Meeting Ken Wilber: Match of the Titans

For the better part of the past decade, Presence has placed our enduring work in transformative biblical studies in dialogue with Integral Theory, an exciting new field of meta-theory, interpretation, and practice. Pioneering thinkers like Ken Wilber, Steve McIntosh, and Don Beck have been asking important questions:

Who are we?
How do we grow?
How inclusive can we be toward others and other perspectives while we grow?

Their studies in the ways individuals and entire cultures grow in consciousness has forever impacted our work in Covenant Eschatology, exploring how the God of Israel becomes the All in all, and how we as individuals, spiritual communities, and whole societies become active, positive co-creators of the New Heavens and Earth in our midst.

Last month, our core Presence team had a dream come true: All of us meeting Integral pioneer Ken Wilber. This happened thanks to our friend Brandon Robertson, as part of his Nomad Partnerships series of intimate small-group conversations with some of today’s most inspiring spiritual leaders. Doug, Denée and I joined a group of fellow-explorers in Ken’s loft in Denver, where Ken shared his latest thoughts and insights on the future of spirituality – one of waking up, growing up, cleaning up and showing up.

Doug was able to share with many in this same small group the next day, a presentation introducing Integral Theology from Genesis to Revelation. We were able to share our own perspective on the spirituality of tomorrow – a space where we can let go of attachments to divisive forms, trusting God and finding new boundaries, growth markers, and communities on the other side.

Presence board member Rob Hunter had this to add:

“Wilber quoted Wittgenstein, most well-known for his work on language. He stated this about ‘eternity’:

If we take eternity to mean not everlasting temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the moment.

Beautiful. I suspect everybody at times joyfully experiences the fleetingly pleasant and beautiful after-thought of having just lived in the moment, of having possessed and/or been possessed by eternity.  Endless duration, conversely, is precisely what is actually meant by most religious folk when they speak of afterlife as ‘eternal life.’ This synonym-making is forgivable but technically flawed: eternity is not merely termination-less but also beginning-less – there is no end on either end, whereas the concept of afterlife has its beginning-end (if at all) after departure from this two-ended biological life. Eternal life cannot be akin to stepping into a metaphorically flowing river with no end or beginning while maintaining a front-ended existence separate from the river; instead it seems to necessarily entail becoming fully one with the river itself.

Moreover, ‘eternity’ and ‘eternal’ are technically not in any Biblical manuscript, but instead are translator-imposed theological opinions concerning what the writers meant when writing the Greek terms aeon and aeons (i.e., English age/ages).  Being the technical legalist/pain-in-the-you-know-what does not generally deliver fleetingly beautiful afterthoughts of having truly lived in the moment for most of us, however, though God is free to bless those for whom it does.”

Well-said, Rob!

We built a number of new friendships and deepened others during our time in Denver. We remain amazed and encouraged by the exponential spiritual hunger and growth we see sprouting up across the planet in our travels, and we look forward to continuing to both share with and be inspired by you.

Are you interested in Doug’s Integral Theology presentation? We give away an expanded version of this presentation that you can access right here.

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