Archive | January 2017

(440) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: RICHARD ROHR & UNIVERSALISM

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MORE ROHR & UNIVERSALISM 

Roman Catholic priest and mystic Fr. Richard Rohr has become popular among Emerging Church / Progressives and is one of the teachers being promoted by some Evangelicals and seminary instructors.  Previous postings look at Rohr’s influence at C&MA Seminary and colleges such as ATS and Nyack (i.e. Dr. James Danaher).

The more I discover about Richard Rohr, the more I get concerned.  More Rohr doesn’t equate to more biblical.  By both historic and biblical standards, his theology not only drifts away from Roman Catholicism but also strays widely from what the Bible teaches.

Here are few more issues.  Rohr degrades who Christ is and casts doubt on the incarnation.  He believes that Jesus and Christ are distinct.

INTERVIEW – In an interview between Richard Rohr and Rob “No Hell” Bell – 

BELL: How do you explain what the Bible is to people?

ROHR: I…

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(440) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: RICHARD ROHR & UNIVERSALISM

MORE ROHR & UNIVERSALISM 

Roman Catholic priest and mystic Fr. Richard Rohr has become popular among Emerging Church / Progressives and is one of the teachers being promoted by some Evangelicals and seminary instructors.  Previous postings looked at Rohr’s influence at C&MA Seminary and colleges such as ATS and Nyack (i.e. Dr. James Danaher).

The more I discover about Richard Rohr, the more I get concerned.  More Rohr doesn’t equate to more biblical.  By both historic and biblical standards, his theology not only drifts away from Roman Catholicism but also strays widely from what the Bible teaches.

Here are few more issues.  Rohr degrades who Christ is and casts doubt on the incarnation.  He believes that Jesus and Christ are distinct.

INTERVIEW – In an interview between Richard Rohr and Rob “No Hell” Bell – 

BELL: How do you explain what the Bible is to people?

ROHR: I believe it’s the word of God in the words of people. It didn’t fall as a Glad bag from heaven…….When it says Yahweh says… I know they [the writers of the Bible] wouldn’t like this but Yahweh didn’t say that. They said that. Like we do. We project our own consciousness onto God to justify our own evil behavior. We still do that-but that’s a totally different narrative for an evangelical. To them, it sounds as if you’re really relativizing the Bible. But you have to start with the human if you get the divine. Protestantism didn’t really get the incarnation-they so overplayed the redemption cross salvation through the cross thing…..The incarnation solves the problem. Problem solved. I don’t need blood sacrifice to know that it’s good to be a human being.

=> As you read through that interview clip, several concerns jump out. 

(1) GOD’S WORD – He doesn’t believe the Bible is God’s word.  He states “When it says Yahweh says…….Yahwe didn’t say that”.

(2) INCARNATION -“it’s good to be a human being”. Rohr relativizes many theological issues resulting in making comparisons out of context and ultimately twisting basic biblical doctrine from its original, historically well-known and understood meaning.  

  • Rohr’s statement “it’s good to be a human being.” as his understanding of how Jesus viewed the incarnation.  Strange, to say the least?  YES!

(3) ATONEMENT – Denial of substitutionary atonement?  He states that he doesn’t need the blood sacrifice.  What does he mean?  Convoluted to say the least?  YES!

Marcie Montenegro comments on these statements and sums it up well –  

“How can Rohr think this?! On the contrary, Jesus humbled himself to incarnate! It was not to show that “it’s good to be human.” It was so he could be the perfect Lamb and die to pay the penalty for sins. Jesus came down to the human level, it was an incredible act of humility and servanthood.”

…taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Phil 2:7b-8

(4) HIDDEN TRUTH – There are “hidden truths” that Christianity has lost.  In Rohr’s book, The Naked Now

downloadDrawn from the Gospels, Jesus, Paul, and the great Christian contemplatives, this examination reveals how many of the hidden truths of Christianity have been misunderstood or lost and how to read them with the eyes of the mystics rather than interpreting them through rational thought. Filled with sayings, stories, quotations, and appeals to the heart, specific methods for identifying dualistic thinking are presented with simple practices for stripping away ego and the fear of dwelling in the present.

What comes to mind when a statement saying that the truths of Christianity have been misunderstood or lost?  The implication is that we need to hear what Rohr has to say through these mystics to get the proper interpretation.  Secret knowledge that a privileged few have?  Sounds cultic if not Gnostic.  Does this not contradict Scripture and open the reader up to all kinds of potential beliefs that are unbiblical? (rhetorical)

(5) UNIVERSALISM – In this video with the “Revangelical Connection”, an interview with Rohr shows what he believes about Universalism.  

In my opinion, his belief is very dangerous because it warps one of the most basic beliefs of our faith.  The critical question is – will you spend eternity with God?  This is answered by the Universalist as a yes. They teach that in some fashion, everyone will make it to heaven.  Eternity with God is a given because eventually Hell has no meaning and doesn’t fit in with God.   Some Universalist may not promote this view outright but if you digest their theology and take it to its logical conclusion, it becomes very apparent.

Here are some important points brought up in this interview with Richard Rohr.  Much of what he says and implies here are his views and his interpretation of history resulting in statements that are either incorrect or questionable at best:

  • Rohr states that “UNIVERSALISM was the common Christian view for the first three centuries” of the early church. 
  • Rohr states that Evangelicals/Protestants don’t present the view that God is victorious.  He states – “that is what it means to be God”.  Instead, Protestants marginalize God with their theology which ends up watering down concepts such as God reigns and God is almighty.  Rohr states that “it is a surprise that anybody is saved at all”.  By Rohr’s implication, Roman Catholicism and his version of mysticism, God is going to win, will be victorious…etc.
  • Rohr further justifies his reasoning of marginalization by comparing male and female psyche with males preferring a Win-Lose scenario and females preferring a Win-Win scenario.  Historically, the male view dominated – someone loses out on eternity.
  • Rohr states that once someone sees the love of God, no one could resist turning towards Him for salvation.  Rohr states that ultimately even the Devil could not resist this.
  • One of the interviewers observes that what Rohr is saying sounds similar to ROB BELL  (surprise, surprise).  Rohr chuckles and states that Bell is a good friend of his and Bell will be teaching next year at his school – The Living School.  

(439) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: WHAT IS TRUTH? – C&MA’s Nyack college, Dr. James Danaher

WHAT IS TRUTH?

Nyack college professor Dr. James Danaher discusses the ultimate question – What is Truth?

  • When someone questions the biblical view of Truth, do you see red flags popping up in your mind?  
  • If a Christian makes statements that redefine Truth, do additional red flags pop up?
  • When a seminary or Christian college professor who may be teaching your child or teaching future leaders in your denomination redefine how we should look at Truth, do alarm bells go off, do red flags pop up, do warning sirens go off ……..?

