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Imagine all the people, living life in peace. Yoo-hoo, ooh-ooh. You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will be as one.1Imagine, John Lennon, 1971

John Lennon’s song and album by the same name, Imagine, was released in 1971. It dwarfed his 1966 song, Give Peace a Chance, and has become something of an anthem call to peace and unity. Listening to Lennon’s siren song with a discerning ear, we discover all that is required for his “one world living in peace” vision to be realized is for all of humankind to give up belief in God, heaven, hell, absolute truth, and of course, all must embrace his idealism. So many listen to this song but do not fully grasp Lennon’s message. World peace with everyone living “as one” just sounds so tantalizing, so comforting to a world full of conflict and strife, that many do not see the dangerous implications of Lennon’s utopian dream.

Twenty-two years after Lennon/s song was released, in 1993, the Centennial of the Parliament of the World’s Religions was held in Chicago. The event was largely shepherded by Robert Muller, who had served in the UN for forty years and was the Assistant Secretary General of the UN at the time. Like Lennon, Muller was a New Ager. Muller was working toward the goal of world government, with the UN being the instrument to accomplish that goal. In order for a one-world government to succeed, Muller (and many others) believed that there first needed to be a one-world religion cobbled together to bring all the people together in peace and harmony.

[Mullers’] ideas about world government, world peace, and spirituality led to the increased representation of religions in the UN, especially of the New Age movement. He was known by some as “the philosopher of the United Nations.”2Robert Muller – United Nations

Although, as Joy points out in Different Spokes for Different Folks, “the only religion not tolerated at the conference, and the only one openly vilified there, was biblical Christianity.” In 1993, this anti-Christian drumbeat came mostly in the main sessions from the Parliament’s leadership. The various groups attending seemed in 1993 very open to dialogue on these issues. However, over the years, the atmosphere at the Parliament has progressed towards being even more widely critical and intolerant of Christians and the gospel, and the themes and the language in the main sessions and various workshops reflected that change. We, and a small group of apologists, come together from different states and even other nations to dialog with the Parliament participants each time one is held. We met our associate from Canada, Carl Teichrib, in a Fellowship of Isis workshop when he first attended in 2015, and he has been part of our little merry band of apologists at each Parliament since. After the 2023 Parliament, he posted his immediate observations:

So, what are some of my takeaways besides what I’ve posted the last few days? Right now, I have a hard time forming my thoughts, as it was an overloaded week, and I need time to process (and right now, I’m running on fast-fading fumes). However, one development stuck out, and I wouldn’t have recognized it unless I had attended other Parliaments and interfaith events: It was a very telling change in the language.

Let me explain: Evangelical Christians are not well-liked within the interfaith movement because of our stance on the exclusive truth claim of Jesus Christ – that He is the “way, truth and the life,” and that the only way to the Father is through Him (John 14:6). With interfaithism being pluralistic; however, this doesn’t fly. Never mind that their fundamentally inclusive claim is a form of exclusiveness; you must fit in their box to be viewed as authentic.

So, this is how the language towards those outside of the box has shifted. In the past, you were called a “fundamentalists,” then an “exclusivist,” and at the 2018 Parliament, you were labeled a “supremacist.”

This year’s Parliament shuffled the label again: Evangelicalism, especially American evangelicalism, was equated with authoritarianism. I heard it every day.3Carl Teichrib, Facebook, August 18, 2023, 11:19 PM

The 2023 Parliament had three somewhat connected subthemes woven through the main sessions and workshops. First, as Carl noted, evangelicals were universally panned as authoritarian. This was voiced in the main sessions and supported with workshops like “The Rise of White Nationalism,” “Democracy Over Dictatorship,” and others. The Parliament was largely an echo chamber, each speaker reaffirming one another’s favorite narrative. Lacking was any representation from the “other side,” “Evangelicals,” in a supposedly “interfaith dialogue.” For example, perhaps a representative who would be able to point out that “Christian Nationalism” is on the decline—not on the rise—and has been since 2004.4What Rise of Christian Nationalism?, Jesse Smith, August 17, 2023; Current online journal

In one workshop, the presenter had grown up in a legalistic Christian church (unnamed). He left that church and embraced a progressive and panentheistic worldview. Nevertheless, people who were not paying close attention mistook him for being a current evangelical. During the Q&A two workshop attendees asked how an evangelical was permitted to present at an interfaith dialogue conference. He assured them he was NOT an evangelical and believed we are all interconnected and one with the cosmos. I was also able to ask a follow-up question, “Should an ‘interfaith dialogue’ only include those with whom you agree and exclude any with whom you disagree?” For some reason, the room went a bit silent.

The second theme, Panentheism, shows up in the response of this same presenter. (As a side note, well-known Panentheist Richard Rohr was also at the Parliament.) Panentheism (and pantheism) are what Dr. Peter Jones describes as Oneism. There is no creator/creation distinction. God is bigger than creation, but the cosmos is God’s body. We are all one. Panentheism fits very well with the Eastern teaching of pantheism. These Eastern (and New Age) beliefs were very prevalent in nearly every workshop we attended and in most, if not all, of the conversations with exhibitors and attendees.

The third theme was that truth is not objective but springs from our “inner knowingness.” In a discussion I had with a New Thought exhibitor, he asserted there is no objective truth but that he realizes truth through his “inner knowingness.” This was the claim of nearly everyone with whom I spoke. I asked if it is possible that his inner knowingness might inform him that rape is wrong, while my inner knowingness might inform me that rape is good and necessary? He, of course, insisted that my inner knowingness would not do that. I pointed out that he couldn’t possibly know what my inner knowingness might or might not tell me. It is, after all, my inner knowingness. I also pointed out that the book, A Natural History of Rape, written by two University professors and evolutionists, Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer, argues that rape is merely the means by which less desirable males forcibly impregnated females to continue the propagation of their gene pool. It seems likely the less desirable males were informed by their “inner knowingness.”

