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Number of Pages: 192
Vendor: Bloomsbury Academic
|Publication Date: 2006|
Finding Grace at the Center: The Beginning of Centering PrayerM. Basil Pennington OCSO, Thomas Keating OCSO, Thomas E. Clarke SJSkylight Paths / 2007 / Trade Paperback$11.69 Retail:
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Chrysalis: The Hidden Transformation in The Journey of FaithAlan JamiesonPaternoster / 2008 / Trade Paperback$31.24
This is the 20th anniversary edition of Continuum's best-selling spiritual classic, which has sold over half a million in the English language and has appeared in 10 foreign-language editions (Croatian, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesia, Italian, Korean, Polish, and Portuguese). The new edition consists of a substantial new preface, an expanded glossary, some changes in terminology, and a reordering of several chapters.
Gregory AlanFortuna, CAAge: 55-65Gender: male1 Stars Out Of 5False TeachingMay 12, 2014Gregory AlanFortuna, CAAge: 55-65Gender: maleQuality: 3Value: 1Meets Expectations: 1Here are several of Keating's teachings on contemplative prayer from this book:
"Centering prayer is a training in letting go of thoughts, desires, and words, and eventually of oneself." "This prayer is an exercise in letting go of everything including your own self identity."
"[The goal is] pure awareness _ We are going beyond [thoughts or words] into union with _ the Ultimate Mystery, the presence of God beyond any conception that we can form of Him." "[The goal is] _ pure consciousness. In that state there is no consciousness of self. _ [T]he place to which you are going is one in which the knower, the knowing and that which is known are all one. Awareness alone remains. This is what divine union is."
In Chapter 12, Keating provides a sort of doctrinal statement. He says, "The following principles represent a tentative effort to restate the Christian spiritual journey in contemporary terms." Here are some quotes from these principles:
"The fundamental goodness of human nature _ is an essential element of Christian faith. _ Our basic core of goodness is dynamic and tends to grow of itself."
"God and our true Self are not separate. Though we are not God, God and our true Self are the same thing."
"Personal sin is the refusal to respond to Christ's self-communication (grace). It is the deliberate neglect of our own genuine needs and those of others."
You will not find the gospel in this book (the gospel being the condemnation of sinful humanity by a holy God, and the salvation He has mercifully offered to everyone through faith in the substitutionary death, burial and resurrection of Jesus).
To anyone familiar with orthodox Christian theology, Keating's contemplative prayer and his "Christian principles" raise large red flags. His teaching is identical in many significant ways to what James W. Sire calls "basic Eastern pantheistic monism" which is the core of Zen Buddhism, transcendental meditation and some Hindu teachings (see Sire's book "The Universe Next Door).
In contrast to the Eastern religions, Christian orthodoxy teaches that God is a Personal Being, who created you in His image, and He wants to relate to you person-to-person, engaging your mind and heart which He formed within you for that purpose. You don't need to empty yourself of all thoughts, words, concepts and emotions, as Keating teaches. God doesn't want you to "let go of your self-identity" - it is your unique self with whom He wants to talk!
It is significant that nowhere in this book does Keating instruct us to read, study, learn, listen to or meditate upon the Word of God. He goes so far as to say that if you become aware of any spiritual communication or consolation from God, then "it is not full union [with Him]" He says, "Even if you see the heavens opening and Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father, forget it." This is patently absurd. What is the point of "union with God" if you are not supposed to be aware of it?
Moses, Abraham, Job, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul, Peter, James and John saw visions of the Lord, and they were very aware of what they saw. Did they just "forget it"? Not only were they aware of what and Whom they saw, they recorded these visions so that we might learn about God, and understand that He is indeed not totally "beyond any conception that we can form of Him."
Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37). Yet Keating tells us that this is impossible, and he advises us to go "beyond thinking [i.e. our mind], feeling [i.e. our heart], and self-reflection [i.e. our soul]."
Yes, I understand that God is transcendent, above and beyond our thoughts and words, but that doesn't mean that abandoning our thinking and feeling will enable us to know Him better. God understands our limitations and has condescended to reveal Himself to us in ways which we can understand and express. Primarily, He has revealed Himself to us in Jesus, the Son of God. The apostle John said, "_ the Word [Jesus] was God. _ The Word became flesh and lived among us. We have seen His glory _" (John 1:1, 14). The apostle Paul said, "In Christ all the fullness of the Diety lives in bodily form" (Colossians 2:9). Jesus said, "Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).
All Eastern religions are heretical. By Keating's ecumenical sympathy with these religions, and by teaching his "spiritual principles" which are substantively similar with the tenets of these religions, he has abandoned Christian orthodoxy and must be labeled a false teacher (1 Timothy 1:3 and 2 Peter 2:1).
I recommend that everyone avoid this book. If you are truly interested in a Christian spiritual journey, then - first and foremost - study the Bible. By faith in God's Word, you can enter into a personal relationship with Him, enjoying His love and fellowship in a very real and conscious way. "And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3).
Rob Henderson5 Stars Out Of 5November 10, 2007Rob HendersonIf you want to start contemplative, quiet prayer where you wait before the Lord, this book is the best I've read on the "how-tos". He also develops the reasons why we should wait before the Lord in stillness.