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p.5 Foster and friends view and practice of entering the silence, meditation, and the imagination

The Roman Catholic contemplative prayers is a trend popularized by those who do not know the difference of being “silent” and “entering the silence.” One is biblical, the other, of entering the silence is not; it is mysticism / new age.

Over 80% of the Christian colleges and seminaries have contemplative spirituality taught to their students today. The more universities and colleges adopt these methods the further the church comes to denying scripture in everyday use.

Foster encourages his readers to go deep into their inner world of silence and explore it, but does the Bible?

“[W]e must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation. In their writings, all of the masters of meditation strive to awaken us to the fact that the universe is much larger than we know, that there are vast unexplored inner regions that are just as real as the physical world we know so well. They tell us of exciting possibilities for new life and freedom. They call us to the adventure, to be pioneers in this frontier of the Spirit” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 13).

Where does the bible speak of masters of meditation? Here is the occult /mystic journey of discovery, to be pioneers in this frontier of the Spirit. Exploring within is exploring the universe, as if one can go into their spirit (or spirit realm) and makes discoveries like we have discovered outside of us. This is NOT the way God gives life and freedom. This is much like the occult view of within being a reflection of without; that what is within is as vast as what is without.

In the very beginning of his book Foster writes, We need not be well advanced in matters of theology to practice the Disciplines. Recent converts--for that matter people who have yet to turn their lives over to Jesus Christ--can and should practice them” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 2).

Notice that he states one does not need to be a Christian, that these practices can be used for believers but also for unbelievers. As a believer if you practice these disciplines it will ruin your understanding of Scripture. All one has to do is read how the people involved interpret scripture to see this illustrated. The learning of God through His word, by doctrine, is basic theology. His Godly disciplines are admittedly not connected to these because he also suggest people who do know of Jesus SHOULD practice them.

Also, since Foster recommends for even non- believers to go within, he cannot mean it is God’s spirit they are in contact with. For the Bible teaches unbelievers do not have God’s Spirit residing in them (though many of the teachers Foster recommends claim people do). He is speaking of the spirit of man; which is fallen. Even Paul said Rom. 7:18 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; v.20 “sin that dwells in me” (so that he struggles to do what is right).

Paul’s answer to indwelling sin. Gal. 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Christ in us, living by faith is the way to live a spiritual life. And this faith is connected to the word.

Consider Eph. 2:2, the fallen Angel (Satan) is the prince of the power of the air, this spirit now works in the sons of disobedience.”

“of the Spiritual Disciplines’ functioning in our lives. God brings about the transformation of our lives through the Disciplines, and we will not know genuine joy until there is a transforming work within us. (Celebration of Discipline p.193 20th anniversary ed.)

So then those who are non Christian that practice these disciplines can know genuine joy but a believer who studies the Bible and allows God’s Spirit to work in them cannot? Think about what he is saying. This is direct challenge to 2 Tim.3:16 for which the scripture was given. Thus it proves that Foster’s challenging God’s way to transform us by the word; replaced by his way not found in the Scripture. The Bibles consistent teaching is that we train ourselves in the word and discipline ourselves unto Godliness.

We are instructed in Rom. 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Eph. 4:23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind. Which means learning and understanding the word just as 2 Tim. 3:16 explains.

True spiritual growth comes through the testing of our faith, Where our consistent reading and applying the Word in our lives shows its weight. It does not come by using methods of monks and mystics to go within. We are to learn to walk in the Spirit daily as we are trained by the word of God, which are the words of eternal life. Any university or college that does not understand the points just made is not a higher learning institute.

On the other hand we are to watch for “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light”

(2 Cor. 11:13-14). Angels of light are those who offer another spiritual way for our betterment.

Not be still, but enter the stillness

Foster “Another form of meditation is what the contemplatives of the Middle Ages called “re-collection,” and what the Quakers have often called “centering down.” It is a time to become still, to enter into the recreating silence, to allow the fragmentation of our minds to become centered.

