Daar word deesdae van baie kansels af verkondig dat ons mistiese praktyke soos Lectio Divina moet beoefen om nader aan God te kom. Teilhard de Chardin word in ‘n boek deur Jaap Durand geloof vir sy mistisisme. (Die boek is deur die NG Kerk se amptelike media maatskappy, Bybel Media uitgegee en word grootliks aan lidmate van die NG Kerk bemark.)

Kan ‘n Christen ‘n mistisis wees?

Lees maar wat se Bob DeWaay in sy boek “The Emergent Church: Undefining Christianity.” Die beklemtoning is myne.

“Spiritual Formation” is not Sanctification

Scandrette mentioned “contemplative and bodily spiritual formation” as thematic in many emergent communities. These terms do not denote the Biblical doctrine of sanctification based on the blood atonement and the continued work of grace whereby God works through His ordained means to progressively conform all true believers into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29, 30). The sanctification process is completed at the resurrection. Spiritual formation is something entirely different.

Spiritual formation is the process by which people use various “disciplines” designed to make them feel closer to God and to have a greater sense of inner peace. The heroes of the spiritual formation movement often are Catholic mystics like Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton, and teachers like Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. These men have sold these ideas to unsuspecting evangelicals.

For example, Dan Kimball is a well known Emergent pastor whose book The Emerging Church – Vintage Christianity for New Generations contains endorsements of various mystical writers such as Henri Nouwen, John Michael Talbot (a Roman Catholic mystic), and Dallas Willard. For Kimball, “vintage Christianity” means teaching non-biblical practices from the medieval Roman Catholic Church. Kimball laments, “We have neglected so many of the disciplines of the historical church, including weekly fasting, practicing silence, and lectio divina.” Well known evangelical Chip Ingram makes a side bar comment in Kimball’s book endorsing what Kimball says about the disciplines.

Do not be deceived; no such “spiritual disciplines” are found in the Bible. God Himself has ordained for all Christians the means of grace. The “disciplines” are discovered by spiritual innovators who think they can blaze their own spiritual trails. For example, lectio divina is a practice that ignores the meaning of the Biblical authors and instead seeks a personal revelation or spiritual experience from a word that supposedly will spring out of context, off the page to the practitioner of that particular discipline. Here is how a current Roman Catholic teacher describes it:
A VERY ANCIENT art, practiced at one time by all Christians, is the technique known as lectio divina – a slow, contemplative praying of the Scriptures which enables the Bible, the Word of God, to become a means of union with God. This ancient practice has been kept alive in the Christian monastic tradition, and is one of the precious treasures of Benedictine monastics and oblates. Together with the Liturgy and daily manual labor, time set aside in a special way for lectio divina enables us to discover in our daily life an underlying spiritual rhythm. Within this rhythm we discover an increasing ability to offer more of ourselves and our relationships to the Father, and to accept the embrace that God is continuously extending to us in the person of his Son Jesus Christ.

This practice has nothing to do with the Word of God as a means of grace. Moreover, the biblical passage is merely a means of creating a spiritual experience unrelated to the meaning of the text.

A student of a local Baptist Bible College recently gave me a book by Richard Foster which was required reading for a course on “Spiritual Disciplines.” Authors of the essays in the book include many mystics such as Thomas Merton, Dallas Willard, Henri Nouwen, Madame Guyon, and others, mixed in with essays from others holding orthodox theology. Madame Guyon’s portion shows that the mystics do not concern themselves with the meaning of the Bible. She wrote, “In the past it may have been your habit, while reading, to move very quickly from one verse of Scripture to another until you have read the whole passage. Perhaps you were seeking to find the main point of the passage.”  But the author’s meaning is of no concern in such practices, so it is not surprising that the Emergent/postmodern approach favors these practices; they do not believe the meaning of the Biblical authors can be known. Guyon continues her description of the mystical approach to reading the Bible:

Therefore, as you come before the Lord to sit in his presence, beholding him, make use of the Scripture to quiet your mind. The way to do this is really quite simple. First, read a passage of Scripture. Once you sense the Lord’s presence, the content of what you read is no longer important. The Scripture has served its purpose; it has quieted your mind; it has brought you to him.

This is the problem: if we pay no attention to the terms of Scripture that indicate how to come to God and how to determine the true God from the deceiving spirits, we cannot know that a specific experience gained from a quieted mind is God Himself or a demon sent by Satan to deceive practitioners of this sort of divination. A person could invoke the same experience by using any book as long as he was convinced the book had some magical qualities.

Doug Pagitt claims that we can become closer to God through various postures he and others have discovered in a book entitled Body Prayer – The Posture of Intimacy With God. Please take careful note: in each of these claims we are called upon to decide whether God has revealed how we come to Him and the means by which He promises to sanctify us or whether we are free to invent an approach according to our own determination—and expect God to honor it. As became evident in our 2006 debate, I believe God reveals such things and has drawn the boundaries for our practices and Pagitt takes the freestyle approach. He shows his proclivity to the freestyle approach, as other Emergent leaders do, by endorsing ancient, unbiblical practices: “People of faith in ancient times understood such physical acts and practices as rest and worship, dietary restrictions, and mandated fabric in their wardrobes were of great value to their faith and life.” The Bible warns against such approaches in Colossians 2. Where do we get the right to ignore what God has said and glean our practices from spiritual innovators? Pagitt continues, “Similarly, walking a prayer labyrinth, going on pilgrimage, and making the sign of the cross have served to connect the physical body to the life of faith through the centuries.”

In the spirit of unbiblical Roman Catholic innovations, Pagitt and co-author Kathryn Prill have created their own means of drawing near to God. They promise this about their “prayer postures”: “Bodyprayer is designed to help you connect with God at every level of your life—body, mind and spirit.”[16] The book is filled with various postures to practice. One in particular is called “stepping forward” which signifies stepping into the rhythm of God:

And there is a rhythm to God—a rhythm that encompasses life, both the life we can readily see and the unseen life of the spirit. The rhythm of God beckons us, guides us, and dwells in us. When we discover the rhythm of God, we find the heart of God, the dreams of God, the will of God. As those who are created in the image of God, we are endowed with this rhythm. We can find it, step into it, and live in it. This is the kingdom of God—to live in sync with the rhythm of God.

This mystical theology is a denial of the fallen nature of man and suggests that all humans can find God by discovering this undefined “rhythm” within them. The gospel says that we are dead sinners, alienated from God who can only be reconciled to God through the work of redemption that Jesus Christ provided on the cross. The “rhythms” that speak outside of Christ’s objective work revealed in the gospel are deceiving spirits who seduce people into thinking they are finding the “kingdom” apart from repentance and submission to the revealed will of the King!