Rick Warren Recommends Wordless Contemplation
April 12, 2018
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
866-295-4143,
fbns@wayoflife.org
Saddleback Church recommends a wide range of books on contemplative mysticism at its web site. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Calhoun, for example, has been listed under the “Spiritual Growth” section for at least the past two years. Rick Warren, senior pastor at Saddleback, pretends that contemplative prayer is merely getting alone in a quiet place to meditate on God’s Word, but it goes far beyond that. Warren says that contemplative prayer is nothing like yoga, but as a former member of a Hindu meditation society, I can testify that practices such as centering prayer are definitely yoga-like.

Adele Calhoun recommends Roman Catholic monastic practices which were, in turn, borrowed from paganism, as we have documented in our book
Contemplative Mysticism. Calhoun lists Roman Catholics as “spiritual tutors,” including M. Basil Pennington, Henri Nouwen, Peter Kreeft, William Meninger, Francis de Sales, Richard Rohr, William Johnson, Teresa of Avila, Thomas Keating, John of the Cross, Brother Lawrence, Tilden Edwards, Ignatius Loyola, St. Benedict, Thomas Merton, John Henry Newman, Julian of Norwich. Not only are these deeply misguided individuals laden down with Catholic heresies, but many were led by their mystical practices to universalism, panentheism, and even rank idolatry. (For example, Thomas Merton worshipped Buddhist idols.) Calhoun recommends following the Roman Catholic Church liturgical calendar, seeking spiritual direction from Catholic orders, and visiting Catholic retreat centers. She describes a pilgrimage she took with 30 women in her “covenant group” to visit the sites of Catholic mystics and to study their practices. She recommends a whole slew of unscriptural contemplative practices, including the Jesus prayer (vain repetition), palms up palms down (psychological visualization), lectio divina, imagination prayer, centering prayer, breath prayer, practicing the presence, silence, and spiritual direction. She recommends the use of single words as a mantra to drive away conscious thoughts. “Choose a simple word ... Let this word guard your attention. ... When your thoughts wander let them drop to the bottom of your mind. Don’t go after them. ... Imagine your distracting thoughts are part of the debris floating in the current of a river. Don’t try to capture these thoughts; release them and let the river of God’s life carry them away.”

In describing her mysticism, Calhoun quotes Richard Rohr, “Prayer is not primarily saying words or thinking thoughts. It is, rather, a stance. It’s a way of living in the Presence.” This is not biblical contemplation; it is blind mysticism. Even when it comes to devotional reading of the Bible, Calhoun discourages “mentally critiquing or exegeting the text.” Rather, the Bible is to be used as a launching pad for mysticism as the practitioner refuses to “analyze” it but merely “listens and waits.”

It is impossible to exaggerate the danger inherent in contemplative mysticism, and it is impossible to warn too loudly and plainly of the spiritual blindness of the “evangelical” leaders who are promoting it.

For more on this see
Evangelicals and Contemplative Prayer, available in print and a free eBook edition from www.wayoflife.org.

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