Now Ready for Prime Time Players
Reinventing Christianity for our day
Numerous people are rethinking Christianity in contra-distinction to evangelical church. Because we live in a Postmodern culture the church must adopt new ways to reach them. They believe they have answers for our generation and they call it Emergent.
The Emergent church is carried by its mission for change- for Christians and the church. Contrary to this God does not change and neither has His instructions in the New Testament. But a new leadership that is focusing on our youth is intent on changing the church, updating it for our times.
Many of the youth are on an active search to experience their faith. While we cannot fault them for wanting this to be more real, they are listening to leaders who are apt to lead them astray by the simple fact that they are using other religious practices for the answers to their searching, not just the Scripture. This means they are not intent on following God’s instructions for the church but are willing to find their solutions elsewhere.
At the heart of the Emergent Church movement is a spiritual protest, a searching for a different spirituality. They see the church in a crisis. This is not just about a change of style to be relevant to our modern generation. It is a matter of connection and affection for some, for others, they see the modern church lacking substance. They believe that different theological worldviews that were adopted by the church created denominations- each denomination having their own theological structure. They are questioning these structures. Many are unsatisfied and are looking for a new ways to do “it”. However they are exchanging “it” for an open-mindedness that I see as spiritually dangerous. Once I saw the practice of yoga and other religious spiritual practices involved, I realized there is something else operating this emergence. It was Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (who some seem to mimic in principle if not practice in this movement) that stated “In this present crisis, in which we can see and feel the confrontation between the traditional Christian forces and the modern forces of evolution, Is simply the permutations of a providential and Indispensable Inter-fertilization” (Christianity and Evolution, p. 176).
The leaders of the movement insist that in our fast-changing culture, something is happening. So much that is held as normative is being reanalyzed. While it is good to question certain teachings because it leads us deeper into the word, this does not seem to be the direction they are looking for their answers. The youth are often more than willing to reject the old doctrines and redefine what Christianity is. In this process of discovery, we see a deconstruction and what emerges is a reconstruction of their Christianity that would differ from the more established churches or denominations beliefs. Thus, they believe they are making their faith their own, personal and in some cases unique, even to what the Bible presents. Others have adopted a wider openness for other beliefs, that are originating in other religions and alternate spiritual beliefs and practices indicative of the new age movement (Leonard Sweet has this in his book Quantum Spirituality).
Some leaders will tell you that you cannot know absolute truth. So the alternative is to re-think everything we have done with Christianity over many centuries. Instead of building on the great scholars, they are rejected for something new. What they are saying without words ( and some with words) is that the Bible is not sufficient for our modern day culture, to reach this new generation.
We hear that we are out of touch with the times, the culture, and the consciousness change. All these sentiments are echoed by mystic universalist Matthew Fox who has said “Christianity has been out of touch with its `core,' its center, its sense of mystical practice and cosmic awareness." (The Cosmic Christ, p. 7, by Matthew Fox)
When leaders have had fundamental doubts and are uncertain about the sovereignty of God and His control as described in the Bible, it breeds doubts about the Word and weakens the words and teachings causing one to look for other ways. The “Emergent Church” takes the “seeker movement past its limitations to go where no Christian church has gone before- into inter-spirituality.
They want- to generate new thinking, new discoveries with new ways to do things. It is justified because we live in new world and we have to be futurist thinkers to survive the changes that are taking place. As Dan Kimball says “we must rethink virtually everything we are doing in our ministries.” On Rick Warrens internet site Dan Kimball writes “So, the emerging church is about is a re-imagining: re-imagining our preaching, our evangelism, and our worship services. A re-imagining of new types of churches and an opportunity to be rethinking all we do because we recognize that the next generation is at stake if we don't. (Ministry toolbox Issue #110 7/9/2003 Three Things to Know About the Emerging Church by Dan Kimball)
Their goal sounds reasonable, while the opportunity to reach this generation is ever present, and beckoning, I don’t think the new directions they offer have viable answers. Use of various alternatives -Multi-sensory worship gatherings, the idea of preaching without words, story telling as the means is far removed from Jesus’ instructions on how we are to be his disciples and reach the world. “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31). Paul wrote young pastor Timothy to preach word. Moving from the objective belief in absolutes (found in God’s word- the Bible) to a pursuit of an experience of the divine is not an answer but a repeat of mistakes made before. In this endeavor it becomes a denial of the wisdom, instructions and life found in Scripture.
