Thursday, April 28, 2011

Altered States: A Different Gate

The sober Christian in a spiritually inebriated age

By Sarah Leslie and Pastor Larry DeBruyn

“For who hath known the mind of the Lord,
that he may instruct him?

But we have the mind of Christ.
Emphasis added, 1 Corinthians 2:16, KJV

On the heels of the hippie era of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the New Age Movement (NAM) rose in prominence during the late 1970s, and remains popular today. One component of NAM spirituality was meditation associated with “Transcendental Meditation” (TM), a Hindu religious practice that was popularized and introduced to the Western culture by the Beatles and their personal guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1914-2008).[1] The Maharishi is credited with introducing Hindu mysticism to western culture along with that religion’s spiritual disciplines such as Yoga. A savvy marketer, he seized every opportunity to repackage Hindu spirituality to sell to American culture, one part of which consisted of meditative techniques that promised practitioners “increased creativity and flexibility, increased productivity, improved job satisfaction, improved relations with supervisors and co-workers,” and so on.[2] At that time TM was marketed so as not to appear as a religion, but propagandized to be a way to realize “better health, stress relief and spiritual enlightenment.”[3]

One of the most enticing claims of TM was that it could, via “mass meditation sessions,” create a corporate and convergent inner peace that would in an ultimate way reduce violence and war in the world.[4] Give peace a chance, sang the Beatles. In other words, achieving inner peace through meditation would affect world peace, as long as sufficient numbers of the world’s population engaged the practice (i.e., attaining critical mass). This appealed to the Viet Nam War generation which stridently, sometimes violently, opposed that war. In an incarnating, even Messianic way, personal peace achieved by meditation would produce international peace. Thus, many began practicing meditation with the desire of producing global effects. They would repetitively chant a “mantra”—a sacred Sanskrit word that if repetitively repeated possessed magical power, it is believed, to invoke the presence of a deity.[5] If engaged in over a prolonged period of time, the repetition of the mantra would cause the meditators to abandon their rational mind so as to experience a soulful oneness and peace with themselves and the world.

Engaging in meditative chanting promised that its practitioners would feel themselves become detached from reality and in that state experience serenity, joy, attunement to God, spiritual power and a vibrant connection with the universe. The goal was emptying the mind, leaving reality and getting “high” within. Meditation (sometimes facilitated by, in a Woodstock way, listening to rock music, experimenting with sex, and smoking pot or popping hallucinatory drugs—you know, a little help from “my friends”) often induced what can be called “altered state[s] of consciousness.”[6] The following quotes show how meditation connects to mysticism:

  • "Meditation in the eastern faith was a path to nirvana [i.e., an ideal condition of perfect harmony and peace] or perfection."[7]
  • "The mystical realm of meditation can be quite exhilarating at first. It produces feelings and experiences of heightened awareness, euphoria and even ecstasy. The act of meditation in this sense can be an addiction since the seeker will want more of this sensation. In fact, meditation can quickly be discarded as an inefficient method of attaining this 'high' if other methods work better. Meditative paths to exhilaration lead to feeling that one is connecting with the 'divine.'”[8]
  • "Ecstasy can be deliberately induced using religious or creative activities, meditation, music, dancing, breathing exercises, physical exercise, sex or consumption of psychotropic drugs."[9]

Another pathway to realize the perfection of “true enlightenment” is to engage the martial arts, a discipline that, according to Gaylene Goodroad in her book My Life in ‘THE WAY’, includes “emptying heart and mind of all earthly desire and vanity.”[10] In that context, voiding the mind would result in realizing one’s “divinity” or “godhood.” These mind-body-spirit “paths” or “ways” (sometimes called “spiritual” disciplines) promise higher enlightenment, self-realization, understanding, gentleness, harmony, unity, self-awakening, self-perfection.[11] As one makes progress through stages or up the spiritual ladder, attaining unto higher states produces a sense of wholeness within one’s soul.

Yet another pathway to mystical meditation is visualization. This is what Carl Jung called “active imagination,” which was a way to “have a direct experience of God as a star or sun within.”[12] Occultists define visualization as not just a method of meditation, but also a psychic way to invoke spiritual presences:

VISUALIZATION A loose term for numerous practices in which mental pictures are called up and used for different purposes: to contact someone telepathically, heal from a distance, achieve a desired state (happiness, peace, courage), attain a desired goal or possession (fame, money, sexual charm). Encompasses many popular practices now in use, though the discipline itself is very ancient and seems to have been developed in almost every culture of the past. May be divided into two classes: CREATIVE VISUALIZATION for the purpose of producing external effects and the use of visual imagery for inner exploration of the processes of the unconscious, as in the Jungian work....[13]

If all of this mystical meditation sounds a bit self-centered and self-preoccupied, it is because it is. Dr. Martin Erdmann, in his key article “The Spiritualization of Science, Technology, and Education in a One-World Society,” explains how achieving altered consciousness was an agenda of the Human Potential Movement. Briefly outlined, he states his thesis:

Inspired in part by Aldous Huxley’s publications and his advocacy of psychedelic drugs, intellectuals such as Willis W. Harman emphasized irrational meditative/mind emptying exercises, or the use of hallucinogens as a more congenial basis for scientific and technological progress. Calling for a new metaphysic of science/technology, the proponents of the Human Potential Movement perceive the religious heritage of the West—based on Christian premises—as the greatest impediment of an evolving “cosmic conscience.” In gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the spiritual and material processes of the universe, a mystically inclined elite of technically enhanced human mutants would be able to usher in a homogeneous world socialist society, perhaps not altogether different from the one envisioned in Brave New World.[14]

Dr. Erdmann details how Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) hoped for a “brainwashing” and/or “a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude” to a dictatorship, and began experimenting with mystical experiences and hallucinogens.[15] The mind-expanding potential of these experiences were seen as connected with a latent, untapped spiritual potential resident in the mind of man. Willis Harman began researching altering human consciousness as means to facilitate political change, especially through the shifting of values, including “bringing something like ‘person-changing technology’ into the educational system (e.g., meditation, hypnosis, sensitivity training, psychodrama, yoga, etc.”[16]

Indeed, this history may help explain why at this time meditation is rising in popularity. The activity has become a useful tool, a natural means, for attaining unto and entering into a new consciousness for the purpose of changing beliefs, attitudes, values, morals and worldviews. Meditative techniques (spiritual disciplines) assist persons to see the world in “a new light,” to look at the world in a new perspective, to believe in a different way. In the hippie era, meditation was a useful tool for deconstructing the tired old ways of viewing and doing things. Many of the Hippie youth turned to reject their nominal Christian background. This occurred because mystic activities gave them a seductive peek into the eastern evolutionary belief system. Through meditation, and as they experienced their consciousness changing, the youthful rebels began in a corporate way to feel themselves becoming larger than life. Their reality expanded. The universe seemed reachable. Immortality seemed attainable. Unreality became reality.[17]

But attaining unto this altered state of consciousness portends spiritual danger—that in such a state of mind, spiritual entities or demons can suggest to or possess the mind. A passive or empty mind will not remain an empty slate. Something, or someone, will fill it. Voided minds are permeable, suggestible, impressionable and malleable. Insatiably, they desire filling by something . . . anything. Hence, meditation serves as an open doorway into the world of the occult, a world of supernatural phenomena and forces. In a synthetic way, hallucinogenic drugs also assisted users to experience the new consciousness.[18] One author explains how like meditation, mind-altering drugs can become “dangerous doorways of demonic deception . . . can open up... the human soul”:

During Hindu meditation, an adept yogi will usually experience many of the same visions, wild bright lights, strange etheric sounds, and encounters with spirit-beings that many people have described after ingesting LSD . . . An ex-Hindu Brahmin priest explains: "‘Often while in deep meditation the gods became visible and talked with me. At times I seemed to be transported by astral projection to distant planets or to worlds in other dimensions. It would be years before I would learn that such experiences were being duplicated in laboratories under watchful eyes of parapsychologists through the use of hypnosis and LSD’."[19]

Another doorway to the altered state of consciousness is music:

There is a certain music that enhances and in many cases instigates the same type of spiritual transformation as that experienced by the adepts of Hinduism. It is called New Age music. Strictly, by definition, New Age music is any music designed to produce in the mind and spirit of the listener either the altered state, the altered world view, or both.[20]

Self-induced, mind-emptying and mind-altering disciplines/devices desensitize the Christian’s sensitivity to biblical reality as the mind abandons its defenses and letting go of restraints, no longer can discern truth from error. Mind-emptying meditation, like that promoted in sensitivity training groups related to the Human Potential Movement, has as its philosophical foundation the mantra of, “accept anything as valid.”[21] So there is to be no questioning (there are no wrong answers), challenging or negativity expressed against the new sensitivities. To this end, entering an altered state of consciousness serves to anesthetize persons against discernment as they are overcome by a lax, apathetic and permissive state of mind. This happens in spite of the biblical call to be sober minded.

