Georg Wilhelm Hegel (1770-1831) was a liberal German philosopher who led the German Idealist movement, turning his back on orthodox Christianity and holding to a type of pantheism. He denied that there is such a thing as absolute truth. He said it is “narrow” and “dogmatic” to assume that of two opposite assertions, one must be true and the other false. He rejected the Bible and proposed that man is on an evolutionary journey and that human history is the record of a process of conflict and synthesis that he referred to as the dialectical process of Spirit, believing that man would eventually reach his highest state, ultimately arriving at “the Absolute Idea” which would be so perfect it could not be challenged or synthesized.
The Hegelian system is described as follows:
“It was Hegel’s view that all things unfold in a continuing evolutionary process whereby each idea or quality (the THESIS) inevitably brings forth its opposite (the ANTITHESIS). From that interaction, a third state emerges in which the opposites are integrated, overcome, and fulfilled in a richer and higher SYNTHESIS. This synthesis then becomes the basis for another dialectical process of opposition and synthesis. Hegel believed that the creative stress of opposing positions was essential for developing higher states of consciousness. In the moment of synthesis, the opposites are both preserved and transcended, negated and fulfilled” (Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson, Spiritual Politics, 1994, p. 88).
Hegel believed that this process has a life of its own, in an evolutionary sense, but since the days of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels it has been used as a guided process toward a desired end.
The objective of Hegelian dialectics in this sense is to replace something old with something new (e.g., capitalism with communism, traditional Bible doctrine with theological modernism, a traditional educational system based on moral absolutes with a new one based on relativism, an old age with a new).
Used like this, Hegelian dialectics cannot produce the new thing, but it can destroy the old. Other processes and techniques come into play in actually producing the new thing that is desired.
Hegelian dialectics is used today to create a “paradigm shift” by replacing an old “paradigm” (prevailing belief system) with a new one. It is a technique of “social evolution” and “political transcendence.”
It is not an innocent process. It is used by “change agents” and “facilitators of transformation.” Hegelian dialectics is “the framework for guiding our thoughts and actions into conflicts that lead us to a predetermined solution” (Niki Raapana and Nordica Friedrich, “What Is the Hegelian Dialectic?” October 2005, http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/05/dialectic.htm).
Speaking religiously and spiritually, it is an ever-evolving system that never arrives at absolute truth. All is relative and negotiable and the end justifies the means.
It employs a wide range of tactics: dialogue, compromise, consensus forming, conflict resolution, divide and conquer, deceit, redefinition of words, giving new names to objectionable things, crisis creation, obfuscation (concealment of meaning by making something confusing and hard to interpret or by otherwise hiding its true meaning).
It requires non-judgmentalism, tolerance, acceptance, relativism, group mentality.
It is the opposite of and the avowed enemy of dogmatism, absolutism, exclusivism, and separatism.
It is very elitist and complex.
HEGELIAN DIALECTICS IS EMPLOYED BY COMMUNISTS to tear down law-based capitalistic, democratic societies that grant the right to private ownership of property and replace them with communist ones. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels’ take on the Hegelian philosophy is called “dialectical materialism,” because it focuses on the evolution of economics (materialism) rather than the spirit, as in Hegel’s system. In older communist terms the thesis was CAPITALISM and the antithesis was the PROLETARIAT (workers exploited at the hands of owners and the capitalistic system in general who rise up in resistance). The process of conflict and resolution is supposed to continue until it produces the ultimate synthesis which is allegedly pure communism but in reality is a New World Order of severe communitarianism (collectivism, the politics of community, the individual cared for by the state while his individuality is subservient to the will of society).
HEGELIAN DIALECTICS HAS BEEN EMPLOYED BY EDUCATORS in America since the 1920s to move the educational system from the old concept of moral absolutism and submission to a higher authority to the new philosophy of relativism and constant change. “The collective moulding begins early in life, sustained and refined throughout one’s formal education; a universal curriculum of manipulation can transform and achieve a complete paradigm shift for a whole generation” (Terry Melanson). The influence of the New Age public school system is incalculable.
HEGELIAN DIALECTICS IS EMPLOYED BY THE EMERGING CHURCH to break down the old church “paradigm” so that it can be replaced with the emerging one.
HEGELIAN DIALECTICS IS EMPLOYED BY ECUMENISTS to break down the walls of separation between denominations, between liberals and evangelicals, between Protestants and Catholics, to create Christian unity, and it is used BY INTERFAITH DIALOGUERS to tear down absolute truth and replace it with broadminded religious tolerance.
Dr. Robert Klenck describes how Hegelian dialectics works within the ecumenical setting, and he reminds us that the ecumenical dialectics is not a mere process of chance; it is “facilitated” toward a desired end. Otherwise, the group process could result in faith in dogmatic truth and an absolute Bible, but that is not going to be allowed to happen!
