Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tinker with Theology, Tinker with Man

"...should we suppose God to have created the nearly universal, vicious, animal-versus-animal world of nature? Indeed, were carnivorous animals originally herbivorous (as is implied in Genesis 1:28,29)? Does the Evil One and his assistants have sufficient knowledge to tinker with the DNA of God’s created order and distort nature to become 'red in tooth and claw?

"Obviously, the great theologians of the past, such as Augustine, Thomas Aquin
as, and Calvin, could not have imagined how lions, originally content to lie down with a lamb, could or should one day be restored to that state through the combined efforts of good angels and human endeavors. But, remember, if Satan has covered his tracks well, we would not expect find many thinking these thoughts. How then are we going to attempt to destroy his works? Is that a mission to be pursued? Does that represent a frontier to be crossed?"

When neoevangelical leaders began concocting new doctrines and new understandings of old doctrines, they began tinkering with theology. Ralph Winter of the Fuller School of World Mission, and highly influential in training a generation of evangelical missionaries, devoted a good deal of thought to reinventing and revising the Garden of Eden scenario in Genesis to fit a more Gnostic mold. And like his Dominionist cohorts at Fuller, especially C. Peter Wagner, Winter believed that man needed to reclaim the earth and restore it himself. A summary of Winter's aberrant theology of the evolution of man can be found at http://www.ralphwinter.org/F/view.htm?id=204&section=11∂=6 .

Of particular concern is the nature of Winter's Dominionism, which defines man's "earthly mission" as an "ally" in "destroying the works of Satan," particularly by manipulating DNA. Winter would have man "fix" the problems with DNA as part of his Dominion Mandate to restore pre-Fall paradise conditions on Earth. For example, Winter stated:

"...we do not even understand disease germs as the work of Satan (of course, Calvin did not know germs existed). As a result we are not fighting against the whole range of deadly pathogens in the Name of Christ even though the New Testament clearly states that 'the Son of God appeared for this purpose to destroy the works of Satan (I Jn 3:8).'

"Our earthly mission begins to appear more clearly as we recognize as best we can the full extent of the 'works of Satan' (shifting the blame to Satan and thus glorifying God), and as we ally ourselves with the good angels in destroying the works of Satan. 'Without God we can’t and without us He won’t.' Our mission is clarified as we learn more and more about the DNA-level mechanisms of distortion which account for most of the suffering in this world."

Dr. Francis Schaeffer devoted an entire chapter of his landmark book How Should We Then Live? (Fleming H. Revell, 1976) to the question of "Manipulation and the New Elite" (Chapter 12). His basic premise in the book was, of course, that if man tinkers with the absolutes of biblical Christianity, then moral relativity will reign, resulting in unrestrained genetic engineering. He wrote:

"Any of us would be glad for methods of genetic changes which would cure genetic disease and help individuals. However, removing these things from the uniqueness which Christianity gives to people, and from the Christian absolutes, tends to lead to an increasing loss of humanness, even in the milder forms. In the call for full genetic engineering the door is wide open for the most far-reaching manipulation...

"On every side people are taught that people are only machines, and as they are so taught their resistance to manipulation in all these ways is weakened, step by step. Modern man has no real boundary condition for what he
should do; he is left only with what he can do. ...

"All morals and law are seen as relative. Thus people gradually accept the
idea of manipulation, and a bit more gradually open themselves to accept the practice of the varying forms of manipulation." (pp. 236-7)

In other words, tinkering with theology results in tinkering with man. And Dominionist theologies contain the idea of a "New Breed." After reading Ralph Winter's papers, one begins to imagine worst-case scenarios in the Dominionist ideal of reversing the effects of man's Fall. Do these people actually believe that man can perfect himself via tinkering with his own DNA?

In the days to come, the Emergent/New Apostolic Reformation Church could very well become a predator in this arena. The issues are complex. What follows is a scholarly paper by Dr. Martin Erdmann for a European Conference for Clinical Nanomedicine scheduled for May 2008.

Applying Converging Technologies in Nanomedicine.
Taking stock of Challenges and Benefits.

Martin Erdmann

Today, diverse integrative initiatives are being played out before us on many societal levels. The concentration of forces to form larger socio-economic constellations is especially noticeable in politics and commerce. We observe similar developments even in the heterogeneous arena of technologies. The convergence of NBIC technologies and sciences (nano-, bio-, information technologies and cognitive science), which has taken on a markedly different form from previous models, opens up entirely new avenues for the “technization” of medicine.

The effective applications of new technologies awake utopian hopes of accomplishing a high level of human-machine integration. By a coordinated use of “converging technologies”, new combinations of organic and inorganic materials are becoming possible.
Nanotechnology offers the tools to manipulate matter by manufacturing and arranging molecules in such a way that specialized materials can be created “from the ground up”. Biotechnology affords a unique perspective on how nature uses information and matter to assemble molecules. Information technology allows us to develop complex and adaptive systems by taking note specifically of interactions on the atomic level, providing new insights into how abstract information can be transferred from one physical medium to another. For example, it is possible that revolutionary levels of efficiency can be reached by using bacteria to transmit information.

Materials science, therefore, will introduce methods of producing synthetic materials by entirely new ways of manipulating organic molecules. The scientific community worldwide is anticipating spectacular results from these technological breakthroughs. Of special significance have already been the tentative attempts to cross formerly impassable demarcation lines, by combining biological and inorganic materials, carbon and silicon compounds and even human and artificial intelligence.
An example of the successful implementation of converging technologies is the synthesis of a new class of “intelligent” materials which emulate the versatile functionality of living organisms, in order to control teleologically the creative interplay of information and matter and to transport and use energy in different forms.

Greatly enlarged functionality in medicine, for example, can be achieved by the development of innovative clinical diagnostics and synthetic implantations, the use of chip technology in neurosurgery, and the use of nano particles in treating cancerous cells. Clinicians in neuromedicine are highly optimistic in regard to the implementation of new diagnostic equipment and therapeutic methods. It would be tragic, however, to overlook the potential of these new technological means to affect adversely the patient’s personality by interfering with the neurological processes of the brain. To cause an irreparable identity change of a human being would be a most troubling moral issue.

Indisputably, the healthcare system is undergoing a transformation (having both desirable and alarming aspects) into an “industry of endless opportunities”. In this euphoric atmosphere of apparently unlimited human ‘doability’, it will be necessary to devote special effort to the areas of technological assessment and concomitant research. The patient’s right of self-determination competes increasingly with the social objectives of a society. The new longing to enhance the natural abilities of humans is gradually replacing the original desire to lead a normal healthy life. Is the implantation of electronic “eyes”, to increase the visible spectrum beyond that detectable by natural eyes, as ethically acceptable as the surgical correction of myopia?

These sweeping technological and scientific developments confront humankind with enormous ethical challenges. The manipulation of functional processes in different living beings, especially humans, has risen so dramatically that problematical issues are arising which need to be addressed more seriously by scientists and politicians than hitherto. They need to find solutions which further, rather than damage, the public welfare. The discussions should not only focus on the beginning or end of life, but should ideally encompass all phases and situations of a life span.

