In the final part of this series regarding the inevitable future transformation of this doomed Emergent Church movement we look at the idea of religious pluralism that mysticism eventually leads to. When we more closely examine the groups within the “communities” of other faiths men like Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt go to when they have their “interfaith/interspiritual conversations” you’ll find it interesting that it is invariably with the branches involved in mysticism. The reason for that is really rather simple, they all share similar spiritual disciplines/practices. And as we have previously pointed out the one virtually all of them practice is transcendental meditation, though not always referred to as such. Sadly, you’re also going to come to see as we move along that the mind-emptying practice of this type of meditation eventually leads one to a permanent altered state of consciousness called “transformation” or “enlightenment.”

Nolo Contendre

If you have followed this series you may have wondered why I began with the subject of mysticism in the Emergent Church through men like Tony Jones. Jones is a good friend of Brian McLaren and both are leaders and theologians in the Emergent section of this schismatic Emerging Church movement. Then on McLaren’s admission that Richard Foster is one of the “key mentors of the emerging church” (along with Dallas Willard) we have introduced the subject of “contemplative prayer” into this discussion. As I stated in Part One what I am doing is building a case of evidence against this reinfiltration of counterfeit Gnostic Christianity into the Body of Christ through Brian McLaren and his Emergent Church.

And my prayer barely remains that this just might actually find its way to one influential leader within the Evangelical community who loves the Lord’s Church enough to pick this up and run with it. As I have told numerous people with bigger forums, I want nothing from this. Unfortunately it does not appear likely that any of this will happen so I have no choice but to continue to turn over the rocks on my own to see what scurries out from underneath. In the time I may have left I am going to keep uncovering what I see as the tactics being used by Emergent leaders–particularly Brian McLaren–to introduce their version of neo-pagan mystic spirituality deeper into the mainstream of the Church of Jesus Christ.

The next series will begin to look more specifically into the practice of mysticism itself as well as at the various spiritual disciplines/practices currently being advocated by the Emergent Church they say are consistent with the historic orthodox Christian faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. You no doubt recognize the last part of Jude 3. Well, the Lord will be my witness if He chooses to, but I identify with Jude as he begins the verse – Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share. Those of you now falling away from this work in Christ will know by checking my earlier writings that I originally began by doing a lot more plain Bible teaching, just as Jude was very eager to do.

However, I felt led in a similar fashion as he undoubtedly did to go on to write – I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith. The word “contend” here in the NIV, “earnestly contend” in the KJV, is a compound word in the Greek which was used to refer to the strenuous effort exerted by combatants in the wrestling matches in the Olympics. We’d be awfully hard-pressed to say we see very much of this going on in the complacent and growing ever more worldly Evangelical community. One could hardly call actually inviting closet liberals like Brian McLaren in to instruct your pastors, or simply standing by and saying absolutely nothing when the Devil is set to bring his mysticism to the National Pastors Conference 2006, “contending” for the faith–let alone “earnestly contending.” Your blood be on your own heads!

Mysticism Leads To Pluralism

We will be concluding our examination of the quite curious Christian message espoused by Brian McLaren which is but the prelude to the transformation of the Emergent Church. That his upcoming involvement with the “living spiritual teacher” Dr. Marcus Borg at The Center for Spiritual Development has hardly raised an eyebrow is great cause for concern that discernment in the Evangelical camp has sunk to such a disastrous level that few people even notice this aberration. As I’ve had to study the “interesting” teaching of these spiritual wolves that so “encourages” McLaren that he is attempting to bring them into our Lord’s Church I’ve got to admit it “stimulates” me as well. I’ve been moved to do all I can to expose these Gnostic spiritists as the counterfeit Christians that they no doubt are.

However, at the same time it is most disheartening that my hours of research into these critical topics have been received with such apathy. My fear is that if Christian leaders cannot see through this neo-pagan Gnosticism promoted by McLaren, then they will never see the more subtle danger posed by so-called “Christian” mysticism itself. As I told my church on Sunday, McLaren has already spoken at Dallas Theological Seminary, and in his latest book So, You Want To Be Like Christ? Chancellor Chuck Swindoll himself is quoting Henri Nouwen and leaning heavily on Richard Foster. Then David Jeremiah in Life Wide Open quotes from Sue Monk Kidd, Erwin McManus and even John of the Cross in relation to “unleashing the power of a passionate life.”

