“How Can Masons Be Prominent Leaders in the Church?”

My husband read a book that referred to how many Masons are actually serving with the Southern Baptist Convention and other churches. I know as a child I knew of pastors who were Masons and that didn’t seem to be a bad thing, but now with all that I’ve learned, why are these people still prominent leaders in the body of Christ?

Thank you for your inquiry. I appreciate your reading and responding to my article on Freemasonry. Regarding your question concerning the continued “ministry” of men who embrace Freemasonry within the larger church (Baptist) I would suggest the the primary reason is the compartmentalism of one’s faith and their involvement in a fraternal organization.

In my view, the problem lies in their inability to allow their faith to influence their lives in its totality. In other words, they separate their Sunday experience (faith life) from the balance of their week (secular life). They are unable or unwilling to assimilate their faith life/walk with their life in general. They do so at their peril—spiritually and relationally with their God.

I also think they do not fully understand scriptural teaching regarding the believers’ need to fear God. That is, to have a reverential fear of the Creator. I would suggest a word study of the term “fear God.” It is extremely enlightening to the believer and offers one a sobering perspective. Those who embrace such organizations as Freemasonry do not have such an inclination because they do not want to expose themselves to biblical Truth that would subsequently call them to restructure their thought life/beliefs.

Another key that we cannot over look is the fact that many within the church are ignorant of the spiritual disconnect between Christianity and fraternal organizations such as Freemasonry. The result of this disconnect renders the church body impotent where biblical orthodoxy is concerned and its application in the church at large.

I trust you will find my thoughts beneficial in your attempt to understand the incongruence of those who embrace occult teachings and their continued leadership within the church.

May our Lord bless your study and enrich your faith!

Russ Wise

 

See Also Probe Answers Our Email:

“How Do I Talk to Family Members About Freemasonry and Edgar Cayce?”

 

© 2010 Probe Ministries


“Is A Course in Miracles Heretical? How Do I Talk to My Friend Who Believes It?”

My friend says he believes in “A Course in Miracles.” I’ve been trying to help him to start to read the Bible instead so he sees the truth about Jesus. I’ve read your article that says the Course is anti-biblical and the work of an evil spirit.

I wonder now if this text is heretical also—not only anti-biblical? Also I’d be happy if you would describe more what heretical really mean according to the Bible. Because I think that I’ve read in the Bible that we shouldn’t associate with people who are heretics.

I really would be glad if my friend would become a christian who believes in Jesus Christ described in the Bible. So I’m wondering what attitude I should have towards him. I’ve read about Paul who in his apologetical work in Athens speaks about the unknown God worshipped in Athens. Is a similar approach good in this case? To speak about that all the love he wants is in fact in the Biblical Jesus?

Or is it better to simply declare that I believe ACIM is the work of evil? But if it’s heretical—can I associate with him more than to just state my faith in order to help come to believe in the Biblical Jesus Christ?

Thank you for your inquiry regarding A Course in Miracles as it relates to heresy. Allow me to give you a definition of heresy from which I tend to operate. I trust you will find it adequate! A heresy is a crime of perception—an act of seeing something that, according to some custodian of reality, is not truly there. Heresy, therefore, is always relative to an orthodoxy.

In the case of ACIM it is a heresy of orthodox Christianity. That is to say that the teachings of The Course are opposed to biblical orthodoxy. An example would be that The Course teaches that “no one is punished for their sins, and the Sons of God are not sinners” (p. 88). The Bible teaches a different understanding of man and his relationship to sin. Romans 3:10 tells us that no one is righteous. Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned. The word all is all inclusive—it means everyone, no one is exempt. We have all sinned. Our sin has separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2).

Another example that clearly shows us how different or unorthodox The Course is related to the Bible is the idea that “the separation is a faulty formulation of reality, with no effect at all” (p. 241). Ephesians 2: 1-3 tells us that we were dead in our transgressions and sins. Spiritual death is to be separated from God. Without God’s intervention those of us who are without God are destined to eternal death. The Course erroneously teaches that we are not really separated from God, but that our perceived separation is a faulty understanding of who we really are—we are One! There is no separation. The Bible, on the other hand, is quite clear—we are self-deceiving if we do not recognize our sin and its result, our separation from a holy Creator God.