Here is a video of Dr. James Danaher, discussing his view of Truth. 

  • James P. Danaher, Ph.D. is Professor of Philosophy and Head of the Philosophy Department at Nyack College in Nyack, NY. He is the author of five books and over sixty articles that have appeared in Philosophy and Theology journals. Dr. Danaher is available for media interviews on a variety of topics covering religion, philosophy, and sociology including prejudice, race, social class and love relationships.

What could be more basic and fundamental to our faith than to understand the biblical view of Truth?  This is a serious issue because ultimately it goes to the heart of what we know about our faith.  If we question God’s word and ultimately can’t take God’s word through His Scripture as Truth, it can affect every aspect of our faith. 

Here is Danaher in a live interview giving his thoughts on Truth.  Take note of what he is saying and consider the implications of how he defines redefines truth.  He questions the historical view of Truth.  He questions the biblical meaning of Truth.  He talks about the need to focus less on Truth as we have always known it and instead focus on a “second truth” – a new truth, a new way of looking at truth.  Danaher states that ultimately we can’t know Truth with any certainty.  This is POSTMODERNISM and is dangerous to the CHURCH and dangerous to Christians.   

There are many verses that come to my mind, but this passage from Paul’s letter to Timothy involves a strong warning to those who come into the church and teach a different doctrine……..a different truth – 

10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim. 3:10-15)

The irony is that Danaher pokes holes in the idea of believing the Truth you were taught from your mother as a child is the real truth or the second truth that you should instead focus on today.  He says there has to be a re-interpretation of what truth is from the culture and environment we are in today.  I say hogwash!  That is classic Liberalism which has failed the church in so many ways over the last 100 years.  

=>  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9Q6t-j_KDE

On Nyack’s website, here is an article highlighting a similar quote about learning things as a child that must know be changed based on these newer concepts – a second truth, a second innocence, a second this or a second that.

Dr. James Danaher, Professor of Philosophy, publishes “ A Second Innocence,” in Oneing: An Alternative Orthodoxy, a bi-annual literary journal of the Rohr Institute.

About is essay, Dr. Danaher explains,

“In the innocence of childhood,  we were taught how to conceptualize the world through languag2293e acquisition and acculturation. We offered little resistance and came to see the world as we were taught to see it. Jesus, however, sees a very different world and wants us to see it as well, but in order to do that we need to enter a second innocence in which Jesus alone instructs us concerning his divine perspective. What so often keeps us from that second innocence is the belief that we already have Jesus’ perspective because we were raised in a Christian culture; that is, we imagine that we already have Jesus’ conceptual understanding of things like faith, righteousness, justice, love, sin, and law. If we seriously consider the things that Jesus says, however, it should be obvious that Jesus’ conceptual understanding is radically different from our own no matter how ‘Christian’ we consider our culture to be.

Dr. Danaher completed his Ph.D., M.Phil from City University of New York, M.A. New School, M.A. Montclair State University and B.A. Ramapo College. He also received the 2011 Arts and Sciences Scholar of the Year.

Another red flag is his article being published in a journal (“Oneing”) from Richard Rohr’s website. Richard Rohr is a Roman Catholic friar.  Rohr believes in many doctrines that contradict Scripture and go against Evangelical doctrine —> i.e. go against what Nyack’s Christian and Missionary Alliance generally believe.  Rohr is a promoter of Universalism and he teams up with Rob Bell on spreading their view of these issues.  Rohr is Roman Catholic…..much could be said about this topic but it is not the focus of this article.  Rohr promotes ancient mystical practices (early Roman Catholic and Eastern Mysticism).  He is a Contemplative Prayer proponent. He questions the atonement as Protestants understand it……….etc..


Not good.  This is a seminary professor teaching future leaders of the church and writing books for Christians to consume.  
=> So, what is Truth – let’s look at the following article:
What is Truth?  (Got Questions Ministries. (2002–2013). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software)

What Is Truth?

Almost two thousand years ago, Truth was put on trial and judged by people who were devoted to lies. In fact, Truth faced six trials in less than one full day, three of which were religious, and three that were legal. In the end, few people involved in those events could answer the question, “What is truth?”

After being arrested, the Truth was first led to a man named Annas, a corrupt former high priest of the Jews. Annas broke numerous Jewish laws during the trial, including holding the trial in his house, trying to induce self-accusations against the defendant, and striking the defendant, who had been convicted of nothing at the time. After Annas, the Truth was led to the reigning high priest, Caiaphas, who happened to be Annas’s son-in-law. Before Caiaphas and the Jewish Sanhedrin, many false witnesses came forward to speak against the Truth, yet nothing could be proved and no evidence of wrongdoing could be found. Caiaphas broke no fewer than seven laws while trying to convict the Truth: (1) the trial was held in secret; (2) it was carried out at night; (3) it involved bribery; (4) the defendant had no one present to make a defense for Him; (5) the requirement of 2–3 witnesses could not be met; (6) they used self-incriminating testimony against the defendant; (7) they carried out the death penalty against the defendant the same day. All these actions were prohibited by Jewish law. Regardless, Caiaphas declared the Truth guilty because the Truth claimed to be God in the flesh, something Caiaphas called blasphemy.

When morning came, the third trial of the Truth took place, with the result that the Jewish Sanhedrin pronounced the Truth should die. However, the Jewish council had no legal right to carry out the death penalty, so they were forced to bring the Truth to the Roman governor at the time, a man named Pontius Pilate. Pilate was appointed by Tiberius as the fifth prefect of Judea and served in that capacity A.D. 26 to 36. The procurator had power of life and death and could reverse capital sentences passed by the Sanhedrin. As the Truth stood before Pilate, more lies were brought against Him. His enemies said, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King” (Luke 23:2). This was a lie, as the Truth had told everyone to pay their taxes (Matthew 22:21) and never spoke of Himself as a challenge to Caesar.

After this, a very interesting conversation between the Truth and Pilate took place. “Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?’ Pilate answered, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.’ Therefore Pilate said to Him, ‘So You are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’ Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’ ” (John 18:33–38).

Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” has reverberated down through history. Was it a melancholy desire to know what no one else could tell him, a cynical insult, or perhaps an irritated, indifferent reply to Jesus’ words?

In a postmodern world that denies that truth can be known, the question is more important than ever to answer. What is truth?

A Proposed Definition of Truth

In defining truth, it is first helpful to note what truth is not:

Truth is not simply whatever works. This is the philosophy of pragmatism—an ends-vs.-means-type approach. In reality, lies can appear to “work,” but they are still lies and not the truth.

Truth is not simply what is coherent or understandable. A group of people can get together and form a conspiracy based on a set of falsehoods where they all agree to tell the same false story, but it does not make their presentation true.

Truth is not what makes people feel good. Unfortunately, bad news can be true.