Truthfully I believe in Swindoll’s case this might actually be due more to his wanting to appear “with it” to a younger audience than his actually being familiar with what mysticism is really about. But as I told them we need to be prepared to pick up a book by people like Charles Stanley in the near future and see him attempting to “reach” the younger set by appealing to Emergent leaders and Christian mystics. This is the clear and present danger as this spiritual cancer of the Emergent Church gets set to spread like a wildfire after the NPC 2006. I state again: Nothing will be gained by engaging these men in dialogue because their spiritual mindset is that mysticism brings them more understanding than discussions about propositional truth. And this is due to the false postmodern philosophy Emergent Church leaders who are rejecting the concept of absolute truth in the first place.

As one studies the subject of mysticism it becomes unmistakable that it will inevitably lead those who engage in it to a religious pluralism. This we will see even more clearly in subsequent examinations of the so-called Christian mystics and what it is in fact that they have actually taught. Yes it seems bizarre to think there are those who under the guise of Christians are attempting to work to find a One World Global religion, but anyone who has actually read what these Gurus have been saying in this series will see this is exactly where their mysticism has lead them. As you will come to see in future articles about transcendental meditation, contemplative prayer for the Christian, and Zen, as the practitioner finally achieves their “enlightenment” (satori) the testimony they emerge with is invariably the same.

These people almost without fail will speak of their being bathed in a warm energy by an inner Light and Love that leads them to a feeling of Oneness with God and the universe. Many Christians have long wondered how in the world Satan could possibly achieve one Global religion with the Cross of Jesus Christ towering over him. The truth is that this mind-altering experience of enlightenment, or transformation as living spiritual teacher Marcus Borg calls it, arrived at through practicing meditation is our key. As I have previously pointed out transcendental meditation is the one spiritual discipline that virtually all of these “communities of faith” have in common. And this is why the mystical element programmed in at the beginning of the Emerging Church movement was so very critical for the Devil’s scheme.

Guru Marcus Borg And Transformation

Pursuant to our discussion here as to how Emergent “spiritual director” (wake up call from reality!) Brian McLaren and his “living spiritual teachers” figure into our examination of the Emergent Church we briefly look at Marcus Borg one last time. I find it rather mind-boggling that an ostensibly orthodox Christian instructor such as McLaren is reputed to be would even want to do a series entitled “The Church of the 21st Century” with a man like Borg who has made it his life’s calling to actually discredit the Lord Jesus Christ that McLaren claims to follow. But then again, as I looked further into the “progressive Christianity” that Borg espouses it begins to make sense in context of the transformation of the Emergent Church when in his 2003 book The Heart of Christianity Borg explains that he is describing an alternate:

way of seeing Christianity, the ‘emerging paradigm,’ [which] has been developing for over a hundred years and has recently become a major grass-roots movement within mainline denominations. Positively, it is the product of Christianity’s encounter with the modern and postmodern world, including science, historical scholarship, religious pluralism, and cultural diversity. Less positively, it is the product of our awareness of how Christianity has contributed to racism, sexism, nationalism, exclusivism, and other harmful ideologies. (xii)

You can probably already see where this work is headed, and how it poses the same straw man objections raised by Brian McLaren himself in A Generous Orthodoxy. What we need to understand here is that foolish people in many other walks of life, fields of study and even other religions have been guilty of the same types of repugnant conduct themselves. What is being used here is an appeal to emotion to set up your sympathy for the arguments against the historic orthodox Christian faith which will follow. Effective strategy perhaps, but it has nothing to do with the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ has never condoned the above actions. But be that as it may, what likely caught McLaren’s eye is when Borg tells us that his book, “seeks to describe this emerging way of seeing Christianity.” (ibid.)

