The Trouble with Thomas

lotus vs crossA number of Christian writers/speakers steer us to follow Thomas Merton. As a matter of fact, a number of Protestants visit his monastery on a sort of spiritual pilgrimage.

Some of Merton’s quotes seem harmless enough—like this one: “Love is our true destiny.” But why don’t the writers/speakers who mention him tell us that Merton’s core theology isn’t Christian and, therefore, points away from God? Consider these Merton quotes: “At the center of our being is a point of nothingness . . . the pure glory of God in us. . . . It is in everybody.” (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p 142)  “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity. The future of Zen is in the West. I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.” (Thomas Merton/Monk: A Monastic Tribute, p 88) Merton wanted to go “‘beyond God’ to the ultimate perfect emptiness.” (The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton, p. 143) He said he was “deeply impregnated with Sufism [Islamic mysticism].” (The Springs of Contemplation, p. 266)

Merton’s mystical worldview is in line with interspirituality, but is at odds with the Christian worldview.

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