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Revisiting “A House Divided Against Itself”

In 2017 I wrote how dismaying it was that Christian gospel singer Gloria Gaither would not only approvingly interview Richard Rohr, but she used his book, Falling Upward, in a Bible study. With the infectious spread of Rohr’s false doctrine in the church it seems time to address some of the material which I had not commented on previously. All quotes are from the “Richard Rohr: An Invitation to the Divine Dance” interview.

Rohr: “I think it’s necessary to reform all of our Christian behaviors and practices and moralities from the bottom up.”

Whenever anyone announces that we need a “new” Christianity, or a “new” interpretation of the Bible, or we need to change or reform Christian beliefs, practices, or morality, a big red flag should wave in your face. Of course, it would be helpful to know specifically what the person is referring to but, in this case, this broad statement by Rohr actually does confirm that he has departed from the historic faith. So, if you did not know that when reading his statement, at the very least, recognize that this is a red flag and know that it has been confirmed.

Also note that he bases this view on a straw man, that most have grown up with an idea of God as a “man in a white beard sitting on a throne.” While many non-Christians may have that view, and perhaps some Christians as well, it is not the biblical view of God. Christians who know their Bible know this is not God.

Gaither sadly reveals a serious lack of solid Bible knowledge and even knowledge of the Christian faith throughout the interview, but since she is not (hopefully) teaching theology or influencing the church the way Rohr is, I am ignoring her appalling theology in this post with the exception of one comment. But that comment does explain why she blindly accepts Rohr’s heresies.

Rohr: “So we became a much more rational Christianity, an argumentative, dualistic Christianity, than a mystical, prayerful Christianity. “

Rohr once again sets up a straw man as well as a false distinction and category fallacy, all in one sentence! He implies that being rational is argumentative and dualistic and is not prayerful, whereas being “mystical” is prayerful, and therefore, not argumentative. One can certainly be prayerful while being rational. In fact, 1 Corinthians 14:15 states:

I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.”

And Colossians tells us to keep alert in prayer:

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” (Col. 4:2)

Rohr’s use of the term “dualistic” is telling because Rohr believes Jesus came to teach non-duality. So, for Rohr, mystical non-duality is true Christianity. However, the Bible does not teach non-duality. God is totally distinct from creation. Rohr, a Panentheist,1We define this on page 72 or our book, Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret, “Panentheism is the belief that God is in Creation as our essence is in our body.  Creation is in God Who is more than all elements of creation added together teaches that creation was the first incarnation of Christ. In other words, they believe that God is in or permeates creation and that Jesus is in or permeates creation, pulling it toward a final point of perfection.

This false distinction is said in other ways by the Emergents/Progressives like Brian McLaren and Rob Bell (both of whom have spoken at Rohr’s conferences) and by New Agers. You are either, in their view, rational, “argumentative,” and “dualistic” or you are mystical and peaceful (non-argumentative), being one with God in a mystical way.

Such ideas seeping through the church over the past 20 years have been effectively sinking sound doctrine by tying it down with the weight of negative terms like “dualistic,” “argumentative” and others. Of course, dualism is true; God is other – He is not us and He is not the earth or in it. Jesus Christ is not creation. 2See my post  “The Cosmic Christ is a Counterfeit Christ.”. Throughout the interview, you can tell that Gaither has been influenced by Rohr’s teachings. For example:

GLORIA: At the micro level we’re discovering in the DNA that the tiniest things inside of us, and what we are discovering in the cosmos, are a reflection of each other. It’s the same dance of three.

RICHARD [Rohr]: That’s right, the galaxies and the atoms are mirrors of one another.

GLORIA: It’s a song, a vibrating sound wave. It is actually the Big Bang that is still going.

Rohr believes that creation itself is part of the Cosmic Christ, that creation is the “4th person of the Trinity.” His Panentheism is clear in his blogs, books, and video interviews, and we see it here, though it’s subtle. Rohr has also stated that:

“the first body of Christ is creation itself.”

as well as:

“The Gospels are about the historical Jesus. Paul, however, whose writings make up a third of the New Testament, never talks about that Jesus. He is talking about the Christ. Jesus is the microcosm; Christ is the macrocosm.” (“Fr. Richard Rohr – Cosmic Christ,” Some of the statements Rohr makes on this video include: “Jesus has existed for 2,000 years” but “The Christ is eternal.”; “Jesus became the Christ.”; “The Big Bang is the birth of the Christ” about 14 billion years ago.; “The first body of Christ is creation itself.”)

