As we resume our look at a theological agenda which is likely being pushed by some within the leadership of the Emergent Church, and most particularly Brian McLaren, I am truly amazed by the response to my work in this area. In Part One we touched on the base of mysticism upon which the Emerging Church movement is being erected. As Lighthouse Trails Research so aptly put it: “Without contemplative spirituality, the emerging church would be nothing more than couches and candles.” And based on my ongoing investigation of this movement–whatever it may originally been intended to be–I would also add that it is fast becoming little more than a haven for third-rate “teachers” who couldn’t carve out a niche in the Church elsewhere, and have thus found a home in this nebulous emerging “Church: Have It Your Way.”

“They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.”

The Lie Of Postmodern Philosophy

The outright lack of knowledge concerning the actual history of the Christian Church in this Emergent rebellion against the Church of Jesus Christ makes it quite easy for counterfeit teachers to hide amidst its darkest shadows in some revisionist “vintage” past. So let me explain to you how we have created the Emergent “Mystic Church.” Taking up the spiritual hoe of “Christian” mysticism we overturn the ground of historic theology. Then we water it well with the philosophy of postmodernism while we add in the lack of respect for the absolute truth of God’s Word found among virtually all of its emerging leaders and theologians.

And this is the recipe for the “miracle grow” which then makes this muddy mix some very fertile soil in which to plant the spiritual seeds of neopaganism that originate with deceiving spirits. You probably recognize the language of the Holy Spirit here; and we now have the Mystic Church needed to encourage others in the Body of Christ to follow the things taught by demons. Without this hugely subjective element of mysticism the Emerging Church movement would have had a much better chance of at least staying near the shore of the historic Christian faith from which she is rapidly departing. The tragic fact is however, with that mortal infection already present from the beginning the Emerging Church coupled with the incredible–no, staggering–lack of discernment in the Body of Christ today, this movement was doomed from the start.

One will say: “Silva, you have got it all so wrong; this Emerging Church is growing very quickly! It’s even going to be a featured track at the Zondervan National Pastor’s Conference 2006.” Oh, I know; and actually this is my point exactly. The Purpose Driven Church, the Emerging Church, the Word Faith Church, the whole ecumenical bunch itself will grow right back into the Church of Rome (and worse). And sadly The New Downgrade No-Controversy continues to grow right under the noses of a slumbering Evangelical church more intent on protecting their own “ministries” than to stand for the purity of their Lord’s Church. He who has an ear, let him hear.

But what sets everything all up for the Emergent Mystic Church is the lie of postmodern philosophy. No, not a specific lie within postmodernism, but the entire philosophy itself. When you dig down to its rotten root what you find is that the educational systems of this nation have produced bumper crops of people who have just never developed basic reasoning skills. We can call it postmodernism if we want to, but it would be more accurate to call it postreasonism. Just because people can’t/won’t follow sound reasoning when it is presented to them does not negate the veracity of logical thought. All it shows is a critical weakness right now in mankind’s already fallen reasoning that the Devil is exploiting at a nearly unprecedented rate.

If the Lord wills I’ll continue to develop this for you but for now I wish to point out that the lack of discernment in the Body of Christ today is directly related to people refusing to, or not being able to, think a problem thorough to its logical conclusion. As for example the inevitable result that is going to be produced through the associations that are currently being made by Brian McLaren with these “living spiritual teachers” Alan Jones and Marcus Borg. Think with me now; if McLaren is heartily endorsing Alan Jones and then preparing to work with Marcus Borg, he is actually saying something to you: “I’m studying with these Gurus and I am going to be bringing this into the Church.”

The Low Ebb Of Discernment

And since he personally chose to open this door himself by “critiquing” my work here, I’ll use Justin Baeder of Emergent What as a good example of the lack of reasoning ability I have been discussing. After I had answered a reader’s question (a little interaction there “bill”) about where Brian McLaren was going to be working with Marcus Borg here; Baeder makes the following comment:

Uh, he’s giving a presentation on the emerging church, as are Marcus Borg and Diana Butler Bass. He is hardly holding hands with them and teaching the exact same things, which is what Silva seems to be implying.

It’d be about as logical to say that Bob DeWaay was “working with” Doug Pagitt at their debate recently. It’s not an exact parallel, as I doubt McLaren will be debating Borg or Butler Bass, but it’s not as if McLaren is saying “Buddha saves” or anything.

“Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?”

Yikes! This only serves to show just how low discernment skills have fallen among many of those who would dare profess themselves to be Christian. There is only way Christ Jesus would send one of His ministers into the pagan spiritual environment of The Center for Spiritual Development, and that would be to preach the Gospel. Case in point from the actual history of the Christian Church:

As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,’” he said (Acts 17:2-3).

You’ll notice that the Apostle Paul was not using alleged eastern “wisdom” to have a “conversation” about how these people felt they were currently experiencing the presence of God. He was not discussing with each of them what they thought the Scriptures said to them about the Christ. No, he was instructing them what God has said about the only way mankind can come into the presence of God in the first place. Let us not confuse the issue of God being present everywhere in His world, with being allowed to come into His presence. While the Creator is everywhere present over all of His creation, only those who have become believers in Christ are allowed into God’s presence. And anyone who thinks Brian McLaren will be preaching the above seriously needs to have their spiritual head examined.

The Mystic Church Of Imagination

“Their mouths lay claim to heaven”

With the above in mind let us return to our look at Brian McLaren’s association with these “living spiritual teachers.” We talked a bit last time about one of these Gurus in particular by the name of the Very Reverend Dr. Alan Jones. Jones is an Episcopal priest and Dean of the farce of a Christian Church known as Grace Cathedral (GC). We’ll be coming back to him next time but it will be helpful for you to see something quite revealing from the Welcome Page of GC that gives those who speak the language an idea of what kind of spiritual message Guru Jones preaches:

We believe in one God, known to us in Jesus Christ, also known by different names in different traditions. We seek to challenge and transform the world, beginning with ourselves, and to celebrate the image of God in every person. We are a house of prayer, worship and service for everyone, welcoming all who seek an inclusive community of love. (, emphasis added)

To the enlightened this couldn’t be a more clear statement from someone who believes in the core doctrine of what mystic Wayne Teasdale called “interspirituality”; and that would be the mystical union. In fact according to the website Spirituality & Health–home of the Living Spiritual Teachers Project (LSTP) of which Jones is a member–the late Dr. Teasdale dubbed the twenty-first century the “age of interspirituality.” And it is this mystical union of the soul with God which is the “authentic spirituality” that Brian McLaren refers to in his endorsement of Jones’ book Reimagining Christianity.

Oh but we’re not talking here about the Christian idea of the mystic union between Christ and the regenerated believer; no, here we are talking about where the mystic in an ecstatic experience believes his soul to be “in union” with God, as in being one with God. The goal of the mystic is to reach the True Self (their deity) and blend into union once again to the Divine or the Ultimate. And this is precisely why I have brought the doctrine of panentheism to your attention. You see, from the stand point of the Christian this is what would so stimulate and encourage Brian McLaren about the reimagined (read: redefined) Christianity that he sees emerging from the authentic spirituality of Alan Jones.

Marcus Borg To The Rescue

And this “authentic spirituality” aka interspirituality needs a platform that can accommodate the message of Jesus Christ. Enter the living spiritual teacher Dr. Marcus Borg. I have been making light of that ridiculous title but please make no mistake, Marcus Borg is indeed a first rate scholar. His website A Portrait of Jesus informs us of his legitimate and impressive credentials:

Marcus J. Borg is Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture in the Philosophy Department at Oregon State University. Nationally and internationally known in both academic and church circles as a biblical and Jesus scholar, he is the author of eleven books. Described by The New York Times as “a leading figure among the new generation of Jesus scholars,” he has appeared on: NBC’s “Today Show,” PBS’s “Newshour,” ABC’s “Prime Time” with Peter Jennings, NPR’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross

A Fellow of the Jesus Seminar, he has been national chair of the Historical Jesus Section of the Society of Biblical Literature and co-chair of its International New Testament Program Committee. He is currently president of the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars and a regular columnist for “Beliefnet.”

It will be important at this point to think about why Brian McLaren would say that Borg’s work is important in many ways and that he wants to work with him this year. Here would be a key scholar in Jesus studies and a theologian with a good standing in the academic world who also is involved with the authentic spirituality that McLaren finds so deeply stimulating and encouraging. Borg gives this whole interspirituality bent of McLaren another voice who just happens to be an acclaimed expert in his field. And Borg already teaches the doctrine of panentheism at which McLaren himself has been hinting at least as early as his 1999 book Finding Faith.