Sober to the End

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober” the Apostle Peter wrote to the early church (1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; 5:8). The opposite of being sober is, in a Bacchic sense, being drunk with wine (Bacchus was the ancient “party” god of drunkenness and revelry.). Obviously, sober-mindedness deters one from being influenced by the devil or demons (1 Peter 5:8), as also does the filling with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). The Lord is on record as being against using devices and/or spiritual disciplines to alter consciousness. As the Apostle Paul identified with the Corinthian readers of his letter, “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). Believers are not to entertain practices that will distract them from thinking about the Lord Jesus Christ. To this end, the Holy Spirit directs our minds toward Christ. In this light, Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). If a believer’s consciousness needs to be altered, the Lord will do it through His Word as the Holy Spirit centers our consciousness upon Him (John 15:26). In a self-induced way, altering one’s consciousness, or emptying one’s mind, distracts one from the mind of Christ, the mind that objectively is focused and centered upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Consciousness altering is a human work, and while it may induce seeing paranormal visions, hearing paranormal voices or experiencing paranormal visitations, such altering will corrupt the believers mind “from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).

Therefore, Scripture prohibits engaging in all mind-altering activity; especially that induced via drugs. The English New Testament variously translates the Greek word pharmakeia, from which we get our English word pharmacy, by the nouns “witchcraft” (Galatians 5:20) or “sorceries” (Revelation 9:21; 18:23; 21:8).[22] These references associate drugs with “idolatry.” From these references, we ascertain that pagans commonly employed drugs to enhance their spiritual experiences. In order to access the occult world, an emptying of the mind through meditation (delusion), or altering the mind through hallucinogens (drugs), can induce a experiential alchemy of death-defying enlightenment. Attaining unto such a state, meditators and/or druggies embrace the primeval Satanic lie, “you shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4), an experience that becomes extremely deceptive, alluring, seductive, and addictive. Scripture condemns activities that induce The Lie (Deuteronomy 18:9-12). Scripture also pictures druggies as being separated from the City of God, the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:14-15). It’s just that serious.

The opposite of attaining unto a state of altered consciousness by engaging in so-called spiritual disciplines is being “sober minded.” In a paranormal state, if achieved, one’s soul goes out of control, thus evidencing that it is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit; for one of the fruits He produces in the believer is “self-control” (Galatians 5:23, NASB).

Sober-mindedness is listed as a qualification of church leadership ( 1 Timothy 3:1-2, Titus 1:8, 2:2). Young men are also exhorted to be “sober-minded” (Titus 2:6), and likewise young women (1 Peter 2:4). To be “sober” is enjoined upon all believers, for as Peter instructs, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). After Jesus healed the demoniac, Mark records that he came about to be “in his right mind” (Mark 5:15; See also Luke 8:35.). To resist the devil and demonic influences requires a sober mind (James 4:7). If we do not retain a right mind, the devil will not flee from us, but rather will find a entry point through which he will attempt to influence, if not control, our lives.

Attaining unto altered states of consciousness is the essence of paganism, the fountainhead of which was the religion of Babylon, that religious system which through the ages has been the mother lode of mysticism, and in the last days will allure and seduce “inhabitants of the earth [to become] drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Revelation 17:2). This spirituality the Apostle John named the great infidelity, “the great whore” (Revelation 17:1). Becoming drunk with wine suggests a religion which thrives upon attaining altered states of consciousness—states which are achieved by drinking alcohol, doing drugs, listening to music or cultivating the silence of the contemplative mind. All of this and more may be contrasted to Paul’s word to the Ephesians (the church located in the center of the locale where the many-breasted fertility goddess Diana was worshipped) when he wrote, “be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

The exact opposite of mind-numbing meditating is the rehearsing of God’s Word on one’s mind for edification, encouragement and strength. Scriptural meditation involves going over and over Scripture in one’s consciousness.[23] In this activity, in one's “right mind,” the Holy Spirit seals the eternal truths of God in the soil of the regenerate human soul thereby bringing the life of the Word of God to the inner man (2 Corinthians 2:16).

In contrast to the meditation that can numb the soul against perceptions of the present reality, Scripture instructs believers to, not sleep, as do others; but [to] watch and be sober (2 Thessalonians 5:6) [Emphasis added]. As the Ten Virgins, we are to not sleep, but to watch and be alert in these last days before Christ comes again (Matthew 25:1-13).

“False christs”
are here, and they anesthetize us from embracing Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Luke 21:8). Among other aspects attendant of true spirituality, entering into altered states can produce in people a pseudo-reality (visions, voices and visitations) that desensitizes them to, even anesthetizes them against, a conscious awareness that Jesus is coming again. In the light of His Second Coming, Christians are to live soberly in this present age as they look forward to that blessed hope of the glorious appearing Jesus Christ (Titus 2:12-13; Compare Proverbs 23:30-33.). To this end, we are to look upward, not inward.

If the weight of some of its gurus and their publications and publicists provide any indication, the pan-evangelical movement is becoming inebriated through engaging in mind altering activities that include meditation with the intent of emptying the mind.[24] Attaining altered consciousness opposes Scripture’s call for Christians to be sober-minded. Thus, one can only wonder what the results might be if the Lord administered a spiritual breathalyzer test to pan-evangelicals.[25] Would they puff a BrAC of 0.08 (that’s legally drunk)? By way of contrast, might truly regenerate Christians, those who have been regenerated, sealed, baptized and indwelt by the Spirit of the Living God, and who by faith apply the other activities of the Holy Spirit to their lives, blow a BrAC of 0.00?

So dear readers, it’s better to remain sober-minded as Scripture urges than to engage consciousness-altering activities that inebriate the soul against the true work of the Spirit in us.

“But the end of all things is at hand:
be ye therefore sober,
and watch unto prayer.”

(1 Peter 4:7

2. Ibid., footnote 105: Don McPherson, “Maharishi Claims Meditation Push Can Help Canada,” Montreal Gazette, March 24, 1975.
3. Ibid, footnotes 88 & 142: “Indian guru Maharishi Yogi dies,” BBC News, February 6, 2008. Retrieved August 26, 2010. Regush, Nicholas (July 30, 1977). “No bargains on road to enlightenment,” Montreal Gazette. “Caption under photo reads: ‘Maharishi Mahesh Yogi sells mantras for $150’.”
4. Ibid, footnote 77: van den Berg, Stephanie (February 5, 2008). "Beatles Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Dies". The Sydney Morning Herald. AFP. Archived from the original on August 30, 2010.
8. The author, Sarah Leslie, is writing from firsthand experience with this type of meditation. See “Confessions of an Ex-Mystic,” Harrisburg, PA conference talk, available:
10. My Life In ‘THE WAY’ is available online as an e-book at (link at the bottom of the page), p. 3. See also:
11. Ibid, pp. 8, 9.
12. Richard Noll, The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement (Princeton University Press, 1994), p. 114. Noll explains: “The star or sun was depicted by the swirling sun of the swastika, the “ancient Aryan sun wheel,’… a symbol of god that could be found in the ancient homelands of the Aryans… in the form of circular mandalas.” The meditation of the labyrinth may be connected to this same idea. See:“would-mennonites-actually-walk-the-labyrinthswastika”/
13. The Seekers Handbook: The Complete Guide To Spiritual Pathfinding by John Lash (Harmony Books, 1990), p. 398. See also:
14.,%20Technology%20and%20Education.pdf See also: and
15. Ibid.
16. Ibid, quoting from Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI), Alternative Educational Futures in the United States and in Europe: Methods, Issues and Policy Relevance (Paris: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1972). Dr. Erdmann writes in the footnote to this quote that “This report was prepared by the CERI as Volume 8, background report No. 12, of Proceedings from the Conference on Policies for Educational Growth, organized by the OECD in Paris, France, June 3-5, 1970. Abstract: This book contains four papers by noted educational planning experts that, together, cover practically all the implications of undertaking ‘futurological’ studies in education…. Willis Harman focuses on alternative future states of American society that represent, in some sense, alternative dominant belief and value systems."
17. Again, this is part of the author’s own personal experience.
18. During the hippie era, this author experienced these very things firsthand, including the quest to get spiritually “high” by whatever means would seem to work best at the moment.
19. Mark Spaulding, The Heartbeat of the Dragon: The Occult Roots of Rock & Roll (Light Warrior Press, 1992), p. 74, citing Rabi Maharaj, Death of A Guru, p. 75. (Harvest House 1984).
20. Ibid, 188.
21. The authors both have experienced sensitivity training, Sarah, who was trained in conducting sensitivity groups which was connected to the Human Potential Movement (HPM) and Humanistic Psychology, and Pastor Larry, who experienced sensitivity training while a public school teacher in the late 60s. That sensitivity training is connected to HPM is her personal observation. See also:,%20Technology%20and%20Education.pdf.
22. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word kesheph, also translated “sorceries,” appears to refer to mental states induced by ingesting intoxicants (Isaiah 47:9, 12). Another Hebrew word used in a similar context is cheber, which is translated “charmer” (Deuteronomy 18:11) or “enchantments” (Isaiah 47:9, 12).
23. See Pastor Larry DeBruyn, “On Meditating,” Guarding His Flock Ministries,
24. Beware of semantic deception. Frank Viola, advocating an altered state of consciousness for Christians in his 2011 book Revise us again (David C. Cook), p. 72, openly admits that playing with semantics is the name of the game: "To describe fixing one’s heart upon the Lord, some people use the phrase 'turning to the Lord.' Others use the word 'gazing.' Others say 'beholding' or 'looking into the face of God.' Still others say 'contemplating,' 'centering,' 'abiding,' or 'partaking.' Others describe it as 'meditating.' By and large, it's semantics." [Emphasis added.]
25. By way of contrast, in our use of the breathalyzer metaphor we are not suggesting we’re against true manifestations of the Holy Spirit as were the scoffers at the first Pentecost who scorned the Spirit’s work by accusing the recipients of being drunk (Acts 2:13, 15).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


