And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
(2 Thessalonians 2:10-12, KJV)
Modernism To PostModernism—Liberalism To Postliberalism
I begin this article for with an explanation as to why Apprising Ministries has labeled the basic theology of the Emergent Church a postliberalism. Simply, it goes like this: Before he went home to be with his Lord he loved so much Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989) correctly labeled the original liberalism as “the Cult of Liberal Theology.” Liberal theology was also known as “modern theology” because it attempted to use modernism’s flawed approach to science, etc. and then harmonize Scripture to it for the culture of its day. Hence things like the search for “the historical Jesus,” which actually began with Dr. Albert Schweitzer.
Fast forward to our time and we now supposedly have “Progressive Christians” like Marcus Borg and “postmodernism,” so now people like those at Emergent Village (EV) are busy trying to do the exact same thing as their parents in the cult of liberal theology. In order to try and suit our capricious culture, bowing as it is before the false philosophy of postmodernism, they are attempting—as did their satanic forebears—to change the Biblical message with their “postmodern theology.” So this is why we also have a postliberal theology. And this is exactly what it is.
Now, in the “Values & Practices” section of the official website of EV, home to Emergent Guru Brian McLaren—mystic mentor to minions like Emergent icon Rob Bell and Emerging Church pastor/spokesman Doug Pagitt—we are told that: “Members of Emergent Village hold in common four values and several practices that flow from them. In the language of a religious order, we call these four values our ‘order and rule’”. And then under the subheading, “1. Commitment to God in the Way of Jesus” we read:
We are committed to doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God. In the words of Jesus, we seek to live by the Great Commandment: loving God and loving our neighbors — including those who might be considered “the least of these” or enemies. We understand the gospel to be centered in Jesus and his message of the Kingdom of God, a message offering reconciliation with God, humanity, creation, and self.
We are committed to a “generous orthodoxy” in faith and practice — affirming the historic Christian faith and the biblical injunction to love one another even when we disagree. We embrace many historic spiritual practices, including prayer, meditation, contemplation, study, solitude, silence, service, and fellowship, believing that healthy theology cannot be separated from healthy spirituality.
As Christ-centered people, to understand the gospel in terms of Jesus’ radical, profound, and expansive message of the kingdom of God.
As people seeking to be formed spiritually in the way of Christ, to learn historic Christian spiritual practices (disciplines), and to use them for the development of character, integrity, and virtue which flow from true communion with God.
As participants in the historic Christian faith, to be humble learners, to stimulate learning in others, and to give priority to love over knowledge, while still valuing knowledge.
As lovers of God and God’s truth, to seek wisdom and understanding, which are the true goal of theology, and to engage in respectful, thoughtful, sacred conversation about God, world, and church. (Online source)
Caution: Words May Not Mean What They Appear To Mean
The first thing you must recognize when interacting with the Emergent Church is you are dealing with an often radical redefinition of Christian terminology. Such is one of the hallmarks of any cult which arises to claim that they are in harmony with what Dr. Martin, renowned defender of the Church of Jesus Christ—whose doctorate was in the Church Fathers of the first five centuries of the Christian Church—would so often call “the historic orthodox Christian faith.” This must be understood before trying to make a proper assessment of this Emergent rebellion against the Bible.
Keeping this all in mind then, you must come to realize that the words I highlighted above are absolutely not referring exclusively to proper Biblical meditation and/or contemplation. No one is arguing against this “practice” or “discipline” for the Christian, as this is what it means to love God with all of your mind. Normally we think of “meditating” on, and “contemplation” of, the Bible as meaning to consciously reflect upon, and think about, what you have been reading in Holy Scripture. Certainly this is entirely acceptable, and even necessary, so as to let the Lord speak to us through the Bible.
Now I can show you that in his book The Sacred Way (SW), under the category of “meditation” in his suggested “Resources,” Emergent anti-theologian and National Coordinator for Emergent Village Tony Jones recommends Moment of Christ: The Path of Meditation (MoC) by apostate Roman Catholic Benedictine monk Dom (means “father”) John Main (1926-1982). Jones informs us, “Main combined Christian teaching with Hindu meditation to form a mantra-meditation” (215, emphasis mine). I find this information to be quite interesting because these practitioners of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism keep trying to tell people that those of us who point out that Contemplative/Centering Prayer does involve borrowing pagan practices from Eastern religions and use of a mantra are wrong to say so.