Rohr has a different understanding of what happens when one becomes a Christian. That is because the proclaims a “another Jesus.” (2 Corinthians 11:4) In the interview with Gloria Gaither he states:

Rohr: “As you know, I think Paul uses that phrase en Christo, in Christ, something like 100 times in his letters. He’s got a very corporate, participatory understanding of human knowing, of human consciousness. Paul doesn’t have our language, but I think he’s pointing to the same thing. Let me sum it up this way: transformation is the letting go of the small self, the “little Richard” self that I am, and living in a much larger identity and intention, which we would call the Christ Self or the God Self. It’s a different person”

First of all, when Paul writes “in Christ,” he does not mean we are literally a part of Christ or that we somehow partake of Christ’s nature as part of our nature. We are conformed to the image of Christ — the process of sanctification – which is very different. We remain who we are though we are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

But here Rohr gives his belief that we let go of a “small self” and have a “Christ Self” or “God Self.” This is not what Scripture teaches. Rohr is not talking about dying to the old fallen self and living as a child of the light as a Christian. He is talking about actually joining with the Cosmic Christ. 3This view also reflects that of Panentheist, defrocked priest Matthew Fox who wrote The Coming of the Cosmic Christ

Rohr not only has a false view of Christ but a false view of man and of sanctification. It is really a quasi-New Age view. Rohr quotes a passage totally out of context here:

If we had seen God as all-vulnerable, we would know that God is somehow in solidarity with us, with all suffering on earth since the killing of Abel, as the Bible actually says in several places, “from Abel until now.”

The quote “from Abel until now” is a paraphrase of part of Jesus’ condemnation of the faithless Pharisees whom Jesus is calling “white-washed tombs” and “brood of vipers,” among other things. But let’s let Jesus say it Himself:

Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” (Matthew 24:34-35; also see Luke 11:51)

Jesus’ statement about Abel is his rebuke of the Pharisees and their forefathers for killing the prophets sent by God. Jesus was grieved and righteously angry, but this has nothing to do with God being “in solidarity with us.”

Rohr believes God is “vulnerable.” This is true to Panentheism, since God is part of creation and participates in it in a way that causes God to react and even grow change. However, God is unchangeable and impassible, two attributes that are tied together (actually, all the classical attributes of God are tied together; knock one down, and the others fall).

Impassible means that God does not react; he is not volatile. It also means his emotions are not like ours because God is uncreated. We have feelings in reaction to events, thoughts, fears, romance, etc. and our emotions (passions) come and go. God is not unfeeling, but he does not have passions like this.

To say God is vulnerable also implies a weakness on God’s part subject to the power of another, as though God can be unexpectedly wounded by another’s actions. This would mean that one who can hurt God would have power over him. This vulnerability is a very dangerous notion and is contrary to who God has revealed Himself to be.

ROHR: The Eastern fathers of the church and so many of the early Desert fathers and mothers and mystics said again and again, God-in-Jesus did not just become “a” man, but “He took on human nature.” He took on the whole enchilada, as we say out West. He took on the whole physical universe as the Body of Christ.

GLORIA: Right, everything is connected.

ROHR: So, we have a God who is showing Godself in creation as a constant movement of life and death, changing forms. Nothing really dies in the whole universe. It just changes forms. Physicists will tell us that.

Notice that Rohr says that God “took on the universe as the Body of Christ.” Does Gaither disagree? No, stunningly, she replies, “Right, everything is connected.”

Rohr continues with a God “who is showing Godself in creation as a constant movement of life and death, changing forms,” and appeals to physics. But the universe is not “the body of Christ,” and God is not in creation; this is Panentheism again, a pernicious and evil belief that is based on a false view of God’s nature, or leads to such a view. Gaither, however, is enthused by Rohr’s ideas:

“…..the evidence of this oneness with the whole personality of God — you call it a flow, a dance, a flame — is liquid; it’s not something you can nail to the wall in a “systematic theology.” It is the Spirit.” – Gaither

I am not sure if Gloria Gaither realizes that she has just expressed Panentheism, which I now believe is, like a virus, infiltrating the church (via other books as well) at an increasing pace. She also expresses the opposition to “systematic theology,” which is often equated with “doctrine,” perceived as negative and too much of the mind. Gaither makes a false distinction between theology and the “Spirit” as well.

