RICHARD ROHR’S ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTICISM IN THE CHRISTIAN & MISSIONARY ALLIANCE CHURCH
(367) EMERGING TRENDS IN YOUR CHURCH TODAY: ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTICISM AT YOUR DOORSTEP – Part 2.
=> RICHARD ROHR’S ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTICISM IN THE CHRISTIAN & MISSIONARY ALLIANCE CHURCH
As a continuation of Part 1, an example of how the Evangelical church is racing towards syncretic practices of combining various types of mystical practices from Eastern religions and ancient Roman Catholic mysticism, the following example is taken from the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church (picking on my denomination first – to be fair). What makes this so concerning is that the denomination’s colleges (e.g. Nyack) and Alliance Theological Seminary (ATS) are increasingly exposing their students (i.e. future pastors of the denomination) to this mysticism. In this case, we will look at a popular Roman Catholic priest Richard Rohr. Several professors within the C&MA are assigning Rohr’s works as part of the requirements for completing courses.
=> Let me first stress that I have no intention to question the motives of the following people, nor do I question their dedication to their calling and their faith. God uses all of us in spite of our limitations and mistakes – thank God. But we are called to judge what is being taught in light of Scripture – especially when it involves protecting the flock from potential false teaching.
Let’s look at one example from Learn to Discern –
=> Dr. James Danaher. Professor of Philosophy at Nyack – B.A. Ramapo College; M.A. Montclair State University; M.A. New School; M.Phil., Ph.D. City University of New York
Front and center on the “Nyack’s College of Arts & Sciences January 2014 Facebook Page & Blog” is Dr. James P. Danaher’s newest book: The Second Truth complete with Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico endorsement.
Note also that Danaher’s new book is also endorsed by one Maggie Ross. Ross, a mystic Anglican solitary, is the author of several books including Writing the Icon of the Heart, which in turn, was endorsed (no surprise) by James P. Danaher, author of Contemplative Prayer: A Theology for the Twentyfirst Century; Fr. Richard Rohr, Founding Director, Center for Action and Contemplation; and John H. Armstrong, President.
For more Rohr scroll down the Nyack Arts & Sciences Facebook Page to find a prominent photograph of the Oneing: An Alternative Orthodoxy (The Perennial Tradition) explored by 21st. century thinkers including: Richard Rohr, Mark S. Burrows, Ilia Delio, David G. Benner, John L. Esposito, Diana Butler Bass, Mary Beth Ingham, James P. Danaher, Robert Sardello, Jamie L. Manson, James D. Kirylo, Cynthia Bourgeault, and James Finley.
Exactly who are these other authors? While researching these authors, whom I’d dub: “Rohr’s Radicals,” I’ve found most of this group to be the cream of the crop of vocal liberals who’ve embraced Rohr’s “we are all one” mantra. And just who are the “who’s who” of Rohr’s ardent admirers? To begin there’s Mark S. Burrows, mystic poet and scholar, who translated Rilke poetry from German to English. There’s Sr. Ilia Delio OSF, an outspoken theologian scientist and author, who reimagines Christ by teaching evolutionary Catholicism or cosmic Christology. There’s David G. Benner, an exevangelical depth psychologist and soul care author, who left his former faith for mystical practices (contemplative prayer, lectio divina, icons) and interfaith dialog (Buddhists, Taoists). There’s John L. Esposito, once a monk, who now is an expert on world religions and a spokesperson for Muslim & Christian understanding. There’s Diana Butler Bass, Episcopalian feminist, who is a contributing editor for JimWallis’ Sojourner Magazine, and a friend of such Emergents as Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, and Tony Jones. There’s Sr. Mary Beth Ingham CSJ, philosophy professor and author of a book with Richard Rohr, as well as numerous books on Franciscan theologian John Duns Scotus.
There’s James P. Danaher, Nyack College Philosophy Chair, postmodern and contemplative author of four Rohr endorsed books, and advisor to and writer for Rohr’s Oneing journal. There’s Robert Sardello, a leading philosopher of the soul revered by authors James Hillman and Thomas Moore, who as cofounder of the School of Spiritual Psychology has authored such books as Steps on the Stone Path: Working with Crystals and Minerals as a Spiritual Practice and Silence: The Mystery of Wholeness. There’s Jamie L. Manson, a Catholic feminist and defender of the homosexual agenda, and columnist for The National Catholic Reporter. There’s James D. Kirylo, professor of education and defender of “Liberation Theology,” who authored the book Paulo Freire: The Man from Recife. Finally, there’s James Finley, once a monk mentored by Thomas Merton, now turned clinical psychologist who teaches such retreats as: “The Four Noble Truths of the Buddha for Us All,” “The Interior Castle of St. Theresa of Avila, ” and “Zen as a Path of Spiritual Fulfillment.
On the opening page you can also find the meaning of the old English word “oneing“ as used by mystic Lady Julian of Norwich. It is defined this way: “Oneing describes the encounter between God and the soul. The Rohr Institute proudly borrows the word to express divine unity between all divisions, dichotomies, and dualisms in the world. We pray and publish with Jesus’ words, ‘that we may be one.'” Ponder this statement!! For “oneing’s” meaning unlocks the reason for Rohr’s purpose in promoting these mostly Roman Catholic, mystical, often radical writers. Yes, “oneing’s” meaning is what Rohr and his cohorts are all about!