Truth is not what the majority says is true. Fifty-one percent of a group can reach a wrong conclusion.

Truth is not what is comprehensive. A lengthy, detailed presentation can still result in a false conclusion.

Truth is not defined by what is intended. Good intentions can still be wrong.

Truth is not how we know; truth is what we know.

Truth is not simply what is believed. A lie believed is still a lie.

Truth is not what is publicly proved. A truth can be privately known (for example, the location of buried treasure).

The Greek word for “truth” is aletheia, which literally means to “un-hide” or “hiding nothing.” It conveys the thought that truth is always there, always open and available for all to see, with nothing being hidden or obscured. The Hebrew word for “truth” is emeth, which means “firmness,” “constancy” and “duration.” Such a definition implies an everlasting substance and something that can be relied upon.

From a philosophical perspective, there are three simple ways to define truth:

1. Truth is that which corresponds to reality.
2. Truth is that which matches its object.
3. Truth is simply telling it like it is.

First, truth corresponds to reality or “what is.” It is real. Truth is also correspondent in nature. In other words, it matches its object and is known by its referent. For example, a teacher facing a class may say, “Now the only exit to this room is on the right.” For the class that may be facing the teacher, the exit door may be on their left, but it’s absolutely true that the door, for the professor, is on the right.

Truth also matches its object. It may be absolutely true that a certain person may need so many milligrams of a certain medication, but another person may need more or less of the same medication to produce the desired effect. This is not relative truth, but just an example of how truth must match its object. It would be wrong (and potentially dangerous) for a patient to request that their doctor give them an inappropriate amount of a particular medication, or to say that any medicine for their specific ailment will do.

In short, truth is simply telling it like it is; it is the way things really are, and any other viewpoint is wrong. A foundational principle of philosophy is being able to discern between truth and error, or as Thomas Aquinas observed, “It is the task of the philosopher to make distinctions.”

Challenges to Truth

Aquinas’ words are not very popular today. Making distinctions seems to be out of fashion in a postmodern era of relativism. It is acceptable today to say, “This is true,” as long as it is not followed by, “and therefore that is false.” This is especially observable in matters of faith and religion where every belief system is supposed to be on equal footing where truth is concerned.

There are a number of philosophies and worldviews that challenge the concept of truth, yet, when each is critically examined it turns out to be self-defeating in nature.

The philosophy of relativism says that all truth is relative and that there is no such thing as absolute truth. But one has to ask: is the claim “all truth is relative” a relative truth or an absolute truth? If it is a relative truth, then it really is meaningless; how do we know when and where it applies? If it is an absolute truth, then absolute truth exists. Moreover, the relativist betrays his own position when he states that the position of the absolutist is wrong—why can’t those who say absolute truth exists be correct too? In essence, when the relativist says, “There is no truth,” he is asking you not to believe him, and the best thing to do is follow his advice.

Those who follow the philosophy of skepticism simply doubt all truth. But is the skeptic skeptical of skepticism; does he doubt his own truth claim? If so, then why pay attention to skepticism? If not, then we can be sure of at least one thing (in other words, absolute truth exists)—skepticism, which, ironically, becomes absolute truth in that case. The agnostic says you can’t know the truth. Yet the mindset is self-defeating because it claims to know at least one truth: that you can’t know truth.

The disciples of postmodernism simply affirm no particular truth. The patron saint of postmodernism—Frederick Nietzsche—described truth like this: “What then is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms … truths are illusions … coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.” Ironically, although the postmodernist holds coins in his hand that are now “mere metal,” he affirms at least one absolute truth: the truth that no truth should be affirmed. Like the other worldviews, postmodernism is self-defeating and cannot stand up under its own claim.

A popular worldview is pluralism , which says that all truth claims are equally valid. Of course, this is impossible. Can two claims—one that says a woman is now pregnant and another that says she is not now pregnant—both be true at the same time? Pluralism unravels at the feet of the law of non-contradiction, which says that something cannot be both “A” and “Non-A” at the same time and in the same sense. As one philosopher quipped, anyone who believes that the law of non-contradiction is not true (and, by default, pluralism is true) should be beaten and burned until they admit that to be beaten and burned is not the same thing as to not be beaten and burned. Also, note that pluralism says that it is true and anything opposed to it is false, which is a claim that denies its own foundational tenet.

The spirit behind pluralism is an open-armed attitude of tolerance. However, pluralism confuses the idea of everyone having equal value with every truth claim being equally valid. More simply, all people may be equal, but not all truth claims are. Pluralism fails to understand the difference between opinion and truth, a distinction Mortimer Adler notes: “Pluralism is desirable and tolerable only in those areas that are matters of taste rather than matters of truth.”

The Offensive Nature of Truth

When the concept of truth is maligned, it usually for one or more of the following reasons:

One common complaint against anyone claiming to have absolute truth in matters of faith and religion is that such a stance is “narrow-minded.” However, the critic fails to understand that, by nature, truth is narrow. Is a math teacher narrow-minded for holding to the belief that 2 + 2 only equals 4?

Another objection to truth is that it is arrogant to claim that someone is right and another person is wrong. However, returning to the above example with mathematics, is it arrogant for a math teacher to insist on only one right answer to an arithmetic problem? Or is it arrogant for a locksmith to state that only one key will open a locked door?

A third charge against those holding to absolute truth in matters of faith and religion is that such a position excludes people, rather than being inclusive. But such a complaint fails to understand that truth, by nature, excludes its opposite. All answers other than 4 are excluded from the reality of what 2 + 2 truly equals.

Yet another protest against truth is that it is offensive and divisive to claim one has the truth. Instead, the critic argues, all that matters is sincerity. The problem with this position is that truth is immune to sincerity, belief, and desire. It doesn’t matter how much one sincerely believes a wrong key will fit a door; the key still won’t go in and the lock won’t be opened. Truth is also unaffected by sincerity. Someone who picks up a bottle of poison and sincerely believes it is lemonade will still suffer the unfortunate effects of the poison. Finally, truth is impervious to desire. A person may strongly desire that their car has not run out of gas, but if the gauge says the tank is empty and the car will not run any farther, then no desire in the world will miraculously cause the car to keep going.

Some will admit that absolute truth exists, but then claim such a stance is only valid in the area of science and not in matters of faith and religion. This is a philosophy called logical positivism, which was popularized by philosophers such as David Hume and A. J. Ayer. In essence, such people state that truth claims must either be (1) tautologies (for example, all bachelors are unmarried men) or empirically verifiable (that is, testable via science). To the logical positivist, all talk about God is nonsense.

Those who hold to the notion that only science can make truth claims fail to recognize is that there are many realms of truth where science is impotent. For example:

• Science cannot prove the disciplines of mathematics and logic because it presupposes them.

• Science cannot prove metaphysical truths such as, minds other than my own do exist.

