The New Christians

The New Christians


Praying the Bible – The Ladder of Lectio Divina

posted by Tony Jones
Praying the Bible
Introlectio divinareading – meditating – praying – contemplating

Though dates differ, Guigo II lived from about 1115 to 1198. His official title was the Ninth Prior of the Grand Chartreuse of Carthusians. That’s a mouthful. Here’s what it means: The Carthusians are an order of monks who are particularly strict (for example, they wake up every night at 11:45 P.M. and pray for three hours!). The headquarters of their order is the Grand Chartreuse (Charterhouse), which is just outside of Grenoble, France. The Prior is the leader of the Charterhouse and, therefore, of all Carthusians around the world. Guigo II was the ninth monk to lead the order.


the_ladder_of_divine_ascent_monastery_of_st_catherine_sinai_12th_century.jpgIn about 1150, Guigo II wrote The Ladder of Monastics (also known as The Ladder of Four Rungs). He compares the way monks pray and seek God to the ladder that Jacob saw climbing to heaven at Bethel (see Genesis 28:11-19). Guigo begins his book by telling about how all this occurred to him while he was working in the garden:

One day I was engaged in physical work with my hands and I began to think about the spiritual tasks we humans have. While I was thinking, four spiritual steps came to mind: reading (lectio), meditation (meditatio), prayer (oratio), and contemplation (contemplatio). This is the ladder of monastics by which they are lifted up from the earth into heaven. There are only a few distinct steps, but the distance covered is beyond measure and belief since the lower part is fixed on the earth and its top passes through the clouds to lay bare the secrets of heaven.

While earlier Christians prayed lectio divina in something of a “web” form, jumping in and jumping out of steps in any order they chose, Guigo changed the metaphor to that of a ladder. With that hierarchical model, lectio divina has a specific starting point and ending point. We begin, he writes, on earth, reading God’s Word. Then we climb the rungs of meditation and prayer, finally arriving in the clouds of heaven in contemplation.  Guigo compares this ladder with a couple found in the Bible, as he continues:

jacobs-ladder.jpg

This is the ladder Jacob saw, in Genesis, that stood on the earth and reached into heaven, on which he saw heavenly angels ascending and descending, with God leaning
upon the ladder. From the ascending and descending of the angels is
understood that the heavenly angels delight us with much spiritual
comforting and carry our prayers up to our Lord in heaven, where he
sits on high, and bring back down from him the desire of our hearts, as
is proved by Daniel. By God’s supporting the ladder is understood that
he is always ready to help all who by these four rungs of this ladder
will climb wisely, not fearing nor doubting that such a ladder will
really help us
.

Guigo’s format is the one we’re going to follow in this book. Maybe I’m a slave to formulas or maybe I’m not as good at lectio divina as I ought to be, but I find his metaphor helpful. You may graduate to a more fluid method of praying Scripture, and I’m sure even Guigo would say that we are not bound to his formulation. But the linear structure of a ladder is a good starting point to learn lectio divina.

If you want to read more, I invite you to check out Divine Intervention: Encountering God through the Ancient Practice of Lectio Divina.



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Chris Rosebrough

posted May 19, 2009 at 8:14 am


Since when do human beings get to invent spiritual practices that God will ‘honor’ by allowing those who practice those man-made invented practices (ladders) to experience Him?
Seriously, I’d have just as much probability of actually experiencing the divine by dancing naked around oak trees while waving chicken feathers and singing the hokey pokey.
http://podcast.fightingforthefaith.com/fftf/LectioDivina.mp3
Christianity is not about us climbing man-made mythological ladders (no matter how spiritual they sound). Christianity is about the One True God descending to us and being incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!



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Joey

posted May 19, 2009 at 8:31 am


What a humble, and I’m sure well researched, response Chris Rosebrough. Have you, by chance, read Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson? He makes a Biblical case for the practice of Lectio Divina. You must have read it though. No reasonable person would try to tear down a practice used by thousands of people for thousands of years without first making sure they knew what they were talking about. Tell me, what were your thoughts on that book? What did you think about Peterson’s handling of scripture?



