Monday, December 3, 2007

MYSTICISM AND THIS GENERATION

I have just received the latest newsletter from the lighthouse blog today, which has an article called Filling the Vacuum with Mysticism by Ray Yungen, author of the books For Many Shall Come in My Name, and A Time of Departing (both of which I have read and highly recommend). This is interesting that lighthouse posted this today since one of my readers left a comment on my posting called "ROGUE" MB BLOGGERS asking the question as to why this (turning to mysticism) is happening. Jerry's comment was "Shouldn't we take a closer look to see why these folks are going this direction? Is it possible to find weaknesses in our organized way of doing things that these people are reacting to?" Although I didn't give Jerry a reply on the comments page, I decided I would like to give an answer to these questions on this post.

I believe the answer is two-fold. The culture which we live in has become very corrupt, immoral and media-driven. Like never before, this latest generation of believers has been influenced by this. This generation is a media-centered generation. With the prevalence of video and computer games, and television shows that are promoting more and more immoral and violent material, young people are being driven to experience these things through reality television shows and simulation games. This has become an experience-oriented generation. They have literally been programmed to seek experiences to entertain themselves, and it is changing their theology.

I have noticed that in the last five years, the television programs and electronic games have become more mystical and more sexually perverted in nature. I have come to the point that I rarely watch television any more because of this, and refuse to allow these types of games in our home. I find watching television for the purpose of entertainment not worth the time, and most of the time if I do start watching something I shut it off because I quickly become disgusted with it. It is however very easy to become immune to these things when one watches passively without using discernment to ask yourself what Hollywood is really trying to teach in these programs. It becomes the "frog in the pot of boiling water" scenario. The degree of immorality, paranormal emphasis, and violence has been gradually, gradually turned up, and if you don't use spiritual discernment you end up buying it all and thinking it's "not THAT bad". If this is the case for you right now, just try going without watching any television or playing any gaming devices for a month to six weeks and substitute that time with reading your Bible. The next time you go to watch the programs you watched previously you will be shocked and disturbed by what you see ( and hopefully, quit watching them!)

Nowadays it is rare to see a teenager who is not plugged in to some kind of entertainment device for most of their waking hours. This is a phenomenon peculiar to this generation, and they have grown up with an entirely different mindset. It almost seems like a drug they cannot do without. When unplugged they are bored and restless. They rarely know how to entertain themselves apart from the media. Consequently they are driven to seek more and new experiences all the time. Also, even the "Christian" entertainment and music has become more worldly and less solid theologically, so the young people are not grounded in the truth, leaving them vulnerable to "every wind of doctrine."

The second part of the reason that this generation is being led down the spiritually mystical pathway is that the majority of our evangelical churches have gotten away from expository preaching. Instead of being fed solid spiritual food, they are being given anecdotes, jokes and moral stories using scripture to back these up, often with the scripture being taken out of context so that it loses its true meaning. A couple of weeks ago as my husband and I were waiting for a table at a restaurant we overheard two young women talking and laughing. They were not very modestly dressed and were made up to the nines. I overheard one of them say to the other that their pastor (they had just come from church) had the funniest jokes and did the best imitations, and how much fun the worship time had been. I really wonder just how much they were getting fed spiritually. There was no mention of what they had learned or of any Bible passage. That reminds me of something C. H. Spurgeon wrote called Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats? It can be read here. Amos 8:11 speaks of a famine ~ " Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD". It looks like that is the scenario we have today.

Then, lo and behold, somebody is just waiting in the wings to step in and fill this hunger or vacuum created by a lack of solid spiritual food with something that looks intriguing (read a description of the antichrist, a master of intrigue, in Daniel 8:23 and 11:21) with a mystical twist to it. It is wrapped in a cloak of "Christian" language. Most of our youth and young adults aren't solid in doctrine, so now how would they be able to tell if it is truly biblical or not? (One of the saddest things I am seeing is that those who one would think SHOULD know better are also being deceived. I speak of Bible school teachers and seminary professors, who are fascinated by the works of other scholars who have infiltrated these institutions and are very deceitful and persuasive. Their intellectual pride is blinding them to what they are learning and passing on to their students.) We have a generation just ripe for this type of thing because they have been programmed by culture to see it as desirable. This is where the article on the lighthouse blog comes in. Here is a quote from it:

"What is happening to mainstream Christianity is the same thing that is happening to business, health, education, counseling, and other areas of society. Christendom is being cultivated for a role in the New Age....

