Friday, May 29, 2009


The Sights, Sounds, and Spectacles of Spurious Spirituality

Part 1

"We reject all shameful and underhanded methods.
We do not try to trick anyone,
and we do not distort the word of God.
We tell the truth before God,
and all who are honest know that."

(The Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 4:2, NLT)

Along with other Americans, I am a sports fan, especially of football and basketball. I grew up loving, playing, and watching both sports, especially basketball. After shoveling the snow off his driveway in the dead of winter, for hours at a time I used to shoot the round ball at a goal attached to my neighbor's garage. During cold and snowy winter months, my father would drive me to Godwin Field House to watch our local semi-pro team, the Grand Rapids (Michigan) "Tackers," play on Saturday evenings. (In that day, my hometown was known as the furniture capital of the world; hence the name "Tackers.") Although the players were not nationally known, watching big and skilled men play a finesse game was an awesome experience for a young boy. In my late teens, I regularly played pick-up games on public courts around the city. Because I was more force than finesse, I earned the nickname "junk man." Today, as a half-season ticket holder of the Indiana Pacers, I still enjoy watching the biggest-best athletes in the world compete in the NBA.

But there's a world of difference between having attended a Tackers' game in the early 1960s, and going to a Pacers' game in the 2000s!

Upon entering Indy's Conseco Field House, and climbing the steps to the concourse where free programs and gifts are distributed, a rock or pep band can usually be heard playing in the background. In the countdown before the game, rock and rap music blare constantly over the PA system as the players warm-up shooting and stretching on the court below. Then, as coaches and players stand in lines facing one another, there comes the singing of our national anthem, often by a well-known recording artist. Then, after introducing the opposing team in an ordinary way, the public announcer introduces the Pacers' starting lineup in a darkened arena accompanied by pulsating music, a cheering crowd, flashing strobe lights, and a mini fireworks display.

During timeouts, the PA system plays music as cheerleaders dance on the playing floor below, as Boomer--the team mascot--and his friends shoot and hurl T-shirts into the stands. And from the catwalks above, arena workers drop parachutes with hanging gift cards or yellow mini-balls to the crowd below. On the giant four-sided TV screens situated above center court, there is the constant visage of replays, live pictures of the crowd behaving out of themselves, and sports news casts. At half-time, entertaining and flamboyant juggling, magic, balancing, gymnastic, etc., acts, imported from Las Vegas or wherever, perform.

Between the third and fourth quarters Boomer and his acrobatic entourage put on an exciting dunk show as they propel themselves off from mini-trampolines, fly and somersault through the air, slam the ball through the basket, and finally crash on the landing mats below. If the game is close at the end, the PA announcer, accompanied by pulsating music that heightens the excitement, exhorts the cheering and screaming crowd into greater and greater fervor and frenzy.

All the while, expensive drinks and food are sold by vendors on the lower and upper concourses surrounding the arena. From the time a fan enters the arena until the final horn ends the game, there's wall-to-wall excitement to be found in the Pacer experience. This is why, I guess, they call the NBA franchise, "Pacers Sports and Entertainment."

But amidst the goings-on, the game remains. That's what the fans come to watch . . . or, do they?

How Can We Make Our Services More Exciting?

As I reflect upon all this business, I cannot help but think of how like the corporation of Pacers Sports and Entertainment, many American churches have become, as they provide their congregations with excitements and experiences. A congregant once asked me how we might make our worship services more exciting. These days it seems, religion must be made "fun," or else.

So, like sports marketers, churches try to spin the sensual into the spiritual. If the spiritual blessing of worship does not descend from above, religious entrepreneurs will attempt to compensate for that lack of reality by ginning up excitement below. After all, to be believed in, the crowd needs to feel God doing something, and excitements give the impression that He's at work.

So, church leadership designs worship services to be an experience akin to attending a Pacer game. A pervasive "need" seems to exist amongst congregants to get excited over excitement. I presume that's why churches call their Sunday morning services, "celebrations" (Remember the tune, "Celebration," by Kool and the Gang?).

But I often wonder how the attendance numbers would fare if the Pacers did away with all the extra-curricular excitements? What if the atmosphere became like that of those old semi-pro Tacker games I attended as a kid. How many people attend games to just watch the game? Or, must there be other inducements?

Similarly, how many people really attend church to worship God? I remember reading where A.W. Tozer once questioned how many people would attend church if the only attraction was God. Seemingly, vast numbers of Christians want to attend "The Church of What's Happening Now." For any too young to remember, during the early 1970s this was the comedic church pastored by a con-artist named Reverend Leroy, who was played by the comedian Flip Wilson (1933-1998) on a TV program named after him.

To be continued. . . .

The Truth:

"But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer." (1 Peter 4:7)

Friday, May 22, 2009



By Ben Laake[1]

A Useful Tool

Traditionally, mathematics has been called the language of science. Scientists and engineers use the language of mathematics to describe the world and to understand and predict the behavior of physical systems. For several centuries, mankind has been learning to use ever more complicated systems of equations to increase the accuracy and fidelity existing between the mathematical description of reality and reality itself. This improved and developed understanding has been used to harness the energy of nature for the benefit of man. The scientific and technological wonders we enjoy and depend on today were made possible by the advanced understanding of our world developed by mathematics.

Every human endeavor is part of the integrated whole of life. Scientific understanding of the universe is integral with the overall life of man, not an independent endeavor. As compiled by Charles Spurgeon, The Puritan Catechism asks the question, “What is the chief end of man?” and then answers, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31), and to enjoy him for ever (Ps. 73:25-26).”[2] This description of man’s end is not limited to one’s religion, or one’s personal life, or even to one’s family life. It also encompasses how we study and understand nature through mathematics, science, and engineering, and then utilize the universe for our well-being.

Mathematics emerged into scientific prominence during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries through men such as Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), and Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), who employed mathematics to better understand and give description to God’s majestic universe. They believed that God had supernaturally created the universe and continued to providentially preserve it, and through mathematics they were able to describe how through natural laws God governed the universe. The acknowledged progression was natural laws derived from supernatural acts. This understanding that God created and maintains the universe by His sovereign working through supernatural power and natural laws is fundamental to the Christian faith.