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Chris Rosebrough

posted May 19, 2009 at 8:50 am


Joey,
Your assertion that “no reasonable person would try to tear down a practice used by thousands of people for thousands of years without first making sure they knew what they were talking about” is just plain ignorant.
1. Why would you assume that I hadn’t first made sure that I knew that I was talking about? Rest assured, I have the proper theological degrees and have read enough of Christian history to know of that which I speak.
2. The thousands of people that you refer to as proof that this is a valid practice is nothing less than the logical fallacy known as argumentum ad populum?
Over a Billion people pray 5 times a day or more toward Mecca and invoke Allah. Does that make Muslim prayer “valid”? Absolutely not. Islam is a man-made religion and the 5 pillars of Islam are just another man-made ‘ladder’ to heaven.
3. Last time I checked Eugene Peterson is not a Biblical prophet nor was he one of the Apostles. Therefore, his ideas, are to be tested by the scriptures. But, the scriptures ARE NOT to be tested by people’s so-called religious experiences.
Since you are defending Lectio Divina…why don’t you enlighten us and show us from the scriptures ALONE that Lectio Divina is clearly taught and encouraged as a Biblical practice or ladder that we should climb and how by climbing this ladder we can experience God.
I await your Biblical texts.



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Blake Huggins

posted May 19, 2009 at 9:10 am


Hmmm, I can’t find explicit support for commenting on blog posts or hosting my own radio show in the bible. I wonder if that makes it evil?



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Gary

posted May 19, 2009 at 9:40 am


Does any of this bickering make Christianity look convincing or attractive to an unbeliever?



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Chris Rosebrough

posted May 19, 2009 at 10:53 am


Blake,
I don’t make the claim that reading my blog comments or listening to my radio program is a “ladder” to God or will help you experience God. See the difference?



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Kenton

posted May 19, 2009 at 10:58 am


Gary-
Chris’ website/internet radio show is called “fighting for faith.” Do ya’ really think he’s trying to “make Christianity look convincing or attractive to an unbeliever?”
John 13:35 – By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you can kick one another’s a$$.



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Joey

posted May 19, 2009 at 11:28 am


Prayerfully reading scripture doesn’t need to be defended, Chris. I would hope that you would seriously consider reading Eat This Book because it gives a Biblical explanation for Lectio Divina, but maybe all those “theological degrees” exempt you from reading. It is always best just to assume. Arguing and fighting also go a long way.
Also, fixed-hour prayer, similar to what the Muslims do (but definitely no the same), is a very Biblical and very Christian practice. Check out Acts 3:1



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Ted Seeber

posted May 19, 2009 at 1:54 pm


I’m confused. Why is anybody fighting over Lectio Divina?
Given that, I personally suggest combining the Lectio Divina with either the Liturgy of the Hours *or* one of the several lectionaries for daily mass out there (each branch of Catholicism has it’s own, as do most mainline Protestant churches, as do most monastic orders).
The use of a lectionary with Lectio Divina is to make sure you have a touchstone outside yourself for reading scripture- and you’re not skipping your favorite sins.



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Ryan Schatz

posted May 19, 2009 at 2:29 pm


“He then added, ‘I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’” (John 1:51)
It would seem from this text that Jesus’ understanding is that He (ie. Jesus) is the ladder connecting earth to heaven, not a method such as Lectio Divina (divine reading). Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and the only way to the Father, so this makes perfect sense of Jacob’s vision… it was a vision of Christ. While Guigo II and Tony may wish to use this as scriptural support for this method, it would seem that they are importing their ideas into the scripture and reading into it what they would like it to mean. We need to be careful to be truth seekers and to desire to know what God intended by what His Word states.



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Chris Rosebrough

posted May 19, 2009 at 2:40 pm


Joey,
Lectio Divina is NOT prayerfully reading the scriptures.
It is a man-made ladder that people use to fool themselves into believing they are ‘climbing to heaven’ and experiencing heaven and the divine.
Did you even read this post? Here are some Guigo’s thoughts about this so-called ladder:
“There are only a few distinct steps, but the distance covered is beyond measure and belief since the lower part is fixed on the earth and its top passes through the clouds to lay bare the secrets of heaven.”
“By God’s supporting the ladder is understood that he is always ready to help all who by these four rungs of this ladder will climb wisely, not fearing nor doubting that such a ladder will really help us.”
Again, where is this four rung ladder in scripture?
Where in the scripture does God promise us that if we ascend this four rung ladder that we can ascend to heaven and experience God?
Where in the scripture are we told that we need to not fear nor doubt that this four rung ladder will really help us?
Certainly Eugene Peterson has helped you identify these passages and you should have no problem producing them.



