Newsletter No. 3 – “Spiritual Formation, The Omega?”

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Dear Friends in Christ,

In this newsletter God has put it on our hearts to share with you several materials and links on a phenomenon called ‘Spiritual Formation’. Though it bears its roots in spiritualistic practices of Ignatius Loyola (who has later become the head of the Jesuit Order) and Roman Catholic monks over centuries, it has been rapidly entering our churches and institutions around the world. This teaching doesn’t come in into our churches as very obvious though – a real ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’. The proponents of it vastly quote the Bible and the Spirit of Prophesy and claim that the practices of the Spiritual formation, such as going into silence, emptying of the mind, contemplative and centering prayer, lectio divina, labyrinth walking and other mystical exercises and divination tools are the very means of getting people transformed into the character of Christ in order to disciple communities into a vibrant, love-filled, exuberant religion and thus attract them to Jesus. While on the one hand they may speak of a total surrender of ‘self’ to God, they at the same time ‘lead to help you connect with your own spiritual reality'[i]. Sounds like two conflicting ideas, doesn’t it.

We have noticed that the adherents and promoters of the Spiritual Formation practices among Seventh Day Adventists tend to segregate and see the SDA believers in two distinct classes: those who believe in the Historic Adventist mission to proclaim ‘the three angels messages’ to all the world through distributing the ‘Great Controversies’ by Ellen White and carrying forth the torch of the Adventist pioneers, and those who would tailor Christianity to the needs of the post-modern community and focus on the basic truth of relationship with Jesus, rather than ‘answering questions that nobody seems to be asking’ [ii]. According to the Spiritual formation believers, the former group has gone cold, formal, legalistic and spiritually lifeless, and its members need to experience a fresh breath of spiritual newness.[iii] Ultimately, this ‘spiritual newness’ spoken of here, is nothing but a mystical experience of finding the god within, the hidden glory of God in us that lies at the centre of our being and needs to be discovered.[iv] Sounds like Eastern Mysticism, doesn’t it? What can a self-centred, subjective and based on feelings experience, derived from emptying one’s mind and chanting a word or a Bible verse repeatedly all over again have in common with the Biblical truth, whereby God calls us to actively and intelligently engage in the study of His Word which leads us to realise our own sinful condition and seek a practical remedy in the gospel of Christ (Isaiah 1:18 & Acts 17:10, 11).

No matter how enticing the spiritual formation (also renamed as ‘Biblical spirituality’ or ‘Contemplative spirituality’) may be, no matter how well it may be coated in the biblical language and claim to be the means of transformation into the character of Christ – it yet misses one crucial thing, and thus fails a test of God’s Word. Namely, it preaches NO repentance for sin, of which Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 as ‘godly sorrow that worketh repentance to salvation’. Consequently, if one has failed to surrender all to Christ and received NOT a gift of repentance, and thus hasn’t been made a new creature with the law of the living God enshrined in the heart, which is manifest in the outer outflow of God’s love and righteousness, if one hasn’t had a true experience of conversion and righteousness by faith, true victories over sin in own life, true experience of sanctification, would he or she not seek something else to make up for the lack? Hence, Spiritual Formation – truth mingled with the deadliest error in a most subtle way.

Some faithful SDA pastors who have been studying and fighting the infiltration of the ‘Spiritual Formation’ into our churches and institutions, believe that it could well be a beginning or part of the ‘Omega Apostasy’. This had been revealed to the Spirit of Prophesy to be taking place among the remnant church at the very end of time, of which she has been warning us with great fear and trembling. In the First Selected Messages she writes:

Living Temple[v] contains the alpha of these theories. I knew that the omega would follow in a little while; and I trembled for our people.’ {1SM 203.2}. The spiritualistic theories regarding the personality of God, followed to their logical conclusion, sweep away the whole Christian economy. They estimate as nothing the light that Christ came from heaven to give John to give to His people. They teach that the scenes just before us are not of sufficient importance to be given special attention. They make of no effect the truth of heavenly origin, and rob the people of God of their past experience, giving them instead a false science. {1SM 203.4}

