PERENNIAL WISDOM AND CHRISTIANITY: COMPATIBLE?

By Marcia Montenegro (page 2 of 2)

The Greater Self and Justice

Point 3: Awakening the greater Self and knowing the interconnectedness of all life in the singular Life carries with it a universal ethic calling the awakened to cultivate compassion and justice toward all beings.
Point 4: Awakening your greater Self and living this ethic is the highest goal you can set for yourself.

The third and fourth points are about the greater Self, also known as the True Self. This greater Self must awaken, and then the Self will recognize all life as part of the nondual Infinite. A call to compassion and justice is inherent in this awakening, but compassion and justice are based on human ideals, not based on the character of God or on anything expressed as a standard in the Bible.

Such a calling for man to conform to standards from non-Christian spirituality or secular ideals becomes a calling to whatever ideals are currently popular. Whether it is embracing polytheism, same sex marriage, or a gender fluid society as ideal, these become the basis for a call to compassion and justice. In contrast, Psalm 89:14 and other passages tell us that justice is from God and based on his character:

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before You.

Other passages (Ps. 37:30; Prov. 2:9, 8:20, 21:3, 15) link justice with righteousness, such as:

The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, But terror to those who practice injustice. Proverbs 21:15

How blessed are those who maintain justice, Who practice righteousness at all times! Psalm 106:3

Righteousness is the character of God that no man can attain on his own, but it is the standard. Righteousness was imputed to those in the Old Testament through faith in the true God (Romans 3:21, 4:13), and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to those who believe in him as the Son of God who died to pay the penalty for man's sins on the cross (Romans 1:17, 3:22, 4:5, 10:4; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

The Perennialists who call themselves Christians, or say they are followers/practitioners of the Christian tradition or of Christian wisdom, like Richard Rohr and David G. Benner, do not refer to God's righteousness because salvation from sins is not an issue in the Perennial view. The crucial goal is to awaken to the Greater or True Self, which is already part of Divine Reality, according to Perennial philosophy. The righteousness of God is neglected by or unknown to Perennial Wisdom adherents.

Without a foundation in the character of God for righteousness, there is no absolute standard for justice, and justice becomes relative. It is impossible in Perennial wisdom to know this righteousness and justice because Perennial beliefs reject or ignore God's attributes as revealed in God's word, as are the moral standards based on God's revealed character in Scripture.
 

The True Self

Richard Rohr teaches that the True Self of the Enneagram has never been separated from God. The Enneagram is designed to uncover this Greater Self through realizing that the nine Types are temporary constructs of the self.

David G. Benner teaches about this True Self in the popular book, The Gift of Being Yourself (IVP, 2019), although he calls it the Christ-self and the Christ-in-me self and asserts that we must recognize Christ as the deepest truth of our being (p. 99). He adds:

It is not just becoming like Christ but actualizing the Christ who is in us. It is a journey toward union with God (p. 99).

Since Benner's book has a Christian publisher, Christian readers may overlook this statement or misinterpret it to mean living out the Christian life according to Scripture. But actualizing the Christ is a specific concept foreign to the Bible. It is a psychological term Carl Jung used about living out an archetype that is supposedly within humanity's collective (shared) unconscious. Benner is saying that we actualize this Christ as part of a journey toward union with God. It is not about relying on Christ for forgiveness of sins and eternal life. This Perennial belief gives the True Self priority over the historical Jesus.

Benner offers Jesus as an example of one who (supposedly) struggled with false selves as he searched for his true identity (pp. 72; 85). This not only demeans Jesus is but ignores the fact that Jesus knew who he was. The accounts of Jesus at age 12 in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52) and of facing Satan in the wilderness temptations (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13) demonstrate clearly that Jesus did know who he was. It is not the biblical Jesus that Benner writes about despite the popularity of this book on Christian campuses and in Christian counseling.

The so-called True Self should not be mistaken for the new self or regenerated self in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The new self in Christ is born from above (John 3:3, 15) via a supernatural act from God (John 1:12, 13). It does not exist naturally in man at birth but comes through faith in the true Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Romans 3:25-28; 4:5, 13; 5:1; Galatians 3:11; and many more). The new self is being conformed to the image of Christ, and not to any other standard.

It is revealing that the Foreword to this book is by Basil Pennington, one of the founders of the Centering Prayer Movement. Connections like this, along with the use of certain terms, have led this writer and others to believe that the Perennial Philosophy is bleeding into the church, at least in part, via contemplative teachers, knowingly or unknowingly.

The Perennial Gospel

Those Perennial followers who follow what is often called the Christian tradition may refer to Jesus and see him as the best example of what they consider to be Christian values or teachings. Richard Rohr has referred to Jesus as an archetype (Rohr adopted archetype ideas from Carl Jung).

As seen in the previous section, David Benner speaks of Christ as more of an archetype in our unconscious than as a Savior, and he does not write about him as a Redeemer from sins. The gospel is not part of the Perennial beliefs and any meaning attached to the gospel falls away as one goes deeper into the Perennial philosophy since it does not consider the gospel to be necessary.

The Perennial rejection of a need for salvation from sins and the false views of Jesus make the Perennial Philosophy incompatible with Christianity. One cannot believe both in Perennial Wisdom and in the gospel as given in Scriptures. To sum up:

The Perennial Christian wisdom tradition is not wisdom from God.

The Perennial "Divine Reality" is not the true living God.

The Perennial Christ is not salvific and is not the historical, biblical Jesus Christ.

The Perennial Philosophy is a false gospel and a spiritual counterfeit to God's truth.  

The True Jesus Christ

In contrast to Perennial Wisdom, God's revelation is that humanity is innately sinful and born separated from God, desiring to do his will over God's will. Man cannot make up for this on his own, no matter how good, how religious, or how spiritual he tries to be because in his heart, man continues to desire his own will above God's. Change is needed from the inside out, and only God can do this through his grace and power. This happens when one puts his faith in the true Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for sins on the cross.

Jesus Christ is fully man and fully God, uncreated, and the second person of the Trinity, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Christ humbled himself to add humanity to his deity in coming to earth (Philippians 2:6-8) and died on the cross to make atonement for sins (Romans 3:24-26, 4:24-25; 1 John 2:2). This was due to God's love for sinners, not due to anything humanity deserved or could earn. Out of God's grace, God transforms the believer and gives him new life in Christ through that person's faith in the true Jesus Christ.

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we did in righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He richly poured out upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 NAS

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, even now I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! Galatians 1:8-9

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV 

 

 

 

| << Previous Page |       1 2      | Next Page >> |

 

Support
This Ministry
Gospel Communications Alliance Member