Posts Tagged contemplative spirituality

A Time of Departing – A Decade of Warning About Contemplative Spirituality

Sep 20th, 2012 Posted in LT Author News, Publishing News | Comments Off on A Time of Departing – A Decade of Warning About Contemplative Spirituality

In September of 2002, the then-new publishing house, Lighthouse Trails Publishing, released its first book, A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen. Since then, over 32,000 copies of Yungen’s book have been sold or given away. While that may not be considered a high number in comparison to New York Times best sellers (such as The Purpose Driven Life and The Shack), which sell tens of millions of copies, A Time of Departing, we believe, has had a far reaching effect around the world.A-Time-Of-Departing

Many of the people who have purchased the book over the last ten years are committed believers in Jesus Christ and His Word (the Bible) and have worked tirelessly to warn others of the contemplative prayer (i.e., spiritual formation) movement. We could give countless examples of these scenarios: the church in Hawaii that gives a copy of A Time of Departing to each visitor who comes to the church, a Bible college teacher in California who has purchased several hundred copies of the book and given them away to pastors within his denomination, a former Central American missionary in Portland, Oregon who hands out the book to various ministry figures where she lives, the Sunday School teacher in Nebraska who used the book to teach his class on spiritual deception, a pastor’s wife in Illinois who orders sets of A Time of Departing and Faith Undone and then has them sent to pastors and church leaders around the country, and on and on the stories go. Because of the efforts of these people, contemplative prayer and the emerging church (i.e., the “new” spirituality) are being challenged and biblically refuted throughout the globe, especially in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Northern Ireland.

At its ten year anniversary, A Time of Departing is still being printed, sold, and given away. We believe the reason the book has remained so active is simple – virtually no other publishing company we know of has published a book challenging the contemplative prayer movement.* And frankly, when we first started out, that wasn’t what we expected. We naively thought that once Christian leaders (and publishing houses) learned about this dangerous and anti-biblical spirituality, they would begin to warn their followers (and thus, we even thought Lighthouse Trails might be a short-lived ministry after spawning an initial warning). To the contrary of what we anticipated happening, contemplative spirituality has exploded worldwide within mainstream Christianity. Rather than Christian publishing houses releasing books that take issue with the movement, the majority of Christian publishing companies are publishing books that support and embrace contemplative spirituality (e.g., Thomas Nelson, Baker Books, Zondervan, InterVarsity, NavPress, etc.). And rather than Christian leaders understanding the message of A Time of Departing then sharing it with others, a great number of Christian leaders and organizations are either promoting the movement (e.g., Rick Warren, Beth Moore, In Touch magazine, Charles Swindoll, Focus on the Family, etc.) or simply ignoring it altogether (and that is almost as damaging as promoting it). And of course, as we have often documented, most Christian universities, colleges, and seminaries have begun to promote contemplative spirituality through the spiritual formation movement (even though many professors and college presidents and chaplains have received a free copy of A Time of Departing and Faith Undone (the companion book to A Time of Departing)).

Skeptics may be thinking to themselves, “Well, if all these Christian leaders, professors, and publishing houses have rejected the message of A Time of Departing, then there must be something flawed about Yungen’s message, and they may see it as a fundamentalist conspiracy theory. That could be a legitimate conclusion to draw if what we are accused of by critics is true: one, that A Time of Departing takes quotes out of context; two, that it often uses guilt by mere association to indict someone; and three, Scriptures can be used to support contemplative prayer and thus refute the overall message of A Time of Departing. But the problem for the critics is this – none of these criticisms can be upheld in the light of facts.

In ten years, not one critic has been able to give us a legitimate example of where Yungen took a quote out of context or where he used mere guilt by association. He has used guilt by promotion or guilt by proxy, a very valid form of proof, but that is much different than guilt by association. He has sometimes used guilt by association as a reinforcement of what has already been proven but never as a stand-alone argument. As for taking things out of context, Lighthouse Trails checked every single quote that Ray Yungen cited in the book, and not one quote was taken out of context. When Brennan Manning or Henri Nouwen or Gary Thomas told readers to repeat a word over and over for twenty minutes to enter “the silence,” that is what they meant. When the contemplative mystic Thomas Merton said he believed that every human being has divinity within, that is what he meant. And when Rick Warren said that the spiritual formation movement (i.e., contemplative prayer) is a “valid message for the church” that has “given the body of Christ a wake-up call” (PDC, p. 127 ), that is exactly what he meant! These quotes in A Time of Departing were not taken out of context by any means.

As for Scriptures that can be used to support contemplative prayer – well, there aren’t any. For example, Psalm 46:10, the most popular verse used to “prove” that contemplative prayer is a scripturally mandated practice, has been manipulated and twisted by contemplative advocates, as Ray Yungen points out:

On the surface, this argument can seem valid, but once the meaning of “still” is examined, any contemplative connection is expelled. The Hebrew meaning of the word is to slacken, cease, or abate. In other words, the context is to slow down and trust God rather than get in a dither over things. Relax and watch God work. Reading the two verses just before Psalms 46:10 puts it in an entirely different light from that proposed by mystics:

“Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

This isn’t talking about going into some altered state of consciousness! (ATOD, pp. 34-35)

Another Scripture that is often used by contemplatives to “back up” their position is I Kings 19:12. However, this passage in no way indicates that Elijah was practicing a mantra exercise. On the contrary, it was the prophets of Baal who “called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, ‘O Baal, hear us!” (I Kings 18:26). Now Elijah was in a cave, not to practice contemplative prayer, but to hide from Jezebel’s threat to take his life. Also, his encounter with God was something he did not initiate but God initiated Himself, thereby emphasizing that Elijah was not practicing a mantra. If anything, from his conversation with God, we might conclude that he was also hiding from his ministry and God Himself, as he was feeling hopeless (taken from “A Few Commonly Asked Questions” in ATOD).

