Mark Driscoll DOES SUPPORT Contemplative Spirituality

Mark Driscoll

From the “Lighthouse Newsletter”:   Mark Driscoll IS a Contemplative Proponent – December 21, 2009

Mark Driscoll is a name that has grown in popularity among evangelicals especially over the past few years. Somewhat known for his vulgar and crass language in public, he has been invited to speak at conferences by a wide assortment of Christian leaders-John Piper and Robert Schuller to name two. Driscoll also shared a platform this year at the Gospel Coalition National Conference with a number of respected Christian evangelical figures such as D.A. Carson, Erwin Lutzer, and Joshua Harris. Coming up in 2010, Driscoll has been invited by Rick Warren to speak at the Radicalis conference.

Although Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Fellowship in Seattle Washington, is said to have denounced certain aspects of the emergent church, Driscoll is a proponent of the main element behind the emerging church – contemplative prayer.

Presently, on Driscoll’s website, The Resurgence (see whois info) is an article titled “How to Practice Meditative Prayer.” The article is written by an Acts 29 (Driscoll’s network of churches) pastor, Winfield Bevins. A nearly identical article on Driscoll’s site, also by Bevins, is titled Meditative Prayer: Filling the Mind. Both articles show a drawing of a human brain. In this latter article, Bevins recognizes contemplative mystic pioneer Richard Foster:

What do we mean by meditative prayer? Is there such a thing as Christian meditation? Isn’t meditation non-Christian? According to Richard Foster, “Eastern meditation is an attempt to empty the mind. Christian meditation is an attempt to fill the mind” (Celebration of Discipline). Rather than emptying the mind we fill it with God’s word. We must not neglect a vital part of our Judeo-Christian heritage simply because other traditions use a form of meditation.

Bevins has got this very wrong, as does Richard Foster. Contemplative proponents say that, while the method practiced by Christian contemplatives and eastern-religion mystics may be similar (repeating a word or phrase over and over in order to eliminate distractions and a wandering mind), the Christian variety is ok because the mind isn’t being emptied but rather filled. But in essence, both are emptying the mind (i.e., stopping the normal thought process). That is where the contemplatives say making a space for God to fill.

The Bevins’ reference to Richard Foster is not the only contemplative marker on Mark Driscoll’s site . In an article written by Driscoll himself, ironically titled Obedience, Driscoll tells readers to turn to Richard Foster and contemplative Gary Thomas. Driscoll states:

If you would like to study the spiritual disciplines in greater detail … helpful are Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster, and Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas.

In Celebration of Discipline (1978 ed., p. 13), Richard Foster says that “we should all without shame enroll in the school of contemplative prayer.” To understand Foster’s meaning of “contemplative prayer,” he has written a number of books that clearly show his propensity toward the mystics (such as John Main and Thomas Merton). Devotional Classics, Spiritual Classics, Meditative Prayer, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home are a few. His founding organization, Renovare, has a vast number of resources, articles, etc. that further substantiate our claims that Foster is a contemplative proponent.

As for Gary Thomas, in his book Sacred Pathways (the one Driscoll recommends), Thomas tells readers to repeat a word for 20 minutes in order to still the mind. This is the basic principle in all Eastern and occultic methods.  This is not an idle charge.  Anglican mystic Richard Kirby astutely observes in his book The Mission of Mysticism that with this spirituality the method differs little than that of occultism:

The meditation of advanced occultists is identical with the prayer of advanced mystics; it is no accident that both traditions use the same word for the highest reaches of their respective activities: contemplation (samadhi in yoga). p. 7

Driscoll is just one of many Christian figures whose contemplative propensities is being completely ignored or overlooked. For the sake of the Gospel, which contemplative spirituality negates by its very nature, we pray that believers will not look to those who follow and promote this spiritual deception.


See my article here on Mark Driscoll:  Mark Driscoll’s RESURGENCE and EMERGENCE with Catholicism and an rather obscure conversation in the comments section that will leave you wondering, “Has the world gone mad? Or is it just those who practice meditation.”

