The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) is an evangelical denomination founded in 1887 by A. B. Simpson. Born out of Pentecostalism, the deeper life movement, and the divine healing movement, the C&MA has roots in Christian mysticism and contemplative Christianity. A.B. Simpson wrote, “There is, in the deepest centre of the soul, a chamber of peace where God dwells, and where, if we will only enter in and hush every other sound, we can hear His still, small voice.” This is mysticism by its very definition.
According to mysticism, truth comes from within and can be discovered by disengaging the mind and clearing the mind of conscious thought. John MacArthur gives the following explanation of mysticism:
Mysticism is a system of belief that attempts to perceive spiritual reality apart from objective, verifiable facts. It seeks truth through feelings, intuition, and other internal senses. Objective data is usually discounted, so mysticism derives its authority from within. Spontaneous feeling becomes more significant than objective fact. Intuition outweighs reason. An internal awareness supersedes external reality.
The C&MA and Mysticism
Rev. David John Smith, currently the pastor of Rose Hill Alliance Church in Minnesota, writes that “God can and does speak to us in multi-level methods as we open up all the vents of our soul to listen.” He goes on to list thirty ways in which God supposedly speaks to believers, including mental pictures, imagination, visions, and even journaling conversations with God. All of these mystical practices are unorthodox and unbiblical—even anti-biblical—and are being embraced by the C&MA as a denomination.
Contemplative Spirituality [is a] belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology. The premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all). Common terms used for this movement are “spiritual formation,” “the silence,” “the stillness,” “ancient-wisdom,” “spiritual disciplines,” and many others.
One of the mystical doctrines being embraced by the C&MA is contemplative prayer. Contemplative prayer, also known as soaking prayer and centering prayer, is the unbiblical and mystical practice of emptying one’s mind of conscious thought and turning to one’s inner self to find the presence of God.
Contemplative prayer is being practiced and taught at official Alliance seminaries. Because all Alliance pastors are trained at one of these official schools, the false doctrines imparted to these students will eventually permeate the local churches affiliated with the denomination.
Ron Walborn, dean of Alliance Theological Seminary, endorsed a book by James P. Danaher entitled Contemplative Prayer: A Theology for the Twenty-First Century. Danaher is Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Nyack College, an official school of the C&MA. Incidentally, the postmodernist Franciscan Friar Richard Rohr also endorsed Danaher’s book. Rohr is an advocate of “alternative orthodoxy,” a supporter of homosexuality (even presiding over a lesbian “marriage”), and the author of The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See—a book that Danaher unapologetically taught to his class at Nyack College.
In his book, James Danaher successfully shows that a post-modern perspective, which questions the cultural, historical, and linguistic presuppositions involved in interpreting the Gospels, frees us to hear anew the culturally subversive, yet ultimately transformative message of Jesus’ Good News.
The author carefully uses postmodern insights to illustrate that what we see in the Gospels is largely a product of how we see, and how we see comes from our social constructs, not what we interpret to be God’s objective revelation.
Danaher has abandoned the crucial biblical concept of absolute truth and replaced it with the postmodern concept that truth is changing. This is the perspective being embraced and communicated by institutional centers affiliated with the C&MA and will continue to have a progressive impact on the denomination as the students trained at these institutions are installed as pastors in local churches.
Moreover, official Alliance colleges and seminaries such as Nyack College, Ambrose University College, Toccoa Falls College, and Simpson University are all incorporating “Spiritual Formation” into their academic programs. While the term “Spiritual Formation” may sound harmless enough, it is essentially a cryptic word used by advocates of emergent and contemplative spirituality to infiltrate the unsuspecting church with their heresy.
The Lighthouse Trails Research Project states that Spiritual Formation is
[a] movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case, you will find contemplative spirituality and its “pioneers” such as Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and Henri Nouwen. Spiritual Formation is based on “spiritual disciplines” that can be practiced by people of any faith to make them more “Christ-like.” Rebirth through Jesus Christ and regeneration through the Holy Spirit are not essential. Rather it is a works-based “theology” that has strong roots in Roman Catholicism and ancient paganism.
Some of the stated goals for the Spiritual Formation program at the Alliance Theological Seminary are to increase awareness of “your personal spiritual reality” and to nurture a “continuing desire to grow beyond your current spiritual reality.” Again, while the reference to a “spiritual reality” may seem innocuous, the concept of spiritual reality is rooted in Eastern mystical religion. Mysticism teaches that spiritual reality is a transcendent metaphysical order that may be known by emptying one’s self of conscious thought and desires.
All of the elements of mysticism being introduced into the church are not Christian. Rather, they are an intrusion of false religion brought about through the subtlety of false teachers (1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Peter 2:1). Nowhere in Scripture do we find any type of warrant for the mystic beliefs and practices being adopted by the C&MA.
Christian mysticism is simply a contradiction in terms and is a heresy secretly being introduced into the church by false teachers (2 Peter 2:1). It is our duty to exercise discernment and to call out these false teachers and warn Christians of their presence (1 Tim. 1:3).
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 Simpson, A. B. (1924). The Holy Spirit, Or, Power From On High. New York: The Christian Alliance Publishing Co., 160.
 MacArthur, John. (1993). Charismatic Chaos. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 35.
 Smith. Listening Prayer. Retrieved August 17, 2014, fromhttps://online.ambrose.edu/alliancestudies/dsmith/djs_prayer.html