Thursday, May 25, 2006

Emergent Yoism

It sounds like a scam on its surface. An invented religion where everybody comes up with their own beliefs and throws it into the communal stewpot. Like the jokes about "let's all go worship the gods of chocolate."

This new religion is called "Yoism" and it is based upon the idea of "open source" software. Huh? If you're not a computer geek this may need some explanation. "Open source" basically means that the programming, the underlying structure and mechanics of a computer program are available to the public and are not copyrighted. This means that anyone with a knowledge of computer programming can create new features and build in their own customizations. Linux, for instance, is an operating system (like Windows) that is built by a community of people who usually do it in their own free time, not for commercial purposes.

Likewise, Yoism claims to be an "open source" religion that is being built by a community of people. An on-line newspaper announcing this "New-time religion" explains:

"Open source software methodologies, principles, and practices translate well into other arenas, like standards and intelligence, and have been proposed for the beverage and medical industries as well. But open source philosophy exists in religion too; a kind of collaborative spirituality in which there is no such thing as secrets known only to an inner circle, and participants work together to create a mutually acceptable and beneficial creed instead of passively receiving instruction from a priestly class.

"Because the participants are collaborating, most open source religions tend to be new creations, and many are primarily Internet-based. Perhaps the best-known example is Yoism, which calls itself the 'world's first open source religion.' Yo is the name the group has given to what it calls the 'divine mystery.' Yoans say they reject truth based solely on authority, and focus strongly on community, evolution, democracy, environmentalism, and growth. Yoans also claim they can prove the existence of Yo, but that Yo is the 'infinite, unknowable essence.' . . .

"Using the Open Source Truth Process, Yoans hope that the community's scriptures and beliefs will evolve and changed based on each person's experience of reality, much as open source software is continually changed and made better through the input of many people. 'Our Truth Process depends on the increasing involvement of many people with diverse life experiences,' proclaims Yoism's Web site, and visitors are encouraged to post comments to any writings with which they disagree."

Yoism is not simply a benign tossed salad of nutty spirituality, however. It actually has roots in Hermeticism, which is not unrelated to Gnosticism. The article explains these occultic roots:

"The 'Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn' (OSOGD) is a Pagan community that splintered from the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Followers of the Hermetic Order say that it is not a religion, but a system of magic that stresses religious tolerance, but originally kept much of its special knowledge secret -- sort of a proprietary collection of magical arts -- although most of that original material has now been published in various places. The Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn, founded by Sam Webster, takes the Hermetic Order's 'source code' of magical arts and make it freely available to everyone. 'The Open Source Order is founded on the principle that true spirituality is omnipresent and access to it cannot be owned or controlled by any group or individual,' says Webster. . . . "

Not surprisingly, Yoism is an ideal eclectic hodge-podge of esotericism that appeals to the Emerging Church crowd, too. The article explains the Emergent brand of Yoism:

"Another group that has adopted the open source philosophy is an offshoot of the emergent church branch of Christianity. It calls what it does 'open source theology.' The founder of the open source theology movement, Andrew Perriman, says he started it 'out of the conviction that if there is such a thing as the emerging church .... it urgently needs an emerging theology. . . . Perriman says that in this postmodern culture, the Christian church is struggling to 'rebuild credibility' and needs to change its theology from one that has generated by so-called 'experts' to an open source theology that is the product of 'public conversation. It is exploratory, open-ended, incomplete, less concerned to establish fixed points and boundaries than to nurture a thoughtful and constructive dialogue between text and context.'"

Perriman, an Emerging Church leader, explains that he believes "evangelical theology. . . was going through some sort of transition or crisis" and that therefore he was "on the lookout for new methods, a new rhetoric, new ways of formulating old trusts, and perhaps even a quite radical overhaul of old truths." Perriman says he adopted the open source "framework" to reinvent his theology:

"Perriman maintains that a religious system of beliefs is very much like a computer program. '[It is] complex, evolving, much of its workings hidden from the eyes of the casual user, potentially buggy, but also functional: we use it to do things, to organize our thoughts, values, actions,' he says. 'It is like a content management system. It provides the framework for doing things, for managing ideas, and in the process it both creates possibilities and imposes constraints. The assumption behind an emerging theology is that the process by which a community of believers develops, maintains, and implements its worldview makes a big difference to the end result.'

"'The emerging church wants to do theology itself (not have it spoon-fed), wants to be actively engaged in the process of regenerating an effective biblical mindset for a postmodern world, through conversations that are both deep and shallow, global and localized, both sophisticated and personal, both practical and mystical. The 'open source' metaphor perhaps doesn't quite do all of this, but it captures some powerful aspirations and convictions that lie at the heart of this whole thing.'"

The Truth:

The quoted excerpts above give perhaps some of the best examples of the true nature of the Emerging Church. It is readily compatible with a nonsensical, abstract, irrational, illogical and illusionary religion such as this Yoism. It is hostile to revelatory truth on its face. This extreme egalitarianism, which invites every person to give input into this "open source" religion, is pure chaos and biblical anarchy.

"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4:17-24)

The late Dr. Francis Schaeffer, who frequently wrote against the onslaught of esoteric mysticism, commenting on this passage of Scripture, said:

"Now you will notice here another element in this that is most important in the twentieth century, and in the midst of twentieth-century thinking. In the eighteenth verse it speaks of 'ignorance.' Ignorance is in relationship to [biblical] content; it is not just a spirit of ignorance. In verse 21 it speaks of 'the truth. . . in Jesus.' Truth is content, truth has something to do with reason. Truth has something to do with the rational creature that God has made us. . . .

"'Be renewed in the spirit of your mind' (verse 23). This again is not simply a feeling. It's a matter of thoughts in a rational sense, and with content. 'That ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and (the best translation here) holiness of truth' (Ephesians 4:24).

"This is not just an emotional holiness, but holiness in relationship to content, holiness in relationship to thought and a set of things that can be stated as true, in contrast to what is false." (True Spirituality, Tyndale, 1971)