About those Spiritual Exercises

This is a special excerpt from The Berean Call which is a reminder for those Mennonites who have been charmed by the methods of Ignatius and are linking to Jesuit prayer resources on their Mennonite Brethren church websites…

Many of the so-called “desert fathers” (…) adopted occult techniques, later popularized as the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. They thought that if they could visualize Christ and biblical events in their imagination, the Bible would become more real and they would mature spiritually. That delusion is still promoted by many Christian leaders today such as Richard Foster, Calvin Miller, Karen Mains, and others. Foster enticed thousands with the deceitful promise of spiritual maturity through occult methods such as the following in Celebration of Discipline (R. Foster, Harper and Row, Pub., 1978, pp. 24-27):

[Begin] with a daily period of from five to ten minutes…learning to “center down”…[using] two brief exercises….The first [is] called “palms down, palms up”…placing your palms down as a symbolic indication of your desire to turn over any concerns you may have to God. Inwardly you may pray “Lord, I give to You my anger toward John. I release my fear of my dentist appointment….I surrender my anxiety over not having enough money to pay the bills…my frustration over trying to find a baby-sitter for tonight.” Whatever it is that weighs on your mind…just say, “palms down.” Release it….After several moments of surrender, turn your palms up as a symbol of your desire to receive from the 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.” Having centered down, spend the remaining moments in complete silence….

Another meditation aimed at centering oneself…seated…comfortably, slowly become conscious of your breathing [to] get in touch with…the level of tension within. Inhale deeply, slowly tilting your head back as far as it will go. Then exhale, allowing your head slowly to come forward until your chin nearly rests on your chest. Do this for several moments, praying inwardly something like this: “Lord, I exhale my fear….I inhale Your peace. I exhale my spiritual apathy. I inhale Your light and life.” Then, as before, become silent….

After you have gained some proficiency in centering down, add a five- to ten-minute meditation on some…tree, plant, bird, leaf, cloud, and each day ponder it carefully and prayerfully. God…uses His creation to show us something of His glory and give us something of His life…as Evelyn Underhill [says]…begin with that…contemplation which the old mystics sometimes called the “discovery of God in His creatures.”

Having practiced for some weeks with the two kinds of meditation listed above, you will want to add the meditation upon Scripture….Take a single event….Seek to live the experience, remembering the encouragement of Ignatius of Loyola to apply all our senses to our task. Smell the sea. Hear the lap of water along the shore. See the crowd. Feel the sun on your head and the hunger in your stomach…. Francis de Sales [says] “represent to your imagination the whole of the mystery on which you desire to meditate as if it really passed in your presence….” As you enter the story…remember that since Jesus…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…Jesus Christ will actually come to you.

This is, of course, rank occultism. The visualized “Jesus” often takes on a life of its own and does indeed “speak.” This is not the Lord Jesus Christ come down from the right hand of His Father in heaven, but a seducing spirit, exactly as Paul warned would occur: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron…” (1 Tim 4:1, 2). There is no excuse for falling into such delusion, which is so contrary to the Word of God.

SOURCE: Victory in Christ




23 thoughts on “About those Spiritual Exercises

  1. Re Spiritual Exercises

    “Born of God believers” do not need “Spiritual Exercises” because they have everything they need for life and godliness in God’s Word. 2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

    What we need today is to love God according to His Word. John 14:21 “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him”.
    Mat.24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
    Oh that all MB’s would read Menno-lite
    John 3:7

  2. John 3:7 – Spread a high view of the word of God at your church with your lips and your life brother. That’s what will bring the changes that God desires. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  3. Dear mennoknight, thank you for your comment.
    How can the “Gospel of Christ” be the one and only gospel in the MB denomination when so many ‘other gospels’ are taking root in the MB teaching.
    The bible teaches that there is only one Gospel, but there is evidence of numerous ‘other gospels’.

