Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lectio Devina-should we be concerned?


As a christian one can't help but come across the term lectio divina (pronounced lex-ee-o di-veen-a). Many of our churches are introducing this ancient practice along with scores of books that tell us that we have been "missing something" in our christian experience.

Many evangelical writers and leaders have been endorsing and teaching this ancient practice. At first sight, this seems to be a "good thing," who would have any concerns with reading the Scriptures slowly and deliberately? Who would have a concern with praying the Scriptures? who would have a concern with pondering and thinking on a passage of Scripture? Well, if that is all that is being taught there would be no problem. However, there is more to this practice than "thinking on the Scriptures."

Lighthouse Trails gives us this piece of advice:

 But if you ask mystics or contemplatives what it entails (And who would know better than they?), they will tell you that lectio divina  always includes taking a passage of Scripture (or other writings), reading it slowly, then working your way down until you have just a word or small phrase from the passage that you are meditating on (repeating over and over). Basically, you are coming up with a mantra-like word or phrase that has been extracted from a passage of Scripture, which, according to contemplatives, if repeated for several minutes will help you get rid of thoughts and distractions, so then, they say, you can hear the voice of God and feel His presence http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletters/2012/newsletters20120910.htm.

 Lighthouse Trails continues with this---

Contemplative mysticism pioneer Thomas Keating explains what lectio divina is not. It is not traditional Bible study, not reading the Scriptures for understanding and edification, and not praying the Scriptures (though praying the Scriptures can be a form of lectio divina when a word or phrase is taken from the Scriptures to focus on for the purpose of going into “God’s presence.”). Keating says that lectio divina is an introduction into the more intense practices – contemplative prayer and centering prayer http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletters/2012/newsletters20120910.htm

And the article continues:

While some people think lectio divina is just reading Scripture slowly, and what’s wrong with that, it is the focusing on and repeating a word or small phrase to facilitate going into the “silence” that is the real danger. There is certainly nothing wrong with reading Scripture carefully and thoughtfully. Thoughtfully, we say. In eastern-style meditation (and in contemplative prayer) thoughts are the enemy. Eastern-style mystic Anthony De Mello describes this problem with thoughts in his book Sadhana: A Way to God:
To silence the mind is an extremely difficult task. How hard it is to keep the mind from thinking, thinking, thinking, forever thinking, forever producing thoughts in a never ending stream. Our Hindu masters in India have a saying: one thorn is removed by another. By this they mean that you will be wise to use one thought to rid yourself of all the other thoughts that crowd into your mind. One thought, one image, one phrase or sentence or word that your mind can be made to fasten on. (p. 28)

To sum it up, the Bible tells us to "examine all things carefully" ( 1 Thess. 5:21). We are to use spiritual discernment, as Greg Koukl points out in his book Discernment: head or heart?


  When the Bible talks about discernment — when it talks about assessing spiritual things — it's talking about a rational assessment based on objective criterion. You can't be "too much in your head" when it comes to spiritual discernment. Using your head is spiritual discernment, if you're using the truth properly

Also writing on the subject of spiritual discernment John MacAuthur in his book Reckless Faith,  notes:

 Biblical faith ... is rational. It is reasonable. It is intelligent. It makes good sense. And spiritual truth is meant to be rationally contemplated, examined logically, studied, analyzed, and employed as the only reliable basis for making wise judgments. That process is precisely what Scripture calls discernment

We as the church must be very diligent in putting all things to the test--- "Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world' (1 John 4:1).

For a good reference see Ray Yungen's book, The New Face of Mystical Spirituality-Contemplative Prayer. http://www.amazon.com/The-Face-Mystical-Spirituality-Contemplative-Prayer/dp/0982488122






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