Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Feminist Extremism, Eastern Concepts in Youth Specialties and Gaia in Emergence

(Imported from the Museum of Idolatry)

ArtemisWhat happens when seminaries abandon the Bible and no longer proclaim and defend the scriptures as the inerrant, authoritative, inspired Word of God? Answer: those same seminaries wander off in to spiritual asininity (Eph. 4:14). Here's a prime example of this from Union Theological Seminary:
"Once honored for voicing substantive theology in the Reformed tradition, Union Theological Seminary’s 2010 Sprunt Lectures will feature a feminist speaker who favors replacing the cross with a lactating breast. The event will occur May 3-5 on the seminary’s Richmond, Va., campus. Union is one of 11 seminaries that are officially related to the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Sprunt Lecturer Margaret R. Miles is emerita professor of Historical Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkley, Calif. Employing a title reminiscent of the denominationally sponsored Re-Imagining God Conference in 1993, Miles’ topic is “Revisioning Historical Theology.”

“Although theologians may have claimed that crucifixion scenes exhibited the extremity of God’s love for humans, it was scenes of the child sucking at the breast that spoke to people on the basis of their earliest experience,” she said. This symbol was replaced by the cross, argued Miles, when patriarchal Western Europeans “secularized the breast.... Miles suggested that the cross is inappropriate as a symbol of God’s love because `it presents a violent act as salvific.'
...(read more)...

Excerpt from article in regards to the Re-Imagining God Conference in 1993 (linked through photo) (see also):

....As stated earlier, a number of what appeared to be unrelated issues converged at the Minneapolis conference. The mainline denominations besieged for many years by liberalism, neo-orthodoxy, and neo-liberalism, have become a greenhouse for nurturing such destructive elements in our culture as neo-paganism, witchcraft, New Age Movement with its corollary deep ecology Gaia (Goddess/Mother Earth), and social/political radical feminism and lesbian movements....
Youth Specialties pushing the boundaries early, via heretic Tony Jones:
Let me join the chorus of voices welcoming Tic Long back to Youth Specialties, now part of the YouthWorks world.  Tic was nothing but gracious to me over my ten years of speaking at the National Youth Workers Convention, even though I know that some of my content resulted in him and the YS staff getting grief....

....At the time, YS was publishing books by emergent authors, an arrangement created by then-publisher, Mark Oestreicher. Yac was taking some heat for that, particularly from the old guard at YS — some of the long-time speakers and authors. Doug and I had heard that, and Yac confirmed it. He said that his son, Mark’s, work on contemplative spirituality was also irksome to some of YS’s more conservative constituency.

But then — and I remember it like it was yesterday — he said, “YS has always been about pushing boundaries. That’s why we started it. It was never really about youth ministry; it was always about radicalizing the church for Jesus. It just seemed to us that youth ministry was the way to do that.”

He continued, “I’ve been afraid that we’re losing our edge, becoming too mainstream. So, you know what, if YS goes down in flames because of what you guys write, that’s great! At least we’ll be true to ourselves.”
(source quoted)

Here are a few quotes from Mark Oestreicher Lighthouse Trails compiled:
On Yoga:
"[Y]oga is really just about stretching and slowing down. Sure, yoga, I suppose, could focus on Hindi or Buddhist gods or something - but it can also focus on Christ. We received a couple stomping-mad complaints about the yoga at the National Pastors Convention, saying 'putting your body in those positions invites Hindi gods to enter your body.' I'm sorry - this just sounds like heresy to me. If we don't believe Hindi gods actually exist, then why are we concerned about them entering our bodies?"—A response to the charge that YS is embracing eastern religion by Mark Oestreicher
On Eastern Religion:
"Christianity IS an eastern religion. It has all its roots in the East! It's a bit baffling to me that people lose sight of this, and insist on creating a false separation between eastern religions and (apparently) western Christianity.—A response to the charge that YS is embracing eastern religion by Mark Oestreicher
On Contemplative Prayer:
"If a Buddhist is using a breathing exercise to bring some peace to her life, well, bless her. But that should have no bearing on whether or not I choose to focus on my God-created breath."—A response to the charge that YS is embracing eastern religion by Mark Oestreicher

"On saying words over and over again: well that sure is taken out of context. It's not like we would suggest someone grab any word ('Tree!' 'Towel!' 'Beer!') and chant it over and over again-which is her implication. There is a wonderful spiritual practice, however, of repeating a phrase from the Bible and seeing what God reveals to you about it (or about Him, or about you). It's prayer: not a chant.—A response to the charge that YS is embracing eastern religion by Mark Oestreicher

