Richard Rohr, Jen Hatmaker, and the Millennial Obsession With Mysticism — The Alisa Childers Podcast #48


​Richard Rohr is a Franciscan Friar who is captivating a generation of spiritual seekers and progressive Christians. Recently, Jen Hatmaker had him as a guest on her podcast, and in today's episode, Marcia Montenegro and I analyze their discussion.


4/26/2019 03:08:47 pm

I took one of their “ tests” to see what number I’d get out of curiousity and they got me wrong. Like I can’t fit into their box. There’s nothing spiritual about a personality quiz.

Thanks for your input. It is crazy to think everyone can fit into one of 9 numbers. And these are based on 3 broader areas formulated by Gurdjieff, the esoteric Gnostic teacher. I agree we can't find anything spiritual in such a chart.


4/30/2019 12:08:14 am

Thank you so much for addressing the enneagram numbers. I have heard this mentioned on so many Christian podcasts but didn't know much about it. Most just quickly address it in a what number are you kind of a way, but someone said something recently about its roots that sent off warning signals. I knew I needed to know more. Thank you!


5/1/2019 01:19:44 pm

Why is Hatmaker viewed as such a 'thought leader'? What qualifications does she have? Or is it simply, like most progressives, that she is saying what people WANT to hear rather than what they NEED to hear (the truth).

Hi, Mike, Hatmaker has been influential through her blog and then her leadership in a women's group called the IF Gathering. So many women were following her and many were part of the IF Gatherings (which continue without Hatmaker, I believe).

However, Do you know that Jen Hatmaker performed a lesbian wedding just last week and for yeas now has said, and I quote, "Monogamous homosexual marriage can be holy to God."


5/14/2019 03:41:51 am

This attempt of a critique of fr. Richard Rohr is full of contradictions and lacks solid knowledge of the history of Christian mysticism. Accusing Rohr of ahistorical Christianity, promotion of Eastern meditation, misunderstanding of Scriptures, misunderstanding of Christianity is an absurd… The real Truth of the Christianity is love and dynamism of Rohr`s teaching is clearly focused on that Truth. Progressive Christians? Jesus presented in Gospels was quite progressive in His critique (direct and indirect) of the Temple theology. His critique of Jewish exclusivity and understanding of purity is quite obvious. I guess He didn`t express His critique as Catholic, Evangelical or Orthodox Christian. He spoke as a Jew. And that is the important "Sitz-im-Leben" of biblical hermenutics we should take into consideration regarding the idea of progressive movements in any religion… Jesus was a scandalous figure (in Greek skandalon σκάνδαλον: the trigger of a trap, an offense). Please, forgive me. But I think what this podcast offers are slogans, tautology and superficial analysis of Rohr`s writings. I kindly send You my warm regards and best wishes!

Jesus was Jewish and affirmed the Old Testament; he fulfilled its prophecies. He was not progressive in the sense of moving away from any of God's teachings since he affirmed them. He was part of the plan of salvation from the beginning, that was announced in Gen. 3:15 and prophesied in many of the Psalms and by the prophets such as Isaiah. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for adding laws to God's laws. Iow, Jesus was against the corruption of biblical Judaism so he did scandalize the Jewish leaders who rejected him but he was not scandalous in going against God's word. He was not Progressive in the sense of today's Progressives who question and/or reject God's word.
Regarding Rohr, Rohr has a heretical view of Jesus and Christ because he makes an erroneous distinction between them. Jesus and Christ are one and the same, but Rohr, in his blogs, in many of his interviews, and in his latest book, casts Jesus as the embodiment of a Christ "larger" than Jesus. He also teaches that creation was the first incarnation of Christ; this is heretical in and of itself even without the other statements. He teaches that all are in Christ already so the atonement for sins was not necessary. He gives the atonement another meaning. Rohr is actually beyond Progressive Christianity in his extreme views. But he influences them because he is viewed as an outspoken critic of what Progressives see as a failed church. Progressives are not strong on doctrine so they either don't know Rohr's views or don't care.


