Archive for the ‘retreat centers’ Category

The Canadian Baptists of Western Canada is one more denomination that is now leading their flock to drink from the muddy streams of contemplative spirituality. They just finished three Monthly Seminars on Spiritual Exercises which were taught by Rob Des Cotes, whose teaching series offered an introduction to the spiritual theology of St. John of the Cross as outlined in Rob’s three books. The seminars, The Ascent to Mount Carmel (Sat. Jan 22), The Dark Night of the Soul (Sat. Feb. 19) and The Living Flame of Love (Sat. Mar. 19), took place at Fairview Baptist church in Vancouver, B.C. Rob also led a three-day retreat at Carey Theological College related to Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, from Jan. 27-29.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

These spiritual exercises are based on the works of St. John of the Cross and St. Ignatius of Loyola. John was a Roman Catholic monk who wrote about The Dark Night of the Soul in a book on mysticism which was not derived from the Word of God. The Ignatian Spiritual Exercises were written by St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. How surprising to see that the Canadian Baptists are allowing this kind of mysticism to be taught from within, by the pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Vancouver, B. C., Canada. (Rob Des Cotes is also a spiritual director and teaches Contemplative Traditions at Trinity Western University, and courses on spirituality at both Carey Theological College and Columbia Bible College. He also directs Imago Dei, a network of faith communities that encourages contemplative spirituality and is affiliated with the Mennonite Brethren denomination of BC.

Not only have the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada been promoting Rob Des Cotes’ seminars on contemplative spirituality, they also recommend his books about contemplative Spiritual Direction on their website. His newest book, Ultreia: Meditations for Spiritual Direction, is deeply rooted in the ancient traditions of ‘Christian’ contemplatives and mystics from the early centuries to the present.

Here Rob Des Cotes talks about the contemplative practices at his church and his newest book:

Rob Des Cotes Fairview Baptist Pt 2

Rob Des Cotes Fairview Baptist Pt 3

Another concern about this slide of the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada into the muddy contemplative stream is the Retreat Centers that they promote:

Retreat Centers
Providing space for people to meet God

Kingsfold Retreat & Renewal Centre
Website: http://www.kingsfoldretreat.com
King’s Fold Retreat and Renewal Centre: King’s Fold is an interdenominational retreat centre near Cochane, AB. Retreats for individuals or groups up to 30 people are facilitated in facilities that include a chapel, library, labyrinth and prayer walk…

Rivendell Retreat Centre
Website: http://www.rivendellretreat.org
Rivendell is located on 6.5 acres on Cates Hill on Bowen Island, near Vancouver. It is hosted by a volunteer Christian community rooted in the gospel values of Jesus and the practiced traditions of prayer, silence, simplicity and hospitality…

Website: http://www.salsburycommunitysociety.ca
Stillpointe is a retreat and hermitage associated with Salsbury Community Society in Vancouver. It is available for personal retreats of up to 24 hours, as well as Group retreats and prayer gatherings. Through a weekly rhythm of individual prayer, Taize services, and neighbourhood prayer, Stillpointe reserves a space that loves God and the world…

William Carey Institute
Website: http://www.carey-edu.ca
The William Carey Institute in Vancouver on the UBC campus offers customized retreats to churches and individuals across Western Canada. These retreats may be offered on location at Canadian Baptist churches or at the Carey Centre.

It’s quite obvious from the above evidence that the Canadian Baptist churches of Western Canada are being led over the the muddy waters of contemplative spiritual formation across the bridge that leads home to Rome.


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Last fall the BBC began a series called ‘The Big Silence.‘ They invited five ordinary people to volunteer to understand just why silence is so elusive in modern-day society. The group spent a weekend at Worth Abbey, then eight days in silence at St Beunos, a Jesuit Retreat centre in North Wales. Their progress into silence and how it affected them afterwards made a fascinating documentary, with some very sad results.

The series, which can now be watched on youtube, begins by explaining that many of the world’s religions believe that there is one path that leads to God and to the very center of who we are – SILENCE. This is supposedly where we get to know our true self, in the deep Silence which has been at the core of the Catholic mystical traditions for centuries.

Watch here:

The Big Silence – Part 1 of 12

The remaining parts can be found here on youtube.

