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Rev. Paul T. McCain

Pastor Ware makes some good points, but very unnecessarily throws the baby out with the bathwater. On the other hand, it is unfortunate Dr. Hartung pointed readers to poor resources on Lectio Divina.

Here's far better resources:



Chris Rosebrough

Pastor McCain,

I appreciate you taking time to comment here and I think it would be helpful for you to be more specific.

In which way(s) did Pastor Ware throw the baby out with the bath water? Please be specific.

I also have a question, do you think that Dr. Hartung's error was a matter of poor bibliographic citing or is there a deeper theological problem here? The reason I ask is because I'm familiar with the writings of Christine Valters Painter and cannot think of a single reason why I'd recommend any of her books because she is a Roman Catholic contemplative mystic. Her books are in the "defense against the dark arts" section of my theological library. Her bio reads:

Christine Valters Paintner is the online Abbess at http://www.AbbeyoftheArts.com, a virtual monastery without walls offering a variety of classes in contemplative practice and creative expression and the author of six books on spirituality, contemplative practice, and creative expression.

She is a Benedictine Oblate, writer, artist, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and teacher. Her fields of expertise include Christian spiritual practices, monastic spirituality, and the expressive arts. Christine earned her PhD in Christian Spirituality from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and her professional status as Registered Expressive Arts Consultant and Educator (REACE) from the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association ( http://IEATA.org ).

I'm not trying to be hyperbolic here, but the question that comes to my mind is what communion does light have with darkness? Contemplative mysticism is not compatible with Sola Scriptura and their ideas regarding the work of the Spirit are clearly rejected in our confessions.

What troubles me the most is that the person who Dr. Hartung is responding to said, "Most important for me is that this is not so much reading the Scriptures to gain more factual knowledge about what is in them, but rather the use of the Scriptures in a way that forms and changes me." Dr. Hartung, rather than point out the dangers of this approach to scripture and the obvious error in viewing the 'factual knowledge" of scripture as being separate and distinct and different from the work of the spirit in changing them, drove them further into that mindset by recommending Painter's book which is replete with this type of erroneous thinking.

I expect better theological discernment from our seminary professors than this. That Dr. Hartung could recommend Painter's book and by extension her Roman Catholic Contemplative Mystical practices is more than troubling. It makes me think that there is a much deeper theological problem here that needs to be addressed.

Rev. Paul T. McCain

Chris, Luther reformed this approach, just as he did many things in the Church. And, I'd heartily encourage you to read the resources I've referred you to to understand how and what a good, healthy and proper "prayerful reading" of Scripture is all about.

There is a bad way to do Lectio Divina, and a good way.

Just as there is a bad way to do the Mass, and a good way.


Remember, Lutheranism is not revolution, but reformation.

Pr. Ware properly points out problems with the BAD way to do and go about Lectio Divina, but he improperly neglects the helpful and useful way to do , as advocated and exemplified by Martin Luther in any number of resources, including his letter to Master Peter the Barber.

Chris Rosebrough

Pastor McCain,

Thank you for you comments. I look forward to reading Grace Upon Grace. I already have it loaded on my iPad.


Kleinig is definitely at variance from Painters and the standard? Catholic/mystic approach. My understanding from reading Kleinig is that we (Lutherans)read Scripture via a method of oratio, meditatio, tentatio which leads back to oratio. The concern with Hartung's method as presented is that he does not mention Luther's tentatio. Luther's method is always to drive the individual to find peace and assurance by going back to the promises of Christ found in the Scriptures; Hartung's response misses that important feature.

Here's another source from Kleinig:


Lynnie Ha

neither of rev. mccain's links appear to be about lectio divina.... rather christian prayer and meditation on the Word AS it appears in scripture. two different fish... hearing God in the words of scripture is different from hearing a voice in our heart and calling it 'god'. and it would seem lectio divina, rightly understood, is about the latter, no??

i like many came out of a 'tradition' where hearing God from scripture is good, but hearing Him for ourselves was BETTER. so i see great danger in this, indeed. i fear those who have not been exposed to that form of 'christianity' will not comprehend the danger... and reason away the cautions with ideas that it can be done 'christianly' or it can be done 'mystically' depending on the person and their motives and understanding.... ie it's a neutral tool. but the entire principle is based on percieving for yourself, outside of scripture, what God is saying to us. and any form of percieving God outside of scripture itself is dangerous, indeed.

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