    There is the Purpose Driven gospel, the Alpha gospel, the prosperity gospel, the interfaith gospel, the spiritual formation gospel, signs and wonders gospel, the reform gospel -“Calvinism”, hearing the voice of God gospel, and numerous “other gospels”. How is it that we have come to this point that so many other gospels are being taught in our churches.
    Could it be that we as MBs are trying to please all people and are ignoring to please God?

    Did Paul not say “For if I yet please man, I should not be a servant of Christ”. Gal.1:10b Did Paul not also write in Gal. 1:8 “But though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed”. The Bible proclaims only one gospel and that is the “Gospel of Christ” Romans 1:16. But the problem is the supposed best translation – ESV/NIV have left out “of Christ”. Little wonder that there is so much confusion as to what the gospel really is.

    Oh that God would open our eyes and understanding before it is too late. Jesus gave us a stern warning in Matt. 7:22 “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

    May God help us to heed this warning.


    • Okay. You got me. I tried not to bite, but I am a weak and sinful man.

      Among the “false gospels” you placed “the reform gospel – ‘Calvinism'”. Can you explain what the gospel is then and how the reformers got it wrong?

  4. Pardon me if I step in here, John 3:7.

    I have also come to understand that Calvinism is making inroads into the Mennonite Brethren, as it has in other denominations as well. And forgive me “olives” if this is somewhat unrelated to your post. (I really don’t intend to hi-jack your blog; if you choose not to publish this comment I will understand). Ancient spirituality is not the only error the MBs are caving in to, so I hope you will give me the liberty of addressing this issue here as briefly as I can. The wiles of the devil are manifold, and the believer must constantly go back to the Scriptures to see what is correct doctrine. Please remember that Satan’s most effective tactics are his most subtle, convincing errors.

    Mennoknight: Calvinism is based on the teachings of Calvin (obviously). Many Reformers passed on some errors, including John Calvin and Martin Luther. The reformers didn’t get everything right in spite of the good they did. Calvinism is actually one of the worst movements to come out of the Reformation (which you will understand when you read proof of this written by somebody who is not biased towards Calvinism – most of Calvin’s dogma is based on Augustinian heresies, and it is but one more avenue back to Rome – not where I think you really want to go, I hope!). Calvin has made the error of not “rightly dividing the word of truth” regarding the nature of God, leading to all kinds of theological and doctrinal errors. This is why we must always be careful to follow the teachings of God’s Word rather than a man. We need to learn from history in order not to repeat its mistakes. I don’t want to downplay all of the good things the Reformers did for the church, but they were not perfect either, and some of them were involved in the movement for their own vainglory rather than for Christ’s glory. I will acknowledge, however that there may be some Calvinists and Roman Catholics who become Christians while in their respective churches, but this is because they read their Bibles or come into contact with other believers in their own churches or elsewhere, and not because they hold to the official teachings of their church. It is also possible that some (maybe a lot of) people who call themselves Calvinists do not really hold to the doctrines of Calvinism (just like a lot of Roman Catholics, as you have duly noted on your own blog), but rather call themselves that because of their upbringing and because of tradition or just because they like a particular Calvinist preacher or author. (I also don’t want to downplay the intelligence of some of the more prominent Calvinist teachers, because a lot of them have a lot of very good things to say). If these people knew the true history of Calvinism and the final outcome of such beliefs, many, I hope, would cease to call themselves Calvinists. Many people do such things in ignorance. They are not to be condemned for it, but rather informed of the truth by the Word of God. Not everybody knows everything there is to know; we all have gaps in our knowledge and must also be on the lookout for our personal biases.

