Friday, February 05, 2010

Ethical Blindness of Monism

Within Liberal Gnostic Christianity, it has become popular to dabble with Eastern Mysticism and modern neo-paganism (i.e., panentheism and pantheism). Many on that track seem to think that the underlying monism* will lead to greater peace on earth. And they bolster it by making a neophyte error by claiming it is more monotheistic than classical transcendent Judaeo-Christian theism.

*What is monism, you ask? It's the idea that there is only ONE. All differences we recognize are illusions, and thus the only truth is nonduality. That is, that all distinction, discrimination, differentiation is a lie. There is no difference between me & you, my good & your good, our good & the world's good. The reality of our interconnectedness is taken to an extreme form that collapses all distinction - within Hindu, this is known as seeing that all is Brahman (a monad); Buddhism sees this collapse of distinction as reaching enlightenment.

But there's a huge ethical problem that gets little to no thought - what of GOOD and EVIL? Does saying they are the same make it so? Or does it simply try to step beyond that distinctive?

If non-duality is the truth (and how this would be, I don't know - seeing as if it's TRUE it's also FALSE), then PEACE and WAR are also the same thing. Thus there is no meaningful distinction to be made in making war on your neighbor or helping them with aid. There is no difference between rape and marital love. There is no difference between a murderer with a knife and a surgeon with a scalpel - those would (under a monistic view) be false distinctions.

Your common sense buzzer should be ringing pretty loud now, but for these starry-eyed educated idiots it just doesn't. In most cases, they've divorced themselves from historic Christianity and thus are left floating in the failed experiments of heresies past rather than the tried-and-true character of orthodox Christianity. Thus they commit errors out of their novelty, thinking they've come upon a new truth which - in fact - is just an old error that's already been long- consigned to the ash-heap of divine-human relations.

A new study helps to show the dead end that is monism - and it focuses on the undeniable atrocities committed (and defended by) fervent Buddhist, Taoist, and Shintoist religious people. The horrors of the Japanese campaign in China were papered over by their religious inability to make any meaningful distinction between morality and immorality. Call it the Zen of violence. Will the "emergent church" wake up to the dead end of monism? Time will only tell. But the Church of Jesus Christ, indefectible and catholic, will continue - even if She is temporarily reduced in numbers while heretics occupy her territory.


Viola Larson said...


This is a great post. So many in the West don’t understand what monism leads to. In true classic monism, all that is material is an illusion so there is not really any such thing as good or evil. Of course there are different shades of monism.

On the other hand most Panentheist cannot be called monist. They do believe in individuality. But them they do get everything confused too.

Also I don't think you can call Shintoist monistic. They practice reverence for the ancestors. I believe it was the Shinto adherents who had a great deal to do with the great slaughter of Christians in 17th century Japan.

Why are you attributing monism to the emergent movement? Is that something new?

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

I lumped emergent "Christianity" in with that because it is heavily influenced by Borg, et al. and desires strongly to reduce the distinctiveness of Christianity by dissolving God's transcendence - both doctrinally and liturgically.

Viola Larson said...

Okay- I didn't realize they were into Borg. That is too bad.

Infojunkie said...

When teaching about advaita or non-duality, Eastern teachers are careful to refer ti "It" as "not two" rather than "one", avoiding the danger of collapsing reality into an undifferentiated mass.