Quantum Eschatology

Part 7: The Emerging Church – Circa 1970*

“…[I]f you look at the metaphysical situation, there is a continental drift… the metaphysical center of the earth today… [is] India.
“North America… is moving towards the Far East. You see that not only in the California phenomenon, but in the new religious movements in America — enchantment with all kids of Far Eastern practicesthe idea of developing the two sides of the brain simultaneously which has for many years been obvious to the Easterners….
“Well, what then could be a transformed society? We are very impressed. We have links with people who are looking at these areas…. We have established…contact with people who are thinking about a transformed society and they are exemplified by the Stanford Research Institute where there is a little group that’s called the Social Science Research Unit and its led by a man you have in your prospectus here, Willis Harman. He is an engineer and he thinks about the future image of man so he’s looking at some very fundamental changes…. I don’t say that science would become the new god. It would be the thing that man looked at for the future…. I’m back to the California school… man wants to be… at the center. He wants to have a renewed image of himself. And the California school feels that the next 30 years or hundred years is going to be a period in which we’ll restore this balance of inward man and outward man…. What we now must do is to try and look at the science paradigm that is deep in our system… and try and harness inward man to outward man.”

– E.V. Newland, Evangelicals Face the Future**
“…[W]e must think new thoughts about the eternal gospel. I don’t want to get in trouble in suggesting that we change the gospel, but that we ask ourselves: How can the old, old story be told in new, new ways to face the new, new realities?…
“I think we need to wrestle, in the light of what Mr. Newland has said tonight, with a new theology that takes in the whole person…. And I find myself more and more…believing that one of the great untouched frontiers of theology are the first two chapters of the book of Genesis….
“Christians ought to be on the frontier of discovering that may help us in the work of God to recover some of the things that human beings were capable of before sin entered the world…. Is there something in E.S.P.?”
– Gordon MacDonald’s Response to E.V. Newland, Evangelicals Face the Future***

The Spiritualization of Science

The futurists of the 1960s and 1970s were characterized by their zeal to create “alternative future scenarios.” They had their own eschatology – mankind could rewrite its destiny. Science and technology could save man from his own certain destruction. And they believed that the formation of a global system of governance, using state-of-the-art technological, psychological and sociological methods of human control, could create a better planetary society.[19] They began to work hard at shifting the paradigm; shifting the focus from reason to relationships, from rational thinking to mysticism, from science to metaphysics. They also began to imagine that they could create a better man.

The New Age movement was directly connected to these early futurists. Marilyn Ferguson described this fact in her 1980 book The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980s (J.P. Tarcher). She suggested that altered states of consciousness would provide the vehicle with which to re-mold beliefs and shape new values. There were mystical ways to facilitate the collective “emergence” of “a new mind” (p. 45), she wrote. Mysticism would enable people to be more easily anesthetized to accept change, i.e., “transformation.” But mysticism needed to become “science.” Willis Harman,[20] a leading futurist who was working in this arena, described it this way:

This emerging trans-modern worldview, involves a shift in the locus of authority from external to ‘inner knowing.’ It has basically turned away from the older scientific view that ultimate reality is “fundamental particles,” and trusts perceptions of the wholeness and spiritual aspect of organisms, ecosystems, Gaia and Cosmos. This implies a spiritual reality, and ultimate trust in the authority of the whole. It amounts to a reconciliation of scientific inquiry with the “perennial wisdom” at the core of the world’s spiritual traditions. It continues to involve a confidence in scientific inquiry, but an inquiry whose metaphysical base has shifted from the reductionist, objectivist, positivist base of the 19th- and 20th-century science to a more holistic and transcendental metaphysical foundation. [21]

The early futurists began reinventing science so that it would become a sort of spiritual alchemy. They experimented with the human brain and psychedelic drugs in their drive to alter human consciousness in hopes that it would further the evolution of the species. Willis Harman was even “involved in researching the cognitive and societal effects of LSD consumption.”[22] This may explain a strange comment by modern Emergent Phyllis Tickle: “There is a clear tragectory from Timothy Leary straight to the Great Emergence and our current disorientation about what exactly consciousness is and we are” (p. 98)

Pastor DeWaay delves into the pseudo-scientific philosophical foundation of the Emergent movement in Chapter 9 of his book The Emergent Church: Undefining Christianity, where he discusses Ken Wilbur and his “integral movement.” It is beyond the purview of this brief report to examine the Emergent revival of metaphysics in detail, but it is a fact that many New Age leaders have been attempting to create a “quantum spirituality”[23] for some time. And, there has been significant crossover into the evangelical realm for decades, especially via the activities of John Marks Templeton.[24] This drive for a new science is inextricably connected with the concept of evolution and eschatology. De Waay succinctly describes this heresy:

