The Emergent "ONE"

By Rev. Ken Silva,

Apprising Ministries, April 23, 2006

Home | Articles | Emerging 'Christianity' - Part 2: From Gnostic Roots to Occult Revival

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Through the contemplative spirituality currently infesting the Christian community through new evangelicalism today we are seeing a new Gnosticism emerging through mystic encounters allegedly with God. However, as you will come to see this idea of a mystical union of the soul with God that is common to many Eastern and Western strains of contemplative meditation is not really so new at all. As we look at some of the Gnostic teachings about “the One” from an ancient Greek philosopher by the name of Plotinus you will begin to notice a remarkable similarity to the type of mystical musings about “the Divine” coming from men like Brian McLaren and Richard Foster of the Emergent Church.
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10).

Emergent Gnosticism

I will spare the reader an in depth theological treatise on all that is contained within Gnosticism. The idea here is simply to remind you that the mortal wound of contemplative spirituality which is inherent in The Ecumenical Church of Deceit is only bringing this recycled Gnostic neoplatonism back into battle with the historic orthodox Christian faith. These deceiving spirits and things taught by demons were present long before Christ stepped upon His planet. However, as soon as God established His Church these satanic forces engaged in an immediate attack upon the infant Body of Christ through what has come to be known as Gnosticism. enlightens us a bit about Gnosticism which:

held that human beings consist of flesh, soul, and spirit (the divine spark), and that humanity is divided into classes representing each of these elements. The purely corporeal (hylic) lacked spirit and could never be saved; the Gnostics proper (pneumatic) bore knowingly the divine spark and their salvation was certain; and those, like the Christians, who stood in between (psychic), might attain a lesser salvation through faith…The influence of Gnosticism on the later development of the Jewish kabbalah and heterodox Islamic sects such as the Ismailis is much debated.

You will note the phrase “the divine spark” which itself has reemerged in contemplative circles of various persuasions today, and the “debated” influence of Gnosticism with Judaism and Islam just happens to be found among the mystic strains of each. And later on in the above article from we read:

Gnosis (γνώσις) refers to knowledge of the second kind. Therefore, in a religious context, to be 'Gnostic' should be understood as being reliant not on knowledge in a general sense, but as being specially receptive to mystical or esoteric experiences of direct participation with the divine. Indeed, in most Gnostic systems the sufficient cause of salvation is this 'knowledge of' ('acquaintance with') the divine. This is commonly identified with a process of inward 'knowing' or self-exploration, comparable to that encouraged by Plotinus (ca. 205–270 CE)(emphasis mine).

It truly is as God the Holy Spirit unmistakably tells us in our opening text – The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us (KJV). And one aspect of something that was here already, long ago is the philosophy of neoplatonism I mentioned a moment ago. In the Evangelical Dictionary Of Theology we discover neoplatonism is:

The principle form of Greek philosophy from the third to the sixth centuries A.D. It is usually described as founded by Plotinus (205-70), but perhaps a more accurate statement would be that Plotinus was the most creative thinker within later Platonism (821, emphasis mine).

In this discussion it’s not important as to all that neoplatonism is because at this point I only wish to draw your attention to what Plotinus taught. Wikpedia gives us some important background information we will need to better understand how the teachings of Plotinus are now reemerging through those who are practicing the meditation of contemplative spirituality:

Plotinus taught that there is a supreme, totally transcendent "One", containing no division, multiplicity or distinction; likewise it is beyond all categories of being and non-being. The concept of "being" is derived by us from the objects of human experience, and is an attribute of such objects, but the infinite, transcendent One is beyond all such objects, and therefore is beyond the concepts that we derive from them. The One "cannot be any existing thing", and cannot be merely the sum of all such things… Thus, no attributes can be assigned to the One (emphasis mine).

Contemplative Spirituality And Counterfeit Unity

Please know this work will be ongoing and adapting as further information surfaces. As I have been led into the study of the Emergent Church it has required me to also examine the issue of contemplative spirituality that is undoubtedly an integral part of this neopagan cult which is now growing within the evangelical church. The lateness of the hour necessitates a boldness and a frankness that is obviously unsettling for many. In the spirit of – If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18), I am sorry that this type of research is upsetting to some, but I do not apologize for the findings of the investigation itself.

It seems as fast as I turn over a spiritual rock that Brian McLaren or his friend Richard Foster are trying to hide under then something else comes scurrying out into the Light. The Church of our Lord has been hearing a clarion call to discernment lately, and that even from some of its more conservative and non-controversial leaders, so she truly has no excuse for allowing these men from Emergent to lead her youth astray. That issue however is for a different day. Right now I continue to alert you to the reemergence of the mystic Gnosticism that has now arrived inside the walls of our Lords Church through contemplative spirituality. A secret, special “knowledge” for the spiritually “enlightened,” the very concept of which already being condemned in first century Scripture such as the Books of Colossians and1 John.

Those who have been dabbling in the transcendental meditation of Contemplative/Centering Prayer are all beginning to sound like each other in a counterfeit unity. And Lord willing, as time goes on I (and others) will be showing you that this is true whether its meditation in so-called “Christian” mysticism, Sufi Islam, Jewish mysticism, or the spirituality of the New Age/New Light. Oh sure, many voices are raised shouting: “This is but guilt by association!” If you happen hold that view, I tell you what, why don’t you take a trip to the local penitentiary and see how many are incarcerated therein from cases where they were also proven guilty of breaking the law through the associations they had made with others who were themselves committing crimes.

