In January 2008, the Rethink Conference will take place at Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral. According to Church Communication Network (CCN), the event will be hosted by Robert Schuller and Erwin McManus.
On the Rethink Conference website, the event is described as: “Leading Thinkers and Influencers offer a perspective you may never have imagined.” These thinkers and influencers include a wide array of prominent personalities such as Kay Warren, Chuck Colson, former president H.W. Bush, Larry King, John and Nancy Ortberg, Rupert Murdoch, Gary Smalley, and of course hosts Robert Schuller and Erwin McManus. While at first glance there might appear to be little, if anything, in common between these speakers. However, a number of them do have one thing in common, and that is a propensity toward contemplative (i.e., mystical) spirituality. Those would include Kay Warren, the Ortbergs, Erwin McManus, Robert Schuller, Dan Kimball, and H.B. London Jr. (Focus on the Family).
According to the conference site, “If you want to increase your influence as a leader in an ever-changing culture, then … Rethink gives you the tools and perspectives you need to lead today.” The event is designed for pastors and leaders in particularly, and promises that even theologically conservative pastors will feel comfortable. Ironically enough, many of the speakers whom Christian pastors and leaders might be more willing to trust (those who are professing Christians) may be the very ones who will pass on a mystical perspective. For instance, H.B. London Jr. is an avid promoter of Richard Foster’s spiritual formation, and Erwin McManus, who says it is his goal to destroy Christianity, claims that the core of his book, The Barbarian Way, is mysticism.2 Kay Warren recommends Henri Nouwen’s contemplative book, In the Name of Jesus, and her husband Rick Warren has supported the contemplative (spiritual formation) movement for years (see ATOD, ch. 8)
While Robert Schuller will be representing Christianity as well, he too has a long history of mystical affinities. Listen to Ray Yungen explain:
[W]hat many might not know about Schuller is his New Thought proclivities. Interspiritual scholar Marcus Bach once related the following incident that took place at a Unity church in Hawaii in which Bach was speaking:
Dr. Schuller attended the first of three services, this one at 7:30 am. When we shook hands at the door, he tarried to assure me how much Unity principles meant to him and how helpful they had been to him in his work.
What could some of these Unity principles be? Bach explains:
Hinduism’s emphasis on meditation fit[s] well into Unity’s patterns for enlightenment.
This is one of the major principles that Schuller was making reference to. In his own book, Prayer: My Soul’s Adventure with God, he says:
Move into mighty moods of meditation. Draw energy from centers of sacred solitude, serenity, and silence… Find yourself coming alive in the garden of prayer called meditation…. Yes, the “New Agers” have grabbed hold of meditation…. Hey, Christian! Hear me! Let’s not give up the glorious, God-given gift of meditation by turning it over to those outside our faith.
The point that Schuller misses is that meditation is what makes a person a New Ager! This perspective is something to consider in light of the quarter million pastors who have trained and been mentored under Schuller at his Leadership Institute.
The Rethink Conference is bringing together leaders from several different philosophical and religious camps under the auspices of Robert Schuller. If one wonders what his purpose is, that answer might be found in his book, My Journey, when he states:
I met once more with the Grand Mufti (a Muslim), truly one of the great Christ-honoring leaders of faith…. I’m dreaming a bold impossible dream: that positive-thinking believers in God will rise above the illusions that our sectarian religions have imposed on the world, and that leaders of the major faiths will rise above doctrinal idiosyncrasies, choosing not to focus on disagreements, but rather to transcend divisive dogmas to work together to bring peace and prosperity and hope to the world…. p. 502
Standing before a crowd of devout Muslims with the Grand Mufti, I know that we’re all doing God’s work together. Standing on the edge of a new millennium, we’re laboring hand in hand to repair the breach.” p. 501
What is really taking place at the Rethink Conference is the reality of Schuller’s dream that there be a global unity among all religions and beliefs and that all these paths lead to the same God (i.e., “we’re all doing God’s work” and all these paths can “bring peace and prosperity and hope to the world.”) The glue is mysticism, and this is what is being inculcated at the Rethink Conference. The effects of this could be far-reaching as you can see by the earlier quotes.
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