[TBC: In past newsletters we have addressed the false teachings of Brennan Manning (see http://www.thebereancall.org/node/5899 or http://www.thebereancall.org/node/5707. The following excerpts give further warning.]
What is Contemplative Spirituality and Why is it Dangerous? [Excerpts]
Little did I know when I began to read The Signature of Jesus the time and effort that would be involved in understanding it….I stumbled onto something that I became convinced was very dangerous and little understood.
I read many new expressions like contemplative prayer, centering prayer, centering down, paschal spirituality, the discipline of the secret, contemplative spirituality, celebrating the darkness, mineralization, the Mineral Man, practicing the presence, the interior life, intimacy with Abba, the uncloistered contemplative life, inner integration, yielding to the Center, the bridge of faith, notional knowledge, contemporary spiritual masters, masters of the interior life, shadow self, false self, mysterium tremendum, existential experience, and the Abba experience.
I also encountered many writers I have never read before, including Kasemann, Burghardt, Merton, Van Breeman, Brueggemann, Moltmann, Nouwen, Küng, Steindl-Rast, Rahner, Bonhoeffer, Kierkegaard, and Camus.
I had to read the book three separate times before I was confident that I understood what Manning was saying. I even read it a fourth time for good measure. I attended one conference he conducted. In addition, I purchased the tapes of another conference he conducted and pored over them.
There is a seductive quality to his writings. He reports grappling with and overcoming fear, guilt, and psychological hang-ups and difficulties, including alcoholism. He gives the impression that he has a very intimate relationship with God and that he has insight to a superspirituality. He regularly meditates and reports having many visions and encounters with God. He is an extremely gifted writer who is able to tug at the emotions of the reader while at the same time introducing ideas that the reader would immediately reject if they were not cloaked under this emotional blanket.
He promises readers that if they apply his teaching they too will gain this same intimacy with God as well as freedom from fear, guilt, and psychological hang-ups and difficulties. This is very attractive. Manning’s prescription to achieve this is not by traditional prayer and by the reading and application of the Bible. Rather, the means to this end is a mixture of Eastern mysticism, psychology, the New Age Movement, liberation theology, Catholicism, and Protestantism. This mixture will not deliver intimacy with God. It no doubt will lead to special feelings and experiences.
Manning indicates that The Signature of Jesus is about radical discipleship and authentic faith. Radical discipleship sounds good. So does authentic faith. Unfortunately, the book isn't about following Jesus Christ or having faith in Him. It is about following "the masters of the interior life" (pp. 94, 219).