Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Emerging New Age Ethic/Theology of "Love" (e.g., Not Thinking Critically) -- or, What do Oprah, Rick Warren, and Ken Blanchard Have in Common? (Answer: A Course In Miracles)

One should read this update/caveat to these posts for the whole story.

(Rick Warren Part I ~ See Part II)
Oprah Winfrey will be letting out all the stops on her XM Satellite Radio program this coming year. Beginning January 1, 2008, Oprah & Friends will offer a year-long course on the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles. A lesson a day throughout the year will completely cover the 365 lessons from the Course in Miracles “Workbook.” For example, 
  • Lesson #29 asks you to go through your day affirming that “God is in everything I see.”
  • Lesson #61 tells each person to repeat the affirmation “I am the light of the world.”
  • Lesson #70 teaches the student to say and believe “My salvation comes from me.”
By the end of the year, “Oprah & Friends” listeners will have completed all of the lessons laid out in the Course in Miracles Workbook. Those who finish the Course will have a wholly redefined spiritual mindset—a New Age worldview that includes the belief that there is no sin, no evil, no devil, and that God is “in” everyone and everything. A Course in Miracles teaches its students to rethink everything they believe about God and life. The Course Workbook bluntly states: “This is a course in mind training” and is dedicated to “thought reversal.”

It is funny that the New Age and Emergent ("conservative Evangelicals") movements are so closely tied. Before we get much further, we Must introduc a man, Ken Blanchard, who was introduced to one of the largest congregations in America by one of the "bigger than life" Evangelical pastors, Rick Warren (pastor of Saddleback Church). Ken was introduced in a video clip of him visiting Saddleback. Rick said he [blanchard] was coming onto help with Rick's global P.E.A.C.E. Plan, saying he's...
"... signed on to help with the P.E.A.C.E. Plan, and he's going to be helping train us in leadership and in how to train others to be leaders all around the world." (Ray Yungen, A Time Departing, p. 163)
Before we go any further, we must get to know whom Ken Blanchard is and why this guilt by proxy is important:

Guilt by proxy: Guilt by promotion or proxy is a much more powerful premise than guilt by association. Whereas the latter shows connection through merely association, guilt by promotion or proxy shows endorsement and actual support and encouragement. (Ibid., p. 86)
We May get to know a bot more about Blanchard and his brand of Christianity by looking at books and organization he started, has endorsed, wrote forewords to of glowing reviews after Blanchard converted to Christianity. I will list here a few books that he has either glowingly endorsed or wrote a foreword to. The first book we will deal with that he wrote a foreword to is a book entitled What Would Buddha Do At Work, by Frank Metcalf. In it Blanchard wrote:
Buddha points to the path and invites us to begin our journey to enlightenment. I... invite you to begin (or continue) your journey to enlightened work. (Ibid., p. 163)
Another book that Blanchard wrote the foreword to is a book by Jim Ballard called, Mind Like Water:

In the book, Ballard describes methods for practicing Eastern/New Age meditation. Ballard states:
I signed up for the yoga meditation lessons . . . founded by Paramahansa Yogananda [a Hindu guru].... I had evidently reached a level of consciousness beyond the usual ... I continue to consider meditation far and away the most important thing I do.
And yet, of the book, Blanchard writes glowing remarks:
Jim Ballard's wonderful book Mind Like Water . . I hope that you and countless other readers will find in Mind Like Water some ways to calm your mind and uplift your consciousness.
Another book that Ken Blanchard gave glowing reviews for is a book by New Age author Vijay Eswaran, who teaches in his book In the Sphere of Silence that silent meditation and the clearing of your mind completely of any thoughts,
...if it is practiced properly, is a very powerful tool. It is not just oriented to any one religion, it is universally accepted and practiced by almost all faiths on the planet. It is through silence that you find your inner being. (Ibid., p. 164)
On Vijay's website for the book we find this endorsement by Blanchard:
Effective leadership is more than what we do; it starts on the inside. Great Leaders are able to tap inner wisdom and strength by cultivating the habit of solitude. This book is a wonderful guide on how to enter the realm of silence and draw closer to God. (Ibid.)
In yet another endorsement, Ken says on the back cover of The 10-Minute Energy Solution that the author, Jon Gordon "is a master at teaching people the power of positive energy. If you want to increase your joy and effectiveness, as well as your energy level, read this book" (Ibid., p. 165). What techniques does Blanchard endorse here? Well the book teaches how to improve energy levels through,
...meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and other such techniques. Throughout the book, Gordon quotes favorably from the Dalai Lama, meditator Daniel Goleman, Thich Nhat Hanh, New Agers Marilyn Ferguson and Wayne Dyer, and from A Course in Miracles. Gordon promotes panentheism (God in all) by saying things such as: "You came from this source [speaking of God] and you are this source? (Ibid.)
Ahhh, full circle, what is A Course in Miracles? The Watchman Expositor has this little quick intro to this work:
In October 1965, Helen Schucman, an associate professor of medical psychology at Columbia University in New York, began receiving channeled messages from a speaker who would later identify himself as Jesus Christ (A Talk Given on `A Course In Miracles', Kenneth Wapnick, May 9, 1981, p. 10). For the next ten years the voice is said to have dictated "in an inaudible voice" the three volume, 1,188 page, 500,000 word book known as A Course In Miracles (Psychology Today, September 1980, p. 75).