There are numerous other examples that could be pointed out as opposing teachings between the two texts (The Course and the Bible); some are included in my article. According to Helen Schucman The Course was given to her by Jesus. She sat in a trance state and auto-wrote what he dictated. However, the teachings of Ms. Schucman’s “Jesus” are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus in the Bible. Therefore, if we view the Bible as being orthodox (Truth), then we would by definition consider the teachings of The Course as heresy. In other words we have two Jesuses at play. One as represented by Ms. Schucman in The Course and another as revealed in the scriptures—the Bible: an authentic Jesus as the Bible reveals and a false “Jesus” found in the pages of ACIM.

The Law of Non-contradiction comes into play at this point. The Law of Non-contradiction simply states that two opposing statements cannot be true at the same time. They can be true at one point in history, but not concurrently. It also says that two opposing views can both be in error or that one of the two may be correct, but once again they both cannot be true at the same time. In our case we believe the Bible to be True and since the Bible teaches doctrine that opposes the teachings found in ACIM then The Course must be in error and exemplifies false teaching. The “Jesus” of ACIM is a false Christ (see Matthew 24: 20-24).

In regards to your concern whether you should continue your relationship or friendship with a friend who accepts ACIM as a legitimate teaching of Jesus, allow me to make a brief comment. I would continue to interact with them and allow them to share their thoughts. If they showed a desire to continue seeking God’s Truth I would lovingly point out to them the discrepancies between the two texts. Once I had established the inconsistencies between the two I would then attempt to help my friend come to an awareness of the Law of Non-contradiction. Once I have had success regarding the above I would, then, begin a discussion concerning the trustworthiness of the scriptures. I would recommend Josh McDowell’s text The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. It can be found at your local Christian bookstore or on Amazon.com. It is well worth the read and it will be a tremendous resource for you in sharing with your friend. [Ed. note: Also check out the “Reasons to Believe” section of the Probe website.]

If your friend, on the other hand, is not open to dialoguing and openly sharing his or her thoughts and beliefs about The Course and God’s revealed Word then I would reconsider another course of action. I would remain open to them and offer my friendship, but they would not be my confidant or my closest of friends. I would be cordial and agreeable as long as they continued to show an openness concerning their knowing God’s Truth. I believe Paul’s example on Mars Hill is highly instructive for us and how we might proceed in sharing our faith with someone who stands outside orthodoxy.

I pray that you would have God’s favor as you share your faith with your friend. May the Holy Spirit guide and direct your ways as you make Him known to those whom you come into contact.

Blessings,

Russ Wise
Christian Information Ministries
www.christianinformation.org

© 2008 Probe Ministries


Recommended Responses to The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass: Pointing In the Wrong Direction
Steve Cable
www.probe.org/the-golden-compass-pointing-in-the-wrong-direction
Probe staffer Steve Cable recommends Christian parents steer clear of The Golden Compass film based on Phillip Pullman’s trilogy, His Dark Materials. It is openly anti-God from an avowed anti-Christian writer. Kids will not be able to handle it.

The Golden Compass: A Primer on Atheism
Russ Wise
http://www.christianinformation.org/article.asp?artID=117
Former Probe staff member Russ Wise examines this anti-Christian book and movie.

Kerby Anderson also recommends:

The Golden Compass Fraud
L. Brent Bozell III
http://www.cultureandmediainstitute.org/printer/2007/20071109161918.aspx

 

The upside-down world of Pullman’s “Golden Compass”
Berit Kjos
http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/007/compass-pullman.htm

© 2007 Probe Ministries

 


The Secret: Creating One’s Reality

The Secret’s “Law of Attraction” is simply recycled Eastern/New Age philosophy in materialistic garb that appeals to our self-indulgent desires. Former Probe staffer Russ Wise examines the teachings of Rhonda Byrne and her stable of “Master Teachers” to show how they contradict with God’s word, and reality.