5/16/2019 07:10:22 am

Forgive me, but I do not agree with your conclusion: “Rohr has a heretical view of Jesus and Christ because he makes an erroneous distinction between them”. In fact, your statement “Rohr, in his blogs, in many of his interviews, and in his latest book, casts Jesus as the embodiment of a Christ "larger" than Jesus” is not a heresy and originally not his ideas, but an old, ancient reflection of Greek Fathers of the Church, which is an important part of the orthodox teaching regarding theosis, Incarnation and Eastern Christian cosmology. I do not think Fr. Rohr reflects on something new, but probably he brings those old ideas as new to many Christians. That`s why they may look quite "progressive".
I`ve never read or heard from Fr. Rohr about the distinction between Jesus and Christ – the radical distinction your words imply. The economy and the dynamism of the Christ includes the historical Incarnation of Jesus which Fr. Rohr respects with his Eucharistic sensitivity and sacramental experience. Let me kindly quote him:

The Eternal Christ appeared in a personal form that humans came to know and love as “Jesus.”
In Jesus, this eternal omnipresence had a precise, concrete, and personal referent. God’s presence became more obvious and believable in the world. The formless took on form in someone we could “hear, see, and touch” (1 John 1:1). When we believe in Jesus Christ, we’re believing in something much bigger than the historical incarnation that we call Jesus. Jesus is the visible map.

Now, let me kindly quote St. Maximus the Confessor as an example of echoing Fr. Rohr`s ideas in ancient Christianity:
“The Logos, by essence God, became a messenger of this plan when he became a man and…established himself as the innermost depth of the Father’s goodness while also displaying in himself the very goal for which his creatures manifestly received the beginning of their existence.”
“We affirm that the one Logos is many logoi and the many logoi are One. Because the One goes forth out of goodness into individual being creating and preserving them, the One is many. Moreover the many are directed toward the One and are providentially guided in that direction. It is as though they were drawn to an all‐powerful center that had built into it the beginnings of the lines that go out from it and that gathers them all together.”

Regarding your opinion about Jesus` scandal (“Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for adding laws to God's laws. Iow, Jesus was against the corruption of biblical Judaism so he did scandalize the Jewish leaders who rejected him”), forgive me, I only partially agree with you.
Paul quite clearly refers to Christ as skandalon in 1 Cor. 1.23 : We however preach Christ having been crucified to [the] Jewish (Ἰουδαίοις) indeed (μὲν) a stumbling block (σκάνδαλον – skandalon) to Gentiles now foolishness. (literal translation)
Why He scandalized Jews of the first century? Jesus was excommunicated by the way of his execution:
“And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God.” (Deuteronomy 21:22–23)

Jesus scandalized people by crossing religious and social boundaries defined by purity laws written in Leviticus (which in many metaphorical forms defines modern Christianity). In this respect it seems He was rejecting the whole system (perhaps by being progressive – encouraging change in society or in the way that things are done as Cambridge dictionary understands the connotation of “progressive”):
1. Regarding people to be avoided and shunned:
– Jesus came in contact with unclean people: he voluntarily touched a leper ("and he touched him" Mk 1:41); he took a corpse by the hand (Mk 5:41).
– He was touched by a menstruating woman, a traditionally unclean person (Mk 5:24-28).
– Jesus called a public sinner to be an intimate: to Levi, sitting in his tax booth, he said "Follow me!" (Mk 2:13-14).
– Jesus travelled extensively in Gentile territory, thus crossing boundaries he ought not to cross and exposing himself to pollution on every side. He regularly crossed the Sea of Galilee into non-kosher territory (Mk 4:35-42); he toured the "region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the region of the Decapolis" (Mk 7:31).
– While on this journey, Jesus had business with unclean people such as the Syro-phoenician woman (Mk 7:24-30).
– Jesus regularly was in contact with the possessed, the blind, the lame, and the deaf – all figures who are unclean in some way according to Lev 21:16–24.
2. Regarding the body, Jesus seems not to have guarded his bodily orifices or thei

Marcia Montenegro

5/16/2019 12:20:55 pm

Robert, Richard Rohr states:
"Jesus died, Christ arose."
"Christ said things Jesus would never have said."
And RR wrote in his recent book that the Christ Paul was writing about was not the same as the Jesus in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This is heretical. Jesus and Christ are one and the same. Christ simply is the Greek for Messiah and Jesus was and is the Messiah. Incarnation aside, there is no difference between Jesus and Christ as Rohr states. RR also states that the first incarnation of Christ was creation itself. This is a serious heresy and has never been a Christian doctrine. This is only part of the erroneous views he has of Jesus/Christ. There are more.