In this context, the meaning of human rights must become a major topic of debate. How substantially can we guarantee the preservation of privacy and a person’s rights to physical and emotional well-being, health and life? A clear differentiation is needed between technological procedures which, on the one hand, counteract pathological developments in the human body and, on the other, enable the radical transformation of human nature. Such technologies raise the question of where sickness and health begin and end.

An indisputable consensus among experts no longer exists concerning this issue. The once-sharp contours of a codex of medical ethics such as the “Hippocratic Oath” have already become blurred by the preferences of the “patient” and the ambitions of the medical profession. We lack fundamental ethical guidelines that sensibly distinguish the healing of disease from the manipulation of healthy organs. The moral principles of the medical profession, once generally understood and adhered to, have gradually been altered. One of the most important questions that needs to be answered anew is this: Who is laying down these guidelines when an already pliable codex of medical ethics has evaded the issue of differentiating between the categories of therapeutic procedures and manipulative enhancements? In the current situation, where nearly everything which is not harmful to others seems to be allowed, it will not be easy to identify a restrictive yet generally acceptable solution to the regulation of enhancement procedures.

Another objective that will not be achieved in the short term is the relief of financial strains on social systems — in particular the health care system.
[1] The correlation between cost and utility which arises when new technologies are being introduced is not readily ascertainable in our present state of knowledge. One consequence will be the formation of a two-tier medical system, which has been going on for some time already. The social gulf between rich and poor can only increase if the desire for physical optimization and enhancement takes precedence over the healing mandate. Physicians involved in the former will be placed on a pedestal. What the well-to-do can afford will be unavailable to the underprivileged. Worse yet, the finite resources of the medical services sector could well be offered to the highest bidder — becoming available to those willing to afford the high cost of enhancing his/her achievement potential. Conceivably, nearly every means will be sought to gain a competitive edge in the struggle for survival, as some see it. This could open the door for the exponentiation of elitist tendencies in society. The socially disadvantaged, be they in the majority or not, will feel dehumanized if they perceive themselves to be at the mercy of a superior race of human mutants!

In view of the enormous challenges accompanying the technological development of nanomedicine, it is essential to assess the course of events with a good measure of realism. Principally, however, it is important to ensure that medical ethics keep pace with the anticipated exponential improvement of the diagnostic and therapeutic means of nanomedicine — so that these developments become a step, not to the nightmare of a “brave new world”, but to a truly brighter future.

1. See vgl. Walter Baumgartner, Barbara Jäckli, Bernhard Schmithüsen, Felix Weber, Nanotechnologie in der Medizin (TA 47/2003), Bern 2003.

[Note: See also "Creatures in Pursuit of Autonomous Perfection" by Dr. Martin Erdmann. Dr. Erdmann is the author of Building the Kingdom of God on Earth: The Church's Contribution to Marshal Public Support for World Order and Peace, 1919-1945 (Wipf & Stock, 2005)]

The Truth:

"Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?" (Job 40:9)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Emergent MIND Change

"A new world, as the mystics have always said, is a new mind."
-Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy:Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980s
(J.P. Tarcher, 1980), p. 36 [emphasis added]

"The mystery of the creative/intuitive mind is underscored in the 'perennial wisdom', which finds the
deep intuition connected to the one Universal Mind. Thus there are indeed no limits to its capabilities save those the individual creates as part of the resistance to discovering one's godlike qualities. Furthermore, because of this connection to the All, problem solutions, which come from the deep intuition will be solutions that benefit all, not one at the expense of others."

- Willis Harman, Global Mind Change: The New Age Revolution in the Way We Think
(Warner Books, 1988), p. 88 [emphasis added]

Dr. Dennis Cuddy, in his bi-weekly NewsWithViews column on April 7 made a startling observation. Cuddy, an historian and author with expertise in the mental health arena,* noticed that there were similarities in Brian McLaren's new book everything must change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope and Eckhart Tolle's new book touted by Oprah's Book Club, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose. Both authors define mental illness in terms of wrong belief systems which are harming the planet:

McLaren in his book continued to explain that this failed Christian religion's threats of hell "lose their effect when those making the threats seem a little defensive, deranged, out of touch, manic….." Note that he's saying they are mentally ill! This is similar to New Ager Marilyn Ferguson in THE AQUARIAN CONSPIRACY: PERSONAL AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION IN THE 1980s (1980) saying that if people will get rid of "crippling belief systems," they can have a "transformation of consciousness" and find "sanity within." More recently, it sounds like Eckhart Tolle's A NEW EARTH: AWAKENING TO YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE (2005) promoted by Oprah's Book Club. He asserts that all of those expressing the certainty that "I am right and you are wrong" are a "dangerous thing in religions." It reflects a "collective mental illness." Tolle characterizes "sin" as simply "missing the point" of human existence and suggests that "Eastern wisdom teachings" allow us to "let go of dogmas" and "rigid belief systems." He also relates that in THE HOLY BIBLE "a new heaven" actually refers to "the emergence of a transformed state of human consciousness." Note again the terms "mental illness" and "transformed." ("Transformation by Crises and Synthesis")

Indeed the two books do bear a basic similarity in their underlying premise that man's belief systems (i.e., particularly orthodox Christian theology) are deranged and need to undergo a basic "shift" that will result in "transformation" necessary for the survival of the planet.

Eckhart Tolle describes this "shift" in Teilhardian terms as a "shift in consciousness" that will result in a spiritual "awakening." His book moves from the self-help genre to become a full-fledged New Age indoctrination primer. Claiming that the "'normal' state of mind of most human beings contains a strong element of what we might call dysfunction or even madness," Tolle goes on to call this the "collective mental illness" of humanity, redefining "original sin" as "collective insanity." (pp. 5-10)

"The collective manifestations of the insanity that lies at the heart of the human condition constitute the greater part of human history. It is to a large extent a history of madness. If the history of humanity were the clinical case history of a single human being, the diagnosis would have to be chronic paranoid delusions, a pathological propensity to commit murder and acts of extreme violence and cruelty against his perceived 'enemies' -- his own unconsciousness projected outward. Criminally insane, with a few brief lucid intervals." (pp. 11-12) [emphasis added]

Tolle's solution to this "deep-seated collective delusion" is "a radical transformation of human consciousness." Man must begin by recognizing his own "insanity" before he can "emerge." He must eradicate "mental belief structures" by exchanging "a set of thoughts you regard as the absolute truth" -- what Tolle calls a "mind-dominated religion" -- for the "transcendence of thought." (pp. 12-20) In other words, those in

"traditional religions are able to let go of identification with form, dogma, and rigid belief systems and discover the original depth that is hidden within their own spiritual traditions at the same time as they discover the depth within themselves. They realize that how 'spiritual' you are has nothing to do with that you believe but everything to do with your state of consciousness." (p. 18)

"What is arising now is not a new belief system, a new religion, spiritual ideology, or mythology. We are coming to the end not only of mythologies but also of ideologies and belief systems. The change goes deeper than the content of your mind, deeper than your thoughts. In fact, at the heart of the new consciousness lies the transcendence of thought...." (p. 21)

This is, of course, a perfect description of the New Spirituality. And to top it off, Tolle reminds the reader of the classic mantra of the New Age - "The dysfunction of the egoic human mind... is for the first time threatening the survival of the planet." We must all "Evolve or die," which entails an "evolutionary leap" -- "the emergence of a new dimension of consciousness." (p. 21) "The meek are the egoless" (p. 309) who have merged with the collective whole. All of this is supposed to create "A New Earth."

