Earth: The Old Story, The New Story

Discernment Research Group


May 29, 2008

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"...[J]ust as your ten biological systems and trillions of cells are unified, integrated, motivated, and guided by the framing story you tell yourself as a person, our societies are unified, integrated, motivated, and driven by the framing stories* we tell ourselves as groups. These stories align the desires of billions of individuals through the three societal systems we have introduced, providing a framework within which we live and act and desire and dream. . . .If our framing story is wise, strong, realistic, and constructive, it can send us on a hopeful trajectory. But if our framing story is dysfunctional, weak, false, unrealistic, or destructive, it can send us on a downward arc, a dangerous, high-speed joyride toward un-peace, un-health, un-prosperity, and even un-life."[1]
          --Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope

"It is time for the church to take to telling stories again.... New Light embodiment means to be 'in connection' and 'in-formation' with all of creation. New Light communities extend the sense of connectionalism to creation and see themselves as members of an ecological community encompassing the whole of creation. 'This is my body' is not an anthropocentric metaphor.... [W]e constitute together a cosmic body of Christ....
     "[W]e are in symbiotic relationship with the earth. Creation spirituality is of tremendous help here in weaning us from this homocentric warp."
         --Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic
[emphasis added].

See chart HERE before reading this post

Emergent church leaders are re-packaging and marketing the Creation Spirituality myth to the evangelical church. According to Emergent church leader Brian McLaren, human beings on planet Earth need to change our "framing story." A thorough read of his latest book, Everything Must Change, indicates that Christians have to change their doctrines. He proposes that

"Jesus' message might be seen as an alternative framing story that, if believed, could save the system from suicide. . . . For Jesus to save the system, we must first, in a sense, save Jesus -- by reframing him . . . ." (p. 73) 

In McLaren's "Emerging View" Jesus "came to become the Savior of the world, meaning he came to save the earth and all it contains from its ongoing destruction because of human evil." (p. 79) [emphasis added]

McLaren says that the "world's dominant framing story is failing"
(p. 68). According to his revisionist history, Christianity is largely to blame for the world's problems of "greed, class conflict, sexual irresponsibility, ethnic hatred, religious bigotry, or nationalistic militarism that threaten us." (Ibid.) If this were true (and indeed there may be some elements of truth in this) an authentic biblical response would be repentance. But that is not McLaren's solution. His solution is a social activism "transformation" that parallels precisely the goals and activities of the New Age New World Order.

McLaren appears to be establishing a beachhead for neo-evangelicals to become aligned and intermingled with the doctrines of Gaia, the mythic story that the Earth is a sacred entity and deity. In fact, McLaren consistently references the Earth as "sacred" throughout his book (on page 142, for example, he refers to the "sacred ecosystem of God" as "the kingdom of God").

What is Gaia? One definition comes from Margaret Wheatley, a well-known Peter Drucker-connected business guru
[3] who says that we need the Gaia myth to help us with the task of developing "a new cosmic story" to replace the "old story... of dominion and control, and all-encompassing materialism."

"Throughout all time and in all societies, this goddess of creation has been known. In some cultures she has been honored, in others reviled, but she is always present at the dawn of creation. In Western thought she appears in Hesiod (about 600 B.C.) as Gaia, one among the creation trinity of Chaos and Eros.

"It is Gaia who reaches into the void that is Chaos and pulls forth life. It is Gaia who works with the creative impulse that is Eros and creates the world. She is the created universe, the mother of all life, the great partner of chaos and creativity. In modern science, she is planet Earth, a living being who creates for herself the conditions that nourish and sustain life. And in this millennial era, Gaia is us. She is the feminine energy that compels us to care about the future of Earth. She is the feminine sensibility that inspires us to dream of harmony among all beings. She is the feminine voice that yearns to speak through us of the law of love." (Margaret Wheatley, Reclaiming Gaia, Reclaiming Life in The Fabric of the Future. Conari Press, September 1998)

Margaret Wheatley was featured at the Leadership Network's "Exploring Off the Map Experience" conference in 2000 which was a pivotal encounter experience that helped to launch what became the Emergent movement. Her models and metaphors are blatantly occult.

This idea of creating a "New Story" for the planet is not a new one. McLaren has simply repackaged for a postmodern neo-evangelical audience. The "New Story" is credited to Thomas Berry's concept of "Earth Spirituality," which is totally steeped in occult doctrines. A review of Berry's works posted online
[4] shows how thoroughly Brian McLaren borrowed from Berry (McLaren also cites another Berry -- Wendell Berry).

Thomas Berry proposed that a new cosmology story, based on an evolutionary view of human nature and an emergent view of the universe, could create a new vision or "dream" for humanity's collective salvation. Adopting the feminine "Gaia" metaphor, which in Catholic Creation Spirituality is linked to Mary,[5] could facilitate spiritual and social transformation.