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Deborah (Discerning the World)

Deborah Ellish is the author of the above article. Discerning the World is an internet Christian Ministry based in Johannesburg South Africa. Tom Lessing and Deborah Ellish both own Discerning the World. For more information see the About this Website page below the comments section.

11 Responses

  1. Ross says:

    “For those wanting to avoid idolatry, the following insights might be
    helpful. Be careful of making a good thing, such as marriage, sex, children,
    health, success, or financial stability, an ultimate thing, or what Jesus called
    our “treasure.” Avoid participating in any religious community where the
    clear truth-claims of Scripture are ignored while contemplative and mystical
    practices are favored simply for their spiritual experience.”

    This is directly quoted out of his new book “Doctrine”. I think clearly he does not support contemplative spirituality.

  2. Ross

    Errrrrrr….. It seems you believe everything you are told 😉 Do you know that Mark Driscoll supports Rick Warren? Don’t take my word for it though.

    [EDITED: And John Piper is now big friends with Rick Warren and John Piper and Mark Driscoll are pals and John Piper is Louie Giglio’s mentor. Louie Giglio has written articles where he speaks about contemplative spirituality by telling stories and using metaphors to sound biblical yet it’s completely loaded with new age thinking – and if people don’t know the terminology, they wont get what he is REALLY saying, which is exactly what they want]

  3. Ross says:

    Do you know mark personally? IF no then you are taking what you are told to be what is real. In a book of doctrine he says that we should avoid participating in it. That is as close to understanding what a person believes as is reading what a person writes on a blog and understanding their beliefs.

    Rick Warren is suspect and i do not approve of his teaching, but Driscoll unfortunately was emergent and supported Rick Warren and the ecumenical movement for a time. Mark is a man and is fallible and i believe he is wrong here, but does that mean he doesnt speak the truth? Again Peter was an apostle and was wrong and Paul had to correct him, because he was teaching that Gentiles needed to be circumcised to be saved. THis is heretical, but do we throw out peter and his teachings?

  4. Ross

    >> Driscoll unfortunately was emergent and supported Rick Warren and the ecumenical movement for a time.

    Well not really. He was emergent, then changed his mind so he said and then 2 months ago got on stage with Rick Warren and is still pally with him, book of doctrine and all.

    Confusion… how can you say Rick Warren is suspect when he supports Obama? Dude…come now, that’s not suspect, that’s blatant obvious wickedness.

    >> Mark is a man and is fallible and i believe he is wrong here, but does that mean he doesn’t speak the truth?

    Will there be a time when you stop making excuses for people who lead people astray? Or will you just let them carry on with half-truths (aka lies).

    Peter the Apostle was wrong and Paul corrected him, yes. And then Peter didn’t do it again, or lie that he had changed his beliefs when in fact he had not.

  5. Ross says:

    In reanalyzing the text, it could be interpreted to be that he does endorse contemplative prayer for more than a spiritual experience. His alignment with Warren is worrisome as is John Piper’s alignment with Warren. If indeed he does agree to this practice this is very upsetting and i pray that he would be awakened to this falsehood.

    I wonder why Piper has taken his sabbatical and if he is reexamining his alignment with these two.

  6. Ross

    Even worse. Piper’s sabatical threw a curve ball when he was in South America a few days ago in June. Hmmm… He aint re-evaluating anything… I wish it was, I pray he would..but…me thinks it wont happen.

  7. janet clarke says:

    i’m so confused!! is there anyone who speaks truth?
    i’m dissapointed, i only found mark driscoll and found him refreshing now this about contemplative spirituality

  8. janet clarke

    Dissappointment is the order of the day because we are living in the last days and many speak lies. The bible tells you to test everything you hear to scripture. It’s hard work, but in order to keep safe, you have to do it.

  9. Robbie says:

    Janet, he (satan) comes as the angel of lig

  10. Robbie says:

    Tippex please Debs!…. sigh

  11. robbie

    at least you spelt ‘angel’ right haha, I would have said, ‘angle of lig’

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