Agape Press Censors Itself over Loyola-for-Protestants Book Review

Book published by evangelical press accused of being “New Age”

A writer at Agape Press has apparently strayed off-message:

“On August 28, 2006, AgapePress, a news division of American Family Association, carried a positive review of the book Sacred Listening. The author of the book is James L. Wakefield. The person who reviewed the book is a contributing writer and not a staff person of AFA or AgapePress. AFA and AgapePress have received a number of e-mails from AgapePress readers and AFA supporters who believe this book promotes New Age practices and teachings. AgapePress and AFA regret running this review — and, while AFA works with many religious groups on matters of public policy, it maintains a traditional evangelical position with respect to theology and Christian doctrine.”

Tim Wildmon, President, American Family Association

Jody Brown, Editor, AgapePress

The review was by JoAnne Potter, and it currently remains available in the Google cache (links added):

“Achieve spirituality in 20 minutes a day.” “Seven ways to reconnect with God.” Do you ever wonder whether some guides to spiritual development make it all sound just a little too easy? If so, you aren’t alone.

Fortunately, Dr. James Wakefield has provided a welcome alternative in Sacred Listening (Baker Books, 2006), an adaptation for Protestants of the spiritual exercises of Ignatius Loyola — a series of meditations on the Gospels that are often said in retreats. Dr. Wakefield, currently Associate Professor at Salt Lake Theological Seminary and formerly a self-proclaimed cynic, encountered the exercises in 1984 when he volunteered to be guided through them by his mother, then a Roman Catholic, as part of her Masters degree project.

…Dr. Wakefield replaced Roman Catholic doctrinal prayer patterns with direct scriptural references, encouraged participants to pray for personal discernment, and structured the daily pattern of reading and meditation around the strong step-by-step framework of the lectio divina.

…At first, the manuscript was refused as having “new age” associations, presumably because of its scripturally meditative nature.

“I have taken a lot of criticism over the years for leading people astray,” says the author. “But I have also received great encouragement from many people who found their spiritual [re]-grounding through this process. More recently, there has been very little resistance. I meet people with a deep hunger for contemplative prayer almost everyplace I go.”…

Baker Books is one of the best-known evangelical publishers in the US, and Wakefield’s book enjoys endorsements from high-profile evangelicals Eugene Peterson and (the somewhat controversial) Gregory A. Boyd.

Catholic-evangelical tensions are perhaps on the rise: the Roman Catholic Georgetown University has just expelled various evangelical ministries from its campus after apparently claiming to have received instruction from God.