Today I encourage you to take a look at the evidence that has been coming from other discernment ministries long before I showed up. Men and women, prayerfully examine it for yourselves by following some of the links provided for you on the front page here as AM. The people today who participate together in seeking this special knowledge (gnosis) and direct revelation from God apart from the Bible through this contemplative spirituality are all coming to the same conclusions as those who taught various strains of Gnosticism before them. Have we really become so spiritually dull in the Christian community that we can’t see this? If so, this is a sad, sad state of affairs and we will only be able to stand by helplessly as a whole generation of our young will be lost to spiritual deceptions already refuted in the Bible itself!

The Story Of Mystic Mysteries

Before we get into more specifics next time concerning what exactly contemplative meditators are saying let’s give you a quick idea of what Plotinus taught through what is called neoplatonism. For instance the doctrine of God currently espoused by Emergent Guru McLaren’s associates, the “Living Spiritual Teachers” Alan Jones and Marcus Borg, sounds virtually identical to that taught by this ancient Greek philosopher. Wikpedia tells us that Plotinus taught that God, whom he called “the One,” is:

is the source of the world not through any act of creation, willful or otherwise, since activity cannot be ascribed to the unchangeable, immutable One… Plotinus offers an alternative to the orthodox Christian notion of creation ex nihilo ('out of nothing'), which would make God suffer the deliberations of a mind and actions of a will. Emanation ex deo ('out of God'), confirms the absolute transcendence of the One, making the unfolding of the cosmos purely a consequence of its existence;…

Here we see the gernimation of the mystic idea that the “immutable One,” or “the Divine,” as many contemplatives will refer to God, is so “mysterious” He is ultimately beyond our comprehension. Let’s not wrestle with the serpent here because obviously there is truth to the idea that we finite beings cannot comprehend the infinite God on our own. The point to focus on here is we are seeing a return to this exact type of humanistic philosophy through these mystic encounters described by contemplatives as diverse as Marianne Williamson to Brian McLaren to Thich Nhat Hahn. And these alleged “emanations” taught by Plotinus also give us a key to understanding this idea taught by various mystics about the different “stories” we all supposedly have of this “One” unknowable God in our various “faith traditions.”

Concerning his teaching about “these emanations” we read further that:

Plotinus uses the analogy of the Sun which emanates light indiscriminately without thereby "lessening" itself, or reflection in a mirror which in no way diminishes or otherwise alters the object being reflected.
The first emanation is Nous ('Thought'), identified with the "demiurge" in Plato's Timaeus. From Nous proceeds the "World Soul", which Plotinus subdivides into "upper" and "lower", identifying the lower aspect of Soul with Nature. From the World Soul proceed individual human souls, and finally, matter, at the lowest level of being and thus the least perfected level of the cosmos. Despite this relatively negative assessment of the material world, Plotinus asserted the ultimately divine nature of material creation since it ultimately derives from the One, through the mediums of Nous and the World Soul.
The essentially devotional nature of Plotinus' philosophy may be further illustrated by his concept of attaining "ecstatic" union with the One. Porphyry relates that Plotinus attained such a union several times during the years he knew him. This may be related, of course, with "enlightenment", "liberation", and other concepts of mystical union common to many Eastern and Western traditions. Many scholars have compared Plotinus' teachings to the Hindu school of Advaita Vedanta, (advaita "not two", or "non-dual")(emphasis mine).

Union With The “One”

As we explore this subject further I’ll bring together teachings by various people involved with contemplative spirituality and you will see for yourself they are consistent with the Gnosticism taught above by Plotinus. Terms like “World Soul,” the “divine nature of the material world,” and the “ecstatic” or “mystical union” with the One (allegedly God) are all consistent with what you will find in works from Richard Foster, Teresa of Avila, and even Barbara Marx Hubbard. You think I jest? In closing out this first installment we consider this from the website for One: The Movie which made its debut last year:

Early one morning, in April, 2002, a middle-aged father of three from Michigan suddenly awoke from a sound sleep, overcome by a strange compulsion... to make a movie…
The Power Of One: The original format for the movie was not initially well defined. Only that it would somehow involve asking a specific set of questions to people from all walks of life to get many perspectives, and this together with a mix of music and images would tell a story.
What was well defined from the outset became the theme of the project: We Are All One. The energy of Oneness would be the force to carry the day… In an increasingly divided world... the power of Oneness is longing to emerge;… (emphasis theirs)

And then there is more, ONE: The Conference which is to be held May 5 & 6, 2006 and:

is the next step on the journey to awakening Oneness. Come join the filmmakers and featured interviewees from the movie in an interactive conference setting—which will include music and never-before-seen, extended footage from the project—and help us carry the work of Oneness into the world (emphasis mine).

Among the presenters is Barbara Marx Hubbard who:

is a communicator of humanity's potential to evolve. As an author, speaker, social innovator and spiritual pioneer, she has established the new field of conscious evolution. Her evolutionary perspective suggests a way through our global crises toward an immeasurable future (emphasis mine).

And please keep in mind here that my intent is not so much to thoroughly cover people like Hubbard, who is unquestionably a teacher of New Age spirituality, as it is to show you that even the very title of this project ONE itself harkens back to the Gnostic neoplatonism as taught by Plotinus. And the Lord is my witness here, what you need to know is that I had absolutely no knowledge of this endeavor involving Hubbard when I began this article today. In my mind the Holy Spirit gave me an assist by leading me while I simply did a Google search using the words “world soul barbara marx hubbard” and up popped this information which has now confirmed the direction of this particular work.

And as a little preview of where we are headed consider this from a page at One The entitled “Meet the voices of One.” Among the voices are some very familiar names: Hubbard, Deepak Chopra, Ram Dass, and wouldn’t you know it, three more of those “Living Spiritual Teachers” that our Emergent Guru Brian McLaren is so enamored with: Roman Catholics Thomas Keating, Richard Rohr and Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hahn.


Copyright © 2005 by Ken Silva. All rights reserved. 

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