Tuesday, March 18, 2008

DEFINITIONS of Contemplative Spirituality and Spiritual Formation

Contemplative Spirituality: A belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology; the premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all).

Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation movement.

More Information:

Friday, March 14, 2008

Chrysalis Walk to Emmaus

What is Chrysalis?

Chrysalis is the youth and young adult version of its parent movement, Walk to Emmaus. Chrysalis walks (or retreats) are called “flights” for 10th through 12th graders and “journeys” for young adults ages 19 through 24. Participants in the 72 hour retreats must be sponsored by alumni of previous retreats.

Walk to Emmaus is an adaptation of a Roman Catholic movement, Cursillo de Cristianidad, which means "little course in Christianity." This movement, designed to empower persons to “Christianize their environment,” originated in Spain in 1948.

During the 1960’s and 1970’s Episcopalians, Lutherans and several non-denominational groups offered Cursillo. The first Cursillo weekend in the Episcopal Church was conducted in the early 1960's with help from Roman Catholic sponsors in the Diocese of Iowa. The doctrine taught in Cursillo was traditional Catholicism. In 1978, The Upper Room, which is the Spiritual Formation unit of the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church, adapted the program for a primarily Protestant audience and began to offer it under the name The Upper Room Cursillo. The name was later changed to the more ecumenical Upper Room Walk to Emmaus.

The Upper Room of the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church sponsors both Chrysalis and Walk to Emmaus and offers them through local Emmaus groups around the world. Although connected through The Upper Room to The United Methodist Church, The Walk to Emmaus is ecumenical.

Most Christians believe the ecumenical movement is simply a movement for more unity among believers. That is not the case. The ecumenical movement was spawned in the Vatican with the express purpose of returning the separated brethren (Protestants) to the Roman Catholic fold. Walk to Emmaus and Chrysalis groups contribute to this purpose by introducing protestant believers to spiritual disciplines which include meditation techniques that have been, until more recent times, uniquely eastern and Roman Catholic in nature.

Before leaving for home, participants in the Chrysalis and Walk to Emmaus three day retreats are introduced to the concept of the Fourth Day. Fourth Day living includes follow-up with ongoing small group get-togethers and resources that Upper Room Spiritual Directors hope will continue to provide “spiritual guidance and nurture” to Chrysalis and Walk to Emmaus initiates. Recommended resources include authors who are Roman Catholic mystics such as St. Teresa of Avila and the Desert Fathers who are the Fathers of Contemplative Prayer. Books by Evelyn Underhill are also recommended as nurturing and guiding resources. Underhill was an Anglican mystic who believed that mysticism (meditation/contemplative prayer also known as “The Silence”) was the vehicle in which all religions could come into contact with the "Absolute" (God) however one perceived him to be—clearly not a concept found in scripture nor compatible with the exclusive gospel of Jesus Christ as the only way to the Father and to eternal life.

All denominations are participating in Walk to Emmaus retreats which are extremely seductive. Participants leave them claiming to be completely renewed, committed to Christ and on a spiritual high. It is difficult to argue with such lofty concepts as Emmaus walk initiates are encouraged to pursue—concepts such as piety (giving our hearts to Christ), study (giving our minds to Christ), and action (giving our hands to Christ). But we must remember that Satan can and does appear as an angel of light. His ministers masquerade as ministers of righteousness.

These Chrysalis and Emmaus Walk spiritual renewal retreats are nothing less than a potent blend of rat poison. Rat poison is 98-99% good stuff. And the higher the percentage of good ingredients the poison contains the more of it the rats are likely to ingest. But in the end, it doesn’t matter how good the good stuff is, it’s that tiny 1% of bad stuff that kills the rat.

For more information on Walk to Emmaus see:
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/walktoemmaus.htm

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning

A Review of Brennan Manning's The Signature of Jesus
by John Caddock

The teachings of Manning are very dangerous. There is a seductive quality to his writings. He reports grappling with and overcoming fear, guilt, and psychological hang-ups and difficulties, including alcoholism. He gives the impression that he has a very intimate relationship with God and that he has insight to a superspirituality. He regularly meditates and reports having many visions and encounters with God. He is an extremely gifted writer who is able to tug at the emotions of the reader while at the same time introducing ideas that the reader would immediately reject if they were not cloaked under this emotional blanket...

He promises readers that if they apply his teaching they too will gain this same intimacy with God as well as freedom from fear, guilt, and psychological hang-ups and difficulties. This is very attractive. Manning's prescription to achieve this is not by traditional prayer and by the reading and application of the Bible. Rather, the means to this end is a mixture of Eastern mysticism, psychology, the New Age Movement, liberation theology, Catholicism, and Protestantism.