These three themes were prevalent at the Parliament, almost in the “air that we breathed,” so to speak. At least two of these themes coalesced in one of the workshops most of our group attended, Sacramental Plants and Fungi: Historical and Scientific Insights for the Religious Life. The panelists were Elaine Pagels (author of The Gnostic Gospels), Richard Rohr (Universal Christ and Falling Upward and a key figure in introducing the occult spiritual tool known as the Enneagram into the Evangelical church), engineering professor Bob Jesse from Johns Hopkins, Mike Young (a 1962 magic mushroom test subject), and Rev. Jamie Clark Solis (a participant in the Johns Hopkins 2017 magic mushroom study).

The essential focus of the panel was better spirituality through better psychedelics. This is a view that the late Claudio Naranjo, who received the specific Enneagram types through automatic writing, also advocated and practiced.5He freely discussed this in numerous places including his book, My Psychedelic Explorations: The Healing Power and Transformational Potential of Psychoactive Substances

Elaine Pagels began by talking about an experiment done by Johns Hopkins that:

invited religious professionals, [Liberal] Christian ministers, Rabbis, Imams, Buddhist practitioners, a wide variety of people to see how they would respond to two high level doses of psilocybin in a carefully structured clinical trial in terms of what should we call the peak experiences or Varieties of Religious Experience.

This distinguished group of scientists from NYU and Johns Hopkins has never before participated like this at the Parliament of World Religions, but here they’re offering today an advance look at the results of this most recent study involving psilocybin, which is, as many of you know, the active ingredient in what are called magic mushrooms.

She goes on to describe the reaction of those who participated whose experiences:

are not like dreams and hallucinations. They feel, as they say, more real than real. And with an ongoing capacity to transform people’s lives… I’m very intrigued to see can these scientific findings suggest that finding meaning in transcending our ordinary sense of self is not an illusion? It’s not a delusion, as Freud suggested or insisted, but is an essential aspect of human experience. I mean, this sounds kind of basic, but it’s been resisted for a long time in certain circles. [I can’t help] mentioning a personal note; what excited me [was] when I was invited by Thomas Swift and Doctor Anthony Bossis to share and [present] the results, I saw how these results resonated with the discovery of what I called the Gnostic Gospels. You know, they [Gnostic Gospels] were written about 2000 years ago, and they talk about what Neuroscientist Roland Griffiths, one of the leaders in this research, calls inner knowing. You know, that is different from what we think of as rational knowledge.

Pagels is correct; the idea of using drug-induced hallucinations and dreams to inform one’s beliefs has “been resisted for a long time in certain circles.” Those “resistors” would be those who adhere to the historical biblical Christian faith. We are not to be controlled by alcohol or hallucinogenic substances but to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). We are not to put our rational mind on the shelf and accept as truth what we feel when under the influence of any substance that controls our mind. We do not receive our “truth” from so-called “inner knowingness” but from the scriptures, guided by the Holy Spirit within believers.

Is the use of psychotropic drugs a sort of spiritual jet fuel — a faster, clearer way to spiritual connectedness with the oneness of all? Does it provide a better path to what Elaine Pagels, Roland Griffiths, and much of those attending the Parliament refer to as “inner knowing”?

Richard Rohr elevates the use of psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms) to being a sacrament:

once the whole world becomes Sacramental…when things like psilocybin come along that we make use of [like] we make use of bread and wine and oil and water

Richard Rohr goes on to explain that the sacramental experience of psilocybin is a gift of grace:

I think the experience I have witnessed and experienced in plant medicines precisely fills that description. It shouldn’t be seen as something negative or heretical, or scary or, or wrong because what is given to you is clearly in the realm of grace.

Rohr builds on his previous ideas to reach a crescendo on the spiritual importance of these experiences:

If psilocybins are going to offer us a new avenue or way to be granted a unitive non-dual spiritual experience, then we would be stupid to not get out of the way.

Richard Rohr is not a Johnny come lately. He has been the go-to theologian for Progressive  Christianity since they were the Emerging Church in the early turn of the millennium. Rohr and those he mentored gave the church the Enneagram, which is now seen by many as the true spiritual tool for understanding themselves. With this new spiritual tool, people can purportedly listen to the Holy Spirit through the Enneagram, but in reality, such people will be further led down the path to spiritual deception. Is the Bible really silent on who we are and how we can truly connect with God? If so, perhaps the next step is to add the sacramental magic mushroom into those churches that are enamored with the Enneagram, right alongside baptism and communion.

This would not lead to anything good, that’s for certain. This leads to one more point one might consider concerning those pagan societies who have historically followed “inner knowingness” or what we would describe as “inner depravity.” In the Bible, many deserted the worship of God and followed the way of paganism by bringing out their own live babies and sacrificing them to Molech, laying these innocent babes onto the outstretched red-hot arms of the “god” Molech, and subsequently dropping into the fire below.

And most of us have at least some inkling of the dark practices of pagan cultures, as Archeologists have uncovered and restored the ruins of pagan societies, on whose temple walls were depicted terrible scenes of torture and bloody sacrificial scenes. These cultures were only following their “inner knowingness” in these evil practices.

However, there is a biblical alternative to continuing on in pagan practices. The churches and Christians following Richard Rohr and his merry band of false teachers could follow the lead of the early Christians coming out of paganism, as described in the Bible book of Acts. Like these Christians, they could repent of adopting pagan thinking and any evil pagan practices and magic arts which they may have, in ignorance, taken part in:

Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. (Acts 19:18-20)Ω

Don and Joy Signature 2

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