Be Not Naive

Be Not Naive

22 March 2013

"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as wise and shrewd as snakes and as harmless and innocent as doves." (Mt 10.16)


"A prudent man sees danger coming and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it." (Pr 22.3)


There is a perfectly legitimate excitement attached to God's present-day and End Times' call for the Church to become a House of Prayer, through Christianity's contemplative "stream" recovering its honour and influence.


But this call also involves inescapable elements of brutal realism and grim consequence.


The key to the appearance in History of the Tribulation-House of Prayer Church is the fusion of the contemplative, local church and missions "streams". And the key to that imperative melding and union (as opposed to some provisional, ad hoc alliance or coalition!) is the contemplative ingredient.


I have already written elsewhere that it is "the only 'glue' which can bind and bond the other two parties...which ordinarily are sprung apart by their very similarity, and sadly also by the baleful influences of selfish ambition, competition and rivalry." (1)


For that reason we should anticipate that the devil, flesh and world will storm out onto the battlefield of the Last Days to seek to do all that is in their vile power to oppose the imperative and non-negotiable fusion, by trying to annihilate the contemplative tradition and movement.


And if you perhaps think that a little far-fetched, then allow History (rather than me) to educate and persuade you.


(1) The general slaughter of the prophets.


"So will come upon you all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar." (Mt 23.35)


"(By faith)...They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated...They wandered in deserts, and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground." (Heb 11.37-38)


The prophetic and contemplative traditions and movements are one and the far as God is concerned. And they were and are slain as much for who they are and what they for their oracles and utterances. And so, the Bible's "final" word on Elijah is (not so much his verbal challenge to Ahab, but):


"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly (with prayer)." (Jas 5.17)


What does it mean that Elijah prayed his prayers ("that it would not rain") with prayer? What can it mean but that he had (as David) become prayer, and so incarnated Psalm 109, "They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without cause...but I prayer." (vs 3-4)


As others elsewhere have already said, "You may say a prayer or pray a prayer. You can pray. But you also might, if you choose, become prayer."


(In the massive prayer revival in Egypt during the 4 and 5th C's, the Desert Father Joseph was being interrogated about the contemplative life, when he suddenly stood up and stretched himself out towards Heaven. His fingers appeared to sprout tongues of fire and he said, "If you will, you can become all flame." (2) )


I want to contend and assert that one of the layers of revelation contained in Psalm 109, is the hatred which the devil, the flesh and the world bear towards the prophetic-contemplative tradition...and their brazen prepared-ness to go to war and kill it.


Prophets in all and every Age have been attacked and slaughtered, but more for who they are (prayer), than what they do and say (prophetic utterances and deeds)!


Most of us can understand when it comes to people getting offended and upset and angry over what prophets may say. But why the lying tongues, the words of hatred, the accusations, the attacks upon those called (not just to pray but) to become prayer..."all flame"?


It is absolutely blindingly obvious that the local church and missions "streams" effectiveness and fruitfulness will be directly and proportionally related to our common prayerfulness. However, that prayerfulness rests upon the foundation of prayer which is the contemplative-prophetic "stream" itself. Of course the devil, flesh and world attack local churches and missions movements. But these enemies reserve their ultimate depravity and viciousness to loose against this foundation, knowing better than anyone:


"If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Ps 11.3)


It is my personal and slowly matured conviction that someone claiming the Office of prophet will regard the contemplative life as completely normal, and they will also profoundly and perpetually long for it. That is not to say that every bona fide prophet must live a life wholly devoted to prayer. But I certainly am saying that every authentic seer's heart will be completely and utterly orientated by and to the Holy Spirit of prayer...and to such an extent that they know because they know that it is the great Christian task and vocation, which fuels and propels all others.


To a very great extent the prophetic vocation has been dishonoured, downgraded and diluted because of the historical suppression by Protestantism of the contemplative "stream". This in turn has opened the door to an unhealthily cramped and limited view of prophecy. It is all too often defined by Christian leaders with a strongly developed and accurately employed unction or gift to prophesy...which tends however to produce more information than naked flame.