The Secret has existed throughout the history of mankind. It had been discovered, coveted, suppressed, hidden, lost and recovered. It has been hunted down, stolen, and bought for vast sums of money. Now for the first time in history, The Secret is being revealed to the world . . .

“Fragments of a Great Secret have been found in the oral traditions, in literature, in religions and philosophies throughout the centuries. For the first time, all the pieces of The Secret come together in an incredible revelation that will be life-transforming for all who experience it.”{1}

The SecretKnowledge of The Secret will bring the knower great wealth, health, joy and for those who persist, their soul mate: everything you have ever wanted. The Secret reveals the perennial wisdom of the great teachers and avatars of history: the Law of Attraction. According to Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret, that “secret” (the Law of Attraction) is simply the principle that like attracts like. This Law of Attraction means that when we think positive things or possibly bad things we, as a result, draw those things to ourselves. Another way of putting it is that when we think negatively we will become more negative because we have allowed the negative to be drawn to us.

Rhonda Byrne, a 55 year-old Australian, discovered The Secret during a time of great upheaval in her family. Her father, Roland, died in 2004, her business was near bankruptcy, and her relationships were indeed bankrupt. The stress of life was bearing down on her and she found herself in a place where she was receptive to most anything. That “anything” came in the form of a book given her by her daughter Hailey. The book, The Science of Getting Rich,{2} was the beginning of a transformation that would lead Rhonda down the corridors of fame and wealth.

Rhonda declared that “It lit a fire in me; it was exactly the opposite of the way I thought life worked.” The rekindled fire within her set her on a quest that ultimately led her to devour much of the occultic literature of our day and then to sit at the feet of many of those “teachers” who deliver its message.

Her discovery of these “great truths” led her to employ her production company to produce a film that would bring this much-sought-after “truth” to the world. The result was The Secret, now available in multiple languages.{3} As of this writing the DVD (only available online) has sold over 1.1 million copies since its release in March 2006. The book was only written after the film had been widely received around the globe. It was released in November 2006 and has of this date (spring 2007) sold over 1.2 million copies. The Bodhi Tree, a well known metaphysical bookshop in West Hollywood, reports that The Secret has been “its biggest selling item in the 30-year history of our store.”{4} Not bad results for a first time author!

“If The Secret had a plot, it might go something like Tony Robbins uncovers the Judas Gospel and learns to use the Force.’”{5} The film is regularly screened at New Age venues including metaphysical group meetings, Unity Churches, and the homes of believers. The Secret was well-received on Oprah{6} and it has been touted on Larry King Live as well as similar shows. The prominent discussion of The Secret in the media has given the film major cultural traction.

A Time article by Jeffrey Ressner states the The Secret is the mixing of ancient philosophy found in the conspiratorial escapades of The Da Vinci Code and the psychic science (read science fiction) of the cult hit What the Bleep Do We Know?{7}

According to the author and creator, Rhonda Byrne, The Secret is “a philosophy that literally can change your life and help you take control of your destiny!”{8} Now, if true, that would be like winning the lottery. Ms. Byrne continues, “If you follow its philosophy, you can create the life you want . . .” Ms. Byrne asserts that the Law of Attraction is “the most powerful law in the universe,” and that it is working all the time. “What we do is we attract into our lives the things we want, and that is based on what we’re thinking and feeling.” She says that when we engage our feelings it becomes especially potent. Our emotions super-charge the outcomes we desire! She continues, “It is based on this principle that we are actually creating our own circumstances by the very choices we make in life.”{9}

In an interview with Quantumtouch, the interviewer Julie makes a point regarding the global impact of the film. Ms. Byrne responds by saying that The Secret is contained in all the ancient wisdom, no matter what philosophy. It is buried within every one.{10} On the surface this statement sounds quite innocent, but her actual meaning goes much deeper. The idea that this “wisdom is buried within everyone” is an indicator that this belief is about our true divine nature.

