On The QIRE There's No Place to Stop

If the heart of the Christian faith and life is the unmediated encounter with God, even divinization (theosis), then how does one prevent a synthesis of evangelical pietism and New Age spirituality if the latter offers such access? According to this piece in CT it’s happening. Before we begin tut-tutting, I’ve seen it in Reformed circles. Peter Jones has a point. What is QIRE? It’s the Quest for Illegitimate Religious Experience. It’s explained here. This piece also reminds me of Rahner’s (and Vatican II’s) doctrine of the “anonymous Christian.”  To measure where contemporary “evangelicalism” is imagine this piece appearing in CT c. 1964. Wouldn’t happen. Couldn’t happen. Shine, Jesus Shine (HT: Gary Johnson).

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20 comments

  1. What did we get from the 19th century? Seven-day Adventism, Christian Science, Mormonism, Fundamentalism, Dispensationalism,… Joanna Quintrell is claiming divine inspiration for the movement.

    Reading the article reminded me of Paul in Athens (Acts 17) and his reaction to the multitudes of gods was significantly different.

  2. I believe this is the first time I’ve ever come across the word “tut-tutting.” I even looked it up in the dictionary. Thanks for the new word!

  3. The fact that CT ( that promotes itself as ” A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction” )would actually give this their ‘good housing keeping sign of approval’ is what I find so bizarre. Scott is right-Carl Henry would be mortified.

  4. When I see things like this I always recall CT readers gasping for breath years ago over expose’s on mainliners praying in the name of Mother, Child and Womb (or whatever such baptized paganism it was). My hunch is that CT readers still think mainliners are off the reservation and the feeling is relatively mutual. But, given the shared non-filter for baptized paganism, it may be a case of evangelicals fighting with each other.

    • Z,

      This piece signals the real relation between mainliners and evangelicals: they’ve become indistinguishable. As Outhouse Saint DGH pointed out in an OH interview yesterday (to be broadcast later), the editorial team at CT is composed of mainliners. I remember being shocked in the early 80s, when I started reading CT by seeing letters from mainliners in CT. I was surprised that they read it. I thought Christian Century was their mag. Then I sat down to read all the back issues– which I did but, unlike David Wells, I didn’t write a book about it. Doh! Anyway, this is the sort of piece that one would have seen in Christian Century 20 years ago. Today, I doubt they would publish such rubbish but the the flagship evangelical mag will. The evangelicals are ALWAYS 20 years behind the mainline but that’s the point, they’re both two versions of the same non-confessional QIRC/QIRE.

      • True. I think it was ex-liberal Oden who said that the mainliners have hit the dead end and are standing there watching the evangelicals coming down the pike (or something to that effect).

        OH interview? I don’t recall getting you guys together yesterday. Wait, OH must stand for something else.

  5. I am not seeing anything in the article about theosis or divinization or that these rather stupid people were influenced by Eastern Orthodox theology. Theosis doesn’t posit that we are abosrbed into God’s essence and in fact entails a rejection of metaphysical monism. These people are just stupid and don’t have a history to guide them.

  6. (Just woke up for a few minutes.) So are members of QIRC/QIRE wayward Christians or lovers of false gospel? Is it a fairly diverse group: some unwitting strays, others evil-loving wolves? Would Peter or Paul have thought any worthy of correction?

    • Eric,

      Not every error makes one guilty of a “false gospel.” One must actually corrupt the gospel to do that.

      I can’t say with certainty what Paul or Peter would have done. If I knew the answer to that question I suppose life would be rather different than it is. My vocation is to be as faithful to God’s Word, as we confess it, as I can.

      • It sounds as if there would be uncertainty as to whether any amount of people (I’m teasing you here, hope it’s alright) in the QIRC/QIRE are opposed to Christianity. That means, to me, that members of the QIRC/QIRE are probably not members of liberalism as defined by Machen. Machen said that such liberals(not that you don’t know any of this already, but just to inform you what I think I do understand) are opposed to Christianity. Since such liberalism is a separate religion that simply tries to use some of the forms of Christianity without its substance, members of QIRC/QIRE must not necessarily be as extreme of a problem in comparison to members of liberalism.

  7. The “burning in the bosom” takes many varied forms- the prince of darkness seems to use this strategy upon the most sincere of those amongst us. Religious experience is almost as good as pure cocaine. It is dangerous to dabble in either. It is the American religion you know. Wasn’t it Harold Bloom who wrote about that?

  8. I should have stated my last remark in the following way: The “burning in the bosom” takes on a variety of different forms. The Prince of Darkness seems to use this strategy upon the most sincere of those amongst us in order to gain a bigger audience. Unmediated religious experience is almost as good as pure cocaine. It is dangerous to dabble in either. It is the American religion you know. Wasn’t it Harold Bloom who wrote about that? And he is a gnostic himself.

  9. We should be sending those addicted to unmediated religious experience to Calvinistic or Lutheran rehab centers. Maybe good confessional Church’s would suffice. I think they need more intense treatment than a Church can give.

  10. Scott,

    That should be turned into a non-fictitious place- I would say they need a good two-years there with 6 months in a half-way house for post-treatment. You can only leave the half-way house after passing a fairly intense doctrinal test- both written and verbal before a qualified board.

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