As I noted a few posts ago, my church is going through The Truth Project, a series from Focus on the Family that outlines a Christian worldview. I have enjoyed the series so far, and I think it is excellent. But I have a problem with the third lesson, which asks the question, “What is Man?”
The lesson contains an excellent outline of the case of biblical anthropology against an anthropological theory that many would immediately recognize as that of atheism or secularism. You know, the favorite bogeyman of those enmeshed in the culture wars.
My thoughts? I absolutely agree that the secularized worldview portrayed in the lesson (as epitomized by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, with its pinnacle of self-actualization) is definitely a problem. What troubles me is that I don’t feel that a secular worldview is the threat against genuine Christianity that the lesson makes of it. Atheism? Secularism? That’s so…well, 1990.
Fact is, if you look around the world, people are not rushing to atheism and secularism. Sure, in some places they’re buying the books, but not in the majority of the world. With the exception of small pockets of atheism and secularism in Western nations, the actual trend is toward a more progressive spirituality, a spirituality that may not—at least from undiscerning human eyes—appear to enthrone self, as does secularism. In fact, some people might even call it a new fundamentalism, a return to what are ultimately superstitious or flawed religious beliefs. Ask an African what is sweeping Africa, and he’ll not reply atheism, but Islam.
Though atheists and dim-bulb “brights” claim antisupernaturalism is on the rise, that is anything but the case. Witness the mass euphoria over the so-called Lakeland revival. The supposed supernatural displays on center stage had people transfixed. Rational people who never would have entertained supernaturalism otherwise flocked to Florida, hoping for a miracle. Many spent thousands of dollars to fly in from around the globe to bask in the overhyped glow of the Bentley miracle show. People who believe in nothing outside the material world don’t do that.
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.
Does Jesus Himself predict that secularism will reign at the end? Hardly. If anything, it will be a time of people desperately seeking spiritual nourishment, seekers who latch onto one magician after another.
Jesus’ warning should shake us all because the genuine lie isn’t going to be as obvious as secularism or atheism. That’s bush-league deception. That will only fool the completely gullible.
What should sober us is that the coming lie will look so much like truth that even the elect will be perplexed by it. Brother doesn’t hand over brother because of secularism, but because of fundamentalistic religious beliefs that sound exhilirating yet are at odds with genuine Christianity. It’s the form of godliness we shoud be alarmed by, not the form of godlessness.
Lee Grady, the editor of Charisma magazine, claims a pastor he knows insists that many charismatics will follow the antichrist because of their devotion to supernatural signs. I think that pastor nails it. The deception that is coming is less obvious. It’s subtle. It’s sorta-Christianity, with a veneer of powerful wonders. It will have many of the trappings of what Western Christians have come to accept as Christianity but will actually be a complete lie. In some ways, we Western Christians have been test subjects. We’re just too drowsy to see it.
To the man buried in an avalanche, the entire world is snow. But the man standing at the top of the mountain knows better. With the world moving in a more religious direction, not a lesser one, the ultimate snowjob may be just around the corner.
16 thoughts on “The Coming Religion”
Well said! The future of the world is more, not less “religious.” Aren’t we repeating history, though? We’re moving back to the time of superstition and pantheistic spirituality, which educated elites have called “primitive” spirituality. You know what they say–the more things change, the more they stay the same.
It will be a time of new idols, I think. They will look like the old idols, except more sophisticated. I also think they will prove more confusing for some Christians to discern, at least those who have not trained themselves to hear the Savior’s voice and know His from the fakes.
I agree; however, I heard recently that Wicca is one of the largest and fastest-growing religions in the U.S. I didn’t find that surprising. Not too long ago (when I was still in college) Wiccan and Buddhist practices, including hexes, pentagrams, seances, oriental astrology, and similar things, were so widely accepted and even encouraged that I was considered odd because I had never heard of some of them and openly refused to go along with them. It seems dabbling in old spiritualism is in vogue. These are all those “cool old things those mean old Christians kept from us.”
