John Ortberg, Menlo Park Presbyterian senior pastor and co-creator of Monvee with Dallas Willard, recently tweeted this quote from Thomas Merton:
"No 1 wants 2 b thot of as a beginner. But in prayer, no 1 will ever b anything else. - Thomas Merton"Who exactly was Thomas Merton? Why is this problematic? For starters, Merton was a Roman Catholic monk who once compared mystical meditation to the same powerful experience generated by mind-altering drugs. Merton also rather infamously stated that he saw "no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity" and said that he intended to become as good a Buddhist as he could.
Monvee, the program co-created by Dallas Willard and John Ortberg, markets itself as a way for Christians to draw closer to God through something called "Spiritual Formation." But Spiritual Formation, for those who don't know, is comprised of centuries old Roman Catholic practices which are the main avenue by which mysticism is coming into today's churches. Today's Christians who are enamoured by this Christian sounding practice try to make the distinction that there is a difference between "bad" mysticism and "good" mysticism. Obviously, to those pleading this case, "bad" mysticism would be occultic, and eastern in origin. But "good" mysticism, so the reasoning goes, would be a type of mysticism that is Christian, biblical, and necessary for spiritual development.
Instead of actually drawing a person closer to God, these occultic practices generate a "counterfeit Holy Spirit experience" which feels very real, very profound, and very spiritual. Actually, when people engage in these practices, what they're experiencing is real and is spiritual...only, it is not from God.
"And no wonder, for even Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." (2 Cor 11:14).
Let me close by urging anyone reading to beware of Spiritual Formation - and please warn your brothers and sisters in Christ. We "listen" to God not by powering down and getting a spiritual "hit" from God, but by reading and studying the Bible - Sola Scriptura. And also understand that Spiritual Formation is taught under many different names. Here are some of the most well known:
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Monvee: Mysticism For The Masses
What is Mysticism?