Contemplative Prayer

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by dan e., Jun 18, 2008.

  1. dan e.

    dan e.
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    I'm starting this thread because I think too many people get lumped into becoming a heretical, mystical, catholic sympathizer because of this issue. In reality, nobody seems to define it. Someone mentions being silent in prayer, and they are automatically some mystical heretic. Too many accusations from too little information. So, that being said, how do you understand it? Many also try and accuse those who use the term "spiritual formation" as being the same as contemplative prayer, and of course, in their minds is the same as being a mystical heretic.

    How would you define contemplative prayer? Do you think it is harmful, or dangerous?
     
  2. ReformedBaptist

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  3. Thinkingstuff

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    Strange that this is an issue. A person who is influencial on christian history and beliefs and is known for his contemplative prayer was Athenasius. I don't by if it looks smell or feels Catholic - (standard response) it's wrong! And BTW the Pope is the Anti-Christ. Nonsense!
     
  4. ReformedBaptist

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    Well, that's not what the teaching is. It is that the papacy is that Man of Sin. If your going to bash the Reformers, at least do it accurately. :laugh:
     
  5. Thinkingstuff

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    Good point. I'm referring to their modern counter parts. I've even heard this one:
    the Pope is the false prophet. Is that more accurate?:laugh:
     
  6. dan e.

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    I'm still waiting for some definitions, and reasons that it is dangerous or harmful.
     
  7. Thinkingstuff

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    I agree with contemplative prayer. So no argument from me on this.
     
  8. dan e.

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    Let me say that I'm not necessarily taking a position on this...which is why I'm looking for everyone's responses.

    What I am seeing a lot, and disagreeing with, is the accusations towards prominent authors/leaders of being "contemplative", thus are dubbed heretical mystics. On some websites the name calling gets even uglier than that. Dare I mention anti-theologian K. Silva's site?! (I say "anti-theologian" because that is one of his favorite terms for someone).

    When in actuality, the term is rarely defined, and many of the accused seem orthodox on essentials.

    So....I'm anxously awaiting some comments to engage, and learn more what others think.
     
  9. donnA

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    Just posting links does not answer the question of what do YOU think it is, how do you understand it.
     
  10. Crabtownboy

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    To me it is what I call 'centering prayer,' sitting quietly and waiting for the Holy Spirit to speak. First I acknowledge that God is present and then I sit quietly, listening.
     
  11. pinoybaptist

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    I don't know about others, but to me they're just words. Terms. Phrases.
    One can define them this way, another that way.

    Some can be offended by the term, just as some are offended by the term "praying in a heavenly tongue".

    Some think it is akin to a mantra, others to the zen principle of getting into the state of ki.

    I think it's a very superficial issue.
     
  12. ReformedBaptist

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    This quote is in the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. You will also find it in the Westminster confession. I and my church subscribe to the 1689.

    "The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner; neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God; whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming."

    When you delve into their teaching in this regard it is understood that by pope they mean papacy. So not just one pope.

    And I agree with it.
     
  13. ReformedBaptist

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    Why re-invent the wheel?

    One link deserves another. lol

    http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/cp.htm

    Here are some highlights:

    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 is often wrapped in Christian terminology. The premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all).

    How did centering prayer infiltrate the churches?

    The current practice of centering prayer can be traced to the mid-1970’s, St. Joseph Abbey in Spencer, Mass., and three monks, Abbot Thomas Keating, William Meninger and Basil Pennington. Their work was a response to the exhortations of the Second Vatican Council to become more knowledgeable about other religious faiths through dialogue with believers from these traditions and to revitalize the path of contemplative prayer in order to help Catholics, especially those who had left the church, to find such experiences in their own faith tradition.

    Fathers Keating, Meninger and Pennington entered into intense, sustained dialogue with leaders from other traditions who lived near the abbey. They invited to the abbey ecumenically oriented Catholic theologians, an Eastern Zen master, Joshu Roshi Sasaki, who offered weeklong retreats on Buddhist meditation, and a former Trappist, Paul Marechal, who taught transcendental meditation. The interaction between these Christian monks and practitioners of Eastern meditation helped distill the practice of Christian contemplative prayer into a form that could be easily practiced by a diverse array of "non-monastic" believers: priests, nuns, brothers and lay men and women.