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Ann

posted May 19, 2009 at 3:51 pm


I would like to know where the Bible states that if it isn’t in there, it isn’t useful/can’t be trusted/isn’t of God. Why is there this need to worship the Bible over God? Isn’t that idolatry?



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Rev Dave

posted May 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm


Well this is rare, but I find I agree with Ted: what is possibly objectionable about lectio divina? I truly don’t get that.
And I should know better than to feed the troll, but…apparently I can’t help myself.
Chris R, enlighten me please, what are the methods of experiencing God which you have approved for the universe for all eternity?
Obviously lectio and blogging and radio programs are not on the list, so what is?
Based on the logic I’ve read from you so far I’m wondering: wherever it is that you worship, do you use microphones? Or a key board of any kind? Or a guitar? If so, how do you justify from scripture those as media through which people experience God? Or are people not expected to experience God in the music or preaching/teaching of your place’s worship? I’m very confused.



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Ryan Schatz

posted May 19, 2009 at 4:56 pm


Ann writes:

I would like to know where the Bible states that if it isn’t in there, it isn’t useful/can’t be trusted/isn’t of God. Why is there this need to worship the Bible over God? Isn’t that idolatry?

Good questions. For your first one, the Bible doesn’t mention a lot of things that are perfectly useful and permissible, so long as you can do them with a clear conscience. On the other hand, the Bible excludes many things without explicitly mentioning all of them. For example, Deut 12:30-31 states:
“…after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by enquiring about their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.’ You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshipping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates.”
So this means that we don’t have the freedom to come to God or approach Him in just any way we want, even if it might look good to us. Prayer, scripture reading and meditation (thinking about what you read) are all wonderful things. However, by looking at Buddhist methods of worship, others have combined their means of attaining enlightenment into what is often referred to as Contemplative Meditation and Lectio Devina. By repeating small chunks of scripture over and over again, the same principles Buddhists apply underlie these practices. They become a way not to study and understand what the scriptures say, but as a means to hear voices and direct revelations… and this is called divination. We are not to use scripture as a means of divination.
If this is not what you are doing, then you are probably fine and don’t fully understand what the teachers of Contemplative Meditation and Lectio Divina are teaching. I’m just taking these words to mean what I have read from people like Thomas Merton who informs people like Tony Jones and others.
For your second question, the Bible is not being worshipped by sticking to what it says and not turning to the left or the right (Deut 5:32) or add or subtract to it (Deut 4:2). It is because of the one who speaks who stands behinds what He says, not the paper on which it is spoken, that the Bible is to be treated with respect.
Hope that helps…



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Chris Rosebrough

posted May 19, 2009 at 5:15 pm


Rev Dave,
This is pretty simple.
The Lectio Divina is a man-made ladder to God. The things that it promises, namely that you can have a direct experience of God and you are lifted up from earth to heaven are NO WHERE promised in the scriptures for those who follow any practice yet alone the Lectio Divina.
Its very arrogant and pretentious of any one to make such claims for a “spiritual practice” that THEY invented.
It’s much easier to spot the problem if I used a fictitious spiritual practice.
Let’s pretend that I am a member of the Monastic Order named the Chickenoosians. This Order emphasizes Luke 13:34 which states:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!”
The Chickenoosians have a long history that dates back to the ninth century and members of this order meditate on the bird like qualities of God. The 3rd leader of Order, Father Zacky spent nearly his entire adult life trying to invent a spiritual practice that would help the Chickenoosians climb the ramp to the great Chicken Coop in the Sky so that can have a direct mystical experience with the bird like qualities of Holy Spirit.
The practice that Father Zacky eventually invented is called Chicken Divina and he swore on a stack of Bibles that if a Christian would strip naked, dance 30 times around an old growth oak tree while waving Chicken feathers and stopping at the four points of the compass to recite Luke 13:34 that the Christian would climb the ramp leave the earth and ascend to the heavenly Chicken coop and have a direct experience with God.
Keep in mind Father Zacky was a VERY sincere Catholic Monk and Chicken Divina involved the reciting of Luke 13:34.
So, will God swoop in and allow those practicing Chicken Divina into heaven so that through this ancient and sincere practice those who follow the steps laid out in Chicken Divina will be able to leave earth, enter heaven and experience God?
If so, then what are you basing your opinion on?
If not, then what is the qualitative differences between Chicken Divina and Lectio Divina? Both are man made practices that are neither mentioned, taught, explained or endorsed in scripture YET both promise that those who practice them will leave earth and ascend into heaven and both utilize scripture in their practice.



