Mennonites and St. Ignatius

As if the MB Herald hasn’t revealed enough about how far the influence of contemplative spirituality has spread into Mennonite churches, here is another concern.

Urban Journey (www.urbanjourney.ca) is an MB church plant in Vancouver, B.C. that is doing a good work for the city with something called Urban Advocacy. This involves caring for those in need in very practical ways, because as Mennonite Brethren, they believe that “alleviating suffering, reducing strife, and promoting justice are ways of demonstrating Christ’s love.” Urban Journey is pastored by the Stanley’s who have recently been appointed as the Mennonite Brethren Chaplains at UBC. (They are bloggers at My Celebration (here) and at the MB’s Regenerate 21-01 blog (here), which is “a place were we can share what God is doing in our communities as we apply the dynamics of the first century church now in the 21st century.”)

The concern lies in the area of the kind spirituality they may be recommending (much like the contemplative spiritual formation of Len Hjalmarson’s MB church plant in Kelowna). Urban Journey’s resource page has this recommendation:

For other resources to aid in the practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading, visit:

These recommendations include a prayer site run by the Irish Jesuits called Sacred Space and Northumbria (a monastic ecumenical community), but even more surprising is the first prayer link recommended by this MB church plant. It’s called Pray as you Go, and here are the details:

Pray as you go
http://www.pray-as-you-go.org/
Jesuit Media Initiatives
Daily prayer “thoughts” It is produced by Jesuit Media Initiatives, with material written by a number of British Jesuits and other experts in the spirituality of St Ignatius of Loyola.

Also on Pray as you go are the following daily prayer aids that Urban Journey must actually believe are useful for prayer preparation, or they would not have recommended them:

Breathing exercise
If you have time, this four-minute breathing exercise can be a useful preparation for prayer, helping you to develop the stillness, focus and attentiveness that you need. Length: 4 mins.

Body exercise
If you have time, this four-minute body exercise can be a useful preparation for prayer, helping you to develop the stillness, focus and attentiveness that you need. Length: 4 mins.

*There are also daily prayer thoughts, like this October selection, which begins with a prayer bell:
http://www.pray-as-you-go.org/mp3/PAYG_101019.mp3

Because it is a Jesuit website with Jesuit spirituality, it promotes Jesuit Retreats and spirituality centres, such as:

Mount Street Jesuit Centre London W1
Underpinned by the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola,
the Centre provides a range of evening and weekend courses and activities
in spirituality and theology, designed to help adults grow in their faith.

Ignatian Spirituality Centre Glasgow
A welcoming space in the heart of the city of Glasgow,
the centre offers opportunities for people to reflect on the
presence of God in their lives and respond to that presence.

Loyola Hall Rainhill, Merseyside
Loyola Hall offers many retreats and courses catering to many kinds of needs.
Their extensive programme offers individually guided retreats of various lengths from weekends,
through mid-week or 8-day retreats, to the full 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola

St Beuno’s North Wales
Take time to think, pray and relax in beautiful North Wales:
Quiet weekends, 6-day, 8-day, and 30-day retreats
inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius.

Inigo Enterprises New Malden, Surrey
A centre for resources and courses based on
the spirituality of St Ignatius Loyola.

Sacred Space
Daily prayer on your computer screen, in the Ignatian tradition, produced by
the Jesuit Communication Centre in Dublin. With over twenty million visits
recorded, Sacred Space is one of the world’s top spirituality sites.

>> Map of Jesuit spirituality centres in Britain

>> Jesuit spirituality centres in Europe

>> Jesuit spirituality centres in the USA

>> More about Ignatian/Jesuit Spirituality from the British Jesuits.

>> Online Ministries at Creighton University, the Jesuit University in Omaha, Nebraska, USA

>> Guide to resources on Ignatian Spirituality from sjweb.info in Rome

If the Jesuits want to promote all their stuff, that is their business. The question that needs to be asked of the Mennonite Brethren leadership and their church plant pastors is, once again, how they can possibly lead anyone to believe that this is what God is doing in the 21st century with the dynamics of the first century church, when Ignatius of Loyola (father of Jesuit spirituality), the church of Rome, and “Christian” contemplative prayer did not yet exist in the first century. Perhaps they think that all the members in their Mennonite churches are not quite bright enough to do basic math, or read a history book. Or perhaps those in MB leadership have not taken the time to research who the Jesuits are. Or maybe it will remain an unsolved mystery.