After the initial first week of struggling with loneliness, burdensome fears, anger, great frustration, rebellion, bad dreams, doubts, dreariness, oppression, depression, and fighting the Silence and their feelings of going mad, they all seemed to have a breakthrough on Day 7. This is when they were all taught to do an imagination exercise (visualization) where they were taught to place themselves in a Bible story. This resulted in all of them having ‘experiences’ of inner shifts and an awareness of ‘self’ as they allowed their barriers to lift and emotions to emerge, moving from the known to the unknown. One woman heard a female voice say, “You are not alone.” One man, the former skeptic, had a conversation with Jesus.

The people in the documentary all seemed very nice, and the sad part is that in the end, none of these experiences were brought on by, nor did they lead to, a true knowledge of Jesus Christ and salvation through the gospel. They strolled through the beautiful grounds of the monastery, walked the labyrinth, spent time in silence in the chapel, met daily with a spiritual director, read the Bible, and even talked to God, but were not at any point in their spiritual anguish offered solid answers or hope for their searching. Their voids were simply filled by finding the Silence and their true selves. Eventually, they all claimed to have arrived at peace and felt the love. Of what? The feeling of well being and love from everybody else in the Silence. It was “about inviting our souls to get in touch with us.” The conclusion and hope was that silence is the gateway to the soul, and that in the experience of silence they will have discovered things of immense value to take back in their lives. The initiator of this project, a very nice Benedictine monk, ended the documentary by saying that “the Silence will sustain them into the cloud of unknowing.”

Is this what is at the very heart of the big Silence – ourselves? Is this what so many Christian churches are integrating into their teaching today? If all that is found in this Silence is ourselves, how can it lead to God? Jesus said that the only way to God was through Him – not the big Silence.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

For Christians who are following the ways of the Benedictine monks and doing the exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and believing that this will connect them with the presence of God, this documentary is a real eye opener. Participating in contemplative silent retreats, reading the writings of Roman Catholic mystics, and practicing the big Silence will give you an experience. But what if, instead of being led closer to God, you are being led by your spiritual director over the contemplative bridge to the Roman Catholic church and her doctrines?

To demonstrate this possibility, as follow up, the Jesuits have recommended a website on the heels of this documentary called Growing Into Silence (www.growingintosilence.com). On this website you will find more Jesuit retreat centres listed as well as prayer suggestions, such as Pray-as-you-go, “short breathing and body exercises which can be a useful preparation for prayer, helping you to develop the stillness, focus and attentiveness that you need,” with further advice on stillness and breathing exercises in a booklet. Those who find their way to this website and click on the ‘Christianity – Find Out More About It’ tab will be led to the Roman Catholic church.

But surprisingly, the top third link that comes up on this Jesuit site about the silence is…ALPHA!

The Alpha course (http://uk.alpha.org) is designed primarily for people who aren’t churchgoers: each course is open to anyone….Alpha in a Catholic context serves as a refresher course for practicing Catholics or for those who have lapsed in their faith and want to clarify their thoughts about belief. It is run in thousands of Catholic parishes around the world, hosted either by the parish priest or a lay member of the parish. http://uk.alpha.org/catholics


On the same Growing Into Silence page of recommendations, under Alpha, is Thinkingfaith.org, produced by Jesuit Media Initiatives. Next, listed below these Catholic links are the seven main Christian denominations in Britain.

It looks like a lot of people who watched this documentary may be led over the bridge home to Rome, through The Big Silence – and Alpha. Incredibly, this is the same silence that is being offered to Christians worldwide, as the different streams of spirituality converge.

For the truth, please see:

The Altered State of Silence – Promoted by Both New Agers and Christian Leaders

Different than finding a quiet place away from noise and distractions, the silence is referring to a stillness of the mind.

Alpha: Another Road To Rome?
by Roger Oakland


By Marcia Montenegro

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The Sound Of Stillness

Exploring darkness and light at an eight-day silent retreat

By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun July 17, 2010

Many silent retreats don’t really get going until the third day.

That’s what the retreat directors told us when we gathered in the Okanagan for eight days of silence. But what, exactly, were they trying to say?

After the directors welcomed our group of nine women and men from B.C. and Alberta, they offered instructions. They urged us to practise “modest gaze” through the eight days of living, eating and gathering together. No need to smile or make eye contact.

The directors talked about the silent retreat as “a fast from idle conversation.” Therefore, goodbye for eight days to social chatter, to being “productive,” to urban speed, noise and hassles. So long to telephones, e-mail and the Internet. To friends and family.

