Cursillo, Tres Dias, Walk to Emmaus

Q: Do Southern Baptists have a position regarding participation in such retreats or renewal programs as Cursillo, Tres Dias, or Walk to Emmaus?

Neither the Southern Baptist Convention nor the North American Mission Board takes any official stance or position regarding programs such as Cursillo, Tres Dias, or Walk to Emmaus. All three of these programs are ecumenical, spiritual retreats, typically lasting about three days. Cursillo and Tres Dias both are rooted in a more or less Catholic understanding of the Christian life, without being overtly Roman Catholic. Walk to Emmaus comes out of the Methodist tradition.

These renewal ministry programs draw participants from many denominations, and thus we have no doubt that many genuine Christians do attend these retreats. As best we can tell, there is nothing specifically heretical or non-Christian about them, and therefore we see no basis for telling Christians that they absolutely should not participate in them. However, some cautions are certainly in order from an evangelical Christian perspective. Their ecumenical approach likely means that a mix of liberal, sacramentalist, and other Christian perspectives will be represented. These retreats might be a helpful move in the right direction for someone from a mainline denomination who has had little or no experience of seeing to develop a relationship with Christ. On the other hand, their “lowest common denominator” approach to spiritual renewal is likely to be “watered down” from an evangelical point of view. Finally, some participants in these retreats tend to proselytize within their churches for others to attend. In some cases, according to pastors who have contacted us, church members who have attended one of these programs have been so zealous in promoting them that there was the potential for division or schism within the congregation. We recommend that pastors dealing with this issue make these concerns known to their congregation.

Published March 30, 2016