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Partial List of Contemplative Leaders recommended by Christianity Today.


This is a partial list of contributors included in the “Building Church Leaders” Spiritual Disciplines Essentials Combo Pack. This is featured as a special package of information for purchase on the Building Church Leaders / Leading Outreach website an arm of Christianity Today magazine. (http://www.buildingchurchleaders.com/home/offer.html?offer=spiritualdiscessentcombo)


Below are some of my research notes that were used for Jan Markell’s “Understanding the Times” radio broadcast aired in January, 2011 which, in part, exposed the continued promotion of Contemplative Spirituality by CT. The list below is not a complete or exhaustive compilation. However, the names here represent a “who’s who” of those in the so-called “mystical Christianity” movement that align with Emergent Church and in some ways, with New Age cultism. (* listen to hour one of the Understanding the Times broadcast here and hour two here.)


NOTE: Many of these names and accompanying organizations are intertwined in a network…a web of like minded mystical thinkers, who promote one another and in turn, bring approval and public credibility to what they say and do.


For more on this issue read my email update
“Strange Disciplines from Christianity Today (http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs018/1102797716062/archive/1103783472975.html)


Richard Foster - One of the best know contemplative advocates. Foster, a so-called Christian Mystic, has helped usher in what can only be called a Christianized form of Eastern mysticism.

He claims that the reason people are turning to Zen and TM is because they lack the direction of what he calls “spiritual directors.” NOTE: They’re called Gurus in Eastern thought and Shamans elsewhere! This is all part of the deception by re-identification that has become so prevalent in Emergent thought. It is all about changing the name to change the perception… a retooling of one’s aversion for mysticism.

Now, after 30+ years of what is nothing short of New Age tinkering, deceived Christians call them "spiritual directors." Foster explains this in his now 1978 book Celebration of Discipline, "In the Middle Ages not even the greatest saints attempted the depths of the inward journey without the help of a spiritual director" (p. 159). The problem, according to Foster, is that the churches (in 1978) lacked "living masters"

Where does the Bible tell us that the path to God takes us on an inward spiritual journey? IT DOES NOT. In fact, this is the road to demonic mystical experiences instead.

Foster is only one of many who are advocating this.

Again in the pages of Christianity Today we read these words from Rob Bell of Mars Hill Church in Grandville, MI “This is not just the same old message with new methods.  We’re rediscovering Christianity as an Eastern religion, as a way of life.”
- Christianity Today, November, 2004, pp. 36-41


Ruth Haley Barton - Co-Founder and President of The Transforming Center (Wheaton, IL). She was trained through the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation (Bethesda, Maryland). Educated at Wheaton College (Wheaton, Illinois) and has been on the pastoral staff of Willow Creek Community Church. She is also on the Christianity Today/Building Church Leaders Advisory Board.

Tilden Edwards, founder of the Shalem Institute that trained Barton states: “mystical stream is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality (and to that of Sufi Moslems and some Hassidic Jews in the West as well). The Zen warning not to confuse the pointing finger…for the moon to which it points is a saying that a Christian mystic easily understands. It is no accident that the most active frontier between Christian and Eastern religions today is between contemplative Christian monks and their Eastern equivalents. Some forms of Eastern meditation informally have been incorporated or adapted into the practice of many Christian monks, and increasingly by other Christians.” (Spiritual Friend by Tilden Edwards; page 18)


Henri Nouwen - the now deceased Catholic priest who was popularized in the writings of Rick Warren, who quoted him in The Purpose-Driven Life and Francis Chan in Crazy Love.

Nouwen was one of the most popular contemplative New Age mystics and was a blatant a Buddhist sympathizer who sees a bridge to Eastern mysticism through “silence. Moreover, Nouwen was also an open blatant universalist.

In his last book, Sabbatical Journey, Nouwen wrote:

"Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God's house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God." (Sabbatical Journey, page 51, 1998 Hardcover Edition)

On page 22 of the book Here and Now Nouwen wrote: "The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being."

