The Rage for Rohr? - page 2


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From the Fall 2015 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

The Rage for Rohr?
A Brief Review of Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward:A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

by Os Guinness
Founding Senior Fellow of the Trinity Forum


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Rohr does not hold the orthodox view of such central doctrines as the cross and why Jesus died in our place, on our behalf, and because of our sin (as set out, e.g., in John Stott’s evangelical classic The Cross of Christ). Rohr’s cross is the very different cross of modern liberalism that Reinhold Niebuhr described so perfectly as “a God without wrath bringing men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”
  Fourth, Rohr and his devotees appear oblivious to the glaring contradictions in his own argument. The second half of life, he says, is for reaching a higher and appealing “non-dualistic” type of thinking, whereby we achieve a holistic harmony that transcends the unfortunate dualism of our earlier lives. But to anyone who thinks as they read, it is obvious that his entire classification of the two halves of life is dualistic, and he never escapes it himself. The truth is that, for all his attacks on dualism, Rohr is as dualistic as anyone because some distinctions are inescapable. (As Robert Benchley said, “There are two types of people in the world: Those who think there are two types of people, and those who don’t.”) But what matters is that his recommended non-dualism depends on a dualism between the two halves of life that has nothing to do with Jesus and the Bible.
  Fifth, there is a serious ethical danger in Rohr’s teaching. His unbiblical division between the two halves of life allows him to caricature what he sees as the first half of life, focused on legalistic “purity codes” and “Thou shalt nots.” With this distortion in place, Rohr provides a permission slip for those who wish to break out of such constrictions and “leave their family” as an act of following the “second call” to become more free in the second half of life. In other words, through his combination of caricature and false dualism, Rohr beckons people to a brand of freedom that Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.” In the name of Jesus, he offers an alibi for actions such as divorce that are directly opposed to the plain teaching of Jesus.
  In sum, Rohr’s Falling Upward is anti-biblical, non-Christian, and rooted in New Age thinking (often accompanied with Native American pagan practices), rather than being true to the teaching of Jesus and the Scriptures. The real question is why so many evangelicals are attracted to it. In my experience, the answer is not that many of them needed to be freed from legalistic versions of the faith, as described by Rohr, but, rather, that they were already committed to a free form of the faith, one that was experiential and lacking in serious theological convictions, let alone a well-thought-out Christian worldview. So they have easily been bewitched by such a latter-day “kissing Judas.” Faithfulness, as I said, is the crucial issue for the church in our times because of today’s mounting unfaithfulness and biblical illiteracy. Let us all read everything with eyes wide open and with discerning minds and faithful hearts—this review included. 

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Os Guinness is an author, social critic, and founding Senior Fellow of the Trinity Forum. He has written or edited over 25 books on a wide range of themes, including The American Hour, Time for Truth, Invitation to the Classics, The Case for Civility, A Free People’s Suicide, The Global Public Square, Renaissance: The Power of Gospel However Dark the Times, and most recently, Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion.


Recommended Reading:
Nancy Pearcey, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes (David C. Cook, 2015)

Nancy Pearcey, bestselling and critically acclaimed author, offers fresh tools to break free from presumed certainties and test them against reality.



COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  Knowing & Doing is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.


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