Keep in mind that the above merely shows a need for a glossary when speaking to Emergents. Here is an example to bolster the Gaia portion of the Watchman article quoted:
Of course people have pointed out these connections for quite some time. Brian was just very good at ambiguous speech and double-talk combined (postmodernism) with churches not being very good with what Walter Martin said we needed: a glossary. Walter Martin makes mention that when talking to a Jehovah Witness or a Mormon, you need to understand what they mean when they say "they believe in 'Jesus,'" or when they say "they are 'saved'." The same with McLaren and others, you need to know what they mean when they say "they believe in the 'Creeds'," "in Jesus' death on the cross," and the like, as McLaren did and does say. Thankfully Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, and Jerry Haselmayer have helped persons like myself somewhat in this regard by writing the book, A is for Abductive: The Language of the Emerging Church. I will give an example:
C is for Creation
  • What modern secularists called "nature" (a term that turned a sacred work of art into a profane source of "raw materials") and what modern Christians always linked with "versus evolu­tion" (thus turning a sacred mystery into a profane and mis­guided argument).
  • What ancient Christians viewed, along with Holy Scripture, as one of God's two primary sources of self-revelation.
  • What emerging Christians will cherish as God's art gallery in which we live and of which we are a part and for which we were created as planetary trustees and caretakers.
Later of course we get to the "action" (the "praxy" if you will) behind the emergent meaning:
... For postmoderns, it's "Mother Earth," holy ground tragically portrayed in the words of James Merrill: "Father Time and Mother Earth, A marriage on the rocks." No wonder the word environment is used less and less; it's too cold a word for this theology of "holy ground."

If our humaneness is most manifest in our relationships—with swallows and snails, with friends and enemies, with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the modern world needed mar­riage counseling big-time. The willingness to sacrifice living systems for commerce has meant that the lungs and other vital organs of Mother Earth are being cannibalized to the point where "natural" disasters are no longer "natural" but induced.

The mad weather patterns of the past decade are a byproduct of disappearing forests (at current rates of deforestation, Ecuador will be totally barren of trees in 20 years), disappearing healthy air, and disappearing ecosystems....

There are now over 130,000 religion and ecology projects in operation worldwide. Unfortunately, very few of them are emanating from evangelical churches.
So when people like Rob Bell, Ken Blanchard, Leonard Sweet, or Brian McLaren mention "Creation," Al Gore and Rosemary Ellen Guiley are thrown into the meaning and action taken from that word/concept.

To examine the statement about "sexuality" and the presenting "a violent act as salvific," I turn your attention to Bishop Jones, a favorite among Emergents and mentioned in my proposed chapter:

Alan Jones makes sure the reader understands his reservations about such a doctrine:
The other thread of just criticism addresses the suggestion implicit in the cross that Jesus' sacrifice was to appease an angry, God.[1] Penal substitution was the name of this vile doctrine. I don't doubt for one moment the power of sin and evil in the world or the power of sacrificial love as their antidote and the peculiar power of the cross as sign of forgiveness and restoration, but making God vengeful, all in the name of justice, has left thousands of souls deeply wounded and lost to the Church forever.... The Church's fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it.[2]
All this comes as no surprise since Brian McLaren surrounds himself with these likeminded people as well as recommending emphatically that Christians read Buddhist writers such as Thomas Merton.[3] Alan Jones holds an opinion on the virgin birth story as well, go figure. He believes that this story was born from an unhealthy view of sexuality rather than it being actual history:
I won't allow those who insist on a literal interpretations of these myths and doctrines to deprive me of my devotion to her. Was she literally a vir­gin: I don't know. I do know that in the old stories and commen­taries about her, virginity was often a code word for absolute dedication. Christ, in this regard, was even referred to as the archvirgin. But much of the emphasis on virginity arose from a neg­ative and destructive view of sexuality. So I doubt very much whether Mary was literally a virgin, but I know many who sincerely believe that she was.[4] 
[1] That was a straw man in case you didn’t catch it, which the “emergent critique of the modern church suffers from an over-population of,” Kevin Deyoung and Ted Kluck, Why We’re not Emergent, 151.
[2] Jones, Reimaging Christianity, 168, 132 (emphasis added).
[3] You can see a list of authors recommended by Brian McLaren on his own site. See: “‘Doubt: The Tides of Faith’ Written for Christian Single Magazine,” (last accessed 8-12-09) at Brian McLaren’s blog, (last accessed 8-12-09). I have to say, while there were some good authors recommended in the mix, I can see no benefit in recommending people like Thomas Merton unless you are trying to paganize (introduce mysticism) the Christian faith.
[4] Jones, Reimaging Christianity, 175 (emphasis added).