Likewise, Brian McLaren has been forging new orthodoxies for a New Spirituality in his aptly-named Emergent church movement. In order for Christians to "emerge" (p. 299) -- what McLaren refers to as a "deep shift in context" (p. 43) -- they must give up their belief system that is mentally ill. They must abandon their "threats of hell" which "seem a little defensive, deranged, out of touch, manic, or embarrassed" in order to have a more "vibrant form of the Christian faith that is holistic, integral, and balanced." (p. 34) McLaren portrays the "typical Christian believer" as "tense, judgmental, imbalanced, reactionary, negative, and hypocritical." (p. 33) Definitely not the picture of mental health!

McLaren's new earth involves changing the world's dysfunctional, suicidal and unhealthy "dominant framing story" (p. 70) with an "ascending spiral of transformation" based on "an alternative framing story that, if believed, could save the system from suicide." (p. 72) McLaren writes that

"the suicidal framing story that dominates our world today has no power except the power we give it by believing it. Similarly, believing an alternative and transforming framing story may turn out to be the most radical thing any of us can ever do....

"...[I]f we believe that God graciously offers us a new way, a new truth, and a new life, we can be liberated from the vicious, addictive cycles of our our suicidal framing story...." (p. 270) [emphasis added]

"So the revolution we need starts in us--in our minds, our hearts--as an act of faith, a transfer of trust from the dominant system to a new way of seeing, believing, and living." (p. 271) [emphasis added]

This new way of "seeing" and "thinking" and "living," according to McLaren, "is not a new system of belief patched into an old way of life; it is a new way of life that changes everything." Everything else "must be unlearned." Those who "are being malformed" must be "shaped" or "formed" ("spiritual formation") by a "deeper script or lesson plan." (pp. 283-292)

Marilyn Ferguson, who publicly outed the Luciferian Theosophist-created New Age Movement in her book The Aquarian Conspiracy, also described "deep inner shifts" that could occur, precipitated by activities that could generate altered states of consciousness, i.e. distortions in the brain's cognitive functioning. This was seen as a vehicle to facilitate a more "rapid transformation of the human species," beginning with an emergent "vanguard." And she claimed that those who underwent this "awakening" process had a more "sane, healthy center, the wherewithall to deal with stress and to innovate." (pp. 31-32) She explained how

"The Aquarian Conspiracy is using its widespread outposts of influence to focus on the dangerous myths and mystiques of the old paradigm, to attack obsolete ideas and practices.... "We can conspire against the old, deadly assumptions. We can live against them." "For only that which is deeply felt can change us. Rational arguments alone cannot penetrate the layers of fear and conditioning that comprise our crippling belief systems. The Aquarian Conspiracy creates opportunities wherever possible for people to experience shifts in consciousness. Hearts as well as minds must change. Communication must be not only wide but deep..... "Penetrating to the roots of fears and doubts, we can change radically.... A new world, as the mystics have always said, is a new mind." (pp. 34-36) [bold added]

Evangelical leaders a generation ago listened to Willis Harman, whose influence predominates Marilyn Ferguson's book. They invited him to speak about his ideas on "Global Mind Change" and "Noetic Sciences" and how he was working on a "more unified view of reality" that based on "altered states of consciousness" that could create a "significant cultural shift" and "transcendent goals for the individual and society." Harman informed them that "the fundamental tenets of religion [are] an illusion, turn out themselves to be invalid." His presentation went virtually unchallenged. (See Herescope series September and October 2005 on this topic.)

Today it is readily apparent that church leaders are "rethinking" and "emerging" and hyping activities that create altered states of consciousness, such as contemplation, labyrinths, drumming, ecstatic and frenzied "revivals" with signs and wonders, etc. Furthermore, they are dumping old theologies by the truckloads, claiming that orthodoxy is responsible for the sins of the church and creating problems for society. Those who cling to the old belief system of biblical doctrine are increasing portrayed as mentally ill, and blamed for every sort of problem. This false caricature is increasingly utilized by those who promote an emergent New Spirituality, both without and within the church.

Dr. Dennis Cuddy's research into the international mental health agenda, published in three books* as well as online at NewsWithViews.com in a lengthy series on "Mental Health, Education and Social Control" sheds additional light on the ramifications of this dangerous caricature. Definitions of what constitutes mental "health" and mental "illness" are changing, nationally and internationally, and in the future those who hold to traditional beliefs may be assessed as "deranged."

The Truth:

Dr. Francis Schaeffer wrote a book in 1971, True Spirituality, that serves as a timeless refutation of mysticism. In it, he explained the importance of rational thought, reason and Absolute Truth in the Christian life.

"Here is true Christian mysticism. Christian mysticism is not the same as non-Christian mysticism, but I would insist that it is not a lesser mysticism. Indeed, eventually it is a deeper mysticism, for it is not based merely on contentless experience, but on historic, space-time reality--on propositional truth. One is not asked to deny the reason, the intellect, in true Christian mysticism. And there is to be no loss of personality, no loss of the individual man. In Eastern mysticism--to which the West has turned so madly now that it has lost the sense of history, of content, and the truth of biblical facts--there is always finally a loss of the personality. It cannot be otherwise in their framework. You will remember the story of Shiva, who is one of the manifestations of the Everything. He came and loved a mortal woman. Shiva put his arms around this woman in his love, and immediately she disappeared and he became neuter. This is Eastern mysticism. It is grounded in the loss of personality of the individual. Not so Christian mysticism. Christian mysticism is communion with Christ. It is Christ bringing forth fruit through me, the Christian, with no loss of personality and without my being used as a stick or a stone either." (The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, Volume 3, True Spirituality, [Crossway, 1982], p. 249)

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)

*Dr. Cuddy has authored three books on this topic: Mental Health Screening: How Will It Affect Your Children, National Mental Health Program: Creating Standards for the New World Order, and most recently Mental Health, Education and Social Control. The first two books are available from Discernment Ministries (903-567-6423) and the third can be obtained by phoning 800-652-1144.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

True Revival

Every true revival is always, and without exception, based on the Word of God; the Bible is the only revealed Truth in the world and, in fact, ever has been; there is not a spiritual problem that is not addressed in the Word; there is not a difficulty for which it does not have a solution; there is not a question that it cannot answer; there is not a life that the God of its pages cannot change; there is not a broken heart that its Words cannot mend; there is not a darkness that its Light cannot dispel; not a sin that the Blood of its pages cannot wash away.

