The Wisdom Pattern is the next to latest book from Richard Rohr as of this
writing (February 2021). It is a revised edition of a 2001 book, Hope against
Darkness: The Transforming Vision of St. Francis in an Age of Anxiety. For
reasons of space and time, only certain prominent themes have been addressed.
Rohr's ideas and language are sometimes broad and undefined; therefore, many read meanings into what Rohr writes that do not sync with his beliefs. However, if one is familiar with his writings, his massive blog site at cac.org, or his numerous videos and interviews, one can more readily understand his message.
It is not surprising to find Rohr expressing Panentheism in this
book. Rohr misinterprets certain Scripture passages to support this view
that Christ is in creation based on his belief that the first
incarnation of Christ was creation.
Rohr cites Ephesians 4:4-6 and Colossians 1:15-20 on pages 18, 149, and 152, and asserts that the phrases of the Lord being over all and through all and in all mean God is in creation. This is a rookie mistake and it strains credibility to imagine anyone thinks this. The passages are usually expressing Christ's dominance and power over creation. The idea of God being a part of creation goes against God's attributes and the account of creation itself. Not only is there no passage in the Bible that teaches Panentheism, but it teaches beliefs contra Panentheism. The Colossians passage is also about Jesus as head of the church.
References to Panentheistic ideas are scattered throughout the book. It is important to know that Rohr's Panentheism is part of his Perennial Wisdom beliefs. Perennial Wisdom, or the Perennial philosophy, is the view that all religions share the same source and spring from the same truth. This means that no religion is more true than any other religion. They are all equally true despite outward differences.
This idea is esoteric in nature because it depends on something that cannot be propositionally argued or proven, is hidden from all, and is only discoverable through mystical practices by those seeking this "truth." In fact, followers of Perennial Wisdom state that one must realize this truth, or awaken to it, through inner journeying and knowing (via mystical practices). Naturally, anyone on this journey is probably expecting to discover it, and so they will. There is no way to test it objectively.
Although Rohr does not explicitly bring up Perennial Wisdom, the title of the book hints at it by using the word "Wisdom," a key word in Perennial views. It is implicit in other ideas expressed in the book.
The god of Perennial Wisdom, sometimes called Divine Reality, Presence, the One, the Absolute, Living Wisdom or other names, is present in creation and within human beings. Perennial Wisdom entails Panentheism.
One cannot sincerely confess to the historic Christian faith and be a Perennialist, because in Perennial Philosophy, the death of Christ is not necessary since all have always had a True Self in God, and have God in the True Self. There is no need for salvation or forgiveness of sins.
There are many references to the True Self, the false self, and the small self.
Rohr never defines these terms although, at one point, he writes My deepest me
is God (146) which is Rohr's interpretation of Galatians 2:20:
It is no longer I, but Christ living in me.
Only if one twists the meaning of Galatians 2:20 and takes it out of context, could it ever resemble Rohr's paraphrase of it. But Rohr teaches that we all have "divine DNA," a belief rooted in his Panentheism, because if creation is the first incarnation of Christ, and we are all part of creation, then we are all part of Christ. So Panentheism causes Rohr to twist the meaning of biblical passages in order to support his ideas.
On his blog, Rohr makes this belief crystal clear:
Christ is our shortcut word for "The Body of God" or "God materialized." This Christ is much bigger and older than either Jesus of Nazareth or the Christian religion, because the Christ is whenever the material and the divine co-exist--which is always and everywhere. From "The Cosmic Christ," Nov. 5, 2015 at https://rb.gy/j61plt
These words reveal Rohr's teaching that there is a distinction between Jesus and the Christ. In one interview, Rohr stated that the universe is the body of Christ. It should be noted this is not a New Age idea. The most common New Age views of Christ see "Christ" as a state of awakening to one's innate divinity or as a Christ spirit that descends on and inhabits various advanced spiritual teachers. The New Age focuses on transcending the material world while Rohr emphasizes the material as literally containing the divine presence.
Rohr asserts that we have a "Godself, the True Self, the self 'hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).'" Rohr cites Colossians 3:3 as his text. (164). However, this Colossians passage is part of an admonishment to live a life that reflects one having been saved by Christ. The verse prior speaks of being raised with Christ, referring to the resurrection. The Christian has a resurrected life, a new life in Christ which leads to glory (see following verse). Rohr shamelessly misinterprets Scripture right and left.
Rohr also uses the terms the Great Self, the Christ Self (50) and the True-Self-in-God (73). There must be "deconstruction" of the false self (196). Rohr writes that contemplation is
where we get the false self out of the way and the gift shows itself like an apparition (129).
This view of a True Self, like Panentheism, is part of Rohr's Perennial Wisdom, which plays a major role in Rohr's Enneagram teachings. David G. Benner, regarded as a "Christian" writer, who is a Master Teacher at Rohr's school, also uses terms such as Christ self and the Christ-in-me to refer to the Perennial True Self.