The following is a brief exercise to aid you in “re-collection” that is simply called “palms down, palms up.” Begin by placing your palms down as a symbolic indication of your desire to turn over any concerns you may have to God (p.30 Foster)

Foster says this is not for the novice, he also says “I do not say this about other forms of prayer.” When Richard Foster tells those who follow his contemplative praying that they need to say a prayer of protection before practicing their contemplative prayer. It is time for everyone to pause and think biblically. You need to pray for protection for when you pray (his way)? Why would one need to do that, unless he is entering demonic realms? Meditation leads one to believe that God is in everything and all is connected together, which is not a biblical worldview.

Consider his evolution of his teaching. Foster had first said, “Christian meditation is an attempt to empty the mind in order to fill it” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, p. 15).

Apparently Foster received criticism for this statement, because in the next edition of Celebration of Discipline he omitted it and tried to contrast Eastern meditation with Christian meditation with the following words:

“Eastern meditation is an attempt to empty the mind; Christian meditation is an attempt to fill the mind. The two ideas are quite different” (Celebration of Discipline, 1988, p. 20).

So then why would he have first said Christian meditation is an attempt to empty the mind if it is eastern meditation? He is adjusting his words trying to make palatable so that your guard is down.

Today he further changed this to say, “Whenever the Christian idea of meditation is taken seriously, there are those who assume it is synonymous with the concept of meditation centered in Eastern religions. In reality, the two ideas stand worlds apart. Eastern meditation is an attempt to empty the mind; Christian meditation is an attempt to fill the mind. The two ideas are quite different.” (P.20 Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth)

Does this sound like someone whose being open and honest of what he believes? Today He may say they are different but he practices them as the same.

For meditation of SCRIPTURE the Bible does not teach to empty our mind first to fill it. We begin thinking, pursuing a deeper understanding (comparing scripture with scripture). Emptying the mind in eastern thought opens one to spirit experiences that are not from God. And we will use his own words

How does Foster (and friends) interpret or apply scripture?

Foster states, “you will see meditation as communication between the Lover and the one beloved.” (P.23 Foster, calls God the eternal lover, this of course is a misuse of the Song of Solomon)

When you see the terms reversed, instead of us acknowledging the image of God, his qualities in us we describe God with our flawed human qualities, using this interpretation, such as lover; watch out for teachers like this.

John 14:23-24 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.

Where is Foster teaching God’s word? When he says meditation it is using unbiblical methods

Imagine this

Foster uses the imagination like a child who does not know the reality of Scripture.

“Imagination often opens the door to faith. If God shows us a shattered marriage whole or a sick person well, it helps us to believe that it will be so. Children instantly understand these things and respond well to praying with the imagination. I was once called to a home to pray for a seriously ill baby girl. Her four-year-old brother was in the room, and so I told him I needed his help to pray for his baby sister. He was delighted, and so was I since I know that children can often pray with unusual effectiveness. He climbed up into the chair beside me. “Let’s play a little game,” I said. “Since we know that Jesus is always with us, let’s imagine that he is sitting over in the chair across from us. He is waiting patiently for us to center our attention on him. When we see him, we start thinking more about his love than how sick Julie is. He smiles, gets up, and comes over to us. Then, let’s both put our hands on Julie, and when we do, Jesus will put his hands on top of ours. We’ll watch the light from Jesus flow into your little sister and make her well. Let’s watch the healing power of Christ fight with” (p.41 Celebration of Discipline)

Jesus is not at his Beck and call by imagination, he presumes to lead the Lord for healing this person.

Here he uses an occult technique

"]n your imagination allow your spiritual body, shining with light, to rise out of your physical body. Look back so that you can see yourself lying in the grass and reassure your body that you will return momentarily ... Go deeper and deeper into outer space until there is nothing except the warm presence of the eternal Creator. Rest in His presence." (Richard Foster 1978 edition of Celebration of Discipline, pp. 26-27)

Of course you have to imagine this because the Bible does not teach any such thing for the Christian. What Foster is describing is astral travel that is a practice done by occultists and the new agers. No Christian should participate in this exercise.