Wisdom in Application of Mathematics

As revealed in His Word, belief in the one true God is required in order to give direction to the true study of reality, whether philosophical, mathematical, or scientific. There is no true separation in the human realm; any worldview grows from either the foundation of man’s understanding of and relationship to God, or from the absence of such. A lost (or natural) man’s focus on human achievements puts man at the center of and in charge of his life. Without God, lost man in his sinful nature uses mathematics to develop science that places himself on the intellectual throne.

The non-Christian approach to reality always leads to man-centered conclusions in which ultimate force and authority derive from the physical realm where man has apparent control. Instead of acknowledging the flow of supernatural to natural, non-Christians assume something else. Some assume God supernaturally created the universe and now allows it to run on its own through natural laws—the deist worldview. Others assume that everything derives from natural causes—the atheist or humanistic worldview. Still others assume reality involves more than natural cause-and-effect, but, rejecting the God of the Bible, conclude that the natural gives rise to the supernatural—the New Age worldview. Not only do these various belief systems exist within Christendom, but they are also prevalent among scientists and mathematicians.

The foundation of today’s mathematical understanding was laid by many men who held to a worldview that God created the universe. Galileo, Newton, and other early pioneers of modern mathematics believed that the world around them was made by the Lord God, the Creator of heaven and earth. They worshiped Him and believed that their mathematics described His universe. To these men, mathematics was a language that described God’s handiwork.

Limitations of Mathematical Results

Although many early scientists, seeing the hand of God in their mathematics, were led to honor and worship Him, others imagined that by their calculations a model of the universe could be developed that did not require God. Pierre-Simon, Marquis de Laplace (1749-1827), a great mathematician, astronomer, and friend of Napoleon, published such a treatise on the orbits of Saturn and Jupiter. On hearing of the publication, Napoleon asked “You have written this huge book on the system of the world without once mentioning the author of the universe?” Laplace answered, “No, Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis.”[3] Upon hearing of Laplace’s rejection of the “God hypothesis”, another mathematician and astronomer, Joseph-Louis Lagrange, took exception. “Ah, it is a fine hypothesis; it explains so many things,” he reportedly said.[4]

A forerunner to modern evolutionists, Laplace believed he had no need for the supernatural to describe the world, stating, “All the effects of Nature are only the mathematical consequences of a small number of immutable laws.”[5] The body of mathematical work that he originated is extraordinary. It is foundational for every engineer and scientist to study and understand the system of equations and mathematical formulations derived by and named after Laplace. There is nothing inherently evil in the mathematics.[6] Yet the conclusions that Laplace drew from those equations should serve as a warning to everyone. The chief end of man is to think God’s thoughts after Him and to give Him the glory, not to enthrone the human wisdom of science. But the sinful disposition of heart within man will not allow God to be glorified.

Mathematics today has advanced well beyond what was imagined by eighteenth century mathematicians. Building on their understanding, today’s mathematicians have been able to explore and describe God’s creation in amazing detail. Quantum mechanics, set theory, probabilities, and chaos theory are just some of the theories of mathematics that have led to advances in energy, transportation, agriculture, and communications that define our modern world. Mathematics is still the language of science, and scientists and engineers still use it to describe the universe and help mankind. Chaos theory and high speed computers can now model weather and violent storms such as hurricanes and tornadoes with greater accuracy than ever before. Both Christian and non-Christian alike can gain insight, important data, and new understanding from these analyses. The Christian, however, knows that the sovereign God, not random chaotic chance, controls the universe.

Just as in the eighteenth century, men today who reject God and the Bible use the tools at their disposal to describe their own reality—a reality that excludes God from the formula. Failing to disprove the need for supernatural intervention, they start with observations from the natural world and create a model of reality of their own choosing. High speed computers enable scientists to take the “small number of immutable laws,” as described by Laplace, and construct entire universes inside the electronic memory. By using chaos theory, scientists create fractal images that exhibit infinite complexity; no matter how closely you examine the structure there is always another layer of detail. The colorful images that generate and regenerate themselves appear to come to life with a mind of their own. In technical terminology, the fractal images appear to defy the second law of thermodynamics and bring order out of chaos, thus leading many to conclude that there is no need for what they label the “God hypothesis”. The worlds generated by and in their computers become their reality and god.

Just as Napoleon took interest in the work of Laplace, today’s leaders follow the work of the celebrated scientists of our day. “I find the ideas in the fractals, both as a body of knowledge and as a metaphor, an incredibly important way of looking at the world,” stated Vice President Al Gore.[7] However, the metaphor is flawed in that the results are not giving glory to God; rather, the fractal calculations and computations are being used to explain God away. Unlike Napoleon and his contemporaries, many of today’s leaders, taking their cue from the secular scientists, do not accept that the inclusion of the sovereign God in the equation of reality “explains so many things.”

Maintaining Integrity

For those who trust the Word of God, the anchor still holds. While much of the academic world is adrift in the seemingly infinite sea of the modern body of knowledge, Christian laymen, scientists, and engineers must with integrity hold that the real reality is accounted for through the spoken Word of God. As the Spirit hovered over the waters, “God said . . . and there was” (Genesis 1:3 ff.). By the Lord Jesus Christ “all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17).

When the theologian says that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” this is an all-inclusive statement. Mathematics is but a tool that man can employ to help him understand and describe the physical world. When divorced from God, man becomes divorced from the source of reality; he becomes lost amidst the universe, with his ultimate demise being assured. All men, mathematicians included, who reject God will see their worlds crumble and come at last to nothing. Thus Laplace on his deathbed was forced to admit that in the end, “Man follows only phantoms.”[8] While mathematics aids in describing the universe in which we live, mathematics cannot account for the existence of it. After all, why is there something and not nothing? But those who choose to follow the God of the Bible will find that beyond human calculations there is a solid foundation that will stand for all eternity, the Lord Jesus Christ. Through the study and application of mathematics, the natural revelation of the wonders of God’s creative and sovereign power ought to humble us before His majesty.

