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[COMMENT: The emerging Christianity is largely a search for the life which has been evacuated out of most of contemporary Christianity -- the loss of both intellectual credibility and any sense (as suggested below) of curiosity about life. Christians of the last several centuries failed to appreciate either science or nature, both gifts from God, and we are paying a terrible price in our credibility.
Some of that is changing because some (mostly the young adults) are waking up to
the tragedy which my generation has passed on to them. Deo gratia!
By Berit Kjos
April 8, 2006
“It used to be that Christian institutions and systems of dogma sustained the spiritual life of Christians. Increasingly, spirituality itself is what sustains everything else," wrote Pastor Brian D. McLaren, a "key figure" in the Emerging Church and author of "A New Kind of Christian." "Alan Jones is a pioneer in reimagining a Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality. His work stimulates and encourages me deeply.”
Do you wonder what McLaren means by "authentic spirituality?" Or by "reimagining a Christian faith?"
I did. So I read "Reimagining Christianity." In it, Alan Jones, the Episcopal Dean (priest) of San Francisco's gothic Grace Cathedral, offers some provocative clues:
"I am no longer interested, in the first instance, in what a person believes. Most of the time it’s so much clutter in the brain.... I wouldn't trust an inch many people who profess a belief’ in God. Others who do not or who doubt have won my trust. I want to know if joy, curiosity struggle, and compassion bubble up in a person’s life. I’m interested in being fully alive. There is no objective authority...."
[COMMENT: This is a reflection on the apathy and inertness of most Christians -- who have no sense of Biblical worldview or how to make their Gospel meaningful to the culture. So we spend most of our efforts futilely copying the culture rather than presenting an authentic Christianity. As the people to whom Berit Kjos is referring. We Christians have mostly ourselves to thank for the failure of the Gospel message in the West. We lack honest faith, which might be described as the courage to risk the unknown based on what we do know. E. Fox]
Wrong! There is an objective authority: our Sovereign God, Creator of the universe! But, as in Old Testament days, today's masses "love evil more than good!" (Psalm 52:3) Their earthly destiny is summarized in 2 Timothy 3:7: "...always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
In "Reimagining Christianity," Jones explains that "Any journey toward belief must begin with the task recognized by mystics throughout history. They realized that merely knowing about things wasn't enough. In fact, it was a distraction." Then he points to a major goal of mystical knowledge (gnosis):
"They realized that there was a deeper and potentially frightening task of self-knowledge. Knowledge of God and knowledge of self were sides of the same coin..... Those on a spiritual path share this vision of the universal and unending character of our Journey to and in God. The principle is that all things are lights guiding our way—even a stone or a piece of wood.... What stops our drive for facts from going haywire? The discovery of a higher form of knowing."
Let's summarize his main points, then compare them with some occult systems formerly hidden in secret societies:
1. Biblical beliefs are out. They are irrelevant -- to be discarded as mere "clutter in the brain."
2. Being "fully alive" is in -- no matter what spirit or religion inspires the obligatory passion.
3. There is no objective reality or absolute truth.
4. A "higher form of knowing" would be based on mystical experience, intuition and self-knowledge. The latter supposedly leads to union with a universal god.
This worldview lies at the heart of Western occultism! Alan Jones' quest for a "higher form of knowing" is simply a new version of ancient Gnosticism and the mystical "Jewish" Kabbalah. Starting in the first century, the two occult threads intermingled and formed new pathways to secret gnosis. Those mystical paths hid for centuries underground.
Then, starting in the 12th century, Kabbalah began to sprout mystical "brotherhoods" and secret societies that laid foundations for Alchemy, Theosophy (which would embrace Hinduism), Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism (these two incorporated Egyptian myths and symbols), the teachings of Swedenborg, Anthroposophy (Rudolf Steiner and Owen Barfield), and Hermetic magic.
During the 20th century, this hidden "knowledge" began to spread into mainstream culture and churches through revered poets and authors such as William Blake, George McDonald, Tolkien and Lewis' "closest" friend, Charles Williams. The hidden mysteries of occult masters were laid bare to a thrill-seeking world hungry for a "fresh" and exciting spirituality. But even before these dark secrets were exposed, Georg Hegel, who was deeply involved in the several branches of Western occultism, provided educators and globalist visionaries with the dialectic process needed to transform both church and world.
Not only did these enticing mysteries affect beliefs and worldviews, they helped change the way we think and communicate. Even people who still treasure God's Word are learning to approach information in radically new ways. Nothing seems absolute anymore!
Francis Schaeffer, founder of L'Abri, saw the beginning of change back in the sixties. Ponder this warning from his 1968 book, "The God Who Is There:"
"The present chasm between the generations has been brought about almost entirely by a change in the concept of truth.... On every side you can feel the stranglehold of this new methodology—and by ‘methodology’ we mean the way we approach truth and knowing.... And just as fog cannot be kept out by walls or doors, so this consensus comes in around us... and yet we hardly realize what has happened....
"Young people from Christian homes are brought up in the old framework of truth. Then they are subjected to the modern framework. In time they become confused because they do not understand the alternatives with which they are being presented.... This is unhappily true not only of young people, but of many pastors, Christian educators, evangelists and missionaries as well."
Without factual or Biblical certainty, a person cannot rationally resist today's enticing spiritual counterfeits. Alan Jones said it well:
"All the great religious traditions are in upheaval, and the divisions are within rather than between or among them. I have more in common with my friend Stephen, the rabbi at a large synagogue in San Francisco, than I do with many fellow Christians. I don’t mean that we simply find each other congenial. I mean that I am more ideologically compatible with Stephen than with, say, any Christian fundamentalist....
"Although there are some Christians who are unafraid of other spiritual paths... battle lines are being drawn between 'orthodox' and 'progressives.'... There’s a celebrated couplet by the poet William Blake that sums up for me much that is disturbing about exclusionary versions of Christianity:
"That vision of Christ, which thou dost see Is my vision's greatest enemy."
In light of this spiritual melting pot, it's not surprising that Rick Warren has announced that fundamentalism, of all varieties, will be "one of the big enemies of the 21st century."
Jesus told His
disciples that His way would be narrow and difficult. "There are few who find
it," he said. But "wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to
destruction, and there are many who go in by it." [Matthew 7:13-14]
Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2005),
2, Ibid., pages 79, 83.
3, Ibid., page 78.
4, How mysticism & the occult are changing the Church
5, Hegel and The Hermetic Tradition and "Softening Up" For Occult Revival
6, Francis A. Schaeffer, The God Who Is There (Intervarsity Press, 1968), pages 13-14.
7, Jones, page 83.
8, "The purpose-driven pastor,"
9, Myths of the Modern Mega-Church
© 2006 Berit Kjos - All Rights Reserved
Order Berit's book Brave New Schools
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