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By Ken Silva
 
" 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men' " [1]
 
In this series I will present conclusive evidence that there are those in and around Emergent-US who have found the emphasis on "Christian" mystic traditions–a core doctrine of the theology of the Emerging Church–fertile ground in which to plant neo-pagan spiritual elements absolutely hostile to the historic Christian faith. We will begin to look at Brian McLaren's involvement with the "living spiritual teacher" Alan Jones, who has been connected to this Emergent "conversation" through his decided influence on McLaren's theology. You will begin to see how the inner transformation of "enlightenment" or satori as in Zen Buddhism is going to figure in the theological agenda of the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Emerging Church.
 
Apostolic Approaches To Spirituality?
We have established in previous articles that "Christian" mysticism and its spiritual disciplines/practices are an integral part of the theology of the Emerging Church. Emergent-US Coordinator and theologian Tony Jones tells us in his book The Sacred Way about various "contemplative approaches to spirituality" that he encourages youth ministers to teach our young. Among them are "Silence and Solitude," "Sacred Reading," "The Jesus Prayer," "Centering Prayer," "Meditation," "The Ignatian Examen," "Icons," "Spiritual Direction," and "The Daily Office." [2]
 
Jones further tells us that "the Jesus Prayer," and "Centering Prayer" arose through "the reflections and writings of the Desert Fathers." [3] One might also observe there is no mention of this being an Apostolic doctrine nor is there reference to Christ or His Apostles employing these practices for the simple fact that it wasn't and they didn't. And we have previously noted that Jones equates "Centering Prayer" here with "Contemplative Prayer" as taught by Richard Foster.
 
My Emerging Methodology
Let us stop right here and shift our focus onto this idea of "spiritual transformation." Herescope, a fine ministry headed by CWN columnists Lynn and Sarah Leslie, has done a great job exposing the outward intellectual transformation going on in a so-called "new paradigm." My work has been the discussion of a parallel process of an inward transformation that occurs through "Contemplative/Centering Prayer" which is but transcendental meditation dressed up in Christian terminology. 
 
This is the reason I have brought up another friend of Brian McLaren, Renovare's Richard Foster, whose organization is providing "practical training for transformed living." We will discuss Foster himself a bit later in the series when we return more specifically to the issue of Centering Prayer aka Contemplative Prayer. But for now in the matter of the Emerging Church there is little use to present a Biblical apologetic due to their largely being neo-orthodox (or worse) in their view of Scripture.
 
So what I am doing instead is building a case of evidence against this infiltration of counterfeit Christianity through Brian McLaren and his Emergent Church that I pray just might find its way to one influential leader within the Evangelical community who has enough guts to take it from here. Until this happens I feel led that I have no choice but to continue to turn over rocks and uncover what I see as the tactics used by Emergent leaders–particularly McLaren–to introduce their version of Gnostic spirituality deeper into the mainstream of the Church of Jesus Christ.
 
The Emerging Transformation
This whole matter is all tied up with the idea of transformation, also referred to as "spiritual enlightenment." It is my contention that McLaren is in agreement with two "living spiritual teachers" from the Living Spiritual Teachers Project (LSTP), the Very Reverend Alan Jones of Grace Cathedral, and fellow of The Jesus Seminar Dr. Marcus Borg when they speak of this spiritual transformation. What needs to be understood here is that in their mind to be transformed has nothing to do with the way this word is commonly used within the confines of historic Christian doctrine in which a believer in Christ is "born again" (regenerated) and thus transformed by God the Holy Spirit. It is also important to note that all of these men deny the vicarious penal substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross.
 
I believe the evidence from McLaren's own peculiar writings–and even more peculiar spiritual associations–will show that these "living spiritual teachers," as well as McLaren himself, are viewing transformation consistent with the Zen Buddhist concept of one becoming spiritually "enlightened." At this point someone might object that what Jones and Borg have to say is irrelevant; but since we are discussing the mystic spiritual nature that is integral to the theology of the Emerging Church, and Brian McLaren himself cites their work, then this goes to the possible motive he might have for pushing this particular "theological agenda."
 
We'll cover this in more depth next time but in closing it is simply beyond dispute that McLaren clearly signifies his approval of Alan Jones' teachings in his ringing endorsement of Jones' book Reimagining Christianity when the Emergent leader says:
 
It used to be that Christian institutions and systems of dogma sustained the spiritual life of Christians. Increasingly, spirituality itself is what sustains everything else. Alan Jones is a pioneer in reimagining a Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality. His work stimulates and encourages me deeply. [4]
 


[1] Mark 7:6-7.

[2] Tony Jones, The Sacred Way, (Zondervan 2005), p. 5.

[3] Ibid., p. 70.

[4] Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity, (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005), back cover, emphasis mine.

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