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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

John Piper's Contradictory Position on Contemplative Prayer by David Cloud

There is phraseology used by some, who purport to follow Christ, that truly makes for knot in my stomach, by which I can immediately know that these are not of God, but of the devil!  More recently, it was something sent to me by a brother in Christ, to which my reaction was immediate, as it is when reading what John Piper describes as "when you read your Bible, you pause and you see in and through the words to the reality with your heart, and you apprehend spiritual reality."  I just want to vomit when reading wording that is meant to sound "so neat" but is nothing but a web of deceit to draw others!

I remember walking in the church at Medjugorje, desperately wishing to view the 'something extra' others who had been there swore they saw, lighting, etc., that were NOT physically present, yet... I my "spiritual" self saw nothing!  I suspect I may be one of the very few who have ever left Medjugorje utterly disappointed!  I must add that this took place in 1992, when I was, thoughtlessly, still in the Roman Catholic Cult!

Ah! Today I know it was the Holy Spirit that allowed I not be deceived!  Praise God, for it!  The word of God warns us of it:

17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them 
which cause divisions and offences 
contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; 
and avoid them.
18 For they that are such 
serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, 
but their own belly; 
and by good words and fair speeches 
deceive the hearts of the simple.
Romans 16:17-18 (King James Bible)

John Piper's Contradictory Position on Contemplative Prayer
MARCH 27, 2013
(first published January 19, 2011) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143,; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) – 
The following is from “John Piper Says No to Catholic Contemplatives but Yes to Protestant Contemplatives,” Lighthouse Trails, March 11, 2013, 

This past week we received an e-mail from a reader who brought to our attention a video online showing where popular Calvinist teacher John Piper is asked the question: “Is there such a thing as contemplative prayer or Christian meditation in the Reformed and Puritan tradition?” Piper answers by first attempting to define contemplative prayer:
[T]here is a spiritual seeing, or what we would call contemplation. This is where, when you read your Bible, you pause and you see in and through the words to the reality with your heart, and you apprehend spiritual reality. And this gives rise to a kind of praying that is spiritual and authentic and personal and warm and strong. [God created us as flesh-and-blood beings!  If it were "spiritual reality" that He wished from us, he would have created SPIRITS only!  In His word, He assures us of this on which we can bank our eternal salvation: Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Proverbs 1:23  When born again, we HAVE the Holy Spirit indwell us, and it is HIS spirit that will make known His words to us, and no mystical contemplation nor meditation of any sort!]
In the video, Piper says he is “ticked” with Christian seminary classes that turn “mainly” to the “mystical Catholic tradition in order to find this kind of depth and this kind of personal connection with the living God that is both rational and supra-rational and very mystical in its communion.” He adds, “You don’t have to embrace bad theology, namely Roman Catholic historic bad theology, in order to find amazing representatives of those who’ve known God at this level.”
The obvious question that was not answered in this snippet is whom does Piper believe are some of these “amazing representatives” who can teach us about “good” contemplative prayer? Thanks to our keen-eyed reader, who sent us a link to Piper’s church’s bookstore, we found that answer, at least in part--none other than Richard Foster, whose book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home is being sold on the Bethlehem Baptist Church’s bookstore website. Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home is one of Foster’s primers on contemplative prayer. In that book, Foster tells us: “You must bind the mind with one thought” (p. 124). Foster’s advice echoes mystics such as Anthony DeMello as Ray Yungen points out in A Time of Departing (p. 75). Yungen warns that this binding the mind (getting rid of distractions and thoughts) is no different than classic Hindu meditation.
Ironically, while John Piper rejects the “Catholic” contemplatives, Foster does not. In Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Foster quotes and references several including Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, and Madame Guyon. With this in mind, we must reject the notion that John Piper is adequately distinguishing between bad Catholic contemplative prayer and good Protestant contemplative prayer. As we have always affirmed, there is no good contemplative prayer. And important to note, Thomas Merton was one of the significant figures in bringing contemplative meditation to the forefront, and Richard Foster is nothing less than a Merton disciple. So once again we have an example of a Christian leader talking out of both sides of the mouth and no doubt bringing confusion to his followers.
When Piper publicly interviewed Rick Warren in 2011, he showed his support for the Purpose Driven pastor’s doctrine when he stated: “At root I think he is theological and doctrinal and sound” (Cecil Andrews, “John Piper Invite to Rick Warren,” Take Heed Ministries, April 3, 2010). This caused much dismay for those who understand the underlying beliefs of “America’s pastor.” Rick Warren is a strong advocate and promoter for contemplative mystics (such as Henri Nouwen) and the spiritual formation movement (the vehicle through which contemplative is entering the Protestant church) (“Saddleback Is a Contemplative Church,” Lighthouse Trails, Jun. 16, 2008). So with John Piper’s embrace of Warren coupled with his apparent acceptance of Richard Foster, Piper students should be asking some prudent questions of their teacher. They should also dismiss the notion that we can distinguish between good and bad contemplative prayer. There is no such thing [as good contemplative prayer! Now I need reach for my Rolaids!].
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