Dear friends, we are grateful for the Staff at Lighthouse Trails Research Project researching this issue and we are also very grateful for the recently issued position paper by Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship.
~ Chris Lawson at SRN
Calvary Chapel Rejects
Contemplative and Emergent Spirituality!
May 21, 2006 - This weekend, a position paper addressed to pastors was posted on the Calvary Chapel website. The paper indicates that Calvary Chapel is taking a stand against contemplative spirituality and the emerging church and decrees that the title Calvary Chapel not be attached to such movements. The statement comes on the heels of a recent discovery by Pastor Chuck Smith, the movement's founder, that his book, When Storms Come, had been tampered with unbeknownst to him. The book was published by Thomas Nelson and included contemplative and Eastern meditation language, which apparently had been added by someone doing the final editing of the book.
Lighthouse Trails issued two press releases regarding the book tampering, and on May 18th, Pastor Smith wrote an email to the editors at Lighthouse Trails Publishing, addressing the tampering and stating that he "prepared a position paper to be distributed to the Calvary Chapel pastors on the subject of the Emergent Church and its many divergent and unscriptural theological positions that trouble me greatly." Pastor Smith also thanked Lighthouse Trails for sending him a copy of A Time of Departing, which he said he "read with interest," then added "[A Time of Departing] resonates with the concerns that I personally have concerning the direction that many ministries seem to be taking in their endeavor to unify all faiths. I do believe that straight is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and as Jesus said, He was that way, He is the truth, and the life, and no man can come to the Father but by Him."
There has been a growing concern by many Calvary Chapel pastors that some pastors and teachers in the Calvary Chapel movement have been promoting practices that are related to contemplative spirituality and Eastern religions. Regarding this, the Calvary Chapel position paper states:
Should we look to Eastern religions with their practices of meditation through Yoga and special breathing techniques or repeating a mantra to hear God speak to us? If this is needed to enhance our communication with God, why do you suppose that God did not give us implicit instructions in the Scriptures to give us methods to hear His voice? Is it the position of my body or my heart that helps me to communicate with Him?
While the Calvary Chapel position paper to pastors does not specifically use the term contemplative spirituality when addressing the emerging church, the philosophy and practices are described, and we hope that pastors will understand that contemplative prayer is the glue that holds the emerging church movement together and is the main reason it should be avoided. Furthermore, contemplative spirituality is the common denominator in not just the emerging church movement but other current trends as well including the spiritual formation movement and the Purpose Driven Life movement. It is vital that pastors and believers of churches in all evangelical denominations understand that those who regularly practice contemplative prayer have consistently ended up with a panentheistic view of God, which in turn negates the message of the Cross. The notion that we should enter into the "silence" or an altered state of consciousness to "hear" God is unscriptural and downright dangerous.
We believe it is pertinent for all evangelical pastors to have at their disposal the facts and documentation on contemplative spirituality. Both A Time of Departing and Running Against the Wind as well as our free research website have all of this information available.
We commend any pastor or leader who stands against the contemplative prayer movement. In this eleventh hour, believers need leaders who will courageously take a stand, and those not yet believers need to hear the pure gospel message of Jesus Christ.
Note: Pastor Smith told Lighthouse Trails that his book, When Storms Come, is being reedited and reprinted. He said the book was written to "help people find true peace in the storms."
For More Information:
Pastor Chuck Smith's Position Paper to Pastors
The Emerging Church