(483) EASTERN SPIRITUALITY & EVOLUTION – Emerging Trends in the Church Today


A very interesting look at the links between Eastern spirituality and Darwinism by Tricia Wright.   


Two trees, one root: the link between evolutionism and Eastern spirituality

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the man who introduced the world to transcendental meditation.


Published: 13 February 2018 (GMT+10)

Looking at today’s once-Christian ‘Western’ society, one sees two non-Christian worldviews growing like long-established trees, stretching their branches into everything from education, to the media, to the church. One tree is materialism, the belief that matter is all there is, firmly based on and intertwined with Darwinian evolution. Its canopy bears the dark fruits which stem from morality without a Creator (and thus Lawgiver).1

Alongside it a second tree is thriving: Eastern spirituality. With its alluring blossoms promising enlightenment, health and wisdom, this tree seems to be drawing much of the world to its shade.

These two worldview ‘trees’ may look very different, but are remarkably connected by a common root system.

Exploring the connection

Like materialistic Darwinism, Eastern spirituality is a far-from-biblical concept that is heavily promoted in popular culture and public education. In education systems throughout the world, ‘mindfulness’ programs have emerged to teach youth meditation practices which, though often secularized, are rooted in ancient Eastern religions.2,3 These may include anything from breathing practices, visualization techniques and other ‘focusing’ exercises to transcendental meditation, mantra repetition and yoga.4

Of course, one needs to avoid the ‘genetic fallacy’, which would be to conclude that something with origins in an anti-biblical philosophy is therefore necessarily unbiblical in itself. It is nonetheless disturbing to see the extent of the enthusiastic penetration of such Hindu-derived practices, with at best minimal evidence of benefit. England, Canada, America, Israel, and India are just a few of the nations to integrate such programs in all levels of school curricula.4Organizations like Mindful Schools partner with teachers to bring meditation practices to classrooms in over 100 countries.5

But education is only the beginning. In Western nations, Eastern spiritualistic practices are becoming commonplace in such diverse realms as business, the military, and healthcare.3 They have become so popular in Western cultures that some Hindu communities are actually beginning to take offence. For instance, they deplore the Western commercialization of yoga without recognition of its Hindu origins,6 and are offended at imagery of Hindu deities on ‘religiously impure’ consumer goods such as socks, shoes and toilet seats.7 When did Eastern spirituality become so internationally popular?

A bit of history

Let’s backtrack through time to the mid-1800s, shortly after Darwin published his Origin of Species. As evolutionary ideas became popular in Europe and spread to India, which was then a British colony, both Eastern and Western scholars noted that despite some key differences between naturalistic Darwinism and polytheistic Hinduism, there were important commonalities. These make Eastern spirituality all the more appealing to Western cultures in which evolution has made inroads.

For instance, not only does Indian cosmology feature the long ages known as ‘deep time’, but Hinduism maintains that the universe progresses in cycles of evolution and dissolution. In each cycle, a set number of species evolves along a fixed pattern. The fixed, cyclic nature of Hindu evolutionism contrasts with the less predictable linear model which Darwin advanced. But Eastern and Western views of evolution overlapped enough that Swami Vivekānanda (né Narendranath Datta, 1863—1902), instrumental in developing modern yoga and popularizing it in America in the late 1800s/early 1900s said,

“The idea of evolution was to be found in the Vedas [ancient Hindu scriptures] long before the Christian era; but until Darwin said it was true, it was regarded as a mere Hindu superstition.”8

Swami Vivekānanda helped develop and popularise modern yoga.

An example of Hindu doctrine which various scholars have interpreted as evolutionary is avatarism. This refers to a series of earthly manifestations, or avatars, of a deity—usually Vishnu. Each reincarnation of Vishnu assumes a new form, beginning as a fish-man and progressing up to a human avatar. Of this doctrine, nineteenth-century Hindu philosopher Keshub Chunder Sen observed,

“Lo! The Hindu Avatar rises from the lowest scale of life through the fish, the tortoise and the hog to the perfection of humanity. Indian Avatarism is, indeed, a crude representation of the ascending scale of Divine creation. Such precisely is the modern theory of evolution.”9

Nineteenth-century Westerners who likewise stressed the overlaps between Eastern and Western evolution include Nobel-Prize-winning essayist Maurice Maeterlinck, and Oxford Sanskrit professor Sir Monier Monier-Williams.10 The latter said, “The Hindus were … Darwinians many centuries before Darwin … .”11

Meanwhile, even as the Western naturalism12 of Darwin and Huxley spread east, Eastern spirituality was spreading west, with many of its prominent promoters advocating at least some elements of Darwinism.