Experience is what many are looking for. They deny the importance of theology (they even question it). The fact is; most of the common words that describe important facets of the faith have lost their meaning to them. Instead, Yoga, Contemplative prayer, labyrinth walking and a variety of other non-Biblical practices are adopted from other religions. We now have a synthesizing with Christianity that is being practiced and defended as a new direction for the church. At the heart of all this is relativism (and pluralism), although the participants would not see it this way. The Emergent church with practices such as Labyrinths, contemplative prayers, mantras, and chants (Benedictine monks) along with other ancient unbiblical observances are accepted. It is as if people do not know the words of Christ and are still searching for answers.
A participant in these alternate prayer and meditation practices can often experience oneness, achieving a mystical union with what they think is divine/God. But Jesus has not ordained man to approach Him in this manner.
The Benedictine Order is Catholic which practices contemplative prayer/meditation and holds to universalism in their teachings, not a good source to point to. Hear how this done by John Main a Benedictine monk. “Sit down.... Breathe calmly and regularly. Silently, interiorly, begin to say a single word. We recommend the prayer-phrase MA-RA-NA-THA. Recite it as four syllables of equal length. Listen to it as you say it, gently but continuously. Do not think or image anything- spiritual or otherwise. If thoughts and images come, these are distractions at the time of meditation, so keep returning to simply saying the word.” (from the teachings of John Main basilica.org source: Lighthousetrailsresearch.com)
People supportive of this movement are Robert Schuller, Richard Foster, Brennan Manning, Dan Kimball, Dallas Willard, Bruce Wilkinson, Erwin McManus, John Ortberg, John Eldredge, Dr. Robert Webber, Leonard Sweet, and dozens of lesser-known and unpublished people. Rick Warren and Bill Hybels also give credibility to the Emergent movement, though their churches are not direct participants in the “Emergent movement.” Rick Warren participated at a Nationals pastors conference where yoga, labyrinths, and contemplative prayer were promoted; the same practices of the emerging church. Warren posts a number of the Emergent church leaders articles on his website pastors.com.
Henri Nouwen, a promoter of contemplative prayer and a universalist is referenced by Rick Warren in his book Purpose Driven Life (page 269). Henri Nouwen - “Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love ... For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required” (In the Name of Jesus, p. 6,31-32). We should expect more Biblical discernment from national leaders.
Many of the leaders and thinkers in this surfacing movement have written books, are consistently writing articles and it is discussed on web- blogs. In fact many can wax eloquent in their intellectual musings of what is wrong and what is needed. Their solution sounds more in the camp of philosophy and theosophy than being based on the Bible.
Defining the Emergent Church is varied depending on whom you ask; there is great variety. Most will agree mysticism is the support platform for the whole movement. An Emergent Church service can meet in homes because there is a more relaxed atmosphere, they want to experience Worship, they rely on extra-biblical practices that go beyond the Word which Paul himself said not to do (1 Cor.4:6).
Leonard Sweet in his book Soul Tsunami: Sink or Swim in New Millennium Culture says: “Postmoderns want a God they can feel, taste, touch, hear and smell--a full sensory immersion in the divine.” They will use liturgical practices from the Orthodox, Lutheran, and Catholic Church. Images, icons, statues of saints, rosary beads, sacraments, scented candles and incense fill the sanctuary, silence is sought in mystical meditation, writing their names on the cross etc.
