Progress in Religion? |

Hunt, Dave

Ecumenism and compromise are increasingly infecting the highest ranks among evangelicals. A major contributor to that trend is wealthy Wall Street money manager John Marks Templeton. We will quote from two of his books: Discovering the Laws of Life (1994) and The Humble Approach (1981, revised in 1995), referring to them as D and H, with the page numbers. Templeton is best known for having established a religion prize of larger monetary value (currently more than $1 million) than the Nobel Prize. He explains why: 

Microbes slowly evolved into worms, fishes, reptiles, and mammals. Humans did not appear until forty thousand years ago....

According to the Jesuit paleontologist and mystic Teilhard de Chardin [known as "the father of the New Age"]...there came first the sphere of mineral evolution, the geosphere; then the sphere of living things, the biosphere; and lastly the sphere of the human mind, the noosphere....[T]he human mind is so potent...that no one knows what may happen next. Evolution is accelerating....

Teilhard called for a new theology...a new, unprecedented religion....Is there evidence that minds are developing into even more miraculous spirits and souls...?

As the religious forms of traditional Judaism and Christianity are losing their powers to inform the contemporary mind, the West desperately needs religious geniuses who can create new imaginal forms....

Theologians...must begin to explore the vast unseen dimensions of our evolving universe....

The next stage of human divine progress on the evolutionary scale needs...geniuses of the spirit, blazing trails for the rest of us to follow. To encourage progress of this kind, we have established the Templeton Foundation Prizes for Progress in Religion.

Templeton has formed a religious research center called the Humility Theology Information Center for the development of "progress in religious thinking" (H, 130). Here are some of his comments regarding the progress in religion which he hopes will come out of this center:

[N]ew research presently has as its focus the development of...spiritual truth [to be] accepted worldwide regardless of the culture or...religions of any geographical or ethnic area [now, that's ecumenism!]....

I am hoping we can develop a body of knowledge about God that doesn't rely on ancient revelations or scripture [such as the Bible!]...that is scientific...and is not disputed because of divisions between religions or churches or ancient scripture or liturgy....

The main purpose of the Templeton Foundations is to encourage enthusiasm for accelerating discovery and progress in spiritual matters....(H, 135-39)

According to Templeton, the world's scriptures (including the Bible) "were written ...[by] men whose minds were limited by cosmologies long since discredited" (H, 61). Nor does the Bible accurately record the words of Christ, because those who reported them "could write down only what they understood...[as] ignorant and primitive ...Jews." (H, 39-40).

On the contrary, Paul affirmed that every word in the Bible "is given by inspiration of God" (2 Tim:3:16); Peter said of the Bible, "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Pt 1:21); and the psalmist said, "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven" (Ps:119:89).

To suggest that Christianity is the one true faith and is unchangeable and must be defended as such contradicts what Templeton calls "the humble approach" in religion. In his thinking, only pride would suggest that Christianity alone is true. When people take a "humble attitude, they welcome new ideas about the spirit just as they welcome new scientific ideas. ...Humility opens the door to the realms of the spirit, and to research and progress in religion" (H, 2-3) and "is the key to progress" (H, 3) because it prevents the proud delusion that any religion could be totally right:

The truly humble should be so open-minded that they welcome religious views from any place in the universe that is peopled with intelligent life. Seekers following the humble approach... never...reject ideas from other nations, religions, or eras...the humble approach to theology is ongoing and constantly evolving....

In fact, at the heart of true religion is the willingness to see truths in other religions. The Persian scriptures claim, "Whatever road I take joins the highway that leads to Thee....Broad is the carpet God has spread...." (H, 35-36, 45)

Christ, too, spoke of the broad road; but far from commending it, He said it led to "destruction" (Mat:7:13). Contradicting Jesus, who said, "I am the man cometh unto the Father [God], but by me" (Jn:14:6), Templeton says, "No one should say that God can be reached by only one path. Such exclusiveness lacks humility....New, freer, more imaginative and adaptable creeds will have to be devised in order that man's God-given mind and imagination can help to build the kingdom of heaven" (H, 46,55). As for Templeton's "heaven,"

[A]stronauts travel[ed] into outer space; and...they did not bring back any evidence of heaven...drills had penetrated the earth, they'd found oil, not hell, in the depths. The definitive descriptions of the afterlife we received as children called for some revision in the light of the scientific discoveries of the modern age....Through our own choices and attitudes we create our own heaven or hell right here on earth (D, 208).

The very idea of "progress in religion" denies the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christianity is not a religion, nor is it subject to progressive development. Neither does Christianity maintain a friendly, ecumenical relationship with the world's religions, but opposes all of them as devices of Satan. Every true Christian, by the very tenets of his faith, must be uncompromisingly opposed to Templeton's neo-pagan beliefs and the prize he offers.

Obviously, it would be dishonest for anyone to accept the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion who was not in complete sympathy with its purpose and the beliefs behind it. Wouldn't the reception of the prize by any individual constitute an endorsement of what the prize represents in the mind of its founder? How could any recipient offer ignorance as an excuse when Templeton's neopagan views have been widely published for years?

Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright is the latest evangelical leader to accept the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. He joins Billy Graham, who received the prize in 1982, and Charles Colson, who received it in 1993. On that occasion Colson declared, "I salute Sir John for establishing this award and doing it in such a generous way...." Bright also joins Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu leaders, together with liberal theologians and atheists, who have received the prize as well. Try to imagine Daniel accepting an ecumenical prize from the sorcerers of Babylon, or Jesus from pagan leaders of His day!