Evolution is Spirit manifesting itself in emerging levels of complexity and awareness. The reason evolution makes sense in this scheme is that either God is in the creation (panentheism) or that creation is a manifestation of God (pantheism). (p. 185)

New Age leader Barbara Marx Hubbard was an early futurist who articulated a similar view of quantum evolution in her 1993 book The Revelation. This book is her own rendition of a “new order of the future” (p. 63) in which “science and technology are a vital part of the [Teilhardian] noösphere” and the “planet itself is evolving toward a quantum leap” towards “conscious evolution.”[25] Supplanting the Bible’s book of Revelation, she spoke in her book of “Revelation” of a coming “Quantum Instant” of “Quantum Transformation,” which will be “an evolutionary selection process based on your qualifications for co-creative power,” and which would create “A New Heaven and a New Earth.”[26] There would be no Armageddon, just a “Planetary Pentecost”—a “great Instant of Cooperation.” She claimed that the “prophecy of John [in Revelation] can be avoided altogether.”[27] This would be the “gentle Second Coming of Christ through rapid evolution.”[28] This is not unlike Emergent leader Brian McLaren’s eschewal of what he terms the “jihadist Jesus” of the “Second Coming.”[29] Furthermore, in Hubbard’s utopian future there would be an integration of science and technology with this metaphysical evolution. She claimed that there are “evolutionary capabilities of the human race – space exploration, genetics, longevity research, psychic powers, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, atomic power… co-operating with God to build a New Earth, and New Heavens.”[30] In brief, Hubbard’s utopian future bears a striking similarity to the eschatology of the Emerging Church of today, a fact which raises serious questions.

Evangelicals Face the Future

At the top of today’s post are several quotations that come from the first “Consultation on Future Evangelical Concerns” held in Atlanta, Georgia late in 1977. The references to the “California Group” and the “Stanford Research Institute” pertain directly to Willis Harman. There was a subsequent Consultation held a year later in Overland Park, Kansas where Willis Harman was actually invited to make a presentation on the topic of “A Utopian Perspective on the Future.” The papers presented at these two consultations were published in two books.[31] These Consultations were attended by mainstream evangelical leaders of high repute, and they were sponsored by the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College.

Willis Harman’s presentation to the evangelical leaders called for a “new” science, which he had termed “noetic” science, a Gnostic science, based on his research into the paranormal and the human brain. He listed such things as hypnosis, remote viewing, precognition, psychokinesis and psychic phenomena. He called for more scientific research into the “the world of inner experience,” meaning psychic phenomena. All this could create a future utopia:

This new “noetic” science would eliminate the apparent contradiction between the experiential understanding of Hindu, Moslem, and Christian. For the first time in history we see emerging a growing, progressively funded body of empirically established experience about man’s inner life – particularly about the perennial wisdom of the great religious traditions and Gnostic groups. For the first time there is hope that this knowledge can become… the living heritage of all mankind. [32]

Man’s mind and his spiritual “inner life,” were being connected to the “experiential understanding” of Eastern religions, “perennial wisdom” and Gnosticism. The remarks at the beginning of this post indicate that certain evangelical leaders were already adopting this worldview, and were even suggesting that theology needed to be reformulated to accommodate this “noetic” science. Willis Harman’s remarks to evangelical leaders were basically left unchallenged. In the years to come, many of the evangelical leaders who attended these Consultations would go on to work on inventing new theologies. They initiated projects that would re-shape Christian theology into these futuristic and esoteric images of man and his destiny. It is no wonder that Emergent leaders today, such as Phyllis Tickle, can boldly announce that the paradigm has now shifted, that evangelicals are standing at the threshold of “The Great Emergence” – which is nothing less than an evangelical convergence with New Age spirituality.


This brief article just barely skims the surface of many substantial research topics pertaining to the Emergent movement’s history and theology. In the months to come the Discernment Research Group will be writing on these topics. Pastor Larry DeBruyn is currently publishing a scholarly theological refutation of the “quantum spirituality” concept which will be distributed via Discernment Ministries.

To understand more of the history and theology of the Emerging Church movement, Pastor Bob DeWaay’s book The Emergent Church: Undefining Christianity is a useful resource. We are particularly pleased with its references to Dr. Francis Schaeffer—the book analyzes the Emergent movement within the context of the postmodern existential “escape from reason.” DeWaay has taken care to defend the Gospel against these heresies at every juncture. The book is scholarly, well-organized and easy to read.

