Contemplative Spirituality can be defined as different spiritual paths, or personal spirituality that uses ancient mystical practices to induce an altered state of consciousness in the effort to connect and commune with God. Fundamentally, contemplative spirituality is the hub of pantheism but at its heart it is humanism repackaged. Although it has existed for centuries, in the last decade contemplative spirituality has exploded globally and is a wide-reaching movement flooding into many mainline evangelical and charismatic churches and institutions. But what lies behind contemplative spirituality, lurking in the shadows are seducing spirits. The Scriptures warns those living in the last days that many shall abandon the faith, “giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies” (1 Tim. 5:1-2). Although much that passes for spiritual manifestation is pure trickery of the enemy, real communications are at times received from spirits guising themselves as ministers of light. And as Alfred Tennyson has said, “A lie which is half a truth is a harder matter to fight than a lie outright.”
Contemplative Spirituality actually sounds a lot like method acting. In method acting you are taught to empty yourself and allow the spirit of the character to fill you. I know it sounds crazy but many actors claim that when they are “in the zone” it’s as if someone else is inside them. So let’s look at some religions which practice contemplative spirituality then compare them to some evangelical and charismatic movements who do the same.
Theosophy is not a religion, but a revival of “Ancient Wisdom” which lies behind all religions alike rather it be Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholicism, and even the Emergent Church. Theosophy is an all-inclusive synthesis of truths, as it deals with God, the Universe, and Man and their relations to each other.1 Theosophy is New Age doctrine and thought disguised in contemplative spirituality and is practiced by the religions mentioned above as well as many if not all secret societies such as the freemasons, etc. The essential teaching behind Theosophy (New Age Movement) is the evolution of humanity, the transcending of negative attitudes, thoughts, and feelings that can limit what oneself and humanity can do. Yoked to this teaching is the idea of self-glorification to a higher state of consciousness where one can become as Christ or become “a Christ.” To the Theosophist, the Historical Christ is merely a glorious Being belonging to the great spiritual hierarchy (other ascended beings) that guides the spiritual evolution of humanity…”2 Theosophy teaches that Christ was no higher than an angel who simply engaged in “evolving” humanity.
Sufism is an Islamic form of mysticism, a form of Muslim Contemplative Spirituality akin to what Hindus and Buddhists engage in. Sufism is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a sufi. Another name for a Sufi is Dervish. Classical Sufi scholars have defined Sufism as “a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God.” Alternatively, in the words of the Darqawi Sufi teacher Ahmad ibn Ajiba, it is “a science through which one can know how to travel into the presence of the Divine, purify one’s inner self from filth, and beautify it with a variety of praiseworthy traits (Emphasis Mine).” Classical Sufis were characterized by their attachment to dhikr (a practice of repeating the names of God) and asceticism.3 Monks and nuns in monasteries do it, repetitive centering prayer, repeating a phrase/mantra until and altered state is achieved. Essentially its doctrine is esoterically identical with that of Theosophy,4 there is no God, save what man himself can become. And since Sufism coincides with Theosophy, its general practice is in entire sympathy with Spiritualism.5 To the Theosophist, the Hindu, the Buddhist and Spiritualist alike, every man is his own priest and his own savor.
And now we have virtually all branches of Evangelical Protestants as well as Mainline churches engaging in New Age contemplative spirituality…these wayward “Christians” think that by simply using Christian terminology it suddenly becomes acceptable. It could be Sufism will be the thing that calms down the Muslims/Radicals when they realize they, too, are on the same page with the rest of humanity…voila’ everyone is spiritual, everyone is a “portable temple,” everyone is in touch with the “inner light.” And wait till there are mass healings among all these groups as they practice contemplation. They will go wild thinking God is among them…that the Christ has come…and when the AC does come he will ratify everything for them. By the time this goes down very, very few holdouts in the conservative-evangelical church will be able to resist…and if they do they will be singled out, ridiculed and maybe hauled in to the “authorities” for refusing to go along with the “program.”6
Catholicism and Christian Mystics
The biggest and one of the oldest enthusiast of Contemplative Spirituality is Catholicism! Much like Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, Catholicism pursues a monastic life and contemplative spirituality. Pope Benedict gave a call for all to practice “Lectio Divina,” and presented five reasons for doing lectio divina…
Lectio Divina is of course central to Benedictine spirituality, with several hours a day of prayerful reading of Scripture and other spiritual texts required of monks in the Rule. And it is also one of the central themes of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini.Scattered throughout the document are the reasons why lectio is so crucial. Here are the reasons he sets out for why we should do lectio divina…
To build the Church as a community: “While it is a word addressed to each of us personally, it is also a world which builds community, which builds the Church…The reading of the world of God…enables us to deepen our sense of belonging to the Church, and helps us to grow in familiarity with God.”
