at you” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 27).

Foster says that this amazing feat can be accomplished via visualized out of body experiences.

“In your imagination, picture yourself walking along a lovely forest path. … When you are able to experience the scene with all your senses, the path breaks out onto a lovely grassy knoll. Walk out into the lush large meadow encircled by stately pines. After exploring the meadow for a time, lie down on your back looking up at blue sky and white clouds. 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. Observe your physical body, the knoll, and the forest shrink as you leave the earth. 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 … Do not be disappointed if no words come; like good friends, you are silently enjoying the company of each other. When it is time for you to leave, audibly thank the Lord for His goodness and return to the meadow. Walk joyfully back along the path until you return home FULL OF NEW LIFE AND ENERGY” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, pp. 27, 28).

Foster thus claims that the believer can go into outer space and receive direct revelation from Almighty God! Who needs the Bible and who needs faith when we can actually meet Christ in the center of our being, talk face to face with God the Father, and have personal revelations from Almighty God?

(The previous passage was dropped out of subsequent editions of Celebration of Discipline, but to my knowledge Foster has never renounced the practice. My e-mail to him about this was not answered.)

This technique is occultic. It is exactly what I was taught by Hindu gurus in the early 1970s. 

In Out on a Limb New Ager Shirley MacLaine describes an out of body journey to the moon that follows the same playbook! 

Consider the following description of what Brian Flynn was taught when he was training to be a psychic before his conversion to Jesus Christ:

“Carolyn then instructed us to lie on the floor, close our eyes and imagine we were lying in a field of wildflowers on a beautiful summer’s day. The wind was calm, and the smell of flowers awakened our senses. As we were lying in the field, she asked us to now leave our bodies and look down upon ourselves. Carolyn then guided us to raise our souls to the heavens and to leave our earthly bodies behind. When we reached what we believed to be the outer edges of the universe she told us to ask for a message from the universe and what we needed to know at this time. ‘Listen to the voice inside you. Ask what it is you need to know to help you release the burdens you carry,’ she said softly” (Flynn, Running against the Wind, 2005, p. 50).

There is no significant difference between the psychic practice and Foster’s so-called contemplative practice. When we go outside the realm of the Bible we put ourselves in the way of spiritual harm and deception.

Other Occultic Practices

Foster recommends other occultic practices. 

One is channeling the light of Christ through visualization. Consider his description of how he taught visualizing prayer to a little boy:

“Imagination opens the door to faith. If we can ‘see’ in our mind’s eye a shattered marriage whole or a sick person well, it is only a short step to believing that it will be so. … I was once called to a home to pray for a seriously ill baby girl. Her four-year-old brother was in the room and so I told him I needed his help to pray for his baby sister. … He climbed up into the chair beside me. ‘Let’s play a little game,’ I said. ‘Since we know that Jesus is always with us, let’s imagine that He is sitting over in the chair across from us. He is waiting patiently for us to center our attention on Him. When we see Him, we start thinking more about His love than how sick Julie is. He smiles, gets up, and comes over to us. Then let’s both put our hands on Julie and when we do, Jesus will put His hands on top of ours. WE’LL WATCH AND IMAGINE THAT THE LIGHT FROM JESUS IS FLOWING RIGHT INTO YOUR LITTLE SISTER AND MAKING HER WELL. Let’s pretend that the light of Christ fights with the bad germs until they are all gone. Okay!’ Seriously the little one nodded. Together we prayed in this childlike way and then thanked the Lord that what we ‘saw’ was the way it was going to be” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 37).

This is not biblical prayer; it is occultism. Mind Science practitioners and New Agers have promoted this type of thing for a century. 

Biblical prayer is not the attempt to accomplish something through the power of our minds. It is talking to God and asking Him to accomplish things. There is a vast difference between these two practices, as vast as the difference between God and the Devil.

Foster recommends that parents pray for their sleeping children after this fashion:

“Imagine the light of Christ flowing through your hands and healing every emotional trauma and hurt feeling your child experienced that day. Fill him or her with the peace and joy of the Lord. In sleep the child is very receptive to prayer since the conscious mind which tends to erect barriers to God’s gentle influence is relaxed” (Celebration of Discipline, p. 39). 

There is not the hint of support in Scripture for this practice. To attempt to bypass “the conscious mind” is occultism. 