One such was the aforementioned Swami Vivekānanda, who interpreted Yoga Sutras (ancient Hindu texts) along Darwinian lines. He used Westerners’ eroded trust of scriptural authority in Darwin’s wake as an opening for promoting evolution-friendly Hinduism in the West.13 He wrote,

“At the beginning of the nineteenth century man tried to find God through reason, and Deism was the result. What little was left of God by this process was destroyed by Darwinism and Millism.”14

He outlined four types of yoga, describing them as four paths by which man may realize his ‘own divinity’.15 Such ideas fitted well with the Western occultist movements, then becoming popular as an alternative mode of spirituality following Darwinism’s challenge to Christianity.16 The result was to usher yoga into the West through promotion by Western mystics and New Ageists who themselves adopted evolutionary ideas.

Evolutionary mystics

Among these was Annie Besant (1847–1933). Once a clergyman’s wife, she became an active political reformer before turning to theosophy, an occultist movement rooted in Hindu teachings.17 A leader of the Theosophical Society, Besant was influenced by Helen Blavatsky, who advanced a spiritualistic, cyclic form of evolution and who wrote,

Annie Besant was once married to a clergyman but turned to theosophy, an occultist movement rooted in Hindu teachings.

“Evolutionary law compelled the lunar ‘Fathers’ to pass, in their monadic condition, through all the forms of life and being on this globe … . These ‘Forms’ are called ‘Sons of Yoga,’ because Yoga (union with Brahmâ exoterically) is the supreme condition of the passive infinite deity.”18

Besant was, like Vivekānanda, a key originator of modern yoga, as well as a social Darwinist and eugenicist.19 She advocated yoga as a means of hastening the evolution of a Mother Race, which corresponds to “what used to be called the Aryan Race”.20 Hitler’s swastika is in fact an ancient Hindu symbol.21

Sharing this fascination with both Social Darwinism/racism and Eastern spirituality was John Woodroffe (1865–1936). He interpreted Sanskrit texts into books which helped catalyze Western adaptations of kundalini yoga and hatha yoga.22 Woodroffe also wrote The Seed of Race, outlining a Social Darwinian model which aimed to enhance humanity’s evolution through eugenics.18,23

Further highlighting the intersection between Eastern philosophy and evolutionary thought in the 20th century is the relationship between the prominent humanist Charles Francis Potter (1885–1962) and the American yogi-entrepreneur Pierre Bernard (1875–1955). Bernard was born Perry Baker in Iowa, before choosing a less pedestrian-sounding name for himself in promoting postural yoga, occultism—and himself. A godlike figure to many, he became known as ‘the Great Oom’.

The humanist Potter was once a Baptist minister who adopted increasingly liberal theology. He founded a Unitarian church, debated conservative theologians on topics including creation vs evolution, advised the lawyer defending evolutionary education in the Scopes Trial, and founded the First Humanist Society of New York and the Euthanasia Society of America. In advocating the abolition of the supernatural to leave humanism as ‘real religion’, Potter said that “the chief end of man is to improve himself, both as an individual and as a race”.

Interestingly, Potter was also so taken by Bernard’s ideas that he wrote an unpublished biography of him. What connects Bernard’s Eastern spiritualism with Potter’s evolutionary humanism?

The root—an ancient rebellion

Answering this requires digging straight to the root connecting the two worldview ‘trees’ we have been examining. A major hint is seen in the stated purpose of Vivekānanda’s four yoga paths, echoing Potter’s ‘chief end’ comment: man’s “realization of his own divinity”. This is a lie as old as Eden, first whispered in Eve’s ear when the serpent insisted, “You will be like God” (Genesis 3:5).

It is this rejection of a single, unmatchable, all-powerful biblical Creator that ultimately unites Eastern spirituality and evolutionary materialism. Both are manifestations of the same Genesis rebellion. But Eastern spirituality, unlike naturalistic evolution, has the advantage of recognizing a spiritual dimension. It can therefore tickle the human need for spirituality without requiring acceptance of the biblical Creator, or His moral standards.