Think! Dr. James P. Danaher, Philosophy Chair at “evangelical” Nyack is part of this group of writers promoting we are all one, and we are all divine. And then notice the members that comprise “The Rohr Institute Advisory Board:” James Danaher; David Benner; Ilia Delia, OSF; Sheryl B. Fullerton; and Marian Kustenmacher. This “five some” includes: Danaher, the contemplative philosopher; Benner the mystical depth psychologist; Delio the evolutionist nun; Fullerton the mind, body, and soul literary agent; and Kustenmacher the occult enneagram specialist. Once again the question must be raised: “How can an evangelical philosophy professor be associated with such a board?”
At the CAC web site we additionally find the “Living School for Action & Contemplation” whose allstar teachers each bear witness to the Christian voice of universal awakening, grounded firmly within its mystical and transformational tradition. Hoping to open Christianity to more inclusive theological visions a core faculty (Rohr, Bourgeault, & Finley) and invited master teachers (Rob Bell, David G. Benner, Walter Brueggemann, Paula D’Arcy, Ilia Delio, Ruth Patterson, and Robert Sardello) will teach deep and grounded practices in contemplative prayer, chanting, and kenosis. CAC writes: “In the joined presence of these faculty, this School is at its heart a Mystical Christian Living School.”
One can find Oneing and many more Rohr products featured on the New Age “ContemplativeLife” page with a “Mandala” icon at the top left corner of its web page. Read Rohr’s clear and concise definition of Oneing’s “Perennial Tradition Theme”, which is in all the world’s religions, is all about:
* There is a Divine Reality underneath and inherent in the world of things.
In conclusion, with the above description firmly in your mind, I would ask why Dr. James P. Danaher can continue to teach at Nyack College, and at the same time be part of this heretical organization? I would ask why Dr. Danaher’s newest book gets top billing on Nyack’s “Arts & Sciences” page and blog? I would ask why such a completely unbiblical and radical journal would be pictured as news worthy? I would ask exactly who it is that is responsible for allowing Danaher to be part of Rohr’s organization? Surely, not just Danaher will be held accountable; for those over Dr. Danaher will also give account for their encouragement, their endorsements, and their allowing him to continue to spread Rohr’s teachings to CMA students as well as the CMA denomination and beyond. Let’s provide more context on Richard Rohr – Ray Yungen states the following –
Who is Richard Rohr?
Without a doubt, Catholic priest Richard Rohr is one of the most prominent living proponents of contemplative prayer today. His organization, The Center for Contemplation and Action, is a bastion for contemplative spirituality. And like our other contemplative prayer “school” masters, he has been embraced by numerous popular evangelical authors. Richard Foster, for example, had Rohr on an advisory board for a 2010 book Foster edited titled 25 Books Every Christian Should Read: A Guide to the Essential Devotional Classics.22
Rohr has essentially become the new Thomas Merton to an entirely new generation of evangelical Christians. In an interview, Rohr said:
[O]ne of my publishers . . . told me that right now my single biggest demographic is young evangelicals—young evangelicals. Some of my books are rather heavy. I’m just amazed.23
Rohr’s statement is correct about young evangelicals. A case in point is an organization called IF: Gathering. The leaders of IF are dynamic energetic women who hold large conferences geared primarily toward young evangelical women. While these women may be sincere in what they are trying to do, they promote figures such as emergent leaders Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, as well as Richard Rohr.
To further understand the significance of this, Rohr is a prominent champion for the idea of a global religion that would unify the world. He says that “religion needs a new language.”25 And that language to bring about this one-world religion is mysticism (i.e., contemplative prayer)! Rohr stated:
Right now there is an emergence . . . it’s coming from so many different traditions and sources and parts of the world. Maybe it’s an example of the globalization of spirituality.26
This view ties in perfectly with the emerging church’s perspective that is so popular among younger evangelicals today. It’s no wonder that Richard Rohr and emerging church leaders (such as Brian McLaren) are so supportive of each other and endorse each other’s books.
In echoing Merton and Nouwen, Rohr also advocates the concept of dharmakaya. This is the recurring theme of the “school” of contemplative prayer. Rohr states:
God’s hope for humanity is that one day we will all recognize that the divine dwelling place is all of creation. Christ comes again whenever we see that matter and spirit co-exist. This truly deserves to be called good news.27
To dispel any confusion about what Rohr is saying, he makes it clear in the same paragraph what he means by God dwelling in all creation. He uses a term that one finds throughout contemplative literature, which signifies that Christ is more of an energy than a personal being. Rohr explains the term “cosmic Christ,” telling readers that everything and everyone belongs to God’s kingdom.28 That’s even the name of one of his books, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer.
In his 2011 book, Falling Upward, Rohr implies that we (humanity) are all an “immaculate conception.”29 If these things are true, then there was no need for Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for the sins of mankind. We would not need a Savior because we would already be divine ourselves. In truth, contemplative spirituality is the antithesis of the Gospel. That is why there are countless mystics who claim to know God (or Jesus) but will have nothing to do with the Cross.
Coming up next in Part 3:
- Can You Trust Richard Rohr – from a Roman Catholic perspective
- Other Contemplative Mysticism promoted by seminary professors within the C&MA (Nyack, ATS,….etc.)
- Contemplative Topics Promoted at the Deeper Life Conference 2015