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Willis Harman and Marketplace Ministry

There were long-term repercussions when the evangelical Consultation of 1979 invited Theosophist Willis Harman to speak on the topic of “A Utopian Perspective on the Future” without opposition. Twenty-six years later evangelicalism bears signs of his influence. This is most evident in the rise of marketplace ministries.

Few realize that Willis W. Harman could be called the “Father of Workplace Spirituality.” Willis Harman was one of a group of scholars and policy analysts who helped write The Changing Image of Man, a landmark study prepared for the Charles Kettering Foundation by the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) Center for the Study of Social Policy. Willis Harman was the director of this Center.

New Age author, Marilyn Ferguson, wrote about this report in her 1980 book The Aquarian Conspiracy.

“Changing Image of Man, the now classic report issued by SRI… described a new transcendental social and business ethic characterized by self-determination, concern for the quality of life, appropriate technology, entrepreneurship, decentralization, an ecological ethic, and spirituality. The report urged a rapid corporate understanding of this emergent order, ‘probably the most important observation of our time.'” (p. 342)

Ferguson continues, “In the new paradigm, work is a vehicle for transformation.” (Ibid.) [emphases added]

Later in this same chapter, entitled “Values and Vocation,” she states that work “also becomes a medium through which the individual can express the vision of the Aquarian Conspiracy.” (p. 346)

In fact, Harman was so influential at this time, that some historians suggest that he had much to do with the writing and publication of Ferguson’s landmark book ushering in the New Age Movement. Harman went on to write a number of books about business, including The New Business of Business: Sharing Responsibility for a Positive Global Future. He co-founded the World Business Academy and is credited with the inspiration for Spirit at Work. His New Paradigm business concept meant a total overhaul — or paradigm shift — in the global society. This shift would be facilitated by the integration of spirituality with the workplace.

Raising the hard questions

Is the rise of marketplace spirituality in neo-evangelicalism evidence of a real revival? Or is it just a “christianized” implementation of Willis Harman’s Luciferian philosophies, sugar-coated with new doctrinal emphases to make it more palatable to unsuspecting believers? What about C. Peter Wagner’s newly minted doctrine about marketplace “apostles”? (See Herescope’s first post.)

Tomorrow Herescope begins an in-depth investigation of the evidence of Harman’s long-term influence over the “emergent” marketplace transformation, including his close connections with some of evangelical’s leading marketplace ministers.

The Truth:

“And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without and that ye may have lack of nothing.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)

“It is a great ornament to religion when the professors of it are of meek and quiet spirits, diligent to do their own business, and not busy-bodies in other men’s matters.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)

To be continued tomorrow. . .