New liberal buzzword: "faith streams"

The definition of jargon is Jargon is
"a literary term that is defined as a use of specific phrases and words by writers in a particular situation, profession or trade. These specialized terms are used to convey hidden meanings accepted and understood in that field. Jargon examples are found in literary and non-literary pieces of writing."
It's not only a literary device, but certain buzzwords can exist in any organization, including Christianity. When you hear or read new ones, discernment picks up. The words release, favor, manifest, anointing, seed are markers of a prosperity speech. Gnosticism is rife with references to secret, knowledge, levels, ascend, divine, lost books, etc. An emergent church will speak of vision casting, contextualize, becoming, having a conversation, missional, narrative, story...

I've been seeing and reading people use the word streams or faith streams lately. As in, "People from different faith streams came together at the football field for prayer." Or, "People from different faith streams are welcome to attend our church." I've seen it used on various liberal websites and recently I heard Beth Moore use the term. I decided to look into it.

Streams or faith streams comes from Richard Foster’s book Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith. Richard Foster is known in Mystical/Emergent circles as an expert on spiritual formation. He has been deeply influenced by Mother Teresa and other Catholic mystical contemplatives, and in turn has influenced many others such as Watchman Nee and Henri Nouwen. Streams of Living Water is synopsized here in this Resource Guide,
Foster begins Streams of Living Water with the assertion that Jesus is the source of each of the great traditions of Christian spirituality—Contemplative (the prayer-filled life), Holiness (the virtuous life), Charismatic (the Spirit-empowered life), Social Justice (the compassionate life), Evangelical (the Word-centered life) and Incarnational (the sacramental life). Once Foster persuades us that each tradition has its source in the life of Jesus, he devotes a chapter to each of the six traditions.
Incarnational really means Roman Catholic. Immediately we understand there is a problem, if the author of Streams is saying that Jesus is the source of Roman Catholicism. He is not, Satan is the source of Roman Catholicism. The Resource Guide continues,
The church is the Body of Christ. Not surprisingly, its history has been washed by movements that have become great traditions. And each of these traditions finds its origin in the life of Jesus. The life of Christ is our template for living a life of prayer, purity, power, passion, proclamation, and presence. Jesus is our model for balanced and holistic living. An overemphasis on doctrine and division has resulted in the visible church bearing more resemblance to a shattered vase than the pulsating body of Christ. It’s time to put the pieces of the chalice back together.
Streams means that those who believe the liberal/Richard Foster doctrines, one will claim brotherhood in Christ with the following versions of Christianity, only one of which is truly and thoroughly valid. Below we have not a summary as we did above, but a table from the "Evangelical Liberal's" blog, illustrating Foster's version of faith streams, or traditions.

Words matter. Sin is not mistake. Justification, sanctification, glorification are important doctrinal words to know, understand, and use. Propitiation, redemption, adoption, are theological words with meaning, a meaning that used to be commonly understood by Christians. Redefining words or worse, co-opting words and symbols are satan's work. Gay used to mean happy. Rainbow used to mean God's covenant with man, now when it's used it means perverted love among and between homosexuals. The term contemplative prayer confused many people because we are told in the Bible to contemplate God and to pray. Therefore contemplative prayer can't be bad. Can it? Yes, it can.

Look into the origins of words. Think about what you're saying. Before you use a new word, know and understand its origins. It might be the culture's substitute for a theological word that is important to keep using. The word, like contemplative prayer, might not mean what you think it means, inconceivable as that may be. When you say faith streams, you're picking up on Richard Foster's melding of false faiths with Christianity. All streams do not lead to the ocean, just as all paths do not lead to God. Beware, think, study, and don't be quick to abandon OUR words that have been commonly understood for centuries. Our Christian vocabulary is important, protect it.


  1. YES all over the place on this one! People just buy into anything! Another phrase that has not settled well for me over the years is this one: "Advancing the kingdom". Now I know what they want us to THINK they're saying.... but I don't believe it means the same thing that the average church goer thinks it means. The phrase is nowhere to be found in scripture. Now, I have been educating myself lately on "dominionism".... and I think I may have pinpointed the reason why the phrase has troubled my spirit over the years. What do you think? Is it just me overthinking it? Or do you also feel uneasy about it? Assuming you've heard it, of course....

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Good job researching that one! I'm not too familiar with the term advancing the kingdom...

  2. I hate the "melding of false faiths with Christianity", as you so aptly put it. I look forward to the day that every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord. Great post!


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