“Briefly, the Hegelian dialectic process works like this: a diverse group of people (in the CGM [Church Growth Movement], this is a mixture of believers and unbelievers), gather in a facilitated meeting (with a trained facilitator/‘teacher’), using group dynamics (peer pressure), to discuss a social issue (or dialogue the Word of God), and reach a pre-determined outcome (consensus or compromise). When the Word of God is dialogued between believers and unbelievers, and consensus is reached--agreement that all are comfortable with--then the message of the Word of God has been watered down, and the participants have been conditioned to accept (and even celebrate) their compromise. This becomes the starting point for the next meeting. The fear of alienation from the group is the pressure that prevents an individual from standing firm for the truth of the Word of God.
“A traditional thinker, when proven wrong with factual information (i.e., Biblical moral absolutes) yields to the facts, and admits that he/she is wrong, and then aligns him/herself to those facts. Because Biblical moral absolutes do not change, traditional thinkers who align themselves to those unchanging absolutes are labeled as ‘resistant to change.’
“On the other hand, transformational thinkers, when proven wrong with factual information, have been conditioned to process that information differently. They automatically question it and dialogue it within themselves; their (deceitful) hearts rebel against it, and then they begin to justify (to themselves and others) why it is that they no longer have to attend to the facts. The natural result of the dialectic process is the searing of the conscience (1 Timothy 4:1-2). These people are then able to justify to themselves why they are no longer bound to Biblical moral absolutes. ...
“... through the process of continual incremental change (using the Hegelian dialectic over and over with the last synthesis becoming the new thesis--the ‘new fact base,’ or ‘new reality’), the Word of God is gradually/incrementally changed from its original intent, and eventually it is interpreted to mean something contrary to its original intent. ...
“The rebellion is subtle at first--simply moving away from the traditional way of ‘doing’ church; later, the ordaining of female ‘pastors’; and eventually it gets to the point of ordaining lesbian ‘pastors.’ Barriers to change must be broken down, and eventually, for the sake of peace and unity, interdenominational barriers and interreligious barriers will be broken down, paving the way for a worldwide ecumenical movement--a one-world church. ...
“A recent example of this paradigm shift in processing factual information was when the ‘Rev.’ Richard Mouw, the President of the Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California (a strong promoter of the church growth movement), was quoted in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on January 22, 2000: ‘Mouw said he supports rights and benefits for committed same-sex domestic partners, but believes the sacrament of marriage should be confined to heterosexual couples in the Judeo-Christian tradition.’ When leaders of this movement are making statements like this, then we can be sure that the movement is not from God, and is headed in the opposite direction of God’s will. Mr. Mouw already is thinking in the transformational mode. He is able to justify (to himself) a teaching that is contrary to the Word of God” (“What’s Wrong with the 21st Century Church,” August 8, 2000, http://www.crossroad.to/News/Church/Klenck1.html).
Observe, again, that deception is inherent in the dialectic process. Those who initiate and oversee the process have an objective, and they know that it will be resisted, so they resort to deception, especially at the beginning, to break down resistance to the goal. In the case of theological modernists, they present the new theology as a minor issue at first, hiding their real agenda. In the case of Marxists, they describe their desired political system in deceptive terms. They make promises that they have no intention of keeping; they hide the fact that liberties will be curtailed.
Those who use this methodology know that once the process of dialectics has been carried out, the resistance will have been broken down and an atmosphere created for the implementation of the original goal. They adopt the Jesuit philosophy that “the end justifies the means.”
Consider how that Robert Schuller’s January 2008 Rethink Conference employed Hegelian dialectics to further his New Age objectives of syncretizing religion and creating a new type of Christianity and ultimately a new world through the power of human potential.
The conference was “A CONVERGENCE of some of the most influential Christian and global thinkers” (Rethink Conference announcement, Oct. 15, 2007). These great thinkers were also described as “respected icons in media, politics, faith, science, business and technology.” The important fact is that they represented contradictory ideas, and their contradictory ideas were to be the stepping stones to something new. They included evangelicals such as Lee Strobel and Rick Warren’s wife, Kay, Emerging Church leaders Erwin McManus and Dan Kimball, Evangelicals and Catholics Together proponent Charles Colson, media mogul and pornography purveyor Rupert Murdoch, and agnostic Larry King.
The Rethink Conference was clearly described in terms of the Hegelian methodology, though of course the term itself was not used. The idea of the conference was “bring all the different thoughts and ideas and create something cohesive and meaningful” (“Interview with Erwin McManus, Christian Post, January 22, 2008). The process first involved hearing what each speaker said in a 20-minute lecture. The participants were then instructed to “wrestle with it, dialogue about it, agree or disagree with it--then take it a step further and make it your own” (Rethink Conference announcement, Oct. 15, 2007).