“Dom” Main, another mystic monk ala Thomas Merton also happens to be one of the “classic” writers featured in a book called Spiritual Classics (SC), which is edited by no less an authority than the Guru of Contemplation, Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster along with Emilie Griffin. In the introduction to Main’s “spiritual classic” in SC—which is actually a section on “The Meaning of Silence” from his book MoC—recommended above by EV’s Tony Jones, we read:
Dom John Main understood well the value of both silence and solitude… Always drawn to religion and the spiritual life, Main rediscovered meditation while living in the Far East… Influenced by the fifth-century writings of John Cassian, Main learned the ancient Christian discipline of the prayer of silence… In the following selection, an essay taken from his book Moments of Christ: The Path of Meditation, Father John is not just teaching us a style of praying… Silence is a path into the reality of the universe, where God is in charge and we are not,… (155, emphasis mine)
Tony Jones further informs us in his book SW 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. He taught a form of meditation using the word maranatha (Aramaic for “Come, Lord”) as a mantra. Sitting cross-legged, the meditator chants (either aloud or silently) “ma-ra-na-tha” for 20 minutes daily. The teachings of Brother Main and others became so popular that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a letter to all Catholic bishops in 1989, entitled “Some Aspects of Christian Meditation” to guide the bishops in their leadership of churches that were using meditation (80)
But in direct opposition to this repetitive mantra of Main the Master Christ Jesus taught us:
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (Matthew 6:7)
The Gnostic Neo-Pagan Mysticism Of Contemplative Spirituality
I’ll have more on this spiritually corrupt CSM currently infecting the evangelical camp in subsequent articles here at AM. Right now however, I wanted to make sure the reader fully understood here that both Emergent anti-theologian Tony Jones and Roshi Richard Foster are well aware of, and as I have just showed you—even recommend Main’s book MoC and/or Main’s musings in antibiblical mysticism. The main point that I wish to draw to your attention again is in relation to this warped and toxic idea espoused by e.g. Rick Warren, as well as others in ecumenical postevangelicalism, that men can be saved apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And they end up believing this lie, sometimes known as the “wider mercy” view of the Gospel and also called “natural theology,” largely because of their heretical practice of so-called “Christian” mysticism. In his sermon “Preaching the Gospel Message (Pt. 1)” Dr. John MacArthur notes:
Perhaps the dominate myth in the evangelical church today is the myth that the kingdom of God and the glory of Christ somehow advance on the back of public favor. This is the fantasy that the path for gospel influence is paved with popular acceptance of the Christian message… Whether it’s Athens or whether it’s Rome or whether it’s Cambridge or Oxford or Harvard or Stanford or Yale or Princeton or wherever else, take all that wisdom that is outside the scripture and the revelation of the gospel and it all adds up to foolishness.
Romans 1 says, they give themselves degrees for it, “Professing themselves to be wise, they are however”—what? “Fools.” [1 Corinthians 1, v]erse 21: “For [since] in the wisdom of God, the world through its own wisdom didn’t come to know God…” God made the wisest determination. God wisely established it this way: that no one could ever come to know Him by human wisdom. Do you see that? That has tremendous implications. The only way you will ever come to know God is by divine revelation and through the Holy Spirit. You cannot come to know God by human wisdom.
That has a lot to say to this new natural theology movement where the assumption is that, by whatever degree of enlightenment the unconverted man has, he can find his way to some idea about God, which God will accept as sufficient to save him if he hasn’t heard the gospel. So, this is the final word on human wisdom: nonsense. Nonsense, when it comes to that which is eternal, cannot lead to the knowledge of God. Man, by wisdom, cannot know God… Cannot know God. (Online source)
So the reason I have been continually hammering away at this so-called “Christian” mysticism, which is actually a form of neo-pagan spirituality, is that in reality this amounts to a reimagined form of the very same Gnosticism that the ancient Church itself was battling. Evil men who ran forth claiming to be Christian and spread their foolish teachings which said that to actually be “saved” one needed more than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These Gnostics taught that people had to become initiated into their secret “knowledge” (Greek: gnosis), and further, that all men contained “a spark of the divine” within them. I have covered this in more detail in The Emergent “One” and Understanding the New Spirituality: God Indwells Mankind.
But for now I will show you in John Main’s book MoC that this is exactly what he taught right in line with classic mysticism. And mysticism is itself in ludicrous lockstep with ancient Gnosticism—which, do you sense the theme here; is itself also right in line with Satan’s own statement of selfish stupidity — “I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Trying to combine proper Christian spirituality with practices borrowed from pagan religions in the East is exactly what John Cassian did and it is this same pathetic pattern of developing a so-called “Christian” form of transcendental meditation (TM) that John Main himself would later follow.
And in the warped work of men like Dom John Main we read the root thinking behind this whole Emerging Church idea of interspiritual dialogues such as in Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, Dalai Lama and the Interspiritual Seeds of Compassion Event. Main tells us in MoC that:
Every great spiritual tradition has known that in profound stillness the human spirit begins to be aware of its own Source. In the Hindu tradition, for example, the Upanishads speak of the spirit of the One who created the universe as dwelling in our heart. The same spirit is described as the One who in silence is loving to all. In our own Christian tradition Jesus tells us of the Spirit who dwells in our heart and of the Spirit as the Spirit of Love.