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Casey

posted May 19, 2009 at 5:56 pm


Chris,
“Chicken Divina” – What the cluck?



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Casey

posted May 19, 2009 at 6:05 pm


Very interesting discussion…
Chris,
Your explanation of “Chicken Divina” was, uh, interesting – but can you please respond to Rev. Dave’s question about what is permissible in experiencing God (microphones, etc..) I come from a tradition that shares your mindset (I think) on issues like Lectio Divinia “Silent where the Bible is silent and speak where the Bible speaks” – however, the Bible does not itself teach such a hermeneutic.



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Korey

posted May 19, 2009 at 6:42 pm


Ryan Schatz:
Was Guigio II influenced by Buddhist teaching? Is fixed hour prayer actually co-opted from Buddhism?



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Ted Seeber

posted May 19, 2009 at 7:16 pm


Now that I’ve read the full thread, Chris would probably be aghast at the fact that I pray the Rosary with my son *every night*- and in fact have modernized it by downloading The Scriptural Rosary in all four mysteries from http://www.rosaryarmy.com/ and burning them to CD along with other music, which we switch out from time to time to help Christopher sleep (the music and Rosary play softly all night after he goes to sleep).
Such sacramentals are NOT just man-made religion, but rather, religion made for man. A concept that apparently some of you Bible-only people find quite foreign.



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LutheranChik

posted May 19, 2009 at 7:22 pm


I’m neither Evangelical nor “Emergent” — well, I don’t think I am, although I certainly admire the ministry of folks like Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber — so take this for what it’s worth. But…for heaven’s sake, Chris, get ahold of yourself. Lectio divina is a practice solidly within the Christian tradition; the “ladder to heaven” metaphor is exactly that, a metaphor, so call off your Protestant “Oh no! Works-righteousness! Ack! Bad!” pitbull (and this is coming from a Lutheran). Open-minded, receptive meditation on Scripture is just one of many good tools in any Christian’s toolkit of spiritual discipline/practice. I myself tend to be extremely analytical/overthinky when it comes to Scripture, so sometimes just experiencing it in a quiet, receptive frame of mind is a good corrective to that. Praying the Daily Office, praying the cycle of Psalms from day to day, is its own type of lectio. It’s not about “earning points by doing stuff”; it’s about cultivating a prayerful, Godward-turned frame of mind.



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Chris Rosebrough

posted May 19, 2009 at 8:13 pm


Casey,
Why would I be against microphones? Is there a Microphone Divina practice whereby I can experience God and climb a ladder to heaven through amplified voices?



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Chris Rosebrough

posted May 19, 2009 at 8:16 pm


Ted,
Do you think that you ascend to heaven by doing the rosary?



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Joey

posted May 19, 2009 at 9:27 pm


Chris, it seems that you don’t understand Lectio Divina. You keep describing something that nobody is claiming. That is called a straw-man. It is a tool. Nobody claims that it literally lets you ascend, only that it draws your heart, mind, and body into focus on scripture and as a result on Jesus. Your caricature is becoming tired.



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Chris Rosebrough

posted May 19, 2009 at 9:40 pm


Joey,
I have not set up a straw man regarding Lectio Divina.
Here’s what I understand the four rungs to be from my own research on the topic.
Lectio- This first moment consists in reading the scriptural passage slowly, attentively several times. Many write down words in the scripture that stick out to them or grasp their attention during this moment.
Meditatio – The Christian, gravitating around the passage or one of its words, takes it and ruminates on it, thinking in God’s presence about the text. He or she benefits from the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination, i.e. the work of the Holy Spirit that imparts spiritual understanding of the sacred text. It is not a special revelation from God, but the inward working of the Holy Spirit, which enables the Christian to grasp the revelation contained in the Scripture.
Oratio – This is a response to the passage by opening the heart to God. It is not an intellectual exercise, but an intuitive conversation or dialogue with God.
Contemplatio – This moment is characterized by a simple, loving focus on God. In other words, it is a beautiful, wordless contemplation of God, a joyful rest in his presence.
For more information may I recommend another Emergent guy’s take on the Lectio Divina. Here’s a link the Rob Bell’s version which I find to be quite faithful to the the other iterations of the LD.
http://www.marshill.org/pdf/sp/PracticesLectioDivina.pdf
Here’s how Bell’s version describes LD
“Lectio Divina is an ancient spiritual practice from the Christian monastic tradition. Its title derives from the Latin words meaning reading and divine/holy. In Lectio Divina, we seek to experience the presence of God through reading and listening, meditation, prayer, and contemplation”
Regarding the Lectio portion here is what Bell recommends.
Text
Begin by choosing a section of Scripture that you would like to read and pray. You can choose the text randomly or use a liturgical book, such as The Book of Common Prayer. Try not set a goal for how much content you will cover; the goal is to listen for God and to experience his presence.
Joey – you’re quite wrong about me setting up a straw man.