In the recent PBS program interviewer Kim Lawton notes: In a dark sanctuary filled with votive candles, fast-paced images flash across video screens. Participants come forward to write their names on a wooden cross on the floor. At the altar, a DJ with a computer mixes the music to set the mood.
Welcome to worship for the coming generation. (PBS Cover Story: The Emerging Church, Part One July 8, 2005 Episode no. 845)
Yoga- deep breathing, contemplative prayer, whatever can be used to immerse them with what they believe is the divine. In other words, they are looking for a spiritual encounter using all their senses. If the Bible were being taught correctly one would not need to seek these other alternatives.
In the PBS interview LAWTON (reported): Worship is participatory and multisensory. People are encouraged to tangibly express their spirituality. Many are weaving together elements from different religious traditions, especially Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Some are discovering medieval mystical practices such as walking the labyrinth”
In the video (Which I suggest you watch, you need real player for it to work) one can see an Egyptian sun disk with wings over the platform, people are seen in yoga positions. And they call this CHURCH!
Solomon's Porch is an emerging church; its pastor, Doug Pagitt, has the church meets sitting in a circle and they use couches and recliners instead of pews. Pagitt says in his PBS interview: When you sit on a couch as opposed to a bench or a pew or something else, you just sort of have a sense that you're supposed to talk to that person. Because who do you sit on a couch with, other than a friend? And so, it implies a relationship.
Pastor Pagitt: “We're trying to say something about where power lies in our community. And so to meet in the round says all of these people matter."
However Lawton reports that in their worship time, “Pagitt doesn't preach sermons, he leads discussions. No question is off limits.” Certainly there is a time for this kind of getting together but according to the Bible the leaders are to “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:12). This to me is not worship in a true sense. It is body ministry and may even involve evangelism, while this may be a good thing it is not how a church is to be equipping the people.
Here is the most disturbing part, in the response an Unidentified Woman: There's a sort of comfort in knowing that one, I don't have to have the answers, and that there aren't necessarily answers.”
There aren’t answers? We are to have answers, especially if we are a leader. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
The emphasis is on experience, as they want to make contact with the divine and experience their faith. Pastor Brian McLaren has been named among the 25 most influential evangelicals in America by Time magazine. A leader in the emerging church and called a “paradigm shifter, ”he states - It's not just a matter of coming and sitting in a pew and enduring 50 or 70 or whatever minutes of observing something happen. But it's saying, “I want to experience God. I'm interested in coming into an experience here” (The Emerging Church, covered on PBS July 8, 2005).
Isn’t this what took place in the Vineyard movement years ago, focusing on experiencing God over the basic instructions from His word. This leads to pragmatism, where anything that took place was acceptable and embraced as from God. So people fell, they yelled, they swelled, they barked, they even puked- they had activity that could not be found in the Bible but was practiced as if it was. Should we watch the same mistake at even a greater scale take place-to our youth? The idea of less teaching of the word and the emphasis more on experience doesn't bring anyone to maturity, it actually prevents it.
McLaren is probably the most outspoken upfront representative of this church movement, in his book, “A Generous Orthodoxy” he says, “The Christian faith, I am proposing, should become (in the name of Jesus Christ) a welcome friend to other religions of the world, not a threat” (A Generous Orthodoxy McLaren, p.254.)
McLaren: “This is how I feel when I’m offered a choice between the roads of exclusivism (only confessing Christians go to heaven), universalism (everyone goes to heaven), and inclusivism (Christians go to heaven, plus at least some others). Each road takes you somewhere, to a place with some advantages and disadvantages, but none of them is the road of my missional calling: blessed in this life to be a blessing to everyone on earth.” (ibid. p. 113.)
Out goes Christ’s exclusive claims, in comes the inclusiveness that makes this interfaith. McLaren offers a more than Generous orthodoxy: He states in the book that not all people need to be Christians to follow Jesus. Some may be able to be “Buddhist or Hindu followers of Jesus.” He also states that, “God is interested in not only saving us from consequences after this life but in saving us from injustice, oppression, greed, and war, in this life.”