From Bread for the Journey inspirational newsletter Nouwen states: “Prayer is soul work because our souls are those sacred centers where all is one, ... It is in the heart of God that we can come to the full realization of the unity of all that is.”

As recently as September 14, 2010 Rick Warren tweeted on Twitter a Nouwen quote: “Hiddenness is the place of purification. In hiddenness we find our true selves.”


Tony Jones - Quotes

“The emerging church is a place of conversation and dialogue and movement. Where that’s going to go, we don’t know. We're figuring this out together. We don’t have an agenda of what it looks like at the end of the road. We just want to gather up people who are on this road, who want to go together on it.”
- Tony Jones, PBS Special, July 15, 2005

“Emergent doesn’t have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter.”
– Emergent Leader Tony Jones
- At the 2005 National Youth Workers Convention

Tony Jones calls the doctrine of original sin “a depraved idea.” He says, “I have come to reject the notion of Original Sin. I consider it neither biblically, philosophically, nor scientifically tenable.”
- From his “New Christians” blog for January 26, 2009

Tony Jones writes,

“I now believe that GLBTQ (those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer) can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (at least as much as any of us can!) and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state.”


Lynne M. Baab - Another Building Church Leaders Advisory Board member. A Presbyterian minister from Seattle.

She is author of eight books including A Renewed Spirituality - Celtic Christian spirituality, Nature, Benedictine Spirituality, Contemplative Prayer


Adele Calhoun - is author of Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us. The advertising says the book will lead us to "Fasting, Solitude Contemplative prayer and Lectio Divina.” She recommends Dallas Willard, Richard Foster; and contemplative Emergent teacher, Phyllis Tickle. Again, notice the networking factor as these folks redirect readers and followers to other mystics.

Two of her contributions to the Building Church Leaders Spiritual Disciplines Essentials Combo Pack of materials are:

What Is Contemplative Prayer?

Understanding the practice and purpose of an ancient method of prayer.

What Is Lectio Divina? 

Understanding the practice, purpose, and art of spiritual reading.


John Ortberg - Menlo Park (CA) Presbyterian.

In Ortberg's 2005 book, God is Closer Than You Think, Ortberg quotes favorably from contemplatives such as Anne Lamott, Annie Dillard, Gary Thomas (Sacred Pathways), Brother Lawrence (who danced violently like a mad man when he practiced), interspiritualists Tilden Edwards (Shalem Institute), Thomas Kelly (Divine Center in all), Jean Pierre de Caussade, Frederick Buechner, Meister Eckhart as well as Dallas Willard and Thomas Merton.

NOTE: German, Meister Eckhart was an alleged Christian monk / occult mystic (perhaps the earliest Contemplative Emergent!?) who lived in the 14th century A.D. He is also the inspiration and assumed name-sake for modern New Age author, Eckhart Tolle. Tolle changed his name from "Ulrich Tolle” to “Eckhart Tolle” because of the immense spiritual connection he felt for the ancient mystic. Tolle became world famous in 2008 through being featured by Oprah Winfrey when she spotlighted his book “A New Earth” on her television program. Winfrey’s adoration for Tolle’s spirituality inspired her to host and participate in a 10 week series of webcasts on her Internet site in which Oprah herself entered altered states of consciousness utilizing Tolle’s instruction and techniques. These New Age and occult practices were nearly identical to those endorsed by Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Ortberg and the other contemplative emergent practitioners. (See video clips of Oprah and Tolle in the video “New Age Truth or…Old Age Deception?”)



The Errors of the Emergent Church DVD

Is Your Church New Age, Emergent, or Christian? DVD

New Age Truth or…Old Age Deception? DVD

“Strange Disciplines from Christianity Today article

There are many articles on our website on these issues as well as several extended video clips on our YouTube channel. Get it all at www.ericbarger.com.


(c) copyright 2011, Eric Barger

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