It also stands in opposition to our need to recognize our own sinfulness and inability to save ourselves before coming to God through Christ. And it makes its appeal through a framework which shares many overlaps with evolutionary theory, even promising to help humanity reach a higher stage of evolution. No wonder Eastern spirituality appeals to so many in our evolutionized culture!


Ultimately, the only way to overcome the toxic fruits of these two ‘trees’ in our society is to acknowledge the root, reject the rebellion, and turn back to the Genesis Creator through the only way available: Jesus Christ.

References and notes

  1. For examples, see the list of articles at creation.com/qa#SocialReturn to text.
  2. Renshaw, T.L., & Cook, C.R., Introduction to the special issue: Mindfulness in the schools—historical roots, current status and future directions, Psychology in the Schools 54(1):5–12, 2016. Return to text.
  3. Meiklejohn, J., et al., Integrating mindfulness training into K–12 education: Fostering the resilience of teachers and students, Mindfulness 3(4):291–307, 2012. Return to text.
  4. Waters, L., Barsky, A., Ridd, A. & Allen, K., Contemplative education: A systematic, evidence-based review of the effect of meditation interventions in schools, Educational Psychology Review 27(1):103–134, 2015. Return to text.
  5. Mindful Schools website, mindfulschools.org, accessed 4 August 2017. Return to text.
  6. Jain, A.R., Who is to say modern yoga practitioners have it all wrong? On Hindu origins and yogaphobiaJAAR 82(2):427–471, 2014. Return to text.
  7. Ramachandran, T., A call to multiple arms! Protesting the commoditization of Hindu imagery in Western society, Material Religion 10(1):54–75, 2014. Return to text.
  8. Vivekānanda, S. (1896), as cited in Killingley, D. H., Yoga-sūtra IV, 2–3 and Vivekānanda’s interpretation of evolution, Journal of Indian Philosophy 18(2):151–179, 1990. Return to text.
  9. Sen, K.C. (1882), cited in Killingley, ref. 8. Return to text.
  10. Brown, C.M., Colonial and post-colonial elaborations of avataric evolutionism, Zygon 42(3):715–747, 2007. Return to text.
  11. Monier-Williams, M. (1891), cited in Brown, ref. 10. Return to text.
  12. Another term for materialism; nature is everything, there is no supernatural realm. Return to text.
  13. Killingley, ref. 8. Return to text.
  14. Cited in Killingley, ref. 8. Millism refers to the agnostic John Stuart Mill (1806–1873), an influential liberal philosopher. Return to text.
  15. Newcombe, S., The development of modern yoga: A survey of the field, Religion Compass 3(6):986–1002, 2009. Return to text.
  16. Brown, ref. 10. Return to text.
  17. Annie Besant (1847–1933), bbc.co.uk. Return to text.
  18. Blavatsky, H., The Secret Doctrine, Vol. II: Anthropogenesis, p. 115, 1988, retrieved 29 July 2017 from phx-ult-lodge.org. Return to text.
  19. Singleton, M., Yoga, eugenics, and spiritual Darwinism in the early twentieth century, International Journal of Hindu Studies 11(2):125–146, 2007 | doi 10.1007/s11407-007-9043-7. Return to text.
  20. Besant, A. (1927), cited in Singleton, ref. 17. Return to text.
  21. For more on this, see Wieland, C., One Human Family: the Bible, science, race and culture, Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, GA, 2011. Return to text.
  22. Jain, A., From Counterculture to Counterculture, in Selling Yoga: From counterculture to pop culture, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, pp. 26–27, 2014. Return to text.
  23. For background to this subject, see creation.com/eugenicsReturn to text.


Complete article at –








While this one posting won’t do this subject justice, it important to start this discussion within the Evangelical Church because of the increasing interests in moving closer to Roman Catholicism and mystical practices from more Protestant groups such as the Emerging Church.  This time of year, it becomes very relevant during the time of Lent starting with Ash Wednesday.

=> I don’t necessarily want to discourage someone who feels participation in these practices are valuable to their walk. I would rather bring up these issues which are becoming popular but have little biblical support and instead if steeped in ancient church history and tradition.  In the end, will a Christian move further from God and closer to tradition for tradition sake by following a path that focuses on man-made ideas and rituals. It is important to ask why these rituals…

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(482) DISCIPLEMAKING 101 – Emerging Trends in the Church Today


I wish I could say that disciple-making is an emerging trend in the church today, but I don’t think it really is. 

