Friday, January 19, 2007

Leadership Network - Contemplative

"For me, prayer is not separate from daily life. It’s a way of being. It’s like being with Linda for a weekend at the farm. We’re just there with one another. We talk over lunch and dinner, but it doesn’t particularly matter what we say. It’s more about who we are. It’s about being together. Sharing lives together – with someone you love and trust.

"Prayer is, for me, like that – a state of being together with God. It’s not usually triggered by liturgy or special needs. It’s more like what the Bible instructs us to do: Pray without ceasing."
-- Bob Buford [emphasis added]



We suppose it was inevitable, but it is sad when the pieces all fall together. Bob Buford of Leadership Network, the premier training agency for "change agent" pastors and Christian leaders, has just issued his regular newsletter this month with a lead article entitled "Prayer as a State of Being." In this article Buford quotes Henri Nouwen favorably and recommends a book by "psychologist Larry Crabb": Inside Out.

The significance of this pro-contemplative article is far-reaching. Buford has trained an entire generation of pastors in Peter Drucker's leadership model. He is credited with launching the emergent/emerging church movement (search this blog for documentation on this point). He has been a "significant other" in the life of Rick Warren and countless other neo-evangelical leaders. Buford has been active in the same circles as Rick Warren in such places as the Aspen Institute, and most recently we've spotted him on the 2007 Purpose Prize Panel of Judges for the Templeton Prize.

Simply "Being"

Note the title of Bob Buford's article -- "Prayer as a State of Being." The significance of this word "being" can best be explained by reading the Chapter 5 Update to Warren Smith's book Reinventing Jesus Christ, which is posted online at www.reinventingjesuschrist.com. A brief excerpt follows, which details Ken Blanchard's involvement in contemplative. Blanchard is another man closely connected to both Bob Buford and Rick Warren, who has trained thousands of pastors in the transformative (and esoteric) models of leadership:

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In April 2005, it became known that Ken Blanchard was endorsing and recommending New Age books that included Ballard’s book Mind Like Water.(37) This news was shocking because as the co-founder of the Lead Like Jesus organization, Blanchard was already “working together” with Saddleback pastor Rick Warren in implementing what the pastor was calling God’s “Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan.”(38) Blanchard was to help Rick Warren train countless numbers of people around the world to be “servant leaders” who would “lead like Jesus.” With the news of Ken Blanchard’s New Age affections there were now additional concerns regarding Blanchard, Rick Warren and the whole Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan. The obvious question suddenly became “What Jesus are we talking about here—the Bible’s Jesus or the New Age Jesus?”

In his book The Servant Leader, Blanchard and his co-author Phil Hodges placed great emphasis on the need for “solitude” and “silence” in order to “quietly receive what God reveals to you.” Invoking the cross and Psalm 46:10, they advised their readers to “Be still” and to move into the same meditative state of mind I practiced in the New Age.

"If you are seated in a comfortable position, place your hands on your knees in a down position. If walking, visualize yourself in this position. In harmony with the position of your hands, mentally put down everything you are concerned about or expending energy in trying to manage or control at the foot of the cross. Be specific—name each burden as you put it down.

"When you have exhausted your list, take a couple of deep breaths and turn your hands, physically and mentally, into an up position and quietly receive what God reveals to you.

"Have no expectations or agenda for this time with God. Let it be His to fill."(39)


In New Age leader Deepak Chopra’s book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams—a book that also bears Blanchard’s endorsement—Chopra emphatically declares that in order to know God one must meditate. He underlines his New Age call to meditation by citing Psalm 46:10 and putting predictable New Age meaning on the single word “Be.” He writes:

Practicing silence means making a commitment to take a certain amount of time to simply Be.(40)

In the Bible is the expression, “Be still, and know that I am God.” This can only be accomplished through meditation.
(41)

Blanchard’s 2005 book Lead Like Jesus—endorsed by numerous Christian leaders including Rick Warren—also cites Psalm 46:10 and urges readers to focus on the single word “Be.” Like Chopra, Blanchard puts an obvious New Age emphasis on this word “Be.” Blanchard writes:

Before we send people off for their period of solitude, we have them recite with us Psalm 46:10 in this way:
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know.
Be still.
Be. (42)

This idea of simply “being” was at the heart of my New Age experience. But I came to realize that just “being” can produce an overly relaxed, falsely confident, passive state of mind where trusting souls do not think to “test the spirits.” As a result many of us learned the hard way that much of what we thought we heard and experienced and felt was not from God at all.

[Excerpt used with permission, Warren Smith, Reinventing Jesus Christ]
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Rick Warren has also previously served as a judge for the John Templeton Foundation's Purpose Prize. For more information on the significance of these connections to Templeton, see the Chapter 10 Update to Warren Smith's Reinventing Jesus Christ. Also see the Chapter 7 Update on Templeton's "Humility Theology." For current information on the contemplative movement see http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com.

The Truth:

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2 Timothy 4:3-4)