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
(Psalm 119:105)

The Expositor’s Study Bible, Commentary on 2 Chronicles 34

Friday, April 18, 2008

The False Imagining of the False Christ

Colossians and the coming of the cosmic-christ

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

"We believe the vision of the new Jerusalem, like all prophetic visions, seeks to inspire our imaginations with hope about what our world can actually become through the good news of the kingdom of God.
In this emerging view, the 'new heaven and new earth'... means, not a different space-time universe, but a new way of living that is possible within this universe, a new societal system that is coming....
The new Jerusalem represents, then, a new spirituality, a new way of living in which the sacred presence of God is integrated with all of life...."
- Brian McLaren, everything must change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope (Thomas Nelson, 2007), p. 296 [emphasis & links added]

Over three-and-one-half decades ago, John Lennon came out with the hit song Imagine. The lyrics project a utopian vision of the world in which, because there is no heaven or hell, no countries or religion, no possessions or greed, nothing to kill or die for, all the people will be one.[1] Internationally, Lennon's song about the new world remains most popular. Increasingly, political, religious, and media ideologues are suggesting that for Lennon's dream to become a reality, a one-world community must become committed to one-world spirituality.

As these societal movers and shakers might imagine, the new utopia will necessitate the dawning of a new spiritual consensus. Such messianism envisions christ to be mental, not personal, and that being the case, asks people to "shift" their consciousness to a one-world spirituality in order to build a one-world community. Utopia would, it is theorized, be based upon spiritual unity. Religion will no longer divide, but unite. There will be no heaven or hell, no countries or religion to die for. Terrorism will become obsolete. As John Lennon imagined, the world will be as one. But, under what guise might this spiritual shift be coming?

Its core belief appears to be this: In essence, the cosmos consists of a panentheist or pantheist-christ spirit permeating everything.[2] Thus, everything, animate and inanimate, becomes "sacred." This sacred christ is the one reality which comprises both the center and circumference of the universe. That's why it's called the cosmic christ. Christ is whatever constitutes time, matter, and space. Christ is Source. Christ is Moment. Christ is Energy. Christ is Thing. Christ is Presence. Christ is Being. Christ is Consciousness. Christ is Oneness. Christ is you. Christ is me. Christ is . . . In all of this, and unlike His portrayal in Holy Scripture, there is no sense in which Christ is personally before, above, without, or outside the world. (Oh, by the way . . . prepositions contain great theology!) This christ is co-existent and co-extensive with the universe. Because the New Age christ permeates nature, it is nature. If the universe didn't exist, this christ wouldn't exist. According to the math of the twin deceptions of New Ageism and the New Spirituality, christ minus the universe equals nothing. Arbitrarily, they take whatever is, assign divinity to it, and call it "christ."

After stating a god-essence resides "in every creature, every flower, every stone," Eckhart Tolle theorizes, "All that is, is holy." Then he adds, "This is why Jesus, speaking entirely from his essence or Christ identity, says in the Gospel of Thomas: 'Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up a stone, and you will find me there.'"[3] Similarly, Matthew Fox wrote that God and Christ are in all things. As the "pattern that connects," Fox sees his cosmic-christ as offering hope "by insisting on the interconnectivity of all things and on the power of the human mind and spirit to experience personally this common glue among all things."[4] In his book Quantum Spirituality, emergent-evangelical Leonard Sweet advocates monism that nuances panentheism. Investing the cosmos with "christness," he states, "The world of nature has an identity and purpose apart from human benefit. But we constitute together a cosmic body of Christ."[5] Even Rick Warren's reference to the New Century Version of Ephesians 4, and verse 6 ("God . . . is in everything"), plugs into the growing popularity of monistic spirituality.[6] So what might a Christian believer think about this redefinition of Christ?

Differing from the mystical spirituality of New Ageism, Holy Scripture presents a far different Christ than the one the New Spirituality imagines. The christ of New Ageism (pantheism) and the Christ of the New Testament (theism) are worlds apart. While "the christ" of the New Age is the world, the Christ of the New Testament is the Word (See John 1:1-3, 14; Philippians 2:6-7.). In a onetime act of the divine incarnation, the Word became flesh, thereby delivering the Christian faith from the theological extremes of deism and transcendentalism on the one hand, and pantheism and immanentism on the other.

In a balanced way, again and again, the New Testament affirms the otherness of Christ from His creation and the togetherness of Christ with His creation. For reason of His incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, Christ is present amidst His creation. But for reason of His incarnation, ascension and glorification, Christ remains transcendent above His creation. Paradoxically, but really, Christ is now physically present in heaven (Hebrews 1:3) while, at the same time, being spiritually present on earth (Matthew 28:20). Though Christ is before and above time, matter, and space, He also is involved with time, matter, and space. But for reason of pantheistic or panentheistic monism which denies the otherness of Christ from the world, New Ageism neither needs nor wants Jesus' personal, historical, and exceptional Incarnation, Substitutionary Death, Resurrection, or Second Coming--redemptive events based upon the original separation of the Word from the world.

Yet, amazingly, and disingenuously, New Ageism quotes and spins the words of the Bible to prove their anti-Christian point of view. One text they use is Colossians 1, verse 17, which reads, "And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (NASB). New Ageism reads the second half of the verse to mean that nature is saturated by a christ spirit which forms the essence of the cosmos.[7] But does this text even hint, let alone teach, the pantheistic permeation of a christ-spirit in nature? For a number of reasons, it does not.

First, we observe that Paul makes two emphatic statements about God's Son.[8] One, the Son "is before all things." And two, "by him [i.e., the Son] all things consist" (Colossians 1:17, KJV). The two clauses express two distinct relationships the Son possesses to "all things." First, He is precedent before all things. Second, He is provident over all things.[9] That God's Son is "before all things" indicates that He is temporally separate from all things. Scripture presents the eternal Christ as being before creation. There never was a time when the Son was not (John 1:1-2). He is the uncreated Creator of everything (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; etc.). Christ does not derive from the cosmos. Rather, the cosmos derived from Christ. For reason of its commitment to pantheistic/panentheistic permeation, New Ageism denies this biblical understanding of Jesus Christ.

In light of this, what does the second half of the apostle's statement-- "by him all things consist" --mean? Literally, the Greek text reads: "all things in Him stand together."[10] Bible versions translate the phrase with a slight difference. Most read: "in Him all things hold together [or consist]" (NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, ASV 1901, and NAB). This understanding suggests that Christ is the sphere in whom creation holds together. While all things are in Christ, Christ is not in all things. The King James Bible reads just a little different--"by him" all things hold together. The Son is therefore, the agent by whom all things hold together.[11] From the flow of accolades Paul ascribes to Christ (i.e., He is preeminent in the cosmos, He is producer of the cosmos, He is precedent before the cosmos, and He is provident over the cosmos, vv. 15-17), I think the meaning that Christ as the Agent holding all things together is preferred.

Regarding Jesus Christ's holding all things together, Moule wrote, "He is not their Cause only, in their initial sense; He is forever their Bond, their Order, their Law, the ultimate Secret which makes the whole universe, seen and unseen, a Cosmos, not a Chaos."[12] If Christ did not continually preserve His creation, the universe would disintegrate.

To guard against this heresy of christ-consciousness, both in his day and in ours, the apostle Peter assured believers, "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Peter 1:16, KJV). Though the Word entered the world, the Word is not the world. And against any supposition to the contrary, Paul writes that we are to cast down "imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God," and to bring "every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5, KJV).

Concerning our relationship to all of the christ-imagining being advocated by the gurus and promoters of New Ageism and the New Spirituality, the apostle Paul warns: "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ" (Colossians 2:8, NASB).