Foster’s descent into occultism is further evident by his recommendation of “flash prayers” and “swish prayers“:

“Flashing hard and straight prayers at people is a great thrill and can bring interesting results. I have tried it, inwardly asking the joy of the Lord and a deeper awareness of His presence to rise up within every person I meet. Sometimes people reveal no response, but other times they turn and smile as if addressed. In a bus or plane we can fancy Jesus walking down the aisles touching people on the shoulder and saying, ‘I love you…’ Frank Laubach has suggested that if thousands of us would experiment with ‘swishing prayers’ at everyone we meet and would share the results, we could learn a great deal about how to pray for others. … ‘Units of prayer combined, like drops of water, make an ocean which defies resistance'” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 39). 

This depicts prayer as an occultic entity rather than a simple communication addressed to God. 

Foster also recommends a practice called “palms up, palms down.” The practitioner is instructed first to hold his palms down in order to “release” his worries and concerns, such as anger, lack of finances, or fear of an upcoming event. 

“Whatever it is that weighs on your mind or is a concern to you, just say, ‘palms down.’ Release it. YOU MAY EVEN FEEL A CERTAIN SENSE OF RELEASE IN YOUR HANDS” (Celebration of Discipline, 1998, p. 31).

Then the practitioner is to turn his palms up in order to “receive from the Lord.” 

“Perhaps you will pray silently: ‘Lord, I would like to receive your divine love for John, your peace about the dentist appointment, your patience, your joy.’ Whatever you need, you say, ‘palms up.'”

There is not a hint of support for such a thing in Scripture, but this practice is found in New Age and pagan religions. 

Palms up, palms down is used in walking the labyrinth (http://www.lessons4living.com/three_fold_path.htm). 

It is used in Nia Technique to channel energy fields (http://www.nianow.com/teachers/continuingedu/
sharingthejoy/0606/t_tip.html).

It is used in Tai Chi to manipulate the flow of the occultic chi energy (http://groups.ku.edu/~kungfu
/instructions/instructions.htm). 

Sufi dervishes hold one palm up and one palm down while whirling in order to channel their mystical experiences. I have observed this in Turkey.


Union with God

Foster has adopted the contemplative doctrine of union with God. To the question, “What is the goal of Contemplative Prayer?” Foster answers: 

“To this question the old writers answer with one voice: UNION WITH GOD. … Bonaventure, a follower of Saint Francis, says that our final goal is ‘union with God,’ which is A PURE RELATIONSHIP WHERE WE SEE ‘NOTHING'” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, 1992, p. 159). 

The “old writers” are old Catholic writers, but the Bible nowhere describes or encourages such a practice. The believer’s complete relationship with God is an accomplished fact in Christ. 

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:6-10).

We receive Christ by faith in the gospel, and Paul says that we are to walk in Him in the same way. It is a walk of faith. We walk “from faith to faith” (Romans 1:17). God gives the believer many wonderful “experiences” along the way, but we are not to seek after experiences; we are to be content with knowing Christ by faith. 

The believer is complete in Christ and his “union” with Christ, is an accomplished fact. It is not something we have to pursue through mysticism. 

Further, the believer’s relationship with Christ in this world is not an experience of “seeing nothing.” It is, rather, an experience of knowing the Saviour through faith in His written Word and through the power of the indwelling Spirit. It is an objective, mindful experience. As former Catholic priest Richard Bennett says, “Seeing ‘nothing’ [is] just an Evangelical rehashing of Catholic irrational superstitious myth.” 

Promoting Heretics

God’s Word commands us to mark and avoid those who cause divisions contrary to the apostolic faith (Romans 16:17), but Foster ignores this and draws his material from a bewildering assortment of heretics. 

The following are just a few of the many examples we could give of the man’s disturbing, dangerous, and unbiblical habit of quoting heretics in the most recommending manner. 

For a starter, as we have noted, he asks his readers to join hands with Catholic “saints” and mystics (all of whom are committed to a gospel of works and many of whom are pantheists, panentheists, and universalists). (See the chapter “A Biographical Catalog of Contemplative Mystics” for studies on Francis of Assisi, Benedict of Nursia, Teresa of Avila, Ignatius of Loyola, Catherine of Genoa, Julian of Norwich, Brother Lawrence, Dominic, Catherine of Siena, John of the Cross, Madame Guyon, Thomas à Kempis, Meister Eckhart, Hildegard of Bingen, Bernard of Clairvaux, Karl Rahner, John Main, Mother Teresa, Thomas Merton, Brennan Manning, John Michael Talbot, and others cited by Foster.)

