To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. (Isaiah 8:20, NASB)

Emergence Theory Of A Coming Higher Consciousness of Man As The New Tower Of Babel

It all started innocently enough; an AM reader asked me what I knew about Dr. Michael Armour. I hadn’t heard of him previously so I felt led to look around and see what I could find. Turns out Dr. Armour was pastor of Skillman Church of Christ, “in the heart of Dallas”, from 1986 to 2001. Skillman itself is part of the part of “the restoration movement of Alexander Campbell & Barton Stone” and Skillman does “hold true many of the beliefs they espoused” (Online source).

Having been with a church in this so-called restoration movement before I knew to check and sure enough one of these “beliefs” in the case of Skillman would be baptismal regeneration, which teaches that in order to be saved someone must come “to Christ through baptism by immersion for the forgiveness of sins” (Online source, emphasis mine). Skillman was also aligned with the legalistic belief that instruments could not be used in churches.

Dr. Armour currently runs a Ken Blanchardish-type company out of Dallas, TX called Strategic Leadership Development with its Leader Perfect Resources and Solutions. Under “Why Choose SLDI” we read the usual information about companies such as this being:

A Cadre of Proven, Veteran Coaches
Through Execu-Coach Associates, another component of our parent company, we maintain a close affiliation with veteran coaches nationwide. From this pool of talented leadership development specialists, we put together custom-designed teams of coaches, mentors, consultants, and trainers.

Most of our affiliated coaches had decades of high-level corporate experience before they became executive coaches. And they have all been active as coaches for more than a decade. As a Fortune 200 company told us recently, “You really brought us an A-team of coaches.” (Online source)

From his bio Armour himself looks to me to be another of the myriad Ken Blanchard/John Maxwell wannabes:

For over 30 years Dr. Mike Armour has helped leaders and executives perfect their professional skills, attain peak performance, and discover new dimensions of satisfaction and fulfillment… As a professional keynote speaker, Mike is in constant demand from coast to coast, as well as overseas. With an extensive background in both radio and television, he is a highly effective communicator, blessed with a resonant voice and a dynamic delivery that holds audiences in rapt attention.

Mike and his wife Fran have three grown children. He presently lives in the Lakewood section of Dallas and maintains a national and international business and executive coaching and leadership consulting practice for both the private sector and for churches and non-profit institution. (Online source)

Well, that’s about as far as I would have taken it but I surmised that Armour’s blether about “leadership” and his “consulting practice” for churches really does speak the language of the man-centered sector of the Southern Baptist Convention with their lust for number$. And sure enough a search turns Armour up under “Featured Events” from Saturate Colorado, the website of the Colorado Baptist General Convention (CBGC), which is affliated with the SBC.

CBGC has an upcoming program called the Systems Sensitive Leadership Intensive Event:

Jan 29 2009 – 9:00am
Jan 30 2009 – 5:00pm
Dr. Mike Armour will be explaining his theories of Life Themes based on the research of Clair Graves. This event primarily targets The Denominational Leadership Group. You are welcome to invite missionaries from your state convention who might benefit from this training. Space is limited. (Online source)

Now under the Consulting And Training For Non-Profits and Churches of his SLDI website Armour is out-front that his whole methodology is based on the theories of a Clare W. Graves, not “Clair,” which would appear to be a typo:

Churches and other non-profits will find his use of Graves systems analysis particularly helpful in shaping their corporate culture. And while his book, Systems-Sensitive Leadership, is insightful for any leader or manager, it is especially worthwhile to leaders in churches and church-related institutions. (Online source)

Little did I know that I would apparently be led into somewhat of a companion piece to the Apprising Ministries article Emerging Eastern-Style Meditation For Global Peace…And Worse… Within I discussed that one of the goals of that type of transcendental meditation is the belief it eventually leads to a higher level of consciousness. Though called different things by different people when distilled down it’s the same old idea with the end result being the betterment of mankind.

Some Most Familiar Names Once Again Come Emerging

For example Progressive Christian and Living Spiritual Teacher Dr. Marcus Borg would call this a state of “transformation.” In fact at the Living Spiritual Teachers Project (LSTP) Borg is listed as one who supposedly teaches “the Christian way as a path of transformation.” And then someone like the Buddhist Dali Lama, who interestingly enough is listed at LSTP as one who is a “Convener of multifaith dialogues,” would refer to this stage of development as enlightenment.   

So what’s this got to do with Dr. Mike Armour and Coloado Southern Baptists? Well, let’s look into what this Dr. Clare Graves taught, whose “systems analysis” Mike Armour, and apparently CBGC, feels is “particularly helpful in shaping” leaders in Christ’s Church and see. Armour informs us that there are “a variety of questions” he is asked about “the value systems (or ‘thinking systems,’ as they are sometimes known) first described by Dr. Clare Graves.” That should be your first indication we’re not on solid ground here.

