John Ritenbaugh, reiterating that, although Transcendentalism never achieved a major following in American religious practice, Emerson’s teachings were highly influential in the Ivy League universities—Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. His teachings were said to provide a jolt to Christianity as practiced in New England following the Puritan/Separatist leanings of the Bay Colony Pilgrims, much like a blow to the stomach in a vigorous pillow fight. Even though Emerson was married and fathered a son, he had apparently written in his earlier journals of a torrid affair with one Martin Gay, leading to speculations that the etymology of the term ‘gay’ may have derived from this reference. Emerson also amalgamated strains from Buddhism and Hinduism, leading to some of his nihilistic references to blending into a nirvana-like Over-Soul. His insistence that every person is free to be his ‘own god,’ determining what is right in his own eyes, serves as the underpinnings of the ascendant, emergent religion of humanism, rapidly and savagely neutralizing all mainstream religions in North America.
John Ritenbaugh, reiterating that although Transcendentalism as a movement never had an abundance of adherents, submits that Emerson's teachings did permeate the schools of philosophy of American Ivy League Schools, institutions , ironically, which were started as Puritan Theological Seminaries. Harvard welcomed him with open arms, giving him an honorary doctorate and placing him in an influential teaching and advising role. In this capacity, having already jettisoned his Unitarian roots, Emerson waxed syncretistic, absorbing ideas from Mormonism, Paganism, Buddhism, and other Eastern philosophies, including the idea of "The Over-Soul"—a blobby plastic-like bubble where everything blends together without individual parts, making no distinction between Creator and creation. In Emerson's analysis, the only God to which we are beholden is the "god" in our own minds, trusting in ourselves rather than trusting in our Heavenly Father.
John Ritenbaugh, reminding us that Transcendentalism (a tributary of Pantheism, championed by William Wordsworth) flourished and died out the second half of the Nineteenth Century, attributes the popularity of Transcendentalism to Ralph Waldo Emerson. In one of his early writings, Emerson reacts with anger, adamantly rejecting any force, custom, or tradition which threatened to put his intellect in chains, declaring himself free to shape his own destiny. To his emerging Pantheistic concept, the entirety of the material universe is a manifestation of God. Transcendentalism (Pantheism) is a worship of nature and is surprisingly a precursor of Darwinism. The cardinal doctrine of Transcendentalism is that people are at their best when they are self-reliant, independent, and totally unencumbered by religion or the traditions of society. Many of these views on self-reliance and rugged individualism, derived from the influence of Transcendentalism, are regarded as sacrosanct by many Americans. Jerome Bradley suggests that the principles of Transcendentalism are active in Jurisprudence in the 21st Century. Believing in one's own genius ( as prescribed by Emerson) has significant limitations, especially when one assesses the genius of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, or Mao Tse Tung, Nebuchadnezzar, the Pharaoh of Egypt, or Nimrod. One could say that President Bill Clinton's serpentine equivocation with the word 'is' (during the Monica Lewinsky affair) reflected a strain of Transcendentalism. Trusting in the genius of self apparently obviates the need for a sovereign Creator and a steadfast relationship with Him. To do what comes natural to us often militates against our God-ordained best interests.
John Ritenbaugh, in his exposé of philosophers who have impacted culture generally and education specifically, focuses on the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, America's foremost practitioner of Transcendentalism and Pantheism, philosophical viewpoints somewhat akin to those mentioned in Romans 1:20 and Psalm 19, which suggests that the Creator is revealed through his Creation. Sadly, Transcendentalists, Pan-Theists, and Neo-Platonists fail to bifurcate the identity of the Creator from the Creation, calling it one and the same. This blurring of Creator with His creation gives adherents of Pan-theism the ability to declare themselves God, and not subject to any power higher than self.
Is there a distinction between black and white magic? Martin Collins in his exploration of the fastest growing religion in the United States (witchcraft) traces both practices to Satan the Devil. The Bible clearly condemns charmers, divination, gnosticism, necromancy, soothsayers, sorcery, spiritism and witchcraft, identifying all of these practices as hideous abominations, based upon lying, idolatry, and contacting evil demonic spirits.
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