Used with permission. Opening quote and links in first three paragraphs added. Pastor Larry DeBruyn is the author of Church on the Rise: Why I am not a Purpose-Driven Pastor.

[1] I am grateful to Warren Smith for his input into this article and drawing my attention to Lennon's lyrics. The words of Imagine are available online at (http://www.lyrics007.com/John%20Lennon%20Lyrics/Imagine%20Lyrics.html). For a detailed commentary on the relevance of Lennon's song to the spirituality of Eckhart Tolle, see Berit Kjos, "Oprah and Tolle Fuel New Age Revival," March 30, 2008.
[2] Readers will note that "christ" is spelled with a lower case "c." I will not dignify the "christ" of New Age imagining to the level of the Christ of Holy Scripture. Though slight, the terms pantheism and panentheism differ. The pantheist ascribes divinity to everything. If I kick a tree, I've kicked God. The panentheist invests the tree with divinity for reason that it harbors the divine soul. Thus, if I kick a tree, though I've not directly kicked Him, I have kicked an object in which God resides. In their attempt to invest nature with sacredness, both views commit idolatry for reason of betraying the biblical God's holiness or separateness from His creation (See Isaiah 40:18-*25; Romans 1:20-23.).
[3] Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (Novato, California: New World Library, 1999) 134. Tolle places awareness of "the God-essence" in feeling. Of that "intense present-moment awareness," he writes "you become conscious of the Unmanifested both directly and indirectly. Directly, you feel it as the radiance and the power of your conscious presence--no content, just presence. Indirectly, you are aware of the Unmanifested in and through the sensory realm. In other words, you feel the God-essence . . ." (Power of Now, 133). It is obvious that the basis of Tolle's pantheism rests upon a fantasy of feeling. And what begins with such an illusion leads to delusion.
[4] Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ (New York: Harper Collins, 1988) 133.
[5] Some emergent-evangelicals may object to the association of Leonard Sweet with the Episcopalian priest Matthew Fox, a former Roman Catholic Dominican dismissed from that order in 1992, by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI). But to support his statement regarding "a cosmic body of Christ," Sweet approvingly cites Fox's book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ. See his online version of Quantum Spirituality, pdf pages 89, 195, and footnote 66 (http://www.leonardsweet.com/Quantum/quantum-ebook.pdf). I am grateful to Deborah Dombrowski and the Lighthouse Trails Research Project (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/index.html) for introducing me to the manner in which Sweet redefines "the body of christ."
[6] Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002) 88.
[7] Fox employs Colossians 1:15-17 to demonstrate that his christ is "the pattern that connects." See Coming of the Cosmic Christ, 133.
[8] Greek grammarians note that the pronoun "is used emphatically--He Himself, in contrast to the created things . . . Here it means 'He and no other' . . ." See Cleon L. Rogers Jr. and Cleon L. Rogers III, (Grand Rapids: ZondervanPublishingHouse, 1998)
461. The NRSV carries the emphasis into its translation which reads, "He himself is before all things . . ." (Emphasis mine, Colossians 1:17a).
[9] The preposition "before" (Greek, pro) can carry a temporal or a rank meaning. Wallace suggests both are appropriate. He writes, "Jesus Christ takes priority over and is before all things." See Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (Grand Rapids: ZondervanPublishingHouse, 1996) 379, Footnote 67.
[10] Between the Logos of the Bible and the logos of Stoicism, and based upon Colossians 1:17, a scholar observed this contrast: "He [i.e., the biblical Christ] is not in all things but all things are in him. The Logos of the Stoics gave unity and order, and meaning to all things because it permeated all things as dia-existent principle; the Colossian hymn praises him in whom all things begin, continue, and conclude because they are in, through, and unto him as a pre-existent being." See David E. Garland, Colossians and Philemon, The NIV Application Commentary, quoting Fred B. Craddock (Grand Rapids: ZondervanPublishingHouse, 1998) 89, Footnote 29. From Craddock's observation, the similarity between the philosophical christ of Stoicism and the spiritual christ of New Ageism is apparent. While not viewing Christ as "a pre-existent being," the New Spirituality does embrace christ as "dia-existent principle."
[11] Wallace notes that the dative of agency rarely occurs in the New Testament, if at all. However, this text appears to be one of the exceptions because "in him," is personal. See Wallace, Beyond the Basics, 373. Opke remarks: "This rich usage is not just a Hebraism, nor does it rest on a mystically local conception, but it is based on the view of Christ as a cosmically and eschatologically universal personage." (Emphasis mine, A. Opke, "en," Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1985). 234.
[12] H.C.G. Moule, Colossian and Philemon Studies (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: Christian Literature Crusade, 1932) 78.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Tony Blair Faith Foundation

Tony Blair has just embarked upon a project to further the cause of global governance, and he is intending to use religion as the vehicle. Called the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, its purpose is to create momentum for achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals.

His role is not unlike that of John Foster Dulles nearly a century ago, who worked to create "'an international ethos [through the Church] which would be essential as any foundation for any lasting international political structure.'" Commenting on this, historian Dr. Martin Erdmann wrote, "The first responsibility of the Church would thus be to inform the general public about international affairs." He explained how "the churches would need to unite their forces to transform the present sovereignty system into a world order system wherever possible." (Building the Kingdom of God on Earth [Wipf & Stock, 2005], p. 113)

The following post is from http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/spirituality/global/blair-globalism.htm. Used with permission.

Global Spirituality Tony Blair, Global Banking, UNESCO, Yale and the EU

"Religions have… led to division, hatred, and war. Peace entails that we understand that we are all interdependent…. collectively responsible for the common good.... Religions must be a source of helpful energy.... We will promote dialogue and harmony between and within religions …. We call upon the different religious and cultural traditions to join hands… and to cooperate with us." [more]

Here are three questions to ponder as you read the quotes below:
1. How will Tony Blair's Faith Foundation SHAPE and USE churches to establish the socialist-Communitarian management system behind the UN Millennium Development Goals?

2. Will Blair work with compromising leaders such as Rick Warren, who has already been pulling churches and nations into the Communitarian web?

3. How many churches will have the discernment needed to resist this global process and refuse to trade God's unchanging Truth for the world's changing and deceptive ideals?

"The Tony Blair Faith Foundation will organise a global campaign to mobilise young people, across religious divides, to work together towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). ... Tony Blair said that he is passionate about the importance of faith in the modern world and highlight the need for people of faith to reach out to one another. The foundation... will promote understanding between the major faiths, and increase understanding of the role of faith in the modern world. The foundation will work with Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. "The foundation is inspired by the former Prime Minister’s belief that faith can be a progressive force, advancing humanity and ending global poverty. The Foundation will bring people of faith together to deliver the Millennium Development Goals. Tony Blair believes that the capacity of faith organisations to do good is immense – and their reach is unparalleled."

“The issue of religious faith will be of the same significance to the 21st Century as political ideology was to the 20th Century. In an era of globalisation, there is nothing more important than getting people of different faiths and therefore cultures to understand each other better and live in peace and mutual respect; and to give faith itself its proper place in the future.”
"The purpose of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation is to promote respect, friendship and understanding between the major religious faiths; and to make the case for faith itself as relevant, positive and a force for good in the modern world."