One of Schucman's colleagues was Dr. William Thetford, a clinical psychologist at Columbia University. While he never heard the voice, he was instrumental in the publication of the Course. Raised in the Christian Science church, Thetford believed the Course was a representation of the "original teachings of Jesus" (The Holy Encounter, Sept./Oct. 1990, p. 5).

In 1972, Schucman and Thetford meet Dr. Kenneth Wapnick of the Foundation for Inner Peace. The Copyright for the Course was turned over to Wapnick and his organization in 1975. This action is followed in September of the same year with the publication of the first edition of A Course In Miracles (Ibid, p. 7).
Put simply, this channeled work is a prime example of the literal doctrine of demons (1 Tim 4:1). The Urantia book is another prime example, as is the Book of the Law, by Alistair Crowley. Another channeled work was done by Carl Jung, who channeled an entities wordsduring a three day (evening) session. Jung self-reportedly channeled and transcribed Basilides words. The finished work was more than an exercise in automatic writing -- the contents have been described as a "core text in depth psychology." One Curmodeon wrote this about it:
....Through the profound influence of this haunting, Jung wrote a short essay called the Septem Sermones ad Mortuous (the Seven Sermons to the Dead) , under the pseudonym Basilides (a second Century Gnostic writer). In his autobiography, Jung says that “I was compelled from within, as it were, to formulate and express what might have been said by Philemon. This was how the Septem Sermones ad Mortuous with its peculiar [Gnostic] language came into being.”[vii] The sermons are directed at deceased Christian souls who arrive at the Jung household because they have failed to find liberation through the church. The first six sermons present a Gnostic world view, and prepare the dead for the final sermon. Here, Jung tells them to stop seeking salvation outside of themselves, but to look inward toward the “innermost infinity,” which is also referred to as the inner “Star” or the “one guiding god.” Having received this revelation, the restless dead disappear and rise into the night sky, apparently to find their own inner stars. Jung’s sun worship and Gnostic predilections appear in full force in this essay.[viii]
Much more could be documented to establish Jung’s deeply anti-Christian world view. Surely, the burden of proof lies on anyone who would attempt to draw healing waters from such a polluted well. (Douglas Groothuis, "Carl Jung: Beware," The Constructive Curmudgeon, July 22, 2006)
Who would draw from such a poisoned well? Isn't the onus on them and those who taught them?
In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in "muchness" and "manyness," he will rest satisfied. Psychiatrist C. G. Jung once remarked, "Hurry is not of the Devil; it is the Devil."
We simply must become convinced of the importance of thinking and experiencing in images. It came so spontaneously to us as children, but for years now we have been trained to disregard the imagingtion, even to fear it. In his autobiography C. G. Jung describes how difficult it was for him to humble himself and once again play the imagination games, of a child, and the value of that experience. Just as children need to learn to think logically, adults need to rediscover the magical reality of the imagination.
(Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (1978), pp. 13 and 22 respectively).
Remember, this same "Christian" told us that this meditative prayer (often called centering prayer or contemplative prayer) has the ability to do the following, seemingly speaking from his own experience:
After awhile there is a deep yearning within to go into the upper regions beyond the clouds. In your imagination allow your spiritual body, shining with light, to rise out of your physical body. Look back so that you can see yourself lying in the grass and reassure your body that you will return momentarily. Imagine your spiritual self, alive and vibrant, rising up through the clouds and into the stratosphere. Observe your physical body, the knoll, and the forest shrink as you leave the earth. Go deeper and deeper into outer space until there is nothing except the warm presence of the eternal Creator. Rest in His presence. (Ibid., 27)
We can see where Jung's imagination brought him, and where it brings Richard Foster, who ends his book calling us to "imagine," take note of the capitalization of New Age in this "Christians" writings:
We of the New Age can risk going against the tide. Let us with abandon relish the fantasy games of children. Let's see visions and dream dreams. Let's play, sing, laugh. The imagination can release a flood of creative ideas, and exercising our imagination can be lots of fun. Only those who are insecure about their own maturity will fear such a delightful form of celebration. (Ibid., p. 170)
So my question is, was Richard Foster a pagan, non-Christian when he published this first edition, and now magically he is with the publishing of the 25th anniversary edition?