A Book Review

By Sarah H. Leslie

"In a nutshell, Harold Lindsell found himself walking on eggs. The seminary was growing. Daniel Fuller, the only heir to the founder, was on the faculty. Young Fuller was on leave and abroad studying corrupted theology that denigrated the view of biblical inerrancy. The acting seminary president, Edward Carnell, was unable to act due to health. Negative tension was growing between Ockenga, the founding president, and Charles Fuller, founder of the seminary. Charles Fuller, of course, loved his son and grandchildren. Charles Fuller was conflicted over whom he could lean on for advice. And, as he was growing old, his health and energy were significantly decreasing.

"So by 1960, irreparable changes were in the making at Fuller Seminary, just thirteen years after its beginning. Early that year Harold Lindsell and Charles Fuller exchanged correspondence concerning the thrust and outreach of the seminary. . . ."
(p. 80)

One day, several years after I co-authored the monograph The Pied Pipers of Purpose,[1] I received a telephone call from Pastor Paul Smith. He was quite fascinated by our factual information about Peter Drucker, the business guru who developed the 3-legged stool paradigm for societal transformation. He told me how Peter Drucker was actively wooing megachurch leaders during the 1980s to persuade them to join up with his giant social experiment. The story of Peter Drucker's pervasive influence is told in Paul Smith’s new book NEW EVANGELICALISM: The New World Order (Calvary Publishing, 2011). The Foreword is written by Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel, Paul's brother.

This book is an historical account of the deep compromises of the past several generations of evangelical leaders. These concessions have left the current church in a state of “crisis and confusion.” Pastor Paul traces “the seminal seeds that corrupted not only the major denominational churches, but specifically the conservative believing folks in these churches” (Introduction). This is a book about the history of the postmodern movement within evangelicaldom, and especially the roles that Fuller Theological Seminary and Peter Drucker played in shaping the leaders that would guide the Emerging (Emergent) Church Movement. Pastor Paul observed firsthand how

“The rise and development of the Emerging (Emergent) Church Movement became both a significant collaborator and delivery system for the major paradigm shift that has affected and infiltrated the mindset of many evangelical pastors. The shift includes the new evangelical notion that the church must become postmodern in order to reach secular America. The shift includes a definitive move away from belief in absolute truth. The shift, sadly but most importantly, includes the accommodating and compromising retreat by many from the belief that the Bible is without error.” (Introduction)

While writing this book, Pastor Paul gained access to rare old files and letters documenting deep compromises certain evangelical leaders made with liberalism and the steps they took to abandon the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. He traces the rise of the modern neoevangelical movement and its downward slide into the neo-orthodoxy of Karl Barth. He observes that Harold Ockenga, in his desire to free himself from the term “fundamentalist” with its disparaging connotations, “envisioned a new generation of non-militant conservatives who were pursuing intellectualism, non-judgmentalism, and appeasement; applying the gospel to the sociological, political, and economic areas.” (p. 88) This "appeasement" opened the door to the vast modern-day “social gospel.” Neoevangelicalism “differed from fundamentalism in its repudiation of separatism and its determination to engage itself in the theological dialogue of the day.”[2] In hindsight we now know just how far down the slippery slope the leaders were willing to take this “repudiation of separatism” creed in order to become acceptable and accommodating to the world.

Fuller Theological Seminary played a key role in abandoning the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, and this opened the floodgates for every sort of new doctrine and practice. Pastor Paul observes:

“Fuller Seminary’s compromise and accommodation were the twigs and brushwood that became the nest for aberrant practice, where workers are prepared for the twenty-first century postmodern Emerging church.” (p. 102)

Pastor Paul documents the step-by-step accommodation with the world that happened at Fuller, including the rise of the social gospel, Mysticism, Feminism, the Emergent Church and Church Growth movements, the new missiology, and the influence of C. Peter Wagner. Pastor Paul sets forth the thesis that in the context of this fertile Fuller seedbed of postmodernism, Peter Drucker’s ideas found sustenance, grew strong and began to bear a terrible fruit. Pastor Paul explains that

“Drucker was intrigued with the megachurch from a specifically sociological and economic point of view. Any megachurch would do just fine; as long as it was pragmatically meeting the felt needs of people. The spiritual beliefs of a particular megachurch were really not a concern for Drucker. So it made sense to him that the ambiance of the megachurch should be, above all, seeker friendly. After all, his personal pursuit of spirituality was fulfilled in Kierkegaard and Eastern mysticism.

“The downhill ride on the slippery slope picked up more influential people in America and evolved into a most ominous unbiblical Emerging movement….”
(p. 123)

The chief strength of New Evangelicalism: The New World Order is that Paul Smith accurately cites Peter Drucker as the father of both the Emerging and also the megachurch purpose-driven movements. Bob Buford's Leadership Network hatched both of these agendas which dovetail seamlessly into the postmodern Emergent paradigm shift, and Pastor Smith delivers a factual account of this with historical precision. His own personal experience with Drucker and Buford is divulged on page 149:

“Chuck Fromm arranged for me to spend three days at the Hilton Hotel in Ontario, California in the mid-eighties, where Peter Drucker addressed a group of church leaders and seminary professors. Bob Buford sponsored the meeting. At that meeting Buford explained to us that leadership communities are small groups of innovators and thought leaders pursuing a common ministry outcome, sharing ideas, developing strategy, and benchmarking measurements. Leadership Network discovered Emerging ministry initiatives and carefully invites strategic leaders into these communities of peers who are seeking to improve their personal and organizational performance in the focused outcome areas.”

Pastor Paul explained to me that in this time period the Calvary Chapel movement had over 50 megachurches of over 1000 members, so it was a prime target for the machinations of Peter Drucker and Bob Buford. But, to their credit, the Calvary leadership refused these wooings. There would be a heavy price to pay in the future, however. Those who compromised with the Druckerian vision of the church as an "optimum sociological community" that could transform "the nature of man and society" (pp. 127-8) were rewarded with success and the accolades of men.

Rick Warren, for instance, went on to purpose-driven fame, driven by Drucker who mentored him, and coddled at Fuller Seminary where he received his DMin under the tutelage of C. Peter Wagner, head of the New Apostolic Reformation.[3] After building his purpose-driven empire, Warren began to work on the mountains for world governance, his Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan scheme, which would begin to create an international purpose-driven new world order. Rick Warren’s high level cavorting with high level globalists is the fascinating topic of Chapter 11, “New Evangelicals in the New World Order.” In this chapter Pastor Paul describes how “Emergent church leaders are focused on unity and a worldwide oneness reflected in the growing union between Eastern and Western cultures and thinking.” (p. 168)

This book is highly recommended.[4] It is very easy to read and digest. It is one of those rare books that can comfortably be given to pastors. It is based on solid research and there is a clear Gospel message. It is written with the heart of a pastor, who cries out a warning to believers in these last days to not be deceived.

This book is available through the Discernment Ministries. Check HERE for prices and availability.