To nourish and sustain us on our journey of penance and conversion: through it, we grow in love and truth.
In order to discern God’s will for us, and convert us: Contemplation aims at creating within us a truly wise and discerning vision of reality, as God sees it, and at forming within us “the mind of Christ.”
The Pope particularly recommends lectio divina to seminarians because: “It is in the light and strength of God’s word that one’s specific vocation can be discerned and appreciated, loved and followed, and one’s proper mission carried out…”7
Guigo II, the first Catholic Mystic to write on the subject lived in the 12th century and was considered the first writer in the western tradition to consider stages of prayer as a ladder which leads to a closer mystical communion with God. By the 16th century the methods of “Methodical prayer” had reached Spain and St. John of the Cross taught the 4 stages of Guigo II to his monks introducing “Lectio Divina.” St. John of the Cross used four terms: concentration, meditation, contemplation, and infused contemplation. Infused Contemplation finds its equivalent in the terms a sadhaka of yoga would use. Infused contemplation, according to St. John of the Cross, is the stage where the disciple abandons once and for all the initiative in his spiritual development. It is what St. John of the Cross calls the “final term” which the soul discovers when she arrives at the end of her spiritual journey. This realization is accomplished by God in the human soul.8
Wikipedia’s has a list of 400 Christian Mystics9 of whom Bill Johnson, Rick Joyner, Todd Bentley, John Wimber, Jack Deere, and John Paul Jackson, are all listed. Most of these men have ties to Catholicism. Interesting is the similarity between Christian Mystics and the practices of Kabbalah such as mystical exegesis, prayer/contemplation, pilgrimages to holy graves, etc.
Mysticism from the Greek (mystikos, meaning ‘an initiate’) is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience of and even communion with a supreme being. A “mystikos” was an initiate of a mystery religion. Christian mysticism refers to the development of mystical practices and theory within Christianity. It is often connected to mystical theology, which includes the higher forms of contemplation with the idea that private revelations and visions create a union growing out of these between God and the soul, known as the mystical union.10
The evidence presented, Catholicism as well as Christian mystics are then a “mystery religion,” and are not a part of Traditional Christian Orthodoxy. It is this writer’s opinion and conviction that “Mystery Babylon” (Revelation 17) is the accumulation of all mystical religions, practice and thought; Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Emergent Church, NAR/Charismania, Sufism, Catholicism, theosophy, New Age/One World Order/Religion, etc.
Although they all may differ in terminology, practice, etc, they all are interrelated, and are daily becoming unified as each embraces the other. Take Rick Joyner for example who is a member of the “Knights of Malta11, also known as the “order of St. John” later developed from the teachings of “John of the Cross” who taught the four stages of Lectio divina; reading, meditation, prayer, contemplation.
My studies have discovered a clear link between Hinduism, Catholicism, and the NAR as seen in the Vaishnavite saints of India. The Vaishnavite saints of India have a determined dogmatism from which they cannot depart. But the attitude imposed by the dogmas leaves us free to observe the full flowering of Raja-Yoga in St. John of the Cross. Raja-Yoga is not allied with any theology whatsoever, although it exists as the most powerful moving force which propels us towards the realization of mystical theology, whatever our religions may be. Dogmas, Vaisnava or Christian, enter in only when it becomes a matter of interpreting the substance of infused contemplation. Contemplation is the common denominator linking all mystical religions together as one.
Due to the mystical “devotion” expressed in chanting and dancing, the Hare Krishnas can be compared to Sufi Muslims (“Whirling Dervishes”), and some mystical expressions of Christianity which emphasize ecstatic experiences and mystical transcendence12, much of which is seen in the Charismania movement of the NAR.
And when you listen to the teachings of Bill Johnson or read either books by Bill or Kris Vallotton, Catholicism is a pattern for their ministries and their teachings of the Mystical Monks and Desert Fathers. So if the Vaishnavite saints of India embrace St. John of the Cross, and Rick Joyner and Bill Johnson embrace St. John of the Cross, the saying; “all roads lead to Rome,” becomes self evident.