    From what I have come to know about you, Mennoknight, I believe you are a researcher, a deep thinker, and a lover of the truth. I also want you to know that I greatly appreciate your insight and your fervor in defending the church against Romanism and contemplative spirituality. Please don’t make the mistake of fighting against one error only to be deceived by another. I know I cannot convince you to change your mind about this; that is the job of the Holy Spirit. I believe you are far better at arguing your position than I am because of your training, but that does not necessarily mean you are biblically correct on this issue. Please examine this issue with an open heart and mind to God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, as I think there is some danger in relying too heavily on our intellectual abilities (spoken as one lover of knowledge to another, and one who has demonstrated the ability to bash someone intellectually and verbally – not something I’m proud of).

    With this in mind, I encourage you take the time to read several articles. Rather than taking the space on “the olives” blog to explain how Calvinism is a false gospel, I thought it would be best to direct you to some good information on the topic that can be found on the web.

    Online resources (I do not necessarily endorse everything on every website I recommend):
    1. http://www.biblelife.org/calvinism.htm
    2. http://www.biblecentre.org/topics/pw_arminianism_vs_calvinism.htm
    3. http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/calvin.pdf
    4. http://galatiansfour.blogspot.com/2010/10/why-i-am-not-calvinist.html

    May God guide and direct you in your search for the truth.
    (Don’t swim Lake Geneva!)

    PS: Perhaps if you would like to discuss this issue further with me you could do so by email (fortheauthor@gmail.com) or over at your own blog.

    • Bonnie,

      You’ve simply made a whole batch of blanket assertions that aren’t even actual logical arguments.

      You also didn’t make a single actual argument. You just ranted off about how bad Calvinism is. If you want to straighten me out, then let’s be clear on what IS and what is NOT solid argumentation:

      – Arguing that Calvinism is a way back to Rome isn’t an argument; it’s a logical fallacy (Slippery slope).

      – Arguing that Calvin was an ex-Roman catholic isn’t an argument; it’s a logical fallacy (genetic).

      – Arguing against Augustine because he was influenced by the Manichaens isn’t an argument; it’s also a logical fallacy (poisoning the well).

      – Arguing that Augustine was a Neo-Platonist isn’t’ an argument; it’s a logical fallacy (poisoning the well).

      – Arguing that Calvin wasn’t regenerate isn’t an argument; it’s a logical fallacy (ad hominem).

      Bonnie, believe it of not, I didn’t encounter a single new argument in all those web links you sent me. I’ve interacted with those arguments, and there were precious few actual arguments there. There was no serious exegesis on any of those web pages that interacts with the exegesis of anyone from the other side of the fence.

      Those web sites attack John Calvin, Arthur Pink, etc. because Arminians cannot deal seriously with the scripture. I’ll say it again:

      Arminians cannot deal with the Bible so they produce ever other sort of argument…like repeated quoting without exegetical treatment, saying “all means all”, or making appeals to “free will” without ever establishing the biblical nature of the concept (Does the Bible teach the existence of human libertarian free will, ANYWHERE? Talk about being blind to philosophical influence!).

      Let’s really drop the gauntlet.

      You set up the thread and tell me where it is. You throw any passage in scripture at me. Anything. We can deal with John 3:16; Matt. 23:37; 1 John 2:2; 1 Tim. 2:4, etc.

      You provide serious exegetical treatment on any verse or series of verses from the best and the brightest Arminian writers. Bring in Norm Geisler. Dave Hunt. Whoever. I’ve read them all so I encourage you to bring them all. Bring the best exegesis, not this whole “John Calvin was a follower of Augustine” (*gasp*) National Enquirer stuff.

      You love the word of God? Good! Let’s HAMMER through it. Let’s hit the scriptures like a pack of wolves on a deer.

      I’ll interact with the exegesis of ANYONE, but I don’t waste my time arguing whether or not Calvin was a Neo-Platonist.

      How does that sound?

    • Uh, sure! I wouldn’t mind having a public forum discussion, since I know that there are plenty of Mennonites who are interested in refuting the “false teaching” of Calvinism, but if Bonnie chooses to do it privately in e-mail, I’ll oblige.

      If anyone is interested, I’m willing to host a battle royale on my blog. Why not?