Armour explains for us that the Graves Systems Analysis (GSA) “looks at cultural dynamics as an interplay of eight systems of thought and values.” Further, he says, each of the “eight systems has a distinct set of overarching concerns.” And then Armour goes on to point out: 

While multiple systems are layered within each individual and organization, one or two of these systems will exert dominant influence over the others. And dependent on which system is dominant, people will have widely differing approaches to:

  • How they form their sense of self worth
  • How they define their identity
  • How they are motivated
  • The kind of leaders they will follow
  • The kind of leaders and managers they will be
  • How they respond to crisis

By recognizing the interplay of systems preferences within an organization, Graves Systems Analysis allows leaders and planners to minimize conflict and polarization. It also allows frontline managers to optimize the motivation of their employees. (Online source)

O, if only Jesus knew of this nifty li’l system He would have been able to better understand His disciples’ “differing approaches” to their lives and maybe they wouldn’t have abandoned Him at the Cross. Or just imagine if Peter would have had the benefit of Dr. Armour’s teaching of the GSA; then this unschooled ordinary fisherman, foolish enough to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit, would have led even more than 3,000 people to Christ in his Pentecost sermon in Acts 2.

Lord willing, another time we may revisit Dr. Clare Graves but for now let me show you why this kind of teaching is pure pelagian human potential garbage akin to Borg’s phony transformation and Dali Lama’s empty enlightenment; none which has any place in the Church of Jesus Christ. Armour himself tells us:

Dr. Graves devoted his research to understanding the mind’s response to a world that relentlessly becomes more complex. At certain thresholds of complexity, he observed, the mind’s models for making sense of the world become overtaxed. At that point the mind must create far more complex models of reality in order to cope with the critical problems of existence.

In the history of mankind, Graves discovered, the human race has crossed seven thresholds of complexity that have triggered complete new systems of thinking and values. But not everyone has crossed all seven. In their personal development, many people still perceive the world in relatively simple (i.e., less complex) terms. Therefore, they cope quite well with less complex models of the world. (Online source)

Men and women, what we’re being told above is that as the transformed/enlightened of mankind face and then overcome more and more problems they are themselves evolving upwards in the new emergence of a higher consciousness. And how do I know this is what Armour’s driving at; because this is precisely the heart of what Dr. Clare Graves himself was teaching:

The psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating, spiraling process, marked by progressive subordination of lower-order behavior systems to newer, higher-order systems as man’s existential problems change. (Online source)

And wouldn’t you know that this very same idea forms the basis of Ken Wilbur’s “Integral Psychology”:

Evidence suggests that through the developmental levels or waves of consciousness, move various developmental lines or streams… According to this body of research, a person can be at a relatively high level of development in some lines (such as cognition), medium in others (such as morals), and low in still others (such as spirituality)…

The subtle state is a type of deity mysticism (where individuals report an experience of being one with the source or ground of the sensory-natural world; e.g. St. Teresa of Avila, Hildegard of Bingen). The causal state is a type of formless mysticism (where individuals experience cessation, or immersion in unmanifest, formless consciousness; e.g., The Cloud of Unknowing, Patanjali, pseudo-Dionysus; see Forman, 1990). And the nondual is a type of integral mysticism (which is experienced as the union of the manifest and the unmanifest, or the union of Form and Emptiness; e.g., Lady Tsogyal, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Hui Neng [Forman, 1998b])…

In short, any given broad state of consciousness (such as waking or dreaming) can contain several different structures (or levels) of consciousness. These structures, levels, or waves, as earlier suggested, span the entire spectrum, and include many of those structure-stages that have been so extensively studied by western developmental psychologists, such as the structure-stages of moral, cognitive, and ego development (e.g., Cook-Greuter, 1990; Gilligan, 1990; Graves, 1970; Kegan, 1983; Kohlberg, 1981; Loevinger, 1976; Piaget, 1977; Wade, 1996). When, for example, Spiral Dynamics (a psychological model developed by Beck and Cowan [1996], based on the research of Clare Graves) speaks of the red meme, the blue meme, the orange meme, and so on, those are structures (levels) of consciousness. (Online source, bold mine)

Now we already pointed out in “Open” Creation of Rob Bell that Emerging Church pastor Rob Bell heartily recommends the rambling mystical musings of Ken Wilber:

For a mind-blowing introduction to emergence theory and divine creativity, set aside three months and read Ken Wilber’s A Brief History of Everything. (192, endnote 143, emphasis mine)

In fact in his October 19, 2008 sermon Beware the Dogs, which Chris Rosebrough and I cover in Fighting for the Faith Podcast Concerning Rob Bell and Eastern-Style Mysticism, Bell shows he’s still pretty excited about “a school of thought called an integral approach to humanity” developed by Ken Wilber but, as you just saw above, essentially pioneered by Dr. Clare Graves. But now that we know who Dr. Michael Armour is we can return to the more important question.

And that would be: Why is he teaching Southern Baptists this kind of human potential nonsense so opposed to Holy Scripture? God has very clearly said — “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood (Genesis 8:21). And our Creator Jesus Christ also reiterated this very statement in the New Testament as well when He says to His disciples — “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)