For those who do not know, St. Ignatius of Loyola was the founder of the Jesuits, and it was he who invented the spiritual exercises of St Ignatius (i.e. the Ignatius Examen), which involve the occult practice of visualization. These are not practices one would expect to see in any evangelical or anabaptist denomination, but they are slowly being introduced into Christian churches everywhere, even a Mennonite Brethren church plant.

Here is some reading about St. Ignatius:

“The Roman Catholic Church has a name for those who have departed from the “One True Church.” They’re called the “separated brethren.” Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, had one main goal in mind when he established his organization. He and his band of faithful ruthless men would do everything possible to bring these separated brethren back to the Mother of All Churches. Several centuries have passed. Now that we are in the twenty-first century, his plan is becoming a reality.”

-Roger Oakland, HOME TO ROME
http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c60.shtml

“As can be documented, the very reason the Jesuits were founded by Loyola was for the purpose of bringing the Separated Brethren (those who departed from Catholicism) back to the Roman Catholic Church, by whatever devious means it would take.”

-Roger Oakland
http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c58.shtml

What is the Ignatian Examen?

Ignatian Examen is an occult visualization technique taught by Ignatius Loyola, who founded the Jesuits in the 16th century. His exercise teaches one to visualize oneself in the presence of Jesus and then interact with Him during his earthly events, e.g., “at the Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of the cross, and laying Jesus’ body in the tomb.”6 This has one adding content to Scripture from his imagination and opens a person to demonic manipulation (2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:8).

Evangelical Mysticism?
http://www.thebereancall.org/node/6433

*More about the spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius (excerpt from The Berean Call):

“…I’m talking about the spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius. Now, for those who don’t know the name Ignatius, Saint Ignatius, Catholic saint was a founder, the founder of the Jesuits, and this was in the 16th century, yet today it’s called, the Ignatian Examine, these were his spiritual exercises, and all Jesuit priests go through these exercises, but it’s gone beyond that. Now we have these exercises being promoted in the evangelical church through the Emerging Church teachings.

Dave:

Tom, I know some ex-Jesuits who told me they were demonized by the spiritual exercises of Ignatius.

Tom:

Right. So what are they about? Really, visualization is the key. But before we get into the explanation let me give you a quote, a couple of quotes from professing evangelical Tony Campolo, who has done so much damage to our young people with his heretical teaching, not just unbiblical but heretical teachings, very bad. By the way, he writes: “I learned about this way of having a born-again experience from reading the Catholic mystics, especially the spiritual exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. Like most Catholic mystics he developed an intense desire to experience a oneness with God.” Now before you comment, Dave, here’s another one: “After the reformation we Protestants left behind much that was troubling about Roman Catholicism of the 15th century. I am convinced that we left too much behind. The methods of praying employed by the likes of Ignatius have become precious to me. With the help of some Catholic saints my prayer life has deepened.”

Is There A Biblical Mysticism?
http://www.thebereancall.org/node/6407

Also see:

Who is Ignatius of Loyola?
http://apprising.org/2008/12/13/who-is-ignatius-of-loyola/

SPECIAL REPORT: The Jesuit Agenda and the Evangelical/Protestant Church
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=6844

Ignatius
http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/133-spiritual-formation-movement/796-ignatius

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22 thoughts on “Mennonites and St. Ignatius

  1. Hello Olives,

    I just randomly happened upon your site here. In my brief perusal of your posts, it looks like a common theme is the practice of contemplative Bible study/spirituality/worship, especially as it relates to ties with Catholic spiritual tradition and its conflation with New Age and/or Pagan practices.

    I know many people whose personal relationship with Jesus has been deeply enriched by contemplative spirituality, and that relationship manifests itself in transformed faithful living by the power of the Spirit, so I’m just curious if I’ve understood the main thrust of your objection correctly. Also, how might we honor the Spirit-filled transformation that has taken place in the lives of those who practice contemplation?

    Thanks!

    Grace and peace,
    Peter

    • Hello Peter,

      I too know people like this very well.