I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
And on Your wondrous works.
Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts,
And I will declare Your greatness.
(Psalm 145:5-6)

1. About the author: Ben Laake serves as a Deacon at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Dale City, Virginia. He was a Technical Staff Member of Los Alamos National Laboratory for twenty-three years and currently works in the Washington, DC area. Ben holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas, an MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of New Mexico, an MS in Management from Purdue University, and an MA in Religion from Liberty University.
2. C.H. Spurgeon, A Puritan Catechism, The Spurgeon Archive (
3. “Science Quotes by Pierre Simon, Marquis de Laplace,” Today in Science History (
4. “Pierre-Simon Laplace,” Wikiquote (
5. Science History.
6. Jason Lisle, “Fractals, Hidden Beauty Revealed in Mathematics,” Answers in Genesis, January 1, 2007.
7. New York Times, June 21, 2000.
8. Science History.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"The Spiritualization of Science,

Technology, and Education in a One-World Society"

This emerging trans-modern worldview,
involves a shift in the locus of authority
from external to ‘inner knowing.’ It has
basically turned away from the older scientific
view that ultimate reality is “fundamental
particles,“ and trusts perceptions
of the wholeness and spiritual aspect
of organisms, ecosystems, Gaia and
Cosmos. This implies a spiritual reality,
and ultimate trust in the authority of the
whole. It amounts to a reconciliation of
scientific inquiry with the “perennial wisdom”
at the core of the world’s spiritual
traditions. It continues to involve a confidence
in scientific inquiry, but an inquiry
whose metaphysical base has shifted
from the reductionist, objectivist, positivist
base of 19th- and 20th-century science
to a more holistic and transcendental
metaphysical foundation.
Willis Harman[1]

"The Spiritualization of Science, Technology, and Education in a One-World Society" is the title of an article[2] just published in the European Journal of Nanomedicine (2009 Vol. 2:31-38) by Dr. Martin Erdmann in conjunction with a European Nanomedicine Conference. Dr. Erdmann has been a senior scientist at the University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland, researching the ethical implications of nanotechnology and transhumanism. He is a member of the Discernment Research Group.

You can access the full article HERE. Below we have reproduced the abstract to give you a foretaste of this excellent historical research. As you read, you will see how this ties into several recent posts that we have run recently on the history of the Emergent church movement.[3] It is an incredible fact that Willis Harman, a key subject of Dr. Erdmann's article, was openly fraternizing with evangelical leaders in an era when they were apparently enamored with his futurism and psycho-technologies. Just how much did they know about Harman's more sinister pursuits?

Today the Emergent postmodern church stands at the threshold of the convergence of these same techno-spiritual forces of mysticism, mind-altering experiences, pyscho-social mechanics, "worldview" changes, and global irrationality.

Western Christianity has always provided a rational and moral basis for the development of science and technology, including clinical Nanomedicine. Yet this sensible basis has been strongly disputed for about half a century. This paper will outline some of the pivotal reasons why influential intellectuals in England and America, mostly in the later part of the 20th century, concluded that irrationality would be a better foundation for the scientific enterprise.

Aldous Huxley envisioned a future world society totally controlled by an elite group of scientists. His bestknown fictional work explicating this dire prospect bore the title Brave New World. Years later he would “revisit” his prognostications only to conclude that he had underestimated the rate of change realizing his darkest fears. Turning to mysticism, both in its meditative and drug-induced varieties, he prepared the way for the burgeoning Human Potential Movement which was initially formed at the Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA in the early 1960s. The electrical engineering professor at Stanford University Willis W. Harman, who had gotten involved in researching the cognitive and societal effects of LSD consumption, conducted seminars at Esalen on “Human Potentialities”. Under his directorial supervision at the Stanford Research Institute a scientific study entitled “Changing Images of Man” was carried out from 1972-74 with the purpose of changing the “conceptual premises underlying Western society”, including a radical modification of the rational worldview of western scientists. As the president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences from 1977 to 1996, Harman advocated openly a mystical outlook on life claiming that a spiritual approach to scientific research and technological development would greatly enhance our understanding of the monistic unity of the universe.
Erdmann, M Eur J Nanomed 2009; 2:31-38

The Truth:

"Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience." (Ephesians 5:6)

1. Willis Harman's essay, “Bringing About the Transition to Sustainable Peace” (Part One: “A Changing Worldview”), cited in footnote bb, Erdmann, M Eur J Nanomed 2009; 2:31-38.
3. See recent posts titled "Early Experiential Emergents" and "The Emerging Church - Circa 1970" and especially follow the links back to earlier Herescope articles documenting the key role of Willis Harman with evangelical leaders in the late 1970s.

ED NOTE: The new url for this article as of 3/9/11 is:

Monday, May 18, 2009

Avoid Sleep!

"And take heed to yourselves,
lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting,
and drunkenness, and cares of this life,
and so that day come upon you unawares.

For as a snare shall it come on all them
that dwell on the face of the whole earth.

Watch ye therefore, and pray always,
that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things
that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."

(Luke 21:34-36)

Matthew Poole, in his 1600s Commentary[1] on these verses from the book of Luke, wrote:

I take the 34th verse to be a good exposition of the term watch, ver. 36. Avoid sin industriously, in a prospect of My coming to judgment [the Lord is saying]: for sin is compared to sleep,

  • Romans 13:11 - "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for not is our salvation nearer than when we believed."
  • Ephesians 5:14 - "Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."

As he that watcheth doth sleep, in order to some end; so he who keepeth the spiritual watch must set himself designedly to avoid sin, upon a prospect of Christ's coming, and the uncertainty of [the timing of] it.

Particularly He cautioneth His disciples against luxury and worldly-mindedness. The first He expresseth under the notions of gluttony and drunkenness, which are two eminent species of it. The latter, under the notion of the "cares of this life"; not necessary and provident cares, but superfluous and distracting cares. These things He presseth them to avoid, lest they should be surprised by Christ's coming, as He tells them the most of the world would be.

He further exhorteth them to "pray always":

  • Ephesians 6:18 - "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."
  • Colossians 4:2 - "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving."

He further presseth both these duties in those words, "That ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass"; those that should come to pass at or before the destruction of Jerusalem [verses 8- 24], or afterward [verses 25-33]; and to stand before the Son of Man, that is, in the last judgment; for "The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous" (Psalm 1:5).

The Truth:

"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness,
that that day should overtake you as a thief.

Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day;
we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

Therefore let us not sleep, as do others;
but let us watch and be sober.

For they that sleep sleep in the night;
and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.

But let us, who are of the day, be sober,..."