"Yale President Richard C. Levin said: "'As the world continues to become increasingly inter-dependent, it is essential that we explore how religious values can be channelled toward reconciliation rather than polarisation. Mr Blair has demonstrated outstanding leadership in these areas.'... "Blair, who served as British prime minister from 1997 to 2007, has been mentioned as a possible president of the European Union and earlier in 2008 it was announced Blair would become a part-time advisor to the US-based bank JPMorganChase....Yale has strong ties to US political leaders: both President George W. Bush and his father, former president George H. W. Bush, were Yale undergraduates."
Tony Blair quotes:
  • "...religious faith, crucial to so many people’s culture and identity, can play a positive or a negative role. Either positively it will encourage peaceful co-existence by people of faith coming together in respect, understanding and tolerance, retaining their distinctive identity but living happily with those who do not share that identity. Or it will work against such co-existence by defining people by difference, those of one faith in opposition to others of a different faith. In this context, inter-faith action and encounter are vital.
  • "...religious faith...has a major part to play in shaping the values which guide the modern world, and can and should be a force for progress. But it has to be rescued on the one hand from the extremist and exclusionary tendency within religion today....
  • "Faith as a means of exclusion. God in this connection becomes not universal but partisan....An adjunct to such a form of religious faith is a refusal to countenance scientific discovery if it appears inconvenient to an aspect of organised religion. ...
  • "Mass migration is changing communities, even countries. People communicate ideas and images instantly around the world, creating immediate political and ideological movements in a ferment of quickly devoured information....Faiths can transform and humanise the impersonal forces of globalisation, and shape the values of the changing set of economic and power relationships of the early 21st Century. This is one of the issues I’ll explore in a Faith and Globalisation course which I am starting with Yale University later this year...
  • "...the centre of gravity, economically and politically, is shifting East. ... China and India together, will industrialise the bulk of their populations, presently employed in subsistence agriculture, probably within two decades.....It is one reason why a sensible long-term partnership with China, and of course with India, is of vital strategic importance to us....
  • "In her remarkable book ‘The Great Transformation’ Karen Armstrong traces the evolution of religious thought from the earliest times, both East and West, when religion did indeed seem often cruel, unforgiving and irrational, to the modern times in which the faiths share many common values and much common purpose.....
  • "The foundation will concentrate on certain key specifics. The first will be to help the different faith organisations to work together in furtherance of the Millennium Development Goals, which I helped advocate as PM and which are, in many ways the litmus test of the world’s values.... The second will be to produce high quality material – books, websites, every means of communication – to educate people better about the different faiths, what they truly believe not what we often mistakenly think they believe....
  • "If people of different faiths can co-exist happily, in mutual respect and solidarity, so can our world. And if faith takes its proper place in our lives, then we can live with a purpose beyond ourselves alone, supporting humanity on its journey to fulfillment. " -- Faith and Globalisation
The Truth:

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:17)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Warfield and Contemplative Spirituality

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

-Solomon, Proverbs 14:12 (KJV)

“We may be mystics, or we may be Christians. We cannot be both. And the pretension of being both usually merely veils defection from Christianity. Mysticism baptized with the name of Christianity is not thereby made Christianity. A rose by any other name will smell as sweet. But it does not follow that whatever we choose to call a rose will possess the rose’s fragrance.”[i]
-Benjamin B. Warfield

As endorsed by various leaders and authors, the “Be Still” DVD indicates that evangelicals are promoting and embracing mystical religion. Because parachurch ministries and local church pastors encourage it, contemplative spirituality, with its practices and disciplines, is being naively engaged in by increasing numbers of persons. These devout souls desire to draw closer to God by using spiritual techniques they hope will provide experiences that will open new doors and vistas of spirituality.

In keeping with the spirit of postmodernism, the current and popular philosophy of life that denies truth on the one hand while affirming “personal spirituality” on the other, the emergent, or emerging, church movement embraces both the philosophy and practices of contemplative spirituality which promotes itself to be a path to cultivate a personal and experiential walk with God.

For Bible-believing Christians, significant questions arise in the face of this growing mystical “super-spirituality.” Do the experiences of contemplative spirituality originate from below, from the flesh, or from above, from the Spirit? Are the experiences self-induced or Spirit-inspired? Absent mediation by the Holy Spirit as He witnesses to Jesus Christ through the inspired Scriptures (John 15:26; 5:39), do the methods of the new spirituality leave room for the influence of evil spirits in the lives of those who engage those practices? Do intentional spiritual exercises such as meditating into “the silence,” prayer labyrinths,
lectio divina, Taizé worship, and so forth, fit the paradigm of works spirituality, as opposed a paradigm of grace spirituality? As the Apostle admonished the Galatian churches, “This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2-3, NASB).

Benjamin B. Warfield’s writings on mysticism help to orient Christian believers to understand the implications of contemplative and mystical spirituality’s challenge to orthodox and biblical Christianity.
[ii] Faddish approaches to and methods of spirituality are seldom original. What is currently working itself up into a popular religious fervor is but a modern version and adaptation of what Warfield labeled the old “theosophical mysticism,” the feelings of which he described as “the footprints of Deity moving in the soul.” To the mystic, these footprints become “immediate sources of knowledge of God,” knowledge that can be “obtained by simple quiescence and rapt contemplation.”

Who among us would not desire to experience God walking within our souls? By appealing to the deepest longings and sentiments of the human spirit, the
sensus divinitatis as Warfield called it, self-acclaimed and appointed gurus of “enlightenment” promote and peddle their “mysteries of godliness” by lectures and seminars, on talk shows, in books, and via video presentations. And literally, a mass of the Christian populace is “buying” into it.

To seduce the gullible and to define the “seeking of God from within,” elitist teachers recommend and promote the mystical practices of ancient Christendom, spiritual disciplines such as “contemplative prayer,” “
lectio divina,” “entering the silence,” “expanded imagination,” “spirit visualization,” and more. Masquerading as means of grace, these recommendations bait naïve Christians to engage in these novel spiritual exercises. But as Paul warned, such spiritual practices may possess, “to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion . . . but are of no value against fleshly indulgence” (Colossians 2:23).

Christian believers must therefore ask critical questions like these: Where might mystical practices lead those persons who engage them? Are there spiritual risks that accompany the disciplines of contemplative spirituality? Can these practices be wrong when they might feel so right?

When engaging Warfield’s argument, readers will discover a watershed distinction the theologian made between “external authority” which lies at the core of revealed religion, and “internal authority” which serves as the basis of unrevealed religion. Mysticism, Warfield noted, belongs to the latter category while Christianity is bonded to the former. With its emphasis upon “internal authority,” contemplative and mystical spirituality is averse to and therefore at odds with the idea of “external religious authority,” authority deriving from the divinely initiated revelatory and redemptive events of salvation history that are recorded, interpreted, and proposed in the words, sentences, paragraphs, and books of Holy Scripture. Mysticism “in-sources” authority to the human spirit while contrarily, biblical Christianity “out-sources” authority to the Triune God and the divine Word of Holy Scripture. In short, as they worship at the shrine of personal experience, contemplative spiritualists fixate upon “the authority within” and thereby separate themselves from “the authority without.”

