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.”

Please share:

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.

Name or Username
Privacy Policy

Editing Comments: After commenting you have 15 minutes to EDIT your comment. Click the gear icon at the bottom right corner of the comment box, then click EDIT.

Previous Comments: Please read all previous comment pages if there are any. Thank you.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

“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.


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?


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.

janet clarke

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


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


Tippex please Debs!…. sigh

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x