Too often the Holy Spirit is set up as some sort initiator of feeling and experience and contrasted with the mind or with knowledge. But it is the Holy Spirit who illuminates and teaches Scripture for the Christian (1 John 2:27; 1 Corinthians 2:12); it is the Holy Spirit who is called “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17, 16:13); it is the Holy Spirit who convicts the world “concerning sin and righteousness” (John 16:8); it is the Holy Spirit who speaks for the Christian in prayer (Romans 8:26-27).

All of this has to do with words, with the mind, with thoughts, with communication. And maybe it’s too obvious, but the Bible is written in words. Language is based on logic and order.

False distinctions between the mind and feelings are a hallmark of mysticism, unsound doctrine, many popular false teachings in the church, and the New Age. Yet our mind is one evidence of how all mankind is made in the image of God. Such a false distinction is a red flag you should notice.

The Dangers

The real danger of most false teachings is that not all that is said is false but what is nearly true. Some of what Rohr states in this interview, particularly at the end (though you rightly may wonder about the context and meaning of it), does not appear wrong. People read or hear ideas that are true, or seem true, and often rationalize the other statements because of that. They don’t want to see truth and untruth side-by-side, which is very uncomfortable. It is also confusing.

Many Christians do not want to think that someone is accepting unsound doctrine, especially someone who is genial and likeable. (When I say “unsound,” I do not mean secondary issues Christians can disagree on, but essentials of the faith).

And if the untrue ideas are pointed out, often they are dismissed because other teachings are or seem biblical. I want to emphasize that what I addressed here is only a selection. Almost the entire interview contains erroneous or heretical views.

When Christians start using Richard Rohr’s books in Bible studies, not recognizing the untruths, the church has turned a very bad corner, and this corner was already turned years ago in my view.

One of the evidence for this is the unending and immense popularity of books with unbiblical and unsound doctrine such as:

Jesus Calling and all the “Jesus” devotionals by Sarah Young
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp4see, “One Thousand Gifts – A Commentary”
The Shack by William P. Young5See, “Shaky Shack

— all of which I’ve read and written on.6In addition books by David G. Benner.  All the Christian books promoting the Enneagram. There are 28 titles from evangelical publishers currently. Books on Contemplative practices These books are embraced by many celebrity Christians, promoted by pastors and churches, and read by underfed and unprotected sheep.Ω

Additional Resources

CANA Article on Rohr’s “The Universal Christ”
CANA Facebook Posts:

Panentheism, the Bad Seed
Richard Rohr and Ken Wilber

Recommended Book:
Panentheism: The Other God of the Philosophers by John Cooper

Before trusting Christ, Marcia Montenegro was a professional astrologer and was involved in Eastern and New Age practices for many years. Through her ministry, Christian Answers for the New Age, Marcia speaks around the country and on radio, and writes on New Age and occult topics. She has a Masters in Religion from Southern Evangelical Seminary, Charlotte, NC, and serves as a missionary with Fellowship International Mission, Allentown, PA. Based in Arlington, VA, she is the mother of an adult son and author of SpellBound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today’s Kids, (Cook, 2006). She is also co-author of Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret (MCOI Publishing, 2020) with Don and Joy Veinot You can find her online at: CANA or on Facebook at Christian Answers for the New Age

End Notes

1 We define this on page 72 or our book, Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret, “Panentheism is the belief that God is in Creation as our essence is in our body.  Creation is in God Who is more than all elements of creation added together
2 See my post  “The Cosmic Christ is a Counterfeit Christ.”
3 This view also reflects that of Panentheist, defrocked priest Matthew Fox who wrote The Coming of the Cosmic Christ
4 see, “One Thousand Gifts – A Commentary”
5 See, “Shaky Shack
6 In addition books by David G. Benner.  All the Christian books promoting the Enneagram. There are 28 titles from evangelical publishers currently. Books on Contemplative practices
Thanking God
Revisiting “A House Divided Against Itself”