Dear Mt. Hermon Staff and Board members,

I recently attended the Mt. Hermon All-Comers Retreat. After picking up my registration packed, I drove to a friend's house and opened the contents to look at the retreat schedule. When I saw "Spiritual Formation 101" being offered, I immediately became concerned. After all, this practice is no small deviation from God's holy Word! The SF movement may seem like an effective way to grow in faith and practice discipleship, but its subtle and seductive mysticism leads to spiritual deception rather than fellowship with our Lord! I will try to briefly explain.  

After all, the SF (Spiritual Formation) movement is no small deviation from God's holy and unchanging Word!

SF is based on unbiblical "spiritual disciplines" that have been practiced for centuries by mystics and gullible seeker of various religions. The goal is to be "transformed" into a supposed follower of "Jesus." Initially rooted in Roman Catholicism, this intangible theology trades man's holy and timeless Biblical guidelines for mysterious man-made versions of ancient traditions, including paganism.

Among its advocates are Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Dallas Willard and Richard Foster. SF is closely tied to contemplative prayer -- a belief system that uses ancient, mystical practices to enter into what they call "the silence," which is one of the "spiritual disciplines." The goal is to cleanse one's mind of all thoughts and distractions in order to "still the mind," hear the supposed "voice of God," and experience spirituality on a deeper level.

How do the proponents of contemplative prayer say we rid our minds of thought and distraction? By repeating a word or phrase (it can be scripture or sacred words), over and over again until the mind is absent of all thought. Only then can "God" speak to the listener.    

The outcome of contemplative prayer is the same as with Eastern mysticism and the occult/New Age: an altered state of consciousness. The fruit of contemplative prayer spiritual transformation: a new spiritual outlook and  an interspiritual and panentheist (God in all) view of reality. Although  intent may be spiritual, the result is the similar to Eastern mystical perceptions.

Nowhere in God's Word are we taught to enter into an inner silence by stilling and emptying our minds! Jesus never did this! In fact, the Bible warns us against this:

"And when your are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words." (Matthew 6:7)

In contrast, the true Christian is led by the Holy Spirit. The Trinity -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- has an inner sanctuary in every born again believer.

This movement has unfortunately been embraced by countless popular authors, pastors, and seminaries. But the Bible warns us that "seducing spirits" will embrace spiritual deceptions and reject God's Truth.

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing sprits, and doctrines of devils." (1 Timothy 4:1)

Dear Mt. Hermon staff, it is my prayer that you will read this booklet on Spiritual Formation (I have included several copies).

This booklet will  help explain this deceptive movement much better than I can. I left a prominent church because of this unbiblical practice. Churches are falling prey to Satan's slick use of Scripture to deceive God's own people. The deception is so subtle that even those who supposedly know God's Word can be led astray. As with any deception, it is mixed with measure of truth. If it were blatant deception, one would immediately recognize it as such. But because deceivers use the scriptures and Christian terminology, many fail to detect the deviation. It all sounds so good!

Proverbs 14:12 says, "there is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."

We are living in perilous times. Spiritual Formation and contemplative prayer promote a "another Jesus"-- not the Jesus of the Bible. Our true Lord warns us to shun such deception.

Matthew 24:23-24 says, "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect."

Prayerfully and respectfully,

Colleen Johnson.