“And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.” —Mark 1:38-39
The Word of Christ and the Christ of the Word is a truth with such unity that, although vile men may try, it cannot be put asunder.
What should be alarming is the subtlety with which error attempts to creep into the church. Let’s get this clear straightway, however; error doesn’t just creep in as a concept— it is borne along the perverse shoulders of principalities, passed along with military precision by satanic powers, commanded with cruel intent by the rulers of the darkness of this world, and dispatched as unholy directives by spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). The spiritual warfare is real. The heavenly battles are fierce. The struggle for truth, in truth, and by truth is intense. That we also wage warfare on another front, with the flesh that lusteth against the Spirit, does not make Christian life any easier. And that the world hates Christ and His redeemed, and that it persecutes us in our godly disposition (2 Timothy 3:12), we are at spiritual odds on a third side. Although we are basically surrounded by foes, spiritually speaking, in Christ and with Christ, our foes are out-numbered; and the war waged against us on all fronts is designed to make us good soldiers of Jesus Christ as we endure hardships (2 Timothy 2:3).
Do you doubt the validity of the conflict? Do you question its sobriety and gravity? Examine your prayer life and sound its depth and frequency. Inspect your daily Bible readings and reflect upon how often your mind wanders or is distracted. An honest report with yourself and before the Lord will tell you where you stand; for only He and you will truly know.
My friend, Ken Silva shared with me last week how his reports on the embrace of contemplative mysticism by former SBC president, Ed Young, Sr., and Charles Stanley, etc., were met with nary a stir. There was not even mild opposition to it, neither were there questions or comments from professing Biblical believers as to why such a report is important. Perhaps we teeter on the brink of self-importance when we think that someone ought to pay attention to this article I’ve written or that article someone else has written. Hey, to suggest I’ve never suffered from a moment of self-importance, self-indulgence, or self-righteousness, etc., would not only be disingenuous, it would also oppose the doctrine of the total depravity of man: one I both espouse and preach. If I have exalted myself and tarnished the grace of God, I pray that by His grace I may repent of any self-importance, and once again, embrace that blessed grace of peace and humility that can only found at the foot of Calvary’s cross.
This week, Ken has an article that cites the embrace of Lectio Divina as a legitimate form of prayer by the Alabama Baptist Convention State Board of Missions.[i] According to Pastor Silva, this document titled, “ ,” originated with the Georgia Baptist Convention, which is exactly what a little research will disclose.[ii] I have a great many friends in the Southern Baptist Convention, of those who are pulpiteers and non-pulpiteers. Many in our church have SBC roots; and although the church I now pastor is independent, I was not opposed to taking a pastor position with churches with the Southern Baptist Convention, as I have been considered for Southern Baptist pulpits in the past. Although I don’t think that it will happen through this article, several years ago I wrote an article about the Evangelical Covenant Church promoting Lectio Divina and contemplative mysticism. The links that I provided in that article can no longer be found on the ECC website, neither are those materials publicly accessible (though I do know that they are liberally distributed internally and promoted passionately).
Some may ask, “What’s the big deal?” or “What harm could it do?” or “Can’t we all just get along?” The more I think about it, the more I believe that the reason why there has been no real response to this issue is because most do not know what is being promoted with these contemplative, mystical practices. Sadly, many ministers are so overworked in their regular duties, there’s not a whole lot of time to research such things.
What I hope to do over the next week, the Lord willing, is to provide three additional articles:
- Its Subtle Promotion [to explain how this error has crept in unawares]
- Its Sinful Practice [to explain what these practices are and why they are corrupt]
- Our Scriptural, Savior-exalting Priority [to explain how we are to respond to this error and what we must do to move forward in Christ’s Kingdom]
Lectio Divina and these other contemplative practices are void of the gospel because they pervert the Word and prayer. Jesus emerged from prayer in Mark 1:37, to preach the gospel (Mark 1:38). As he preached the gospel in the synagogues from village to village, He cast out devils. There is no way that the devils of false religion and compromise will be cast out except it be through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ that comes by His preached Word and prayer.
[i] The Alabama Baptist Convention is Alabama’s board representing the various associations under its charter within the Southern Baptist Convention. The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.
[ii] The Georgia Baptist Convention, like the Alabama Baptist Convention does for Alabama, represents the various associations under its charter within the Southern Baptist Convention. Bryant Wright, the current president of the SBC, and who is also senior pastor at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, GA, would certainly fall in the category of being within the Georgia Baptist Convention, as they are members of the Noonday Association. Although this certainly does not necessarily mean that Dr. Wright is in agreement with the document, one elected as president of the denomination should at least be aware of such a document endorsed by the state convention.