Monday, August 07, 2023

Richard Rohr?


                                                                         (Monroe, MI)

Someone asked me if I recommend Richard Rohr, as a good source for understanding Jesus and Christianity.

I answered them with. No. 

I became familiar with Rohr in the mid 1990s, when someone gave me a book containing collected writings.

I critiqued Rohr in my book Deconstructing Progressive Christianity. For example.

"Progressive Christianity’s logical endgame, due to its inherent skepticism, and its reluctance to endorse endorse a supernatural narrative, includes a denial of the resurrection of Jesus. Look at how Richard Rohr escorts us in this direction. He writes: 

“To believe that Jesus was raised from the dead is actually not a leap of faith. Resurrection and renewal are, in fact, the universal and observable pattern of everything. We might just as well use nonreligious terms like “springtime,” “regeneration,” “healing,” “forgiveness,” “life cycles,” “darkness,” and “light.” If incarnation is real, then resurrection in multitudinous forms is to be fully expected, or, to paraphrase that earlier statement attributed to Albert Einstein, it is not that one thing is a miracle, but that the whole thing is a miracle! This point is worth sitting with for a few moments.” 

I’ve sat with that point, a lot. Einstein was using ‘miracle’ metaphorically. His awe before the universe has been called “Einsteinian wonder.” Einstein was, most likely, if anything, a pantheist, influenced by the philosophy of Spinoza. A ‘miracle,’ on the other hand, is an event that cannot be reduced to scientific explanation. Einstein did not believe in such things. Which makes me wonder what Rohr really believes? What, exactly, does Rohr want us to ponder? Resurrection is the universal pattern of everything? We could substitute “springtime” for “resurrection?” 

Linda and I have a little garden in our front yard. Every year, tulips emerge from the soil, and beautifully bloom. Neither of us drops to our knees declaring it a miracle. Yes, it’s nice. But, really, is that substitutable for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead? On Easter Sunday, and elsewhere, I envision the resurrected Jesus coming alive, out of death. I never see him as a tulip blooming in the spring, only to quickly lose his bloom again. 

I never see emerging tulips as representative of some kind of “resurrection in multitudinous forms.” Rohr seems to think I should see a resurrection pattern here. I don’t. Actually I see, in the historical resurrection of Christ, something that far transcends flowering tulips and emerging butterflies and light coming out of darkness. I believe that Jesus was clinically dead, for three days, and that he was brought to life in a transformed, resurrection body that was impervious to change and decay. Anyone have a tulip that can do that?

(Piippo, John. Deconstructing Progressive Christianity (pp. 120 - 122). 

(Should some ex-vangelical wonder whether or not I understand Rohr's form of mysticism, please note that part of my PhD studies included studying mysticism, and a one-on-one independent study on Meister Eckhart, with Northwestern U. medieval scholar Richard Kieckhefer. Thank you Dr. Kieckhefer!) 

For a more complete dismantling of Rohr, see "A Heretic’s Christ, a False Salvation: A Review of The Universal Christ" (Rohr), by theistic philosopher Douglas Groothuis.