The enemy of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of reorganization. Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church, would be discarded. Our religion would be changed. The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error. A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. The founders of this system would go into the cities, and do a wonderful work. The Sabbath of course, would be lightly regarded, as also the God who created it. Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement. The leaders would teach that virtue is better than vice, but God being removed, they would place their dependence on human power, which, without God, is worthless. Their foundation would be built on the sand, and storm and tempest would sweep away the structure. {1SM 204.2}

Then I heard a voice saying, “Where are the watchmen that ought to be standing on the walls of Zion? Are they asleep? This foundation was built by the Master Worker, and will stand storm and tempest. Will they permit this man to present doctrines that deny the past experience of the people of God? The time has come to take decided action.” {1SM 204.1}

And so, we would encourage you to examine all evidence for yourself by studying the following links and articles on spiritual formation. May God help us and give us discernment to separate truth from error, and to stand upon the truth though the heaven may fall:

– Mark Finley on Spiritual Formation, its practices and roots, and how incompatible it is with the biblical truth; https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/2012/08/biblical-spirituality-rediscovering-our-biblical-roots-or-embracing-the-east

– Pastor Rick Howard sermons, who has done extensive study on the subject to warn the believers of the deadly effects of this satan-inspired deception. He speculates that it may well be part of the Omega Apostasy. Pastor Rick Howard with a background of practising Eastern meditation and Budhism before he came to the truth – has also written a Book called ‘The Omega Rebellion’ – a powerful expose of Spiritual formation every Adventist should know; https://www.audioverse.org/english/sermons/presenters/497/rick-howard.html

– Also a document is attached with an in-depth study done by Pastor John Witcomb, whom Rick Howard mentions in his sermon as one of the truth warriors – it’s an extensive compilation of resources on Spiritual Formation that has crept into the remnant church in all its shapes and forms.

– The Lighthouse Trails Research Project website has been dedicated to exposing the apostasy of the spiritual formation in the past 10 years, filled with wealth of material and research on Spiritual Formation, it also has a database of articles on Spiritual Formation, and a list of its proponents; http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/spiritualformation.htm

– A doctor of Ministry course on ‘Discipleship and Biblical Spirituality’ is advertised at the Andrews University website. The course was renamed from ‘Spiritual Formation’ as this name has brought a lot of strife and debate, and today all who question whether this is an authentic Adventist teaching are told that ‘In academic circles the expression spiritual formation is a synonym for spiritual growth toward godly maturity, or the process of Christian discipleship and sanctification.’ http://www.andrews.edu/sem/dmin/concentrations/discipling/, http://www.andrews.edu/sem/response.html

– President Ted Wilson at his inaugural address also gives a strong warning against spiritual formation; http://youtu.be/lkZ1cuAS-B0?t=4m12s

Refer to 4 Minutes and 12 seconds:

Just a final note, we may be totally unaware that a next brochure we pick up at our church will contain some hints at Spiritual formation practices as constructive for our spirituality and evangelism; or a next sermon we may hear may offer us some new exciting ‘tools’ towards transformation, or a next retreat we may visit will be lecturing on ‘Lectio divina’ instead of its regular Sabbath school class. Unsuspecting we may be, let us not perish in ignorance. All this is real, and it’s out there, and it is coming to our churches, and its goal to lead your soul into perdition. Please, watchmen on the walls of Zion, do not slumber!

[i] From a website called ‘Soul care’, also being promoted in Ireland among unassuming SDA brothers and sisters.

[ii] Paraphrased from a paper written by an SDA pastor in Ireland on discipleship, presented at the Trans European Division Youth Matters Symposium, October 2012.

[iii] Article by Mark Finley on Spiritual Formation posted in the online Ministry Magazine (International journal for pastors) August 2012, download here.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Living Temple written by John Harvey Kellogg.

Concerns Regarding Spiritual Formation by John Witcombe

Download (PDF, 321KB)

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