They told us to not be surprised if, without the usual battering of stimuli, churnings began to rumble deep within.

Read more here:



The Altered State of Silence – Promoted by Both New Agers and Christian Leaders

The Muddy Theology of Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton and Buddhism

Merton’s Spirituality


Definition of Contemplative Spirituality: a belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is often wrapped in Christian terminology; the premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all).

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What message should the following give to all those evangelical pastors and church leaders who are going to retreat centers to learn contemplative spirituality and cross the ecumenical bridge home to Rome?

Here we see that the Pope also goes to retreats to practice these very same spiritual exercises…

Pope Having “Profound Experience” at Retreat

Spiritual Exercises Focusing on Divine Call

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 26, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI’s spiritual exercises this week have been a “profound experience” for the Pope, says a Vatican spokesman.

Father David Gutiérrez, director of Vatican Radio’s Spanish programs, told ZENIT that “once again, the Pontiff gives the faithful the example of the attitude one must have in this particular time of prayer, reflection and conversion.”

The Holy Father and members of the Curia will complete spiritual exercises Saturday, which are being preached by Salesian Father Enrico Dal Covolo.

Each day of the week constituted a specific framework from which to look at the vocation to the priesthood, in line with the Year for Priests convoked by Benedict XVI.

Monday was a day of “listening,” Father Gutiérrez explained, centered on the “lectio divina” of a well-known biblical passage as paradigm of the vocational calling, God’s calling to the prophet Samuel (1 Kings 19:1-21)….

More here:


Also see:

“What Every Catholic Should Know” by Mike Gendron

Bridges To Rome Archive

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Peter Scazzero is going next week to spend some time with the Trappist monks to engage in monastic rhythms. He says this helps him to be rooted and grounded by getting up at 3 am to sing songs, even seven or eight times a day. He will join in their rhythm even in his cell, and participate in their silence. He does this every year because he needs to learn from other traditions. Says Scazzero:

“God’s called us to a downward journey…”

And his biggest promoters (Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Focus on the Family, and a lot of evangelical seminaries) are fine with that.

Read more here:




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Contemplative spiritual formation appears to be making its way into every church denomination, including the Christian & Missionary Alliance in Canada…

In a CMA article called Books that Make you Think – A perspective and some suggestions to help you decide what to read next (cmalliance.ca), the author (Larry Thiessen) shares with readers “a short list of some of the books that have been classics for me in the sense that they changed my thinking. These are books that are worth reading more than once.” Included in this list are:

Answering God – Eugene Peterson
Sacred Journey – Frederick Buechner
Divine Conspiracy – Dallas Willard

These authors all play a part in the contemplative movement, as shown here:


Dallas Willard is a major promoter of the contemplative movement.


The Dangers of Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Disciplines
A Critique of Dallas Willard and The Spirit of the Disciplines
by Bob DeWaay

If that is not enough, the CMA in Canada also partners with (see here) the Clergy Care Network, a ministry based out of Focus on the Family Canada.

This month they are promoting Kerith Creek, a retreat center for pastors that uses the contemplative materials of Peter Scazzero. On the Clergy Care main page you can click on an article about this called The pastor’s need to rest and retreat.

The author of this article, Jerry Ritskes, together with his wife, is the director for Focus on the Family Canada’s Kerith Creek renewal and retreat centre. In the article he refers to an invitation to the contemplative practice of silence and solitude from Ruth Haley Barton, former associate director of spiritual formation at Willow Creek:

“I love the word-picture Ruth Haley Barton gives us in Invitation to Silence and Solitude. Our lives are like a jar of river water – agitated and murky. As soon as you stop moving the jar and let it sit, the sediment begins to settle and it becomes clearer. When we take time for quiet, the sediment in our lives begins to settle, and the things God is trying to tell us becomes clearer.”

This is a very telling statement about the direction Focus on the Family’s Kerith Creek will be taking pastors. The contemplative Barton has gleaned her contemplative/Eastern spirituality from Tilden Edwards, being trained through the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation:

What Do They Believe and Teach?

“This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality … It is no accident that the most active frontier between Christian and Eastern religions today is between contemplative Christian monks and their Eastern equivalents.” —Tilden Edwards, Shalem Founder

From: Ruth Haley Barton and Contemplative Prayer


Also on the same Focus on the Family Canada Clergy Care page is the link to a Christianity Today article called Skimming by Peter Scazzero, in which he refers to the Desert Fathers and contemplative practices such as solitude.