      It depends on how you define being spiritually enriched. A person can feel enriched by spiritual experiences and feelings whether they are a Christian or not. Take, for example, Oprah (who has denounced Jesus Christ as the only way to Heaven). She might say her relationship with God has been enriched by meditating with Eckhart Tolle. Many others she has led astray have said that Tolle and his book (and his new age Christ consciousness) is bringing people closer to God. Just browse Oprah’s forums, and see how much they talk about Jesus and how their lives have been transformed. They are very sincere, but deceived.

      A Christian, on the other hand, is enriched by having a deeper understanding of God and entering into the inheritance of His spiritual blessings. This happens by growing in the knowledge of Him through His Word. It means experiencing God’s power as He walks with us through the valleys and trials of life, answers our prayers, fulfills His promises, gives us peace through the storm, etc. as he reveals His faithfulness to us by being the unchanging God of the Bible through the ages. It is HIS faithfulness that enriches us, it’s what He has done that brings us close to Him. His work. Not ours. When He transforms us, all we need to do for discipleship is to love Him from hearts of gratitude, learn of Him, and be doers of His Word, not hearers only.

      Contemplative spirituality, on the other hand, is about methods we can do to feel God’s presence within (Richard Foster said on the Be Still DVD: “The wonderful thing about contemplative prayer is that it can be found everywhere, anywhere, anytime for anyone.”). But God already made a way for BELIEVERS to enter His presence – the ONLY way. Not by methods, but by faith. Whether we think we feel His presence or not, He has promised to walk with us every step of the way. It is He who transforms and sanctifies us. Not through practicing the preparatory steps of contemplative prayer, but through the blood of His Son who has made us righteous.

      Regarding those who are involved in CP and are feeling “enriched” – the Lord is able to protect those who are truly His no matter what they have unknowingly gotten themselves involved in, but He is warning, and has warned, many Christians to come out of this deception. And they are sharing their testimonies and earnestly warning others that contemplative spirituality will eventually lead away from the truth and into darkness and further deception.

      Like Sue Monk Kidd, former Baptist Sunday School teacher. One of her Sunday school co-workers handed her a book by Thomas Merton which started her down the contemplative prayer road. The progression is obvious.

      “In her first and second books, Monk Kidd was writing from a Christian perspective. That is why the back cover of God’s Joyful Surprise was endorsed by Virtue, Today’s Christian Woman, and … Moody Monthly. But with her third and fourth book, Monk Kidd had made the full transition to a spiritual view more in tune with Wicca than with Christianity. Now she worships the Goddess Sophia rather than Jesus Christ:
      We also need Goddess consciousness to reveal earth’s holiness…. Matter becomes inspirited; it breathes divinity. Earth becomes alive and sacred…. Goddess offers us the holiness of everything.7”

      -Understanding the Spirituality of Sue Monk Kidd (author of The Secret Life of Bees)
      http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=942

      Today she is on the board of directors at the Sophia Institute (http://www.thesophiainstitute.org/PresenterDetails.aspx?id=1).

      She didn’t set out to worship the goddess Sophia when she opened the door to contemplative spirituality via Thomas Merton, but that’s how deception works.

      To answer your last question:

      “how might we honor the Spirit-filled transformation that has taken place in the lives of those who practice contemplation?”

      We can honor Jesus by warning those who practice CP that they don’t need to practice any methods of prayer (rituals, rhythms, repetitions, breathing exercises, quieting or bodily exercises, visualization, studying the revelations of mystics instead of God’s Word) to be transformed by Jesus. We can warn them about false transformations through practices and methods which open the door to nice experiences in the very dangerous spiritual realm, where even Satan can appear as an angel of light. We can encourage them to ask God to show them the truth. We can warn them to take heed, to stop what they are doing, repent and come out of this deception, like so many already have, before they are led down the same path way of Sue Monk Kidd, and so many others.

      Thank you for your excellent question.

      This article nicely explains spiritual formation and may be of further help:

      What is Spiritual Formation?
      http://solasisters.blogspot.com/2010/10/what-is-spiritual-formation.html

  2. Hehe, actually, I didn’t comment here with the purpose of disagreeing with you. I was more interested in understanding your perspective, as it is new to me and diverges from my encounter with those who practice CP.

    I suppose each community appropriates various bits from the CP tradition differently. My own encounter with those who practice CP in various ways (like lectio divina, radical ordinariness, examen, etc.) has been that the practice passes the test of bearing good fruit as “doers of his Word” (Mt. 7:15-20, 24-27). It’s not for them a spiritual high, but a growth in personal relationship with Jesus by God’s grace and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Through this, they arrive at a greater awareness of how God is at work in communities, individuals, and situations, and how God is calling us to join in God’s mission.