It is really not that complicated.  Think about what the last words that Jesus proclaimed while walking on the earth before his ascension into heaven.  Would it be unreasonable to assume that someone’s last words before departing would carry some level of significance and importance?  Jesus commissioned us, the church, to GO and MAKE DISCIPLES. 

The Great Commission – Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “Disciplemaking_2_updated-300x200All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you…

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(482) DISCIPLEMAKING 101 – Emerging Trends in the Church Today

I wish I could say that disciple-making is an emerging trend in the church today, but I don’t think it really is. 

It is really not that complicated.  Think about what the last words that Jesus proclaimed while walking on the earth before his ascension into heaven.  Would it be unreasonable to assume that someone’s last words before departing would carry some level of significance and importance?  Jesus commissioned us, the church, to GO and MAKE DISCIPLES. 

The Great Commission – Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “Disciplemaking_2_updated-300x200All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (New King James Version)

Regardless, it may be the most important hole in American Christianity from a biblical point of view.  The effects of this hole, can result in more people moving away from the Faith given to us from God’s word.  The void gets filled with whatever the latest trends are spreading within the church.  Unfortunately, we are usually not talking about replacing one aspect of our faith with a different aspect of our faith.  Rather, many in the church today seek out something that is NEW, AUTHENTIC, BOLD, ATTRACTIVE TO THE YOUTH,….etc.  Descriptions used to describe these include words such as MISSIONAL, INCARNATIONAl….etc.  In some cases, people/churches don’t even teach, train, participate…etc. in discipling others.  


In Alliance Life magazine, C&MA Pastor John Soper wrote an important article on Disciplemaking.

It is good to see a focus on one of the most important aspects of our faith – yet one that gets overlooked by the church – many times nonintentionally because it is assumed to be taking place by church activities such as sitting in on a Sunday sermon. But, that doesn’t provide all of the educational teaching aspects of learning to live out your faith as well as the mentoring relationship with engaging in your Christian walk with other Christians.

Unfortunately, there are also intentional reasons that groups today either manipulate core principles of discipleship to fit their own contemporary perceived view of what they think Christians “should” be doing today. New words, new descriptions, new catchphrases, new fads…etc. sweep through the church such as “missional” and “incarnational” – commonly echoed in Liberal, Progressive and Emerging Church groups. The focus goes from being a biblically based approach to growing in the faith to a glorified social program out in a community and away from the church.

Pastor Soper his on several key aspects of discipleship and how the leadership in the church can take key steps to follow through – in some cases, they need to change their focus back to what is simply stated in Scripture. That can be difficult to do for some today with all of the Mega Church growth strategies, techniques and practices to reach the Millenials, being missional…..etc.

Soper’s points are well stated – 

“There are other tools that God uses to shape our lives—special experiences that He sovereignly brings into our lives and people who arrive at just the right moment with just the right message—but the primary tools the Holy Spirit uses to shape and form us are the Word of God and prayer.

My primary role as a disciplemaker is then to get men and women into the Word of God—the supernatural Word that is “living and active [and] sharper than any double–edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). I firmly believe that when men and women engage the Word of God with open hearts and open minds, it always changes them.

My primary goal as a disciplemaking pastor will always be to get my people into the Word of God. Then I can count on the Holy Spirit to do something supernatural in them. There is more to being a fully devoted follower of Christ than simply knowing what the Bible says, but until men and women read and learn the Scripture for themselves, they can never become mature disciples.”





“Are you guys really sure this is what Jesus told you to do?” That question was posed by an atheist named Matt Casper who had been hired by Jim Henderson to visit several well-known American churches with him. Henderson wanted to get a fresh look at church through the eyes of an unbeliever. Casper’s question came during a debriefing session after their visit to one of America’s well-known mega-churches. I think it’s a good question.

After all, Jesus didn’t tell us to build big churches. He didn’t tell us to build any kind of churches. (I seem to remember Him saying that He would do that.) He told us instead that we should “make disciples . . . baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19–20).

But after nearly 45 years of ministry, I have sadly concluded we are not terribly proficient at doing that. Our churches are busy places full of life and activity. Some of them are large churches doing many good things and serving both believers and a host of men, women, and children who have not yet decided to become Jesus followers. But we are not producing very many fully devoted “disciples” of the sort that were to be found in the first-century church that Jesus left behind—people who identify with Christ in baptism, who obey His commands, who share His values and priorities, and then proceed to change their world for God by reproducing themselves in the lives of others.