Foster quotes ALPHONSUS DE LIGUORI (he spells his name Luguori) at least three times in Celebration of Discipline (1978, pp. 132-134). Liguori was one of the greatest worshippers of Mary the Roman Catholic Church has ever produced. His book The Glories of Mary (1750) is simply blasphemous. Note the following quotations:

“… though the sinner does not himself merit the graces which he asks, yet he receives them, because this Blessed Virgin asks and obtains them from God, ON ACCOUNT OF HER OWN MERITS” (The Glories of Mary, edited by Eugene Grimm, Brooklyn: Redemptorist Fathers, 1931, p. 73).

“IT WAS THEN BY THIS GREAT OFFERING OF MARY THAT WE WERE BORN TO THE LIFE OF GRACE; WE ARE THEREFORE HER VERY DEAR CHILDREN, SINCE WE COST HER SO GREAT SUFFERING” (p. 59). 

“This was revealed by our Blessed Lady herself to St. Bridget, saying, ‘I am the Queen of heaven and the Mother of Mercy; I AM THE JOY OF THE JUST, AND THE DOOR THROUGH WHICH SINNERS ARE BROUGHT TO GOD” (p. 43).

“Let us, then, have recourse, and always have recourse, to this most sweet Queen, IF WE WOULD BE CERTAIN OF SALVATION … LET US REMEMBER THAT IT IS IN ORDER TO SAVE THE GREATEST AND MOST ABANDONED SINNERS, who recommend themselves to her, that Mary is made the Queen of Mercy” (pp. 43,44).

Foster heavily promotes the Catholic Trappist monk THOMAS MERTON, recommending many of his books and quoting from him frequently, at least 15 times in Celebration of Discipline, not giving the slightest warning about the man. Foster says that Merton “has done more than any other twentieth century figure to make the life of prayer widely known and understood” (Spiritual Classics, pp. 17, 21). He calls Merton’s Contemplative Prayer “a must book” and What Is Contemplation “an excellent introduction to contemplative prayer for everyone.” In Meditative Prayer, Foster gushes that “Merton continues to inspire countless men and women.” Foster includes an entire chapter by Merton in his book Spiritual Classics. 

Foster does not tell his readers that Merton was at the forefront of interfaith dialogue, that he claimed to be both a Buddhist and a Catholic, that he had powerful mystical experiences while meditating before Buddha idols, and that he was a universalist. Nowhere did Merton say that Buddhists and Hindus and Sufis worship false gods or that they are hell-bound because they do not believe in Jesus. When writing about Zen Buddhists, Merton always assumed that they were communing with the same “ground of Being” that he had found through Catholic monasticism.

Foster recommends the universalist mystic MEISTER ECKHART, quoting him at least two times in various editions of Celebration of Discipline and saying, “Today Eckhart is widely read and appreciated, not so much for his theological opinions as for his vision of God” (Spiritual Classics, p. 206). How can Eckhart have had a proper vision of God when he believed that God is everything and that man is divinity? 

Foster recommends the universalist DOROTHY DAY. He has an entire chapter by and about her in his book Spiritual Classics. Day wrote:

“Going to the people is the purest and best act in Christian tradition and revolutionary tradition [she is referring to Marxism] and is the beginning of world brotherhood. Never to be severed from the people, to set out always from the point of view of serving the people, not serving the interests of a small group or oneself. … It is almost another way of saying that we must and will FIND CHRIST IN EACH AND EVERY MAN, when we look on them as brothers” (Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness). 

Foster promotes KARL RAHNER. There is a chapter by him in Spiritual Classics. Yet he believed in evolution and in salvation apart from faith in Christ. He spoke of the “anonymous Christian,” referring to an individual who unconsciously responds to God’s grace operating in the world, though he might even reject the gospel.

Foster promotes Benedictine priest JOHN MAIN, saying that he “understood well the value of both silence and solitude” and he “rediscovered meditation while living in the Far East” (Spiritual Classics, p. 155). Indeed, he did. Main learned meditation from a Hindu guru! Main combined Catholic contemplative practices with yoga and in 1975 began founding meditation groups in Catholic monasteries based on this syncretism.