The Truth:

"For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect." (Mark 13:22)

"These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you." (1 John 2:26)

1. Lynn D. Leslie, Sarah H. Leslie, Susan J. Conway. The Pied Pipers of Purpose: Part 1: Human Capital Systems and Church Performance (Conscience Press, 2004). Available HERE.
2. John Ashbrook, New Neutralism II, citing Dr. Ockenga’s foreward to Dr. Harold Lindsell’s book The Battle for the Bible published in 1976, p. 5. Available HERE.
3. “The Reinvention of Rick Warren, 1-9-06, see
4. I have an obvious bias in recommending this book. A good deal of our Discernment Research Group's original research on Peter Drucker is included in this manuscript.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Salvation Through Technology

Creating A Posthuman New Breed

By Dr. Martin Erdmann

In The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality Michael Heim has observed, "Behind the development of every major technology lies a vision".[1] It will be no different with the technologies used by postmoderns to transform themselves into posthumans. Critically examining these mythical and religious themes helps to explain why postmodernity is not displacing modernity as a historical era, but is subsuming and transforming it within a thoroughgoing historicist vision. Postmodernity is simultaneously the affirmation and negation of modernity. Despite the Enlightenment's apparent victory of displacing theology with science as the dominant force of cultural formation, religious motivations were, according to David F. Noble, never eliminated but only muted.[2] Rapid technological development was often praised in progressive and scientific terms, but it was “driven also by distant dreams, spiritual yearnings for supernatural redemption”[3]. Indeed, “modern technology and religion have evolved together, and as a result the technological enterprise has been and remains suffused with religious belief”[4].

For a thousand years in Western culture, the advancement of the mechanical arts – technology – has been inspired by deep religious desires of transcendence and redemption. Although currently obscured by secular language and ideology, the contemporary resurgence of religion, even New Age spirituality, alongside and hand-in-hand with technology is thus not an aberration but simply the reassertion of a forgotten tradition.

Redemption Through Mechanical Arts

Early in the Christian era, Augustine wrote in The City of God that "Quite apart from those supernatural arts of living in virtue and reaching immortal beatitude," no human achievement can offer any sort of solace for a life condemned to misery. The mechanical arts, no matter how advanced, existed solely to aid fallen humans and nothing more. Redemption and transcendence could only be achieved through the unearned grace of God. Augustine's pessimistic outlook was partially conditioned by taking the effects of sin and rebellion against God seriously. However, it should also be noted that he lived at a time when the Roman Empire was on the trajectory of irreversible decline.

In the Middle Ages a new millennium mentality developed, making explicit use of the fruits of technology. In Genesis, man had been given dominion over the natural world, but then sinned and lost it, and thereafter had to earn his livelihood "by the sweat of his brow." Now through the help of technology, man could gain back some of that dominance and accomplish things he never could have done without it. The increasing use of machines allowed man to exploit the material resources at his disposal more efficiently. Technological development became closely identified with the advance of God‟s visible kingdom on earth. Herein lay its all-important spiritual significance.

In sharp contrast to the portrayal of time and eternity in Augustine's City of God human history was redefined as an active pursuit of achieving perfection. No longer were people expected to face a bleak existence of mere subsistence passively and blindly. Instead, people were expected to work consciously in an attempt to make their earthly lot better. Technology could, in ways everyone saw, give assurance that humanity was improving its position in life and was succeeding over nature. The notion gained currency that by the proliferating use of technology heavenly conditions could be created on earth in the future.

In the early Middle Ages the project of technological advancement, especially the introduction of the heavy plough, came to be identified with Christian transcendence of a sinful world and Christian redemption from a fallen human nature. Most notably, Benedictine monks regarded manual labor as an important means to earn spiritual favors with God, equal to prolonged prayer and worship. As early as the sixth century, Benedict of Nursia considered physical toil as a vital aspect of monastic devotion culminating in the pursuit of perfection. He imbued the use of machinery with a spiritual purpose, because it increased the efficiency of human industry. In contrast to the previous use of solely spiritual images, mechanical artifacts appeared in the monastic illumination of calendars. Other decorations depict technological advancements aiding the righteous armies of God, whereas the evil opposition is technologically inferior. At this point we may see the first tendrils of this attitude shift taking hold and technology becoming an aspect of Christian virtue. Quite simply: what was good and productive in life became identified with the prevailing Roman Catholic religion.

Carolingian philosopher John Scotus Erigena coined the term artes mechanicae – mechanical arts – and declared technology to be part of humanity's original endowment from God. He wrote that the arts are "man‟s links to the Divine, [and] cultivating them a means to salvation." Through effort and study, the powers Adam and Eve possessed in their state of innocence could perhaps be regained and thus fallen humanity would be well along to achieving perfection and redemption. Mechanical arts were no longer simply a raw necessity for fallen humans; rather, they had become Christianized and invested with a spiritual significance that would only grow over time.

Redemption Through Alchemy

In the late Middle Ages, mystics sought self-transcendence through repetitive chemical rituals – the quest for the so-called “Philosopher‟s stone”. Alchemy[5] was above all the knowledge of the secret initiates, and its goal was esoteric knowledge: the science of Hermeticism.[6] Its technique was based on the idea that in the endless mixing of the same ingredients – chemical opposites – the chemicals would somehow transcend themselves after a hundred or a thousand identical operations. No one could know in advance when or how this transformation would take place. No one attempting to repeat this process could be assured of success. This ritualistic procedure was not merely a mysterious chemical reaction, but the alchemist's magic gateway to transcend his own creaturely limits. The discovery of the so-called “Philosopher's Stone”, which would allow the transmutation of lead into gold, was the product of the alchemist‟s very soul. In its essence, alchemy was a deeply religious pursuit. “Gold … is the symbol of immortality.”[7]

Alchemy, following the lead of magic, argued for the Hermetic principle of the macrocosm‟s correlation with the microcosm: “As above, so below.” All being is at bottom one, or monistic. “It means,” writes Thomas Molnar, “that there is an absolute although hidden concordance between the lower and the higher worlds, the key of which lends to the magus incalculable powers.”[8] Thus, by manipulating the cosmos, the initiate can change the nature of man. On the other hand, by manipulating something near at hand, he can affect something far away.[9] There is an ontological relationship between man and the cosmos, a chain of being. It is therefore the task of humanity to bridge the chasm between its own temporarily limited being and God‟s eternal being. With its roots in Hermeticism, alchemy was self-consciously committed to the divinization of humanity.

Alchemy is based on a Pelagian view of humanity. Human nature is supposedly good. The possibility for perfection is always present in life. Human beings are not flawed by the effects of ethical rebellion. Given this outlook, the self-transcendence of humanity becomes a sociological imperative: “At the stage we have reached in scientific research our minds and intelligence will have to surpass themselves and rise to transcendent heights; the human, all-too human, will no longer suffice.”[10] Not only is this leap of being a sociological imperative, but it is also an ethical imperative: “If men have in them the physical possibility of attaining one or other of these states [of higher consciousness], the quest for the best means of doing so ought to be the principal aim of their lives.”[11] This transformation is strictly a question of the proper technique.

If my brain [writes Eliade] is equipped with the necessary machinery – if all this does not belong exclusively to the domain of religion or mythology – if it is not all a question of divine "grace" or "magical initiation" but depends upon certain techniques and certain internal and external attitudes capable of setting this machinery in motion – then I am satisfied that my only ambition and most urgent duty ought to be to reach this "awakened state" and attain these heights at which the mind can soar.

The long history of alchemical pursuits testified vividly to the persistence of a faith in the potency of techniques, ritualistic or otherwise, in achieving human self-transcendence. The unshakable confidence in the mind's capacity to invent techniques which would rid human nature of its imperfections is firmly rooted in the irrational ground of mysticism. In the quest for immortality every man-made device is judged superior to the workings of God's grace, as delineated in the Christian faith.

C. S. Lewis makes the observation in The Abolition of Man (1944)[13] that a combination of occultism and humanism appeared in Western history at the time of the Renaissance, setting a vital building block – certainly not the only one – in the intellectual edifice of modern science:

I have described as a “magician's bargain” that process whereby man surrenders object after object, and finally himself, to Nature in return for power. And I meant what I said. The fact that the scientist has succeeded where the magician failed has put such a wide contrast between them in popular thought that the real story of the birth of Science is misunderstood. You will even find people who write about the sixteenth century as if Magic were a medieval survival and Science the new thing that came in to sweep it away. Those who have studied the period know better. There was very little magic in the Middle Ages: the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are the high noon of magic. The serious magical endeavour and the serious scientific endeavour are twins: one was sickly and died, the other strong and throve. But they were twins. They were born of the same impulse. I allow that some (certainly not all) of the early scientists were actuated by a pure love of knowledge. But if we consider the temper of that age as a whole we can discern the impulse of which I speak.

Humanist philosophy and occultism were two sides of the same revival of Renaissance paganism. Thus, Lewis argued, occultism and humanistic rationalism are not enemies in principle but rather cooperating philosophies that are united against Christianity and Christian civilization. This is the theme of his great masterpiece, the novel That Hideous Strength.

Recovering Adamic Perfection Through Invention

An important figure in the development of modern Western science is Francis Bacon. Science was in Bacon's view limited primarily to the construction and employment of mechanical arts. An avid reader of John's Apocalypse the Viscount of St. Albans cautioned the Christian public in England about the appearance of the Antichrist. He wrote that "Antichrist will use these means freely and effectively, in order that he may crush and confound the power of this world ... the Church should consider employment of these inventions because of future perils in the times of Antichrist which with the grace of God it would be easy to meet, if prelates and princes promoted study and investigated the secrets of nature."