The Truth:

“And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.” (Luke 10:5)

*Part 7 of this ongoing series on the history of the Emerging Church movement is the final excerpt from the Discernment Newsletter, July/August 2009 (Vol. 20, No. 4) posted at http://discernment-ministries.org/content/volume-20-no-4-julyaugust-2009. This Herescope article contains paragraphs of additional documentary material, and has amended the original article with links and quotations.
**Evangelicals Face the Future: Scenarios, Addresses, and Responses from the “Consultation on Future Evangelical Concerns” held in Atlanta, Georgia, December 14-17, 1977, Edited by Donald Hoke (William Carey Library, 1978). E.V. Newland’s Address to the Consultation was “Social Relations and Alternative Future Paths,” pp. 75-83. Emphasis added. The comments about the “California school” refer directly to Willis Harman and his activities.
***Gordon MacDonald’s formal Response to Newland at the Consultation, Ibid., pp. 84-90. Emphasis added. The reference to E.S.P. is Extra Sensory Perception, which was an area Willis Harman was researching in his “mind” research. One can see in these remarks the rudiments of the Emerging utopian eschatology that holds that man can reverse the effects of the Fall, thereby bypassing the Armageddon scenario and Judgment Day and restore Paradise on Earth.

19. See Ervin Laszlo’s A Strategy for the Future: The Systems Approach to World Order (George Braziller, 1974). Also see this post: https://herescope.net/2005/10/peter-drucker-early-futurist.html
20. Willis Harman was invited to speak as a presenter at the second Evangelical Consultation on the Future in the late 1970s. A series of Herescope posts in September and October 2005 covered this topic in detail (follow links). Harman’s esoteric viewpoints were not refuted; in fact the second consultation was set up in such a way as to prohibit this. See footnote 31.
21. This quote appears in a Herescope post published May 20, 2009 https://herescope.net/2009/05/spiritualization-of-science.html summarizing a paper published by Dr. Martin Erdmann that provides substantial historical documentation for this topic. It is entitled “The Spiritualization of Science, Technology, and Education in a One-World Society” and is published in the European Journal of Nanomedicine (2009 Vol. 2:31-38) http://www.clinam.org/journal/index.php/NanoJournal/article/view/.7/33
22. Abstract, ibid. To understand the full context of the brief remarks in this article pertaining to this topic of Willis Harman, see Dr. Erdmann’s complete article. Also see Herescope posts September and October 2005 which discuss in detail Willis Harman’s influence over evangelical leaders in the late 1970s, including his advocacy of a new metaphysical science paradigm. See footnote 31.
23. Emergent leader Leonard Sweet authored an intellectually incomprehensible book called Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic (SpiritVenture, 1991), which exemplifies the Emergent heretical beliefs being talked about in this article. Note that Bob DeWaay warns that “I find that Emergent Church leaders do their best not to be understood, suggesting that being clever, coy, contradictory, or even provocative is a better way to help people emerge from old categories of thought into new, synthetic ones” (p. 10).
24. The enormous weight of facts backing this statement will be the topic of future Herescope posts, Lord willing.
25. Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation: Our Crisis is a Birth (Foundation for Conscious Evolution, 1993), p. 30, 31, 43. Warren Smith, in his book Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel (Conscience Press, 2002), first exposed this woman’s crossover New Age/New Spirituality agenda, her frightening “selection process,” and her futuristic “Armageddon Alternative.”
26. Ibid, p. 101, 103, 111.
27. Ibid, p. 147, 162.
28. Ibid, p. 165.
29. See these two Herescope posts: https://herescope.net/2008/03/brian-mclaren-to-speak-at-world-future.html & https://herescope.net/2008/11/coming-kingdom.html. McLaren wrote in his book Everything Must Change (p. 146) that: “The Jesus of one reading of the Apocalypse brings us to a grim resignation: the world will get worse and worse, and finally this jihadist Jesus will return to use force, domination, violence, and even torture – the ultimate imperial tools – to vanquish evil and bring peace.”
30. Ibid, p. 171.
Evangelicals Face the Future: Scenarios, Addresses, and Responses from the “Consultation on Future Evangelical Concerns” held in Atlanta, Georgia, December 14-17, 1977, Edited by Donald Hoke (William Carey Library, 1978). An Evangelical Agenda: 1984 and Beyond: Addresses, and Responses from the “Consultation on Future Evangelical Concerns” held in Overland Park, Kansas, December 11-14, 1979 (William Carey Library, 1979). The Discernment Research Group first broke this story in September 2005 in a series of posts that ran into October 2005. One can look through the posts to read more details about these consultations. https://herescope.net/2005_09_01_archive.html and https://herescope.net/2005_10_01_archive.html
An Evangelical Agenda: 1984 and Beyond, Willis Harman, “A Utopian Perspective on the Future, ”pp. 27-37.