In the PBS interview Pastor McLaren: When we make it sound like we have all the bolts screwed down tight and all the nails hammered in, and everything's all boxed up and we've got it all figured out, at that moment, I think we have stopped being faithful” (PBS interview).
Obviously no one should claim to know everything, they can’t, but neither should anyone be saying this is not to be our goal. If we are not grounded, and do not know what we believe in how can we build on the foundation that is Christ, we will be blown about with every wind of doctrine (and practice). Being faithful comes by learning and applying the Scripture. Paul says to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Peter writes “giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins”(2 Peter 1:5-9).
McLaren seems to question nearly everything and wants others too as well. In his interview with Christianity Today “I don't think we've got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be 'saved'? When I read the Bible, I don't see it meaning, 'I'm going to heaven after I die.' Before modern evangelicalism nobody accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, or walked down an aisle, or said the sinner's prayer."
It's not that McLaren is interested in joining the liberal side of modern Protestantism. "I don't think the liberals have it right. But I don't think we have it right either. None of us has arrived at orthodoxy."Comments like these make many evangelicals nervous" (The Emergent Mystique, Christianity Today Nov.2004)
I would say rightly so, but this goes far beyond making one nervous, when added to his other statement[s]. After nearly 2000 years he (and others) come along to tell us we do not have the majority of our teaching right? We are not orthodox yet. Can we likewise question the validity of his Bible presentation? While the form of modern day crusades and altar calls are not a trademark of the apostles one cannot argue that Peters proclamation on Pentecost had them come forward to be baptized publicly to declare their faith. But this is not the point: McLaren seems to surmise since no one has everything perfect, then none of us have a handle on the truth. That is a flawed argument.
Jesus said "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. ( John 3:15) Does this not have to do with heaven? Of course we are not just saved to go to heaven but our life there will be lived far longer than here on earth, in fact there are those who have already been there for over 1950 years.
In the book A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren: "The author reminds us that this is but the beginning of the journey, and 'whatever a new kind of Christian is, no one is one yet... but every transformation has to start somewhere.” He then uses the idea of searching for a deeper life with God outside the authentic Christian faith. Indeed some of what he says may be valid until we further read what he means and the examples of his endorsements.
On p.3 “I meet people along the way who model for me, each in a different way, what a new kind of Christian might look like. They differ in many ways, but they generally agree that the old show is over, the modern jig is up, and it's time for something radically new” “...if we have a new world, we will need a new church. We won't need a new religion per se, but a new framework for our theology. Not a new Spirit, but a new spirituality. Not a new Christ, but a new Christian.” (emphasis mine).
There is no such thing as “a new [kind] of Christian, ” nor “a new spirituality.” When you are born spiritually all things become new, you are a new creation. We have the same Holy Spirit that the early church had and his work is the same, we are being conformed to be like HIM. You are either part of the faith delivered to the saints of all time or not part of them at all. Culture does not change this. Both Peter and Jude whose letters deal with false teaching in the church have this admonishment “that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior” (2 Peter 3:2). “But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:17.)
When we look to change ourselves in ways outside the work of Christ (adopting other spiritual practices?) or start searching for other ways to influence people or draw them to Christ not found in the Scripture, we are being disobedient to the commands of the apostles which they received from Jesus.
At a recent Emergent Conference, Brian McLaren was one of the speakers. He used a PowerPoint presentation (this is posted on his web site.) These are quotes from that presentation: “What if the dominant method [of] knowing truth is being replaced by a new methodology ...” “We embrace historic spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, contemplation, study, solitude, silence.” (referenced from lighthousetrailsresearch.com)
McLaren makes it seem as if we do not have the truth revealed, that we should still be searching to learn it . If he is presenting a new methodology then those terms we know must mean something different (especially those underlined). What is the method that a Christian is to learn the truth from? The Bible of course, the Holy Spirit will lead us and teach us the spiritual meaning of the word and we can apply it in our lives. This is the key difference to understanding where he (and others) are taking the church…
In the PBS interview pt.2 Lawton points out, “McLaren is at the forefront of a controversial new effort to rethink Christianity for a new generation.”