      • That’s a great idea. Not to be rude, but it would probably be more beneficial for this conversation to take place under a blog post that was about this topic. Your blog might be a good place for that, Mennoknight, as I am not going to be monitoring this blog over the next few weeks.

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  7. I am somewhat new to this debate over Calvin and his beliefs. I could use some help in understanding the once saved always saved component. If someone were to backslide into an unrepentant sinful state does that mean he is still saved? Thx

    • Robert, the question simply becomes one of whether or not God is the sole active agent in salvation and whether or not man contributes anything to his own salvation.

      Those who uphold the sovereignty of God in salvation understand that certain passages in scripture (i.e. John 6:44, Acts 13:48, Eph. 2:1-10, Rom. 9:6-30, etc.) teach that salvation is a sole and unilateral (one-way) act of God whereby the sinner is saved from God’s wrath (essentially against their will, which prior to salvation is in a state of unbelief; rebellion against God and his commands).

      Those who are in the other camp (the “non-Calvinist” camp, whatever you want to call them), tend to make a big deal of the passages in scripture that command belief or warn against “falling away” (i.e. John 6:28-29, Heb. 3:7-19, 6:1-6, 10:26-27, 12:25, etc.), suggesting that these passage present the actual possibility of falling away to Christians. Also, people in this camp play up the calls to perseverance in scripture (i.e. 1 Cor. 9:24-27, 1 Tim. 1:18-19, James 1:12, etc.) in making a case that if a person does not persevere, they can abandon their faith and actually reject what they once believed (i.e. 1 Tim. 4:1).

      In answer to your question, you’d simply have to define the terms “backslide” and “saved”.

      If you think that “saved” means “saved by God” in the sense where God saves you from death (i.e. re-animates your spiritual corpse a la Eph. 2) without you doing anything except responding to his saving grace (which is NOT an action that merits anything), then the whole concept of backslidding seems impossible, for that suggests that one can overpower God’s will to save a sinner.

      The whole idea seems to be like suggesting that one can win in an armwrestling match with God; i.e. someone’s will to sin is greater than God’s will to save.

      There’s a billion assorted questions that come up with this topic, I know, but that’s the short answer.

      • The term backslide is not that important. The example of Judas Iscariot comes to mind. He betrayed Jesus and committed suicide. That could be an example of someone who backslides.
        Did he give God’s gift of saving grace back and remove himself from the “saved by God” roster?

      • But was Judas saved?

        “There are some who want to imagine that Judas was saved, but there’s no evidence whatsoever. “One of you is a devil,” said Jesus. And when he died, it says he went to his what? “His own place.”
        No, I don’t believe Judas was saved. He is even called the son of perdition.”
        -John MacArthur, Was Judas Saved?

        “Judas made his own choices, and they were the source of his own damnation. Yet the choices fit perfectly into the sovereign plan of God. God controls not only the good, but also the evil of man to accomplish His own ends.”
        Was Judas Iscariot forgiven / saved?

      • Robert, where in the scripture does it give me reason to think that Judas received saving, regenerating grace?

        1. Scripture says a fair bit about Judas:

        Matt. 26:20-25 and John 13:21-28 tell me that Jesus knew full well that Judas would betray him.

        Matt. 27:5 and Acts 1:18 say that Judas died by his own hand; if you look through the Bible, there is a consistent pattern of those who died by suicide. It was always a mark of God’s displeasure upon them.

        Luke 22:3 says that Judas was indwelt by Satan. Demonic posession is not something that can ever happen to believers.

        John 12:4-6 records that throughout the entirety of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Judas continually stole money from Jesus’ money bag. He was a lifelong thief who never repented.

        Acts 1:15-25 says that after the resurrection, Peter knew that Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was predicted in Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8, and when Judas died, he went to “where he belongs”.