    Nor is it for them some form of transformation/salvation by their own merits. It is clearly that Christ has conquered Sin and Death, and it is regeneration by the Spirit. But we have some role/choices in that process. CP has been for these folks a way to nurture relationship with the transforming, regenerating Word (Jesus) — not by human capacity but by the power of the Spirit.

    Hans Denck (a mystic himself, along with lots of other early Anabaptists) famously paraphrased the interplay between John 14:21, 23: “No one can know Christ except by following him in life, and no one can follow him except by knowing him.” Mennos in my community are good at emphasizing the first part, but often neglect the latter (others substitute knowing the written word for knowing the Living Word). Some have found CP, when appropriated and practiced in community and whose fruits are held up to Scripture, to be a way to know Jesus more intimately.

    The folks I know aren’t seeking an altered state of mind, or any sort of mystical experience like 2 Cor. 12, but they do rest in God’s presence and yield their will to God’s (Gelassenheit).

    Wow, that was longer than I expected — sorry about that! I’ve enjoyed having this conversation with you.

    Grace and peace,
    Peter

    • Peter, your understanding and perspective also diverges from my encounter with those who practice CP. While it’s true that God can use any means He chooses to draw all men unto Himself, how do these friends of yours justify using the methods of Roman Catholic/Jesuit priests, universalists and levitating mystics? God is merciful to those who are in ignorance, but when we learn the truth, we are accountable for what we know. You say you have commented here merely to understand another perspective. Now that you understand, will you tell these friends that they don’t need to practice Lectio Divina to know Jesus more intimately?

      • Hi Olives,

        I guess my friends don’t conflate the practices themselves with particular distortions and abuses of those practices or particular practitioners (we’d be in a really bad place if we applied that conflation consistently!). Nor are they opposed to learning from the traditions of the church.

        I greatly appreciate the time you have invested in helping me to understand your perspective. I feel like I can now be more compassionate and understanding toward those who share your concerns and convictions, while I myself do not, even after this open encounter. So thank you so much, Brother(s) and/or Sister(s), for this conversation. I pray God’s rich blessing and the anointing of the Spirit upon you and your congregation.

        Joy in Christ!
        Peter

  3. Pingback: Rob Des Cotes and another article in the MB Herald that opens the door to contemplative spirituality. « Menno-lite

  4. Peter:

    The origin and nature of these practices are highly suspect at best, so any Christian involving themselves without a thorough examination of the movement, and a comparison to the biblical forms of prayer and meditation is setting themselves up for spiritual deception. There is no distortion or abuse, as the practices simply are not found in the Scriptures in the first place. Can you please show where in Scripture it is okay to combine the spiritual practices of pagans with Christianity, even when Christians have said that they have separated themselves or the practice from the pagan setting?

    Just because you call something a fish doesn’t make it one. If you take the example of a ouija board and try to make it an instrument for getting answers from God, even going so far as to rename it “God’s Answers for my Life”, it is still an instrument of divination, you are still entering the (demonic) spirit realm. These things are forbidden in the Old Testament because they are pagan practices, and the New Testament tells us we are not to do as the pagans do. Many Christians who begin to add these practices to their lives may have wonderful spiritual experiences at the outset. Satan is a deceiver and will do anything to entice Christians into falling for His deception by giving them a good experience. I know some Christians who seem to grow spiritually with these practices, but the growth is not in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Scriptural principals. I can say this from personal experience, since I was initially attracted to some of these practices and had begun to incorporate them into my life. First of all, I probably was not practicing them in the manner in which they were intended. Secondly, I think God protected me, knowing I did so in ignorance at the time. Thirdly, the results of practicing them is not always immediately evident, and many practitioners are initially unskilled and thus not experiencing the full effect of these practices. But why would any true Christian who had been warned about them and took the time to understand the implications want to do something that could potentially lead them away from the truth (which history has proven to happen with devotees of these practices)?