Foster recommends HILDEGARD OF BINGEN. There is an entire chapter by her in Spiritual Classics. She had wild-eyed visions and wrote as the direct mouthpiece of God, yet her prophecies taught Catholic heresies, including the veneration of Mary. One of her songs was entitled “Praise for the Mother.” 

Foster recommends AGNES SANFORD, saying, “I have discovered her to be an extremely wise and skillful counselor in these matters” and calls her book The Healing Gifts of the Spirit “an excellent resource” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 136, footnote 1). Foster includes an entire chapter by Sanford in his book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home and another chapter by her in Spiritual Disciplines. Sanford delved deeply into New Thought, Jungian psychology, and other dangerous fields. She said that she got her doctrine that there is a “spiritual body” within the physical body from New Thought teacher Emmet Fox (Sealed Orders, p. 115), who also believed that man is God. Sanford was a universalist and the founder of the dangerous field of healing of memories. She taught healing through meditation, visualization, and positive confession. She said that if she spilled hot oil on her hand in the kitchen, she would confess: “I’m boss inside of me. And what I say goes. I say that my skin shall not be affected by that boiling fat, and that’s all there is to it. I see my skin well, perfect and whole, and I say it’s to be so” (The Healing Light, p. 65). (For more about Sanford see the report “Agnes Sanford” at the Way of Life web site.)

Foster recommends MARTIN MARTY, who wrote the foreword to Streams of Living Water. Yet Marty is a relativist and a modernist who denies the divine inspiration of the Bible and eternal judgment in hell. Marty supports abortion and the ordination of homosexuals, and in an interview with Playboy in 1974 he recommended adultery in some situations. 

Foster quotes HARVEY COX, who repudiates the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith and has described himself as a fellow traveler of the Hare Krishna movement. 

Foster also quotes sympathetically and non-critically from the psychoanalyst CARL JUNG who rejected the Bible as mythical and communicated intimately throughout his life with a spirit guide. 

Foster even recommends New Age mystics. He quotes MARTIN BUBER, who rejected the God of the Bible and the fall of man and believed that God is found through interaction with human society and non-doctrinal mysticism. Buber believed that the Bible is largely mythical. 

Foster quotes ELIZABETH O’CONNOR, who was a universalist and praised the Hindu guru Krishnamurti. O’Connor believed that Christ has saved all of mankind and is creating a new world through social-justice action. There is no need for individuals to be saved; they are already children of God and merely need to find God’s will for their lives and see “the divine life throbbing in the whole of the world” (O’Connor, “Each of Us Has Something Grand to Do,” Faith At Work magazine, Nov.-Dec. 1979). 

Foster recommends the writings of DAG HAMMARSKJÖLD (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 62; Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 33; Spiritual Classics, p. 156, 251-260). He was a universalist who built the UN Chapel in 1952 as a New Age meditation center. There is a six-and-a-half ton block of iron ore in the center of the room, the polished top of which is lit by a single beam of light from the ceiling. The light depicts “divine wisdom,” and the block depicts an empty altar representing “God worshipped in many forms” (http://www.aquaac.org/un/sprtatun.html). The iron ore also represents the metal from which weapons are made and the New Age hope that through the power of meditation world peace can be achieved. Hammarskjöld said, “… we thought we could bless by our thoughts the very material out of which arms are made.”  

Foster recommends PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN. He includes a chapter by him in Spiritual Disciplines. Teilhard taught that God is the consciousness of the universe, that everything is one, and that everything is evolving in greater and greater enlightenment toward an ultimate point of perfection. He called this perfection CHRIST and THE OMEGA POINT. Teilhard spoke much of Christ, but his christ is not the Christ of the Bible. For this reason, Teilhard is a favorite with New Agers. 

Foster also recommends the writings of pagan mystics LAO-TSE of China (founder of Taoism) and ZARATHUSTRA of Persia (founder of Zoroastrianism) (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 62).  

These are only some of the heretics that Foster quotes and recommends in his books! 

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).

Renovaré: Foster’s ecumenical program

In 1988 Foster founded RENOVARÉ (pronounced ren-o-var-ay), which is Latin, meaning “to make new spiritually.” This is an ecumenical organization that promotes spiritual renewal through contemplative exercises, charismatic practices, and other things. 

Renovaré’s ecumenical thrust is radical. Its objective is “to work for the renewal of the Church of Jesus Christ in all her multifaceted expressions.” Its slogan is “Christian in commitment, international in scope, ecumenical in breadth.” Renovaré’s ministry team represents men and women “from Mennonite to Methodist, Roman Catholic to Church of God in Christ, Assembly of God to American Baptist.” 

