February 3, 2008

"Imagine": Channeling John Lennon

It seems like the late Beatle, John Lennon, is being channeled by segments of the Emerging Church. The anti-Christian ideas in the lyrics of "Imagine" are now the new sound track of the co-authors of "A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity," Spencer Burke (founder of The Ooze) and Barry Taylor (musician and Emerging Church infiltrator.) These two men co-sponsored a conference last October in the Bahamas, called "Soularize: A Learning Party" that Burke hosted and Taylor performed at before an audience of young seekers. In a promo video for the conference archives for those wanting to put up $30 to view them online, Taylor sings a song that sounds like a bad rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine mixed with the Beatles’ song "All You Need is Love."

The song played while highlights of the conference showed on the screen. Taylor sang:

Well I’m living in a world of darkness;
And I’m walking in a world of pain,

And I’m hoping for a way out of this…
And I’m looking for freedom once again,
Love, love, love, love, love;
What the world needs,

Love, love, love, love, love;
What my heart needs;
Love, love, love, love, love;
To wash this pain away.
And I’m hoping that heaven sees the pain;
Yea, and I’m waiting for you to bring redemption;
And I’m praying for freedom once again.

In the middle of the song, a voiceover of one of the conference speakers is heard saying:

"Imagine no churches, no buildings or formal groupings, no programs or youth groups, no meaning-based relationships, no services, Bible studies, community groups, no religions! "

Compare these sentiments to John Lennon’s:

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try

No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Living for today...
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 live as one

Top that with the Beatles’ song "All You Need is Love" and we catch a glimpse of Taylor’s new creed in his imagination:

Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy…
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.

Another Beatles’ song gives a clue to Lennon’s inspiration for it all:

Here come old flattop, he come grooving up slowly
He got joo-joo eyeball, he one holy roller
He got hair down to his knee
Got to be a joker he just do what he please
Come together right now over me
He wear no shoeshine, he got toe-jam football
He got monkey finger, he shoot coca-cola
He say "I know you, you know me"
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free
Come together right now over me

This joker is seen as a "holy roller." He is religious. In essence, the song is inviting people to come together over this person, the joker, so as to be free. Or as Taylor put it, "I’m looking for freedom once again. But what sort of freedom or liberty do they offer?

2 Pet 2:19 – "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage."

"Who is this "joker"? There are many clues in our culture.

In the old 1970s game show, The Joker’s Wild, the contestants spun a slot machine and if they got three jokers, they won the game. The fly in the ointment was if a Devil came up, everything accumulated in the bonus game was lost. The game concluded with the "Face The Devil" bonus round.

Another cultural reference to the Joker is from the TV series, Batman. One culture watcher recalled:

"Watching Batman (’89) just because I wanted to refresh my memory and I am half way through it and I figured out I’m not insane. Joker did kill Bruce Wayne’s parents in this adaptation. The deciding factor is the quote by Joker, ‘Ever dance with the devil by the pale moon light?’ just before he shoots Bruce Wayne at what’s her name’s house." 

So, the joker has been identified with the devil historically. Tragically the last actor to play the Joker was found naked and dead in his home recently after telling others the character was getting to him. Heath Ledger had just finished filming Batman: The Dark Knight when the tragic death of the 28-year-old star made headlines.

The New York Daily News reported that --

"Jack Nicholson, who played the Joker in 1989 - and who was furious he wasn't consulted about the creepy role - offered a cryptic comment when told Ledger was dead. ‘Well,’ Nicholson told reporters in London early Wednesday, ‘I warned him.’"

What did Jack Nicholson know that Ledger didn’t? It seems they were messing with something very sinister.  Could it be that something evil possessed this young man as he connected to his character?

Imaginary Church

The crux of the Soularize conference was the mix of speakers the sponsors selected as their heroes of this new imagined faith. They included mystic monk Richard Rohr, admitted liar Brennan Manning, Anglican Bishop Tom Wright and feminist Rita Brock.

Barry Taylor interviewed the three men in a closed-door session about their vision for the new 21st century reimagined church.

Barry Taylor – "Regardless of your particular view of the post-modern situation, the transitional times that we seem to be in, the rising increase in different forms of spirituality, and the conflicts around particular faiths, whether its Islam or Christianity – we wondered really if you had any thoughts… ideas and possibilities for Christian faith and spirituality in the 21st Century given the context and the climate in which we find ourselves."

Richard Rohr – "I certainly think the future of Christianity is going to be ecumenical… Grounded in faith, grounded even in orthodoxy, what Brian McLaren calls the ‘generous orthodox.’ I certainly think that is the future. And you know, as you even look at the coming together of the continents, like I was trying to teach today, non-dual thinking, I consciously met much less resistance to that from Asian peoples. It’s just like they get it, much easier, you know. Our gay people will often get non-dual consciousness better because it’s written in their very being somehow. If we can draw all this from different groups – I know that sounds scary, but that’s the only future I think that’s going to have credible Jesus witness." 

