Sadly, many of our younger evangelicals and a few of our older ones too) do not have the slightest understanding of the truth that Ray Yungen is saying below. I hope we can get the word out before this "contemplative-spiritual formation" movement destroys the church completely. It's foolish to think God will respond to whatever coems to our minds. We need to think like God thinks and do what He is doing (Is.55:8)
The ancient-future and emergent conversation people think that because some early Christians went out into the desert into caves and meditated and fasted and prayed, that everything they heard and came up with was true. However, did they not take seriously Eph. 6:12 and other verses that talk about spiritual warfare and thoughts that might not be from God? Jesse Penn-Lewis, one of the leaders of the early 20th century great Welsh revival wrote about this "passive thinking" in her book, War on the Saints. She said that passive thinking allows all type of voices into our thoughts and being, many not necessarily from God. The Bible must alwyas be our center, not "our thoughts, or what we think "Jesus is saying to us" (although I certainly believe we can hear from God). The correct way to meditate is not really being presented today. It consists of active thinking about and praying the Bible - not passivley listening to "inner voices." It's interesting that both the late John Wimber was and the present Richard Foster is Quaker. Quakerism stresses the inner voice. While Quakerism had some things right, they really began to get off in the 18th century. Perhaps our Protestant churches need to make a distinction as to why they are not Quaker. I'm not trying to slam the Quaker beliefs totally, but we must examine things before wholly adopting them without question. It's interesting that as I am coming up on my 46th spiritual birthday this April 21, I am reminded of the influence of some Quaker girls in my dorm. But, this was a small group around the Whittier-La Habra-La Mirada area of Southern California that are very evangelical and almost Baptist-like in their churches. They are not the regular somewhat liberal (politically and theologically) Quakers of today.
Anyway, getting back to the "desert fathers," here is what Ray Yungen says about them and I think it is one of the best descriptions historically I've read.
The desert fathers believed as long as the desire for God was sincere–anything could be utilized to reach God. If a method worked for the Hindus to reach their gods, then Christian mantras could be used to reach Jesus.
____Ray Yungen, “A Time of Departing,” p. 43
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