Much like a politician whom might say, if you are against Obama's policies, you must be racist, or the Bushite who says if you are against the Iraq war effort you must be unpatriotic -- Richard Foster uses the immature card for those who disagree, making himself out to be a theological elite. Poppycock! So what about Ken, is there more depressing news about him? Of course there is. Ray Yungen  in his excellent book A Time of Departing: How Ancient Mystical Practices are Uniting Christians with the World's Religions (where much of this information came from) seals up any doubt on the nature of Blanchard's beliefs by noting that for the entire relationship he has had on training people at Saddleback for Rick Warren, he was on a board at an outright New Age organization (p. 165 of Ray's book):
But perhaps Blanchard's most telling involvement with the New Age is his role with an organization called The Hoffman Institute, home of the Hoffman Quadrinity Process. Not only has he given a, strong endorsement for the program, saying (after he partook of it) that it "made my spirituality come alive" but is also a current board member of the Hoffman Institute, along with several New Agers. This is an organization that was founded by a psychic and is based on panentheism (i.e., God is in all) and meditation! In the book, The Hoffman Process, the institute's mystical perspective is laid out clearly:
I am you and you are me. We are all parts of the whole.... You can use a short meditation to remind yourself of this connection to all others in this world of ours.... As you breathe, feel that breath coming from your core essence.... When you are open to life, you start noticing the divine in everything.
I wish to quote a bit more on Rick Warren from another author's dilligent work. Some of it may be repetition of what we covered here, but there is much more. This info comes from a book I highly recommend entitled Contemplative Mysticism: A Powerful Ecumenical Bond, by David Cloud. David may be a little to rigid or legalistic on peripheral doctrines (like women not being able to even teach Sunday school for instance), but we agree on the essentials, where I argue that the Rick Warrens and Richard Fosters of the world are compromising these essentials in the name of conservative theology. I will again post a list of subjects I drew from the books he dropped off to me and a theologian that he and I discussed (and he defended as "conservative," in the theological sense, not in the political sense) pastor from my past church) at the end for confirmation that the church I attended is headed down a dangerous path. Here is Cloud's summation (pp. 185-187), and please keep in mind that Blanchard became a "Christian" in the mid-eighties:
Rick Warren has yoked up with mystic Ken Blanchard on various occasions, and Blanchard is intimately associated with New Age paganism. Blanchard visited Saddleback in 2003 and Warren told the church that he had “signed on to help with the P.E.A.C.E. Plan, and he's going to be helping train us in leadership and in how to train others to be leaders all around the world” (Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, pp. 162, 163). Warren teamed up with Blanchard in the Lead Like Jesus conferences and audio series. Warren used Blanchard's materials in a Preaching and Purpose Driven Life Training Workshop for Chaplains at Saddleback in 2004 (A Time of Departing, p. 167). Warren also endorsed Blanchard's book Lead Like Jesus.

Blanchard, in turn, has strong New Age associations. He wrote the foreword to the 2007 edition of Ballard's book Little Wave and Old Swell, which is inspired by Hindu guru Paramahansa Yogananda. This book is designed to teach children that God is all and man is one with God. In the foreword Blanchard makes the following amazing statement: “Yogananda loved Jesus, and Jesus would have loved Yogananda.” I was a disciple of Yogananda before I was saved, and there is no doubt that he did NOT love the Jesus of the Bible!

Blanchard's recommendation appears on the back cover of Deepak Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. He wrote the foreword to Ellen Ladd's book Death and Letting God, which promotes clairvoyance. He endorsed the 2005 book Zen of Business Administration, which is subtitled “How Zen practice can transform your work and your life.”

Blanchard joined members of the New Age occultic project The Secret in January 2008 for a one-day seminar entitled “Your Best Year Ever” (“Ken Blanchard Joins 'The Secret' Team,” Lighthouse Trails, Jan. 14, 2008). Rhonda Byrne, the author of The Secret, thanked “Esther Hicks and the teachings of Abraham.” Abraham refers to a group of spirit guides that Hicks channels. The Secret teaches the New Age doctrines that man is god. “You are God in a physical body ... You are all power ... You are all intelligence ... You are the creator” (p. 164).

