We are grateful to this reader for sending us this letter describing his experience as a contemplative practitioner. We are thankful to the Lord for opening his eyes to the great deception he was in.
As for Focus on the Family, it has been promoting contemplative spirituality for several years (see below this letter for article links). Parents and grandparents, if your children and grandchildren are listening to the Focus on the Family drama CDs, including Adventures in Odyssey, they are being exposed to a dangerous spiritual view. We can’t emphasize that enough. As you read the following letter, realize that what happened to our reader because of his involvement in the “spiritual disciplines” of contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation), is happening to thousands and thousands of Christians today (a number that will eventually hit the millions, changing the entire face of Christianity as researcher Ray Yungen has so often said).
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
Recently, I was given the Father Gilbert MysteriesCD set (by Focus on the Family) from a friend to borrow. The following is a followup letter I sent to my friend regarding these CDs. I thought this letter might be useful to you and anyone else who might not be aware of the contemplative connections to this mystery series.
Hi XXXXXXXXX (names withheld for privacy),Paul (not real name)
Thanks for lending me the Father Gilbert Mysteries CDs. I listened to the first CD on the way home from your house. I found the story to be gripping, and it definitely held my interest. What especially caught my attention though, was what was said in the intro. to the second CD. In it, the narrator stated that Father Gilbert [an Anglican priest] had joined a monastery. While there, he studied “the classic spiritual disciplines of prayer and meditation.” At this point, I had to stop listening to the CD.
As you probably know, I was, for the first 25 years of my Christian life, deeply involved in the spiritual discipline of contemplative prayer that promised to help me become more “Christlike.” According to one web site, “Christian contemplative prayer or contemplation, which was practiced by innumerable monks and nuns (and now laypeople) from the times of the Desert Fathers to the present, goes deep within the heart to meet God, ever-present within, though without thoughts, words, or images, because he is beyond them.”
For me, this basically involved stilling my mind throughout the day and focusing on my moment by moment connection with Christ. Toward the last part of this period in my life, I even had a little hand counter, which I kept with me and which I would keep track of each time, through out the day, when I focused on God. This led me into times of deeper meditation where my mind would become increasingly still and quiet, to the point where my thoughts seemed to be vacuumed out of my mind, leaving me in a kind of raptured stillness.
During these experiences, I had what I believed at the time to be an actual physical sensation of God’s Presence. It was like I didn’t need to focus so much on the Bible anymore to know God because I was actually experiencing Him directly in these moments of contemplation. And in this experience, I felt God as a force or power that was flowing through all things.
It was then that I noticed a subtle change was beginning to take place in my concept of God. I began to feel deeply that God’s Presence was everywhere and in everything. And if God was in everything and as a result, in everyone, then the important thing was not what a person thought about God or believed about Him, but rather that they stilled their thoughts so they too could experience Him in the present moment, beyond thoughts. This began to trouble me though, because I began to realize that this was what I had once believed as a follower and practicer of New Age Eastern beliefs prior to becoming a Christian.
This led me to do some research online. There, I found that this new way of perceiving God which I was developing through my “spiritual discipline” actually had a name. It was called, panentheism—that God is in all things and all things are in God. I also found that this concept does not appear to line up with God’s Word… “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” Romans 8:9.
Needless to say, about five years ago, I discontinued this spiritual practice and began to rest in the finished work of Christ which He accomplished at the Cross (Hebrews 10:10). I can’t begin to tell you how incredibly freeing and restful it has become to be able to say, with Paul, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” Gal. 2:20. And “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Romans 8:11
Related Articles (most recent ones at top, older ones dating back to 2007 at bottom):
Letter From Focus on the Family Confirms Past Reports – They DO Promote Contemplative Spirituality
Focus on the Family Gives Bono a Platform – Another Example Where 2 +2 Don’t Add Up
Letter to the Editor: Saddened and Alarmed at Focus on the Family’s Promoting Contemplative Spirituality
Focus on the Family’s Adventures of Odyssey Has “Eugene” Going to a Monastery – Moody Radio Broadcasts Program
Will Focus on the Family and The Truth Project Warn About “Unio Mystica,” “Oneness,” and Contemplative Prayer?
Focus on the Family: Helping to Bring About a Generation of Parent Mystics?
Serious Concerns for Focus on the Family Marriage Conference
Why Focus on the Family Should Not Promote and Sell Gary Thomas’ Books
Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey – Promoting Contemplative?
Focus on the Family Once Again Says OK to Contemplative Prayer
Focus on the Family Says Anti-Catholic Speech
is Uncharitable and Harmful
“Your quotations from the canons of the Council of Trent, though perfectly legitimate as regards the theological aspects of this issue, fail to take account of the fact that, from a strictly evangelical perspective, a saving relationship with Jesus Christ is an intensely personal and individual matter. In the final analysis, it’s not a question of church membership or doctrinal orientation. ... It’s arguable that many individual Roman Catholics--Anne Rice included--have a very real and lively faith in the Lord Jesus. ... It’s worth adding that anti-Catholic sentiments like those you’ve expressed are more than just uncharitable and un-Christlike. They’re also harmful to the richness of your own Christian experience. ... To dismiss the Roman Catholic Church wholesale is to obliterate the first fifteen centuries of Christian history. It’s to deprive ourselves of the contributions of such great leaders and thinkers as ... Francis of Assisi, and Thomas Aquinas. You may be willing to throw treasures like these out the window, but we aren’t.”
This statement reflects gross ignorance both of the Bible and of church history. The Bible plainly teaches that it is impossible to be saved apart from the one true gospel of the grace of Christ (Galatians 1:8-9). Since the Roman Catholic Church teaches a false gospel of sacramentalism (e.g., the Council of Trent, which has never been rescinded, cursed those who say that salvation is by God’s grace alone), it is impossible to be saved if one believes what Rome teaches. The Bible warns of false christs, false gospels, and false spirits (2 Corinthians 11:1-4). Rome’s christ is a consecrated wafer. Its gospel is the sacraments. Its spirit is one that leads men to pray to a mythical Mary. As for Francis of Assisi and Thomas Aquinas, they worshipped Rome’s false christ, held to its false gospel, and followed its false spirit.
Focus on the Family may be willing to follow in their footsteps, but we thank God for the light He has shined into our formerly-darkened hearts to give us the spiritual wisdom to follow the path of truth rather than that of popular error. We don’t reject the first 1,500 years of church history, but the New Testament prophesies two streams of “churches,” the false and the true, and we thank God that He has shown us the difference.