If the movement continues to gain popularity and ascendancy, where will contemplative spirituality, with its passion for individualized spiritual experiences, lead the evangelical movement? As Warfield reasoned:

"Above all other elements of Christianity, Christ and what Christ stands for, with the cross at the center, come to us solely by “external authority.” No “external authority,” no Christ, and no cross of Christ. For Christ is history, and Christ’s cross is history, and mysticism which lives solely on what is within can have nothing to do with history; mysticism which seeks solely eternal verities can have nothing to do with time and that which has occurred in time."

Warfield thus argues that spirituality absorbed in mystery will eventually deny history, and consequently will jettison the salvific truths witnessed to and stated in the Bible. In their focus upon the “internal authority” of the present, mystics will be led to inevitably deny the “external authority” of the past.

If historical precedent teaches us anything at all, contemplative spiritualists, all their denial not withstanding, probably will eventually apostatize from a historic and orthodox faith which involves Jesus’ incarnation, substitutionary atonement for sin, and physical resurrection. To repeat, in their embrace of mystery, mystics do not need history. While claiming to love God, contemplative or mystical spirituality will in the end deny the “external authority” of Jesus’ Person and Work. And such a denial will imperil their souls, for as the Apostle John wrote:

"Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also" (1 John 2:22-23).

Mysticism corrupts Christian hearts and minds “from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3, KJV). By affirming the search for a divinity within, mystical contemplators will eventually be led to deny the sin and the Savior who died for it (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

James explains there to be two opposite sources of wisdom: one that is “from above” and another that “is not . . . from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic” (James 3:15-17,
NASB). Though Warfield does not address the potential darker side and consequences of applying mystical wisdom to one’s soul through engaging man-made spiritual exercises—possible demonic deception, then influence, and finally, control (1 Timothy 4:1-3)—his essay does expose the anti-historical and therefore the anti-Christian nature of contemplative spirituality.

Every believer ought to pause and know that religious experiences must be experienced according to conditions designed and set by God, and not upon methods and practices of human invention. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

"For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 2:11, KJV).

If not experienced on God’s terms, then supposed divine encounters are really not divine at all. At best, they may be self-induced delusions. At worst, they may lead to the deception of demons and the deification of the “self.” As Warfield saw it, “The history of mysticism only too clearly shows that he who begins by seeking God within himself may end by confusing himself with God.”

It is my conviction that if the current trend of seeking God within continues and grows, then, as with devotees of eastern religions, personal experience will eclipse a faith regulated by the Word of God, a Word which, ironically, the “spiritual” Spirit inspired (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16).

Unregulated spiritual chaos will reign as this and future generations seek ecumenical oneness with spiritual contemplators of other religions—Jewish Kabbalists, Muslim Sufis, Hindu and Buddhist mystics, and whomever. Cardinal and foundational Christian teachings will drown in a sea of religious subjectivity created by personal experiences and demonic influences (1 Timothy 4:1). Professing Christians will believe only that which seems right in their own hearts as they seek confirmation from and unity with those of like precious experiences.

As Warfield concluded:

"We may be mystics, or we may be Christians. We cannot be both. And the pretension of being both usually merely veils defection from Christianity. Mysticism baptized with the name of Christianity is not thereby made Christianity. A rose by any other name will smell as sweet. But it does not follow that whatever we choose to call a rose will possess the rose’s fragrance."

The movement of contemplative spirituality must be discerned. For that purpose, Warfield’s writings are more relevant today than when they were first composed a century ago. Though they do not answer all of the questions raised by contemplative spirituality, his writings do provide an excellent theological framework by which to evaluate and discern mysticism. As for other issues raised by contemplative spiritualists, we say, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20, KJV).

Pastor Larry DeBruyn is the author of Church on the Rise: Why I am not a Purpose-Driven Pastor. Reprinted with permission. The original article appears as "Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921) and Contemplative Spirituality" as Appendix Four in his book.

[1] B. B. WARFIELD (1851-1921), A Biographical Sketch

Born into a devout Christian home near Lexington, Kentucky, and inheriting his mother’s maiden name as his middle name, Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield was a Presbyterian theologian and educator who twice served as president of Princeton Theological Seminary, 1902-1903 and 1913-1914. Tutored with the Westminster Confession of Faith and afforded a private education during his youth, his special interests grew to be in mathematics and physics during his university years.

But while studying in Europe during the summer of 1872, Warfield wrote home announcing his call to the Christian ministry. He enrolled at the Theological Seminary at Princeton in the fall of 1873, graduating from that institution in May, 1876. Thereupon, a Presbytery in Kentucky licensed him to preach.

After further education in Europe, he accepted an appointment to be an instructor in New Testament at Western Theological seminary in Allegheny, Pennsylvania in 1878. He spent nine years there studying, teaching and writing. Warfield’s belief in the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, it must be noted, guided his scholarship for his entire life.

Upon the death Archibald Alexander Hodge, Warfield moved to the Chair of Theology at Princeton in 1886, where he served that institution until his death on February 16, 1921.

Harold Lindsell noted that, “Perhaps no theologian of that age is as widely read and has had his books kept in print as long as Warfield.”

[2] Originally appearing in The Biblical Review in 1917, “Mysticism and Christianity” is reprinted in the ninth volume of The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, 10 Volumes (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2003) 649-666. An electronic version of his works is available as Volume 14 of the Christian Library Series, “The Benjamin B. Warfield Collection,” produced by Ages Digital Library, P.O. Box 216, Rio, WI 53960 USA. Available online at www. ageslibrary.com

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Disclaimer

It is with heaviness of heart that we must inform our readers that the integrity of this blog was recently compromised in a very serious manner. We find it necessary to make a strong public statement that disassociates Discernment Ministries, The Discernment Research Group, author Warren Smith, and Herescope from the recent publications and radio interviews which used our material without our knowledge and consent, and without proper legal attribution. This concerns the ongoing series of articles we have been publishing on Oprah Winfrey and her recent foray into open New Spirituality advocacy.

Herescope is one of the publishing arms of Discernment Ministries. The Herescope blog is an online journal that seeks to hold to the highest standards of scholarly research and integrity. Many individuals, churches, other ministries and groups have been able to use our research to warn others about heresies coming into the church, and we praise God for that. However, it has come to our attention that some of our articles have been used without our knowledge or consent in a manner that is unethical and dishonoring to God.

Recently a link to a YouTube site proclaiming “Oprah's Church Exposed” was widely disseminated via email and the Internet. We do not know the original source of this viral networking event. This sensationalist-style video referred recipients to a book entitled “Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid: Oprah, Obama and the Occult” authored by a woman by the name of Carrington Steele. We listened to several radio interviews done by Ms. Steele and were shocked to realize that these were being used in a malicious way against the Barack Obama campaign. It appears that this video and book were produced for the purpose of influencing the upcoming presidential elections.

