Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Emergent Metaphysics


By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

[Ed. Note: Part 6 concludes this important series by Pastor Larry DeBruyn. In the past 6 months Herescope has been documenting the rapid "confluence" of the mystical New Apostolic Reformation with the Emergent Church movement in doctrine, personnel, and agenda. Both groups are teaching nearly identical forms of hyper-spiritual metaphysics. As these trends continue, this series will gain in significance as a watershed document. It is a scholarly theological refutation of the rapidly rising mystical metaphysical heresies that seek to invoke heaven to earth, build heaven on earth, renew culture, and collectively attain divinity; all which undermine the pure Gospel of the Cross of Jesus Christ.]

The Veneration of Creation

eriving spirituality from quantum science obliterates distinction between the Creator and His creation. Upon the altar of idolatrous immanence, the transcendent and Holy God is sacrificed.[82] Instead of worshipping the Creator, quantum spiritualists venerate the creation (spelled nineteen times in The Shack with an upper case “C,” 10, 94, 161, 222, etc.). In the first chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul describes the substitution:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:20-23, NASB)

The Colossian Heresy

Scripture warns believers against the veneration of the creation, against allowing a philosophy of human consciousness to intrude upon the worship of the Christ. To the Colossians Paul wrote:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments (Greek, stoicheia) of the world, and not after Christ. (Emphasis Mine, Colossians 2:8, KJV)

Though occurring in the New Testament only in this instance, the word “spoil” is a picturesque word meaning to carry off as booty or captives of war. As in the Babylonian invasion of Israel (586 B.C.), one can picture the captors, having plundered Jerusalem and seized its citizens, leading Jews bound in chains off to Babylon where they would be exiled and imprisoned for the remainder of their lives (See Jeremiah 31:15.). Likewise, Paul warns that if seduced by the tradition of men and the rudiments of the world, believers too can become spiritual captives. Just as the Babylonians took Judah captive by terror, so Paul warned that philosophy can take Christians captive by error. At the point of this warning, it ought to be noted that the word “rudiments” (Greek, stoicheia) possesses a physics-like meaning.

First, “the world” (i.e., the cosmos) is composed of “rudiments.” As in modern physics, and as in the philosophical scheme of the ancients, cosmos or reality denotes “the sum total of everything here and now, the (orderly) universe.”[83] In part, the “rudiments of the world” comprise the essence of the universe.[84] O’Brien writes that in the phrase “rudiments of the world,” cosmos is “understood to refer to the material, visible world while stoicheia denoted the elemental parts of that world.”[85]

Second, outside the New Testament, “rudiments” is a physics-like term denoting “the four elements or the basic materials of the world [i.e., earth, fire, water, and air] of which the whole cosmos, and humanity within it, is composed.”[86] To ancients, the word “rudiments” carried a cosmological meaning about it. Thus, as opposed to “rudiments” (KJV), “elementary principles” (NASB); “basic principles” (NIV, NKJV), “evil powers” (NLT), or “elemental spirits” (NRSV), many scholars prefer the translation “elements of the world.”[87] Employing such meaning, Peter predicted a time when the elements of cosmos would melt down. He wrote:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements (Greek, stoicheia) will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements (Greek, stoicheia) will melt with intense heat! (Emphasis Mine, 2 Peter 3:10-12, NASB).

Third, from the context we note Paul warned the Colossians that fixating upon “the elements of the world” would lead them away from spiritual freedom and into spiritual bondage. In the quantum world, the ancient sense of “rudiments-elements” might be paraphrased to refer to something like “quarks,” the smallest particles that some physicists believe are the quintessence of everything that comprises the material universe. However “rudiments” may to be understood—whether referring to particles, principles, or powers—the context demands an understanding that reverencing the physical essence of the universe can turn one away from worshipping Christ (i.e., “and not after Christ”).

Thus, one scholar understands that “rudiments” can philosophically and spiritually refer to “the veneration of the divinized elements . . .”[88] If this be the case, then Paul is warning Christian believers not to allow something like a quantum physical worldview to corrupt their worship of Christ, Who is the One who created everything in the past, and Who is the One who controls everything in the present (Colossians 1:16-17). As to both its origin and endurance, the universe depends upon the Christ of God who “upholds all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). So the apostle might be paraphrased to be warning, “Beware lest any man take you captive after the elementary particles of the world, and not after Christ.” Christian spirituality should be based upon the Word, not upon the world; upon Christ, not quarks.