What’s so shocking is that many Christians don’t seem to be able to identify and distance themselves from such things. It really troubled me in college that Christian organizations weren’t even talking about these subjects. The result was what you were getting at–a sort of blending of old idolatry with new politically-correct jargon that almost made it sound Christian.
We are not called to fix the world. That is just a way the enemy distracts those who are called to share Jesus and make disciples. We think that if we get involved with the worlds problems that will cause the world to turn to our way of thinking. We are not of the world. I am only a visitor on this planet as the song went in the seventy’s. It looks as though the shaking of those things that can be shaken has already started so look to and for Jesus to transform, thru the precious gift that he accomplished in the cross. Let the dross be melted off in these times of trouble that Jesus already told us about. He told us that even the elect could be decieved. So do not look to the government to fix what God is doing but trust in God alone and not man. I thank God that we don’t have to run here and there to find him for he is closer than a brother. We can reach out wherever we may be and he is there. Nothing can seperate us from the Love of God. So I thank God our Father for His provision.
It amazes me that so many Christians think things will end as happy times. So you are right.
I also don’t see how anyone can read the Bible and come to believe the Church will be raptured out of here before it gets bad. I mean, consider the words of Jesus Himself that I posted.
I read the Word and find that the Body will be raptured prior to the Tribulation.
In Matthew 24, Jesus was speaking to the disciples as Jews (the whole context is about Jerusalem) and answering their question directly. In verse 3, they ask him, “What will be the sign of your coming, and the end of the ages?” Jesus answered their question by describing the state of the world prior to the Second Coming. He did not speak to them about the state or presence of the Church because they didn’t ask him about that and it was still a mystery (or secret). His statements only concerned the Second Coming.
That is not to hold that the Body of Christ will not experience difficult times and persecution before the catching away. In the OT, we see that Enoch (a type of the Church) prophesied about a coming judgment. The fact that he “prophesied” means that he spoke against the culture around him. While the Word doesn’t say too much about his life and standard of living, I don’t believe that it would hold water to say that he had a life of ease just prior to his own catching away.
At last, the cat is out of the bag! Peter Smythe is a pre-tribber after all. 😉
BTW, I agree with you, Peter.
You are so very right about the way that things are going, I cannot disagree with you at all on that point. A deception is coming which will be strong enough to decieve even the elect, if that were possible. We must be on our guard against it even now when we don’t know for sure what direction it will come from or what form it will take.
Regarding The Truth Project, I feel that we have to remember two things:
1) It was written by Americans and is primarily aimed at America and US culture.
2) Each lesson is a building block and I think there will be many things that many people will be disagree with but the aim of the series is to build a worldview which can be built upon. For the most part, I don’t think there is going to be a whole lot in it that will be new revelation to you, your worldview seems to be solidly bible based. It will give some very interesting arguements and teaching which support your worldview but you have already advanced beyond the scope of what it teaches. For many who watch it, lesson 3, like every lesson, will be an eye opener because they have no idea or concept of some of the things that are being taught.
Some of the later lessons will fill-in some of the teaching that you are talking about, although it probably doesn’t go as far as you want it to.
Maybe after your church have gone through the Truth Project you should teach on the areas that you feel it missed, a ‘next level’ series!
I have not seen the series, so I will have to trust your characterization of the materials. I do have one question, what is your definition of secularization?
I do see it as a more serious problem, but maybe that is because we have different understandings of the term.
My definition would be as follows
Secularization is the process through which ideologies, institutions, faiths, feelings, reason, and individuals are stripped of their foundational core resulting in the loss of identity, value, social and moral meaning.
from this post
When I first became involved with the church (early 1970s) talk of the end times was very popular. Jesus’ prophecies from Matt 24 were often referenced along with claims that wars and earthquakes were increasing significantly †“ inferring that those events were fulfilment of Jesus’ predictions.