Bacon also believed that technological know-how was an original birth right of humanity which had simply been lost in the Fall. Writing in his Opus Majus, he suggested the contemporary gaps in human understanding stem directly from Original Sin: "Owing to original sin and the particular sins of the individual, part of the image has been damaged, for reason is blind, memory is weak, and the will depraved."

For Francis Bacon the pursuit of knowledge and technology had three reasons: First, to make sure that the benefits of technology would not be the sole province of the Antichrist; second, to regain power and knowledge lost after the Fall in Eden; and third, to overcome current individual sins and achieve spiritual perfection.

In the 17th century learned divines in England and on the Continent such as Joseph Mede and Johann Heinrich Alsted devoted their intellectual powers to a study of biblical prophecy. Of particular interest to them were the Apocalypse of John and the book of Daniel In Daniel 12:4 the prophet wrote, "Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased". As historian Charles Webster observes, "The Puritans genuinely thought that each step in the conquest of nature represented a move towards the millennial condition." The proliferation of scientific and technological achievements could only mean that the end of the world was close.

The Royal Society was founded in 1660 for the purpose of improving general and practical knowledge. Its Fellows worked at experimental inquiries and the mechanical arts. Margaret Jacobs notes: "Almost every important seventeenth century English scientist or promoter of science from Robert Boyle to Isaac Newton believed in the approaching millennium." Accompanying this belief was the desire to recover the original Adamic perfection and knowledge lost with the Fall. Robert Hooke wrote that the Royal Society existed "to attempt the recovery of such allowable arts and inventions as are lost." Thomas Sprat was certain that science was the perfect way to establish "man‟s redemption." John Wilkins claimed in The Beauty of Providence that the advancement of scientific knowledge would allow humanity to recover from the Fall. Robert Boyle thought that scientists had a special relationship with God; that they were "born the priest of nature". They would ultimately "have a far greater knowledge of God‟s wonderful universe than Adam himself could have had."

In Masonic writings of the time, God is identified very specifically as a practitioner of mechanical arts, most often as the "Great Architect" who had "the Liberal Sciences, particularly Geometry, written on his Heart". Members were encouraged to practice the same scientific arts not only to reclaim lost Adamic knowledge but also to become more God-like. Freemasonry was a means to redemption and perfection through the cultivation of science and technology.

A particular legacy of Freemasonry in England and France was the development of engineering as a profession. August Comte wrote of the role engineers would play in humanity's reclamation of Eden: "The establishment of the class of engineers ... will, without doubt, constitute the direct and necessary instrument of coalition between men of science and industrialists, by which alone the new social order can commence." Comte suggested that they, the new priesthood, imitate priests and monks by renouncing pleasures of the flesh.

Achieving Perfection by Transcending Human Nature

Consequently, it is not surprising that religious themes continue to inform the development of postmodern technologies, for postmodernity is modernity‟s prodigal child. Yet since postmodernity is also the negation of modernity, its religious themes are radically reinterpreted and redirected. Modern millennial expectations for an Edenic and Adamic recovery, for instance, were reinforced by advances in modern science and technology. Humankind, it was believed, was entering a golden age when it would faithfully exercise its divinely mandated dominion over creation, and, more importantly, would obtain the state of perfection humans enjoyed prior to the Fall.[14]

The postmodern turn is to insist that such a restorationist program is too confined. Complete mastery over nature, and derivatively human nature, cannot be achieved until humans perfect themselves by becoming a superior species. The promise of transcending human nature to become some kind of immortal Superman is a fundamental part of technology which is often not explicitly recognized in general. The current technological attempts to prolong the normal human lifespan goes well beyond the common fear of death and desire to overcome it and results in a negation of all we are in an effort to become something else entirely. If the modern project is to make humans better, then the postmodern goal is to make creatures that are more than human.

The former Secretary General of UNESCO, Julian Huxley wrote in the concluding chapter of Touchstone for Ethics, the following:

Man the conscious microcosm has been thrown up by the blind and automatic forces of the unconscious macrocosm. But now his consciousness can begin to play an active part, and to influence the process of the macrocosm by guiding and acting as the growing-point of its evolution. Man‟s ethics and his moral aspirations have now become an integral part of any future evolutionary process.[15]

This theme became a familiar one in later books by Huxley. No statement is more forthright, however, than the opening chapter of his 1957 book, Knowledge, Morality, and Destiny, which he titled “Transhumanism”:

As a result of a thousand million years of evolution, the universe is becoming conscious of itself, able to understand something of its past history and possible future. This cosmic self-awareness is being realized in one tiny fragment of the universe – in a few of us human beings.[16]

There is nothing humble about residing on a tiny bit of dust in an immense universe, whether one is a Christian or an evolutionist. Huxley repeats the now-familiar themes: “For do not let us forget that the human species is as radically different from any of the microscopic single-celled animals that lived a thousand million years ago as they were from a fragment of stone or metal.”[17]

The two great discontinuities in the uniformitarian universe were the appearance of life and the appearance of man. Evolutionists use uniformitarianism to push God back to the infinite past or into the infinite future, and to deny the six-day creation. They do not use uniformitarianism to refute these two great discontinuities. We are now at another great period of evolutionary discontinuity. A new era is about to dawn. Julian Huxley spelled it out for us in no uncertain terms: “The new understanding of the universe has come about through the new knowledge amassed in the last hundred years – by psychologists, biologists, and other scientists, by archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians. It has defined man's responsibility and destiny – to be an agent for the rest of the world in the job of realizing its inherent potentialities as fully as possible.”[18] An amazing bit of luck for all of us, isn't it? It took 15 billion years[19] to get from the “big bang” to the creation of life in the solar system. Then it took another 3.497 (or possibly 3.498) billion years to get from life‟s origin[20] to that second great cosmological discontinuity, man. And now, here we are, ready for stage three, the ascension of man to his position of universal –literally universal – power. If you had been born a Neanderthal man (let alone a brontosaurus), or even an eighteenth-century Philosophe, you would have missed it. Missed what? According to Huxley, you would have missed man turning into a posthuman:

It is as if man had been suddenly appointed managing director of the biggest business of all, the business of evolution – appointed without being asked if he wanted it, and without proper warning or preparation. What is more, he can‟t refuse the job. Whether he wants to or not, whether he is conscious of what he is doing or not, he is in point of fact determining the future direction of evolution on this earth. That is his inescapable destiny, and the sooner he realizes it and starts believing in it, the better for all concerned.[21]

A new humanity is coming:

The human species can, if it wishes, transcend itself – not just sporadically, an individual here in one way, and an individual there in another way, but in its entirety, as humanity. We need a name for this new belief. Perhaps transhumanism will serve: man remaining man, but transcending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature.[22]

With those few fateful words, this world-renowned scientist sparked a brand new ideology – a scientific, philosophic phenomenon with some of the boldest aspirations in history. Though its meaning has been revised somewhat since Huxley‟s day, Transhumanism remains true to the spirit of rational humanism in which he originally coined it.[23]

In a candid statement Huxley made sure that his readers would not miss the radical implications of what he was writing:

Assuredly the concept of man as instrument and agent of the evolutionary process will become the dominant integrator of all ideas about human destiny, and will set the pattern of our general attitude to life. It will replace the idea of man as the Lord of Creation, as the puppet of blind fate, or as the willing or unwilling subject of a Divine Master.[24]

Man had lowly origins, but he is now the source of direction and meaning for the evolutionary process. After all, Huxley believed, there is no one higher than man, for there is no one – no self-aware Creator – who preceded man.

Technology to Achieve Immortality

Transhumanist philosophy promotes the idea of human enhancement by technological means. In its extremes, futuristic concepts like intelligence enhancement (up to "superintelligence") using techniques like genetic engineering, psychopharmacology, anti-aging therapies, neural interfaces, wearable/implantable computers, long-lasting internal organ replacement, mental uploading and so forth are propagated from prominent positions like the US Nanotechnology Initiative and the Oxford University philosophy department. Today, the Oxonian don Nick Bostrom, the co-founder of the World Transhumanist Association, advocates the “possibility” and even “desirability” of developing technology for the purpose of seeking immortality and improving current mortal existence by enhancing “intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities”.
[25] In order to make these revolutionary alterations, essentially mechanizing the human species, transhumanists urge the human race to seize control of its destiny,[26] casting off the restrictive and pernicious dogmas of bygone eras, as they see it.[27] It is “a way of thinking about the future that is based on the premise that the human species in its current form does not represent the end of our development but rather a comparatively early phase.”[28]

The 21st century, the age of technological advancements, is instilling in modern civilizations a new innovation that could change the shape of humanity forever. The dawn of the new millennium could alter from fantasy to reality the prospect of creating a perfect human being, who would no longer be subject to death. In the meantime, expanding technological opportunities would enable humans to have extended and healthier life-spans, enhanced intellectual, physical and emotional capacities and a future that promotes life-long happiness, prosperity and eternal freedom.