(76, emphasis mine)
There in about as succinct a manner as possible is the poisoned root of the postliberal contemplative spirituality/mystic movement currently poisoning the more mainstream evangelical section of our Lord’s Church just the same as the original cult of liberal theology once did the mainline denominations. How many more times does one have to read these denigrations, and even denials, of Holy Scripture before they wake up to the fact that this Emergent rebellion cannot possibly have come from God? Above Dom Main writes about: “Every great spiritual tradition.” However, an insoluble problem immediately comes emerging because there is no such thing as “great spiritual traditions” in God’s eye. The Holy Spirit has already clearly told us — the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. (1Corinthians 10:20).
In SW Tony Jones also recommends as a “spiritual classic” messed-up mystic Meister Eckart’s Collected Works as “a mystical treatise on the intersection between Greek philosophy and Christian theology with an emphasis on God’s indwelling of humanity” (221, emphasis mine). This again is an example of classic Gnostic mysticism and it is exactly what you have seen above when Main says, “the Upanishads speak of the spirit of the One who created the universe as dwelling in our heart.” This compromise of the exclusivity of the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ and the acceptance of other religions as valid expressions of faith in God is always the end result of the alleged “enlightenment” arrived at through prolonged practice of Contemplative/Centering Prayer (i.e. TM for the Christian).
The Inner Light Of Divinity Within All Men Snuffed Out
Now you know why semi-pelagians like Rick Warren and Robert Schuller—one of his man-pleasing “mentors” before him—hint at, and/or teach, that men can be saved apart from Christ. They come to believe, as does Richard Foster through the Quaker teaching of the “Inner Light,” that supposedly God already dwells within all mankind. And as such, all they then need to do is to walk sincerely according to that alleged “light” of God living within them. As the fantasy goes, He will one day take into account their good lives and save them accordingly. But the eternally deadly deception spiritually is that the LORD God Almighty Himself has already told us in no uncertain terms that the Spirit of the Lord will only dwell within those Who are regenerated and completely surrender their old lives to Him by God’s Grace alone; through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.
Now you should be able to see why the Church of Rome with her apostate Roman Catholicism, and the Emergent postevangelical Ecumenical Church of Deceit—her devious daughter—have been undoing the teachings of the Reformation through this neo-pagan Gnosticism of contemplative spirituality/mysticism. And most especially under their attack is the doctrine of sola Scriptura, which neither of them adheres to. Let me sum it up for you like this as we us our God-given reasoning skills, which these spiritual fools claiming to be wise (see—Romans 1:22) want us to shut off in stupified “silence.”
Jesus tells us — “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you (John 14:16-17). Look again at verse 16, “I will ask the Father.” The Master was going to do this; therefore, it had yet to be done. “He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of Truth.” Once again we can see this had not yet happened. However ,if God was already dwelling within all men by creation as these mystics “reveal,” then the Father wouldn’t have had to send the Spirit to spiritually dead mankind; He would have already been in them.
And finally, Jesus tells us — “The world” — this refers to the unregenerate, those who are not “born again” and who are not in Christ — “cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.” However, says the Lord of Glory to His born again Christians — “you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.” So yes, God is present “with” men in this world. Well, at least for now; but the Holy Spirit will only be in those who are regenerated by God and then baptized into Christ (see—Romans 8:8-11; 2 Corinthians 13:5).
You Had Best Know Your Bible
So the choice you are going to have to make in this generation as this Age of Grace quickly continues to run out as sand through a nearly empty hourglass is this: Are you going to believe what the inerrant and infallible Word of God in the Bible says—no matter what life around you may look like? Or instead are you going to trust your corrupt, degenerate and sinful human reasoning alone and go by what you feel God is like, or what you think He ought to be doing? Let me leave you with this: 2 Thessalonians 2:9 says — 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.
Then in Hebrews 2:3-4 God the Holy Spirit tells us — This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. Men and women, you really need to understand that the exact same Greek words are used for both sets of “miracles, signs and wonders” described above. The point God is making here is that the closer we get to the End, the more spiritual deceptions are sure to be escalating. The Truth is that the Antichrist will one day “soon” be counterfeiting and duplicating the miracles of Christ and His Apostles in an attempt to deceive the elect—if that were possible (Mark 13:22).
And today I admonish you to forget your pet eschatological views for the moment because if you cannot recognize God’s true Voice, and if you do not test these coming supernatural experiences by the Bible, then you will find yourself ending up here:
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, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. 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. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)