While the wars and earthquakes signs were majored upon in the past †“ I suggest we note which signs of the end are the MOST mentioned In Jesus prophecies †“ and in fact through much of the NT. The most mentioned signs all relate to the dangers of deception and deceivers.
For most of my Christian life, if any mention was made of Jesus predictions of the dangers of deception, it was to point out the dangers of cults and cult leaders. It was assumed that the false prophets Jesus spoke of were like Moses David (Children of God) or later Jim Jones and David Koresh. There was NO recognition that the false prophets and false Christs could rise up within the church itself, attracting the loyalty of large sections of the recognised Christian church.
But look what we have now in the “Church †“ countless prophets with devoted disciples who ignore the fact of the prophets’ unfulfilled words, their unbiblical teaching and their gross moral failures. We also have countless “anointed ones (christs) claiming some privileged position in the ministry hierarchy that puts them, their teachings and practices above question (touch not the lord’s anointed).
We also have people running here and there (to the wilderness, to the hidden places, to Lakeland…) chasing after every rumour of the anointing and the anointed ones (christs).
We have EVERY aspect of Jesus warnings regarding deception WITHIN THE CHURCH ITSELF.
Some take comfort in the fact that Jesus said that IF POSSIBLE even the elect would be deceived †“ inferring that it would NOT be possible for they themselves to fall for the deception. I think this point of view is a perilous one to hold. I think Jesus was indicating how very extreme the danger of deception will be. It will be extremely convincing, so that even the most diligent and aware of His disciples would also come very close to falling for it.
He was not giving comfort to “the elect to assure them of their safety †“ He was warning that NO ONE should take immunity from deception for granted.
Yes, we are called upon to make disciples. We are also called upon to help the poor. No, we cannot fix the poor (or the world) nor are we called to do so. And being charitable should not be expected to gain converts. We are simply called to worship God, make disciples and help the poor. Leaving out any of these (at least corporately) is disobedience.
A friend of mine has warned me that the deceptions that have been prophesied are already among us – especially in what’s known as the “church”.
The enemy doesn’t mind us going to church as long as it’s a church that’s not preaching the Truth.
My wife and I are praying fervently for a knowledge of the truth for ourselves and for our friends and especially for the body of Christ.
I think you hit the nail on the head with this one! I have been studying the characteristics of this “new spirituality” for the last four to five years and have seen it making inroads into the church (not only in the Emergent church either). Dr. Peter Jones has been one author who has been helpful to me in identifying and tracing the roots of this neo-gnostic spirituality. ( “Pagans in the Pews” is excellent in this regard.) Have you read any of his books or are you familiar with his ministry Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet?
I m sorry dear Dan,
if I bring the subject up again –
but what worries me terrible much, is the almost completed ‘mental prison ‘ , these days.
Hundred years ago, people were strong still ; during the 60s the youngsters were still fysically revolting in the streets – but now,
‘freedom ‘ seems to exist in the Mind, only,
and the mind is oh so gullible for whatever ..’manifestations ‘ – if the person has not anymore knowing of a solid Ground ( God ) to compare with what he expieriences
I agree that devils can ( and are ) working directly on the Mind,
but they dictated and use technology as well to sustain and tighten the ILLUSION of what is called ‘this sensible world ‘.
..and only three out of a hundred have courage to accept that it already really is THAT bad
..would it matter, a few illusions more or less..?
– the only way out, is to figure out hÃ³w to can leave – and GO.
With each step outwards, the enormity of the Illusion will become more clear and sad..
Since a time, it s not possible no more, to ‘stand in between ‘, and
‘consider what is happening in a believing, reasonable way ‘ :
the only way that is left , is the difficult ” go Ye out of Babylon..”
This post is exactly it.. I left charismania due to all being hungry for signs and wonders instead of Jesus. In this I have also continued to dig in and seek what’s important.
A world religion… this is evident that this is happening.. it freaks me out..
I’d rather sit in my room and pray and beg and repent than seek a sign …