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B.D.

posted May 19, 2009 at 9:45 pm


As far as I can tell, all this squawking in the comments about chicken divina or whatever is centering on the metaphor of lectio divina and a ladder to heaven.
The metaphor of the ladder is exactly that: a metaphor. This has nothing to do with a salvific process, but is rather a practice for opening one to hearing God’s Spirit as one prayerfully reads the text.
As someone who practices lectio divina, there are times I hear from God and times I don’t, but the point is to read scripture in such a way as to slow myself down and quiet my brain long enough to actually listen to whether or not God is speaking. I would argue that the early Christians would have automatically encountered scripture in much more meditative way(such as lectio divina), because scripture would have been an experience of listening as opposed to reading as it is today.
If the argument is that we can only do what scripture explicitly says, reading the Bible every day and having a quiet time is out, as are altar calls, praying the sinners prayer, and organ music to name a few.



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Ryan Schatz

posted May 20, 2009 at 12:45 am


Korey writes:

Was Guigio II influenced by Buddhist teaching? Is fixed hour prayer actually co-opted from Buddhism?

Hi Korey. Those are good questions. I’m not sure about Guigio’s life and specific influences; all I know is that what Tony Jones ascribes to him in this post is the same thing I read from others who are influenced by Eastern religions. And its not only Buddhism; the same structures are also found in Hinduism, for example.
In my research this afternoon, I did find an article written by Fr. Dan Hanlon here which mentions Guigio II and relates the experience he believed that Guigio was describing in the final contemplation with that of Buddhist monks. Fr. Dan hanlon, now deceased, was a Jesuit priest who taught at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Here is a clip from the above article from Fr. Hanlon:

Eastern spiritual practice offered me very simple and effective ways of stilling the agitation of mind and body in order to allow a deeper, wordless kind of awareness to come alive. My earliest training in meditation had been in accordance with the meaning given to that word in the Eastern Christian tradition, a meaning significantly different from that given the word today in the West when it is used more or less as a translation of the Sanskrit dyana. When we hear, for instance, of “transcendental meditation”, and we see notices posted around university centers and “new age” hangouts about teachers of meditation, it is a practice akin to dyana that is usually meant, a practice that involves putting aside thoughts and reasonings. But my earliest beginnings in meditation were along the lines described by the Carthusian Guigo II, ninth prior of the Grand Chartreuse, who died in 1188. He tells us, “Reading is an exercise of the outward senses, meditation is concerned with the inward understanding, prayer is concerned with desire, contemplation outstrips every faculty. The first degree is proper to beginners, the second to proficients , the third to devotees, the fourth to the blessed.” (College & Walsh, 1978, 92–93).
Two differences are to be noted between this process of meditation and meditation as usually taught in the Eastern traditions. First, the method I used started with words and ideas, usually, but not necessarily, texts of Scripture. The goal was to come to the simple wordless state which Guigo calls contemplation. Second, the “arousing of affections” like sorrow for sin, gratitude, adoration, and more especially love, was very important and much more deliberately cultivated than in most Eastern meditation practice. There are exceptions, of course. Several which come to mind are the strong bhakti tradition in Hindu piety, the cultivating of absolute trust in Pure Land Buddhism, and the beautiful Buddhist practice of metta, or loving-kindness meditation. In comparison with Western Christian practice, Eastern practice devotes much more attention to awareness than to “affections”.
I made two new discoveries through contact with Asian practice. First, I found that one can move toward the goal of prayer, beyond just words and concepts, without necessarily beginning with words and concepts. By such simple practices as watching my breath, observing sensations in my body, practicing hatha yoga with emphasis on simple immediate awareness, and by repetitive chanting or silent repetition of a “mantra” with no attention paid to analysis of the words, it was possible to move into the later stages of the process Guigo described. I learned that one does not need to begin with words or ideas.