Re Jesus violating laws. Jesus never violated laws by touching lepers. The prohibitions on that in the OT were about being ritually clean. If one touched a leper or dead body, one had to then be ritually cleanse to to go into the temple or make a sacrifice. I don't see how Jesus violated any of these laws.


5/16/2019 06:41:41 pm

2. Regarding the body, Jesus seems not to have guarded his bodily orifices or their emissions in ways that befit purity-minded people.
– He broke one of the strictest purity laws in Israel as he disregarded all dietary restrictions: "Thus he declared all foods clean" (Mk 7:19).
– Contrary to all purity rules, Jesus shared meals with unclean sinners: "He sat at table in Levi's house and many tax collectors and sinners were sitting with Jesus" (Mk 2:15).
– Nor did Jesus' disciples have regard for the surface of the body; they did not wash their hands before eating, showing unconcern for what passed through their mouths: "The Pharisees saw that some of his disciples ate with hands defiled, that is, unwashed" (Mk 7:2).
– In what must have been shocking to Mark's ancient audience, Jesus applied his own spittle to the eyes of a blind man (8:23) and to the tongue of a dumb person (Mk 7:33), showing disregard for bodily orifices and bodily emissions.
– In the mass feedings in Mk 6:37-44 and Mk 8:1-10, Jesus apparently showed no concern for the purity of the folk with whom he ate or for any of the rituals to be practiced prior to eating. Common food was shared with common folk on common ground.
3. Regarding the time which structured Jewish life.
– His disciples plucked grain on the Sabbath, "doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath" (2:24). Jesus himself healed on the Sabbath (Mk 3:1-6).
4. Regarding the places which classified Jewish space.
– Jesus thoroughly disrupted the temple system. He stopped worshippers from their holy rites by chasing away those who facilitated the payment of temple tithes and the offering of gifts (Mk 11:15). It is even said that he "would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple" (Mk 11:16), which may refer to Jesus' supposed interruption of the carrying of sacrificial vessels and offerings from the people's court into the altar area.

Marcia Montenegro

5/16/2019 07:01:05 pm

Jesus was speaking of his body when he talked about the temple being torn down, he was not actually talking against it. And as for the sacrifices yes Jesus is greater than the sacrifices, Jesus is greater than anything that could be found in the temple or any sacrifice or any priest. This is made clear in the book of Hebrews. As for creation being the first incarnation of Christ and your reference to some Greek fathers, their views are not our Authority. The Authority for what is true is God's word. And I think that is a big difference between what you were basing your views on and what I based my views on. Because according not only to the Bible but to the historic Christian faith, Jesus cannot be equated with creation nor can he be a part of it as Rohr teaches. And Rohr does teach that. This is going to be my last reply to you because I don't have time to keep going back and forth and you apparently Place Authority and other sources than the Bible which means we don't even have common ground for a discussion. So I will close by saying that I hope you consider God's word as the authority and look to that to discover who Jesus is and why Richard Rohr is wrong. Jesus warned about many false christs and I think the one taught by Rohr is one of them.