(1 Thessalonians 5:4-8a)

1. Matthew Poole, A Commentary on the Holy Bible, Vol. III: Matthew-Revelation (Hendrickson), p. 266. This excerpt has been slightly altered, amended and reformatted for blog use.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Spiritual Songs

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn*

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;
teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

(Colossians 3:16, KJV)

Admittedly, the issue to be addressed is as “touchy” as it is “feely.”

Music is “feely” because people “feel” it. In his book Music, The Brain, and Ecstasy, Robert Jourdain wrote of the ecstasy music generates. He states:

Ecstasy melts the boundaries of our being . . . engulfs us in feelings that are “oceanic.”

A defining trait of ecstasy is its immediacy . . . Ecstasy happens to our selves. It is a momentary transformation of the knower . . .

Music seems to be the most immediate of all the arts, and so the most ecstatic . . . Nonetheless, once we are engulfed in music, we must exert effort to resist its influence. It really is as if some “other” has entered not just our bodies, but our intentions, taking us over.[1]

Music is “touchy” because all of us have preferences. Some styles of music we like. Others, we dislike. So we associate with people who possess similar tastes. Over the last decades “worship wars” have erupted in local churches over the “touchy” tastes of music, whether they are traditional or contemporary. Congregations divide, even split over tastes. Seemingly, some Christians would rather fight than switch. So to avoid the strife, it’s common for local churches to offer both a contemporary and traditional service, the difference being the style of music that is offered. As one artist states that, “This force . . . is powerful stuff.”[2]

Romancing the Soul

In a recent internet article on music titled Secular or Sacred? John Johnson states that, “when it comes to music, it’s all spiritual.”[3] Then to buttress his statement, he observes,

Music falls into one of those mysterious in-between places—the kind the ancients believed was prone to magic. Like the mythological space between night and day, darkness and light, or the present and the future, music inhabits a place somewhere between our mind, emotions, and soul—and it colors all of them.[4]

While not using the word mystical, Johnson does describe music as mysterious, magical, and mythical. Yet in stating that music’s power is “beyond language and laws,” he implies it to be mystical.[5]

Mysterious, Magical, Mythical, and Mystical

Psychologist William James (1842-1910) pointed out that music is beyond language. Though mystics often employ self-contradicting phrases—like “shoreless lake,” “mute language,” “whispering silence,” and “dazzling obscurity”—to explain their unexplainable experiences, James noted that unlike conceptual speech, music is exempt from such contradictory phrases. Why is this so? Because, he believed music “is the element through which we are best spoken to by mystic truth.” Then he added, “Many mystical scriptures are indeed little more than musical compositions.”[6]

Music communicates, but its “language” is neither conceptual nor verbal, but experiential. As one bumper sticker put it, “When words fail, music speaks.” As a child, Johnson related, “Before I could articulate my thoughts through speech, I could express my heart through song.”[7] So he wisely concludes, “Music’s power comes from its inherently spiritual nature, and when you find a tool that powerful, you should be careful how you use it.”[8] So how in Christian worship should this powerful tool be employed? Does the Bible have anything to say about music’s role in church worship?

In the Old Testament, as evidenced in the book of Psalms, music plays a prominent role in the life and worship of Israel. In the New Testament believers are enjoined to teach and admonish one another in “in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). In Paul’s letters, some observations about music are necessary.

Tests for Tunes

First, music is about “singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord (Emphasis Mine, Ephesians 5:19b). Again, we are to sing “with thankfulness in [our] hearts to God(Emphasis Mine, Colossians 3:16b). Music is not for our entertainment. But Rick Muchow confessed of Saddleback’s services, “At Saddleback our decibel level ranges from 98 to 108 decibels (every three decibels doubles the volume level). Saddleback seekers don’t just want to hear the music—they want to feel the music.”[9] This statement reveals the purpose of the music. They want to feel it. The decibel level is about the music’s sensory impact upon the listeners, an intent that is obviously man, not God-centered. It’s about them, not Him. But worship music shouldn’t be for our pleasure, but for God’s glory, and for this purpose any ole music will not do, for as the prophet told Israel, “Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols” (Amos 5:23). So what kind of music pleases Him?

This brings us to a second observation. Since God is a spirit, “spiritual songs” are those which please Him. Worship should be conducted using “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs(Emphasis Mine, Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). We note Paul’s use of the adjective “spiritual.” That he uses the qualifier indicates that all songs are not spiritual. So what makes songs “spiritual”?

Spiritual Songs

Vine states that, “‘spiritual songs’ are songs of which the burden is the things revealed by the Spirit.”[10] At the beginning of his thoughtful and stimulating writing on music, Johnson states, “We should stop trying to define a dividing line, because when it comes to music, it’s all spiritual.”[11] In deference to Johnson, and as evident from Paul’s use of the qualifier “spiritual,” we are forced to conclude that not all songs are spiritual. They may be mysterious, magical, mythical, and even mystical, but that does not qualify them as spiritual. Spiritual songs are those which first glorify Christ and then promote unity in the local Body of Christ.

Christ Songs

Third, “spiritual songs” are about Christ. Of the Spirit, Jesus said, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me . . .” (John 15:26). Music that is truly of the Spirit will be Christocentric. If songs do not draw attention to the Lord Jesus Christ, but primarily to the sound or feel of them, or perhaps to the performing artist, then it must be questioned whether they are spiritual. Authentic spiritual songs are to be about Him, and not for us. Yet about much contemporary music Professor Michael Hamilton notes, “One cannot sing praise songs without noticing how first person pronouns tend to eclipse every other subject.”[12] But in the praise songs of heaven, the first person will not be the pronoun of choice (See Revelation 4:8, 11; 5:9; 15:3-4.).

