Spiritual Formation

Dec. 2013: Last year we saw Derek Morris "recant" Spiritual Formation and its dangers, yet the following has come to our attention from a Conference SDA pastor in North America.

Click here to download a PDF of the email contents.

Aug. 2012: Many of you may have heard or read about Spiritual Formation and the inroads it has had in the Seventh-day Adventist church. On Aug 9, 2012, a satellite broadcast from 3ABN had a panel of speakers discussing this topic. They gave information for all Christians, not just Seventh-day Adventists, about the dangers that this brings into the church. The panel consisted of NAD president Dan Jackson, C. A. Murray, Frank Fournier, Mark Finley, Derek Morris, Howard Lane, and Dan Houghton. As some of you may know, Derek Morris has been involved in Spiritual Formation for some time, but in this video he now warns of its dangers. The panel talks about terms such as Centering Prayer, Emerging Church and Contemplative Prayer.


Recently an email to undisclsed recipients was sent out. This email contained the following. This person believes Derek Morris has changed. The questions is "what about other Adventist pastors and teachers in our churches and schools?" We must also ponder why is it that some of our leaders in our church have taken so many years to recognize the problem and yet there are still those theologians, professors, and leaders that don't. We've heard about the dangers of Spiritual Formation from laymen for several years.

----- Original Message -----
From: Christine Guardo
To: undisclosed recipients
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2011 3:43 PM
Subj ect: [1888messagestudygroup] Spiritual Formation taught by Voice of Prophecy

Passing this along:
The Voice of Prophecy has announced that Elizabeth Talbot, the senior pastor at Grace Place, a Seventh-day Adventist church in Alhambra CA, (Near Los Angeles), will be teaching Spiritual Formation for the Voice of Prophecy on Hope Channel soon. They are apparently calling it "Jesus 101". Mike Tucker and Elizabeth Talbot have described the program in a VOP newsletter.

For those who are not familiar with the history of Spiritual Formation, it is a program to develop "spirituality." Spiritual Formation is considered by any Bible believing Christians both Adventists and those in other denominations to include techniques such as meditation, contemplative prayer, and other methods that are found in new age and eastern mysticism that are a subtle form of spiritualism. Spiritual Formation was originated by Ignatious Loyola the founder of the Jesuits as a method of preparing Jesuit novices for their mission and work. The modern versions of it apparently came directly from the Roman Catholic Church in training centers, one popular one in NYC run by Roman Catholic nuns, where pastors from many denominations (including ours) have gone to be trained in teaching it. It is couched in Christian terminology and claims as its goal to bring people closer to Christ. There are apparently a number of books including books by ministers of various denominations as well as those by eastern mystics that are used. Pastor Derek Morris, newly appointed editor of Ministry Magazine, that is sent out to all Adventist pastors world wide, was at one time a strong promoter and teacher of Spiritual Formation. I contacted him recently about this. He told me that his attitude has drastically changed, and that he sees in it a dangerous mixture of truth and error. A friend of mine spent an hour on the phone with pastor Morris and is convinced that he has truly rejected Spiritual Formation, and repents of having been involved in it. My question is, are we prepared to counter this when attempts are made to bring this into our churches? Do we have the knowledge and courage to be able to speak against it if our pastor or the conference wants to bring it in as is happening in some places?

One professor at Andrews University, who is teaching this course, Jon Dybdhal, is teaching a course by the code name of CHMN 705. In the recent past he has used a number of contemplative authors, such as: Richard Foster, J.P Moreland, Peter Scazzero, and others. Peter Scazerro's book entitled, 'Emotionally Healthy Spiritually' teaches you who's who of contemplative mystics: Basil Pennington, Tilden Edwards (Director of the Shalem Institute), Henri Nouwen and Teresa of Avila.

Notice on the Andrews University website how they now try to distance what they WERE teaching, yet they obfuscate the truth that professor Jon Dybdhal WAS referencing mystics and wrote about Lectino Devina, Visualization, etc. while teaching there as shown below.

Check out J.P Moreland's book, which has been refernced by Dybdhal in his course. Jon Dybdhal, also has written a book which is called, 'Hunger: Satisfying the Longing of Your Soul'. In this book, he favorably instructs on contemplative practices: Lectio Divina, Visualization, The Jesus Prayer, and Breath Prayers. This can be found in the Adventist Book Center.

A Critique of Andrews Professor Jon Dybdhals' book, 'Hunger' is here.

So what does Dybdhal mean when he teaches on Breath Prayer? Remember, Richard Foster is one of the authors that he used in the course at Andrews University. Read what Richard Foster teaches about Breath Prayer:

What is meant by Lectio Divina?

Professors Steve Case and Allan Walsche at Andrews University have a course titled Current Issues in Youth and Young Adult Ministry which uses emerging church figure Shane Claiborne and Chap Clark's book, Deep Justice in a Broken World.

Information about J.P Moreland

Information about Contemplative Prayer.