The increased growth of Transhumanism, we are told, is a first step into breaking through the barriers of human limitations. At the same time, transhumanists paradoxically purport to consider the ethical implications of proposed technological leaps. They are dedicating themselves to researching the possible threats such technology might pose and which could endanger humanity. Thus, they foresee a future that would produce a “dazzling landscape of radical possibilities, ranging from unlimited bliss to the extinction of intelligent life”.

The statement that Transhumanism is part of a religious worldview cannot be denied and is readily admitted by its more forthright devotees. In a LA Weekly interview, Natasha Vita-More and Max More speak of Transhumanism as part of a belief system. Both are committed transhumanists, and Max More is a leading figure in the “extropian” branch of the Transhumanist movement. More states that the first principle of extropianism, which he defines as “Perpetual Progress”, involves “seeking more intelligence, wisdom and effectiveness, an indefinite life span, and the removal of political, cultural, biological and psychological limits to self-actualization and self-realization. Perpetually overcoming constraints on our progress and possibilities. Expanding into the universe and advancing without end.”[29]

Transhumanists do not accept the traditional Christian view of God, and their monistic bent is easily detected. Avowed Transhumanist Samantha Atkins speaks of “the norm, the 'way nature made us,'” which clearly disqualifies a single Creator-God. The statement of beliefs of the Transhumanist Church also negates the need for a Savior-God: “We are our own saviors. We cannot rely on supernatural or external forces to guide us on our journey. Responsibility is on our shoulders to create the world we wish to live in.”[30] Transhumanists recognize the longings for immortality, enhancement, and meaning that religion fulfills, and often describe themselves as very spiritual − yet their materialistic presuppositions lead them to substitute the promises of a technological utopia for those of spiritual salvation. Many subscribe to secular Buddhism[31], whose belief that the world is all one and evolving towards reunification fits well with posthuman hopes of self-transcendence and greater human-machine interface. Naturally, the utopian vision of unending health and youthful vigor in a world free of the suffering, hatred, and baseness of humanity is similar to the Christian description of Heaven – except that transhumanists hope for paradise on earth and see posthumans, not Christ, as the focus.

In accord with age-long mystical quests, Transhumanists would argue that human beings can loosen the chains of a mortal existence. Their religion is a new incarnation of Hermeticism.[32] The organic constitution of the human body is viewed as something to get rid of by merging it with a machine. Katherine Haynes, a professor at the University of California in Los Angeles, states, “Humans can either go gently into that good night, joining the dinosaurs as a species that once ruled the earth but now is obsolete, or hang on for a while longer by becoming machines themselves. In either case … the age of the humans is drawing to a close.”[33] Stripped of its pessimistic tone, Hayes' statement expresses the identical aspiration of Chinese alchemists in their search for the “divine cinnabar,” or drinkable gold, which would produce eternal life.[34] The “Philosopher's Stone” was always seen as the elixir of immortal youth.[35]

In accordance with Transhumanism's stated goal to transcend all created limits, humanity is to seek the non-conditioned, pre-creation state. This can mean one of two things: either total union with the metaphysical One or total and perfect spiritual autonomy. The goal of ritual regeneration of the cosmos, such as we find in the seasonal fertility festivals of most primitive cultures, is not pursued. Instead, the goal is escape from the cosmic cycle.[36] But the means is the same in each case: the attempted return to the Time before time, the pristine Golden Age.

The Way to True Immortality

The response to human mortality that has been made by Christianity is to point to the source of the imperfection – ethical rebellion of human beings against their creator God. The natural decay of every complex structures in the universe is attributable to God‟s curse on this ethical rebellion, and the promise of external restoration goes with the promise of internal regeneration (Romans 8:18-23). The core problem of individual human beings lies, therefore, in their autonomous dispositions. Human beings must be conformed ethically to the image of Jesus Christ, the perfectly human and divine Son of God. To achieve this goal, each person requires unconditional grace from God (Romans 8:29; Eph. 2:8-9), which involves not only forgiveness, but also the means of progressive sanctification: the comprehensive submission to God‟s sovereign rule (Phil. 3:14). The goal is the ultimate (post-judgment) attainment of perfect humanity, not the attainment of full technological perfection, as a quasi-divine being (Phil. 3:20-21).

Christian theology has always proscribed the perennial human aspiration to seek metaphysical self-transcendence; instead, it has proclaimed the need of ethical maturity and proffered the means to achieve it. Its message is quite simple: The Fall of humankind was ethical; the restoration of humankind is ethical. Faith in Christ's death and bodily resurrection, as an atoning, justifying and sanctifying sacrifice, is the Christian way of salvation (1 John 4:9-10).

Transhumanism, as an off-shoot of ancient mysticism, presents an alternative view. The plight of humanity is essentially metaphysical. It postulates that creation is defective, if not itself the main flaw (as some Eastern religions hypothesize). Whatever form of monism it takes, it always sets forth self-transcending regeneration as the goal. Each individual person must become a new immortal creature, achievable only by his own efforts of mystic ritualism and/or modern technology. In short, the very essence of Transhumanism is the call to escape from finitude. It corresponds with the unquenchable human desire to become a divine being. The Christian faith counters this quest by pointing to the source of life, temporal and eternal: Jesus Christ (1 John 5:11-12).

In conclusion, we have shown that the concept of human enhancement by technological means is not primarily a technological issue, but rather the newest incarnation of the ancient, deeply religious endeavor “to become like God” – infinitely wise, omnipotent, autonomous, and immortal.

In view of the failure of mysticism (in the ancient and modern variations of Hermeticism, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, and Alchemy) to reach its goal of transcending human nature, we should carefully examine the philosophical underpinnings of the transhumanist religion. We should ask ourselves if we really agree with its understanding of human nature, before we subscribe to its technical promises and accept the fundamental paradigm shift implied by the concept of human enhancement technologies.

1 Michael Heim, The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993) p. 118.
2 David F. Noble, The Religion of Technology; The Divinity of Man and the Spirit of Invention (New York: Knopf, 1997) pp. 3-6.
3 Ibid., p. 3.
4 Ibid., p. 5.
5 See Mircea Eliade, The Forge and the Crucible: The Origins and Structures of Alchemy (New York: Harper Torchbooks, [1956] 1971). For a detailed bibliography on alchemy, see Alan Pritchard, Alchemy: A bibliography of English-language writings (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980).
6 H. J. Shepard, “Gnosticism and Alchemy”, Ambix, VI (1958), pp. 140-48; Shepard, “The Redemption Theme in Hellenistic Alchemy”, Ambix, VII (1959), pp. 42-76.
7 Mircea Eliade, The Forge and the Crucible: The Origin and Structures of Alchemy (New York: Harper Torchbooks, [1956] 1971), p. 151.
8 Ibid., p. 82.
9 Ibid., p. 83.
10 Ibid., pp. 60-61.
11 Ibid., p. 357.
12 Ibid.
13 C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, [1944] 2001) 76-78.
14 Ibid., pp. 21-100; John Passmore, The Perfectibility of Man (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund Inc., 1970, 2000) pp. 116-327.
15 Julian Huxley, of Touchstone for Ethics, 1893-1943 (Ayer Co Pub, Jun 1947) p. 257. This is a quotation from an earlier book by Huxley, published by the United Nations‟ Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): The Prerequisites of Progress (Paris: Editions Fontaine, 1947).
16 Julian Huxley, Knowledge, Morality, and Destiny (New York: Mentor Book, [1957] 1960) p. 13.
17 Ibid.
18 Ibid.
19 Or possibly 6 billion years, depending on how one views the Hubble Constant.
20 3.5 billion until about 2 or 3 million years ago
21 Ibid., pp. 13-14.
22 Ibid., p. 17.
23 Nick Bostrom, “The Transhumanist FAQ, #5.1, Version 2.0, 2003”, <>.
24 Ibid., 54.
25 Ibid., #1.1.
26 Extropy Institute, “Mission of Extropy Institute” <>.
27 Bostrom, “The Transhumanist FAQ”, #1.1, Version 2.0, 2003”, <>.
28 Ibid.
29 Brendon Bernhard, “The Transhumanists,” L.A. Weekly. (January 19-25, 2001), <>.
30 Tripper McCarthy, “Beliefs of the Transhumanist Church,” The Transhumanist Church, <>.
31 Betterhumans Staff, “Transhumanism,” 12/24/2002, <>: “Transhumanist spirituality: In many respects Transhumanism seeks to actualize the goals and hopes traditionally espoused by religions. While mostly atheistic or agnostic, many Transhumanists describe themselves as being very spiritual. In fact, a disproportionately high number of Transhumanists follow Eastern philosophical traditions, especially secular Buddhism.”
32 See C. Christopher Hook, “The Techno Sapiens Are Coming,” Christianity Today (19 December 2003), <> (31 March 2004). Hook uses the term “Gnosticism”, but it is more precise to say “Hermeticism”.
33 Ibid.
34 Mircea Eliade, The Forge and the Crucible: The Origin and Structures of Alchemy (New York: Harper Torchbooks, [1956] 1971), pp. 109-11.
35 Ibid., pp. 124, 167.
36 Eliade, Myth and Reality (New York: Harper Torchbooks, [1963] 1968), pp. 62, 346.