As the Apostle and Evangelist champion above all things the missions "stream", so the Pastor and the Teacher espouse the local church. The Prophet is the evoker, the catalyst and guardian of the contemplative continuum. Kill him, and you wound (even unto "death") that which is absolutely imperative to the foundations of the Body of Christ, the Church on Earth...prayer born out of prayer, poured forth from those who live to pray.


(2) The particular slaughter of contemplatives.


In the midst of the 16th C Reformation of Christ's Church, a particularly gruesome example of our theme occurred, which in the normal course of events is masked or glossed over by the tribalism of the Catholic-Protestant divide.


As a young man. Henry VIII of England was a devout Roman Catholic, railing in print against the German "heretic" Martin Luther. (The king's boyhood tutor, Thomas More, had once called Luther, "Truly the shitpool of all shit!") Nevertheless, with changing times and "tides", Henry did become conscientiously involved in reform...especially later on when it facilitated obtaining his independence from the bishop of Rome (the pope), whose views on divorce and remarriage he did not find convenient.


By this time Henry's kingdom was awash with venality and sanctity on the part of all the parties involved in the monumental debate and conflict. In this fiery furnace and cess-pool the king wreaked havoc upon the prayer houses of England...ostensibly because of their "corruption" and refusal to acknowledge him as the Head of the Church of England.


But that group (the Carthusians hermits) which became the special focus of the royal rampage were in fact generally and justly renowned for being prayerful, holy and scholarly. King Henry's antichrist-like lust for absolute control of the nation's throne and altar, became the opportunity for that particular demon itself to strike at the true Church's true foundations by vanquishing (but not abolishing) the contemplative "stream".


Three Carthusian leaders were initially publicly executed. John Houghton, Augustine Webster, and Robert Lawrence were each in turn hanged by the neck until semi-conscious. They were then cut down to have their innards hacked out and thrown onto a fire. Finally, while still partly conscious, their hearts were torn out by the executioner and rubbed upon their faces.


As the executioner reached for John Houghton's heart, the martyr was heard by some in the crowd to pray:


"Good Jesu! what will ye do with my heart?"


Five weeks later, the hermits Humphrey Middlemore, William Exmew, and Sebastian Newdigate were similarly martyred. A contemporary observed that these victims of judicial murder went to their deaths "as cheerfully as bridegrooms to a marriage".


This may have had something to do with the visitation of the Holy Spirit to the Carthusian prayer house in London, immediately before the arrests and killings began. During the Community's celebration of the Eucharist (Lord's supper) "a soft whisper of air and sweet influence" was felt by all. They were overwhelmed and "ravished with a marvellous heavenly joy" that caused many to shed tears of happiness.


The blatant and unabashed destruction of such holiness shocked the crowds of the city and began to turn public opinion against the king and his sect. But the evil spirit was not to be so lightly fobbed off. The slaughter went on in secret, and over a period of months other holy hermits were locked in putrid dungeons and left standing in chains to starve to death.


Such was the fate of those "of singular integrity and spiritual and contemplative...that they might seem rather angels appearing in men's bodies".


Because of all of this history, both ancient and "modern", I have to say to you at this time of revolutionary fervour, excitement and optimism:


"Be not naive!" (3)


We are being called to rise up and reform the Last Church by honouring unto fusion of Christianity's three "streams"...and most especially the one catalyst which has ever been most dishonoured and most savagely attacked with a view to its annihilation.


Get ready! Get ready! Get ready for the devil antichrist (and his agents the flesh and the world) to ride out and engage you with full force. The fusion of the contemplative, local church, and missions "streams" represents ultimate threat to the serpent and will do him great harm.


Those who go out to meet these enemies upon their knees, are assured of victory!



(1) "The Tribulation Church", Peter Robertson, 2012, New Zealand.

(2) "The Desert Fathers", Benedicta Ward, 2003, England.

(3) The serpent and his allies are especially infuriated by the contemplative's poverty of spirit, and his unimpressive and "unproductive" passion to act "solely in God and with and for Him". ("The Blessed Trinity and the Supernatural Life", J-B Porion, France) And further, the serpent fears the "subversive" scope and power of the contemplative. As the Carmelite martyr, Edith Stein (1891-1942, Germany) has written: "Make your hearts free...then the flood of divine love will be poured into your heart until it overflows and becomes fruitful to all the ends of the earth."