When David and Deborah Dombrowski, founders and editors at Lighthouse Trails Publishing, first read the unpublished manuscript of A Time of Departing in the fall of 2000, it seemed to them so unlikely that this mystical spirituality with such interspiritual panentheistic roots could ever be popular within Christianity. But because they could see how subtle and disguised contemplative spirituality was, they saw the need for the warning so this deception wouldn’t enter the church. What they didn’t know then was that ground had already been broken over twenty years earlier through Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline, and then later reinforced in the 90s with Rick Warren’s endorsement of Foster and spiritual formation. By the time A Time of Departing came along, contemplative spirituality was intricately woven in the underlying infrastructure of Western Christianity, only to “come out of the closet” and reveal itself by 2012.

Why do we care so much about exposing this mystical spirituality? It’s because we know at its root the Gospel is being altered, twisted, and disposed of. And that is why Lighthouse Trails will continue to bring light to this area of darkness for as long as the Lord sees fit.

The following two quotes, one from A Time of Departing, sum up and exemplify the need for this warning:

During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: “How can we best help people to attain union with God?” His answer was very clear: We must tell them that they are already united with God. “Contemplative prayer is nothing other than ‘coming into consciousness’ of what is already there.” (Spoken by William Shannon, Thomas Merton’s biographer, cited in ATOD, p. 83).

And from a contemporary mystic:

God’s hope for humanity is that one day we will all recognize that the divine dwelling place is all of creation. Christ comes again whenever we see that matter and spirit coexist. This truly deserves to be called good news. – Richard Rohr (National Catholic Reporter) (Rohr is on Richard Foster’s editorial team)


*Note: While there are now on the market a few books on the topic (such as David Cloud’s book, Contemplative Mysticism), we know of no mainstream evangelical publishing company that has published a book exposing contemplative spirituality. On the contrary, almost all of them have published books promoting the contemplative prayer movement.

A NOVEL ABOUT ONE OF THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES IN THE CHURCH TODAY

Jun 3rd, 2009 Posted in new releases | one comment »

Castles-in-the-SandThe following is an excerpt from our new book release, Castles in the Sand, the first novel ever written to expose the dangers of contemplative spirituality. CASTLES IN THE SAND

CHAPTER ONE
Run

Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil. Proverbs 4:26-27

March 2009
No one noticed the slender girl in the shadows pick up her backpack, tiptoe through the maze of bodies and slip out the back door. The other students were preoccupied as they sat cross-legged on yoga mats while images of Mary, baby Jesus, Celtic crosses, and a winged sun disc flashed across a screen in the darkened room. Two intern youth pastors lay on their backs by the incense station, their eyes glazed as if in a trance. One of them softly chanted a Latin phrase
over and over in time to the repetitive beat. The sound man had long since stopped changing the music and lay nearly motionless on the floor beside the control panel.

As the girl exited the room and let the door quietly swing shut behind her, candles flickered and a paper in the hallway floated to the ground. It read:

Thompson Building, Room 109
Welcome Flat Plains Bible College Students
EKSTASIS NIGHT
A WORSHIP EXPERIENCE
7:00 p.m. Friday March 27th
All First Year SPIRITUAL FORMATION Students
Required to Participate
*go deeper*make space for God*

She leaned against the back of the door for a moment, heart pounding. “Okay Tessa Dawson,” she whispered to herself, “you either just did the right thing or a very stupid thing. Now run!” While her panicked eyes quickly determined the nearest exit out of the building, she scooped up the paper, crumpled it into a ball, and tossed it into a nearby garbage can before racing down the hall. Her long brunette braids bounced madly behind her as she ran toward the stairwell. Suddenly, she heard muffled shouting in the distance, then footsteps coming down the flight of stairs above her.

Spurred on by fear, Tessa ran toward the nearest door, hoping desperately it would open.

Locked! She rushed to the next door and tried the knob.

Locked! She could barely breathe.

Keep going, keep going, she thought frantically. Turning the corner, she glanced over her shoulder. With furrowed eyebrows, she quietly turned the handle on the lecture hall door. The door swung open. Relief washed over her as she rushed in and quietly closed the door behind her. Inside, the room was deathly silent and inky black. Even the moon’s usual casting of long creepy shadows on its walls was missing, for the moon was hidden behind the churning, dark, and ominous clouds that filled the evening sky. Leaning against the nearest wall, the slightly built girl slumped to the floor and rested her head between her knees.

Exhausted and breathing heavily, she sat for a few minutes in the dark, trying to gather her thoughts. She had stayed in room 109 far too long.

Why couldn’t I break away? she wondered. Has this place turned into a prison after all?

Doubts had been brewing in her mind for some time, and now she realized there was only one thing to do. She must escape. They would soon be looking for her, she realized abruptly with a renewed sense of panic. There was no time to waste. (Click here to read the entire first chapter of Castles in the Sand.)

Book Information:
Release Date: May 29, 2009
ISBN 978-0-9791315-4-7
Retail – $12.95
Softbound 224 Pages
Illustrated

For more information, or to order, click here!

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