One of the Master Teachers of The Secret, John Demartini, expounds by saying, “We have a magnificent inner calling, vision, mission, power inside us that we are not honoring and harnessing. This movie brings it to the forefront that we can [harness that power].”{11} The premise of this idea is that “we all have a divine essence within us, and we just need to get in touch with it. In other words, as panentheists{12} teach, God is in all of creation, including all human beings, and once a person becomes aware of this, there are no limits to what he can achieve.”{13}

Master Teachings

The Secret is revealed through some of the most high-profile individuals of our day. They include such notables as Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books. Jack is a thirty-year veteran of metaphysics and helps individuals achieve their personal goals by helping them understand the Law of Attraction.

Another teacher is Neale Donald Walsch, known for this book trilogy Conversations with God.{14} He, too, is a student of metaphysics and teaches that man is divine. John Gray is best known for his popular book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. These teachers speak with one voice. Their message is brief, yet simple: You create your circumstances; if you live in lack it is your fault; you are an expression of divinity; in fact, you are God. Another of The Secret teachers is Fred Alan Wolf, a physicist. He makes a profound statement on The Secret web site:You! I want to tell you something. You are God in disguise.”

Of the twenty-four Secret Teachers, perhaps the most troubling is Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith. He is the pastor of Agape International Spiritual Centre in California. His message is that we are co-creators with God and that our abilities are unlimited. Our potential is divine in nature. Dr. Beckwith is troubling, in my view, because he represents a pseudo-Christianity. He has the greatest ability to be used to deceive those whom God has touched by His Gospel. The Christian who is unable to rightly discern God’s Word will fall prey to such false teaching as found in The Secret.

“Truths” That One Cannot Deny

So what is it that The Secret teaches that would be harmful to the Christian? In her section on acknowledgements Ms. Byrne names names and she lists several that stand out as instructive. One name, in particular, is Charles Fillmore, the founder of Unity School of Christianity{15} along with his wife Myrtle. Unity is a classic New Age belief system that teaches the divinity of man. Eric Butterworth, a former Unity minister, in his book Discover the Power Within You, underscores the New Age premise that Jesus taught the divinity of mankind. Butterworth is of interest because Oprah Winfrey proclaims he is her spiritual mentor.{16}

Perhaps the most revealing of the occult connection between Rhonda Byrne and her stable of Master Teachers is Ester Hicks who channels a non-physical being named Abraham.{17} Hicks is but one thread in the occult pattern that emerges in teachings of The Secret. Hicks’ story is similar to that of Helen Schucman, the channel of A Course in Miracles.{18}

The premise, whatever we think about and thank about, we bring about is central to understanding the Law of Attraction. In Christian circles this concept is known as “name it and claim it,” where the individual simply professes a desire and then claims that God will provide it. This is a Christianized form of an occult “truth.” Ms. Byrne and her Master Teachers are more than willing to use scripture to make their point. They ask us to turn to Matthew 21:22 and Mark 11:24 where Jesus tells His disciples, “Whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” A common mistake made by those who jump on the metaphysical bandwagon is that they often overlook the whole counsel of scripture. It is instructive that Ms. Byrne did not ask her readers to consider James 4:3 where the writer says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

The question the Christian should be asking himself at this point is this: How does one ask correctly? Verse 4 offers us a glimpse of God’s truth. “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James then draws our attention to verse 10 where it says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.” The implication here is not for us to command God to act because of our asking or believing, but to allow Him to exalt us because of our humility. This teaching would not fit very well within the context of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret.

A central teaching of The Law of Attraction is that nothing can come into your experience unless you summon it through persistent thoughts.{19} Another of the Master Teachers, Dr. Joe Vitale, believes that “Everything that surrounds you right now in your life, including the things you’re complaining about, you’ve attracted.”{20} According to Ms. Byrne, our feelings are our greatest tool to help us create the positive things in our lives. She says, “Your thoughts are the primary cause of everything.” She continues by stating, “Your thoughts determine your frequency, and your feelings tell you immediately what frequency you are on.”{21}