Not surprising that Orell Steincamp makes this observation of Tony Jones (who was appointed as their National Director June 2005); he views McLaren's books and writings with approval and being part of this movement: “And books written by pastors and consultants about 'doing church in a postmodern world' are nothing new, nor are treatments of postmodernism by Christian academics. Leonard Sweet and Stanley Grenz have garnered thousands of readers in the pastorate and seminaries. ... McLaren, however, is saying something much different. He goes beyond promoting a change in pastoral technique. He's challenging pastors to rethink their message, not just how they deliver the message. He's not writing about a change in context, he's writing about changing the content. (emphasis mine). (http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2002/OO3/16.32.html)(“Post-Evangelicalism” Books & Culture, Christianity Today, May/June 2002).
Changing the content? To make his direction clear we find Brian McLaren gives his approval of the book Reimagining Christianity. He says of the book: “Alan Jones is a pioneer in reimagining a Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality. His work stimulates and encourages me deeply.” (emphasis mine)
Who is Alan Jones? Episcopal priest and Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco that promotes the labyrinth. He is a promoter of inter-spirituality and a mystic. He is also a member of the Living Spiritual Teachers Project which is a group of about twenty-five that include Zen and Buddhist monks, New Agers and even Marianne Williamson (who promotes a Course in Miracles, a book that denies almost every authentic Bible teaching of Jesus Christ.)
In seeking to “redefine ourselves,” should we be taking instruction and inspiration from those who are openly hostile to Christianity? While McLaren is moved and inspired by this book we need to know what exactly he is endorsing. Alan Jones writes on p.132 in his book “Reimagining Christianity,” The Roman Catholic writer James Carroll certainly thinks so. He believes that we have made the sacred mistake of putting the cross at the center of Christianity in the wrong way. Carroll insists that Catholics must not only "reverently and silently" remove the cross from Auschwitz but, far more fundamentally, must remove the cross from the center of Christianity. The Church's fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it.
“Such writing disturbs our inherited certainties and, for some, seems to mean the total dismantling of traditional Christianity. It also invites us to learn a new language. Many Christians have come to see that the very foundational documents of Christianity are polluted (St. John's gospel in particular, with its insistent mantra of the Jews, the Jews, the Jews as responsible for opposing and killing Jesus). This language must go. Believers are being challenged in their understanding of who and what Jesus thought he was. This is good. This doesn't mean that I agree with Carroll in every particular, but I do think that basic beliefs should always be open to reimagining” (Alan Jones, p. 132 Reimagining Christianity).
Jones also agrees with Duffy stating the doctrine of the Cross is a myth made up by man but is beneficial nonetheless (p. 133).
“Duffy is right when he insists: The cross is not some arbitrary demand of God imposed on a hapless victim. . . but a marker where human beings find them- selves, at the intersection of justice and mercy, time and eternity, death and life. All of which, of course, is the language of myth: but myth is the coin of religion, which makes sense of our world by telling such stories.”
What! Is this promoting authentic spirituality? Again let me remind you what McLaren said - Alan Jones is a pioneer in reimagining a Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality. His work stimulates and encourages me deeply.”
McLaren has no excuse; this should be repugnant to any true believer. Are we to believe Jones has authentic spirituality when he rejects the work on the cross by God our savior! If this does not make you angry, we should read it all in its context, Jones further states: “The other thread of just criticism addresses the suggestion implicit in the cross that Jesus' sacrifice was to appease an angry God. Penal substitution was the name of this vile doctrine. I don't doubt for one moment the power of sin and evil in the world or the power of sacrificial love as their antidote and the peculiar power of the cross as sign of forgiveness and restoration, but making God vengeful, all in the name of justice, has left thousands of souls deeply wounded arid lost to the Church forever.