Of course, coming from Padre Rohr’s mystical Catholic viewpoint, his church doesn’t have the answers. He makes the mistake of assuming that no other church group has the answers to life’s problems since it is not a part of his own reality. However, any church that is faithful to the Word of God and gives the Bible its proper position of authority does have the answers. But, it only has answers for those who are born-again and filled with the Holy Spirit, which is not the case in most "faith communities." They are struggling to find a creed that encompasses people of all faiths – goats and blind sheep alike. Even unrepentant "gay" parishioners are lifted up by Rohr as examples for the rest of the church to follow.

Next the Anglican bishop chimed in from his own dead bones denominational vantage point:

Bishop Tom Wright, Anglican Community in England – "The ecumenical imperative is just obvious now…But a large number of people across the traditions get it and they know in their greatness that we belong together. And it’s frustrating that you and I can’t share eucharist together officially, but we will get there… I see possibilities for a post post-modern Christian faith which will look quite different to the modernist forms including liberal/conservative standoff which we still suffer from… We have to see ourselves in transition to something different, something bigger. And certainly with the experience with God in prayer and sacraments and scripture and so on – absolutely essential. It’s…a forced antithesis of intellect and emotion and social activism and prayer, etc., these have to be brought together, so it isn’t playing off against each other, it’s heart, mind, soul, and strength altogether. And I see a great future for that but I’m afraid that we’re going to have to go through some fire and water to get there."

This too is pitiful. Bishop Wright has served in a state church whose once filled cathedrals have been sold off and turned into mosques. His very future is at stake. He is losing power and money and influence fast and is desperate to turn that around. Rather than proclaiming the truth of the Gospel of Christ, he resorts to finding a way to regroup before he and his ilk disappear. These men seem to want an ecumenical hodgepodge with them and their emerging friends at the top of the new power structure.

The next one to speak up isn’t quite as optimistic as the others. He sort of rains on their parade by admitting that there won’t be a whole lot of people jumping on their newly imagined bandwagon.

Brennan Manning – "Going back to our favorite Jesuit…he said, ‘in the days ahead you will either be a mystic or nothing at all.’ … I see the days ahead, numerically, the Christian community is going to experience enormous loss. We’re going to be, numerically, so much a smaller community than we ever have been in the past… In the days ahead I think we’re going to have much smaller communities, we’re going to have little core communities like the CAC that Richard started and I think it will be a community of mystics who have actually experienced Jesus and that experience of Jesus leads to activity in the Christian community where we’ve got to bear witness to others." 

His "Jesus" is one arrived at by experience, not the Jesus found in the pages of scripture. Since his view of the newly imagined church is that narrowly defined, I seriously doubt that he’ll have a big place at the top of the hierarchy.

Another keynote speaker at the October 2007 Soularize conference in the Bahamas was feminist Rita Brock. She is mentioned in an online article called, "Christology in the United States." The writer John B. Cobb, Jr. described her in this way:

"Rita Brock has recently written a feminist Christology …She begins by setting aside the paradigm of sin and forgiveness as the basic understanding of what is wrong and how it is made right. She replaces this with the paradigm of damage and healing. She supports this shift first by appeal to current psychological wisdom…Brock does not believe that focusing on Jesus as an individual is healing today. It encourages both individualism and authoritarianism. Instead, we need to see how Jesus himself was sustained by a community, a community in which women played a central healing role, a community that healed Jesus. It is this ‘Christa-community’ that healed then and has the power to heal today."

Brock’s idea of throwing out the gospel of the forgiveness of sins is a common heresy in emerging circles. It is modeled after defrocked Catholic priest Matthew Fox’s "Creation Spirituality, a false gospel of compassion and the cosmic christ. Obviously these people are being played by the spirit of antichrist. It comes out in their own admissions of what they find inspiring. For instance, in one of Spencer Burke’s websites he recommends two books that say a lot about this man who admits to being a heretic and wears that label proudly:

"Thomas Merton: New Man-- Merton has become a mentor of sorts to me. In this book I was confronted with my need to control everything and how illusionary that task really is."

"Thich Nhat Hanh: Living Buddha, Living Christ -- This book will give you new insights from a fresh view - I especially enjoyed thoughts about Christ as "The Way" and the comparison of the Tao.’

And musician Barry Taylor is a closet New Ager who has infiltrated Evangelical circles through his mentoring of younger believers who are attracted to his rock-n-roll music and funny sense of humor. He influenced the son of the founder of Calvary Chapel, Chuck Smith Jr., and still fills in teaching at CBC (Capo Beach Calvary) that is now pastored by mega-Calvary Chapel pastor Jon Courson’s son Peter Courson. Taylor’s webpage, Shuffle, reveals a man who is very intelligent, post-modern, and hostile to the authority of Scripture.

This new post-modern church these emerging leaders are imagining is hostile to Bible-believing churches, open to the gay agenda, involved in occult mysticism, and antagonistic to the Jesus of Scripture and Scripture itself as our authority for life. The Bible refers to such as "haters of good." These Emergent leaders have closed their ears to defenders of the faith and are not moved by the Truth of Scripture. To quote the former Joker Jack Nicholson, we can say to them, "You can’t handle the Truth."


Gen. 6:5 – "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."

Luke 17:26-30 -- " And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed."

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