    As far as the “traditions of the church”, all of the contemplative traditions came into the church after the canon of Scripture was complete, and we are warned in Scripture to beware of deception. The greatest of all deception is the best counterfeit you can find. None of the practices of Contemplative Spirituality have their origin in Scripture. Even the “traditions of the church” can be and have been unbiblical down through history, and if you are referring to the traditions of the Roman Catholic church, this is especially true; a plain reading of Scripture will reveal the deception present there. The RC church is famous for its distortions of Scripture, and much evil fruit has been borne of its false doctrine, so why would we borrow from it when we have the pure Word of God which contains all we need to know about salvation, spiritual growth, and the governing of the church?

    It is my understanding that this website calls for a return to the pure Word of God for our practice, for our traditions (its administrator may correct me if I am wrong). God’s Word does not change, and is the only completely trustworthy source for Christian traditions. It is sufficient to equip the believer with everything he needs to know and do as a follower of Christ. Do you believe this?

    2 Timothy 3:
    14But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
    15And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
    16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
    17That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

    • > God’s Word does not change, and is the only completely trustworthy source for Christian traditions. It is sufficient to equip the believer with everything he needs to know and do as a follower of Christ. Do you believe this?

      Hi,

      It depends on what you mean by Word of God. If you mean the Word as in John 1:1, then yes, I believe this. If you mean the Word of God only in its written form, then I do not. The letter is insufficient apart from the Holy Spirit at work in the interpreter and in the interpreter’s community. The Word of God, in its biblical usage, is much broader than the written text.

      Regarding the spiritual disciplines as my friends practice them, I don’t find them to be contradictory to Scripture, but, to the contrary, to be supported by it. Moreover, these practices have born good visible fruit. I’m also skeptical of the appropriateness of deeming these practices pagan in origin. I’ll agree that the traditions of the church must be appropriated critically, and that ouija board and related practices are not permissible.

      Blessings,
      Peter

  5. Peter,

    I do find it unfortunate that I have spent my valuable spare time answering your questions so that you could simply feel compassion towards others who share my convictions – almost as if you pity those who stand on God’s Word vs. mysticism.

    I too was wondering, when you said your friends are not opposed to learning from the traditions of the church, if you were referring to the Roman Catholic church, and I agree completely with the comment from “For the Author” regarding that.

    While we are on the topic of traditions, Paul also talked about this:

    “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” 2Th 2:15

    The traditions he wanted them to adhere to were not only God’s precepts, delivered by Moses and the prophets, written, and preserved for all generations, but also the teachings Paul gave them in person and in his letters up to that point. All scripture is inspired and sufficient for the believer, and if not, then the Bible is lying to us, because it says so.

    The early Christians needed to stand fast in these ‘traditions’ (the rock of God’s word, not the traditions later incorporated into the religious system of Rome), because of coming persecutions, the coming judgment, and the power of coming deception. But there is nothing new under the sun, and the Bible’s warnings are for all of us in every generation.

    The traditions of man can be a dangerous element in any religious system, some of them being very dark and deceptive and inspired by the enemy. (“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness….” Eph. 5:3-11) This is why the anchor of God’s word is the only thing that will help us to stand fast and to hold fast.

    “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.” (Titus 1:9)

    As you mention, Jesus is the Word of God, and He said that His words shall not pass away. When people don’t believe in the sufficiency of scripture they naturally tend to be more interested in learning from other people’s perspectives than the Word of God, but Paul wrote about trusting Scripture and rejecting human wisdom Colossians 2:8: (“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.”)

    The writers of the letters in the New Testament took a strong stand on sufficiency of scripture and the need to protect sound doctrine, which is why we are to examine such traditions like contemplative spiritual formation and emerging church doctrines in this light, and rebuke those traditions which do not stand on the sufficiency of God’s Word and the gospel of Jesus Christ, but rather just add to it.

    As Paul wrote to Timothy (ch. 2):

    2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
    3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
    4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

    This is exactly what is happening today, as Christians compromise and experiment with religious traditions they like but are instructed no where in the Bible to practice (quite the opposite in fact).

    And regarding “visible fruit” – that depends what one means by fruit. But that will have to be another conversation for another day, as time permits.

  6. Peter:

    You are creating a false dichotomy. If you try to differentiate between the written and the living Word (in the manner in which you are doing), you can add anything you want because anybody can say that Jesus “told them” this or that. That leaves us with a Christ we can shape into any image we should choose. The same Lord Jesus Christ that is the only begotten Son of God TODAY is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). If we needed to know more about Him or could receive additional revelation about Him, we could add to Scripture. However, see by the following verse, not even the whole world could contain the books that should be written. However, we do have what is written (contained in the canon of Scripture) and it is the account God wanted us to have, and we are not to add to its.