This ultimately points to a global religion based on meditation and mystical experience. New Age writer David Spangler explains it..."


And Ray Yungen goes on to quote Spangler. Please go the link to the lighthouse blog (located in my first paragraph) to read it in its entirety. It explains this much better than I can and includes quotes by New Agers that demonstrate that infiltrating the churches by introducing mystical forms of prayer and worship through our Christian institutions is actually part of their agenda. It is the method that they want to use to build their one world religion.

Our churches and mainline evangelical denominations are in serious trouble, and are heading straight into the arms of the New Age and the occult without knowing it. Those who are willing to take the time to do a little research will see that this is so. But isn't this exactly how Satan works? He likes to come in under the radar, sneaking in and infiltrating before believers know what is happening. I also believe that this is a sign of the end of the age and the falling away of the church, the bride becoming a harlot as described in Scripture. This is sobering and needs to be taken seriously.

These are the days for those who have seen and understood this to be warning everyone they can about what is happening. In Revelation 18:4 lovers of the truth are warned ~ "
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her plagues." One of the main purposes of this blog is to do just that, and I ask you to please pass this information or my blog address on to anyone you can, so that they can become aware of this. Also check out the links on my sidebar listed under "Discernment Ministries". It is time for lovers of the truth to separate themselves from those are making spiritual alliances with false teachers and promoters of occultic practices wrapped in a cloak of Christianity. We are warned repeatedly to stay away from "wolves" and to warn others to do the same, ever more as we see the day approaching.

With that I encourage you to ready yourselves for the coming days. This generation is being drawn away from the truth. Pray hard and speak the truth in love.

I leave you with Jude 17-24

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold.They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires."These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.



3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Bonnie, In response to a recent blog submission: Interesting reading, but I'm confused with what you mean by the real gospel. I agree that the gospel is God's releasing us from the consequence of our sin, it is the substitution of Christ's death for ours, but if that's all there is to it, how do people understand the nature of God's love in a practical way?
If the gospel doesn't also include the "social" aspect to it, as James 2:17 states it, that's not real gospel (faith).
Recently I picked up a 26 yr old hitchhiker who was dying of lung cancer. He had been standing out on the road for 2 days, hadn't eaten for about as long. At out next stop, a good restaurant, I asked him if he was ready to meet his maker and he said no, he had to get to know him better first. I asked him how he was trying to do this, and he said he was reading his NT had gotten from Matt to Luke. I said he was on the right track and that John was a good book to get to know Jesus, the one who be his friend and fill his need. I suggested that giving himself over to God's love and control would speed up the process of getting to know God.
We soon parted ways and I gave him some money for food. Now what is the gospel? Is it just good news of what God has done for us or does it include social help? To write off social gospel as heretical is wrong. Purely social help is admirable, but not the gospel, Purely "Jesus saves" is not the full gospel.
This goes for most of the other gospels you suggested. If I'm not contemplating, meditating on God, and His word, I'm not growing.
The gospel is not one of wealth, but I believe that with God's help we can make astute financial decisions and save money we would otherwise spend on bad habits or foolish or hurtful activities. So our relationship to God makes a difference in wealth. It sounds like you are lumping all these gospels into apostacy when a part of many of them can be helpful in our relatinship to God. Dan S

BONNIE said...

Hi Dan, thanks for your thought-provoking comments and questions. I have decided I would like to adress them in a posting in the very near future. I may deal with the issues of the social gospel and contemplation/meditation on separate postings for the sake of clarity and to keep my postings from getting too long. Stay tuned...

Betty said...