Foster describes the breadth of his ecumenical vision in these words:

“God is gathering his people once again, creating of them an all-inclusive community of loving persons with Jesus Christ as the community’s prime sustainer and most glorious inhabitant. This community is breaking forth in multiplied ways and varied forms. …

“I see a Catholic monk from the hills of Kentucky standing alongside a Baptist evangelist from the streets of Los Angeles and together offering up a sacrifice of praise. I see a people” (Streams of Living Water, 2001, p. 274).

In his book Streams of Living Water Foster “celebrates the great traditions of the Christian faith.” These are contemplative, holiness, charismatic, social justice, evangelical, and incarnational, claiming that all are “true streams flowing from the fountain of Jesus Christ.” In emerging church fashion, he believes that these “traditions,” which represent diverse and contradictory doctrines and practices, are “complementary” and needed.  

At the October 1991 Renovaré meeting in Pasadena, California, Foster praised Pope John Paul II and called for unity in the Body of Christ” (CIB Bulletin, December 1991).

In Renovaré Foster works closely with Dallas Willard. Willard attended Foster’s Quaker church in the 1970s, and today he is one of Renovaré’s Ministry Team members. The Renovaré web site in March 2008 advertised an upcoming “conversation” between Willard and Foster. 

Willard says that “it is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved” (“Apologetics in Action,” Cutting Edge magazine, winter 2001, vol. 5 no. 1, Vineyard USA, http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=14).

Anti-Dispensationalism/Kingdom Gospel

Foster calls Dispensationalism a “heresy” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 46, footnote). Thus, he believes that Christians are building the kingdom of God today and that Christ’s coming is not imminent. 

Dallas Willard believes the same thing. In his book The Divine Conspiracy he preaches a “kingdom gospel” that downplays the centrality of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. (He calls it a “theory.”) The apostle Paul said that if anyone preaches a different gospel than the one given to him by God he is accursed (Galatians 1:6-9). Paul’s gospel is plainly stated in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, and it is not a kingdom gospel. It is the gospel of personal salvation through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

We have refuted the kingdom gospel error in What Is the Emerging Church, which is available from Way of Life Literature.

Accepting the Catholic Mass

Foster allows for Rome’s abominable doctrine that the consecrated wafer of the Mass is actually the body of Christ. He says it doesn’t matter to him what one believes about the “eucharist”:

“Christian people of honest heart have long differed over how the life of Christ is mediated to us through the Communion feast. Complicated words are used to make important distinctions: transubstantiation, consubstantiation, memorial, and the like. … I have no desire to unsettle the convictions of any person, irrespective of the tradition by which he or she is able to enter fully into the Communion service” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 112).

Foster’s position sounds sympathetic and kind, but it is blatant disobedience to God’s Word, which commands us to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). The apostle Paul received directly from the Lord the teaching that the Lord’s Supper is a memorial (1 Cor. 11:23-25). Christ is not “mediated” through the Lord’s Supper in any sense, and we are not authorized to allow heresies and private doctrines not supported by Scripture. Foster refuses to exercise this obligation. He is willing to allow his Catholic readers to believe that a piece of bread becomes Christ through priestly hocus pocus and that it is perfectly acceptable to pray to this piece of bread and to venerate it as Jesus, which is what all of his Catholic mystic friends do.

The Pentecostal-Charismatic Connection

Foster is closely associated with the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement. He believes this movement has wonderful and important things to offer to the “body of Christ” and he accepts some of the most radical charismatic practices, including spirit slaying, holy laughter, and spiritual drunkenness. He calls these things the “prayer of the heart” but they are actually doctrines of devils.

“Another expression of the Prayer of the Heart is what is sometimes referred to as ‘resting in the Spirit.’ It is the experience of being taken up by the Spirit’s power in such a way that the individual loses consciousness for a time. Some enter a trancelike state; others lie quietly on the ground or floor. …

“‘Holy laughter’ is still another expression of the Prayer of the Heart. The joy of the Spirit seems to simply well up within a person until there is a bursting forth into high, holy, hilarious laughter. It sometimes is given to the individual in personal prayer, but more frequently it comes upon the gathered community. That is as it should be, for laughter is, after all, a communal experience. To the uninitiated it might appear that these people are drunk, and so they are–with the Spirit” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, pp. 138, 139). 