Fourth, spiritual songs are sourced in “the word of Christ” that abundantly indwells God’s children. Spiritual songs spring forth from the heart as they testify and extol the person and work of Jesus. He is to be the object of our praise.[13] Like the twenty-four elders, authentic worship extols in song the worth of the Lamb (Revelation 5:9). If worship music is not Christ centered, then however else one might classify it, the songs are not spiritual (i.e., of the Spirit), for the Spirit’s ministry is, like the Scriptures which He inspired, to bear witness to Christ (John 5:39; 2 Peter 1:21). Of the hymns quoted in the New Testament, one scholar noted that, “these hymns have a common pattern of thought . . . They are related to the person and mission of Christ Jesus.”[14]

Good worship music, lyrics, and singing proclaim truth about God and His Christ. Jesus’ Person and Work are to be both the subject and object of the church’s praise. In addition to the Old Testament Psalms, the New Testament contains, alludes to, and quotes from several apostolic era hymns.[15] For example, it is thought by scholars that the Kenosis passage of Philippians 2:5-11 was excerpted from an ancient hymn. Paul’s poetic lines in 1 Timothy chapter three, and verse sixteen, are thought to have been part of an ancient hymn.[16] Other Scripture passages quoted in the New Testament evidence that they were probably ancient Christian hymns (John 1:1-14; Ephesians 5:14; Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:3; 1 Peter 1:18-24; 2:21-25; 3:18-22; Revelation 5:9 ff., 12; 12:10-12; 19:1ff.).[18] These hymns exhibit profound Christological content that the Holy Spirit, whose ministry is to bear witness to Christ, led the apostles to quote and include in the New Testament (See John 14:26; 15:26-27.). Spiritual songs are “teaching” songs! (Colossians 3:16, Greek, didaskō)

If “word of [about] Christ” dwells in us, then such indwelling will be manifested by our singing songs that will, as the Spirit bears witness, extol the worth and work of Jesus Christ. On this basis alone, much of contemporary music may not be categorized as spiritual, as prompted by the Holy Spirit. Johnson admits to this when he speaks of the “mind-numbing drivel” sung by “well-known Christian artists.”[19] He confessed that, “After more than twenty years in the Christian music world, I have seen more than my fair share of sub-standard, untruthful, disingenuous, and manipulative propaganda peddled under the label ‘Christian’.”[20] This brings us to a fifth test.

Unity of the Spirit

Corollary to the witness that church music ought to bear to Jesus Christ, “spiritual songs” should also, in concert with the Spirit’s work, facilitate the development of congregational unity. Paul wrote to the Ephesians that, “There is one body, and one Spirit . . .” Therefore, that church was to endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:4, 3). Note the unity of the Spirit. Jesus prayed that all true believers would be one (John 17:20-23). Spiritual songs contribute to the unity of the local body as its members, employ them to teach and admonish one another in the faith.

One Another

Therefore, the Apostle Paul wrote that Spirit-filled believers were to speak “to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19). In another letter he wrote that the Colossians were to teach and admonish “one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 5:16).[21] We cannot help but note the “one-anothering” facilitated in the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Divisive music violates the intent of it; that is to glorify God and promote unity in the church. Music that does not promote “one-anothering” is not spiritual. Selfish songs which promote discord in the congregation are not spiritual.

In the biblical understanding, regardless of whatever else can be said about them, songs that do not testify of Jesus Christ and promote unity amongst believers are not spiritual per se. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding (Greek, nous, or “mind”) also” (1 Corinthians 14:15). Godly singing is not to be something mysterious, magical, mythical, even mystical, but is mental. Assuming a distinction between the right brain (feely) and the left brain (thinky)—personally, I believe the two brain theory is hocus pocus—then good worship music that contains lyrics that are thoroughly about the person and work of Christ, will provide an exhilarating corporate worship experience that is all about Him, and not about us.


Admittedly, for all of us the subject of music is a “touchy-touchy-feely-feely” one. The controversy over church music is not new, and has in another time and place involved the appropriateness of using organs and pianos in worship. Personally, I have attended church services where they only sang a cappella from the Hebrew Psalter. But Paul instructed, we are to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). In addition to the singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs are appropriate for corporate worship.

But absent the word of Christ in it, music without a message is not worship. Such music will neither teach nor admonish others in the faith. It may be entertainment. It may provide emotional catharsis, but in so doing the songs become me-centered and in such a centering, are therefore carnal, and not spiritual. Confessing the dividedness residing in his heart over music, Augustine offered his personal testimony that might help all of us discern which music is consistent with the indwelling word of Christ:

However, when I call to mind the tears I shed at the songs of thy Church at the outset of my recovered faith, and how even now I am moved, not by the singing but by what is sung . . . I then come to acknowledge the great utility of this custom. . . . Yet when it happens that I am more moved by the singing than by what is sung, I confess myself to have sinned wickedly, and then I would rather not have heard the singing. [22]

Worship songs that teach and admonish must do so with lyrics containing “the word of Christ” which glorifies the Lord and promotes “one-anothering” in the local body of Christ. Absent their conveyance logos truth, reasonably discerned as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, the only basis of appeal of the music is in the mystical realm.

1. Robert Jourdain, Music, The Brain, and Ecstasy (New York: Avon Books, 1997) 327-328.
2. John J. Johnson, “Secular or Sacred?”, May 5, 2009 ( I found Johnson’s article stimulating to my thinking about church music. I want to thank Renee Dixon for drawing my attention to it.
3. See my article "Everything Is Not Spiritual," posted on Emergent Rob Bell states that, “In the Hebrew language there is no word for ‘spiritual.’ If you would have said to Jesus, ‘How’s your spiritual life?’ he would have said, ‘What? What do you mean?’ because to label one area ‘spiritual’ is to label areas ‘not spiritual.’ It’s absolutely foreign to the world of the Scriptures. It’s absolutely foreign to the worldview of Jesus. The assumption is that you are a fusion of the two realms. . . . Everything we do we do as an integrated being. One-hundred percent physical, one-hundred percent spiritual.” To proof text his everything-is-spiritual paradigm, Bell then quotes Colossians 3:17 where Paul states, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus . . .” (See “Rob Bell: Everything is Spiritual,” YouTube,
Of course, Bell’s sweeping generalization is not true. Everything is not spiritual for natural persons because the “things of the Spirit of God . . . are foolishness unto him” (1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV). Then too, Paul states that “the carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). Pan-everything-is-spiritual is not the Scriptural/spiritual worldview.
4. Johnson, “Secular.”
5. Ibid.
6. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1902) 420-421.
7. Johnson, “Secular.”
8. Ibid.
9. Rick Muchow,, “Seeker-sensitive worship does not mean shallow.” See www.
10. W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, “Spiritual,” An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984) 1078.
11. Johnson, “Secular”
12 Michael S. Hamilton, “The Triumph of the Praise Songs,” Christianity Today, July 12, 1999, 34.
13. Though the genitive “of Christ” may be subjective indicating that Christ is the speaker when His word is proclaimed or sung, the better option understands the genitive to be objective; that is, the message contained in “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” ought to be centered on Christ. See Peter T. O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon (Waco: Word Books, Publisher, 1982) 206.
From the early centuries, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79), and Nuc Dimittis (Luke 2:29-32) have been used by the church in praise worship. These words uttered by Mary the mother of Jesus, Zacharias the father of John the Baptist, and Simeon evidence godly Christ-centricity as they exalt the Lord.
14. See Ralph P. Martin, Worship In the Early Church (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1964) 52.
15. Ibid. 39-52.
16. See Ralph P. Martin, A Hymn of Christ (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1997).
17. Mounce calls verse 16 “the fragment of a Christological hymn.” William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000) 215.
18. Martin, Worship, 50-51.
19. Johnson, “Secular.”
20. Ibid.
21. Regarding Paul’s threefold classification, Bruce comments: “It is unlikely that any sharply demarcated division is intended, although ‘psalms’ might be drawn from the OT Psalter (which has supplied a chief vehicle for Christian praise from primitive times), the ‘hymns’ might be Christian canticles (some of which are reproduced, in whole or in part, in the NT text), and ‘spiritual songs’ might be unpremeditated words sung ‘in the Spirit’ . . .” See F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984) 158-159.
If spontaneous, “spiritual songs” will vindicate their origin as truly being of the Spirit for reason that they will exalt Christ’s Person and Work. All singing is to be conducted with a thankful, not a selfish heart. Hymns are to be about Him, not about us!
22. Augustine, “Confessions,” The Library of Christian Classics, Volume VII, Albert C. Outler, Translator and Editor (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1955) Book 10, Chapter XXXIII, 50.