I have no special methodology to propose. In fact, I am fairly certain that “one size” does not “fit all” in this business of making disciples. But I can perhaps offer a few preliminary observations that may in part explain why, despite all the advantages that our North American churches possess, we have not done a better job of carrying out Christ’s LAST command.

You First

First, to be effective in the task of making disciples of others, I must be a fully devoted disciple myself. It is, after all, difficult to lead someone else to a place that we have never ourselves visited.

Two of the most challenging verses in all of the New Testament are Luke 6:39–40 in which Jesus says: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student [disciple] is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” If the people I disciple do not look as much like Jesus as they ought, the likely reason is because they look too much like me.

My son is a graduate of West Point, and I well remember my shock as a parent when he entered the academy for his first (“plebe”) year. For that entire year, his responses to all upperclassmen and officers on the campus were limited. When addressed, he could answer in only one of four phrases: “Yes, sir (or ma’am),” “No, sir,” “I do not understand, sir,” or “No excuses, sir.”

This rule seemed unnecessarily restrictive to me as a parent, so I asked an officer about it. His answer was revealing. “Our job here,” he explained, “is to produce leaders of character for the nation. But before you can learn to be a leader, you first have to learn to be a follower.”

If there are areas of my own life in which I have found it difficult to obey the commands of Christ or perhaps even refused to follow Him, I will never be able to say to those whom I have been called to lead: “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

Focus on the Few

Second, it’s possible that in my preoccupation with building a healthy (and a larger) church, I have neglected the more important task of making disciples. Growing a church, at least in our North American context, is essentially a “large group” activity, but making disciples is, by its very nature, a much more selective process. In Robert Coleman’s book – The Master Plan of Evangelism, he makes the important point that while Jesus never neglected the masses, He clearly focused on the few.

UNTIL men and women read and learn the SCRIPTURE for themselves, they can never become MATURE disciples.

That observation runs counter to almost everything I was taught in seminary and in the culture of the American church at the end of the 20th century. My seminary education taught me to think that preparing a 30-minute sermon was the most important task of a competent pastor. And the leaders of the church-growth movement taught me to see myself not as a “shepherd” (an image rooted deeply in the soil of both the Old and New Testaments) but as a “rancher.”

Discipleship is all about dynamic life transformation. The most obvious and lasting “fruit” in terms of changed lives that I can point to in my nearly five decades of ministry are the years my wife and I spent planting new churches. As I reflect upon those years of blessing, I now suspect that one reason for this is that there was no “crowd” to distract us from the primary task of making disciples.

Please understand that I am not opposed to large and growing churches. I am merely suggesting that the focus that Jesus Himself placed upon making disciples must be retained as primary even in the face of the demands of ministering to the “crowd.”

Two Tools

Third, I have come to understand that even though my focus as a shepherd needs to be on the great task of making disciples, the transformation of a human life is a task that requires a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit. In the end, He is the disciplemaker, not me. I cannot effect the changes God wants to make in people’s lives, but I can teach them how to use the two most powerful tools that the Holy Spirit uses to form them into the image of Christ. Those tools are the WORD OF GOD and PRAYER. 

There are other tools that God uses to shape our lives—special experiences that He sovereignly brings into our lives and people who arrive at just the right moment with just the right message—but the PRIMARY tools the Holy Spirit uses to shape and form us are the WORD OF GOD and PRAYER. 

My primary role as a disciple-maker is then to get men and women into the Word of God—the supernatural Word that is “living and active [and] sharper than any double–edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). I firmly believe that when men and women engage the Word of God with open hearts and open minds, it always changes them.

My primary goal as a disciple-making pastor will always be to get my people into the Word of God. Then I can count on the Holy Spirit to do something supernatural in them. There is more to being a fully devoted follower of Christ than simply knowing what the Bible says, but until men and women read and learn the Scripture for themselves, they can never become mature disciples.

It is likewise a certainty that they cannot become “like” Christ until they learn how to pray. That will not happen if I teach them about prayer, and it won’t happen even if I pray for them, though that too must be a part of my task.

In the end, they will learn to pray as I pray with them both corporately and individually. I have learned in recent days to ask myself and other pastors some rather telling questions: How much time do you spend praying for your people? And how much time do you spend praying with your people?