Ms. Byrne says that we are “the most powerful transmission tower in the Universe. In simple terms, all energy vibrates at a frequency. Being energy, you also vibrate at a frequency, and what determines your frequency at any time is whatever you are thinking and feeling. All the things you want are made of energy, and they are vibrating too. Everything is energy.”{22} Another way of stating this “truth” is to say that as you focus on what you want, you are changing the vibration of the atoms of that thing, and you are causing it to vibrate to You. I know this is a mind-blowing concept, but there’s more! Ms. Byrne states that one of the most magnificent teachings of The Secret is that “You are energy, and cannot be created or destroyed. Energy just changes form. And that means You! The true essence of You, the pure energy of You, has always been and always will be. You can never not be.”{23}

“When you are feeling good thoughts, it is communication back from the Universe saying, ‘You are thinking good thoughts.’ Likewise, when you are feeling bad, you are receiving communication back from the Universe saying, ‘You are thinking bad thoughts.’”{24} Our feelings about something turbo-charge our outcome. In other words, we can purposely use our feelings to transmit an even more powerful frequency, by adding feeling to what we are wanting.{25} Michael Bernard Beckwith clarifies this concept by stating, “You can begin right now to feel healthy. You can begin to feel prosperous. You can begin to feel love that’s surrounding you, even if it’s not there. And what will happen is the universe will correspond to the nature of your song. The universe will correspond to the nature of that inner feeling and manifest, because that’s the way you feel.” In other words, don’t allow your perceived reality to convince you otherwise, but step out and create your new reality by simply saying it is so and the Universe (God) will bring it about. Essentially, we are seeking a god to do our bidding as we command.

Marci Shimoff, another of the Master Teachers, makes this observation: “Once you begin to understand and truly master your thoughts and feelings, that’s when you see how you create your own reality. That’s where your freedom is, that’s where all your power is.”{26} The Bible offers a different exhortation to the Christian at this juncture. We read in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that we are to destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Our purpose is not to use our thought life to enhance ourselves, but to bring our thought lives into obedience and submit ourselves to a holy God. This thought is totally absent from The Secret!

Shimoff adds that we should consider if the Universe is a friendly place for us to hang out. Ms. Byrne says that knowing the Law of Attraction, we would have to say that the Universe is, indeed, a most friendly place where we can create our own reality. The Secret (and New Age thought in general) encourages its adherents to practice affirmation as a way to channel one’s thought life to a place where it will benefit the individual. Ms. Byrne suggests the following affirmation: “This is a magnificent Universe. The Universe is bringing all good things to me. The Universe is conspiring for me in all things. The Universe is supporting me in everything I do. The Universe meets all my needs immediately.”{27}

Lisa Nichols, also a Master Teacher, informs us that the first step to achieving our desires is to ask. “Make a command of the Universe. Let the Universe know what you want. The Universe responds to your thoughts.”{28} It seems that if one were to “command” God (the Universe) to produce all that he desired and wanted, he might prefer a different outcome. In my view, the secret to living the Christian life is to desire the things that God desires for us rather than making a command to fulfill one’s lusts. Dr. Joe Vitale offers this quip: “This is really fun. It’s like having the Universe as your catalogue. It is You placing your order with the Universe. It’s really that easy.”{29}

Nichols continues by stating that the second step in achieving all that we want is to believe. “Believe that it is already yours. Have what I love to call unwavering faith. Believing in the unseen.” In the moment you ask, and believe and know you already have it in the unseen, the entire Universe shifts to bring it into the seen. In other words, God/The Universe immediately tunes to your frequency and then because of the Law of Attraction, he is obligated to supply all your wants. Vitale makes another head-scratching comment when he states, “The Universe will start to rearrange itself to make it happen for you. You don’t need to know how it’s going to come about. You don’t need to know how the Universe will arrange itself.”{30} Just simply believe!

The third step according to Nichols is to receive that which we have commanded. Nichols states that an important part of our receiving is for us to feel wonderful about it. Beckwith comments, “This is a feeling Universe. If you just intellectually believe something, but you have no corresponding feeling underneath that, you don’t necessarily have enough power to manifest what you want in your life. You have to feel it.” I can understand that! I recognize that I have limited power. What power I may have is only that which God allows me through the Holy Spirit to do His good will—not mine. I also recognize that no matter how wonderful I “feel,” my feeling about something is not what is going to make it right in God’s sight. It is only when I apply His will to the matter that I see appropriate results.

