Monday, February 08, 2010

Doug Groothuis on Ken Wilber

My review of Ken Wilber's book, A Brief Theory of Everything is on line at The Christian Research Institute. I think it was only put up recently, or perhaps I missed it before. Wilber is the leading pantheistic theorist today, whose previous book, A Brief History of Everything (which I have also reviewed), is recommended without qualification by Rob Bell in Velvet Elvis. This is tragic given Bell's influence and Wilber's defense of a worldview that totally contradictions Christian theism.


Donovan said...

I am a born again Christian and am currently reading A BRIEF HISTORY OF EVERYTHING.

Why is it so wrong to read books that may or may now be "politically or spiritually correct"?

Last time I checked in with God, he told me the gates of hell could not prevail against Truth. Why don't you chill out bro. Let Christians read what they want to read.
gotham, WI

pennoyer said...

Rob Bell is a very popular pastor and speaker, and I'm sure he has done much good in some areas. But his Velvet Elvis is shot through with bad theology, half-digested history, and logical fallacies. He has written other books since, but as far as I know none of them have been a retraction, which would have been the mark of a responsible theologian in earlier days. - Ray

Steve Schuler said...

For a less than flattering perspective on Ken Wilbur see:

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...


Where did I say not to read it? I read it! The problem is a pastor, author recommending it WITHOUT QUALIFICATION. This misleads people into thinking it is generally good and helpful. Bell not only recommended it, he recommended it highly. I quote and refer to hundreds of sources that I don't entirely endorse in my ten books and many other writings.

I hope that clears it up. No need for me to "chill." I'm from Alaska and am still trying to thaw out.

Donovan said...

Thanks for clearing that up. In that case,I would like to recommend that everyone read, "The power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. I think it's a good idea to read EVERYTHING. What if Martin Luther just went along with the status quo and never questioned the spiritual interpretations of the "true" church, lol.

I like Tolle, because he explains how to put your Christianity in action by actually LIVING as a Christian instead of just just believing in your head that you have fire insurance when you die. Way to many Christians are all "head" Christians and have forgotten that it's now the words you say, but the life you lead. Faith without works is DEAD.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...


Tolle uses Christian terminology but without a biblical meaning. He is a pantheist: all(including us) is divine. This cuts against biblical monotheism (and good philosophy) which says that there is a Creator - creation distinction. See Genesis 1:1; 1 John 1:1; Psalm 90:1-2; and so much more. He also, therefore, misunderstands the identity and significance of Jesus, denying his singular status in the universe as Lord and Savior.

Please consult The Christian Research Journal for their critique of Tolle. His views are New Age to the core; this is a worldview I extensively critiqued in the 1980s and 1990s in many books and articles, if you are interested. Check Amazon for used copies of Unmasking the New Age and Confronting the New Age, among others.

Krave said...


If you are looking for an excellent contemporary writer who can explain, "how to put your Christianity in action by actually LIVING as a Christian instead of just just believing in your head that you have fire insurance when you die" then let me recommend Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy. Willard's book is a masterpiece. Better yet, read some of the Wisdom literature of the Bible.

Jime said...

Hi Douglas,

Nice review of Wilber's book.

The most comprehensive critique of Wilber's work is the online book Bald Ambition by independent philosopher Jeff Meyerhoff. It's available here:

The website "Integral World" is dedicated to Wilber's ideas, and it contains many critical essays.

But it has been widely recognized in that website that Meyerhoff's critique of Wilber is the best.

Meyerhoff is a sophisticated relativistic and postmodern philosopher, not the easy to refute "everything is relative" kind of relativist. See for example this paper about the emotional and psychological foundation of philosopher beliefs:

Chapter 9 of Meyerhoff's book on Wilber contains more arguments supporting his position on the psychology of philosophical beliefs or the emotional structure of belief.

Congratulations for your blog.

Steve Schuler said...

While I have quite a few reservations regarding Ken Wilber and his perspectives on "Everything", I think he is a person whose thoughts are well worth consideration. Here is a link to an article in which he responds to some of his critics. It somewhat deflates the arguement that as an intellectual maverick operating outside of academia Wilber is not called upon to support his thinking through the process of "peer review".

Pantheistic universe?

Incarnational monotheistic universe?

I seem to reside in a cloud of unknowing...

Bill Honsberger said...

Just for funsees - Wilbur is also the man who for most of his adult life has considered Adida (Da Free John) to the the most enlightened spiritual master who has ever lived. It takes only a few moments reading Adida's life and stuff to realize what a truly morally perverse man he was. True to the Vedanta tradition - if everything is an illusion one can truly do whatever immoral thing one desires. And Adida might have lived that sick vision better than anyone. So Wilbur endorses Adida and Bell endorses Wilbur. Thats just great - and how Christians can get caught up in this food chain is more than pathetic - it is sad.
Our Father calls us to better than this.

Donovan said...

I liked what you said about Ken Wilber. You said, I quote, "how Christians can get caught up in this food chain is more than pathetic - it is sad.".

Let's now exchange Ken Wilber for.....that fraud Benny Hinn, or Jim Baker, Jimmy Swaggert, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Copeland, Robert Schuller, Paul and Jan Crouch, Joel Osteen- etc, etc. etc. YES, "how Christians can get caught up in this food chain is more than pathetic- it is sad". I couldn't have said it any better. Well, I couldn't, but Jesus can. "Take the log out of your own eye first". Good advice, me thinks.

Bill Honsberger said...

Hi Donavan. It is real curious how my critique of Ken Wilbur/Rob Bell has been turned by you into an endorsement of Hinn, Copeland, Swaggert, Roberts, Schuller, etc ad double nauseum! Given that the post was on a particular topic - Wilbur and Bell's endorsement of a hard core NewAge/Buddhist - it is nothing but the grossest of red herrings to suggest that this equals some sort of defense of other undefendible charlatans. The Word of God addresses what all those men do/did and it address the paganism of Wilbur. How can you make that kind of equivication?