Last week, a long-running smear campaign
against "spiritual formation" at Biola University kicked it up a notch. An
organization called Lighthouse Trails teamed up with Apprising
Ministries to unleash a torrent of criticism and insults about Biola,
claiming that Biola is drifting from its strong biblical roots and
embracing "apostate Roman Catholic mystical spiritual formation"…
I haven't the energy to summarize the smears, but if you want to follow it thus far, read the following posts:
Biola University Now Drifting from Evangelical Protestant Roots? (Oct 20)
Biola University Student Reports on Contemplative Chapel Services - Warns Parents to Avoid Biola (Oct 20)
Biola University Contacts Lighthouse Trails – Accuses of Libel (Oct 21)
You'll be shocked when you find out just what it is that these
people are up in arms about… Contemplative prayer! That's right, they
are worried about Biola possibly being apostate because in chapel we
dare to introduce students to ancient methods of contemplative,
meditative prayer. We dare to engage the students in Lectio Divina, an
ancient method inherited from the Desert Fathers of deeply reading and
meditating upon a scripture. It's not new-agey or mystical; it's
simple, quiet, and meaningful. The bible takes center stage. What is
wrong with that?
Evidently these critics of Biola are worried that by having an
entire chapel service of silent meditation, there is somehow a movement
of apostasy being birthed in the students' minds. It's wrong, they
suggest, to have a scripture read without a pastor or speaker there to
unpack it and give it some context.
Todd Pickett, Associate Dean of Spiritual Development at Biola, has
a different opinion. He believes that students today are
"over-messaged" and need more time to just contemplate what they've
already been hearing, learning, experiencing in Christ.
"I hear from students that they need more time for processing and
reflection," he told The Chimes, Biola's student newspaper. "They feel
overwhelmed sometimes by the amount of information that comes at them.
That makes sense to me, [and] at the very least, we need to allow a
little time and a little room to listen to what God is doing. [We need
to] take some of the things we hear and talk to God about them. I am
trying to build that into the rhythm of chapel."
As someone who was a busy college student myself not too long ago,
I resonate with every word of what Pickett is saying. Time for
reflection is the number one need of students today.
the folks at Lighthouse Trails and Apprising Ministries don't agree,
however. To them, Pickett, along with people like Richard Foster (who
they label "neo-Gnostic"), Henri Nouwen, and Dallas Willard (who, for
the record, gave a very philosophical and helpful lecture at Biola's
Torrey Conference last Wednesday), represent an unbiblical mysticism that
masquerades as "spiritual formation."
It baffles me that "spiritual formation," which to me looks like a
positive, healthy thing from every angle, is being so aggressively
criticized. Even more baffled that Biola is being singled out and
smeared for their commitment to it. But then again, Christians tend to
be the most critical of all people, unfortunately. So I guess it
shouldn't surprise me.
Note: These comments in no way represent the official position of
Biola University. This is a personal blog and all content and ideas
submitted by Brett McCracken are his own and not necessarily that of