Spiritual Formation, Contemplative Prayer, Lectio Divina

Spiritual Formation, Contemplative Prayer, Lectio Divina

Possibility of Real Spiritual Experiences Not From God (continued)
When seeking to “hear from God,” there is no biblical guidance as to how one may determine exactly who or what is communicating. Foster himself notes that not only could one be deceived by Satan, but one may also mistake one’s own imagination or “human voices” for the voice of God.

Learning to distinguish the voice of God from just human voices within us comes in much the same way that we learn any other voice. Satan pushes and condemns. God draws and encourages. And we can know the difference.  12

Though Foster provides criteria for determining just who or what is speaking, there is no biblical support for the specifications he provides. He implies that God will always speak in a positive manner, yet there are multiple instances in Scripture when God speaks negatively to His people. About Foster’s comments in the above-referenced Be Still DVD, Pastor Larry DeBruyn writes:

Assuming that God speaks Soul to soul today, what if Foster’s paradigm for determining “the voice” were reversed; that the negative voice is God’s, and the positive is Satan’s? It happened that way in the Garden. God warned Adam and Eve that for disobedience to God, “you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17), but Satan reassuringly told Adam and Eve, “You surely shall not die!” (Genesis 3:4). The point is that when engaging meditative spirituality, the contemplator can never be certain who will speak, and as a consequence, the experience can become the spawning ground for myriads of flashy ideas based solely upon, “he heard this,” or “she heard that.” And at that juncture, Christians and the church will have turned aside “to myths” (2 Timothy 4:4).  13

Deception is rampant, and unbiblical, mystical practices may offer people an actual spiritual experience, though not one that originates from the true and living God. To ignore the boundaries of Scripture is to open oneself up to danger.

Ignatius of Loyola 
Henri Nouwen
Thomas Merton
Dallas Willard
Richard Foster
Rick Warren
Ruth Haley Barton
Ken Boa
Eugene Peterson
Larry Crabb
John Ortberg

Helpful Articles:

Richard Foster
Who Is Richard Foster? By Ken Silva
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster By Gary Gilley
Living Spiritual Teacher Richard Foster By Ken Silva
Dallas Willard
The Spiritual Disciplines of Dallas Willard Destroyed By Ken Silva
Delusions of Dallas Willard By Ken Silva
Book Review: Hearing God, by Dallas Willard By Greg Gilbert
General Resources
Introduction to Mysticism By Gary Gilley
Contemporary Christian Divination: The False Claims and Practices of Christian Mystics By Bob DeWaay
Understanding the New Spirituality: God Indwells Mankind By Ken Silva
But I Say Walk By The Spirit And You Will Not Gratify The Desires Of The Flesh By Mike Ratliff
Spiritual Formation or Biblical Sanctification? By Gary Gilley
An Overview of Lectio Divina By Gary Gilley
Are You Being Filled With the Spirit or Something Else? By Mike Ratliff
Dallas Willard, Author and Leading Spiritual Formation Proponent, Dies at 77
Meet Ima-Do-Gooder and Mia Mystic – affable spokespersons for deception By Debra Rae
Spiritual Disciplines: Some Thoughts By Christine Pack
‘Mystic Baptist’ Charles Stanley Explains How God Speaks to Him By Erin Benziger

Other Research Sites:
Apprising Ministries
Lighthouse Trails Research

The Dangers of and the Truth About the Spiritual Formation Movement

What does the Bible teach:
Sola Scripture
The Nature and Sufficiency of Scripture
The Sufficiency of Scripture, Part 1Part 2


1. Bruce Demarest, Satisfy Your Soul: Restoring the Heart of Christian  Spirituality (NavPress, 1999), 24. 
2. http://www.renovare.us/SPIRITUALRENEWAL/WhyBecomeLikeJesus/Whatisspiritualformation/tabid/2572/Default.aspx, accessed 16 May 2012. 
3. Richard J. Foster and Gayle D. Beebe, Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion (InterVarsity Press, 2009), 15, 16. 
4. All quotations within these definitions are from http://www.renovare.us/SPIRITUALRENEWAL/PracticingLikeJesus/WhyPracticeLikeJesus/tabid/2518/Default.aspx and linked pages, accessed 16 May 2012. 
5. Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, 157. 
6. Richard Foster, Renovar Newsletterhttp://www.renovare.us/ViewNewsLetter/tabid/2404/Default.aspx?ID=71, May 2003. 
7. Gary Gilley, Spiritual Formation
8. Bob DeWaay, Richard Foster – Celebration of Deception
9. Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, (HarperCollins, 1990), 63-64. 
10. Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, (HarperCollins, 1990), 68. 
11. Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (HarperCollins, 1992), 157. 
12. Richard Foster, Be Still, Fear of Silence (DVD © Twentieth Fox Home Entertainment LLC, 2006). Transcript courtesy of Larry DeBruyn, Who Goes There?
13. Larry DeBruyn, Who Goes There?

Views  expressed by individual authors and/or sources don’t necessarily reflect those of Marsha West 

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