Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pete’s Pick: Ruth Haley Barton’s Pursuing God’s Will Together

Pete Scazzero, lead pastor of New Life Fellowship, once a CMA plant, is into all things “contemplative.”

Pete’s church could be called “The Poster Child for a Church That’s Gone Home to Rome.” Ken Silva, apologist, termed Pete a “Protholic.” (Protestant-Catholic) And Silva is so right for Pete latches onto everything Catholic while still saying he is an “evangelical.”

Pete’s pick of Ruth Haley Barton’s book Pursuing God’s Will Together is no exception. Pete’s endorsement is right up front. Pete wrote: “Fabulous! I look forward to giving copies to our staff and elders…”

Now how “fabulous” is this book? Oh, the title sounds quite innocent. But, the book itself--it is filled and overflowing with Roman Catholic contemplatives from Ignatius of Loyola founder of the Jesuits to Father Richard Rohr founder of a the Center for Action and Contemplation.

How can one discern that Ruth’s book is not what an evangelical pastor or leader ought to be reading?

Let’s “Look Inside.” The first stop will always be the cover. Next, will be the endorsers which Pete Scazzero, pastor, New Life Fellowship Church, and author, The Emotionally Healthy Church is one.

Let’s move onward to the chapters. Barton begins each with a quote from a contemplative. Chapter one begins, right out of the gate, with a Richard Rohr quote from Everything Belongs. If you are a discerning reader this quote will stop you cold! Rohr, a dissident Roman Catholic priest, teaches such things as “Enneagrams,” and “Jesus and Buddha: Paths to Awakening.” Go to Rohr’s CAC and find out for yourself; if you are unable to discern that this center is anything but Christian stop right now. Ask why any Christian would even want to be quoting or alluding to anything Rohr says or ever wrote!

Chapter two starts with a quote from an “Ernest Larkin” that is Ernest E. Larkin, O. Carm. Seems like Barton forgot to add the end to Larkin’s name. Who is Larkin? He’s a Carmelite priest who gives retreats and seminars on Carmelite Theology and Contemplative Prayer. He’s written a book called Contemplative Prayer for Today. Why would an evangelical lace her books with quotes from Roman Catholic priests?

Perhaps, for one because Barton studied at the Shalem Center under nun, and Zen teacher Rosemary Dougherty among others. Speaking of Zen, recall oft quoted Monk Thomas Merton was into Zen too.

Chapter three has a huge quote to note from a Thomas R. Kelly, Quaker, and author of a Testament of Devotion. Kelly writes of a “Divine Center” within each of us. Sound New Age! It is. Sound like Monk Thomas Merton. It is. If all have this “Light within” us through meditative prayer or contemplative prayer anyone can find their “true self.” See the link below.


Learn to Discern Granny Pointer #1: Be curious! Don’t just read an author’s quote and not know who they are, and what they stand for. Look it up. It only takes just typing in their name, and pushing “Search!” If it’s a writer like Ruth Haley Barton using a quote by an unknown author type the author’s name, and “contemplative prayer” after it. This often brings instant results.

Learn to Discern Granny Pointer #2: Read the end notes. There you’ll find even more info about quotes given. Never neglect reading the “Notes!”

I could go on and on in this book, as in other Barton books, digging out quotes and writings of Roman Catholic theologians of all stripes. With each name you come across look them up, note them, and the next book/writer that uses them you will immediately recall here is a person that’s suspect, and here is a “red flag” that says “Discernment Needed!”

Learn to Discern Granny Verse: “Certain men (women) have crept in unawares.” From Jude 4

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