Perhaps we need to spend some time answering the atheist’s question: “Are you guys really sure this is what Jesus told you to do?”

(481) DUMBING DOWN CHRISTIANITY – Emerging Trends in the Church Today

The Tragedy of Dumbing Down Christianity

I came across this article in Relevant Magazine which caught my attention.  The article discusses a subject matter that is truly very relevant to American Christianity – not only today but also in trends that span the last couple of decades in the church. 

It is sometimes difficult to find an article of this importance when reading through Relevant Magazine (as with other journals such as Christianity Today).  But, it is very encouraging to read this article because it touches on a building block of the faith that in some cases has been weakened or even missing in the church today.  If these trends continue, the church tomorrow will move even further from a close walk with the Lord.

For now, let’s just categorize this as discipleship in the church today – is it happening?  Is it being implemented effectively?  Are Christians growing closer to God as they get to know God’s word?…etc.  Instead, what we find more common today is a brand of spirituality that minimalizes the Bible and focuses more on participating in practices that share less from the Bible but instead have more in common with mysticism in the early church and commonly found in Eastern religions today (e.g. Buddhism).  Today, one often hears the phrase of getting deeper into the faith – but it is applied to mean engaging in mystical practices with little to no Biblical justification to support it (non-biblical meditation, spiritual formation, contemplative prayer, breathing exercises….etc.).  This replaces basic biblical concepts such as discipleship, studying the Bible, participating in Bible study groups, prayer, meditation on God’s word…..etc.  

The Tragedy of Dumbing Down Christianity

We need to get deeper into our faith.


The other day I was in a coffee shop in the mountains, seated near the counter. A guy in his early 20s walked in wearing a TOOL shirt and a long ponytail. I could overhear his conversation as he approached the barista and they began chatting. Somehow it came up that she attends a Christian university and he clearly didn’t approve.

“Do they incorporate religion into all the classes there?” he asked. “Even the science classes? How does that work?”

She valiantly began explaining how they pray before every class and teach from a Christian worldview, but it soon became evident that she was being crushed in this conversation. He was well-schooled in the writings of Dawkins, Hitchens and Nye, and began doling out the punishment.

I use the word punishment because this poor barista has herself been punished by a church system which, for the past 200 years, has begun discarding intelligence in favor of emotion, conversion experiences and passion. Ask most American Christians today any question deeper than “Does God love everyone?” and you’re bound to get some sort of response suggesting that that sort of discourse should be reserved for theological universities.

The other day, a friend of mine said he sees no merit in understanding Calvinism or Arminianism because he just wants to love God and love people. And it seems that the ball stops there for most Christians today. No need to know any more than that.

We have replaced rich, robust theology in the Church with emotional music and constant reminders that “God is love and loves you and He’s your personal Savior and loves your soul …” These words are great at bringing outsiders through the doors (because they’re true by and large) but poor at growing believers into mature witnesses with rich understanding of the deep things of God.

I have found the opposite to be very true. I have found that the more I learn about God, His Word and theology which describes Him, the more I can love and worship Him, because now there is that much more to adore and be amazed by. If my ability to worship God is a fire, learning more about Him only adds more wood to the blaze. After all, if you really loved God, wouldn’t you want to learn as much about Him as possible?

Our logic is pretty backward here.

Quite honestly, I’m exhausted by Christians who don’t want to learn more. It’s one thing to not know much about our faith, but another to have no desire to grow.

I’m saddened that atheists are so passionate about what they believe that they will read stacks of books in order to define their beliefs, while we are happy to float along the surface with a “Hillsong-deep theology” and call it good. And we wonder why people are leaving the Church in droves.

A church that offers only emotional, feel-good theology is going to lose the long-term wrestling match to a well-read and convincing atheist nearly every time.

Puritan Cotton Mather wrote, “Ignorance is the Mother not of Devotion but of HERESY” (caps lock his).

The mushy-gushy can only last so long.

Just as a marriage cannot be sustained by the tumble of infatuation, a life of faith cannot be sustained by passionate emotion. Yes, it may be a wonderful (and necessary) entryway, but without depth of knowledge and understanding, it will be “blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).

One of my theology professors is so passionate about this issue that he has brought up the same metaphor at least three times this semester. It goes something like this: 

Why do people say they want to ‘know God, but not know about Him? That is absolutely ludicrous!

Imagine if I told you, “I love my wife, but I don’t know anything about her.” You could ask me where she was born and I would shrug.

