Critique of Matthew Dominguez' Inklings on Philosophy and Worldview: A Voice for Richard Rohr

By Marcia Montenegro, March 2022 (page 2 of 2)

The Chandelier

Using the metaphor of a chandelier, Dominguez writes that Christ is the light in each of the four bulbs (worldviews), and that all religions have light in them. Dominguez' contention is that one can find Christ in the other three worldviews.

Don Veinot (one of my two co-authors of Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret), who also read this book, pointed out that the light we may find in other religions, or what looks like light, only may reflect the light of Christ. It is not that there is an authentic light of Christ in each religion. The chandelier metaphor is perfectly suited for the Perennial Wisdom view, not for the biblical worldview.

Dominguez writes that Jesus encompasses all of reality (128). Dominguez is making a point that Christ is bigger than our understanding of him. While we cannot totally comprehend God and we do not know everything about Jesus, God's word gives a very full picture of who Jesus Christ is, a picture that meets our needs. Dominguez implies not just that Jesus can be found in other religions, but that there is additional data on Jesus in other worldviews that is not in Christianity; that is the fullness of reality.

Dominguez misuses the Matthew passage (6:22-23) about the eye as the lamp of the body by telling the reader to replace the word eye with the word worldview. There are disagreements on what this passage means but one widely accepted view is that this is an idiom about having greed or envy. This makes sense considering the preceding verses about not storing up treasures on earth, and the following verse about how one cannot serve two masters, God and the things of this world.

To use the word worldview as a meaning in this passage in Matthew does not fit the context, linguistically, culturally, or theologically, but it does fit with Perennial Wisdom.

The Bronze Serpent

When talking about Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus, Dominguez writes that Jesus referred to the bronze serpent from Numbers 21 and all that was needed was a

glance at the Fullness of reality giving himself up to restore us to our full selves....Jesus tells Nicodemus that salvation is a glance.... (140; emphasis added).

Is salvation just a glance? The passage in John 3 states:

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes will have eternal life in Him. Verses 14-15

Believing is more than a glance. The term fullness of reality appears again. This makes sense in Rohr's world because his view is that most do not see true spiritual reality but are hampered by their beliefs.

Further down, Dominguez writes about receiving the gift of perfection --- becoming the perfected version of yourself. Considering the influence of Rohr on Dominguez, I think that this perfected version of yourself and the full selves just quoted are likely the True Self taught by Rohr. This True Self is an innate self that was never separated from God, as explained in what is written in Part One. In a Christian context such language makes no sense. These terms and others in the book are red flags that should trigger investigation.

God's word teaches that those who have believed in Christ are being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), not to a perfected version of self. But Dominguez does not write about being conformed to the image of Christ.

Panentheism

In chapter 18, Dominguez writes that the universe is connected supernaturally/spiritually through the Holy Spirit of Christ. He refers to scriptures in John 17, Romans 6, and First Corinthians 1. However, the Holy Spirit is not a force or energy connecting the material world.

He points to Colossians 1:11-22 to say that Christ holding all things together means that all humanity is far more connected than it is divided (he also made this point in a podcast on Point of View, falsely equating this with monism). But Colossians is not saying that all humanity is mystically connected by Christ. It is stating that Christ upholds creation by his power. This passage is one of Rohr's favorites to misuse to support his Panentheism.

Dominguez writes that Spirituality is embedded in the material reality and material reality is embedded in spirituality, thus giving spirituality expression and shape (156). This is patently false and is Panentheism. No biblical teaching exists to support this but rather refutes it. This, however, is a favorite with Rohr. Rohr talks about reality and Christ as the amalgam of the spiritual and the material. It seems as though Dominguez has embraced Rohr's Panentheism.

Monism

Dominguez writes of flaws that would exist in theism without the light and truth of monism and without the light of idealism (164). But he has it backwards. The truths of God's world and character do not need any light or truth from monism or idealism, assuming there is even any truth in them.

God's truth and character is not lacking in any area because it is complete; it is absolute, objective truth. The love and goodness Dominguez assumes from idealism are attributes of God; God does not need to borrow from idealism or monism. Monism is a unity with no distinctions, but there are clear distinctions between God and creation.

