Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Willis Harman and Christianity Today

Christianity Today magazine was launched by neo-evangelical leaders in the mid-1950s who needed an organ that would "defend the evangelical faith at the intellectual level." Billy Graham was instrumental in this endeavor. Harold J. Ockenga, in his Foreward to The Battle for the Bible by Harold Lindsell (Zondervan, 1976) explained that "Neo-evangelicalism was born in 1948.... It differed from fundamentalism in its repudiation of separatism and its determination to engage itself in the theological dialogue of the day." (p. 11) [emphasis added]

By 1977, and then again 1979, at the two Consultations about the future, neo-evangelicals had opened the door wide enough to engage in "theological dialogue" with Theosophists! The Billy Graham organization, connected officals, and related entities were very involved in the planning and program of these two Consultations.

It is therefore ironic that Christianity Today in February 2003 published a major article expressing concern about the new spirituality in the business world. Jeff M. Sellers, identified as an associate editor of Christianity Today, attended a Spirit in Business World Conference, which he reported on in some detail in "The Higher Self Gets Down to Business" [http://www.christianitytoday.com/workplace/articles/ct-2003-002-1.34.html] Two sidebars, also by Sellers, are linked to at the end of the article.

Sellers explained that the New Age conference participants from the corporate and business world believed that "business will help usher in a universal shift in consciousness" by relying "less on rational thought and more on intuitive 'inner wisdom.'" He noted that "the visionaries in the movement advocate... business playing a key role in a paradigm shift from scientific materialism to a metaphysical outlook -- the mind influencing or dictating reality. "

Sellers honestly identified the conference as "New Age religion" and factually described a few of its key tenets. For example, he pinpointed the "pseudo-science" of business guru Peter Senge. But the reader should be cautioned that not all of the information in the article, or its sidebars, would stand as accurate today. While Sellers in 2003 drew lines in the sand between New Age and evangelical definitions of terms, today -- just a few short years later -- the marketplace ministries have borrowed the New Age nuances, even to the point of creating new doctrines. And while Sellers maintained that evangelicals could enter the marketplace spirituality movement relatively unscathed by New Age influence, evidence to the contrary is mounting.

The dialogue with Theosophist Willis Harman in the late 1970s opened the door to a leaven that is now on the verge of permeating neo-evangelicalism entirely.

Willis Harman's influence

Ironically again, under the section of his article entitled "Founding Visionary," Jeff Sellers gave a brief history of the influence of Willis Harman, recognizing him as "the movement's unofficial father" and a "metaphysical futurist." Sellers accurately pointed out that, to Harman, visualization was not "merely a means of clarifying goals, but of altering material reality." Unfortunately, Sellers did not delve into the many relevant examples of neo-evangelicals engaging in this very practice, particulary due the influence of the marketplace transformation leaders bringing in "emergent" doctrines about "envisioning" or "vision-casting" to bring about some purported "Kingdom" purpose.

Finally, although the article by Sellers is very interesting to read, it is not entirely factual. The history of neo-evangelical workplace spirituality needs to be re-examined in light of the 1979 Consultation when Willis W. Harman, business guru extraordinaire, made serious inroads into evangelicalism. The precise infiltration methodologies, which New Age author Marilyn Ferguson identified as "conspiratorial" in The Aquarian Conspiracy, have succeeded in bringing theosophical philosophies into the church via the business model.

The Truth:

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)

Tomorrow, Lord willing, more history of relevance. . .