Archive for May 24th, 2008

Anyone who thinks these so-called “spiritual disciplines” pushed by The Cult of Contemplative Guru Richard Foster are in line with the Protestant Reformation should take a little peek at what John Calvin has to say about monasticism . . . 

Here we have a classic example of what is referred to as the fallacy of a weak analogy.

Arguments by analogy rest on a comparison. Their logical structure is this:

(1) A and B are similar.
(2) A has a certain characteristic.
(3) B must have that characteristic too.

Here’s how the “editor” of this article at CR? uses the analogy argument:

  1. Monasticism as referenced by Calvin is similiar to Richard Foster’s spiritual disciplines.
  2. Calvin was diametrically opposed to the Monasticism of his day.
  3. Therefore Calvin would be equally opposed to Richard Fost’s spiritual disciplines.

But wait a minute. One of Richard Foster’s spiritual disciplines is meditation, meditation on God’s law, God’s word, and God’s handiwork. Here is what Calvin had to say on the value of meditating on God’s handiwork:

Still there can be no doubt that the Lord would have us constantly occupied with such holy meditation, in order that, while we contemplate the immense treasures of wisdom and goodness exhibited in the creatures as in so many mirrors, we may not only run our eye over them with a hasty, and, as it were, evanescent glance, but dwell long upon them, seriously and faithfully turn them in our minds, and every now and then bring them to recollection.

Therefore, in order to be compendious, let the reader understand that he has a genuine apprehension of the character of God as the Creator of the world; first, if he attends to the general rule, never thoughtlessly or obliviously to overlook the glorious perfections which God displays in his creatures; and, secondly, if he makes a self application of what he sees, so as to fix it deeply on his heart.—Institutes of the Christian Religion Book 1, Chapter 14

Calvin also has a whole chapter on the importance of prayer (Book III, Chapter 20), another one of Richard Foster’s “so-called” spiritual disciplines that Calvin obviously thinks is pretty important calling prayer the “Chief Exercise of Faith” in the title.

Conclusion: Calvin’s angst over monasticism is far removed from his support of prayer and meditation. The other 10 spiritual disciplines in Foster’s book are equally benign and consistent with Calvin’s recommendations on how to live out the Christian life.

It looks like we’d better take more than a little peak at Calvin before some of us conclude that Calvin would have condemned Richard Foster for recommending prayer and meditation as Christian disciplines.

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When i first read this, I thought to myself “this has to be a joke.” But then I realized what website i was on. I am not doubting that this method of evangelism might work. But, it seems like just making friends with every non-believer that you meet would be a much more effective tactic. I am getting tired of hearing about these evangelistic methods that don’t require a relationship with the outsider. Especially when they include some type of statement like this in the explanation

So, let’s say you are in the mall. If you are like me, the security guards in your local mall know you by sight. As soon as you step foot into the mall, an APB goes out over security radios. “Red alert! We have a bogey inbound! That preacher is back! Keep an eye on him! We don’t want this subversive influencing the youths who frequent our mall!” source

Really? Does this guy really believe that the college freshman rent-a-cop in the retail outlets is concerned about the indoctrination of teenage mall rats? When will we stop trying to do evangelism like this? It’s like we want to help pull people out of the miry pit without getting the mud on our clothes. If having a bait and switch fake cell phone conversation is the best evangelistic tactic we got, something is wrong in Christendom.

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