• Science is unable to provide truth in the areas of morals and ethics. You cannot use science, for example, to prove the Nazis were evil.

• Science is incapable of stating truths about aesthetic positions such as the beauty of a sunrise.

• Lastly, when anyone makes the statement “science is the only source of objective truth,” they have just made a philosophical claim—which cannot be tested by science.

And there are those who say that absolute truth does not apply in the area of morality. Yet the response to the question, “Is is moral to torture and murder an innocent child?” is absolute and universal: No. Or, to make it more personal, those who espouse relative truth concerning morals always seem to want their spouse to be absolutely faithful to them.

Why Truth is Important

Why is it so important to understand and embrace the concept of absolute truth in all areas of life (including faith and religion)? Simply because life has consequences for being wrong. Giving someone the wrong amount of a medication can kill them; having an investment manager make the wrong monetary decisions can impoverish a family; boarding the wrong plane will take you where you do not wish to go; and dealing with an unfaithful marriage partner can result in the destruction of a family and, potentially, disease.

As Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias puts it, “The fact is, the truth matters—especially when you’re on the receiving end of a lie.” And nowhere is this more important than in the area of faith and religion. Eternity is an awfully long time to be wrong.

God and Truth

During the six trials of Jesus, the contrast between the truth (righteousness) and lies (unrighteousness) was unmistakable. There stood Jesus, the Truth, being judged by those whose every action was bathed in lies. The Jewish leaders broke nearly every law designed to protect a defendant from wrongful conviction. They fervently worked to find any testimony that would incriminate Jesus, and in their frustration, they turned to false evidence brought forward by liars. But even that could not help them reach their goal. So they broke another law and forced Jesus to implicate Himself.

Once in front of Pilate, the Jewish leaders lied again. They convicted Jesus of blasphemy, but since they knew that wouldn’t be enough to coax Pilate to kill Jesus, they claimed Jesus was challenging Caesar and was breaking Roman law by encouraging the crowds to not pay taxes. Pilate quickly detected their superficial deception, and he never even addressed the charge.

Jesus the Righteous was being judged by the unrighteous. The sad fact is that the latter always persecutes the former. It’s why Cain killed Abel. The link between truth and righteousness and between falsehood and unrighteousness is demonstrated by a number of examples in the New Testament:

• For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:9–12, emphasis added).

• “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18, emphasis added).

• “who will render to each person according to his deeds; to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation” (Romans 2:6–8, emphasis added). • “[love] does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:5–6, emphasis added).

What is truth?—Conclusion

The question Pontius Pilate asked centuries ago needs to be rephrased in order to be completely accurate. The Roman governor’s remark “What is truth?” overlooks the fact that many things can have the truth, but only one thing can actually be the Truth. Truth must originate from somewhere.

The stark reality is that Pilate was looking directly at the Origin of all Truth on that early morning over two thousand years ago. Not long before being arrested and brought to the governor, Jesus had made the simple statement “I am the truth” (John 14:6), which was a rather incredible statement. How could a mere man be the truth? He couldn’t be, unless He was more than a man, which is actually what He claimed to be. The fact is, Jesus’ claim was validated when He rose from the dead (Romans 1:4).

There’s a story about a man who lived in Paris who had a stranger from the country come see him. Wanting to show the stranger the magnificence of Paris, he took him to the Louvre to see the great art and then to a concert at a majestic symphony hall to hear a great symphony orchestra play. At the end of the day, the stranger from the country commented that he didn’t particularly like either the art or the music. To which his host replied, “They aren’t on trial, you are.” Pilate and the Jewish leaders thought they were judging Christ, when, in reality, they were the ones being judged. Moreover, the One they convicted will actually serve as their Judge one day, as He will for all who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

Pilate evidently never came to a knowledge of the truth. Eusebius, the historian and Bishop of Caesarea, records the fact that Pilate ultimately committed suicide sometime during the reign of the emperor Caligula—a sad ending and a reminder for everyone that ignoring the truth always leads to undesired consequences.

________________________________________________________________

To move the definition to Truth into something that is interpreted by today’s society’s standards is dangerous and incorrect.  The focus of the question will only find its answer in God’s word defining Truth.

=> Personally, I am a participant in a small group Bible study composed of engineers and recovering engineers.  We came up with a definition of Truth (which means it is the correct view….at least that is what our spreadsheets shows).  Well, really, this came from looking at how Scripture uses the word truth – in particular after studying the book of Daniel. The definition of truth which may be the most encompassing yet simply stated –

TRUTH = that which is in agreement with God’s perfect will.  Not just what is factually true but what is factually true and good and right.

(438) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: BRIAN MCLAREN AND THE SOCIAL GOSPEL

BRIAN MCLAREN AND THE SOCIAL GOSPEL

John MacArthur discusses the Brian McLaren and the Emerging Church with its focus on the “Social Gospel”.   McLaren standard approach to many theological issues is to make the topic more confusing and he does this very well.

MacArthur discusses how these approaches today convey a seemingly simple message but it is a message which makes the Gospel less clear.

MacArthur states that the purpose of Jesus’s primary mission on the earth was to NOT to fix the world, take care of people’s physical needs, set up a church directed welfare state…etc.  He fed the people but it wasn’t an end to a means.  Rather, the purpose of Jesus time on earth was to show people how they can be saved from eternal damnation.  
The Social Gospel ends up getting people’s eyes off of heaven and the focus is on the moment instead of the eternal.  Parts 1 and 2 of MacArhur’s discussion  – 

 

 

 

 

(437) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: THE EMERGING CHURCH TODAY

THE EMERGING CHURCH – a phrase considered overused and outdated by some, but the substance of its SYNCRETIC and scattered belief systems are still with us today.  Various names are used to describe various concepts in order to appeal (so they say) to postmoderns.  Some of these descriptions include the following:

  • EMERGENT,
  • THE EMERGING CHURCH,
  • PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANITY,
  • POST-MODERN CHRISTIANITY,
  • MISSIONAL
  • POST-EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANITY….etc.

    It’s actually more dangerous when proponents use different names and Christian- sounding descriptions.  A short video summarizing these issues – 

(436) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: C&MA COLLEGES & ROMAN CATHOLICISM

ambrose

C&MA AMBROSE UNIVERSITY AND JESUIT INFLUENCE

Continuing in our series of posts on the influence of ancient Roman Catholic and Eastern Mysticism and contemplative spirituality on C&MA colleges and seminaries.