So, what did Fr. Dan Hanlon realize? That the same state Guigo described could be entered by breath meditation or by repeating a mantra. All are slightly different paths adapted to what makes the practitioner more comfortable (in some cases) in order to enter into the same state.
As for Korey’s second question, “Is fixed hour prayer actually co-opted from Buddhism?” – I don’t think so. While one can wrongly think that God can only hear you during certain hours of the day or will only speak during those same ‘sacred’ hours, this is not true about the God of the Bible. Others may use this as a way to discipline their prayer life to come regularly before God. As such, they would be in good company with the likes of Daniel. Also, considering one day (or in this case, one hour) more holy than another would belong to disputable matters. Paul speaks on this in Rom 14:5 – “One person regards one day holier than other days, and another regards them all alike. Each must be fully convinced in his own mind.



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Ryan Schatz

posted May 20, 2009 at 12:48 am


Woops, looks like my blockquote didn’t work as expected. The quotation above should be 3 paragraphs long.



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Ryan Schatz

posted May 20, 2009 at 12:56 am


B.D. writes:

If the argument is that we can only do what scripture explicitly says, reading the Bible every day and having a quiet time is out, as are altar calls, praying the sinners prayer, and organ music to name a few.

I don’t think this is what was being stated. Scripture guides and constrains through principals and numerous (but not exhaustive) explicit statements. In this case, the scripture speaks about not integrating pagan ways of approaching God with the way we approach and worship God.
A note to Chris: you might consider trying to be less sarcastic in the future as this seems to only serve to put people on edge and be less receptive to what you have to say. Unfortunately, you can be right and still lose the battle…



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B.D.

posted May 20, 2009 at 1:56 am


Ryan, on the subject of repeated prayer, I would say to look at the Jesus prayer as an example that exists outside of any “eastern religion” influence and yet is a breath type prayer. It is a valued practice for the Orthodox church and one which would qualify of a similar type.
I’ve seen this argument before on how christian contemplative practices are influenced by buddhism, etc and in their original form, this is patently wrong. Most of these christian contemplative practices originated from a european center, unless one is to argue the buddhists, hindus, etc were already there trying to corrupt Christian spiritual practices.
On the note of principles and not integrating pagan ways of approaching God etc, it would be impossible to avoid all practices which any other religions uses. For instance, the other religions surrounding Israel also included sacrifices, and yet though there was a different theological spin, God had the people continue to give sacrifices. The neighboring religions had idols, yet while idols were strictly forbidden for Israel, they had ornate images, and the ark of the covenant, tangible items. Point being, parallels in other religions does not equate to observing their religion.



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Chad

posted May 20, 2009 at 9:33 am


This is funny. This morning I was contemplating emailing a friend at CRN.info (a place I used to comment often) to see if Chris R. was still living into the love fest that began about a month ago. From his comments here I found my answer.
Chris R – could you do us the favor of telling us how you read Scripture devotionally? What is the method you use that confirms God’s Word in your heart, body, soul and mind? Once you tell us what method you use (assuming you have one) could you tell us where that method is found in Scripture?
Tony – great post. I have found in my own experience and that of many others that LD is a wonderful tool for engaging scripture.



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Chris Rosebrough

posted May 20, 2009 at 10:57 am


Chad,
Glad to see you here.
The issue with LD is not that it prays the scripture (in reality it doesn’t because you’re not reading to understand the scriptures instead you randomly select a passage and wait for words to pop out with the assumption that it is the Holy Spirit that is making those words pop out at you and then you repeat, meditate on and chant those words). The issue with LD is that it is a man-made ladder to claims that by following the 4 rungs of LD one can ascend spiritually to heaven and directly experience God.
Don’t you think that is quite a claim for a man-made practice that has no basis in the scripture?
If you believe that LD actually is a process for ascending to heaven and experiencing God then I have some magic beans I’d like to sell you. I have personally blessed these beans with Psalm 119 and if you cook them into a soup during the Jewish New Moon Festival and eat half of the soup and give the other half to a homeless person then I promise that God will appear to you personally in a vision and you will be able to bask in God’s glory for a full 30 minutes. Plus if you act now I will even throw in a prayer hanky that cures cancer and provides weight loss miracles. I’ll sell you the magic beans and the hanky for three easy payments of $44.95.
How could the beans and the hanky not be tools of God? I’m a sincere guy, I blessed the beans with Psalm 119, the New Moon Festival is in the Bible, giving to the poor is IN the Bible and so are prayer hankies. This is ALL Biblical man!! You can’t go wrong with these, God has no choice but to allow you into is thrown room so that you can experience His presence if you buy these things and follow the steps that I’ve outlined.



