Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Strange Bedfellows

A few scattered, unrehearsed scribblings on a subject that has been puzzling me lately...

Pardon me for being transparent but I'm going to hang my thoughts out to dry and, if you choose, you can do the same with me but...please let me rant for a few moments.

The strange bedfellows?

Contemplative Christianity AND Orthodox Christianity

From much of what I read, these two cannot co-exist. If a preacher/teacher/writer speaks or writes about his own "spiritual direction" or his "personal retreat" his orthodoxy (or commitment to sound, biblical doctrine) is suddenly questioned. We, who were raised in solid, Bible-teaching churches, often equate phrases like meditation, contemplation, rhythms of life, etc. with forms of Christianity that historically haven't held a "high view of Scripture" or of "Jesus Christ, God Incarnate".

Without naming some of those traditions, I find myself in a personal dilemma. After 55 years on the Christian journey I'm finding that I've missed out on so much...things that are legitimate for the Christian believer to experience. All meditation isn't wrong or evil. Quiet contemplation isn't the possession of "new-agers" alone. Perhaps if I had a spiritual director earlier in life I wouldn't have spent so many years trying to "figure out" the Christian walk. Now it's not a matter of "figuring it out" but "falling back into the arms of Jesus and letting Him take the lead."

By embracing some of these disciplines that were foreign to me for many decades am I relinquishing my position on the sovereignty of God, the atonement of Christ, the supremacy
of the scriptures, the person and work of the Holy Spirit? NO!

I'm sure there are those who have stumbled as they tried to blend these disciplines with their stand on biblical doctrines. Many may have ended up confused or perhaps have been sternly scolded by well-meaning Christians for dabbling in these things.

If I'm looking for a book on the doctrine of atonement I won't pull a Richard Foster book off my shelf. By the same token if I'm learning to have a personal, quiet retreat with God I won't find out "how" in a volume by Arthur Pink.

I'm just tired of reading that these two components of a believer's life are like oil and water...they don't mix. They can and I don't have to sacrifice an inerrant Bible in order to contemplate the goodness of God.

Agree? Disagree? Go ahead and leave a comment. How do you feel?

1 comment:

  1. I think what many of us are grappling with is how infused with Buddist thought (or at least it seems to be) much of modern so-called contempletive spirituality is. One essential is whether we find the "light within" only, or the light without which is also within (i.e.Christ in you the hope of glory). For many it's just too confusing or difficult to try to discern between the Christian parts and the Eastern parts of this process.

    Frankly, I like the Word of Faith definition of and approach to meditation because I believe it is more Biblically accurate. In their definition and process we use our mind to focus on a Scripture and think about it as we ask God to guide us. This is solidly putting it outside as well as inside and also placing it on Scripture instead of somebody's nebulous "visualizatoon" of God, Jesus, the Holy Spoirit and so forth.

    Diane R.