Disclaimer -no claim is made to the validity as well as the agreement of every point raised by the author of this article.  No attempt is made by me to discredit those people referenced in this post – there may be many aspects to a person’s walk in which God may be using them for His glory.  It is likely, that many of the people are dedicated to their church and with good intentions are not seeking to actively and directly promote false teaching. The intent is not to judge someone’s salvation but to open discussion on issues by looking to God through His word for answers. Likewise, to balance these statements, it may be beneficial to remember the saying –  “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

The following blog is posted by Jack Morrow – http://suspiciousberean.blogspot.ca/2012/05/ambrose-university-college-hires-jesuit.html

WEDNESDAY, MAY 30, 2012

Ambrose University College hires JESUIT-educated CONTEMPLATIVE spirituality proponent as its new president

Ambrose University College in Calgary, Alberta is the denominational school for both the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada and Church of the Nazarene Canada. 

The Ambrose-contemplative connection 

This might offer part of the explanation for the naming of an evangelical college after Ambrose of Milan.

From The Catholic Encyclopedia entry on St. Ambrose:

He delights in the allegorico-mystical interpretation of Scripture, i.e. while admitting the natural or literal sense he seeks everywhere a deeper mystic meaning that he converts into practical instruction for Christian life. In this, says St. Jerome (Ep.xli) “he was disciple of Origen, but after the modifications in that master’s manner due to St. Hippolytus of Rome and St. Basil the Great “.

This sounds a lot like the modern movement known as contemplative spirituality

St. Ambrose took a mystical approach to the Bible, and Ambrose University College does the same in at least a couple of their course offerings. From Ambrose University College‘s Academic Calendar, June edition, 2008-2009 (scroll down to page 74):

TH 661 Exploring the “Desert Experience” in Christian Spirituality

An examination of the “desert/wilderness” experience in various traditions of Christian spirituality. An integrated biblical/historical/theological/formational approach to the subject is used to assist the student in understanding the nature and purpose of the “desert/wilderness” experience in the spiritual life of the church and the individual. A special feature of the course is a one-day guided silent retreat.

TH 662 Prayer Paths to God: The History and Practice of Christian Prayer

An advanced course which studies the historical theology and practice of Christian prayer as it pertains to understanding the role of prayer within the spiritual life. The course is taught from an ecumenical perspective and includes a prayer practicum in the lectio divina (praying with scripture).

Lectio divina is a prayer technique that involves clearing your mind and then taking a passage of scripture and repeating it slowly until you have a mystical spiritual insight or communion with God. I can’t see any significant difference between lectio divina and Transcendental Meditation. Like so much of the content of evangelicalism today, this is paganism in Christian dress. 

Let’s let the Lord Jesus Christ have the last word:
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Matthew 6:7 

I previously posted on Ambrose’s affinity for contemplative spirituality; the reader may want to consult those posts for background information. 

Ambrose University College issued the following announcement on May 7, 2012:

The Board of Governors of Ambrose University College announced today that Dr. Gordon T. Smith has been appointed the next President. Dr. Smith’s term will commence August 1st, 2012.

Currently the President and CEO of reSource Leadership International,

Dr. Smith previously served as Academic Vice President/Dean and Associate Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College.

Dr. Smith brings to Ambrose experience from a three-decade career in Christian higher education. A distinguished author and pastor, Dr. Smith earned his Master of Divinity degree at Canadian Theological Seminary and a PhD in Philosophy from Loyola School of Theology, Manila, Philippines.

The Board of Governors was assisted in selecting the next president by the unanimous recommendation of the search committee, as well as by the public input the search committee solicited prior to undertaking the search. Through town hall meetings, and both direct and online submissions, the search committee gathered valuable feedback that supported the search process.

The Ambrose Board of Governors also received ratification of Dr. Smith’s appointment from the founding denominations: the Board of Directors of The Christian and Missionary Alliance and the Board of Governors of Canadian Nazarene College.

It came as no surprise to this blogger that an internet search revealed Ambrose’s new president to be a proponent of contemplative spirituality, and alarm bells went off in my mind when I noticed Loyola School of Theology in Dr. Smith’s resume. I’d never heard of the school, but I suspected that it was named after Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order, and my suspicions were confirmed by their website:

LST: A Jesuit, Filipino, and Asian Ecclesiastical Faculty of Theology

For half a century, Loyola School of Theology (LST) has been providing quality theological and pastoral education under the direction of the Society of Jesus.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online defines Jesuit as:

1: a member of the Roman Catholic Society of Jesus founded by St. Ignatius Loyola in 1534 and devoted to missionary and educational work

2: one given to intrigue or equivocation

The “Spiritual Exercises” of Ignatius of Loyola have long served as a foundation and introduction to contemplative spirituality. I haven’t read any of Gordon T. Smith’s books, but a quick glance at descriptions of some of his books leaves no doubt that Dr. Smith is a proponent of contemplative spirituality, and in particular, the “spiritual exercises” of Ignatius of Loyola:

Alone with the Lord

A guide to a personal day of prayer

This small booklet is intended to teach Christians how to spend a full day in the presence of Christ. Readers are given the opportunity to practise various spiritual disciplines and then to journal what God is speaking to them.

The Voice Of Jesus

A comprehensive exploration of the place of discernment in the life of the Christian and of the church.

Jesus takes it for granted that you will hear his voice. But how do you hear it? How do you separate it out from the cacophony of other voices you hear everyday, including those of your own desires? Is your experience of Jesus’ voice something purely subjective, or is it something you can talk about with others and have them confirm?

Building on the rich spiritual tradition that spans the diversity of history and theology from Ignatius Loyola to John Wesley to Jonathan Edwards, Gordon T. Smith helps open your ears and heart to the depths of the inner witness of the Spirit. By learning to attend to the Spirit, Smith urges, you will learn to hear and heed the voice of Jesus in everyday life.

Written with warmth and wisdom, this book speaks to the mind and heart of every Christian who longs for a closer, more intimate walk with Jesus. The pro-Jesuit site Evangelicals on the Ignatian Way listed The Voice of Jesus among its recommended books.

Dr. Garry Friesen, a professor at Multnomah Bible College in Portland, Oregon, had this to say about another of Dr. Smith’s books:

Listening to God in Times of Choice: The Art of Discerning God’s Will

Author: Gordon T. Smith

Publisher: Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997.

View: Synthesis of Traditional and Wisdom Views

The Forward is by a Jesuit who lauds the book’s insights from John Wesley and Ignatius of Loyola. Smith’s doctoral dissertation compared Wesley and Ignatius. The book is about the “art of discerning God’s will.” The main theme is that God relates to us as a friend and we must learn to listen to God’s voice in our innermost being.

Smith positions himself between the traditional view (“Blueprint school”, 15) and the Wisdom view (or “school” illustrated by Decision Making and the Will of God, 16). He rightly notes that what I call the traditional view “is recent in historical terms” (102). Smith goes back further in spiritual history to try and correct both views.

Smith rejects the traditional view which undercuts “the presence and voice of God in the times of choice” (16).” But his descriptions of the voice of God sound exactly like the traditional view: “prompting”, “impressions”, “still small voice“, “inner witness”, “subjective” speaking, “hearing God’s voice”, “peace of God”.

