Sunday, July 8, 2018

10 years ago: The death of Sir John Marks Templeton

On July 8, 2008, U.S.-born U.K. financier and philanthropist Sir John Marks Templeton died at the age of 95. Sir John became wealthy by buying extremely low-priced stocks during the Depression and selling them when the U.S. economy improved during World War II. He pioneered the use of globally diversified mutual funds, and became a billionaire.

Sir John renounced his American citizenship in 1964 and became a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and the Bahamas, and donated over $1 billion to charity, the best-known of which may have been the Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities. The Templeton Prize was established in 1972, "based on the decision of a panel of distinguished judges from various academic disciplines and religious traditions," and is awarded to a living person who, in the estimation of the judges, "has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works." The monetary value--£1,200,000 as of 2015--exceeds that of Nobel Prizes, as Sir John felt that "spirituality was ignored" in the Nobel Prizes.

Sir John was ostensibly a Presbyterian, but was in fact a religious syncretist, and established the John Templeton Foundation to support research into "big questions" through "explorations into the laws of nature and the universe, to questions on the nature of love, gratitude, forgiveness, and creativity." He stated that "We are trying to persuade people that no human has yet grasped 1% of what can be known about spiritual realities. So we are encouraging people to start using the same methods of science that have been so productive in other areas, in order to discover spiritual realities." Sir John was not only in error in believing that "science" can be used to discover "spiritual realities," but denied the very words of the Lord Jesus Christ, who not only claimed that we can know the truth (e.g., John 8:32), but that He is truth (John 14:6). Sir John Templeton seems to have been the sort of person prophesied of in II Timothy 3:7 as characteristic of the perilous times in the last days:

Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Winners of the Templeton Prize have included Mother Teresa (1973); Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama (2012); universalist Desmond Tutu (2013); and King Abdullah II of Jordan (2018). Templeton Prize laureates regarded as Evangelicals have included Billy Graham (1982); Chuck Colson (1993); and Bill Bright (1996).

Given that the purpose of the Templeton Prize is a commitment to "Spiritual Progress" rather than to truth as revealed in the Bible, this blogger doesn't believe that the Evangelical laureates should have accepted it (although I admit that it's easy for me to say that, not having ever been offered such a large amount of money for any purpose). If they intended to use it as intended by the John Templeton Foundation, then that would be in conflict with Biblical doctrine. If they intended to use it for strictly Christian purposes, then that would be in conflict with the intentions of the Prize's donor and judges. Discerning Christians criticized the Evangelical recipients at the time for accepting the Templeton Prize, but as far as I recall, none of them declined the Prize or the money.

A lack of discernment from Christians regarding Sir John Templeton wasn't restricted to Templeton Prize recipients; this blogger recalls seeing Sir John interviewed by David Mainse in the mid-1990s on his 100 Huntley Street program regarding Sir John's latest book (possibly Discovering the Laws of Life (1994)). I saw the interview just once and that was a long time ago, but Sir John was promoting his own man-made laws of success rather than the instruction to be found in the Bible. Instead of confronting and correcting Sir John Templeton's error, Rev. Mainse fawned on him. I don't recall if 100 Huntley Street was actually offering the book through the ministry, but Rev. Mainse definitely praised the book.

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