Likewise, McLaren proposes a new eschatology, a "rethinking" about the "second coming [of Christ] that will be characterized by violence, killing, domination, and eternal torture."
(p. 144)  And Thomas Berry proposed "fundamentally changing our governance systems," which included reconceiving the "basic institutions of government, religion, education, and business,... from which a genuine Earth Jurisprudence might eventually emerge."[6]

McLaren proposes that transformation include rebuilding community:

"Local churches, local schools, local government, and locally rooted business and other civil organizations and associations have a pivotal role in this regard -- strengthening families and communities through celebrating virtue and training people to practice it. . . . [O]ne of the most powerful ways to strengthen families and communities through virtue development begins with teaching, celebrating, and modeling a coherent, transforming framing story -- like the one found in Jesus' message of the kingdom of God -- translated. . . into the language of God's sacred ecosystem or God's global love economy." (p. 264) [emphasis added]

Putting wheels on this "New Story," Rick Warren's Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan, recently embarked upon a massive marketing maneuver, launching" 40 Days of Love" and proposing a P.E.A.C.E. coalition a supranational, suprachurch "network of churches, business, and NGOs," according to a 5/13/08 Christianity Today article. See also the recent TIME magazine article, "Rick Warren Goes Global" (May 27, 2008) [7]

Of relevance to the evangelical acceptance of these myths is the role of education in propagating the "New Story" to an entire generation of American schoolchildren via a global education curriculae. See, for example, the charts and story posted

The Truth:

"And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands." (Hebrews 1:10)

Matthew Henry, commenting on Hebrews 1:10, comparing it to Colossians 1:17 ("And he is before all things, and by him all things consist"), contrasted Christ's immutability with the world's mutability:

"This world is mutable, all created nature is so; this world has passed through many changes, and shall pass through more; all these changes are by the permission and under the direction of Christ, who made the world (v. 11, 12): "They shall perish, they shall all wax old as doth a garment; as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed."

"This our visible world (both the earth and visible heavens) is growing old. Not only men and beasts and trees grow old, but this world itself grows old, and is hastening to its dissolution; it changes like a garment, has lost much of its beauty and strength; it grew old betimes on the first apostasy, and it has been waxing older and growing weaker ever since; it bears the symptoms of a dying world.

But then its dissolution will not be its utter destruction, but its change. Christ will fold up this world as a garment not to be abused any longer, not to be any longer so used as it has been. Let us not then set our hearts upon that which is not what we take it to be, and will not be what it now is. Sin has made a great change in the world for the worse, and Christ will make a great change in it for the better. We look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Let the consideration of this wean us from the present world, and make us watchful, diligent, and desirous of that better world, and let us wait on Christ to change us into a meetness for that new world that is approaching; we cannot enter into it till we be new creatures

"Christ is immutable. Thus the Father testifies of him,
Thou remainest, thy years shall not fail. Christ is the same in himself, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever, and the same to his people in all the changes of time. This may well support all who have an interest in Christ under all the changes they meet with in the world, and under all they feel in themselves.

"Christ is immutable and immortal: his years shall not fail. This may comfort us under all decays of nature that we may observe in ourselves or in our friends, though our flesh and heart fail and our days are hastening to an end. Christ lives to take care of us while we live, and of ours when we are gone, and this should quicken us all to make our interest in him clear and sure, that our spiritual and eternal life may be hid with Christ in God."[8]


1. Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope (Thomas Nelson, 2007), pp. 66-67.

2. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic (Spirit Venture, 1994), pp. 39,124

3. See for example Wheatley's book, Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World, which has an endorsement by Ken Blanchard, business guru assisting Rick Warren with his global P.E.A.C.E. Plan: "Margaret Wheatley pushes our thinking about people and organizations to a new level."
4.Thomas Berry's Earth Spirituality and the Great Work by Andrew J. Angyal. Originally presented at Works of Love - Scientific & Religious Perspectives on Altruism, May 31 - June 5, 2003, published in The Ecozoic Reader, 3, 3 (2003): 35-44. The following is mirrored from its source at: http://www.metanexus.net/conference2003/pdf/WOLPaper_Angyal_Andrew.pdf with the permission of the author.
5. See http://conservation.catholic.org/creation_spirituality.htm, for example, which expresses concern about this development.

6. Ibid.

7. "Family is most important small group in the church, say pastors," by Katherine T Phan, Christian Post, Friday, May 23, 2008; "Rick Warren Goes Global," by David Van Biema, TIME, 5/27/08. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1809833,00.html

8.Matthew Henry's Commentary on the New Testament.

*The word "story" appears in bold, emphasis added, throughout this post.

2008 by Discernment Group


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