His mystical orientation is clear. God does not have a mouth; he does not speak audibly. Rather, God ‘speaks’ to us through our feelings, impressions left on our minds” (52). This description is much different than the biblical examples which he gives to show that God speaks to us (17-18). His examples don’t argue for impressions: Abraham Gen. 12; Samuel 1 Sam. 3:10; Balaam Num 22:21-23; Philip led by an angel Acts 8; by a prophet Acts 13:2. Smith has substituted impressions for the biblical examples of direct revelation by prophet and even audible voice…

…Smith also differs from the traditional view concerning the certainty which you can have of God’s guidance. The traditional view says that you can be certain, but Smith says, “In this life we will not have absolute, unambiguous peace and rational certainty that we have divine guidance” (65). If we are not sure, then we must “trust God and make our choices despite the lack of absolute certainty. We cannot wait until every questions is resolved before we act” (67).

Smith is realistic about how subjective his method is. Discussing the peace of God, he says, “But consolation may be from God, or it may reflect the deceitfulness of the Evil One, masquerading as good. Or it could reflect our own confused desires and misguided motives. It may even reflect nothing more than what we had for breakfast” (57).

Smith strongly urges the reader to “Test everything” (57). This helps transform his mysticism into something more like “discerning”. He encourages the believer to test every feeling, impression or sense of peace. The believer’s mind must be washed with Scripture, and motives must get a “ruthless” examination to be sure God’s glory is the goal (64). Reason must evaluate the impressions. “Reason .. guides us–but reason comes to terms with the feelings and impressions that are left on our inner person.” Our impressions should be judged by the church and he recommends a “clearness committee” (82).

His conclusion to the method of discernment is “(1) rational consideration of the options and obstacles, (2) extended time in prayer and reflection, and (3) accountability and discussion with others” (85). This is a careful process, and it is hard to imagine a sinful or foolish impression making it through the tests. The process seems to narrow you down to impressions that are wise and godly. And who is against that? I do not call such impressions the pure voice of God (nor give them authority), but anything that is wise and godly can be followed with confidence…

…His mysticism has so much muscle that it is almost palatable.

On July 20, 2011, Dr. Smith posted a paper titled Theological Education as Formation in Wisdom, which includes the following:

And the genius of a spiritual practice is the realization that transformation is incremental. Practices foster a knowledge of God, of self, of the and other and of the created order. They are a means by which we know the grace of God by which we are transformed and made new. These “patterned activities”, to use the language of Dykstra and Bass gradually and incrementally lead to transformation. And critical to this discussion is that these are not merely activities of an individual, but of a community. But the fruit of these practices is known over time, as slowly but surely the truth, wisdom, is formed within us.

But this is not a new conversation or new insight for the church. This contemporary discussion of the “practice” of theology is but a newer version of an ancient conversation, one that is eloquently captured by the brilliant study of the quest for learning and wisdom within the monastic tradition: John Leclercq’s The Love of Learning and the Desire for God. This study of monastic culture may well be more relevant than ever, partly because the monastic movement is rightly providing a counter balance to the pragmatism of western (and Evangelical) approaches to theological formation and, further, because in a post-Christian secular society, the monastic cultivated practices that may well have remarkable relevance for the church and for theological education today. Leclercq reminds us that the genius of the monastic movement was the unqualified affirmation that the purpose of study and learning and indeed of all spiritual practice is union with God in Christ…

…Second, the monastic movement made engagement with the Scriptures foundational to all learning. And yet, it is not biblicism, for their study of the Scripture was complemented by their engagement with the theology and wisdom of the church fathers – one might say that what anchored their learning was the primacy of the Scriptures, yes, but a study that was guided by the theological heritage and tradition of the church.

It is important to affirm, though, that their study of Scripture was never as an end in itself; one came to Scripture from prayer and the Scriptures in turn informed their practice of prayer. And thus the whole contemporary practice of ‘lectio divina’ is really an ancient practice, fostered by the monastic movement and an essential spiritual practice for the church today and for every student in a theological school: the capacity to read the Scriptures in prayer, with attention to grammar and exegesis, but with ultimate attention to the one who is revealed through the ancient text.

And third, what impresses us from Leclercq’s study of monasticism is that for all his celebration of the monastic approach to learning, he does not pit monasticism against scholasticism. To the contrary, he affirms that scholasticism is almost a necessary counterpart to monastic culture, with the scholastic diligent focus on the grammar of Scripture, and the recognition of the need to draw on non-Christian sources for our learning, including philosophy. Bernard of Clairveaux insisted that we are not wise until we live in the fear of God and are drawn up into the love of God. And thus monastic theology is the essential completion of scholastic theology.15 And yet Leclercq also noted that monastic theology needed

scholastic theology in order to engage the times, the culture, and social and intellectual context in which theology is to be lived and expressed. And Leclercg has an oh-so-brief a appendix in which the theological work of St. Anselm is celebrated and celebrated precisely because his genius was that he was both a scholastic – a first class scholar on the public stage – but also deeply monastic, a lover of God and a man of prayer.

And then, fourthly, we must beware of succumbing to the common stereo-type that monasticism was about disengagement and not about the call of the Gospel and of the church to mission and specifically to mission to the city and to the urban poor. In a sense it was about disengagement; one stepped aside from the demands of the world for study, prayer, contemplation and the focused practices of a disciplined Christian community. While what I have just described might be an accurate description of the Benedictine tradition – though even there, one must be cautious, in that this particular monastic tradition did have an extraordinary commitment to hospitality – this observation is simply not accurate for later monasticism. I think of the Friars, who left the cloister, whose houses of life and worship were located in the very heart of the cities, and whose lives – think of the Franciscans and the Dominicans, for example – were marked by profound commitment to the urban poor, in word and deed.

And then we have the Society of Jesus, the first apostolic order, that left the monastary,  yet sustained the commitment to prayer, study but always with the resolve to be, as they put it, “contemplatives in action.” It would not be an overstatement to describe this order as the greatest missionary order in the history of the church.

Sacred Listening: Discovering the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola

By James L. Wakefield was published in 2006. This book has a front cover endorsement by Eugene Peterson, endorsements by Open Theology heretic Greg Boyd and Jesuit Armand Nigro, and this by Gordon T. Smith:

James Wakefield has provided us with a remarkably helpful introduction to praying with the Spiritual Exercises, readable and eminently helpful, insightful and practical. Also notable: he builds on the best scholarship on the Exercises and makes it accessible to Christians of all traditions.

Gary Gilley has provided a review of this book from a solidly biblical point of view.