We’ll talk a bit more about the book Finding Faith next time and we’ll delve deeper into the teachings of Dr. Marcus Borg. But for now we close this Part Two with an excerpt from a message called “Spirituality and Contemporary Culture” that Borg delivered at The Center For Progressive Christianity during their 2000 National Forum. What you will notice first is a redefining of the historic Christian concept of Who God is:

The first has to do with how we conceptualize God, how we think of God’s being and of God’s relation to the world. For many people, the supernatural, interventionist God is dead. It is for me. I simply don’t believe in that God. I can’t believe in that God. It is not even an act of will. I cannot! Now let me add immediately, that I have no problem with personifying God, and speaking of God as if God were a person. That is the natural language of worship and devotion.

Although Borg uses the term “person” he is beginning to lead us away from God as sovereign Creator Who intervenes in human history to accomplish His will. Borg is preparing us for the esoteric concept of the Divine, or the Sacred as Borg will refer to it. This is the Unknowable that is the god of interspirituality, the one that could unite all relgions as a divine Global family of humanity. Borg says:

In my own journey, I have been led from supernatural theism to seeing God as the encompassing Spirit, from seeing God as another being out there, to seeing God, or the Sacred, or the Spirit (terms which I use synonymously and interchangeably) as a nonmaterial layer or level of reality all around us, more real than the world of our ordinary, visible experience. Seeing the sacred as right here, as well as more than right here, a movement from supernatural theism to what a number of theologians, including myself in my book on God, call panentheism.

If you were to read this sermon from the living spiritual teacher Borg in its entirety you would see that it could have been written by Brian McLaren himself. But here we have Borg using language that is very reminiscent of McLaren in the aforementioned Finding Faith the Emergent Guru says:

if Christian monotheism is true, pantheism might not be so much false as it is “not true yet,” for Christians believe that history is flowing toward a goal in which God is in everything, and everything is in God…a version not unlike that of one version of pantheism (called panentheism, to be precise). My honest sense in my own search is that logic drives me behind the many, behind the two, behind the all, to one God “over all, through all, and in all.” (118)

The New Tower Of Babel

And so we have the introduction of the doctrine of panentheism as the basis for our Global family. This doctrine that God is a Person, but He creates the universe inside Himself–it is part of Him–and thus the creation itself shares His Deity so it is also divine. Once you understand that you know how this doctrine is the key that unlocks the passageway leading up to the platform big enough to hold both Jesus and Buddha. You see to build the New Tower of Babel all we have to do is teach the pantheist that they have the right idea in that all men have the spark of divinity within. However, we then show them that to be “transformed” in your knowledge of God is to come to see that He is personal.

Now we approach the monotheist and explain that while God is one personal Spirit, we must become “enlightened” in our view that God created the cosmos as a part of Him. And so we should all live together in harmony and peace because truly we are all one with God. The idea we need to understand as Borg will tell us is that all mankind knew this in the beginning:

Now, seeing God as the encompassing Spirit, instead of as a person-like being out there, is actually the recovery of something very ancient. It goes all the way back to the beginnings of the biblical tradition. Karen Armstrong very helpfully points out in her book, A History of God, that these two ways of thinking about God – God as another being and God as the encompassing Spirit in which everything that is, is, – run side by side throughout the long histories of the three Western religious traditions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This is not something new. This is something very old.(

Now can you see why Brian McLaren would find the work of the living teacher Dr. Marcus Borg so “helpful and important in many ways”? As I said last time all of this documentation is more than enough reason to suspect McLaren’s true intentions as he involves himself with these men like Alan Jones and Marcus Borg who are members of the antichrist organization LSTP. As this series progresses you will come to understand why the spiritual practice of “Christian” mystics is so crucial in this plan by some within the Emergent Church to inject what McLaren’s good friend Leonard Sweet calls New Light theology into the Body of Christ.

I close this article now with some words of wisdom from Cecil Andrews of Take Heed Ministries, my good friend and brother in Christ who has said, “I have found over the years that what I would call the ‘shoots and buds’ of someone’s ‘heresies’ have a tendency to develop and strengthen over time until they eventually ‘blossom fully’.”

And we are watching this happen before our very eyes in the transformation of the Emergent Church.