This article, originally titled "More than Human: The Transhumanist Agenda of Transforming Humans into Posthumans," is published with permission of the author. Dr. Martin Erdmann recently talked on this topic at the Discernment Ministries conference "The New Foundation Church" in Harrisburg, PA. Check the Discernment Products Page for recordings of Dr. Erdmann's two talks. Dr. Erdmann is the author of Building the Kingdom of God on Earth: The Churches' Contribution to Marshal Public Support for World Order and Peace, 1919-1945 (Wipf & Stock, 2005), which is a classic historic work on the rise of Dominionism during the past century, available HERE. He has authored a landmark article, "The Spiritualization of Science, Technology, and Education in a One-World Society" which is posted HERE.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Impressions Ineffable . . .

The Mysticism “Lite” of Rick Warren[1]

Ineffable: incapable of being expressed or described in words; inexpressible; unutterable.

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”
1 Corinthians 2:12-13, NASB

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

Before dealing with the idea that God gives “impressions,” let me confess that I am not per se opposed to them. Like A.J. Gordon (1836-1985), founder of Gordon College, I believe the Holy Spirit of God “may beget within us emotions too deep for expression, as when ‘The Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered’ (Rom. 8:26).”[2]

Regarding the Spirit restricting Paul and Timothy to preach in Asia and Bithynia, Wayne Grudem writes: “The Holy Spirit must . . . have communicated his direct guidance to them in some specific way, whether through words heard audibly or in the mind, or through strong subjective impressions of a lack of the Holy Spirit’s presence and blessing as they attempted to travel to these different areas.”[3] On the point of the Spirit’s subjective impression upon Paul not to go to Asia and Bithynia (Acts 16:6-7), we can note the impression became objective when in a vision a man appeared unto Paul “and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us” (Acts 16:9). A subjective impression, if indeed there was one, was confirmed by an objective word. This incident in Paul's ministry illustrates that believers are “taught by the Spirit” who combines “spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” (1 Corinthians 2:13, NASB).

So we Christian believers should know the Holy Spirit can speak to us. Therefore, we need to be careful (metaphorically speaking) not to throw the “spiritual baby” out with the mystical bath. (By using this figure, I am not suggesting there’s any sense in which mysticism, soft or hard, cleans spirituality up. In fact, the reverse is the case.) But absent the Spirit's authentication by the Word of Scripture, thoughts can be self-originated, and it becomes vacuous to mystically confess, The Lord told me . . . . Well, maybe He did, or maybe He didn't. Who knows . . . . All of which leads me to address Rick Warren’s idea that God speaks to people via impressions.[4]

Pastor Warren, leader of the internationally influential Purpose Driven movement, recently preached a four-part series of messages on “Learning to Hear God’s Voice” at Saddleback Church, the congregation he pastors. He begins the series by stating, “One of the most basic claims of Christianity is that God speaks to people.”[5] That God has revealed Himself to humanity is basic to Christianity (“In the beginning was the Word . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). The question is not whether God speaks—He does—but rather how He speaks/has spoken, and whether or not He continues to do so. Warren cites biblical evidence that God speaks in a medium he calls “impressions”; that He “gives us ideas. He gives us hunches. He gives us these gut feelings.”[6] To prove that God communicates in this esoteric and extra-biblical way, Pastor Rick begins and ends his series of sermons by linking to Jesus’ Parable of the Soils (Luke 8:4-15, part one), and by referring to the experience of the prophet Habakkuk (Habakkuk 2:1-2, part four). But do the parable and the prophet actually teach that God speaks in a contemporary way to contemporary Christians?

Before addressing the issue of impressions, let it be said, with the exception of believing the same Gospel unto salvation, that none of our Christian experiences, dear reader, are identical. We are not Christian clones, at least not yet (1 John 3:2). For the most part, we have come from various cultures to trust the Gospel—that Jesus died for our sins and was raised from death three days after—in different ways and on different days. Though the Message of the Gospel is static—it has been fixed by God—our experience of it is not. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the application of the gospel in the aftermath of regeneration is dynamic. Nevertheless, we share common trust in the unmerited forgiveness of God that comes to us via naked faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), and that together we in our beings are the temple of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:16). We are saved by grace through faith (Acts 15:11; 1 Peter 1:5), and together are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God (Romans 8:9). To use a word current within the popular culture, this is “awesome.”

Yet in conversion’s aftermath, the Lord does not leave us to be orphans in the world. He continues to lead. As the Apostle states: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). Though the Holy Spirit’s leading is individual and variegated among us, His goal is the same; that all believers become like Jesus (and that one day we are destined to be) and that our lives bear witness of Him (John 15:26). By the Spirit, we are to become holy because the Lord our God is holy (1 Peter 1:16).

Yet, in Pastor Warren’s sermons on “Learning to Hear God’s Voice,” one finds scant reference to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and this in contrast to the significant attention given to His ministry in the New Testament, in the Spirit’s leading of Jesus, the apostles and the apostolic church.[7] It’s as if divine impressions can be experienced independent of the Spirit’s administration. According to Warren’s scheme, all humans have to do is work-up, in a kind of New Thought way, a positive mental attitude in order to sense God speaking to them.[8]

With this stated, we turn to two central passages Warren employs to establish that God gives impressions and to address the question, do these Scriptures really support the idea that God speaks to people by giving them impressions, something he calls “gut feelings”?

The Parable—Luke 8:4-15

Jesus told the story of the four soils in Luke 8, a parable, that Warren explains is, “all about mental attitude’ . . . . He [Jesus] says these four soils represent four mental attitudes. They’re not four kinds of people . . .”[9] Is Jesus speaking, irrespective of the persons involved, about adjusting one’s mental attitude to hear God speak to them, to give them so-called “impressions,” whatever they might be?

First, Jesus’ story does concern people, four different kinds of people. Warren’s attempt to depersonalize the soils and make them represent four different attitudes does not fit. Though people’s minds and hearts are involved, the soils nevertheless represent types of persons. In Jesus’ interpretation of the parable and its environs (that’s context), the pronouns “they” (7x), “their” (2x), and “those” (4x) are used. Last time I looked in a dictionary these pronouns do (they, their) and can (those) refer to people. The pronouns indicate that the content of Jesus’ speaking is not just mental, but personal.

Second, in the parable, the seed represents the Word of God. Jesus said: “The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). Fanning remarks:

God’s word, whatever form it takes, is thus a communication from him. It is intelligible and articulate, addressed to people in human language so that they may understand and act on it . . . Human language is assumed to be a sufficient and effective means . . . of communication from God to people.[10]

In the Bible, the Word refers to intelligible communication from God, whether in the forms of dreams, visions, prophetic speech or written communications. The Word-seed does not refer to unintelligible impressions, to something like gut feelings. In the parable, the seed represents “the Word (the logos) of God” which Jesus spoke to that unbelieving generation. When Jesus refers to “the word (logos) of God,” He refers to the “oracles (the logia) of God” (Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2).

Third, Jesus spoke in parables to conceal truth (His logos) from unbelievers as well as to reveal truth to believers. Jesus told the disciples, “Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand” (Luke 8:10). About those persons referenced in Isaiah’s prophecy, Jesus said that, “this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matthew 13:15). Primarily, Jesus addressed His Word to minds and hearts that were closed and not open, unimpressionable and not impressionable. The spiritual paradigm set forth by Jesus for understanding His parables does not fit the idea that the seed represents mystical impressions, and the soils refer to people who have worked-up a mental attitude to receive such "seed."