“What does the image of the cross mean to me? It is a sign of the necessary crucifixion of ideologies in the face of concrete human experience-the crucifixion of power plays, the crucifixion of a god we think we can conceptually control. It also is a sign of humanity's need to find someone to blame for its ills. When we suffer or are threatened, we look for scapegoats. Scholar Rene Girard suggests that scapegoating is the idée fixe at the heart of our culture. It is, for him, the mechanism on which society, culture, and religion are based. The murder of the innocent and our ability to make acts of scapegoating violence sacred seem to be built into us. The cross speaks directly to this dark issue of scapegoating” (p.168, emphasis mine).
The apostle Paul said “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified”(1 Corinthians 2:1-2). Paul preached “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:18,23). The book of Acts tells us that the apostles preached Christ crucified. If Jesus told us to pick our cross to follow him why is McLaren recommending a book that holds it to scorn. Do these men hate the cross? I have not heard such disdain for it except from the Moonies and other cult groups who deny who Christ is and why He came. The participators in New age movement (now known as the new spirituality) think of the cross in exactly the same manner.
Jones admits "Christianity as a set of beliefs doesn't work for me. At the same time, I acknowledge the need for ritual and celebration in my life and find fulfillment and joy in many traditional practices. I light candles and ask for the prayers of the saints.... These disciplines ... do not require me to believe literally in angels and the Virgin Birth." (p. 31).
Christianity can’t work unless one believes in the doctrines of Scripture; one must have real faith. The virgin birth is a necessary part to understand how God became flesh otherwise we have no teaching on the incarnation. One must embrace the crucifixion to be forgiven for their sins by God who became man.
Among these statements of the cross Alan Jones in his book Reimagining Christianity explains his panthiestic worldview- “The goal of the converted life is to find God in all things and is based on the conviction of the unity of reality. Everything is connected” (p. 200). “Jesus and Buddha have this in common with all great spiritual teachers-- to make human beings more conscious of themselves” (p. 194).
How can McLaren recommend a book like this unless he himself embraces these teachings? Other religious beliefs, a denial of the cross, Christ as one of many spiritual teachers etc.. This sounds like the Bahai’s or something said straight out of the New Age Movement. However there are more problems with Brian McLaren endorsement of books; the utter lack of discernment is further exhibited when he endorsed Tony Campolo's Speaking My Mind, where Campolo states: "[M]ysticism [contemplative prayer] provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam.” (p.149). To fulfill this pattern McLaren has also endorsed Dave Fleming's book, “The Seeker's Way.” McLaren writes: "I'm a huge fan of all Dave Fleming's work. He's brilliant for starters, and more - he's an energetic and engaging writer who lives what he writes about. I'm especially enthusiastic about 'The Seekers' Way' because it presents an approach to spiritual life and growth that is accessible to everyone and gives resources both to the beginner and the seasoned seeker."
He had to have read this book to endorse it. On http://www.theseekersway.com we have this description- Dave Fleming is a spiritual seeker, leadership coach and organizational midwife. He works with businesses, churches, non-profit organizations and individuals to help them express the inherent greatness that lies within.”
A believer in Christ does not call himself a spiritual seeker (beginner or seasoned) when they have found the truth in Jesus Christ. But the facts show Fleming is still searching. Dave Fleming's book has a chapter admiring Wayne Teasdale who believes in a global spirituality, that within the world religions we could all reach the same place through meditation. On the Living Spiritual Teachers Project website it says: The twenty-first century has been dubbed the "age of interspirituality" by Brother Wayne Teasdale …” by the sharing different spiritual traditions from all the world’s religions. In Teasdale’s book the Mystic Heart, the preface is written by Dr. Bruteau who states a universal spirituality based on mysticism is going to save the world” (quoted in A Time of Departure p.133 by Ray Yungen). This is reminiscent of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's book The Phenomena of Man, where he said of this new mysticism emerging, “I can be saved only by becoming one with the universe,” the very essence of mysticism. Brian McLaren is endorsing people who do not uphold historic Christianity. They are promoting an ancient enemy of the faith- Gnosticism/ mysticism, only in 21st century dress.