Lighthouse Trails wisely observes:
“Did Rick Warren know of Blanchard's sympathies when he brought him in to help at Saddleback? Of course he did. And do you think that Rick Warren and Ken Blanchard are going to train their 'billion' soldiers for Christ how to practice New Age mysticism and learn how to go into altered states of consciousness? You bet. And that is definitely something to be concerned about” (“Rick Warren Teams up with New Age Guru,” Lighthouse Trails, April 19, 2005).
Warren is also closely associated with New Age mystic Leonard Sweet. He teamed up with Sweet in 1994 to produce the Tides of Change audio set published by Zondervan. A photo of Warren and Sweet are pictured on the cover. Warren endorsed Sweet's book Soul Tsunami, the endorsement appearing on both the front and back covers. Warren invited Sweet to speak at the 2008 Saddleback Small Groups Conference called Wired.

Sweet promotes a New Age spirituality that he calls New Light and “the Christ consciousness.” He describes it in terms of “the union of the human with the divine” which is the “center feature of all the world's religions” (Quantum Spirituality, p. 235). He says it was experienced by Mohammed, Moses, and Krishna. He says that some of the “New Light leaders” that have led him into this thinking are New Agers Matthew Fox, M. Scott Peck, Willis Harman, and Ken Wilber, plus the Catholic-Buddhist Thomas Merton. In his book Quantum Spirituality Sweet defines the New Light as "a structure of human becoming, a channeling of Christ energies through mindbody experience" (Quantum Spirituality, p. 70). He says humanity needs to learn the truth of the words of Thomas Merton, "We are already one" (Quantum Spirituality, p. 13). Sweet draws heavily from Catholic mysticism. He says:
"Mysticism, once cast to the sidelines of the Christian tradition, is now situated in postmodernist culture near the center. ... In the words of one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century, Jesuit philosopher of religion/dogmatist Karl Rahner, `The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, one who has experienced something, or he will be nothing"' (Quantum Spirituality, 1991, p. 11).
Observe, then, how close are the ties between contemplatives and the New Age! And contemplative spirituality is the bridge.

This is only a tiny glimpse into this frightful matter. Rick Warren does not believe that all religions worship the same God or that man is God, but his enthusiasm for contemplative practices and his lust for the newest thing have brought him and his followers into close association with those who do. He is promoting the same type of "spiritual" practices that are nurturing the New Age and his thinking is being corrupted by being this illicit association. Evangelicals who are reading and recommending books by mystics would be wise to take heed to this warning. If they delve into Catholic contemplative practices they are in great danger of being corrupted by this illicit endeavor.
I think this may make my case about Rick Warren, I think we should all cock our collective head and wonder why a church via their pastor's (plural) recommend works by Henry Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Richard Foster, Rick Warren, Ken Blanchard, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, Shane Claiborne, Brian McLaren, Beth Moore, and the like. When you see names like this start to pop up at official and non-official church functions and recommended as "normative" literature a believer should read, then its time to look closer and ask yourself this question, "How can I Think Biblically, Critically, and compare what people say about the Word of God to the Word of God." You should be able to discern whether these items on the following list combined is an attack on the central tenants of our faith:
  1. that the first three miracles in John were inserted by writers to “woo in pagans,” as they are themselves adopted from pagan stories (so John lied to save souls... the "greater good" thing, or, the church at a later date corrupted Scripture in order to save souls, so which parts of Scripture are not corrupted?);
  2. the Virgin Birth was also a deep seated fear of sexuality and not really a miracle;
  3. books that teach that penal substitution as a vile doctrine;
  4. that Hell is not a place for persons to be placed after a future judgment, and that Hell is actually here now and that we must bring in God’s Kingdom (separate from that future judgment);
  5. these books say we do not have the Gospel right yet;
  6. they teach that traveling to Buddhist temples and practicing meditative techniques in these temples is Christian;
  7. they show that many of the practices rejected by the Reformers are in fact useful to the Christian;
  8. they show that Yoga can make one closer to God and to realize and experience the “divine;”
  9. they teach that the doctrines of the Trinity, nature of Christ, nature of Scripture, and the nature of marriage are “still on the table,” doctrinally;
  10. teach that Paul was really communicating Platonism and not bringing us Scripture;
  11. altered states of consciousness gained through "centering prayers" brings you closer to God;
  12. I could go on...
You can say that these types of positions challenge the essentials. "Church, where is your discernment?" Keep in mind I stayed at NP for quite some time after this first encounter with this movement at NP. I realized it ran much deeper than I thought, and my almost 12-year tenure came to an end with the use of a particular book with the men's college group.  All the above and following and previous posts on this topic are to encourage and give resources to my freinds at NP to discern what is on the horizon, as well as a resource for the many dedicated readers here at RPT, whom I thoroughly enjoy and respect.

Speaking of resources, here are a few recommends:

The Big Four


This post is dedicated to the following Scriptures about defending and fighting for the essentials:

If you do not know what the difference between Law and Gospel is, I encourage you to listen to a critique of a Dallas Willard Q and A with students:"Is Dallas Willard a Christian"