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Chad

posted May 20, 2009 at 11:13 am


Chris R-
I see the “old” Chris R. is back in full swing.
You never answered my questions.
peace.



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Chad

posted May 20, 2009 at 11:20 am


Another question, if you find the time to drop the routine, is this:
Will those who seek God find God, Chris?
yes or no?
What is your prescribed method for seeking God?



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Chris Rosebrough

posted May 20, 2009 at 11:29 am


Chad,
The reason I didn’t answer your question is because it doesn’t address the real issue of this discussion.
The issue is NOT devotional reading of scripture, nor is the issue about ‘praying the scriptures’. (Both are practices that I engage in daily. BUT, when I read the scriptures devotionally and pray the psalms I have no delusions that I am somehow climbing a ladder to heaven and ‘experiencing’ the divine because there are no such claims made in the scriptures that are attached to either practice. I do both because Jesus Christ says that we are sanctified through God’s Word [John 17:17].)
The issue is that Lectio Divina claims that by climbing the four rungs that one can ascend into heaven and experience God.
If you’re not going to address that CORE issue then we really have nothing to discuss.
But, I’ll make you a deal on those magic beans. If you act within the next 30 minutes I’ll drop an entire payment. Think about it, you can experience and entire 30 minutes in God’s thrown room for ONLY 2 easy payments of $44.95.



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Chris Rosebrough

posted May 20, 2009 at 11:32 am


Chad,
Seeking God ? Inventing a spiritual practice or ladder and climbing it to heaven (as if we humans had the power to do that in the first place).
As for discovering what it means to seek God, What does the Bible Say on the Matter?



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Chad

posted May 20, 2009 at 11:35 am


Chris,
Do you believe you can meet God through Scripture?



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Chris Rosebrough

posted May 20, 2009 at 11:36 am


Chad,
Where has God PROMISED to be?



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Chad

posted May 20, 2009 at 11:39 am


Chris, I didn’t ask about “discovering what it means to seek God.” I asked, quite simply, if those who seek God will find God? Yes or no?
I won’t waste my time asking questions that go unanswered. If you find it within you to answer the questions I asked we can have a conversation.
take care.



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Chris Rosebrough

posted May 20, 2009 at 11:49 am


Chad,
As I said earlier If you’re not going to address the CORE issue then we really have nothing to discuss.
Until you show me enough respect to deal with the CORE issue that I have raised then I see no reason to answer your side issue questions.
But then again you already know that that it is absurd and down right silly to think that we mere humans can invent “spiritual ladders” that can take us to heaven so that we can ‘experience God’. The idea that we can create a ladder to heaven is nothing more than mystical mythology.



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Chad

posted May 20, 2009 at 12:14 pm


Chris, your issue is moot, as many commenters here have already pointed out. The ladder motif is not really a ladder – it’s a metaphor. It is a helpful way to think through this. You are welcome to come up with a better one if you’d like. As Tony says, he finds this metaphor helpful. As do I and millions of others through the centuries. So it doesn’t work for you. So what? The CORE issue is not haggling over metaphors but LD itself. That is what my questions are aimed at.
You ask where does God PROMISE to be? That is the wrong question. God may very well promise to be in your silly beans, but that does not mean God was not present with me on my jog this morning or that God will not be present while I am visiting a nursing home in 30 minutes. Nor does it mean that God is not present when I am deliberately, meditatively, feasting on God’s holy Word.
Will those who seek God find God? Is it possible to experience God in Scripture? Your silence on these and the other questions speaks volumes.
Look. LD is not for everyone. Just as counted prayers, rosaries, prayer journals, devotional guides, kneeling at an altar, or whatever you do in your devotion time is not for everyone. The beauty, however, which I think you fail to recognize, is that God is bigger than YOUR formula or MY formula and has and continues to meet us in a variety of ways and means. This is something worth celebrating, not attacking and tearing down or mocking.



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Ted Seeber

posted May 20, 2009 at 12:27 pm


Chad- my answer to your question is a resounding NO. I don’t believe I can meet God through scripture. I believe scripture is infallible in matters of salvation, but it’s really just a collection of stories of where *other people* have met God. I’m not them, so I’m not going to meet God in the same way they did.