*Pastor Larry DeBruyn will be posting regular commentary on the Slice of Laodicea blog in the coming months.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Early Experiential Emergents

"Not only did AA, almost by default, begin to supplant the pastoral authority of the professional clergy and open the door to spirituality in the experiencing of a nondoctrinally specific Higher Power, but it also revived the small group dynamic that would come to characterize later twentieth-century Protestantism...."
- Phyllis Tickle, The Great Emergence (Baker Books, 2008), p. 93.

Part 2: The Emerging Church - Circa 1970

The fact that Faith at Work was attempting to start an Emerging Church Movement as early as 1970 is quite relevant to the Emergent/Emerging Church today. The ramifications of this are quite stunning. For example, Faith at Work was a leading sponsor of Brian McLaren’s "Everything Must Change" tour a year ago. [1]

What is Faith at Work? According to its official website:

  • FAW has always emphasized practical experience instead of doctrine, "how to" instead of "should."
  • Today the emphasis is on self-discovery through biblical reflection, telling your own story and trusting the presence of Christ to "speak the truth in love." [2]

Faith at Work is an experiential-based group movement that has provided resources, events and training to emphasize this small group hyper-pietistic life. In 2009 this organization officially changed its name to Lumunos, which, according to both Dr. Dennis Cuddy and Constance Cumbey, writers of expertise in the study of New Age Theosophy, is yet another word play on the name Lucifer.[3] The Lumunos website states that its basic mission of relational experiences will remain the same:

Officially beginning in 2009, we will be known as Lumunos, with the tagline ”Faith & Light for the Journey.” We are excited about the ways our new name will help us relate to a whole new generation of people. Our core mission is not changing—we want to invite people into deeper relationships with themselves, each other, and God; we want them to hear the Spirit’s call in those relationships. [4]

A quick survey of who’s who at this website gives an indication of just how far this organization is “emerging” into a head-on convergence with the New Age movement.[5]

Faith at Work history describes how “In 1927, Sam Shoemaker… founded Faith at Work by publishing The Evangel, ‘a magazine of faith at work.” In the 1930s, Faith at Work “used a format of personal witness similar to AA [Alcoholics Anonymous].” It emphasized a “streamlined system of doctrine” that the only “one thing needful is salvation or conversion.” “Deep sharing” in small groups with “emotional intimacy” characterized this movement. In 1959 Bruce Larson, who had a graduate degree in psychology, took over and expanded the ministry into the “lay witness” movement. Under his leadership the small group procedures blended in state-of-the-art psycho-social-spiritual group manipulation mechanics, described as

partly the outgrowth of the Human Potential movement and related behavioral principles and processes. Transactional Analysis with its emphasis on personal O.K.ness, the National Training Laboratories with their interest in honest and open encounter, Parent Effectiveness Training which argued for seeing the child as a person, Esalin, Gestalt and a host of other workshops, laboratories, strategies and training centers-all put the total human being at the center and pleaded for a greater awareness of personal growth and identity.[6]

Sam Shoemaker “deserves to be called the father of Faith at Work.”[7] Shoemaker was “instrumental in the Oxford Group [8] and founding principles of Alcoholics Anonymous.” [9] Shoemaker was trained by Frank Buchman who was instrumental in the Oxford Group (“a Christian revolution for remaking the world” [10] which became Moral Re-Armament. [11] He was a pioneer in the use of intensive small groups to effect confessions, conversions and change. Frank Buchman’s role in Faith at Work “looms large” in its history. He brought in a “special kind of mysticism” with an “emphasis on ‘quiet time,’ which he himself observed… listening to God for specific directives, or ‘guidance.’” He was said to “have been influenced by a French 19th century mystic, Alphonse Gratry, who in his book Les Sources indicates that this is the way to concretize the divine message in human experience.”[12] Buchman was a Dominionist, in that he thought that his moral revolution (“Moral Re-Armament”) could “transform the world” by “peace and make it enduring,” redistribute the wealth of the world, and “build a new world and create a new culture with peace and prosperity.” His moral theology appealed to all of the world’s religions and was said to be “helpful in re-discovering and re-applying the principles” of their faiths.[13]

Buchman was a pioneer of multi-faith initiatives. As he said, 'MRA is the good road of an ideology inspired by God upon which all can unite. Catholic, Jew and Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Confucianist - all find they can change, where needed, and travel along this good road together.' [14]

Faith at Work has a long and interesting history that connects it to the Washington Fellowship, the secretive cult-like quasi-religious political group that is the topic of Jeffrey Sharlet’s recently published book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (HarperCollins, 2008), which we have occasionally cited on Herescope posts. Sharlet described a key meeting between Buchman and Abram Vereide, founder of The Fellowship, in a subsection of chapter 5 titled “Buchmanism.” The following brief excerpt reveals not only how the two men first met, but also gives indications of the Dominionism and the mystical hyper-pietism that would characterize both men and their subsequent movements.