    Thomas Keating was personally disappointed that so many Catholics had left the church because they had no idea it offered meditation practices that could cultivate the inner peace and spiritual union they desired. At a monastery gathering in the mid-1970’s, Keating posed a question to his fellow monks that provided the impetus to the centering prayer movement: "Could we put the Christian tradition into a form that would be accessible to people in the active ministry today and to young people who have been instructed in an Eastern technique and might be inspired to return to their Christian roots if they knew there was something similar in the Christian tradition?"

    William Meninger’s contriution was to develop a simple, easily taught method of prayer based on the 14th-century mystical classic, The Cloud of Unknowing. Believers are invited to enter into a deep, silent state of "unknowing" during which one expresses one’s "naked intent" to rest in deep communion with God. Meninger suggested the mental repetition of a single "sacred word" that symbolizes the believer’s intention to turn completely toward God. This made it easier to let go of the thoughts and feelings that would invariably come into one’s awareness during prayer. An abundance of conferences, retreats, audio and videotapes and publications have followed from these humble beginnings.
    http://www.cuc.claremont.edu/interfth/Centering\centering_prayer.htm#a



    What do I say? Get this enemy out of the camp of the Lord.
     
    #14 ReformedBaptist, Jun 19, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 19, 2008
  14. dan e.

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    I don't think being still, meditating on God, and having a prayer time of silence necessitates pantheism. Sure, it may be in the roots of similar practice, but does that mean those who talk about having a personal prayer time in silence are heretical mystics? I think not. And I think there ought to be some accountability towards the accusors.
     
  15. ReformedBaptist

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    I think you should re-read their definition and respond to it. It doesn't say being still and meditating on God. It is says, "...that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness..."

    Big difference here dan. Is there anything wrong with having a quiet time, praying, thinking on Scripture, the attributes of God, et. in silence? Of course not! But that is NOT what contemplative/centering prayer is.

    Do you see this now? Otherwise your re-stating of their definition is a bit of a strawman. (I am not attacking you, just saying..)
     
  16. dan e.

    dan e.
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    But this is precisely my point! Many will talk about "contemplative", or sitting in silent prayer, or whatever else....and the assumption is that they believe the definition you offered!

    That is what I'm saying seems to be out of hand. Just because someone may talk about contemplative (with probably a different definition in mind), but they are dubbed the occult, and accused of attempting to induce an altered state of consciousness.

    I guess it is like so many other things. Just terms that mean one thing to someone, and another to someone else.
     
  17. ReformedBaptist

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    Well, what your describing here is an overgeneralization...a mistake we are all probably guilty of making at some point in our lives. It is possible that an individual or a church is calling something contemplative prayer when it is not what the actual movement is doing or practicing.

    The criticism of the movement is wholly valid, needed, and beneficial to make Christians aware of what this movement is about and where its influence is coming from. It is alleged that this type of mysticism is either coming directly into churches or under the name of spiritual formation. Names like Richard Foster and Dallas Willard are thrown out as those teaching contemplative prayer under the name spiritual formation. Rick Warren, for example, has commended these men in his books and sermons.

    Is Foster, Willard and other influential men and women bringing mysticism into the church under the name spiritual formation? This is something that should be researched. The actual mystical movement should be examined and studied, and then compared to the teachings of men like Foster. Where do they agree? Where are they different?

    There are ministries and invidiuals that have done this. This article alleges Saddleback is Contemplative http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/index.php?p=1118&more=1&c=1

    What is interesting is the research conducted by Ray Yungen. Here is a man who has done such research. For those interested in knowing the facts and truth about this subject, it could be a good starting place.
     
  18. Crabtownboy

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    That is contemplative spirituality, it is not contemplative prayer.


    That is an explanation that totally ignores Christian history. Contemplative prayer has bee a part of Chritianity since the very early days including the desert fathers and desert mothers.

    http://www.centeringprayer.com/cntrgpryr.htm

    ]
     
    #19 Crabtownboy, Jun 19, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 19, 2008
  19. ReformedBaptist

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    Is contemplative prayer part of contemplative spirituality? Then your point is moot.

    That Christian history shows that contemplative prayer (mysticism) has been a part of Christainity, even since the days of the church "fathers" and desert mothers (whatever that is) is meaningless. Actually, its very Roman Catholic of you to use the "fathers" to add weight to an unbiblical practice.

    We may with great respect read the writing of the early church leaders and christians, but respectfully part ways with them when they depart from Scripture. Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura) is the infallible rule by which all doctrine and practice must and should conform. Adding to the Word of God the so-called sacred tradition has led to gross error and heresy most clearly evidenced by the papacy.
     

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