Hi Bonnie and Dan
What we each see in Bonnies post is obviously influenced by our recent experiences. I see two areas of our Christian walk being discussed here by you Dan. The one is our walk and the other is our belief. They are related but not identical. Having experienced Gods grace and forgiveness and all the riches of His love in salvation (believing)as James points out should lead me in my life to show love and compassion for others and doing that will cost me something.(it will effect my walk)

There is however a trend that I have seen here where I live to replace the message of Christs death for our sins with merely trying to improve the persons present situation.that is instead of believing in jesus we are believing in our good works)Jesus addresses this in John 4:13 and 14 when he says "whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst" Important as showing caring for others in a physical way may be they will get hungry again the help will make no difference in 100 years UNLESS we also give them the message of salvation in Jesus as you outlined Dan.

The problem I have seen is selective obedience. Helping people who are hungry or sick is socially acceptable so we are eager to participate but often we are not nearly so eager to share the gospel (I am speaking of society and churches in general and not any one person here). I did not understand Bonnie to be saying we should not do some of these things that are listed like having a social awareness and helping what is at stake here is substituting social issues as the core of our faith in place of Jesus and his death and ressurection for us.

Jesus addressed this tendency we have to emphasize one thing to the exclussion of other more important ones in Matthew 23:23 when he pronounced "Woe unto you, scribes and pharisees, Hypocrites1 for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin and have omitted the weightier matters of the law --These you oght to have done and not to leave the others undone"

I heard a message recently that illustrates what I am trying to say. It was on the passage from Luke 19 on Zacchaeus. It made much of how we should accept everyone and how Jesus was an example of this, but when it came to Luke 19:10 "For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" the main thrust of the message was that being lost doesn't need to be such a bad thing, good things can be misplaced. It is this type of thing I think of when I read about a social gospel.It is not a problem to acknoledge that the gospel has social aspects. The proponents of what we refer to as the social gospel refer only to what Jesus can do for me in the here and now and neglect or downplay eternal issues.

Contemplating and meditating on God's word is similar.The Bible says blessed is the man "who walketh not in the council of the ungodly--but his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law doth he meditate day and night." He is talking here of thinking about God's laws day and night. What is being encouraged as mediataion today is to pick one bible verse and read it over and over and over and then pick one phrase and repeat it over and over with the goal being to empty your mind so God can supposedly fill it. That is far different from remembeing and thinking of God's law day and night.

This is more like having a mantra froma scripture. I have not experienced mantras but they are said to produce altered states of consciousness.This doesn't sound very spiritual to me. But it really doesn't matter a lot what I think. Jesus told us in Matthew 6:7"But when ye pray use not vain repititions as the heathen do, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

We are disreguarding what Jesus said about vain repitition when we copy "the heathen" (religions other than Christianity) in our "christian" practises.Here again churches that promote this focus on the prayer method instead of focussing on the person we pray to and who prays for us, Jesus. For me it all boils down to one very simple thing where is Jesus in all this. If the method displaces Jesus as the main feature it becomes idolatry. We are then worshipping the method and forgeting Jesus.
What you mention Dan is just what makes this so difficult to put a finger on at first. Most of of what is being taught is not a blatant vice but all these otherwise good things are displacing the core of our message Jesus.Paul said in 2 corinthians 4:3 "But if our gospel be hid it is hid to them that are lost."And that is what happens when we take our eyes off of Jesus and look to methods. Again the message I mentioned illustrates this.It was very true Jesus did not discriminate in whom he would save but it is not the whole truth nor is it the main truth.Yes good things do get lost or misplaced. As a matter of fact I have never heard of anyone even bothering to comment on it when they "loose" a pest like a louse or a mosquito. Nor have I ever heard of a parent loosing their child in the mall and then just shrugging their shoulders and syaing "Oh well he's such a good kid I'm sure he is fine." God values us very much that is why he chose to go all out and I mean all out to get us back when we were lost. That is the central message of this text as Jesus sees it. I came so you would not need to be lost anymore. "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation"Hebrews2:3 this is true no matter what we are neglecting it for.For anyone who was listening and knew they were lost this message held absolutely no hope. A gospel based on things other than on Jesus no matter how spiritual they sound is also a gospel of no hope."other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Christ Jesus.