Among recent lectures delivered by Dr. Smith were one on March 9-10, 2012 to the contemplative Urban Sanctuary in Edmonton, and this:

February 22: Beirut, Near East School of Theology: “What Can Evangelicals and Protestants Learn from Ignatian Spirituality?”

Thomas H. Green, S.J., a professor of philosophy and theology at Loyola School of Theology, is the only speaker listed at Open Hearts, Open Minds. He and Dr. Smith conducted this joint seminar (joint seminar, that is, not debate):

DISCERNMENT, VOCATION AND SPIRITUAL DIRECTION

A joint seminar by Fr. Thomas H. Green S.J. and Rev. Dr. Gordon T. Smith

May 12, 2007 at the Bayview Glen Alliance Church

One of the great insights of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order, was in the area of discovering God’s will for our lives. His rules for discernment, incorporated into his famous work, “Spiritual Exercises,” continue to be studied, discussed and practiced today, some 500 years after they were first written. In the last few decades, there has been a resurgence of interest in retreats following the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius and in the whole area of spiritual formation and spiritual direction. Our whole-day seminar this year brings together two of the leading experts on these topics and promises to be not just informative and challenging but perhaps even life changing. Join us for a day of learning, reflection and fellowship with others on the spiritual journey.

In addition to promoting contemplative spirituality, the new president of Ambrose University College promotes sacramentalism and the social gospel. In the paper Theological Education as Formation in Wisdom, which I cited earlier, Dr. Smith goes so far as to praise liberation theology, which is just Marxism in Christian (especially Roman Catholic) dress:

When we speak of mission, we speak, at the very least, of the following:

That the mission of God is the restoration of the beauty and glory of the created order, and, even more, of the fulfilment of creation. Thus those who identify with the mission of God will speak of the concern of the church for the environment.

Also, to speak of the mission of God is to reference the one to whom all authority has been given: Jesus the Christ, who now reigns above and is inaugurating a kingdom of justice and peace.

Then also to speak of the mission of God is to speak of the church as an instrument of God to witness to and embody this kingdom. This, of course, suggests that the church is not an end, but a means to an end; and though an necessary end, it suggests that “church growth” or “denominational extension” are not at the heart of the mission of the church.

When this missional vision has been picked up by theologians and educators in theological schools in the global south what has emerged is a common theme around what is often spoke of as “transformational” leadership and ministry. And what in particular has been highlighted is that we cannot speak of mission without a commitment to justice, compassion and social responsiblity: that we witness to the reign of Christ through word and deed.

Probably no voice has emphasize the relationship between wisdom and social responsibility as profoundly as that of the liberation theologians of Latin America. Jon Sobrino, for example, speaks of “political holiness”. Our vision of life and work and wisdom must be through the lens of the in-breaking of the reign of Christ, Sobrino insists; and if we are discerning we will see that the God of all mercy, embodied in the radical mercy of Jesus, has what Sobrino and his liberationist colleagues speak of as a “preferential option for the poor”, and that indeed the poor are the locus of God’s presence in the world. Voices like that of Rene Padilla have rightly observed that when the vision of liberation theologians is one-sided and only speaks of economic justice, that it is essentially a half truth. But if the alternative is to only speak of“personal salvation” all we have is another half truth. A Padilla puts it: God loves justice, and nobody that has been born from God can remain indifferent to exploitation and injustice, poverty and huger that afflict his neighbour.” To Padilla’s credit, he was sounding this prophetic word as a lonely voice in 1974 at Laussane I, the first of three major conferences on evangelical global mission, and he was still insisting on this perspective at Laussane III, in South Africa in 2010.

I was struck recently work of the Virgina Fabella (Filipina, Maryknoll sister). In conversation with other Asian women theologians, including Chung Hyun Kyung of Korea, she speaks of doing theology in recognition of the salvific value of women’s active suffering as she cogently describes the poor women of Asia who are doubly oppressed – because of class and gender. But what her wisdom calls for is an active solidarity with these women wherein a passive identification with Christ’s sufferings leads to a struggle, in the name of Christ, on behalf of the suffering poor.

In May of 2011 I participated in a conference sponsored by the Asia Theological Association that brought together theologians and educators from Asia, Latin America and North America. And one could not miss that those from Asia and Latin America pressed the point: theological education with integrity needs to take account of the deep suffering that is found in the cities of Asia and Latin America. Urban theological education in the city has to respond to the cry of the city. And it needs to equip pastoral leaders to be agents of spiritual and social transformation in the city. And these were Evangelical theologians and church leaders insisting on this – voices that in the past might have emphasized, as Padilla put it, “personal salvation” and evangelism and church growth. Now we are seeing an insistence on the essential counterpoint between word and deed. As Leslie Newbigen has stated somewhere, when you only have half the truth you really have no truth at all and that thus we cannot pit social responsibility against each other.

And so this leads me to ask how our approaches to theological education, in both the West and the global south will bring together partnerships with compassion ministries and active approaches to social justice. Wisdom is not ultimately wisdom until it is practiced; it is not a matter of mere knowledge, but of knowledge lived, in truth and in justice. And contemporary approaches to theological education in the global south and, increasingly in the rest of the world, are recognizing that this needs to be integral to a theological curriculum.

See my post Ambrose University College and “Transformation,” and search the term at Lighthouse Trails Research Project.

Ambrose University College continues to offer courses in contemplative spirituality.

The following are listed in Ambrose’s 2012-13 calendar. The number in parentheses indicates the number of hours of instruction per week, while the letter denotes how often the course is offered: A=annually; B=biennially; O=occasionally.

REL 360 Spaces of the Heart (3) A

An advanced study dealing with selected disciplines and rhythms of the spiritual life. The content of the course includes the discussion of the nature of spirituality and the practice of various contemplative spiritual disciplines and rhythms such as meditation, fasting, solitude, silence, journal keeping, autobiographical writing, discernment, waiting and suffering.

REL 361 Streams of Christian Spirituality (3) O

A survey of the various paradigms in which the spiritual life has been understood and experienced in the Christian church from apostolic times to the present. Special emphasis is given to certain movements within Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism that have focused on the nurture of the spiritual life.

REL 364 Prayer Paths to God: The History and Practice of Christian Prayer (3) B

An advanced course which studies the historical theology and practice of Christian prayer as it pertains to understanding the role of prayer within the spiritual life. The course is taught from an ecumenical perspective and includes a prayer practicum in the lectio divina (praying with scripture).

REL 365 Into the Wasteland: Exploring the “Desert/Wilderness” Experience in Christian Spirituality (3) B

An examination of the “desert/wilderness” experience in various traditions of Christian spirituality. An integrated biblical/historical/theological/formational approach to the subject is used to assist the student in understanding the nature and purpose of the “desert/wilderness” experience in the spiritual life of the church and the individual. A special feature of the course is a one-day guided silent retreat. Note: Class Limit of 20 students

REL 366 Spiritual Companions (3) B

An advanced course that gives consideration to the practice of spiritual direction in various Christian traditions from ancient to modern times and the influence of outstanding spiritual mentors of the twentieth century. Attention is also given to the nature, objectives and dynamics of spiritual direction as experienced in a practical context.

