Brian McLaren’s Mystery Project Out of the Bag – CANA Initiative – A Gathering of Emergents

National Cathedral in Washington DC

Recently, a reader brought to our attention a new development within the emerging church – the Cana Initiative, a think tank comprised of “faith-engaged organizations, individuals, institutions and networks.” On the Cana Initiative website, it states:

The CANA Initiative seeks to create a healthy ecosystem for connection among existing and emerging individuals, organizations, and networks and will serve as an influential “network of networks.” The CANA Initiative is comprised of Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, Orthodox, and other Christians who believe the future for Christian life and mission will be different in many ways from the past and present. . . . The CANA Initiative seeks to support and encourage what is often called Emergence Christianity.

Interestingly, the first meeting that the CANA Initiative is holding is actually wrapping up today, November 21st, and is being held at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. (an Episcopal church). We posted an unrelated (but maybe actually related) article this past October titled “National Cathedral Leader: ‘Homophobia’ a Sin; Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Performed.”  

On the CANA website (started and managed by Doug Pagitt according to Domain Tools.com), it talks about how the last two decades have brought out many “emerging expressions of Christian faith across the entire religious landscape” (translated, that means interspiritual). It was just about 15 years ago that Leadership Network (under Peter Drucker’s protégée, Bob Buford) gathered together a group of young Christian men (first calling them the Young Leaders Network) and began the Terra Nova project (see chapter 2 of Faith Undone for more about Terra Nova). Some of those men were: Mark Driscoll, Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, Chris Seay, Tony Jones, and Doug Pagitt. Eventually, the group broke away from Leadership Network and became what is known as Emergent. While they did not all stay together as the years past, today, they are all advocates for contemplative spirituality (worth noting).

According to CANA Initiative, “A number of innovative leaders have emerged over recent decades. They have taken big risks and made big sacrifices. Around them, Progressive, Emergence, and Missional networks have taken shape.”  CANA has a pretty hefty list of these leaders, and CANA may be the first time they have made such a major effort to come together in a more organized fashion. We’re quite confident that atonement rejector Brian McLaren is at a top level of this organizing. In May of 2013, we posted an article titled “Brian McLaren ask for significant cash for mystery project.” That article stated:

On his blog [on May 22, 2013], Brian McLaren is making a mysterious appeal for money. Not just a few dollars, but big, bodacious financial support from those with deep pockets. What’s it for? Brian won’t say, but if you want to contribute, you could email him at a special “happy to help” address.

On McLaren’s blog, he stated with regard to this request for money: “Grace [his wife] and I recently decided to make a significant financial investment in building some behind-the-scenes support structures for this movement to take its next steps. I think the time is ripe. I’m looking for some people to join in this initiative.” Later, in another posting, McLaren stated: “We’re considering the name CANA . . . (Potential Name: CANA Initiative).”2

When you think of the negative impact (from a biblical point of view) Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, and a number of other emergent figures have had, it’s scary to think of the further impact this new CANA initiative could have on many, especially many young people. Thanks to the big bucks, the huge media attention, an early endorsement and promotion by big name figures like Bill Hybels and Rick Warren, and publishing companies whose support they have enjoyed, the Emergent pioneers are “alive and well.” We knew they had not gone away. That is why we have always disputed the notion that the emerging church was a passing fad that has dissipated. A case in point, two years ago when John MacArthur said the emerging church was in “disarray and decline,” we were compelled to speak up in our article,  “John MacArthur Says Emerging Church in “Disarray and Decline” – Evidence Shows Differently.” We’re not really sure why MacArthur and others have thought that the emerging church was dead. It made no sense. For one thing, the main driving force behind the emerging church is contemplative mystical prayer. And sadly, that is NOT in disarray and decline. On the contrary, contemplative spirituality has, for the most part, entered almost every evangelical Protestant denomination and almost every Christian seminary and college (Richard Foster and Dallas Willard having been at the forefront of bringing it in).

The emerging church may have a greater end they are seeking than contemplative prayer (that greater end being total unity and oneness among all of humanity), but they cannot get there without getting a critical mass of people to have a change of consciousness, which can come speedily through meditative experiences (altered states). Unbeknownst to these emerging change agents (perhaps some of them do know), they have fallen prey to the devil’s end-time plan to bring total unity and oneness among all humanity for one purpose – so he can be worshipped by the world as God: ” that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world (Revelation 12:9).

If you want to understand where the emerging/emergent/contemplative/progressive church is heading and how they are going to get there, just read the chapter by chapter synopsis of Faith Undone. Pay attention to the sections that talk about the denial of the atonement of Jesus Christ for our sins and the kingdom of God on earth now (prior to Christ’s return) being established. We don’t know how much money Brian McLaren and his wife donated to kick off the new initiative, but we do know he and the others means business.  Watch in the future to see how many books are published by CANA initiators. In the past decade, numerous publishers have provided ample platform for McLaren and the others. Some of the more outstanding publishers catering to emergent have been: Wiley & Sons, Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, Baker (Emersion Books), Intervarsity Press, and NavPress. McLaren’s most recent book, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World  and his 2014 upcoming book We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation are examples of what we have to look forward to from these CANA Initiators.

Here are some of the names and photos of “Initiators” of the CANA Initiative. If you type in any of these names in our search engine at the top right of this blog, you can find background information on most of them:

Rob Bell

Spencer Burke

Diana Butler Bass

Ian Cron

Tony Jones

Brian McLaren

Doug Pagitt

Mark Scandrette

Samir Selmanović

Phyllis Tickle

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