Schuller also described his Hegelian methodology in the book Don’t Throw Away Tomorrow: Living God’s Dream for Your Life:
“We need to learn the healing quality of wise compromise. ... Perhaps the only way to deal with contradictions is to combine them creatively and produce something new. That’s ingenious compromise.” (New Age leader Gerald Jampolsky’s endorsement is on the back cover of this book.)
To seek to combine contradictions into something new is Hegelian dialectics. It is a key principle of the emerging church.
If some believe that Jesus is God and others believe he was merely a great teacher, and if some believe that man is a fallen sinner separated from God and others believe he is essentially good and one with God, and if some believe that God is the Almighty who created all things but is not a part of the creation and others believe that God is the sum total of all things -- those are the old contradictions and we must move beyond such things. This is what they are saying.
HEGELIAN DIALECTICS IS EMPLOYED BY THEOLOGICAL MODERNISTS to replace old doctrine with new.
A Lutheran pastor describes how the Hegelian dialectic works in the field of theological training:
“I had fully accepted this ‘New Theology or Thinking,’ having first gone through a traumatic time in which the Christian faith with which I had arrived there [at seminary] was ‘challenged.’ The reason presented for this ‘challenging’ was to bring us to really ‘think through’ our theology, to ‘stretch’ our faith, to ‘move us to a deeper understanding of the faith.’ This was the rational which was presented when more conservative members of the constituency in the synod would question about what was going on when they would hear from outspoken students and vicars what was being taught.
“THIS REALLY WAS DECEITFUL BECAUSE THE AIM AND INTENTION, AS I CAME TO KNOW LATER AS A MORE SOPHISTICATED INITIATE, WAS NOT TO ‘STRETCH OUR FAITH’ BUT TO MOVE US FROM THE HISTORICAL FAITH INTO THE ‘NEW THINKING.’ We all knew this was a great shift; that’s why it was so traumatic; but we presented it as representing only minor doctrinal differences. It actually involves an entirely different way of thinking. I have said many times to my conservative friends: You don’t understand; they think in an entirely different way. You think in terms of one thing which is true and the opposite which is false. They have adopted a dialectical way of thinking in which there is no true and false, only thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. They have effectively adopted Hegel’s dialectical way of thinking. There truly are no absolute truths within their system. They will discuss things with conservatives in a way that gets their opponent to think that they are discussing which of two positions is right. All the while the real issue for them is that there is no certain answer” (The Christian News, April 29, 1985, pp. 1, 3, 4).
We see, again, that the dialectic process is a guided process and that it employs deception to reach its objectives.
Dean Gotcher describes how Hegelian dialectics works in a general setting as well as in the type of egalitarian, non-authoritative Bible classes that are popular in many churches today:
“There is thesis, which is simple; that’s you and your position and facts based on what you believe. Antithesis is somebody who’s different than you. The moment the two of you who are different are in the same room, there’s a potential relationship there. However, the only way you can get to it is synthesis. You and the other person have to put aside your differences for the sake of a relationship and try to find facts or elements of your belief systems that are in harmony. ...
“In seminary I took the equivalent of a total quality management course where I learned how to survey the congregation and find out ‘what do you think and how do you feel?’ ... The moment you go into the dialogue [the dialectic process]--which now is in Sunday School materials as well--about what do you think and how do you feel over what is being taught, you are now allowing the [student] to be a scientist on God, to question the authority of God’s Word, instead of looking at it as it is, and saying, ‘Okay, I don’t understand it; Lord, reveal it to me.’ This has to be what we do instead of gauging how we think and feel. ...
“[The dialectic process] makes faith into a tool to be changed to our human understanding, to change it to meet our felt needs for the sake of a relationship. The agenda that the Berean church revealed to Paul, was that they weren’t hung up on Paul. They weren’t hung up on a relationship. They were hung up on truth. So when the Apostle Paul shared the Gospel, they went to the Word of God and checked him out. Try that with ministers today and they’ll get bent out of shape because you’re not supposed to question their ‘I think and I feel.’ ...
“Theology students drive me nuts because they say, ‘Jesus is a team builder.’ I say, ‘Wait a minute. No, He wasn’t a team builder. Each one of those disciples could stand on their own. They didn’t need the group to make a decision. They died alone as martyrs. They realized there wasn’t a group grade on the day of judgment. They didn’t say, ‘I think and I feel.’ You don’t find that in their ministry. They saw the truth and proclaimed it. They encouraged us through their work to continue to proclaim the truth.’ Jesus’ ministry was not built on ‘I think and I feel.’ It was built on ‘I know’” (Interview with Dean Gotcher, Women’s International Group Newsletter, Sept.-Oct. 1999).
