M'Cheyne Bible Reading Notes

Is Mysticism Related to The Spiritual Formation Movement?

Jeremiah 6:16 (KJV)
16 Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

Someone recently sent me this definition:

“Used this clip from a TBC article, plus the Oxford, to explain I was using the dictionary definition of “mysticism,” when referencing The Spiritual Formation Movement.”
The antithesis of the objective Word of God, mysticism is defined by The Merriam-Webster Dictionary as ‘the belief that direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjectiveexperience such as intuition or insight.’ and adds that it is ‘vague speculation, a belief without sound basis.’

Google gives this definition: ‘belief characterized by self-delusion or dreamy confusion of thought, especially when based on the assumption of occult qualities or mysterious agencies.’”

The Concise Oxford Dictionary puts it thus: “the beliefs or state of mind characteristic of mystics; confused religious belief or thought, especially as associated with a belief in the occult or in mysterious agencies.”

In my own spiritual journey I was well into the contemplative 🤔 side from the mid-1980’s until about 10 years ago. Since then I’ve tried to refocus my time back towards the just reading the Bible and gaining a deeper understanding of our historical reformed faith as opposed to the traditions linked to Roman Catholicism, the Jesuits, and the many Mystical approaches to spirituality. See definition above.

Over the years I’ve seen a number of good and bad articles on the contemplative movement. 

Usually, if I share anything negative, my critiques are not always well received, but there are many who feel the same way. And after all these years, I still see the issues.

Recently, the Roman church under pope Francis, has become quite visible…they do have 1/4 of the worlds population, and Spiritual Formation, has grown even to a common major in Protestant colleges and seminaries.

Maybe you can look at the attached, I’m curious if you would agree with the author’s observations, even to a small extent.

It’s a bit old, though I just saw it rereleased today, dates from 1997, about midway through my own experience. BTW: I never had a clue to this side of things either.

It probably could be reasonably said that the movement has kept increasing in the last 30 years, while at the same time the church has become much more ecumenical, relativistic, emergent, as well as, religiously and culturally tolerant, whether that’s a good thing or not remains to be seen.

The author’s experience is similar to mine, though I was drawn into it through Foster and Willard….and I read at least parts of many those writers he refers to. At the time, I thought it was a new and good way to draw closer to God, I didn’t recognize the potential issues. 

In a last ditch effort to avoid the negative 👎, I’m not questioning anyone’s Godly gain here but just wondering where we are headed, and if anyone ever pauses to consider things this way. We are all looking for fruit 🍉, but not all fruits are watermelons, there are some pretty good lemons 🍋 and limes 🍋 also, and perhaps there are fruits of good Biblical doctrine, but I’d sort of prefer to get them from the Bible directly rather from the mystics. I tried that and it didn’t seem the right direction for me. But then I’m kind of slow, so maybe I missed it.


I’m not a prophet, so don’t take this quote as referring to the immediate last days, this had been going on a long time.  I used to read and quote only the last two verses, my wife even convinced me to memorize them, but now I observe the whole chapter has something good to say: (no pun intended)
Godlessness in the Last Days

2Ti 3:1  This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

Read on through verse 9 it’s a detail list.

Good Doctrine and persecution
2Ti 3:10-11  But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.

2Ti 3:12  Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
2Ti 3:13  But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

All Scripture is from God

2Ti 3:14  But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
2Ti 3:15  And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

2Ti 3:16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
2Ti 3:17  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

The Bible certainly as no shortage of warnings on how the world is.

Deciding what is true and false, is difficult….and to speak about it is even harder.

Two good things to remember are:

Pro 17:28  Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

I usually break that one. But the next is good to consider.

“Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.”

Still, not easy.

Appreciate you perspectives. Conversation is open.

So this is the link to the article, you don’t need to order the booklet the whole article is readable. The article can be downloaded as a PDF if you are clever. Many more there are.
Either of these should work:

2 thoughts on “Is Mysticism Related to The Spiritual Formation Movement?”

  1. God is external to people, and must be encountered externally. The soul cannot be shaped, only obedient, or not. The mind is an enemy to God and a new mind must be received: This is not done through self but through the Holy Spirit and a born again experience (newness of life). God cannot be conjured through concentration but must be openly addressed through communication, preferably spoken.


  2. The best statement can be found in the WCF.

    Of the Holy Scripture

    1. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing: which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.


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