What type of music or food does she like?

I don’t know.

What color are her eyes?

No idea. But I love her.

See how insane that sounds? The more you come to know about someone, the more you are able to love them.

Yet we have no problem floating on the surface of our knowledge of God. And then we wonder why we have such trouble witnessing to others or describing what we believe or why we believe it to others.


J.P. Moreland, in his book Love the Lord Your God With All Your Minddemonstrates how the Second Great Awakening led to the beginning of emotional preaching and impassioned calls to a quick conversion experience, as opposed to a period of contemplation, learning and discovery of the Christian faith and doctrines. We live in the fallout of that style of thinking. Moreland writes, “The intellectually shallow, theologically illiterate form of Christianity … came to be part of the populist Christian religion that emerged.”

I was fascinated to learn that the Church was once the place where believers came to learn deep theology and robust doctrine, but now that seems to be reserved only for biblical universities. Nowadays anyone can start a church, and as long as it’s engaging and entertaining enough, people will show up. Never mind if it’s true or not (Case in point: The pastor of the largest church in America doesn’t even have a bachelor’s degree, much less a seminary degree and look where that leads.). This all helps me realize why people are seeing less and less need for the Church. After the initial emotion has worn off, what does it really have to offer?

It should not only be pastors, authors and theologians who study what they believe, but all believers. Jesus Himself stated that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind (Luke 10:27), yet we tend to overlook this last one and focus on the heart and soul.

God paints an intense fate for those who neglect to grow in their understanding in Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for their lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you.”

So let’s not get destroyed and rejected, eh?

It’s not too late for Christians to learn in their understanding of the holy. It’s not too late to learn the meaning and value of our creeds, doctrines, and systems. There is merit in learning and understanding the deeper parts of our faith and I say we start sooner than later.

If you’re reading this and thinking, Gee, I would love to come to a deeper understanding of God but don’t know where to start, I’ll give a few great starting points here. Additionally, if you’re reading this and thinking, Gee, I don’t really learn that much about the Bible or God at my church, it just kind of hypes me up, it may be time to change that. Begin by talking to your pastor about it before going church shopping.

Here are some books which are very easy to read and introduce us to cursory facets of the Christian faith:

Delighting in The Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves

Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist by John Piper

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

The New Lonely by me



A version of this article appeared on ethanrenoe.com. Used with permission.

(480) POSTEVANGELICAL, POSTCONSERVATIVE, POSTMODERNISM (Part 1) – Emerging Trends in the Church Today



A very useful book by Dr. Grant Richison with a Forward by Dr. Norm Geisler.

Richison, G. C. (2010). Certainty, a Place to Stand: Critique of the Emergent Church of Postevangelicals (pp. 19–20). Grant C. Richison. 

The book describes the rampant uncertainty in the church today.  So much so that some of the most popular Christian teachers and leaders actually have their own brand of theology that teaches uncertainty as true doctrine.


Dr. Geisler states that “In a day when the evangelical trumpet is making an uncertain sound, every Christian leader needs to read this book. It shows the need to be anchored to the Rock in our efforts to be geared to the times. At no time in our generation has there been a greater need and a clearer call to return to a surer foundation than that which is laid for our faith.”

The book is a critique of the EMERGENT CHURCH of POSTEVANGELICALS.

Richison also promotes a few other books that will give the reader a view of the POSTCONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT for what it really is:

  1. The Evangelical Left by Millard J. Erickson (Baker Books, 1997)
  2. Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church by D.A. Carson (Zondervan, 2005)
  3. The Courage to be Protestant by David Wells (Eerdmans, 2008)
  4. Reclaiming the Center: Confronting Evangelical Accommodation in Postmodern Times edited by Millard J. Erickson, Paul Kjoss Helseth and Justin Taylor (Crossway Books, 2004) – critiques Renewing the Center by Stanley Grenz.
  5. The Emerging Church, Undefining Christianity by Bob DeWaay (Bethany Press International, 2009)
  6. Evangelicals Engaging Emergent: A Discussion of the Emergent Church Movement (B & H Academic, 2009) is a balanced book critiquing the emergent church movement.
  7. Why We’re Not Emergent (by Two Guys Who Should Be), by Kevin DeYoung and Tel Kluck (Moody, 2009).



It important to familiarize yourself with important terms that today are part of the common Christian vernacular.  Throw in several words originating from Eastern mystical religions, your grasp of the contemporary language scene would be complete. 

