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Number of Pages: 144
Publication Date: 2011
|Dimensions: 7.00 X 5.00 (inches)|
It is from these "masters of the spiritual life" (p. 36) that Foster draws the spiritual disciplines that he promotes including: visualization (p. 36), icons (pp. 40-42), lectio divina (pp. 46-47), centering down (p. 54), and reciting of the Jesus Prayer (p. 132). Additionally, concerning spiritual warfare, Foster recommends the writing of Agnes Sanford and John Wimber. Foster concludes Sanctuary of the Soul by recommending twelve books to aid in our spiritual journey. Of those twelve, ten are from confirmed mystics and the other two draw partially from the mystics. It is no secret where Foster wants to take his readers.
But it is the discipline of meditation, better known as contemplative prayer, that is the heart of this volume. "It is meditative prayer that ushers us into divine-human fellowship," Foster believes (p. 17, see also pp. 27-28). Meditative prayer, however, is not prayer as defined and demonstrated in Scripture in which the believer communicates with God, "It is the listening side" (p. 125). Contemplative is not cognitive, rational prayer. Rather it supersedes the senses; it is wholly mystical (p. 38). Lectio divina, or sacred reading of Scripture, applies the same approach to the Bible. Quoting Madame Guyon, "We are not reading the Scripture to gain some understanding but to 'turn your mind from outward things to the deep parts of your being. You are not there to learn or to read, but...to experience the presence of your Lord'" (pp. 73-74).
This goal of meditative prayer is to hear the voice of Jesus not audibly (at least not as a norm), but "an inward whisper, a deep speaking into the heart, an interior knowing" (p. 13). Foster assures us that many characters in the Bible had this experience including Moses and Elijah (p. 18). What Foster and all promoters of mysticism fail to notice is that when biblical characters heard from God or angels they heard an audible voice, not an "inward whisper." For that reason rarely does anyone in the biblical accounts ever question that he was hearing from God. Not so the mystic who must "learn to hear the voice of God" (p. 18). Foster assures us that in time we will be able to distinguish the voice of God from all others, including Satan's and our own. One way to determine this is to remember, "Satan pushes and condemns, God draws and encourages. You can tell the difference" (p. 130). Of course this is a gross over-generalization for we know that it is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin and judgment (John 16:8).
The basic steps of meditative prayer are recollection, beholding, and listening (pp. 62-88). Here Foster is following the three-fold road of mysticism, normally termed "purgation, illumination, and union." Foster defines these as follows:
Again it is vital to note that Foster is not developing his theology of prayer from scriptural texts but from his own personal experiences and from those he admires. This is highly dangerous and subjective ground and is a far cry from the sure and certain Word of God. - Gary Gilley, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com