    John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

    Proverbs 30:
    5Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
    6Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

    The written Word of God is a complete account/collection of knowledge of everything we need to know about Jesus Christ. The believer’s job is to live a life worthy of the calling he is given and to prove in and through his life everything that has been written about the Living Word.

    I agree that the Holy Spirit is necessary for illumination of the Scriptures, but that does not mean we can make the Scripture say what we want it to say (that contemplative spirituality is in the Bible). The Holy Spirit does not reveal anything that is contrary what has already been written. (A false christ or spirit could though).

    You must allow Scripture to interpret Scripture and avoid reading it allegorically as do the gnostics and many other apostates and heretics. A plain reading, such that where there is metaphor it is read as metaphor, where it is parable it is understood as parable, and where there is allegory it is understood to be allegorical. There is no magical insight or interpretation that one can possess. It is through the illumination of the Holy Spirit to the believer that is the only method we can truly understand what Scripture teaches. The Holy Spirit illumines the Written Word so that we can know and understand the Living Word of which it speaks. The only Jesus one finds separate from the Scriptures is a false one. The Written Word will agree with what we find to be true about the Living Word, or else we are believing a different Jesus, a different gospel and a different spirit.

    2 Corinthians 11:
    2For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
    3But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
    4For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

    From Matthew Henry’s Commentary:
    “God is well pleased with Christ, and with us in him. This is the Messiah who was promised, through whom all who believe in him shall be accepted and saved. The truth and reality of the gospel also are foretold by the prophets and men of the Old Testament, who spake and wrote under influence, and according to the direction of the Spirit of God. How firm and sure should our faith be, who have such a firm and sure word to rest upon! When the light of the Scripture is darted into the blind mind and dark understanding, by the Holy Spirit of God, it is like the day-break that advances, and diffuses itself through the whole soul, till it makes perfect day. As the Scripture is the revelation of the mind and will of God, every man ought to search it, to understand the sense and meaning. The Christian knows that book to be the word of God, in which he tastes a sweetness, and feels a power, and sees a glory, truly divine. And the prophecies already fulfilled in the person and salvation of Christ, and in the great concerns of the church and the world, form an unanswerable proof of the truth of Christianity. The Holy Ghost inspired holy men to speak and write. He so assisted and directed them in delivering what they had received from him, that they clearly expressed what they made known. So that the Scriptures are to be accounted the words of the Holy Ghost, and all the plainness and simplicity, all the power and all the propriety of the words and expressions, come from God. Mix faith with what you find in the Scriptures, and esteem and reverence the Bible as a book written by holy men, taught by the Holy Ghost.”

    This is the power of the truth that is the Word of God; it is a prophetic revelation of His plan for mankind, and contains everything we need to know about His Son, Jesus Christ.

    Jesus’ prayer for His disciples and for believers who would come to know Him after He left the earth. John 17:17
    17Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

    God’s written Word has been placed as high priority, and Scripture corroborates this. (http://www.biblegateway.com/keyword/?search=%22by%20the%20word%22&version1=9&searchtype=all&limit=none&wholewordsonly=no). Jesus Christ is the complete fulfillment of this Written Word and the two are absolutely inseparable IN ESSENCE; they will always be in complete agreement with one another.

    Jesus Christ is physically sitting at the right of the Father at present. He is PHYSICALLY ABSENT from the earth. His presence in the life of the believer is through the Holy Spirit, whom He left us until His physical return at the end of the Great Tribulation when His feet shall touch the Mount of Olives and He returns to rule this earth for the Millennium.

    For this present age God left us the Holy Spirit and the Written Word. These are what He has given us so that we might know the truth about His Son. The only Jesus we can know is the one written about in His Word, through His Word. All other manifestations of someone claiming to see, hear or fell Him in the present absolutely cannot be trusted, because Jesus Himself (In the Written Word) warned us that there would be false christs in the last days. There is no extra-biblical revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. He cannot be known separate from His Word, just in the same way that you cannot know a dead person that you never met apart from an autobiography, or what is said by those who lived and walked with him. (I am not saying Jesus is dead, by the way, just no longer present on the earth).

