PART II – THE CHURCH OF MAN
So Europe has abandoned its past, rejected its historical faith and thereby created a spiritual vacuum that is leaving it vulnerable to the encroachments of Islam. Yet there is growing a theology that is driving a resurgent spirituality in the West including segments of the American Church. In this form, the conditioning process manifests itself as a rejection of the Biblical message of the gospel, the reinvention of Jesus, and a salvation, (if any is necessary at all), based on working one’s way to God. Somewhere along the way, the true Christian message has been perverted or lost.
Some years ago circumstances put me in the company of a charming woman anxious to share her opinions. She was intelligent, well read and rather worried. Without prompting she opened her thoughts to me on; – the world situation, the unreliability of the Scriptures, (so many versions you know), the evil character of Israel, the relative nature of all truth, and of course, the identity of God. He was, she said, different to every person. “We all perceive God differently”. “Is there absolute Truth?”, I inquired. She thought not. I pointed out how Pilate seemed to think that same way, when he asked, “What is truth?”. “Then I agree with him on that”, she told me. As far as Jesus is concerned, she said, His message, boiled down to…well…we should be nice! “Treat each other better you know. That’s what he taught. That’s what it’s all about.” There it was; the Gospel of Man. So I shared with her the short version of the true Gospel as outlined in the Bible. I told her about the Cross: How Jesus died to pay for our sin. She looked at me strangely saying, “What sin?”. It was a very revealing question. I tried again with the message of God’s sacrificial love: That salvation is available to whosoever will believe. “What you’re saying makes no sense to me”, she pleaded sincerely. I recalled the words of 1Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Thus my brush with another committed acolyte of the Church of Man.
The Church is changing. While in some areas, the commitment of believers to Biblical truth and sound doctrine is being strengthened and deepened, – elsewhere seekers are being lured into a church without principles, sometimes even denying the central nature of God’s Truth. The world is rubbing off! Some of that rubbing comes in the form of the Emerging Church or Church Growth Movement. Often this consists in a “seeker friendly” approach that is willing to water down Biblical doctrine to attract ‘converts.’ Rapture Ready’s Terry James describes it as a “New Spirituality Driven Christianity” that uses “New Age, corporation-type seminar seductiveness and brainwashing techniques” to achieve its goals.[i] Those goals often have little to do with the genuine Christian Faith.
Episcopal Priest Alan Jones, author of Reimagining Christianity, explains it this way. “I am no longer interested, in the first instance, in what a person believes.” He goes on to describe beliefs as “…so much clutter in the brain”…and finally comes to the conclusion that “There is no objective authority.”[ii] (All this from an ordained “man of God”, no less!) Brian McClaren, another pastor in the forefront of the Emerging Church movement tells us that Christian belief systems are now trumped by this “new spirituality.” “Spirituality itself is what sustains everything else”, says he. It seems the ‘truth’ of the Faith is no longer important. This is but a new form of ancient Gnosticism, long ago rejected by Paul and the early Church Fathers. We see it raising its deceptive head in the emergence of the spurious Gospel of Judas and the historical and spiritual inaccuracies of The Da Vinci Code. All of these are working in concert to humanize the historical Jesus; – to make Him something less than what He is: The very Son of God.
In the very denial of “objective authority”, the proponents of this movement are fashioning a Christianity that never really existed. Reverend Jones uses the language of the New Age to usher in this new form of the faith. He calls for a “higher form of knowing” brought to bear through “self-knowledge” and a “journey” to God. “All things are lights guiding our way – even a stone or a piece of wood”. This is a secret knowledge he seeks. This is the message of Gnosticism, the New Age, Eastern religious thought, neo-paganism and the Kabbalah. This is the product of the new spirituality. Cafeteria Christianity is coming into vogue. Anglican churches offer displays featuring recordings of Buddhist monks chanting the occultic syllable ‘ooohhhhm. Scriptures are set aside to allow the ordination of gay clergy, sanction homosexual marriage and wink at abortion. In this emerging order there are many ways to God.
Samantha Smith has chronicled these trends for two decades now. In her books Trojan Horse and Goddess Earth, she has outlined this New Age and occult infiltration of the Church. She has ably laid out how certain liberal elements within the professing body have adapted “bastardized products of Eastern mysticism” and a form of New Ageism that stresses “…deep ecology, eco-feminism and the worship of an ancient Greek God called Gaia – Mother Earth”.[iii] There is emerging a population that is seeking a spiritual connection, yet rejecting the fundamental principles of the Bible. Paul warned of this. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come”…men will have “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof”…they will be “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2Timothy 3:1,5,7) Such is the character of this age.
Berit Kjos summarized the similarities between this new spirituality and the occult systems with which it shares so many seminal beliefs. The Bible is irrelevant! There is no absolute truth! Mystical experience trumps objective belief! Now this form of subjective spirituality is crossing religious and denominational lines and infecting the professing church. Even Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, has weighed in against the foundations of the faith. He named “Fundamentalism,” Christians included, as “…one of the big enemies of the 21st century.” To Warren, it has become a “very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity.”[iv]
But Rick Warren and that ilk are wrong on this matter. In his ministry here on earth, Christ stressed the importance and unchanging nature of God’s Word expressed in Scripture. He came not to set aside the Law, but to complete it. Jesus answers those like Rev. Jones who ignore God’s essential holy and unchanging nature by claiming, “There is no objective authority”. In Matthew 5:17-18 He says, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” God’s word is so important to Him that He identifies His Son with that Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) What we believe is important, precisely because there are not many ways to God; – but only one. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) Christ is absolute Truth. And that Truth, like His very nature, never changes. Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
Yet mankind will continue to search for a way to God while rejecting His laws; – the very essence of His holy nature. Scripture weighs in strongly on the matter. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2Timothy 4:3-4) The Bible tells us that the Tribulation, the time just before Jesus comes to judge the earth, will be just such a time. An all-encompassing world-wide religion will be instituted. This One-World Religion will worship the Beast. They will worship and serve “the creature rather than the Creator.” (Romans 1:25) In New Age spirituality, which is preparing the way for the Antichrist; – there is no wrong way and there is no sin, because the “divine spark” exists in all of us. We are all “gods”. Therefore all ways are ways to God. All ways that is, save the narrow road of Christianity. The teachers of this New Age transformation openly recognize this, and unwittingly even teach the coming rapture of the Church. One such teacher, Jose Arguelles has told audiences to expect “…the physical removal of Christians, because they are the biggest obstacle to transformation”.[v] The New Age is working for their Messiah to appear. The way is being prepared.
[i] Terry James, The Departure, Nearing Midnight, Rapture Ready, April 17, 2006
[ii] Quotes taken from the article by Berit Kjos called Emerging Christianity – Part 2, From Gnostic Roots to Occult Revival, Crossroads, April 2006. Alan Jones was quoted from his 2005 book, Reimagining Christianity
[iii] Samantha Smith as quoted in: Goddess Earth and the New Age Movement, Raiders News Update, April 2006
[iv] Berit Kjos, Emerging Christianity – Part 2, From Gnostic Roots to Occult Revival, Crossroads, April 2006
[v] Jose Arguelles as quoted in: Goddess Earth and the New Age Movement, Raiders News Update, April 2006