“In fact, the common experience of those who walk with God is one of being given images of what can be. Often in praying for people I am given a picture of their condition, and when I share that picture with them, there will be a deep inner sigh, or they will begin weeping. Later they will ask, “How did you know?” Well, I didn’t know, I just saw it. To believe that God can sanctify and utilize the imagination is simply to take seriously the Christian idea of incarnation. God so accommodates, so enfleshes himself into our world that he uses the images we know and understand to teach us about the unseen world of which we know so little and which we find so difficult to understand.” (Celebration of Discipline p.26 20th anniv. Ed.)

Are we to venture into the unseen world or learn of it? Where is that in the Bible? If God wants someone to know something that is unseen it is for a reason, a very important one as Elisha saw there were more angels than demons this is not an everyday occurrence, it is very rare.

The inner world of meditation is most easily entered through the door of the imagination. We fail to today to appreciate its tremendous power. The imagination is stronger that the conceptual thought and stronger than the will. ... In his autobiography C. G. Jung describes how difficult it was for him to humble himself and once again play imagination games of a child, and the value of that experience. Just as children need to learn to think logically, adults need to REDISCOVER THE MAGICAL REALITY OF THE IMAGINATION. ...

“Ignatius  of   Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises constantly encouraged his readers to VISUALIZE THE GOSPEL STORIES. Every contemplation he gave was designed to open the imagination. He even included a meditation entitled ‘application of the senses,’ which is an attempt to help us utilize all five senses as we picture the Gospel events. His thin volume of meditation exercises with its stress on the imagination had tremendous impact for good upon the sixteenth century.’ ...

Take a single event like the resurrection, or a parable, or a few verses, or even a single word and allow it to take root in you. Seek to live the experience, remembering the encouragement of Ignatius of Loyola to apply all our senses to our task. ... As you enter the story, not as a passive observer but as an active participant, remember that since Jesus lives in the Eternal Now and 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, BE ADDRESSED BY HIS VOICE AND BE TOUCHED BY HIS HEALING POWER. It can be more than an exercise of the imagination; IT CAN BE A GENUINE CONFRONTATION” (Celebration of Discipline, 1978, pp. 22, 23, 26).

God wants us to live in reality not imagination. Not that we dispense of imagination for the right uses, these examples are not it. We enter meditation through imagination, how does this have any connection to the Faith the Bible describes.

Consider that Foster recommends Carl Jung, who had and listened to demonic spirit guide.  Ignatius of Loyola, who founded an organization dedicated to obedience to the Pope at the time of their Inquisition. The “spirit realm” to which these men connected through meditative practices was the realm of darkness.

Foster recommends Loyola’s practice of visualizing a personal encounter with Jesus, is his own imagination at work. We don’t even know what Jesus looks like and for now we are not supposed to. This is visualization, conjuring up an image. However, Faith is believing God’s Word (Romans 10:17), which has nothing to do with what Foster is teaching.

Foster makes use of his own imagination to come up with his own interpretation and applications of the rare and unusual events that are not repeated in Scripture. He writes “Elijah spent many a day and night in the wilderness learning to discern the “still small voice of Yahweh” (1 Kings 19:9–18). p.16

Really, where does it teach this? He was not discovering this voice, as God had already spoken to him numerous times.

If one reads the account they find that Elijah was not seeking to enter into silence. Elijah wasn’t looking for an experience with God. He was running for his life from Jezebel, depressed and ready dispense himself as a prophet.  God reached out and restored him in the perfect way he knew how. Elijah at the time was engulfed in emotion and God spoke peaceably to him to bring calm to his spirit.

There is no command anywhere in Scripture to try to duplicate Elijah’s hearing God’s voice by experience.  Seeking a quiet place to be alone with God is taught in Scripture, it is not commanded as a discipline.

This is so why do so many of these mystics refer to Elijah’s “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12-13). For example, Ruth Haley Barton states, “Elijah’s willingness to enter into solitude and silence opened room for God to minister to him in ways he had not yet experienced” (p. 19). 

 

Pt.6 Foster and friends -  going back to the time of the mystical monks using Roman Catholic Monastic practices as if they are God ordained.

 

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