Inter-spirituality is about mix and match. A new open acceptance has now found a home in the church. Instead of holding to a narrow road view they now accept a wider approach to their spiritual worldview. The new Openness of God means that there is no absolute way, and that God is more lenient than we ever imagined. They have become so anti- denomination that we have gone to another extreme-to interfaith by adopting other religious practices.
Fleming interviews spiritual seekers as Marcus Borg (Jesus Seminar), Lauren Winner, Wayne Teasdale (promoter of inter-spirirtuality), Alan Jones (inter-spirirtuality), Joan Chittister (described as Benedictine sister with an ecumenical outreach and vision) Phil Gulley, and Jim Mulholland. The Seeker’s Way speaks to those who want more than what they have found thus far,…. encouraging them to embrace their search with joy and passion and giving them a broad framework from which to construct a seeker’s faith. Not a book about finding answers or making a case for faith, The Seeker’s Way helps those who seek to open themselves to a journey characterized by meaning, authenticity, & wholeness.
I can only conclude that McLaren is not confused on what he believes but knows exactly what he believes in and is introducing to the church. As do many of these men that congregate together have the intent of reshaping the church and Christianity.
McLaren on his site recommends Wilber, Ken. A Theory of Everything. Shambala, 2000. His comment says”… Wilber promotes and exemplifies – which he calls “integral” thinking and which I call “emergent” thinking – is powerful and important, in my opinion” (Thanks to Jay Gary for this recommendation.)
I wonder if Jesus would have the same “opinion” contrary, I think He would have an absolute statement on this.
Shambala happens to be a new age counterfeit city of the new Jerusalem which they claim is floating invisibly in our atmosphere. (Jay Gary also holds to new age concepts.)
Topics in the book include: a leading model of human evolution called "spiral dynamics" Wilber's ground-breaking "all quadrant, all level" approach for integrating the realms of science and religion.
As Wilber explains, it is "a model that would unite all the known laws of the universe into one all-embracing theory that would literally explain everything in existence” (ed. Note: Wilber is not God, how could he do this?)
“the integral search finally succeeds by finally letting go of the search itself, there to dissolve in a radical Freedom and consummate Fullness that was always already the case, and one abandons a theory of everything in order to simply be Everything, one with the All, in this endlessly fulfilled moment.”
Wilber is describing the mystical experience of oneness that new age adherents and mystics are united in, (panentheism).
Leonard Sweet also references Wilber several times in his book “Quantum Spirituality” stating: “The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, one who has experienced something, or he will be nothing.” 45. See the dialogue between David Spangler and Ken Wilber, “Critiquing the New Age,”Yoga Journal, July/August 1988,49. Ken Wilber, “Eye to Eye: Science and Transpersonal Psychology,” Ken Wilber, The Atman Project: A Transpersonal View of Human Development. Eddington’s article “Defense of Mysticism,” in Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World’s Great Physicist, ed. Ken Wilber.
Sweets affiliation with Wilber is concerning. In an ad for Ken Wilber Kosmic Consciousness (audio CD) “Before the birth of the universe there existed your "Original Face," the limitless Self that has been present throughout the unfolding of inert matter into life-and that continues to dwell within us at every level of consciousness. Where is this grand evolution taking us-and how can each of us participate more fully in it? On Kosmic Consciousness, Ken Wilber invites you to find out.” (emphasis mine)
It contains- How meditation works and why it is the most reliable tool for personal development; The chakra system, a paradigm for the unfolding self; Altered states of consciousness- how they can catalyze (or hinder) transformation; the enneagram; Tantra (yoga); Reincarnation-myth or provable phenomenon? Ascending, descending, and "non-dual" spiritual paths.