In Borg’s writings one sees the same kind of spiritually dead liberal theology that you would find in the work of John Shelby Spong the heretical former Episcopal Bishop of New Jersey. There are a couple of unique twists that Borg brings to the table; the talk of an alleged postmodern paradigm shift and the element of mystic spiritualism, which is most likely of particular interest to McLaren. It is this latter aspect of mysticism that we focus our attention on, and specifically as it relates to the mind-altering experience of enlightenment, or transformation in Borg’s case. It should be noted that as a member of the Living Spiritual Teachers Project (LSTP) Borg’s field of expertise just happens to be transformation. Based on McLaren’s close association with Alan Jones another LSTP member we can see that this is what draws his attention.

It is here that we bring in an expert witness to give us a bit of a preview of where our series concerning the mysticism of the Emergent Church will take us in regard to spiritual transformation. We have the following from New Age teacher and clinical hypnotist Dr. Bruce Goldberg who authored The Search for Grace, which inspired the 1994 CBS movie. Goldberg has conducted past life regressions for thousands and has been interviewed by Oprah, CNN, CBS News, TIME as well as many other outlets. In his book Soul Healing Goldberg discusses the “focal point” in meditation. There are four basic focal points, but for our purposes here you need only know that these are the methods used to still the conscious mind preparatory to, and during, meditation.

Goldberg then tells us that when “the focal device is successfully employed, the brain’s order of processing appears to be altered.” Hence the term altered state of consciousness, as this is an actual process. Goldberg goes on:

When the rational (analytic) mind is silenced, the intuitive mode produces an extraordinary awareness. This awareness is the goal of all meditative techniques. This state of “extraordinary awareness” has been called many things. In the East, it is called nirvana or satori. A liberal translation of these words yields the word “enlightenment.”

Similar translations for this state include “truth consciousness” or “being-cognition.” In the early Western world, those few individuals who understood it called it the “supraconsciousness” or the “cosmic consciousness” (217)

As we move on into the study of transcendental meditation itself you will be able to more fully understand the grave spiritual danger one puts themselves into as they are by-passing the rational mind. With this practice of meditation we end up violating the Lord’s prohibition against His people adopting the customs of heathen peoples around them (e.g. 2 Kings 17:15). For you see here’s the only place we can go with the transformation of the Emergent Church, an altered state of consciousness brought on through the very methods involved with the pagan spiritual discipline of meditation. And in The Sacred Way even Emergent Church theologian Tony Jones himself admits that “at the end of the 20th century, Benedictine monk John Main pioneered a Christian form of meditation that was influenced by his study with a Hindu master. (80)

Sacramental Religious Pluralism

But for now we return to Dr. Marcus Borg himself, it is my view that what is “helpful” to spiritual director Brian McLaren’s theology in the Emergent Church is Borg’s teachings referencing an “alternative” third way of seeing religion that is, of course, “emerging.” True to form these first two ways introduced by Borg are considered bad. He first defines “the absolutist understanding of religion” which sees “one’s own religion is the absolute and only truth” (211). Next says Borg is the “reductionist view” which would be more in line with liberal theology and “reduces religion to a human invention” (ibid.). Both are found wanting in his estimation. The third emerging view as we reimagine theology Borg tells us is called the “sacramental understanding of Christianity” which the living spiritual teacher develops in The Heart of Christianity.

Since the focus here is more on the mystical dimension of the Emergent Church I’m only going to bring this to your attention for now. Here’s how Guru Borg explains this sacramental understanding of religion:

It sees religions as sacraments of the sacred. As sacraments, the religions are not “absolute.” Rather, like the bread and wine of the Eucharist, they are finite products, finite means, of mediating the sacred… Though not always named in this way, this way of seeing religion is shared by many scholars of religious pluralism, others within the religious academy, and increasingly within mainline churches (213)

As warm and fuzzy as this makes us all feel, the Person that is represented by the bread and wine of the Eucharist is not finite, and Christ happens to take a very dim view of those who will not obey His Word. However, once you know the above sacramental understanding of religion, then the following from Alan Jones, our other living spiritual teacher, should now make sense to you. In his book Reimagining Christianity Guru Jones makes this comment about the pluralist “tribe” of religion he is part of:

So what is my religious tribe at this point? I am a Catholic Christian––something of an anomaly, because the Roman Catholic Church I am, at least not officially. When I say this, people tend to respond, “Ah! Catholic with a small c––that means universal.” I protest and try to explain that I believe in the unity of flesh and spirit, in the mystical path, in sacraments. I try to explain that I belong to a tribe in the making. My “Catholic” tribe has yet to come into being.” (xxii)

This “tribe has yet to come into being” because Jones apparently is among those who, through transcendental meditation, have arrived through “the Cloud of Unknowing” at enlightenment and feel that now they understand that God––the Sacred––is too great to be known. The idea is that mankind is actually one divine brotherhood and each religious “tribe” contains parts of the great Mystery. The foolish hope is that by having “conversations” among these various religious “traditions” we will realize that we can journey along in this “Story” sharing with each other the particular understandings of the Sacred that each of has obtained. This is what Jones means when he writes, “I feel blessed at the privilege of being able to stumble along the Christian way [one way among many] with some amazing companions.” (ibid.)

One of those “companions” is Brian McLaren who, in my view, will most likely join this LSTP himself in the not too distant future. But as you come to realize what I’ve been sharing with you in the past couple of months, then comments by McLaren in A Generous Orthodoxy about Christianity becoming “a welcome friend to other religions” (254) and that we should “seek to encourage the growth of good wheat in all religions” (255) become a little clearer. I personally think that Jones and Borg are much further along in this deception than is McLaren, but this is exactly where he, and every fool who follows him, is going to end up. And the key to understanding where their current path leads lies in the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians:

They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (vv.11,12)

Actually it’s all really quite simple: The above view of God and His Christ by these living spiritual teachers is not the truth; to then teach this falsehood is to refuse to love the truth; therefore these men (if not already) are in grave danger of having God–in His disgust–send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie. As one reads McLaren’s chapter on the Bible in Adventures In Missing The Point it becomes clear where he’s gone off track. His approach to the Bible is essentially the same as the Alexandrian school of interpretation, which over-uses allegory in reading the texts of Scripture, seeing “mystery” even where there is none. It was quite harmful to Christians then and it is all the more devastating now as we have approached the end of an Age in God’s dealings with man.

The Return Of Panentheism

As we begin to wrap this Part up we change emphasis from what these Gurus that McLaren is so enamored with believe and teach and shift it back to how this One World Global religion could possibly be squared with the Christian faith McLaren espouses. And this is why we have previously discussed panentheism in such depth. Marcus Borg and Alan Jones already champion this heretical view concerning the nature of God. However to teach this doctrine concerning the Person of our Creator ascribes deity to Satan himself, and it also obliterates the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which happens to be God’s Own plan for salvation. You see if all are divine then there is no need for regeneration.

We need only get as far as xxiii of the Preface of Jones’ Reimagining Christianity before the Guru talks about spiritual practice, and as he decribes his morning “devotional” routine we see the doctrine of panentheism emerge:

every morning, prefacing an hour of yoga, relaxation, and meditation, my wife and I recite the following… In your hands we rest, in the cup of whose hands as ark sailed rudderless and without mast… We are the boat. We are the sea. I sail in you. You sail in me.

I cover Alan Jones’ panentheism in great detail in Part Four of Brian McLaren And Evangelical Panentheism so I need not go further here. Meanwhile Guru Borg makes no bones about the fact that he teaches panentheism. In his book The God We Never Knew Borg has a chapter entitled “Thinking About God: Why Panentheism,” where the Guru explains:

Panentheism as a way of thinking about God affirms both the transcendence of God and the immanence of God. For panentheism, God is not a being “out there.” The Greek roots of the word point to its meaning: pan means “everything,” en means “in,” and theos means “God.” Panentheism thus means “everything is in God.” God is more than everything (and thus transcendent), yet everything is in God (hence God is immanent). For panentheism, God is “right here,” even as God is also more than “right here.” (32)

As I pointed out this issue was discussed at length in the Brian McLaren And Evangelical Panentheism series so here I simply remind the reader that the inherent problem with panentheism is that Satan himself would now be like the Most High and share God’s divine nature along with mankind. I also showed in the panentheism series that McLaren himself was already hinting at leaning toward this heretical view of God as far back as his 1999 book Finding Faith when under the subheading of “Fixing Pantheism” he writes:

I find myself being drawn beyond pantheism to monotheism. Pantheism certainly has much to offer, and our understanding of monotheism is enriched, I believe, by dialogue with monotheism’s primary theological colleague. Incidentally, 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 vision not unlike that 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)

Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation

So taking into account what is being taught by living spiritual teachers Alan Jones, of whom McLaren has said is “reimagining a Christianity that emerges from authentic spirituality,” and Marcus Borg, whom McLaren feels is doing work that is “helpful and important in many ways,” there seems little doubt that this spiritual director of the Emergent Church has received a corrupt “virus” into his own theology which is now in serious danger of being spread by him throughout the entire woefully undiscerning Evangelical community. The transformation of the Emergent Church has already begun as Gnostic mysticism takes these men further away from objective reality; and as the drift continues they become lost in an ocean of subjective experience and reinterpreting Christian doctrine until precious little is left of the historic orthodox faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

There are a couple of incumbent problems as we sound this alarm: 1) Men like McLaren, Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt are seemingly in the initial stages (perhaps to varying degrees) of this growing deception, and 2) The scenario of a Global Family of Oneness in a panetheistic God defies logic. I will leave the first problem for the reader to come to one’s own conclusion based on the evidence, but I will address the illogic of the second. The a-logic of Eastern thought is exactly the issue most dangerous to the Christian faith, and the one that best demonstrates the results of transcendental meditation. In fact, the whole alleged postmodern philosophy itself rests on the logical fallacy that truth is not objective and cannot be known.

For the reader who wishes further study in this area I recommend Truth Decay by Dr. Doug Groothuis. But for our purposes here I ask you to notice how Brian McLaren’s teaching method is actually designed to cause confusion and to tear down what a person once believed. He does it with Christian terms, and in apparent sincere belief that he is doing good, but the Bible clearly informs us that the primary role of the pastor-teacher is to build up believers until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). It would appear pretty obvious that McLaren himself, and the Emergent Church movement as a whole, is actually doing the reverse by tearing down the faith and causing division within the Body of Christ.

I’ve read much by, and listened to, McLaren and one just doesn’t ever hear him speak of the need for the unbelieving to be born again, and I submit the previously stated reasons above to your attention as to why. In Adventures In Missing The Point McLaren writes a chapter on “salvation” and even co-author Tony Camplo says:

What Jesus offered to people, Brian points out, was a spiritual transformation [quite in line with Borg] that would make them into a new kind of people… Yet I believe that Brian does readers a disservice when he does not emphasize that there is indeed a specific decision time in every person’s life. (28,29)

The Love of Most Grows Cold

In conclusion I will ask the reader to be willing to think along with me here. What if the transformation of the Emergent Church actually comes down to the Lord sending this deception as a way of challenging our pat and comfortable understandings of Christianity? Could it be that because Evangelicalism’s developed a standard of Christian faith so low that it almost doesn’t even require a need for there to be a God we have finally angered our Creator? Think about it, the average Christian’s life is so well ordered and so conveniently structured that they live life exactly as a non-believer, with perhaps a higher moral standard. God could exist or not exist and this kind of a Christian life would remain virtually the same.

However, when we begin to look at what the Bible says about the End Times we read – The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9). I’ve previously pointed out that the words for “miracles,” signs” and “wonders” are the same in the Greek as this verse from the Book of Hebrews explaining how the Lord initially validated the Gospel message of the Apostles – God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (v.4) This is something we had best be willing to consider, and especially where the Bible is replete with those who think they had God all figured out only to be in for a rude awakening.

Could God possibly be telling us that people like Brian McLaren and other leaders in the Emergent Church, who claim to be our brothers, but are clearly working against the historic Christian faith, will be among those through whom Satan will be doing such counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders? It is my advice that we begin to seek the Lord about such things because Biblical history clearly shows that man does not have a very good track record when it comes to anticipating what God will do. As we witness the transformation of the Emergent Church, and as this apostasy grows let’s join together and ask Jesus to help us make sure that we really understand what He means when He tells us:

At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold (Matthew 24:10-12)