Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline” – Does Your Pastor Have a Copy?

Spiritual DisciplineAn excellent research article from Lighthouse Trails on the problems with mystic Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline, which birthed today’s man-made Spiritual Formation/Transformation Movement being embraced by many progressive/seeker churches:

First published in 1978, Celebration of Discipline has had a massive influence on today’s Christianity. Unfortunately, the influence has helped to saturate the church with mystical contemplative prayer and the New Age. Most likely, your pastor has a copy of this book sitting on his library shelves. He may even have it sitting on his desk for easy reach and reference. Richard Foster, a Quaker and the founder of an organization called Renovare (meaning renewal), wrote the book and even he may have had no idea the impact this book would have. But 35 years later, it is still being read, and in fact, Christian leaders and organizations are promoting the book like never before.

Foster said in the book, that we “should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer” (p. 13, 1978 ed.). In other books and writings of Foster’s, he makes it very clear that this “contemplative prayer” is the eastern style mantra meditation to which mystic monk Thomas Merton adhered. In fact, Richard Foster once told Ray Yungen (author of A Time of Departing) that “Thomas Merton tried to awaken God’s people” (at a conference in Salem, OR).

Thomas Merton, who said he was “impregnated with Sufism” (Merton and Sufism, p. 69) and wanted to “become as good a Buddhist” as he could be (David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West”), believed that “God’s people” lacked one thing . . . mysticism and this is to what they needed “awakening.” Of Merton, Foster says: “Thomas Merton has perhaps done more than any other twentieth-century figure to make the life of prayer widely known and understood.” (Spiritual Classics, p. 17) And yet, Thomas Merton once told New Age Episcopal priest Matthew Fox that he felt sorry for the hippies in the 60s who were dropping LSD because all they had to do was practice the mystical (contemplative) stream to achieve the same results. (Interview) We couldn’t agree with him more. Both altered states are the same, and neither lead to God.

Read the entire article

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8 Responses to Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline” – Does Your Pastor Have a Copy?

  1. For a comprehensive demolition of RICHARD FOSTER/RENOVARE Principality see:
    http://www.cephas-library.com/psychology/renovare

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  2. Dave Mosher says:

    Thanks for pointing us to the Lighthouse Trails article. I've been debating evangelical contemplatives lately. These individuals insist that Spiritual Formation is a biblical practice, citing the fact that they read many "Christian" (mostly Catholic) mystics from centuries past. Here's a Catholic list of Catholic mystics – many of whom have not been read widely by Protestants: http://www.circleofprayer.com/mystics.html

    It is very unfortunate that Protestants at least as far back as John Wesley recommended reading various Catholic mystics. But Richard Foster, Dallas Willard and company have popularized a more dangerous form of "Christian" mysticism that incorporates practices from Eastern religions and other "faith traditions" outside the Judeo-Christian heritage.

    It would be interesting to find out when Eastern religions were first incorporated into "Christian" mysticism/Spiritual Formation. I know Foster quoted heavily from Thomas Merton, who was a "Buddhist Catholic": http://www.wayoflife.org/database/merton.html

    God bless you – Dave

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  3. Miguel Hayworth Demolition of Labyrinth Principality:


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  4. Wrong link on Miguel Hayworth…this is the right one for Labyrinth:
    http://www.firstplumbline.net/html/spiritoflifela

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  5. I am a pastor and I do have this book on my book shelf. However, let me qualify that. I took a course on "Spiritual Formation" as a seminary class. I really had no idea what I was getting into at the time. Some of the class was fairly orthodox – thanks to a well grounded instructor. But the course used Foster's book, too. Most of it gave me great pause. I'm a Southern Baptist with fairly conservative views and I seriously questioned why this book was part of the curriculum. Our instructor told us several points to disregard, but I think we should have tossed the whole thing out. Reading it made me quite uncomfortable, but check this out, this was a REQUIRED class for the diploma I am working on.
    Foster's book is on my shelf, along with books authored by other writers I disagree with (such as Bart Ehrman). I read their stuff so I understand their heretical views and can defend myself and my church from them. I worry about the influx and influence of the mystical and New Age in our churches today and how people who claim to be firmly grounded in Christian faith cannot discern this for the dangerous drivel that it is.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    ゴローズgoro s

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