The premise that mankind and the impersonal Universe are interconnected is widely taught within occultic, New Age, literature. They teach that all-is-One. Man is an integral part of The Supreme Mind and he is seen as being one with it, to the point that he is the source of the Universe.{31}

The Universe and The Higher Self

The concept of an impersonal energy or force that is the “Universe” is not a new thought. It has been around for a long time and has been recognized in numerous belief systems that do not reflect God’s truth.

Gary Zukav teaches that we should trust the Universe because it is working toward our best and most appropriate end. He adds that if we do trust the Universe it will provide all that we desire: “Let your higher self complete its task.{32} In other words, allow the Universe (God) to complete its work in you as you come to fully realize that your “Higher Self” is the Divine Teacher.

Wayne Dyer helps clarify the role that the Higher Self plays in our understanding of who we truly are. In his text Your Sacred Self, he makes this observation: “When you consult your higher self, you learn that you are a part of the same divine essence that connects all of us to the source of spirit. There is one God, one source with many different manifestations.”{33} Dyer says that we relate to others in “terms of the divineness that is flowing through them, which is a manifestation of the energy supporting the physical world. On the path of the sacred way, you experience that force flowing through you and others.”{34} He declares that we short-circuit the manifestation of our Higher Selves (the divine spirit within) when we practice a toxic lifestyle. A toxic lifestyle would be one that denied man’s personal divinity. Dyer goes on to say, “To allow your highest self to triumph in this conflict between purity and toxicity, you must let go of any idea that at your core you are evil or a sinner.”{35}

To sum it up Ms. Byrne makes this observation: “So whichever way you look at it, the result is still the same. We are One. We are all connected, and we are all part of the One Energy Field, or the One Supreme Mind, or the One Consciousness, or the One Creative Source. Call it whatever you want, but we are all One.”{36} The message of The Secret is plain for all to see: “You are God in a physical body. You are Spirit in the flesh. You are Eternal Life expressing itself as you. You are a cosmic being. You are all power. You are magnificence. You are the creator, and you are creating the creation of You on this planet.”{37}

The Higher Self and Guidance

Rhonda Byrne and her Secret Teachers have played their metaphysical hand close to their vest. However, they have allowed their secret teaching to come through on occasion. Ultimately, yielding your life to the Universe and discovering your Higher Self implies that you must at some point submit to its deepest presence.

Ms. Byrne confides that “To love yourself fully, you must focus on a new dimension of You. You must focus on the presence inside of You. Take a moment and sit still. Focus on feeling the life presence inside you. As you focus on the presence within, it will begin to reveal itself to You. It is a feeling of pure love and bliss, and it is perfection. That presence is the real You.”{38}

Ms. Byrne offers her viewer and reader a sure-fire avenue to connecting with the “Presence” within. She states without reservation that all teachers in her film and in her book use meditation to quiet their minds so they can be in full harmony with the Universe. She says every teacher uses meditation as a daily practice. She then adds that “it wasn’t until I discovered The Secret that I realized how powerful meditation can be.”{39}

To hear the Master Teachers of The Secret tell it, one would think that discovering one’s Higher Self or inner teacher is the high point of spiritual or self discovery. In her book The Possible Human, Jean Huston makes this observation regarding the Presence. Ms. Houston is guiding her students through an exercise and she tells them that

“In the room is a Master Teacher of the skill—this person or being is your Master Teacher, and in the time that follows this teacher will give you deep and potent instructions to help you improve your skill. The Master Teacher may speak in words or not. Teachings may present themselves as feelings. However this being works with you, the learning on your part will be effective and deep. Once you become familiar with your Master Teacher and begin to trust and act on the advice and knowledge that is imparted, you will find it increasingly easy to have access to this kind of deep learning . . .”