As anyone can see, by recommending the above contemplative resources, the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada is definitely just one more of many denominations now leading their congregations and pastors across the bridge over the great muddy stream of contemplative spiritual formation.

Also see:
Muddy Spirituality at Circle Drive

*See which other ministries are now promoting spiritual formation here.



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Is this another retreat centre that is turning evangelical Christians into Roman Catholics?

Welcome to Urban Sanctuary – Retreat Centre

Urban Sanctuary Retreat Centre is located on the campus of Taylor Seminary. Our primary focus is to listen to God’s voice and obey His commands. We minister to the body of Christ as a Center for Evangelical Spirituality. We are committed to impacting and transforming Canadian churches in their understanding and practice of sanctification. Our burden is for churches to be biblical communities where deep personal transformation takes place and where they are change agents in their respective communities. We sense a movement to recover the power of the Spirit-shaped life.

Our mission is to see people formed into Christ-likeness. As Paul wrote: “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ” (Colossians 1:28).

With this in mind, Urban Sanctuary was designed as sacred space in the city. Our prayer is that people will find sanctuary from the strain of urban life. Our ministries include: Centered, a journal on Evangelical Spiritual Formation; guided weekend retreats; spiritual guidance with trained Spiritual Directors; monthly lectures on spiritual growth; teaching on the process of spiritual formation, and more.


And what is being taught as the “biblical’ focus at this retreat centre for Canadian churches?

Two things taught at Urban Sanctuary are:

Sabbath, Rest and Rule of Life

This course will focus on developing a rhythm or rule of life that will sustain and encourage continued spiritual growth and incorporate the practices of Sabbath and holy leisure. An examination of the Rule of St. Benedict will be the launching point for developing the values that shape a spiritual life of integrity and intimacy with Christ. Balance between intensity and light hearted humour in the life of Christ will be highlighted as an encouragement to live a life characterized by joy.

Introduction to Spiritual Direction and Care of Souls

An exploration of various models of Christian spiritual direction combined with extensive attention to mastering the New Way Model of Spiritual Direction, with emphasis on practical demonstration and application. The biblical and historical aspects of spiritual direction as well as the incorporation of group and personal spiritual direction into the ministry of a local church will also be discussed.


Urban Sanctuary also recommendeds the following two links:

Spiritual Formation Links

http://www.imagodeicommunity.ca — Imago Dei is a network of Christian faith communities based in Vancouver, British Columbia, with sister groups in other locations around B.C., as well as adherents in other countries. It is a ministry that has formed around principles of spiritual direction for the encouragement of a genuine experience of growth in the Christian spiritual life. [1]

Hungry for God by Dayna E. Mazzuca — Faith Today Cover Story — May/June 2008. In this article Mazzuca shares about a spiritual formation awakening among evangelical Christians and how some are finding what they are looking for at the Urban Sanctuary/Center for Evangelical Spiritual Formation.

Urban Sanctuary’s recommended reading list includes The Ignatian Workout: Daily Spiritual Exercises for a Healthy Faith, Dark Night of the Soul, The Message by Eugene Peterson, various Larry Crabb books, and a book called Sacred Listening: Discovering the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola.

Also recommended as “soul food” are the following contemplative books from the bookshelves in the library at Urban Sanctuary:

* Papa Prayer – Larry Crabb
* The Way of the Heart – Henri Nouwen
* Sacred Companions – David Benner
* Abba’s Child – Brennan Manning
* The Ignatian Workout – Tim Muldoon
* Interior Castles- St. Teresa of Avila [2]
* Christian Mystics – Ursula King
* Conversations Journal – Editors: David Benner, Larry Crab, Gary Moon

Is the Urban Sanctuary Retreat Centre of Taylor Seminary[3] impacting and transforming Canadian churches in their understanding and practice of sanctification, or in their understanding and practice of ancient Roman Catholic spiritual disciplines? In doing so, is Taylor Seminary forming people into Christ likeness, as they claim, or are they actually leading the church across the bridge to Rome in the new evangelization plan to win back the “lost brethren”?


[1] Imago Dei is affiliated with the British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (www.bcmb.org). Click here to learn more.
[2] See St. Teresa of Avila
[3] See Christian Colleges that Promote Contemplative


Spiritual Formation?
Another name for Contemplative Spirituality


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