See the book The Pentecostal-Charismatic Movements: History and Error for a biblical refutation of these practices. This is available from Way of Life Literature.

Healing of Memories

Foster believes in the heresy of the “healing of memories,” which he doubtless learned from the aforementioned Agnes Sanford.

“My first experience was with a man who had lived in constant fear and bitterness for twenty-eight years. He would wake up at night, screaming and in a cold sweat. He lived in constant depression, so much so that his wife said that he had not laughed for many years. 

“He told me the story of what had happened those many years before that had caused such a deep sadness to hang over him. He was in Italy during the Second World War and was in charge of a mission of thirty-three men. They became trapped by enemy gunfire. With deep sorrow in his eyes, this man related how he had prayed desperately that God would get them out of that mess. It was not to be. He had to send his men out two by two and watch them get killed. Finally in the early hours of the morning he was able to escape with six men–four seriously wounded. He had only a flesh wound. He told me that the experience turned him into an atheist. Certainly, his heart was filled with rage, bitterness, and guilt. 

“I said, ‘Don’t you know that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who lives in the eternal now, can enter that old painful memory and heal it so that it will no longer control you?’ He did not know this was possible. I asked if he would mind if I prayed for him–NEVER MIND THAT HE WAS AN ATHEIST; I would have faith for him. He nodded his consent. Sitting beside him with my hand on his shoulder, I invited the Lord Jesus to go back those twenty-eight years and walk through that day with THIS GOOD MAN. ‘Please, Lord,’ I asked, ‘draw out the hurt and the hate and the sorrow and set him free.’ Almost as an afterthought I asked for peaceful sleep to be one of the evidences of this healing work, for he had not slept well for all those years. ‘Amen.’

“The next week he came up to me with a sparkle in his eyes and a brightness on his face I had never seen before. ‘Every night I have slept soundly, and each morning I have awakened with a hymn on my mind. And I am happy … happy for the first time in twenty-eight years.’ His wife concurred that it was so. That was many years ago, and the wonderful thing is that although this man has had the normal ups and downs of life since then, the old sorrows have never returned. He was totally and instantaneously healed” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 205). 

The bottom line is that this experience is strictly and profoundly unscriptural. There is not a hint of such a thing taught in the Bible. 

Some are impressed with the results of such practices, but if the only standard for the truth of a practice is its effectiveness, then we are left with no certain standard, because the devil can imitate many “spiritual” things. Psychics and psychoanalysists have produced the same results that Foster achieved with his “healing of memory prayer.” Note that he does not say that the man was scripturally born again through this experience. He just became happy, and the manipulation of the emotions is easily within the realm of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Foster’s Interfaith Activities

Foster is involved in the LIVING SPIRITUAL TEACHERS PROJECT, a group that associates together Roman Catholics, liberal Protestants, Zen Buddhist monks and nuns, universalists, occultists, and New Agers. Members include the Dalai Lama, who claims to be the reincarnation of an advanced spiritual entity; Marianne Williamson, promoter of the occultic A Course in Miracles; Marcus Borg, who believes that Jesus was not virgin born and did not rise from the grave; Catholic nun Joan Chittister, who says we must become “in tune with the cosmic voice of God”; Andrew Harvey, who says that men need to “claim their divine humanity”; Matthew Fox, who believes there are many paths to God; Alan Jones, who calls the gospel of the cross a vile doctrine and says there is no absolute authority; and Desmond Tutu, who says, “… because everybody is a God-carrier, all are brothers and sisters.”  

God’s Word unequivocally reproves Foster’s activity with the commandment, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). 

Conclusion

Richard Foster believes he is promoting a true spiritual revival within Christianity, but he is the blind leading the blind. His writings are an exceedingly dangerous mixture of truth and error. Pastors and teachers need to warn their people to stay away from him, for “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9).

 

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 From Stand Up for the Truth

Suffering for Truth: When churches force members to leave

Have you ever gone to church leadership because of some alarming things being taught in your church?

As the Great Falling Away continues in our beloved church communities, it seems that even those who once were thought “solid” are not immune to the yeast of false teachings and rogue leadership bent on silencing concerns.  It may have happened to you.

A friend of mine allowed me to re-publish her testimony on our site, and it’s one that might stir a lot of emotions for many of you. What happened to her and her family is very sad, but what her family is doing now serves as a tale and a trend you are going to be hearing a lot more about in the year ahead.

