Question: "What is contemplative spirituality?"
Answer: Contemplative spirituality is an extremely dangerous practice for any person who is concerned with living a biblically God-centered life. It is most commonly associated with the Emerging Church Movement, which is riddled with abhorrent, false teachings. It is also used by many different groups that have little, if anything, to do with Christianity.
In practice, contemplative spirituality is primarily centered around meditation, though not meditation with a biblical perspective. Passages in Scripture such as Joshua 1:8 actually exhort us to meditate: "Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed." Notice what the focus of meditation should be: the Word of God. Contemplative spirituality driven meditation focuses on nothing, literally. A practitioner is exhorted to completely empty his/her mind, to just "be." Supposedly this helps one to open up to a greater spiritual experience. However, we are exhorted in Scripture to transform our minds to that of Christ's, to have His mind. Emptying our minds is contrary to such active, conscious transformation.
Contemplative spirituality also encourages the pursuit of a mystical experience with God. As defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, mysticism is "the belief that direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjective experience (as intuition or insight)." This emphasis on experiential knowledge erodes the authority of Scripture. We know God according to His Word. Second Timothy 3:16-17 states: "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do." God's Word is complete. There is no reason to believe that God adds additional teachings or truths to His Word through mystical experiences. Instead, our faith and what we know about God is based on fact.
The website for the Center for Contemplative Spirituality sums it up well: "We come from a variety of secular and religious backgrounds and we each seek to enrich our journey through spiritual practice and study of the world's great spiritual traditions. We desire to draw closer to the loving Spirit which pervades all creation and which inspires our compassion for all beings." There is absolutely nothing biblical about such a practice. Great caution should be given to anybody considering contemplative spirituality, for instead of achieving a greater spirituality, a person will instead become confused, deceived, and led away from the Truth.