In the early 1930s, he [Buchman] and Abram [Vereide] crossed paths…. The two met, and Abram suggested to Buchman that he come on with Goodwill as a chaplain, to infuse the organization with his ‘life-changing’ evangelical fervor. Buchman answered by proposing a Quiet Time.

Besides confession of sexual sin, Quiet Time was the core practice of Buchmanism: a half-hour-long period of silence in which the believer waited for “Guidance” from God. Guidance was more than a warm feeling. It came in the form of direct orders and touched on every subject of concern, from the transcendent to the mundane.... Guidance meant not just spiritual direction but declaring one’s own decisions as divinely inspired....

“What did God say to you?” Buchman asked Abram when their Quiet Time was completed. Abram believed he had heard God’s voice several times in his life, and had even considered the possibility that he might be a prophet, but he had not yet been exposed to the idea that God spoke to men regularly and in detail. “He didn’t say anything,” Abram confessed, disappointed.

Well, Buchman replied, God had spoken to him. “God told me, ‘Christianize what you have. You have something to share.’”

Blander words no Sunday school teacher ever spoke, but to Abram they seemed like a revelation….

Thereafter he transformed his daily prayer ritual into Buchmanite Quiet Time. And, soon enough, God filled the silence with instructions: go forth, he said, and build cells for my cause like Buchman’s.

…When Buchman spoke of Christianity’s “new illumination,” “a new social order under the dictatorship of the Spirit of God” that would transform politics and eradicate the conflict of capital and labor, Abram took him literally.
(pp. 126-8)

In other words, the Faith at Work organization is connected to the cult-like Washington Fellowship ("The Family"). It attempted to give birth to the original Emerging Church Movement back in 1970. The ramifications of these pieces of data are far-reaching. There are many parallels to the modern-day Emergent/Emerging Church, including the emphasis on small groups that are experience-based, leadership training, the mystical (contemplative) piety, the all-encompassing ecumenism, the Dominionism,. . . the list could go on and on. The emergence of a New (Age) Spirituality, a blend of Theosophy and evangelicalism, is another significant similarity.[15] And yet another interesting outgrowth of all of this interlocking history is the use of orchestrated prayer in groups, large and small (cells).

Praying in an Emerging New Order

The connections between the Washington Fellowship’s National Prayer Breakfast and the National Day of Prayer are many and various. For instance, J. Edwin Orr, one of the founders of the National Association of Evangelicals and a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary,[16] was a “field representative in the 1950s” for International Christian Leadership (ICL), one of Abraham Vereide’s early organizations. Orr “was an advisor of Billy Graham's from the start of that evangelist's career, a friend of Abraham Vereide and helped shape the prayer breakfast movement that grew out of Vereide's International Christian Leadership..." [17] and that the "success of Campus Crusade for Christ was a direct result of the groundwork layed [sic] by Orr."[18] Richard Halverson, also worked for the Vereide’s Fellowship Foundation from the 1950s on and helped to coordinate the National Prayer Breakfasts. “Halverson, along with Vonette Bright [Bill Bright’s wife] was influential in having the Senate declare the National Day of Prayer.”[18]

To be continued, Lord willing. . . .

The Truth:

"Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God." (Isaiah 50:10)

7. Ibid.
10., Remaking the World, 29.
13. Ibid.
Buchman, Remaking the World, p. 166.
15. See Constance Cumbey's 5-part article series, "'The Family' and its Hijacking of Evangelicalism," posted on that give more in-depth history of the interlockings between these early movers and shakers in the evangelical world, who were also working in Theosophical circles.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Emerging Church - Circa 1970

The tasks ahead for Emergent Christianity include:
  • Wresting questions of eternity away from its Greek “timeless” bias.
  • Wresting evolution—the story of life—away from both Literal Creationism and Materialistic Darwinism.
  • Wresting Orthodoxy back from Enlightenment modernity.
  • Wresting Imminence (God in Creation) away from Pantheism (God is creation), as well as Deism (God is separate from creation) in a Panentheistic approach (God is in All and All is in God).
  • Developing a new cosmology, a new universe story, based in what the “new” science is making known, and a postmodern view of creation, and discovering the Cosmic Christ within this story.
Nic Paton, "Eternity, Evolution, and Emergence," Emergent Village, Nov. 12, 2008.

The Emergent/emerging church movement was first tried with that name back in 1970 at a series of conferences sponsored by Faith at Work. This fact is disclosed in Hiley Ward’s book Religion 2101 A.D.: Who or What Will Be God? (Doubleday, 1975). The book is a compendium of futurist thought, including the science fiction and paranormal and metaphysics activities extant in the early 1970s. But first the background information to put this all in context.

In September and October 2005 the Discernment Research Group wrote a series of Herescope posts[1] about two “Consultation[s] on Future Evangelical Concerns” held in the late 1970s in which evangelical leaders openly became enamored of futurism as a new philosophy. The purpose of the first consultation was “to encourage evangelical leaders to think futuristically and begin long-range planning for the church in the face of possible alternative futures.”

In preparation for the first consultation these evangelical leaders evidently read documents [2] associated with Willis Harman of the Stanford Research Institute. They discussed the controversial Club of Rome report Limits to Growth which called for “a global economic and ecological (population control) management, because their MIT computer models showed that the earth ‘probably cannot support present rates of economic and population growth much beyond the year 2100, if that long, even with advanced technology.’”[3]

Donald Hoke, in his Preface to Evangelicals Face the Future (which summarized the first Consultation), quoted Hiley Ward’s futuristic suggestion: “We must consciously work toward creating the future we desire.” [4] This particular statement is the mantra of the futurists, who believe that mankind can envision and facilitate his own evolution. Hoke explained that the initial consultation was precipitated by some meetings with Billy Graham and Hudson Armerding in 1977 in which they considered James Sire’s “penetrating question” published in Eternity magazine (January 1976):

“What if Christ does not come – for 10, 100, 1,000 years?”

