Willis Harman speaks to evangelicals virtually unopposed
Willis Harman, taught 1979 Consultation participants about his new psychic “science.” Urging them to adopt this new paradigm, he said:
“Science will produce the knowledge we need. Modern society has developed science and technology that enable it to accomplish feats which other societies could only dream about. Yet it is clearly confused in matters of guiding values and ultimate goals. The deepest value commitments and the ultimate goals of all societies that ever existed have come from the profound inner experiences of some group of people – religious leaders, prophets, mystics, poet-philosophers, or in some visionary cultures the majority of the adult population. Some form of systematic knowledge of the world of inner experience, publicly validated and widely disseminated, would seem to be among the knowledge most needed to guide society in its crucial choices. Yet modern society’s official knowledge system – science – tends to assume a priori that these experiences will in the end be explained (or explained away) as epiphenomena from a perishable brain, and has steadfastly excluded these phenomena from its field of study. The prevailing view in the culture is that such systematization of, and consensus on, inner wisdom is impracticable.” (p. 33) [emphasis added]
Remarkably, Willis Harman was able to proclaim an alternative Luciferian future to evangelical leaders without any significant resistance. This is because potential debate at the 1979 Consultation on “Future Evangelical Concerns” was stifled. The format of the Consultation was orchestrated in such a manner that no contrary opinions were permitted.
After an overview by Donald E. Hoke, and keynote address “In Search of Noah’s Faith” by Leighton Ford, the Consultation was broken down into six sessions of “Addresses and Responses.” This portion of the Consultation included the presentation of a paper followed by a “brief response from a Consultation participant, selected in advance.” The Preface states that “contrary to the 1977 format, responders had been instructed to summarize and capsulize the assigned paper rather than debate the issues raised.” In other words, the presentations – some of them very controversial and heretical – were not to be challenged! Some responders merely “urged cautions.”
William H. Garrison, who was vice-chairman of the Dallas Theological Seminary board at the time, chose to stay within the confines of the directive and issued a weak response to Willis Harman's address:
“…[W]e could take issue with him on his optimistic view…. But my role as a responder is not to take issue with him so much as to try to highlight or sharpen the focus of the issue as it relates to the church and whatever agenda it should develop for itself to meet this changing situation.”
Garrison did warn that
“…we have to take issue with Dr. Harman’s utopian or optimistic view as he sees Christianity as only a part of a great synthesis…. We should expect the synthesis which Dr. Harman suggests is going to occur, but to the extent to which Christianity becomes a part of it and loses its distinctive and its exclusive emphasis upon directing men and women to the living God, it will become a syncretism – a putting together of totally irreconcilable ideas.” (p. 40-41)
The astute reader will recognize that the groundrules of the Consultation, rather than simply a matter of being "polite," were actually based on psycho-social group manipulation techniques -- ensuring that debate would not take place by using methods of peer pressure, adherence to pre-set rules of conduct, and conformity to pre-established criteria. This set the stage for decades to come. With virtually no opposition from leadership, Willis Harman's virulent new syncretism became embedded in "emergent" theologies, and has been widely promulgated to evangelicaldom ever since.
“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8)
What follows is a list of the “Addresses and Responses” at the 1979 Consultation:
“A Utopian Perspective on the Future:
Address by Dr. Willis W. Harman
Response by Mr. William H. Garrison
“A Dystopian Perspective on the Future: Challenge for the Churches:
Address by Dr. Peter J. Henriot
Response by Dr. David E. Johnston
“The Future of the Church: Its Nurture, Form, and Function”
Address by Dr. Gene A. Getz
Response by Dr. Gordon MacDonald
“The Future of the Church: The Christian Family”
Address by Armand M. Nicholi, Jr., M.D.
Response by Dr. Howard G. Hendricks
“The Future of the Church: In a Secular Society”
Address by Dr. Ted Ward
Response by Rev. John M. Perkins
“The Future of the Church: The Essential Components of World Evangelization”
Address by Dr. Ralph D. Winter
Response by Dr. J. Robertson McQuilkin
Part 3 of the Consultation consisted of seven “Scenarios.”
Scenario, Study Group 1 Dr. William C. Brownson, Jr.
Scenario, Study Group 2 Dr. Richard F. Lovelace
Scenario, Study Group 3 Dr. Ted Ward
Scenario, Study Group 4 Dr. Ralph D. Winter
Scenario, Study Group 5 Dr. Cathy Stonehouse
Scenario, Study Group 6 Dr. Larry W. Poland
Scenario, Study Group 7 Dr. David E. Johnston
Coming up – What Willis Harman taught about the new “science,” and why evangelical leaders were not equipped to defend the Gospel from the coming onslaught of the New Age.