        That is a bunch of hard language that suggests to me that Judas was never a believer, and God has raised him up for the purpose of betraying Jesus. That purpose was prophesied hundreds of years before.

        2. As for the term backslide/backslidden/backslider, it doesn’t appear in the New Testament in any modern translation. I haven’t done any Old Testament lexicographical work, but that seems to be something worth noting. I’m wondering if you’re using “backslide” in the same sense that the OT uses it?

        That’s definitely worth checking out.

  8. I believe that backslide is a more modern day term for someone who accepts Christ and later returns to a life of openly sinning. My wife has a friend who was baptized 10 years ago after having two children out of wedlock. That person now lives in a common law relationship with the father of those children.
    Using the example of Judas, it would seem that the person was never really a believer? If that is the case, how do we deal with such an individual? Was she just pretending to be a believer?

    • Only God knows the eternal condition of our souls. Have we not all walked in those shoes and strayed away? (Isaiah 53:6, Psalm 51)

      If this friend has truly repented and been born again, God is not finished with her yet and the Holy Spirit will convict her.

      If she never was saved, she is in worse shape than before, having heard the truth and rejected it.

      Pray for her, love her. God is faithful and merciful.

      Galatians 6:1-2

    • 1 John 3:4-10 and 1 John 5:1-5 give some harsh words about people who encounter and embrace the gospel, and yet continue to have lives marked by willful sin.

      Mark 4:1-20 suggests that many will hear the gospel and still not produce the fruit of authentic regenerate hearts. Mark 4:16-17 suggests that there can be people who hear the gospel and outwardly claim to believe it, but their “rootedness” (authenticity of their claims to be a believer) is revealed when trouble comes. Mark 4:18-19 suggests that there are those who hear the gospel and receive it (claim to be a believer) but the distractions of sin and the joys/stresses of the world prevent them from actually accepting the gospel and having it bear fruit in them.

      So in Mark 4, you have two groups of individuals who hear the gospel and accept it; profess to be believers. Both of them are not telling the truth, though we’re given no reason to think that they’re aware of the false nature of their profession.

      I don’t think people who are like the person are “pretending”. I would suggest that the bible teaches us that such people are deceived into thinking they’re fine with God when they’re really not.

      Matthew 7:21-23 talks about how, in the final judgment, there will be people who claim to have prophesied, cast out demons and performed miracles in the name of Christ (2 Cor. 12:12 may give us reason to think that those things marked an apostle, which would make the person in Matt. 7:21-23 to be someone who would appear to be on the top of the “godly man” scale). In Matt. 7:23 Jesus doesn’t say “no you didn’t” or “I knew you for a while and then you left me”…he says “I never knew you”.


      Then in Matt. 7:24-27, Jesus shows the difference between the false believers and the true believers. In the metaphor of the wise and foolish builders, he talks of two men who built two houses; one on rock and one on sand. The difference between them isn’t the house, or the building procedure; the difference is the foundation. In Matt 7:24 Jesus says that the guy who built on the rock is like “everyone who hears these words of mine and does them”.

      The only difference is one of obedience.

      I’d suggest to you that this is why we need to be regularly in the scripture and involved in church; both of those things cultivate and help believers walk in obedience. As we’re studying the scripture, sitting under a strong pulpit that preaches the truth of God’s word, and as we allow other mature believers into our lives, we have three avenues where God’s word is connected with us and where we have the measuring stick of God’s word evaluating the obedience of our hearts.

      I’d say that your wife’s friend probably wasn’t living a life marked by growing in wisdom and knowledge in the word of God, didn’t sit under a strong pulpit, and didn’t have mature believers in her life coming alongside her and exhorting her to walk in obedience to the Lord.

      How do you deal with someone like that?

      I’d say that Paul gives Timothy the answer in 2 Timothy 4:1-5: You preach the gospel to them and keep preaching it. If they’re not a believer, they’ll get converted. If they are a believer, the gospel is precious to them and they never tire of it!

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