Family

Suffering for the Truth     By Jenna Guerette           (Originally published at Truth or Trend)

Ever since I was a child, I always found it important to stand up for the truth.  I’m talking about the truth that is only found in Scripture.  My childhood church turned emergent during the 1990’s.  I noted that something was wrong right away.  My family had held on there for years because of our friendships that we had there.  We knew that if we left we would lose them.  (Sounds like great friends eh?)  I was only taught Arminian doctrine.
Eventually, there was a complete exodus of most of the members of this church.  The next church my family attended went emergent and word of faith.  I didn’t know these terms back then.  I just knew something was wrong.  During my time at this church, I got married and had my daughter.  My parents and siblings continued to attend along with us.  One Sunday the pastor of the church announced that any who disagreed with the direction of the church could find their way to the nearest exit.  He said that he was leading the congregation south and we were welcome to head north.  Not surprisingly, we left that church.
My husband and I were left extremely discouraged.  We decided to try a church that a family friend had recommended.  Once we attended there, it was like a breath of fresh air.  The pastor preached from God’s Word.  He spoke out against Rick Warren, The Secret, Oprah, and The Shack.  He taught us about the errors of the Emergent Church , mysticism, and contemplative prayer.  For the first time in my life I felt like I belonged to a church family.  My husband, my parents, and I got involved in the church.  Our pastor introduced us to “The Way of the Master.”  My husband began an evangelism ministry that was fully supported by our church.  He and a number of other men went to the “Ambassador’s Academy.”  Every Friday night they would go out and share the gospel.  This ministry was thriving.  We had friends, ministries we loved, and the truth from the pulpit.  Life was great!
After being at the church for a number of years, things began to change.  Our pastor became cold and distant.  He took a six month sabbatical and wrote a book.  His wife (who called me frequently) became inaccessible.  The church had an elders’ board.  This was a unelected board.  The men on the board simply appointed new elders.  The head elder was always one of two men.  No others on the board would ever have this position. Our pastor became known as a “teaching elder.”
Strange things began happening.  The evangelism ministry was called into question.  The elders wanted the open-air preaching to stop.  Apparently, there were some complaints from our community about this ministry.  The men in the ministry were adhering to all the laws and bylaws for our community.  This was just persecution.  An executive decision was made by the elders to dissolve the evangelism ministry.  The people in the ministry could still go out and witness but they could not use the church’s name when witnessing.  They were to be completely separate from the church.
Around this time, a group named “Life Action Ministries” came to our church.  Prior to them coming, they sent a promoter.  It was kind of like what the circus would do in the old days.  Believe me, this was no less of a circus.  One of the men that came, spoke in detail about an adulterous affair he had had while on a business trip.  He credited “Life Action Ministries” with reviving him.  The whole thing was carefully scripted to elicit emotion from the congregation.  I knew that something was wrong with this ministry.
When their team visited our church eight weeks later, I was astounded.  They used every method of Charles Finney to manipulate the congregation.  They also endorsed Keswick Theology.  They believed that each Christian had to reach a crisis moment in their life.  At this point of crisis, they could achieve a second blessing or filling of the Holy Spirit.  The main speaker admitted that he had these revivals down to a “science.”  He took many verses out of context in order to achieve his goals.  Microphones were set up at the front of the church so that people could go and confess their sins openly to the congregation.  People were told to write down their idols on Styrofoam cups.  They were then to come to the front of the church and crush these cups with their feet.
A cursory look at the website of “Life Action Ministries” revealed that they had no problem with mysticism.  They had numerous books for sale.  Including those by Henry Blackaby, Priscilla Shirer, Jim Cymbala, Gary Thomas, and Mark Batterson.   They also quoted Catholic mystics such as Henri Nouwen and Brother Lawrence.  Here is a link to their beliefs – http://www.lifeactionministries.ca/about/.  Through two visits to my church they raked in about $62,000.  This ministry has long tentacles.  They are involved in the SBC, Moody, and The True Woman Movement.
This ministry received a cult-like following at my church.
The women in my church decided to attend a True Woman Conference in 2012.  As I looked at the list of speakers, I became alarmed.  Priscilla Shirer was one of the speakers.  I’ve already outlined the problems with this woman in a previous blog post.  I contacted the True Woman organization regarding my concerns with this speaker.  I was told that this conference wasn’t for a woman like me.  I also brought my concerns to my pastor ( teaching elder) and the head elder.  They weren’t going to stop the women from attending but they would go over what mysticism was with them.  They appeared annoyed that I’d brought this to their attention.