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Ted Seeber

posted May 20, 2009 at 12:30 pm


Chris asked “Do you think that you ascend to heaven by doing the rosary?”- in a way. I’m fulfilling my duty as a Father Who Keeps His Promises by teaching my son the ways of the faith. And thus, I’m doing my duty which will eventually get me to heaven- though quite probably purgatory first, as I’m not pure enough to go to heaven.



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Chris Rosebrough

posted May 20, 2009 at 1:00 pm


Chad,
No really the ladder is far more than a metaphor. Those who practice LD are not climbing a metaphorical ladder in order to metaphorically experience God.
The goal of the ladder (the four rungs) is to experience God and the desired experience is not metaphorical.
As for God being ‘bigger’ than our formulas. That is just a silly and lame statement.
Again the question I asked is the key question, Where has God promised to be? Or put another way, Where has God promised that we can experience him (and we’re talking about far more than just recognizing God omnipresence.)
The scriptures tell us where we can experience God and where God has promised to be.
There are no promises in scripture regarding experiencing God through LD, journaling, prayer labyrinths, candle lighting, sleeping on rough surfaces, making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, locking yourself in a monastery or eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
What is this insatiable desire that people have for ‘spiritual experiences’? God is not electricity. You don’t experience God by sticking your fingers into a spiritual wall socket of your own making.
Again I ask WHERE has God promised to be with us?
Let’s start with the BIBLICAL basics on this matter and lay aside all this man-made tripe.
Matt. 18:20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
1Cor. 11:23   For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
1Cor. 10:14   Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
Acts 22:16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’
John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
Luke 11:2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread,
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
Acts 2:42   And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Col 2:11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Put, simply God promises to be there for us in His Word and the Sacraments, NOT in our man-made spiritual practices no matter how well intentioned and clever they may be.
Experiencing God looks like a group of believers gathered in the name of the Triune God to hear God’s Word and break bread.
Experiencing the forgiveness of sins tastes like wine and bread.
Experiencing God is participating in the blood of Christ and the body of Christ by eating the bread and drinking the wine which Jesus said are his very body and blood.
Experiencing God is having your sins washed away in the waters of baptism.
Experiencing God is being buried with Christ in the waters of baptism.
Experiencing God is having your heart circumcised by the hand of Christ in the waters of baptism.
Experiencing God is saying the simple words that Jesus told us say when we pray.
I will take ANY of these Biblical practices that have God’s stamp of approval and have His CLEAR promises attached to them than ANY man-made ladder ANY day. Because God has promised to be there in these things I then can know that I am not wasting my time or fooling myself into thinking I’m experiencing God when I may not be.



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Chad

posted May 20, 2009 at 2:38 pm


“The goal of the ladder (the four rungs) is to experience God and the desired experience is not metaphorical.” – Chris R.
Oh. My. God. Are you telling me that there are Christians who desire to experience God in their devotional reading of scripture? I had no idea of just how sinister this issue is. You should do all you can to stop this damnable practice immediately. For I am certain that without your intervention God’s desire for creation will be thwarted.
Thanks for the scripture references. They only serve to show that God is with us by the means listed. None are to the exclusion of others. For example, I imagine that your prayer life includes more than the words Jesus gave in Luke 11. If you utter something outside the Lord’s Prayer than by your own logic you are dipping in nothing more than “man-made tripe.”
I’m sorry, Chris, but you don’t get to decide where God is and where God is not. And you sorely misunderstand LD if you think it is some works-righteousness garbage that humans devised to get God to like us or be with us.



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Korey

posted May 20, 2009 at 10:21 pm


Ryan:
Nothing you listed indicates that Guigio II was influenced by Buddhist teaching. It seems lectio divina very well may have originated completely separate from Buddhism (even if you find parallels between it and Buddhist practices). I think you’d be better served to just disagree with ancient Christian practices that you find out of step with Scripture, rather than attempting to associate them with other religions as a means of critique.



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Your Name

posted June 12, 2009 at 1:23 pm


quoting scripture is wonderful and enriching, but experiencing God is a profound experience, done in many ways. through our relationships, in nature, looking at a little baby, through dreams, the bible, prayer etc…human experience is how we experience God. we are saved by the grace of acknowledging HIM and begging HIS beautiful love and forgiveness.
if something like letico divina helps you then do it!!!
if recieving the sacrements as determined by th catholic church helps then do it!!!!
if a rosary is the way then do it!!!!
personally I like spiritual music, it keeps me grounded, reading the bible, prayer and….meditating on joy through watching my children play, it has shown me more clearly Jesus’s expectations
blessings!!!!!!



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