“While Rick Warren, Dan Kimball and Dr. Robert Webber and others may be excited about the ‘Emerging Church’ and the direction it is presently headed, I am concerned the ‘Emerging Church’ may actually be a re-emergence of what has already occurred in church history. If the pattern continues expect to see evangelical Protestants become more and more Roman Catholic” – Roger Oakland, Understand the Times13
Many think that one of the big problems with the Emerging Church is their view on relativism (the belief that there are no absolutes). But they may be wrong, very wrong. Brian McLaren rejected relativism in a Powerpoint presentation viewed last year. Relativism does not describe the Emerging Church. As McLaren himself said, it has to go beyond that … and indeed it does. Where do we go from relativism, according to McLaren … what else …. interspirituality. But remember interspirituality is the outcome of contemplative prayer and is the uniting of all religions and the denial that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. So many of the scholars who are analyzing the emerging church may be missing something that is right under their noses.14 Interspirituality is a term coined by Wayne Teasdale, a lay monk at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, who combines the traditions of Christianity and Hinduism in his spiritual journey. And that is what the Emergent is, a mixed bag of spirituality.
“In a nutshell Interspirituality means that when you have entered the world of the Heart, the question of who is right or wrong with regard to belief or creed is pretty much irrelevant“ – Wayne Teasdale
You see, if you throw belief and creed out the window you end up with a cross between the 60′s hippies and the 70′s Jesus culture, all hitting acid and floating off into a mindless theology twilight zone. It develops into a “anything goes,” “if it’s your truth then it is truth,” every man does that which is right in his own eyes mentality. But then….that is Contemplative Spirituality!
“In at nutshell conventional “Interfaith/interspirituality” is a discussion amongst the myriad organized religions of the world with a mind to promoting dialogue, tolerance and peace. A somewhat deeper level of spirituality (and a welcoming heart) brings one to a “Trans-traditional Spirituality”. Here one recognizes the abundant riches of all the world’s spiritual experiences and traditions.”15 The biggest problem with this is it is man’s attempt to reach God rather than the Sovereignty of God reaching man. They have it all backwards!
“‘Emergent’ folks are Christians who are impatient with rigid megachurch formulas and noisy doctrinal in-fighting…. They’re hammering out a theology that’s friendly to ancient faith practices (contemplative prayer, labyrinths, hospitality) in a postmodern world of quantum physics, 24/7 media and coffee-house culture.”—From Ray Waddle — ‘Emergent’ Christians Seek Spirituality
The Emergent Church is simply a hodgepodge of Contemplative Spirituality. Without contemplative spirituality, the emerging church would be nothing more than couches and candles.16Yet it is much more than that as it elects to cling to subjective truth, crossing any number of theological boundaries imaginable, like a river it flows out of Catholicism like a raging title wave. And it has many faces ranging from Protestant to post-Protestant, Catholic to evangelical, evangelical to post-evangelical, liberal to post-liberal, reformed to charismatic. And its proponents believe the Emergent Church transcends the modernist labels of “conservative” and “liberal” choosing instead to call it a “conversation,” coupled to a “Praxis-oriented lifestyle.
Theosophy, Sufism, Catholicism, Emergent, Charismatic (NAR/WoF), Hinduism, Buddhism, Islamism, all have one common denominator, Contemplative Spirituality! And Mysticism! All consist of three common teachings, Contemplative Spirituality, the denial of Christ’s Deity, and all are Eschatological Dominionist.
Religion, magick, mysticism, witchcraft, divination, cults, healings, meditation, self-help, philosophy, theory, parapsychology, ESP, telepathy, clairvoyance, new age, psycho kinesis, superstition, dream interpretation, phrenology, tarot cards, mantra’s, yoga, read strings, holy water, blessings, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism, anyism, past life regression, holistic medicine, numerology, faith healing, aromatherapy, secret societies, reiki, hypnosis, channeling, transmutation, phrenology, astrology, astral travel or projection, lucid dreaming, spiritualism, communicating with the dead, out of body experiences, magnetism, voodoo, freemasonry, theosophy, reflexology, Ufo’s, and fanaticism have one thing in common, the Mystical.
1 Heresies Exposed; WM. C. Irvine, p. 187 Theosophy by A. McD. Redwood
2 Esoteric Christianity, Annie (Wood) Besant; p.140
4G. H. Pember. Earth’s Earliest Ages (Kindle Location 3845). Kindle Edition.
5 G. H. Pember. Earth’s Earliest Ages (Kindle Location 3848). Kindle Edition.
6 m’kayla’s korner; The Theosophical Road to Babel: comments.
8(Hindu Thought & Carmelite Mysticism; Swami Siddheswarananda.)
9Widipedia; Christian Mystics
10Wikipedia; Christian mysticism
11Rick Joyner; Knight of Malta
13 Lighthouse Trails Research Project
14 Lighthouse Trails Research Project
16 Lighthouse Trails Research Project