(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.  

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