This speculation, combined with the ominous declarations of the Club of Rome report (population control, scarce resources, ecological disasters, global governance, etc.) resulted in a call by evangelical leaders for a “new theology” and eschatology to meet the challenges of the perceived future crises on the planet.

In his book Religion 2101 A.D. Ward reveals that he had been meeting regularly with Billy Graham “in interviews… over the years.”[5] His book is a compendium of what was going on with futurist thought, conferences, writings and activities prior to 1975. By this time period evangelical leaders had already been working on futurist projects and doctrines. For example, Ward wrote: “Churchmen were introduced to ‘The Limits of Growth’ theory in Chicago in January 1973, at ‘Insearch: The Future of Religion in America,’ a meeting sponsored by the George Dayton Foundation of Minneapolis.” [6] He also described a number of other church conferences on futurism, including a series of conferences on the topic of “The Emerging Church” which were initiated by the “Faith at Work organization.” [7]

The future of the church, denominations and all, proved to be the basis for an interesting exercise of the emotions at the Emerging Church Conference in Chicago, one of the five regional settings of the conference sparked by the Faith and [sic] Work movement. [8]

Lyman Coleman, who went on to become famous for his “Serendipity” sensitivity group experiences and curricula, conducted a full-fledged touchy-feely, consciousness-raising session at this conference. Participants became engaged in destroying a paper cup which “symbolized the potential total disappearance of [the church] institution.” [9] Ward wrote that "[a]ll this activity about a cup typified the mood of the five ‘1970 National Clergy Conferences’ which took up the question of the shape of the emerging church.” [10] These conferences came up with a “radical theology of the non-church movement.” [11] He explained:

Those 1970 National Clergy Conferences on "The Emerging Church" foresaw a church entirely new, yet keeping (1) the same old doctrines of the "old time religion" and (2) institutional shells. But there would be little preoccupation with life after death. Like the radical modern reformers, who are more at home with non-church building task forces and home groups, the conservative renewalists are concerned with the here and now. [12]

At the Chicago Emerging Church Conference there was a keynote address by Rev. Bruce Larson, then president of Faith at Work, who said there needed to be a push to bring a “relational” or “incarnational principle” into the churches. [13]

Hiley Ward, who was obviously a man passionate about futurism, considered a wide array of potential new theologies that might work for this future emerging church. These new theologies included:
  • Process theology – “Everything—even God—is evolving”
  • Political theology – “efforts of activists who pursue social change in the name of social imperatives for Jesus”
  • Liberation theology – Father Gustavo Guitierrez: “an evangelism which announces the total liberation of Christ”
  • Critical theology – “the dialecticism of Marx”
  • Foundational theology – “A faith based on a more general language and more common experience, shared with all mankind”
  • Contextual theology – “theology is reflection on the experience of the Christian community in a particular place, at a particular time” relevant to the culture
  • Theology of hope – Jurgen Moltmann: “Revolution—a turning of the tables, shattering old institutions, creating new orders, even working toward seemingly unattainable utopias…”
  • Autobiographical theology – “retelling of a personal incident, a testimony, a dramatic experiences—or a chain of experiences—or retelling one’s whole life story. The Jesus People, the poets, the mystics, the newly converted….”
  • Body theology – Rev. Arthur Vogel: “‘presence’—human presence, God’s presence—as a means of linking time and getting above it…. [D]iscipline some part of the body and/or integrate body and mind in order to achieve a higher awareness and consciousness” [14]

All of these evolutionary theologies can be connected in one form or another to the emerging church movement’s theologies today. Interestingly, Ward cites an International Convention of the Religious Education Association held in Toronto in 1973 in which Matthew Fox led a workshop promoting “Panentheistic Spirituality: The Religious Education of Tomorrow?”

[Fox] defined “panentheism” as an “experience of the whole.” Beyond pantheism, which is a passive look at the universe, panentheism emphasizes experience, not of a doctrine or revelation or a Deity, but the experience of the whole. [15]

This original move to create an emerging church movement was set in the rebellious early 1970s, a time when anything connected with “tradition” was being dismantled, discarded and deconstructed. Everything was so wild and radical during this time period that in many cases the baby was thrown out with the bathwater. Man-made traditions in mainline Protestant churches, which often no longer carried any practical or religious significance, were tossed aside just as easily as the traditions firmly rooted in Scripture. This was an era characterized by inadequate discernment, as leaders rushed head over heels into the latest fads or crazes, often trying to outdo one another in trying to be “hip” and “relevant” to the “Jesus Generation.” It seemed to be the perfect time period in which to launch the emerging church movement.

But simple pastors and the folks in the pews hadn't yet caught up. They hadn't read the esoteric futurists. And the doctrines of futurism were clearly antithetical to the Gospel. That was precisely the problem facing evangelical church leaders by the time they gathered in December 1977 at the first Consultation on Future Evangelical Concerns, sponsored by the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. Their challenge in the decades that lay ahead was to reformulate old doctrines and invent new theologies that would fit the model of futurism. They would also have to take out a hammer and chisel and begin badmouthing and demolishing the old church structures. It would be several decades before the futuristic emerging church could be fully launched without any noticeable opposition.[16]

To be continued, Lord willing. . .

The Truth:

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming?" (2 Peter 3:3-4a)

1. See the series of Herescope posts in September and October 2005 on this topic.
2. This fact can be ascertained from the context of the “Scenarios, Addresses, and Responses” of the speakers’ published remarks at the Consultations.
3. Dr. Dennis Cuddy, Ph.D. Now is the Dawning of the New Age New World Order
(Hearthstone, 1991), p. 245.
4. Donald E. Hoke, editor, Evangelicals Face the Future (William Carey Library, 1978), Preface, emphasis added.
5. Hiley H. Ward, Religion 2101 A.D.: Who or What Will Be God? (Doubleday, 1975), p. xi.
6. Ibid, p. 8.
7. Ibid, p. 70.
8. Ibid, emphasis added.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid, p. 71, emphasis added.
11. Ibid, emphasis added.
12. Ibid, emphasis added.
13. Ibid, p. 72.
14. Ibid, pp. 153-160.
15. Ibid. p. 62, link added.
16. To see how the Leadership Network launched the Emergent/emerging church movement, read the series of Herescope posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Leadership Network also jumpstarted the megachurch movement.