HEGELIAN DIALECTICS IS EMPLOYED BY ONE WORLDERS AND NEW AGERS to prepare the way for world harmony. It is employed to break down national sovereignty and create a globalist mindset, to tear down the old contradictory religious and political systems and replace them with a new syncretized one. Speaking at the UN Conference on Human Rights in 1993 in Vienna, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali spoke of the “challenging dialectical conflict” that required people to “transcend ourselves” and “to find our common essence beyond our apparent divisions, our temporary differences, our ideological and cultural barriers” (Interview with Dean Gotcher, Women’s International Group Newsletter, Sept.-Oct. 1999).
The late New Ager M. Scott Peck, whose books have sold by the millions, believed that man could become God through a process of spiritual evolution. He promoted the religion of scientific “skepticism,” of rejecting the religious faith of one’s parents, regardless of what that faith is, and building one’s own personal religion, of questioning everything.
In his books The Different Drum (1987) and A World Awaiting to Be Born (1993), Peck applied this evolutionary process to world peace. He taught the concept that a new age has arrived in man’s evolutionary process and a spiritually evolved generation can create unity, solve the world’s problems, and bring in an age of peace. The front cover of The Different Drum describes the book’s objective as “the creation of true community, the first step to world peace.” The back cover says, “Dr. M. Scott Peck believes that if we are to prevent civilization destroying itself, we must urgently rebuild community on all levels, local, national and international, and that is the first step to spiritual survival.” The Different Drum has the following dedication: “To the people of all nations in the hope that within a century there will no longer be a Veteran’s Day Parade...” This refers, of course, to the hope of world peace.
Peck described the process whereby the world can allegedly experience peace, and it is the Hegalian dialectic at work. It requires creating New Age communities all over the world in which differences can be resolved and the world transformed. In these communities there is no leader but all are leaders, decisions are reached by consensus, there are no “sides” and everyone is respected and heard (The Different Drum, pp. 71, 72). In these communities the individual is allowed to express any belief or doubt and to act out in his own individual way, to live as he pleases. The New Age community must be a “safe place.” He says the “healing” will only happen when “its members have learned to stop trying to heal and convert” (p. 68). He says true community means that “everyone is welcome” and there is “no pressure to conform” and that “all human differences are included” and “appreciated” and even “celebrated” (pp. 61, 62). True community must incorporate “the dark and the light, the sacred and the profane” (p. 65). Those who believe in homosexual marriage and abortion and evolution and human divinity are to live in harmonious community with those who don’t. He calls this process the politics of “transcendence” (p. 63).
In the New Age community, the only real sin is the sin of exclusiveness and theological dogmatism.
Peck says, “It is not only such ideological and theological rigidities that we need to discard, it is any idea that assumes the status of ‘the one and only right way’” (p. 96).
He says that the greatest hindrance to world peace is “exclusivity” (The Different Drum, p. 61). He warns about “groups that exclude others” because they are “doubters” or “sinners” and that are “defensive bastions against community.” He says that even the refusal to join a group because you don’t agree with it is “destructive to community” (p. 62).
Peck personally conducted scores of community-building workshops to further his objective, and he is only one of many who are involved in this process.
It is easy to see how unacceptable the practice of dogmatic Bible preaching and exclusive evangelism is in such a context! It simply cannot be allowed, because it will disrupt the sense of world community!
For a Bible-believing Christian to say that salvation is through regenerating faith in Jesus Christ alone and to separate his children from the public school system and to disagree with evolution and to refuse to “celebrate” homosexuality is considered a great evil by New Agers, because they think it is hindering the evolutionary progress of the entire world. Dogmatic biblical thinking is the chief obstacle to the establishment of the New Age.
What Saith the Scripture?
From a biblical perspective Hegelian dialectics is gross disobedience to God.
Hegelian dialectics is contrary to the Bible’s teaching that we have been given absolute truth from God and we are not to allow any contradiction. The Bible claims to be the sole divine revelation that God has given mankind and we are to believe it and judge everything by it (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We are to allow “no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3). We are to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), which means we are forbidden to give contradictory doctrines any credence.
For the Bible believer, the Bible is THE infallible thesis, and every antithesis is to be rejected and no synthesis allowed!
Hegelian dialectics is contrary to the Bible’s teaching that God’s people are to separate from darkness.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:14-17).
“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5).
“And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (1 John 5:19-21).
The Bible asks rhetorically, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). The Ecumenical, New Age, Emerging Church crowd brazenly replies, “Sure, we can make that work.”
But it won’t work. It never has and it never will.
Well does the Bible describe the great departure of the faith as those who are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).
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