Fourth, even if persons cultivate their PMA (positive mental attitude), seventy-five percent of the soils will not respond to God’s Word. As Jesus intended, the parable concerns a majority persons rejecting, not accepting, the Word of God. Assuming God speaks through impressions—and for reason of the Holy Spirit’s anointing ministry in our hearts, we occasionally are possessed of intuitions that some things are wrong (1 John 2:18-27)—Jesus teaches that three quarters of individuals will reject impressions. Warren minimized this rejection when he told his audience, “Some of you today are not believers. You’re seekers. You’re checking out Christ.”[11] He addresses seekers despite Paul’s forthright statements that, “there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11), and “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Unbelievers don’t understand spiritual things—for the sake of argument we’ll call them impressions—not because they won’t, but because they can’t. Understanding spiritual things requires the Spirit’s presence, a divine presence not in and with unbelievers (Romans 8:9). Receiving the things of God’s Spirit is not a matter of adjusting our attitude so as to be tuned in to God. The picture of Scripture is that unbelievers do not even possess receivers, for the sake of illustration, TVs or radios. In order to be tuned in to God, people need a new nature; they need to be born from above (John 3:3, 7). Unless people are born from above they will not hear from above because they do not possess the capacity (the radio, TV, I-Phone or whatever) to do so. Jesus’ parable does not support the idea that people can receive divine impressions if only they will cultivate a right attitude.

We turn to the prophet Habakkuk. Does his ministry demonstrate for us “practical steps” we need to take in order to create the contemplative state necessary to hear God speak?

The Prophet—Habakkuk 2:1

To begin, a little context—as a man zealous for God’s righteousness, Habakkuk lamented the sinful condition of his nation where “the law is ignored . . . justice is never upheld . . . the wicked surround the righteous . . . [and] justice comes out perverted” (Habakkuk 1:4). The prophet confronted God for His seeming laissez faire attitude toward aforementioned sins of Judah. The Lord answered Habakkuk’s complaint. He told the prophet He was going to judge Judah and would use the wicked Babylonians-Chaldeans to administer His wrath upon the chosen nation (Habakkuk 1:5-11). Because of her covenant breaking ways and ungodly behavior, Habakkuk did not doubt that Judah deserved divine judgment, but his second complaint arose over God’s answer to his first complaint; and that was that God was going use of the Chaldeans as an instrument of His wrath. How could a just God, the prophet reasoned, use a more-wicked nation like Babylon to punish a less-wicked nation like Judah? (Habakkuk 1:12-17) To this question, the prophet stationed himself in a tower on the city wall to await God’s answer to his complaint, an answer that, when it came from God, would intimidate him to the core of his being. That Habakkuk provides us with an example of how Christians ought withdraw, wait, watch, write and worship in order to prepare their hearts to receive impressions from God stretches the context, and here’s why.

First, Habakkuk was a Jewish prophet, one to whom God committed His “oracles.” Contrarily, we, including Pastor Warren and others waiting to receive divine impressions, are not. In comparing our experience to Habakkuk’s, we’re not comparing apples with apples.

Second, the Today’s English Version’s rendering of Habakkuk 2:1 (“I will climb my watchtower.”) is not, as Warren states, "a Hebraism for, I’m going to . . . get off by myself . . . so I can hear God speak."[12] The context indicates that the prophet set himself to watch, wait and observe how God was going to respond to his second complaint in the reality of history.

Third, Warren advocates that withdrawal is the first step for “receiving an impression from the holy spirit [sic],” and this despite the fact that the Holy Spirit is not even mentioned in Habakkuk.[13] In awaiting the Lord’s response, Habakkuk knew that it could include a personal rebuke of him.

Fourth, in the face of his objections to God, that He was indifferent to Judah’s immorality and was going to use a more-wicked people (the Chaldeans) to judge a less-wicked people (the Jews), the prophet learned that he needed to live by “faith” (“the just shall live by his faith,” Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). This lesson is the most important teaching found in the entire of Holy Scripture.

So God answered prophet, not by giving him an “impression,” but by personally appearing to him like He appeared to Moses (Exodus 3:2-6; “Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.”) and Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-6; “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”). The theophany unnerved the prophet. Habakkuk describes:

God came from Teman,
The Holy One from Mount Paran.
His glory covered the heavens,
And the earth was full of His praise.

His brightness was like the light;
He had rays flashing from His hand,
And there His power was hidden.

When I heard, my body trembled;
My lips quivered at the voice;
Rottenness entered my bones;
And I trembled in myself,
That I might rest in the day of trouble.
When he comes up to the people,
He will invade them with his troops.

(Habakkuk 3:3-4, 16, NKJV)

Can the prophet’s experience be described as a “gut feeling,” or did God really appear to Him? Did Habakkuk receive a quaint “impression” from God, or did his experience shake him to the very core of his being? From the prophet’s description, the answer is obvious.[14]


Neither biblical passage Pastor Warren invokes supports the idea that God guides people via ethereal impressions. Such guidance, absent initiation by the Holy Spirit and confirmation through Holy Scripture, is illusory. Regarding the bounds of religious experiences, Bernard Ramm wrote:

The testimonium [the authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit] which is personal and private is yet the work of the Spirit in the common life of the Church. According to the pneumatological doctrine of the Church, the testimonium is personal to the core, but not individualistic; it is private, but utterly free from the spirit of religious anarchy; it occurs unseen in the heart, but drives the Christian into the fellowship of the visible, local church. It is subjective (as all things intensely personal, vital, spiritual, and meaningful are), but because the testimonium is the witness of the Holy Spirit of the church, and because in a real sense it occurs within the Church, the testimonium does not lead to subjectivism.[15]

For me, the idea of guidance through “impressions . . . ideas . . . hunches [and] gut feelings” is individualistic and mystic. Rightly, Warren attempts to guard against such by instructing his congregation to submit any impression to the question, “Does It Agree with the Bible?”[16] Yet the irony of Warren's guideline is that, when investigated, the very biblical passages he claims support his proposal that God speaks to people via impressions do not teach what he says they teach; namely, that if people work-up the right attitude and withdraw, wait, watch, write and worship, God will speak to them through ideas, hunches and gut feelings.

In his book The Witness of the Spirit, Bernard Ramm (1916-1992) wrote half a century ago: “To isolate Scripture from the Spirit, or the Spirit from Scripture, is theologically mischievous.”[17]

[1] Bruce Demarest distinguishes between hard and soft mysticism. See Bruce Demarest, “Mysticism: Peril or Promise?” Metamorpha: Conversations, a Forum for Authentic Transformation.
Like hard porn, hard mysticism, when engaged, allows persons to enter an alternative reality in which they feel their personality merging into God. Soft mysticism, according to Demarest, only “seeks [a] deepening relational union with God . . . which involves no loss of individuality or selfhood.” According to Demarest’s distinction, one might categorize Rick Warren’s concept of impressions as soft mysticism or mysticism lite.
But the question becomes, in the continuum of addictive experiences the Bible calls “lusts” and given the seductions of malevolent spirit beings (demons) can provide, who can predict when “soft mysticism” might emerge into “hard mysticism.” Who knows? So in my thinking, the safest way to avoid the temptation to engage hard mysticism is to stay clear of soft mysticism, much as avoiding hard porn necessitates that a man stay clear of soft porn, for the lesser can easily lead to the worse.
[2] A.J. Gordon, The Ministry of the Spirit (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1949): 172-173. Gordon’s discussion of the Spirit’s use of words is informative for the seeking heart.
[3] Emphasis added, Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994): 643.
[4] Rick Warren, Learning to Hear God’s Voice, a four part sermon series available in a PDF format at, Warren employs the word “impressions” forty-three times in his four sermons.
[5] Warren, Part One, “How to Hear God Speak.”
[6] Warren, Part Two, “How God Talks to You.”
[7] Part One possesses no mention of the Holy Spirit; Part Two has three, two in the twice cited text of John 14:26, and one in the quotation of an extended testimony; Part Three contains one mention of the Holy Spirit’s conviction ministry; and Part Four mentions Him three times in the recurrent statement “impressions of the Holy Spirit.”
[8] Foundational to this mind to mind or feeling to feeling communication with God, is that as image bearers, God created us with a temporal consciousness like the eternal consciousness possessed by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Romans 11:33-34, 2 Corinthians 2:16 and Romans 8:27).
[9] Warren, Part One.
[10] Buist M. Fanning, “WORD,” New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, T. Desmond Alexander, Brian S. Roser, Editors (Downer Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000): 849.
[11] Warren, Part One.
[12] Warren, Part Four, “Receiving Guidance from God.”
[13] Ibid.
[14] For further reading on a Habakkuk text employed by the New Spiritualists to promote contemplative spirituality in evangelicalism, see Pastor Larry DeBruyn, “Let All the Earth Keep Silence,” Guarding His Flock Ministries,
[15] Bernard Ramm, The Witness of the Spirit: An Essay on the Contemporary Relevance of the Internal Witness of the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1959): 81.
[16] Warren, Part Three, “How to Recognize God’s Voice.”
[17] Bernard Ramm, Witness of the Spirit, 64.

Permission to reprint by author. Original article posted HERE. Pastor Larry DeBruyn is the author of the following books: UNSHACKLED: Breaking Away from Seductive Spirituality, Church on the Rise: Why I am not a Purpose Driven Pastor, and Drumming Up Deception. All three of these books can be ordered HERE.