false teaching

Reevaluating Richard

[This post is available in SPANISH.]


I’ve been face-to-face with a number of Christians who are fans of Richard Rohr. While I knew that he was becoming increasingly popular with younger generations—(and I’d earlier read quite a bit of his material)—I did not know (A) that even longtime Christians are being drawn in; (B) how blatantly Eastern/occult some of his instruction is; and therefore I had not grasped (C) the extent of the deceptive strategy that seems to be in play.

Here’s a summary of Rohr’s approach:

Speaking in Code

Rohr uses a fatherly, soothing, sympathetic tone. That’s inviting. You don’t immediately realize that he’s speaking in code, that he’s falsely redefined God, Jesus, the Bible, the atonement, and more. He doesn’t mean what you think he means by those terms.

Gradually Dismantling Christianity

young woman playing Jenga
Photo by John Moeses Bauan on Unsplash

He “Jenga-dismantles” the reader’s Christian faith. His wording is so clever that when he gently pulls out one peg at a time, you don’t notice anything amiss. But if you stick with him long enough, he finally pulls out enough pegs that the whole tower comes crashing down. (Sort of as illustrated in this post.) Rohr’s fans are stepping away from Scripture, the Lord, and the church.

Let’s practice reading between the lines. Here are sample quotes from his book From Wild Man to Wise Man:

“You cannot maneuver [your journey] by logic, persuasion or Bible quoting.… Book answers are not sufficient in crucial times of transition. The rules that help us in stage one might just be toxic in later stages.” (p 162)

See how he reduces the Bible to a mere book (and an insufficient one) rather than correctly portraying it as the living, all-sufficient Word?

Rohr says, “Doers, movers, shakers and change agents have largely given up on church people.” (p 10)

Translation: If you’re a church person, you’re not cool.

“The Sermon on the Mount has been deemed poetic nonsense by 95 percent of the Christian establishment for two thousand years. And that, in a word, is why true spiritual teachers like Jesus are always marginalized, dismissed, killed, or worst of all, worshipped.” (p 42)

First, that stat isn’t true. And second, worshipping Jesus would be a “worst” sort of thing?

“In John 10:30 when we hear Jesus saying, ‘I and the Father are one,’ we immediately take it in the doctrinal sense that Jesus is identical with God, completely forgetting that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity took three more centuries to formulate. … The Jesus of the Gospels is not yet the ‘second Person of the Blessed Trinity.’ … We were so eager to make him God that we forgot what he came for—to reveal to us what it means to be fully human and still divine!” (p 99)

Here Rohr shoots down the Bible’s identities of Father, Son, and Spirit by indicating that Christians merely “formulated” our current idea of the Trinity. And the hint is here that Jesus was just a man who became a christ. That’s the standard New Age view—every human is just waiting to become enlightened, a christ, as Jesus managed to do.

Rohr says, “Christianity has made the crucifixion itself into a mechanical atonement theory instead of the necessary message of transformation, the price of all true love.” (p 84)

For that sentence (or any of Rohr’s sentences you run across), try to restate the sentence clearly and using true definitions/synonyms. See where you land.

There are numerous problems in that one book. It’s the cumulative effect of the message that nudges readers toward resenting and tossing the Bible, Christianity, and the church. (It’s also obvious that Rohr dislikes “western civilization” and white men—though he’s a member of both groups!)

Recommending Eastern Religion

Though much of his approach is subtle, his writings also contain blatant recommendations of Eastern religion/occult practice. (There were several in the above book.)

The Center for Action and Contemplation is Rohr’s organization. Check out how he teaches to chant with the Hindu “om” (but please don’t try this at home!).

And in this post he really elevates Eastern religion. Look at that and then come back to these comments:

  1. “No duality” and “Divine Union” are concepts from the Eastern “all is one” worldview (that is, not two/dual), that there is no God separate from his creation. So you are god.
  2. As much as Mr. Rohr seems to have studied Eastern religions, and given that he’s been a Catholic priest, he should know that Jesus did not teach karma. In karma you never know what sins you committed in previous lives, how much you owe, when you’ll be paid up so you don’t have to keep starting over. It’s a ghastly teaching. (Thank God it’s not true!) Karma is the opposite of the Lord’s grace.
  3. Go back to Rohr’s first sentence there, that the Eastern religions had great teachings that Jesus borrowed. Why doesn’t he tell us that the true God’s true way came first, long ago, and that false religions have borrowed (and perverted) that ever since? Not the other way around.

Soooooo … Why are Christians going to Rohr for spiritual guidance?! Fans might argue that Mr. Rohr has merely gleaned from the world religions and has Christianized certain practices. Can’t be done. The entire Bible is the Lord’s constant pleading for his people to have nothing to do with the pagan religions (Deuteronomy 12 is just one example) but to stay on his true path.

Please investigate Mr. Rohr’s spiritual foundation with eyes of discernment so you can help friends be more on alert.


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