Unfortunately, I soon learned that the women in my church were reading “Jesus Calling” and “1000 Gifts.”  I discovered that the church library had books by Henry Blackaby and Richard Foster.  I became alarmed.  I brought my concerns to my pastor.  I was told that he and the elders couldn’t police the church.  They had too many strings on their violin to deal with it.  If I kept bringing disunity to the church then I would find myself in a home church.   I also tried to ask questions about Tim Keller and John Piper.  Both of these men do not believe in a literal six day creation.  They were constantly being quoted by our assistant pastor.  I wanted some clarification about what to do with this errant belief.  My pastor – teaching elder- told me to have grace for this error.  He also hoped that I would have grace if he ever “fell.” My husband, family, and I were puzzled by these words.  My Mom and I had used Facebook to try to warn the women of the church about Priscilla Shirer and to bring attention to these mystical books.  We soon found out that this was unappreciated.
On St. Patrick’s Day 2013 my family was kicked out of our church.  My husband and I were not present that day.  My husband had to work and I was home with our son who was sick.  My husband had been trying for 8 months to be able to meet with the elders board regarding the evangelism ministry.  They were still against open air preaching and my husband wanted them to show him from Scripture where it was wrong.  Instead the elders used a back door approach to get rid of us.  They decided to kick my parents out.  Three elders surrounded my parents.  My daughter and brother were present.  They did this in a back pew at the end of a service so that everyone could see it.  They told my parents that they were no longer welcome to worship with them.
One elder expressed that his wife would miss my children.  The elders didn’t like us warning the flock on Facebook.  Facebook wasn’t to be used as an outreach or for evangelism.  They were also appalled that my Mom had shared a sermon by John MacArthur about the seven year tribulation.  Our pastor – teaching elder- had his own, very original thoughts regarding the end times.  We were to accept these and no other teachings.  Also, the head elder expressed three times that he had no problem with lectio divina, contemplative prayer, and mysticism.  He also expressed that the church was going with “Life Action Ministries.”  He acted aggressively towards my parents.  He yelled at them saying, “Do you think you’re smarter than me?”  Our pastor – teaching elder- was out in the hallway.  He was waiting for their report.  Finally, the horrible interview ended.  These elders had the audacity to end it in a prayer about unity.  They mumbled something about an official meeting where my parents could plead their case.  Unfortunately, they neglected to give the time and place.  As of this writing, my parents have heard nothing from any elder or leader from our former church.
We were absolutely stunned.  I walked around like I was in a fog.  My husband was working 14 hr. days, 7 days a week.  I received 2 calls from the youth pastor of the church.  Each one, I let go to the answering machine.  I was in shock.  I sat down to write a letter.  I put nine hours into it.  Everything I said was backed up with proof.  My husband and I sent it to our elders and a few selected friends.  The only letter we received back from the elders was one full of personal attacks.  What we said was true but our tone was critical.  We were also told that we were responsible for the loss of numerous friendships for our children.  I was stunned.
The next Sunday, a congregational meeting was held.  They stated that my family hadn’t been kicked out.  Bits of my letter were read out of context.  A man who had eaten numerous dinners in our home, slandered my Mom and myself in front of the church.  A trusted friend told me what happened at this meeting.  All in all, the meeting was a complete snow job.  It was my family’s word against the elders.  The elders were anointed by God.  How could they be wrong?
Since this horrible event, we have tried another church in our community. At this church, we were frozen out.  Apparently, they had heard our story from the elders at our former church.  They made sure to make us feel unwelcome.  We also experienced errant teaching while we were there.   Finally, we couldn’t handle their unkindness towards us any longer.  So we decided to start a home church.
Another couple who had also been kicked out of our former church began joining us.  They were dismissed for Facebook infractions as well.  Each Sunday we meet in our home to sing and listen to a sermon podcast.  We also share in communion.  It has been a time of growth.  We have learned so much about doctrine.  We’d never been taught doctrine at all.  We were always told that it was divisive.  Finally, we understand doctrine.
I’m hoping that through sharing this that I can get over the trauma.  Perhaps some of you have experienced this type of abuse.  That is all I can call it – abuse.
Romans 8:18 ” For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
January 2015
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