Dominguez writes that theism needs the light of unity from monism. In a sentence that Rohr could have written himself, Dominguez states that without this light of unity from monism

religious theism creates us-verses-them attitudes.... that use rules and moralism to intentionally exclude and create an 'in' crowd and an 'out' one. In Christianity alone, this has produced thousand and thousands of denominations..... (165)

Rohr repeatedly criticizes what he says are teachings about who's in and who's out as being part of dualistic Western Christianity. This is one way Rohr denies God's wrath on sin, God's judgment, and hell. It is one of Rohr's chief accusations against the church. The reference to rules and moralism are also words that Rohr has used to accuse Western Christianity of being too focused on logic and reason, among other things.

Dominguez continues by stating that theism is beholden to the light of materialism for understanding the here and now and that without this light, Christians are too focused on spiritual salvation, heaven, and forget that Jesus was here in a physical body (165-166). But Theism does not need any so-called light from materialism to recognize physical reality and needs, or as a reminder that Jesus incarnated as man. In fact, the bodily resurrection of Jesus is the central tenet of the gospel (1 Cor. 15) and is a focus in churches, seminaries, theology books, and apologetics. The incarnation was a much-discussed topic of the early church defending the full humanity of Jesus against heresies.

Historic Christianity has always held to the importance of the bodily resurrection of Jesus in Christian theology, especially since this is connected to the biblical teaching of the Christian's own future bodily resurrection.

Dominguez channels Rohr with a harsh denouncement of Christian theism needing the other three lights to remind them that Jesus' birth was good news to all people. He claims that without the other three lights, theism tends to establish a rigid moral code and religious authority. In a very harsh statement, he writes that without the three lights of idealism, monism, and materialism, theism can create a false god and misuse religion and religious authority.

This attack on Christian Theism makes some accusations from non-Christians look pale by comparison. Christian theism does not create false gods but rather is the ground upon which such beliefs are discerned and condemned. It is also a straw man to accuse Christianity of pushing rigid moral codes and authority. Just because Christianity has been misused throughout history does not mean that those actions are endorsed by God or by God's word.

This claim about the other three lights and the attack on Christian Theism should have been sufficient to keep this book out of students' hands.

The Tortured Paradox

Christians should not assume we have all the light there is, argues Dominguez. In other words, Christianity does not have the full truth. Dominguez has just said this in the previous chapter and repeats it later on page 180. He urges readers to embrace paradox. Paradox is one of Rohr's favorite words, along with mystery and wonder, both of which Dominguez uses.

On page 169, Dominguez quotes Rohr:

the binary, dualistic mind cannot deal with contradictions, paradox, or mystery

For Rohr, that means being more nondual and inwardly focused. The binary mind for Rohr is dualistic and therefore unable to capture supposed deeper nondual truths, such as being already at one with God. Rohr rejects binary categories such as heaven/hell, sinner/saved, lost/redemption, and wicked/righteous. Yet these categories are clearly taught in God's word and throughout church history.

Dominguez echoes Rohr in his condemnation of what he terms binary and dualistic because he, like Rohr, rejects God's judgment and that separation will exist as part of God's plan (Matthew 25:31-46 and Revelation 20:11-15). But the Bible teaches that God is binary; in fact, God is the ultimate binary if that term can be used to make a point. Starting in the Old Testament, God was teaching his people that he is holy through the laws he gave regarding clean and unclean. In First Peter, we read:

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." (Verses 15-16)

The word holy comes from a word meaning different from and implies being set apart. Being holy and unholy, being the same as or different from are clearly binary.

In a podcast interview, Dominguez made the same mistake about paradox as he does in the book. He states that incorporating views from all four worldviews is a paradox we should embrace.

But a paradox is not a contradiction; a paradox is an apparent contradiction. Dominguez uses the term in speaking of actual contradictions because the first three worldviews do not complement or add to the Christian worldview. Consequently, taking from those worldviews for a Christian outlook is not a paradox; it is a contradiction, should be termed a contradiction, and should be rejected.

Not Recommended

This book, so cleverly marketed as a helpful book for Christian students, is essentially an attack on the Bible and on the historic Christian faith. But it is being used and promoted despite the undercover messages of Panentheism and Perennial Wisdom.

This is a true tale of how beliefs hostile to Jesus Christ are entering the church via ignorance, lack of discernment, apathy, and/or drift from sound doctrine.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:11

 

 

 

 

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