5/16/2019 06:42:11 pm

– Jesus' negative attitude to temple space is clarified when it is linked with a later statement that love of God and neighbor is "worth more than all whole burnt offerings" (Mk 12:33).
– Jesus' enemies, at least, perceive him as speaking against the holy place (Mk 14:58; 15:29), a perception with which Mark apparently agreed (see Mk 13:2). Since the temple is the chief expression of the purity system of first-century Judaism, Jesus' "pollution" of the temple (Mk 11:15-19) and his prediction of its destruction (Mk 13:1-2) should surface as the major charges against him by the temple elite in Jerusalem (Mk 14:58; 15:29). From their perspective, in showing such contempt for its chief symbol, Jesus was rejecting the whole system.
Fr. Rohr talks about those things directly or indirectly in many of his books and conferences. I`m convinced his language and so called progressive ideas appeal to the minority of religious societies – speaking sociologically. In this regard I truly respect his bravery and exposure to violent criticism by the majority.
You said: “He (Rohr) also teaches that creation was the first incarnation of Christ; this is heretical in and of itself even without the other statements.” In fact, the Greek Church Fathers talk about three or four incarnations. The first one is the creation, the second – Scriptures, the third – Jesus of the Nazareth, the fourth – divinized human being “who all creation is eagerly waiting for” (Romans 8:19). Therefore, Fr. Rohr`s teaching is in accordance with the Tradition and the Orthodoxy. Those three or four ways of the Incarnation find their epicenter in the Mystery of the historical Incarnation of Jesus of Nazareth. Fr. Rohr recognizes it and values it.
Regarding the Mystery of the Incarnation in the Universe let me kindly refer to some of the greatest mystics of the Christian world. Meister Eckhart:
`Someone who knew nothing but creatures would never need to attend to any sermons, for every creature is full of God and is a book'. (Sermon 9)
`All things speak God. What my mouth does in speaking and declaring God, is likewise done by the essence of a stone, and this is understood more by works than by words." (Sermon 53)
St. Maximus the Confessor: “Then the Word of God wishes always to realize in all things the mystery of his incarnation. (…) Matter has the divine and ineffable honor of dwelling with God.”
I believe those conclusions are the logical consequences of the Church teaching about interpenetration of two natures in Jesus Christ.
In my humble opinion the reason why so many religious folks reject Fr. Richard`s teaching is the fact that he creates conditions which support the Dark Night of the Soul – St. John of the Cross so beautifully describes – in which it is “not God who disappears, but only our concepts, images, and sensations of God.”
I believe, it would be beneficial to everyone if Alisa Childers invites Fr. Rohr to record another podcast…


5/16/2019 06:50:40 pm

Re: I don't see how Jesus violated any of these laws.
Neither Moses (Nm 12:9-15) nor Elisha (2 Ki 5:1-14) touched the leper they healed. Nevertheless, Jesus reaches out and touches this man to heal him and thereby seemingly violates the Levitical Law stated in Leviticus 5:3.18 The act of Jesus to touch the leper is all the more significant, as the Greek phrase emphasizes that Jesus reaches out to him. Furthermore, Jesus did not have to touch this man, as in some other healing stories Jesus healed people by speaking only. In addition, the Gospels do not record that Jesus ever personally underwent any form of ritual purification.


5/18/2019 04:39:14 am

Dear Marcia! Please, do not misunderstand me! I do respect and value Your comments!
When I studied the history of the first two centuries of Christianity under a great biblical scholar James Dunn, I realized that first Christians communities could transcend their differences (different experiences of Jesus) at the table, sharing bread, wine and love. Love has been the symbolon ( σῠν-together and βάλλω throw, put – implies an idea of community, of union, of meeting) of first Christians. Unfortunately, the doctrine was always the diabolon (δια- separately, in part, the opposite of συν, βάλλω throw, put – means disagreement, quarrel, accusation, slander).The potentiality to love: that`s our image of God. The actualization of love in our in-carnation: that`s our Divine likeness. I do dream about Christians (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox) who can sit together at the table and share without fear. Dear Marcia! This world looks like a stage of too much hatred, division, suffering, tears, accusations. I`m tired of it. I believe Fr. Rohr desperately tries to find vocabularies we can all communicate with each other. And I can see good fruits of his work. The most intimate vocabularies of that kind of communication derive from the cruciform reality we all share and experience… And the cruciform reality is one of the dimensions of the experience of the Universal Christ Fr. Rohr refers to… My warmest regards, love and always best wishes to You!

thanks for this. this is scary stuff, and the most disturbing part? the endorsement on the cover of Rohr's book. none other than Bono himself. sadly, i'm not surprised.

Su van der Plas

4/8/2020 10:17:48 am

I am listening to your podcast with interest after it came up while looking for material about Richard Rohr. There is much I would like to critique about your understanding of Father Richard Rohr's books and teaching but I would only say this. Why do evangelical Christians (and I was one myself) like yourself who are taking the time to read at least in part and try to understand such material which you find so erroneous, not go to the source itself? Have you ever asked Richard Rohr to explain his view to you or have a dialogue about this with him? That way what is truth within what you believe and what is truth within what he believes can be better understood and together as Christians we would find common ground rather than constantly seeking to find errors which only entrench the faithful. So much good would come from us learning to love and understand one another.

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