Cosmism and Christ

Yet as has already been pointed out, the new quantum spirituality does not seek to do this. It seeks rather, to derive its brand of spirituality from science, and its brand of metaphysics from physics. Consider the words of Matthew Fox who wrote:

The Cosmic Christ is the “I am” in every creature. The divine mystery and miracle of existence is laid bare in the unique existence of each atom, each galaxy, each tree, bird, fish, dog, flower, star, rock, and human.[89]

In the view of Fox and other New Age spiritualists, the world should not expect a personal and physical Second Coming of the historical Jesus (Contra Acts 1:11.). Rather, they view that by cultivating mystical experiences, humanity will develop its collective consciousness that “a Christ spirit” or soul permeates the universe. To New Age spiritualists, Christ is Cosmos, and the developing of a collective consciousness that a divine Soul permeates the universe is, as the title of Fox’s book implies, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ. By divinizing the elements, the new spirituality hopes that humanity will come to realize the sacredness of Creation, that nature possesses a quantum “I-am-ness” which, when understood by humanity, will save the planet from further exploitation and threatened extinction.[90] A developed consciousness of earth’s sacredness, and not God, will save this earth from environmental catastrophe.


Emergent Christians like Leonard Sweet, who allow their worldview to be influenced by such spirituality, are being taken captive by philosophy and vain deceit.[91] The “elements of the world” first enrapture and then capture their souls. Like Judah who played the harlot with other gods, their fixation upon science seduces them into spiritual bondage. Captivation with the cosmos leads to being captured by the cosmos, the very “system” which Scripture informs us, “lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).


Investigation into chaos and fractals can turn a believer’s mind and heart to the revelation of God’s Word that describes His involvement in both the disorder and design of life. Any apparent mess in the universe does not occur independently from God, but rather happens in dependence upon Him. As Paul wrote, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:29). Though many have probed “the why” of God’s relationship to good and evil (because the world contains evil, either God is not good—if He was, He would not have allowed evil—or God is not all-powerful—if He was, He would not have allowed evil), the Lord did say:

I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me . . . there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. (Isaiah 45:5-7, KJV)

Then there are the assuring words of the apostle: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, KJV). Amidst life which can seem chaotic at times, the sovereign God is working out His purpose in us. As one poet wrote:

The Divine Weaver

My Life is but a weaving
Between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors
He works steadily.

Often He weaves sorrow
And I in foolish pride
Forget that He sees the upper,
And I the underside.

Not until the loom is silent
And shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why,

The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

Author Unknown

As we confront the trials and struggles of life below, we are not privy to the pattern God is weaving above. We walk by faith (the just shall live by faith . . . without faith it is impossible to please God), and not by sight (Romans 1:17; Hebrews 11:6). At core, this is the error of quantum spirituality: what the observer thinks about the universe determines what the observer believes about the universe. What you see is what you get.

82. See Essay #2 in this booklet, (UNSHACKLED: Breaking Away From Seductive Spirituality,) “The Holy God, Immanence to Idolatry,” pp. 17-22.
83. Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, Translators, Revised by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979) 445.
84. Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996) 84-86. In the phrase “rudiments of the world,” the genitive “world” (tou kosmou) seems to be the whole of which the “rudiments” (ta stoicheia) are parts.
85. Peter T. O’Brien, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 44 Colossians, Philemon (Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1982) 131.
86. G. Delling, “stoicheion,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich, Editors, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Translator, Abridged in One Volume by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1985) 1088. Because of the word’s common meaning in that day, Delling adds, “Only the context can yield any other sense.”
87. See Robert W. Wall, Colossians & Philemon (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993) 107.
88. Emphasis Mine, Clinton E. Arnold, The Colossian Syncretism, The Interface between Christianity and Folk Belief at Colossae (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996) 189.
89. Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance (San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers, 1980) 154.
90. Ibid.
91. Sweet cites and refers readers to the works of Matthew Fox in Quantum Spirituality. (324) On this point we should note that then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, forbade Fox to teach theology in 1988, after which he was dismissed from the Dominican order in 1992.

Reprinted with permission. This article series is from a chapter in Pastor Larry DeBruyn's book, UNSHACKLED: Breaking Away From Seductive Spirituality, which is available from Discernment Ministries for a gift of $10.00 plus $2.50 for shipping. Orders can be placed by phoning: 903-567-6423. Bulk discounts are available. Book sales directly benefit "Eastern European Ministries," a very special mission project that is close to Pastor DeBruyn's heart.