REL 368 Exploring the ‘Dream Experience’ in Christian Spirituality (3) B

This course will survey the significance and understanding of the “dream experience” in both eastern and western Christian traditions. Special emphasis is placed on the role of the dream in the spiritual journeys of prominent Christians, the dream and death experience as well as developing a Christian approach to dream interpretation integrated with an understanding of one’s own spiritual journey.

Note: Class Limit of 20 students.

REL 371 The Church and Contemporary Spiritualities (3) B

This is a course designed to acquaint the learner with a number of influential alternative spiritualities within Western culture and to challenge the student to consider carefully the role of the Church, particularly in the light of these approaches to spirituality. Beginning with a brief history of Christian spirituality, the course then will consider some major features of contemporary spirituality outside the institutional Church, with special attention being given to the nature and function of ritual, myth/narrative (sacred texts), symbolism and sacred space. Finally, the course will move the student towards an understanding of some of the ways in which the Church can or needs to respond to the spiritual quests within contemporary society.

Charles Nienkirchen teaches REL 365; here’s an example of what Dr. Nienkerchen emphasizes:

Bridging Church and Academy: Cross-Pollinating at the Midwest CMA Prayer Retreat

March 10, 2012 – At the Elkhorn Resort and Conference Centre in Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba, Dr. Charles Nienkirchen shared insights on renewal and spiritual vitality at the annual Canadian Midwest District Prayer Retreat. 158 pastors, spouses and district staff from Christian and Missionary Alliance churches in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Manitoba engaged with Dr. Nienkirchen in public conversations, private half-hour spiritual direction sessions, and two keynote presentations. The cornerstone talks were entitled The Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Call to Transformed Living…Nothing Less and Living Heartfully: The Key to Spiritual Living with Vitality and Longevity.

Despite his full teaching schedule, Dr. Nienkirchen relishes opportunities to connect with the church outside the classroom: in fact, he views the integration as part of his overall vocation. “Doing church retreats keeps me in touch with the pulse of those who are actually walking the sidewalk of church ministry in a variety of societal contexts where they have to respond to the many faces of human need. It also allows for these church workers to hear an ‘outside voice’ and receive some fresh stimulation and possibly new perspectives through an experience of continuing education.”

With an ecumenical retreat ministry that spans more than 25 years, Nienkirchen has personally invested in exploring Christian spirituality. Sabbaticals in Oxford, England; the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem; Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary in South India; and attending a School for Spiritual Directors at a New Mexico Benedictine Abbey have taken him to spiritual and physical deserts to learn more about prayer and spiritual renewal.

It’s obvious that Gordon T. Smith is a perfect fit for Ambrose University College; the college will undoubtedly continue in its leftward and Romeward direction under Dr. Smith’s leadership.

Posted by Jack Morrow at 4:31 PM   

1 comment:

AnonymousApril 6, 2014 at 9:36 AM

As a 4th year Ambrose student it’s been disappointing. We now have banners that resemble the Ambrose icon upon walking into the school. We had a week dedicated to catholics And evangelicals on mission together. We now have a commission committed to empowering homosexuals for leadership. I cannot recognize my school anymore , this is not the school I signed up to go to. pray for Amvrose.

(435) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: Nyack, Alliance Theological Seminary, and the C&MA Called to Accountability!

Nyack Promoting New Age & Roman Catholicism?

It continues to pain me as I come across ANOTHER article that reveals information about the theological direction of the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination through their cherished institutions at Nyack and Alliance Theological Seminary.  Calling these practices and teachings into question is reasonable and long overdue. I am not trying to single out individuals to question their sincerity or question their intention.  They may be doing great things for God in other areas of their walk. But,  I do think the Bible calls us to compare what is being taught to what the word of God says.   The following article reveals that others are thinking the same way and have already put forward the questions.  This brings to mind a couple verses – 

14 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. 15 uBe diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:14-15; NKJV)

Paul warned us to continue in the things that you have learned from the beginning – a learning that originates in knowing God’s word – not ancient Roman Catholicism,  Buddhism…etc.

But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 uAll Scripture is given by inspiration of God, vand is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for 3instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Ti 3:14–17; NKJV)

The author of this article is anonymous but she draws attention to some of the important issues –

Nyack’s  Dr. Danaher Does it Again with Another Rohr Endorsement!

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 Twenty-first CenturyFr. Richard Rohr, Founding Director, Center for Action and Contemplation; and John H. Armstrong, President, ACT3 Network.  (See previous blog: “The Naked Now at Nyack.”)1512

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?  What do they share in common?  What do they each contribute to Oneing?  Why would Richard Rohr select them as contributors?  For some answers go to Amazon.com books to Oneing  and click on “Look Inside.”  Notice the “Contents” which lists articles written from Rohr’s “Introduction,” to Benner’s “Ancient Wisdom for Contemplative Living,” to Danaher’s “What’s So Perennial About the Perennial Philosophy?” to Finley’s “Epilogue.”  See the listing of each contributor with personal web sites.

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 ex-evangelical 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 Jim Wallis’ 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 co-founder 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 all-star 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 “Contemplative-Life” 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.
  • There is in the human soul a natural capacity, similarity, and longing for this Divine    Reality.
  • The final goal of all existence is UNION with this Divine Reality.

In conclusion, with the above description firmly in your mind, I would ask

  1. Why Dr. James P. Danaher can continue to teach at Nyack College, and at the same time be part of this heretical organization?  
  2. I would ask why Dr. Danaher’s newest book gets top billing on Nyack’s “Arts & Sciences” page and blog? 
  3. I would ask why such a completely unbiblical and radical journal would be pictured as news-worthy?  
  4. 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.
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SO WHAT?100_56791

=> It can be understandable to some that the concepts being discussed sound innocent enough, but woven through the words such as CONTEMPLATIVE, SPIRITUAL FORMATION, CENTERING PRAYER, SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES,….etc.  These words represent concepts similar to (or directly taken from) New Age (Eastern Mysticism) and ancient Roman Catholic mysticism.  If that is the case, there is serious error being introduced to the C&MA denomination.  
=> The last point above brings up a very important thought – what is the effect of this type of teaching on CMA students, the CMA denomination and future pastors and leaders in the church?  What effect will this have 10-15 years down the road?  With the increasing exposure by other Christians both from within and without of the denomination, how will all of these influences affect the church in the future? 
I pray that the church heeds the advice of Paul in his pastoral epistles to be diligent and teach the Word. Teach those items learned initially from the World so that you can become complete in Christ and used for his will and glory.