This is blatant mysticism, making use of other religions, Kosmic Consciousness has long been an accepted term for the mystical experience of oneness through various occult methods, and McLaren And Sweet are fine with this!
No matter what you call the practices now taking place in the church one needs to be aware of those who want to introduce “a new spirituality. “... as New Agers ... once the occult . . . terminology is removed, we have concepts and techniques . . . acceptable to the general public. So we can change the names and . . . open the New Age door to millions who normally would not be receptive” (New Age leader Dick Sutphen, Infiltrating the New Age Society in What Is, Summer 1986, p.14 quoted in Dave Hunts book Occult Invasion)
Well they no longer need to do this, they only need to sanctify it by calling it Christian and it is sanitized for church use. Even if one will not concede that these men are actively participating in new age spirituality, one cannot deny they have embraced at least some of the same values, ideology, and practices.
Consider this explanation from Mike Perschon- “I worked as a church planter the following year and began using contemplative elements in worship from the outset. We held "thin place" services in reference to a belief that in prayer, the veil between us and God becomes thinner. Entire nights were devoted to guided meditations, drum circles, and "soul labs." At soul labs we used the rave culture's approach of multiple rooms for different music to create a number of prayer stations, where people could try various approaches to contemplative prayer.
“Now all I need to do is close my eyes and begin deep breathing or whisper a phrase from a Logos meditation, and my heart is opened to feel God's presence. Like anything else we do, the contemplative life becomes more and more natural with practice.
The morning after I expressed my intention to the group, a young lady came to me with a concerned expression. "You're going to teach us to meditate?" she asked."That's right," I said. "Isn't that New Age or Buddhist?" she asked. "Well, Buddhists do meditate, and there are many New Age meditative practices, but what I'm going to teach is Christian meditation." I silently promised myself to never use the word meditation in a public Christian setting ever again. "What's the difference?" "Well, on the surface, nothing. The approach to meditation for a Buddhist looks an awful lot like what I do. The difference is the reason we're doing it. The Buddhist empties the mind for the sake of emptying it. The Christian empties the mind to fill it with Christ." "I don't know about this." Responded the woman (Desert Youth Worker Disciplines, Mystics, and the Contemplative Life by Mike Perschon)
Good reply, her discernment was working; but alas it was ignored as Perschon went on. It becomes clear that certain leaders involved know exactly what they introducing to the sheep. The fact is, a Buddhist empties the mind to reach illumination to have oneness. A Christian does not empty his mind to be filled, we are not to do this. We actively and willfully surrender portions of our life to Christ for Him to fill it and control us. David said he meditates on God's Statutes, works, precepts, majesty, and His WORD (Ps.119).
Paul echoes David’s sentiment “Whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-- meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8). Jesus uses the word meditate as he explains about giving a testimony before adversaries “Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer” (Luke 21:14). Clearly He meant thinking of what one will say.
Near the end of the first part of the PBS interview with some of the leaders in the Emerging Church Mr. JONES' response seems to sum it all up: The emerging church is a place of conversation and dialogue and movement. Where that's going to go, we don't know. We're figuring this out together. We don't have an agenda of what it looks like at the end of the road. We just want to gather up people who are on this road, who want to go together on it.
You don’t get to a goal when you don’t know what road you are traveling on. This reminds me of being on a boat on a river that is carried with the current without any steering, the crew admires their surroundings of the sun and sky, calling it a beautiful day. They comment on how quickly they are traveling together- being unaware that a waterfall is just up ahead around the bend.
We need to understand that many know what they are involved in but do not care. They (not all) may not have an agenda what it will be in the end but they certainly have an agenda in how they are traveling to get there. There are too many statements that refer to the mystics writings, too many practices that resemble the mystics for them not to know what they are doing.