We wish to make it clear that the articles we publish on this blog are for the sole motivation of leading the spiritually lost to salvation through Jesus Christ and Him crucified. We do not engage in this activity for political purposes or motivations. We also do not condone or support those who would use our work in this manner by quoting it, linking to it or plagiarizing it. It has indeed been perplexing that Oprah Winfrey would begin engaging in such potentially controversial New Spirituality proselytizing just at the same time that she has been an immensely popular supporter of Senator Obama’s campaign. Realizing the bad timing, we took great pains to steer clear of the political ramifications of Oprah’s endeavors, choosing to maintain our focus on the more serious ramifications of leading people spiritually astray.

Over the past few years Herescope has experienced ongoing difficulties with the unauthorized use of our materials by other websites and blogs without proper attribution, citation or links to our site. We have endeavored to praise the Lord that His Truth is getting out anyway, as Paul did in Philippians chapter 1, when he wrote of those who had motives of envy, greed or contention, yet proclaimed “What then? Notwithstanding every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice.” (vs. 18)

However, in the case of Ms. Steele, published materials from this blog have been used in a manner which distorts our original intent, and has questionable motives. This we cannot countenance. We publicly repudiate any use of the Herescope published articles in this manner and for these purposes by Ms. Steele, her radio interviewers, and whomever else may be promoting her from behind the scenes. We have had nothing to do with this and, in fact, we have been seriously compromised by her activities.

The Discernment Research Group takes great pains to document its research and to present solid, credible factual information. We encourage and expect other Christian groups to uphold a similar high standard of integrity. In the case of the recent activities and materials promoted by Ms. Steele, we are grieved that even the most basic legal standards of integrity, accuracy, and attribution have not been upheld.

If you have previously sent out the link to the YouTube segment to your friends, lists or groups, we suggest that you consider letting them know the truth about this matter. Below we have appended (with permission) a link to Lighthouse Trails’ recent statement on this same issue. A link is provided here to a sampling of the plagiarized materials found in Ms. Steele’s book.


BOOK REVIEW: An Honest Look At "Don't Drink the Kool-aid"

Source: Editors at Lighthouse Trails

On March 3rd, a book titled Don't Drink the Kool-Aid was released by author Carrington Steele. The book, subtitled Oprah, Obama and the Occult, seeks to document Oprah's ties to the occult and the New Age religion. Since its release, Steele has had several radio interviews, and a promotional video on YouTube has received over two and a half million hits. Steele's efforts to alert Christians and the public are noteworthy. However, after a thorough examination of this book, Lighthouse Trails must issue a public warning.

Last week, Lighthouse Trails was contacted by two other ministries who brought up issues regarding the use of their material in Steele's book. Upon reading Steele's work ourselves, our editors discovered that the 80-page book was filled with verbatim passages copied from other writers material, which was presented as Steele's own authorship. Because of the sensationalistic overtones of the book (e.g., comparing Oprah to Jim Jones who gave poisoned Kool-aid to over 900 people), and because plagiarism most often ignores the original context and authorial intent of the material copied but is not ethically credited, Lighthouse Trails cannot, in good conscience, promote Steele's book.

While we regret to issue this finding because we do believe that Oprah Winfrey's efforts to convert the public to her New Age beliefs must be exposed, we fear that Steele's book could negatively reflect upon and misrepresent long-standing and reputable ministries. In addition, because the author also plagiarized some secular sources (such as CNN, Fox News, and Rolling Stone magazine), we believe this book may, in addition to being a poor Christian testimony, be legally problematic. Particularly, the fact that one paragraph in a book we publish, A Time of Departing, was illegitimately copied in Don't Drink the Kool-Aid and passed off as Steele's own writing, has forced us to speak up.

Some of the ministries whose research and writing were plagiarized include Let Us Reason Ministries, Herescope (Discernment Ministries), Apologetics Resource Center, and Lighthouse Trails Publishing. Material was also lifted from the websites of Oprah Winfrey,The Secret, Washington Post, A & E Television Networks, and CNN and presented as the author's own writing. For a partial list of these instances, please click here.

On April 7th, Lighthouse Trails spoke on the phone to Carrington Steele, and we expressed our concerns over the book. Steele said that she had done the book with a pure motive and thought she was within the guidelines of the Fair Use Act when using the material of others. Steele said that she had previous editorial experience (her website says as a magazine editor). Lighthouse Trails explained that the Fair Use Act pertains to quoted material that does not require the original author's permission if it is properly footnoted. It does not mean that sections of copyrighted material can be used verbatim without proper citation of the original source. Unattributed use of another's writing that is passed off to the public as one's own is plagiarism. Kirsch's Handbook of Publishing Law(the industry standard for copyright issues) explains that copyright infringement occurs when the material used is under legal copyright. Kirsch's Handbook states that verbatim copyrighted material must be credited.

When Lighthouse Trails spoke with Carrington Steele, she stated she had done both the writing and the research on the book without help or support from others. However, it was pointed out to her that she often said "we" and "us" in her interviews, and we wondered to whom she was referring. At this point, Steele said she could not answer that question, saying she was not at liberty to say. We found this response to be curious and disturbing.

Because the chapter on Barack Obama did not contain any documentation that he was involved in the occult or the New Age, Lighthouse Trails asked Steele if there was political motivation involved. What's more, the chapter on Obama did not seem to fit in with the rest of the book. Steele said she was not politically motivated. However, with Obama's name on the cover of the book and with a chapter especially devoted to him, yet with no evidence demonstrating his connection to the spirituality of Oprah and other New Agers,Don't Drink the Kool-Aid gives the appearance of having political overtones, even if Steele did not intend this.

While Lighthouse Trails is not attempting to defend Obama and his beliefs, and while we have grave concerns over the current political state of our country and our world, we must make it clear that our efforts and our research are to defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We make every effort not to propagandize political actions by mere associations. Our research does at times address political figures but strictly from the stand point of relating their spirituality to the Christian faith.

Furthermore, in our own research we have made every attempt to steer clear of personal indictments against any author or teacher we critique. Rather than trying to vilify a person, we choose to focus on that person's public teachings. That's why on our website and in our books, while we do question and dispute the teachings of popular Christian figures, we attempt not to draw notice to their personal lives and pass judgment as to whether or not they are truly Christian. We steer clear of trying to evaluate motivations but focus primarily on public teachings. The personal issues Don't Drink the Kool-Aid references--abused pasts, divorced parents, and other personal matters--are inappropriate for a book that attempts to evaluate the spiritual teachings of others.

We must also state, that while we are truly concerned about the significant influence Oprah Winfrey has over millions of her viewers, we are equally concerned about Christian leaders who are promoting a contemplative spirituality, which possesses the same panentheistic roots as the New Age spirituality that is promoted by Oprah. Thus, it would be erroneous to only focus on Oprah while ignoring the reality that many Christians are also accepting this New Age spirituality. In the latter case, and according to Scripture, leaders who mislead believers by introducing New Age spirituality under the cover of Christian pretense are especially accountable to God.

In conclusion, if Don't Drink the Kool-Aid had been written by a university student, he or she would have been severely disciplined for their plagiarism. While this report is not written with the intent of hurting Carrington Steele or refuting her basic message of Oprah's New Age propensities, we had no other choice than to go public with our serious concerns. Our prayer is that the gospel message be proclaimed, spiritual deception be exposed, and many who now follow the path of New Age spirituality will have their eyes opened.
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (II Corinthians 4:4)