First, Richison differentiates postmodernism between philosophical and functional:  

Philosophical postmodernism is a belief in a system; the function of postmodernity manifests itself in how people live their normal lives but without a clear understanding of the philosophy. Philosophical postmodernism gives no direct extrapolation to functional postmodernism; we find functional postmodernism in television, movies, and business. Not all postmodernity (the function) comes from postmodernism (the philosophy)

Certainty is lack of doubt about some state of affairs. Certainty admits degrees. Evangelicals do not affirm certainty about all things exhaustively. A proposition is certain if no other proposition has greater warrant than it does.

Absolute certainty is lack of any doubt. The Bible presents its thoughts with certainty, not tentatively (Luke 1:4; Acts 1:3). God’s Word is the criterion for truth. Certainty comes by an act of God through the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:4–16; 1 Thessalonians 1:5). Absolute certainty is the supernatural foundation for knowledge.

Postmodernism is a catch-all term that covers many ideas. At its base, postmodernism is belief in plurality: no one can come to ultimate truth because people come to truth from their own perspective.

Postconservatism is belief in postmodernism by evangelicals who are sometimes called “postevangelicals.” This is the belief system behind those in the emergent church who want to soft pedal truth.4

Emerging church is a broad term describing churches that seek to contextualize the gospel by method to postmodern philosophy. Not all emergent churches are postconservative in philosophy but are what we call “doctrine-friendly” or “truth-friendly” churches.

Emergent church is a particular term for an official network of contextualizers committed to postmodern Christianity. All their thinking is emerging; they do not claim certainty of truth. They deconstruct previous evangelical thinking about certainty and other essential doctrines of Scripture. They emphasize narrative theology rather than propositional truth. Presentation of Christianity is by missional living rather than by statements of the gospel. They presume that historic evangelicalism is non-authentic, not involved with non-Christians, obsessed with doctrine, and not operating by Christocentric living.5 This group is not “truth-friendly.”

Coherent truth is the basis of the emergent approach to reality, wherein facts and objective truth are not necessary and only a general coherence of an idea is needed.

Correspondent truth is the view that truth must correspond to facts, objectivity, and reality.

Missional is the term used for attempting to incarnate the gospel with personal and community testimony rather than presenting the gospel through propositions. Postconservatives use the word “missional” in the sense of “improving society now.” It is a way to correct society’s evils.

Proposition is that which corresponds to truth; it is the meaning of a declarative sentence. It is not an encounter, event, or personal experience. Biblical propositional assertions correspond to facts and reality.

Spiritual formation is not what evangelicals call sanctification, but it is rather the means whereby emergents use disciplines such as mysticism to make them feel closer to God. This is a non-biblical, extra-biblical idea. Many evangelicals use this term for sanctification and confuse terminology in doing so.

Foundationalism is an approach to reality that builds beliefs on givens. In the case of the Word of God, Christians build their beliefs on givens in the Bible. Emergents want to “rethink” everything. They do not operate on givens. It is important to distinguish the foundationalism of the Enlightenment from the foundationalism of the Bible. Biblical foundationalism does not rest on rationalism or empiricism but on the law of non-contradiction, the validity of the law of causality, and the reliability of sense perception. Without foundationalism we cannot establish truth by categories. Without the law of non-contradiction, it would be impossible to communicate adequately with others. Certainty does not require total understanding to know something for sure. To reject foundationalism is to reject rationality.

=> Just taking some time to understand what these terms mean and how they are used today in the church and by Christians in general is an important first step to understanding the direction the church is heading.  

In Part 2, we will go into detail in how widespread these terms are being used by Christians who don’t have clue to their origins and how they are used today.



(447) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: THE SHACK – Review by Marcia Montenegro

The Shack was one of the free movies shown this past weekend with Projecting Hope.


Several concerns about the new movie, The Shack, based on the best-selling novel by William P. Young.  The following article is a review by Marcia Montenegro: http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_TheShack.html


By Marcia Montenegro

Written November 2008

Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” John 20:29

Note: Many will say this is fiction and therefore criticisms of Young’s theology in this book are off-limits or irrelevant. But Young is a Christian who places God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit as central characters in his book, The Shack.  Why insert obvious lessons that Mack, the main character, is learning about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit if we are to assume that God in this book is fantasy or fiction? The characters who represent God…

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