    The following verses refer to “the word”, lower case “w” to distinguish it as the Written Word. Today we make the distinction by using “Written Word” and “Living Word”.

    Romans 10:
    12For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
    13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
    14How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
    16But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report.
    17So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing >>BY THE WORD<>BY THE WORD<<,
    27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.***

    People who practice contemplative spirituality seek visions and experiences that go outside of the Word of God. The Jesus they will meet is a deceiving spirit disseminating doctrines of devils. When the movement reaches its conclusion, its full fruition, it will have lead to a one-world spirituality with many ways to G(g)od. (The Bible calls the spirit of this movement the spirit of the anti-christ). This is the stated outcome of those who have been devoted to its practices throughout history. Read for yourself the things that Thomas Merton and many of the other major mystics have written and see that they end up with interspirituality, combining paganism and Christianity. As I stated previously truth + error = error.

    I hope and pray you will be open-minded and look at the movement without the bias of those promoting it. Beware of reading things into Scripture and of taking verses out of context, (which the mystics and contemplatives do). I have been involved with the practices. I understand how they work, how the experiences unfold. And now I have seen the truth behind the movement. Not everything is as it appears to be. Give yourself the opportunity to examine the issue thoroughly before you so easily dismiss what has been said here.

    By the way, have you involved yourself in contemplative spirituality? If so, the only way to know the truth about it is to step back from it, detach yourself emotionally from it, and look at it from an outsider. You keep speaking about your "friends", but you are defending it as though you are either interested or involved. The majority of people involved in it will automatically try to defend it because they don't want to be embarrassed if they are wrong after they have promoted it to others.

    May God's hand be upon you!
    Bonnie

  7. I accidentally deleted part of a passage in my last reply. Following Romans 10:12-17, it should read:

    Ephesians 5:
    25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
    26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water >>BY THE WORD<>THY WORD<< is truth.

    In these passages, Jesus is saying through the written Word, the Bible, that it is that very same written Word that God would used to sanctify and cleanse us. That is how important the written Word is. It testifies to the Living Word, and is all we need to know grow in Him (with the help of the Holy Spirit, of course). There is no extra-biblical revelation of Jesus Christ. While He walked this earth He was the complete fulfillment of the written Word. When He died and rose again and ascended into heaven, He left us a testimony of His fulfillment of prophecy and of his life, death, resurrection and ascension and of His future plans for the world. This does not negate Him as a person at all. It just means that until He physically returns to this earth, we only have the written Word as His testimony (His biography, if you will), the promises He gave us, and the Holy Spirit to illuminate the written Word, to convict, comfort, etc. The Holy Spirit uses the written Word to do these things. Jesus work on this earth has been completed until the time He physically returns. That is why He said "It is finished" while hanging on the cross, and this is why He SAT DOWN at the right hand of the Father after His ascension. The roles and persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct and different. Their goal and their essence is the same. The Bible is God's complete written revelation of everything He wanted man to know about Himself and how He deals with mankind. This and the Holy Spirit is what we have to guide us today. Jesus Himself no longer gives us directions outside of what we have already been given through that revelation.

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  10. I guess audio CD “Spiritual Discernment” by Gordon T. Smith (Publisher: Regent College) at http://www.regentaudio.com/ RGDL3604S may help on digging deeper into the subject matter.

    As Smith refers to Wesley: “After we become Christians, Christ is not so much as our judge but becomes our healer. Christ is the one who regular perform the… divine diagnosis. ‘search me God, and know my heart.. (Psalm 139:23)’ to see myself as God sees me; no spiritual growth if we neglect the spiritual practice of confession. If stop confessing; then stop growing. Not by fostering guilt but by freeing through crying for God’s mercy upon us; therefore, as Nouwen said ‘lift up our hearts to the Lord'”.

    • Clara,

      Nouwen also said: “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.” (Sabbatical Journey, Henri Nouwen’s last book, page 51, 1998)

      Smith sits in the same contemplative spiritual formation boat as Foster, Peterson, Willard, etc., and has a PhD from Loyola School of Theology, therefore it is not surprising that he would quote the contemplatives. There is no need to ‘dig deeper’ by listening to this audio – biblical spiritual discernment and Jesuit contemplative spiritual discernment are two very different things.

      (Your comment does not address the issue in the post but rather sneaks in more Jesuit theology – you are obviously a different Clara than the one who commented last week.)

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