Calling the belief that Christ is the only way to heaven, dogmatism and pride, Templeton declares, "[T]he basic principles for leading a 'sublime life'...may be derived from any religious tradition, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and others, as well as Christian" (D, 6-7). Though he honors all religions, he reserves his loudest praise for two of today's worst anti-Christian cults: Unity School of Christianity and the Church of Religious Science, whose beliefs coincide with his. He commends them for viewing man as "an expanding idea in the mind of God," and for striving for "progress" in religion because, "as mind advances [evolves], the old forms [of religion] die..." (H, 60). He writes,

[T]he doctrinal formulations of Christianity have changed and will change from age to age....Christians think God appeared in Jesus of Nazareth two thousand years ago for our salvation and education. But we should not take it to mean that... progress stopped...that Jesus was the end of change....To say that God cannot reveal Himself again in a decisive way [through other Messiahs]...seems sacrilegious...(H, 48,53).

In spite of being an evolutionist, pantheist, universalist and occultist who rejects the gospel of Jesus Christ, Templeton is highly regarded and endorsed by leading evangelicals. Though he openly rejects the Bible as the unique Word of God, he served on the Board of Managers of the American Bible Society for fifteen years (H, 137) and on the Board of Princeton Theological Seminary (D, jacket). Norman Vincent Peale called Templeton "the greatest layman of the Christian Church in our time" (D, jacket), an amazing tribute to an anti-Christian!

One of his books (D), filled with the rankest anti-Christian and occult theories, was even commended on the back cover of Christianity Today (4/24/94), including endorsements by Robert Schuller and Billy Graham. Of that book, CT said in large print, "WILL INSPIRE MILLIONS OF READERS ." In fact, D will send to hell any who believe it. CT has not yet apologized for misleading its readers.

Templeton and his neopagan views were first introduced to the church and promoted to evangelicals in 1986 by Robert Schuller, who continues to endorse him. Schuller's Possibilities magazine put Templeton's picture on its front cover, and its major article in that issue was an interview with Templeton. In it he expressed his Unity/Religious Science/New Age beliefs: "Your spiritual principles attract prosperity to you...material success...comes ...from being in tune with the infinite....The Christ spirit dwells in every human being whether the person knows it or not...nothing exists except God." (Possibilities, Summer 1986, pp 8-12).

These satanic lies were promoted by Schuller as the truth, deceiving multitudes of readers. Templeton's "God" is clearly not the God of the Bible, but the god of this world who has "blinded the minds of them which believe not [the gospel]" (2 Cor:4:4). Templeton declares,

God is billions of stars in the Milky Way and He is much more....Time and space and energy are all part of God....God is five billion people on Earth....God is untold billions of beings on planets of millions of other stars....God is the only reality....

God is beginning to create His universe and allows each of His children to participate in some small ways in this creative evolution....God is all of you and you are a little part of Him. (H, 37-38)

In keeping with his idea of "progress" in religion, Templeton suggests, "Maybe one of the attributes of God is change" (H,52). That is indeed true of his "god," but the God of the Bible declares, "For I am the LORD, I change not" (Mal:3:6). Jesus Christ, who is God the Son, is "the same yesterday, and today, and for ever" (Heb:13:8), His gospel is unchanging, and Templeton or anyone else who preaches any other gospel is "cursed" (Gal:1:6-8). God's unchanging truth condemns Templeton's entire concept of "progress" in religion and the prize he offers.

Colson's office rationalized his acceptance of this prize by stating that he would use the opportunity to present the gospel. Sadly, he did not do so, and for obvious reason. (See TBC, August and November 1993, for a full report on Colson's speeches.) Simple logic and honesty dictates that it would be a double-cross of gigantic proportions and the worst kind of hypocrisy for Graham, Colson or Bright to accept a huge monetary prize from a man who is thereby hoping to promote all religions, and then to use that occasion to declare that Jesus Christ is the only Savior!

The acceptance of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion undeniably constitutes a compromise of that very faith once for all delivered to the saints, which true Christians are commanded to proclaim unflinchingly and to defend at all cost. Rather than to accept that prize and thereby to encourage Templeton in his error, Graham, Colson and Bright ought to have presented the truth of the gospel to this deluded man in an attempt to rescue him from a Christless eternity. And what of the multitudes who have been led astray by their acceptance of this prize? We can only pray that even at this late date all three will renounce this pagan honor and return the money to Templeton with interest!

We have devoted much space to this subject in order that there be no doubt what Templeton's prize stands for and the implications of accepting it. Here we have a most astonishing example of a compromising denial of the faith at the highest evangelical levels. Such a betrayal would have been unthinkable even a few years ago.

Equally unthinkable was Jerry Falwell's participation as a speaker at a conference last December in Montevideo, Uruguay, sponsored by Sun Myung Moon's Inter Religious Federation for World Peace and Washington Times Foundation, and titled, "Christian Ecumenism in the Americas: Toward One Christian Family Under God." According to Moon's Unification News, February 1996, speakers in addition to Moon and Falwell included William Cenkner (Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Catholic University of America), Dr. Nilson de Amaral Fanini (President of the Baptist World Alliance), and Michael Cromartie (Senior Fellow in Protestant Studies and Director of the Evangelical Studies Project at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.). In his speech, Falwell said, "It is my observation and personal conviction that conferences and seminars like this one can be very beneficial for building bridges of communication."

"Bridges of communication"? What does that mean! Christ didn't say, "Go into all the world and build bridges of communication." He commands us to "preach the gospel"! Any lesser "communication" is compromise and a denial of our Lord. Yet evangelicals are increasingly falling into "dialogue" with Catholics and other cultists.

Many other examples could be given of similar compromise on the part of today's evangelical leaders. These should be shocking enough, however, to put us on our faces before the Lord. Let us pray for Christian leaders and for ourselves that we do not fall into the same temptations to please men instead of God and thus have on our hands the blood of those to whom we have denied the gospel. TBC