Today I’d like to share with you something I saw and read a couple of months ago on John MacArthur’s Grace to You site. The portion of the video and interview below are about contemplative prayer, a phenomenon that is not new but is steadily growing.
Contemplative prayer presupposes that the Christian must seek outside of Scripture to hear all that God is saying, thus Scripture loses its position as the final, authoritative Word from God.¹
Below is the portion of the interview video where John MacArthur addresses the subject of contemplative prayer.
This is the section of the interview transcript for that video:
PHIL JOHNSON: What are your thoughts about contemplative prayer and the whole spiritual development movement, you know the Dallas…?
JOHN MacARTHUR: That’s just a lot of bunk.
PHIL: All right, so
JOHN: You know, it is. It’s just…look, it’s sort of a contemplating your navel, intuitive spirituality, digging deep into find your spiritual core and your spiritual center which is nonsense, but they throw Bible words at it, words like Jesus, God, Holy Spirit.
PHIL: There’s also even a dangerous aspect of mysticism there…
JOHN: Oh it is mysticism. The assumption is that spiritual truth is somewhere inside of you and that is not true. Spiritual truth is outside of you, it is external to you. It is in a book, outside of you. It is not in you. You can contemplate yourself all you want, you can go sit on a rock in the middle of nowhere and think and you will find in you no source of divine revelation whatsoever because divine revelation is external to you, it’s external to every human being, it’s in a book that God wrote. And when you put the book down and start looking into your own brain, all you’re going to do is be led down a black hole.
So…but everybody’s into spiritual formation. I was looking at a church website the other day and it proclaims itself to be an evangelistic church and an orthodox church, happened to be a Presbyterian church. And the whole website was about spiritual formation. And one of the things that they were offering was dance class in order that you can learn to get in the rhythm of the Holy Spirit. I mean, that’s just…that’s what J.I. Packer called zany. I mean, that’s just crazy stuff. But that’s what happens when you start trying to poke around inside of yourself for spiritual truth when it’s all contained in one book and that book is external to you, and the spiritual truth resides in that book, if you never lived, or if you never had a thought…it’s the external truth that we must understand because there’s nothing inside until that truth gets in our minds. And then you can go into your mind and draw out biblical truth. But if you’re trying to look deeper than what’s in your brain, which is what this is about. I don’t get it, you know me, I’m about as mystical as a rock. But I don’t even know what they’re doing and I don’t know what they come up with but all of that mystic stuff, Dallas Willard and others like him, confuse people because they use the name of Jesus and they talk about God and they use Bible verses.
Go here for the video and transcript of the entire “Practical Concerns in the Local Church: An Interview with John MacArthur.”
- What is Contemplative Prayer?
- Why is Contemplative Prayer Critically Wrong?
- God In Everything? The Premise Of Contemplative Prayer
- Research: Contemplative Prayer