Houston fully discloses the true nature of this inner Presence that Ms. Byrne alludes to. Apparently unable to contain her enthusiasm, she further states,

“The Master Teacher is a potent reminder of our inner ‘allies’ and may often provide much more teaching and wisdom than we had intended when we set out on this journey. And the exercise may also lead you to the discovery that the inner realms have their own subtle machinations for guiding you . . . we must also listen to them, for they have urgent messages to send us. If we cooperate with them—that is, with our own deepest knowing—we begin to notice an astounding change in our lives.{40}

If this is confusing, allow me to sum it up this way. When you enter the realm of spiritual discovery through meditative practices or some other psycho-spiritual methodology you will at some point find yourself face to face with a demon masquerading as your inner guide or Master Teacher. It is instructive to note that this inner guide or spirit guide will at some point in time bring you an urgent message from the “other side.” The subtle deception that lies in wait for its innocent prey is not discriminating. It will consume whomever it finds to seduce.

Spiritual Discernment

Earlier I mentioned that I believe Michael Bernard Beckwith to be a troubling figure in the unfolding of The Secret and its Law of Attraction. Rhonda Byrne became the “Big Get” for many in the world of television and the media. Oprah Winfrey was no different. After Ms. Byrne appeared on Oprah she realized her dreams as her film and book sales went through the roof. After her segment on Oprah The Secret was officially out and the book instantly became the bestseller literally overnight.

Michael Bernard Beckwith appeared with Ms. Byrne on Oprah and became an instant celebrity. His second Oprah appearance included the taking of questions from audience members. One of particular note was a lady named Maureen. Her question centered around her being a Christian. Maureen stated that her family puts their faith in God, and that it seemed to her that The Secret teaches that we should put our faith in ourselves. “And so,” she said, “I was wondering, is God anywhere in this?”

Here is what Beckwith had to say to Maureen: “The Secret involves the laws of the universe and they, in turn, describe the nature of how God works. [Jesus] said, ‘Pray believing that ye have, that ye may receive.’ That’s The Secret in a nutshell. Pray believing and feeling and sensing that you already have it, and then you’re available to receive it.”

The disturbing part of his answer came when he offered this thoughtful conclusion to Maureen’s question: “The Secret isn’t about contradicting religion—it supports it. It actually goes underneath the culture and explains to you the sacred laws that these wonderful teachers have brought to us,” he said. According to Beckwith, The Secret is about supporting the great spiritual traditions in a more modern form. “It really is just putting Christianity, Judaism, all the great teachings into a current vernacular.”

He smoothed the rippling waters created by her question, and by side-stepping her real concern he offered her a decoy. His implication was that the archaic teachings and mis-interpretations of the Bible can no longer be held as the standard of truth, but this new generation of believers is looking for ways to better connect with spiritual truth.

Sadly, there are a multitude of Maureens in the greater Christian church who may be easily persuaded by the decoys of spiritual heresy. It was interesting to see Oprah turn in her chair and catch Maureen’s eye and declare that she is a Christian, thereby implying that the teachings of The Secret as delivered by Beckwith are rock solid Christian principles.{41}

The greater “spiritual traditions” referred to by Beckwith are no less than the perennial philosophy and ancient wisdom taught by proponents of New Age thought and organizations like the Rosicrucians and other occult groups. The Rosicrucians teach that members will “achieve a gradual inner awakening, leading to a permanent awareness of the unity of all creation and your personal relationship with the ‘oneness’ of the universe.”{42}

Lost in Commonsenseville!?

Deception always comes packaged in a veneer of truth. Otherwise it would not be acceptable! The Secret is no different. There are several aspects of the teaching that would be good and right to exhibit in one’s life. Here are some examples:

1. We should be grateful. Christians should be grateful in all things. The scriptures use the word “contentment.” Philippians 4:11 tells us that we are to be content in whatever state we find ourselves. In regards to the teaching of The Secret I found this verse particularly interesting. The verse begins, “Not that I complain of want . . .” My reading of The Secret reveals just that. My wants and desires must be brought into manifestation because I simply ask. Ms. Byrne makes this observation: “It is impossible to bring more into your life if you are feeling ungrateful about what you have. Why? Because the thoughts and feelings you emit as you feel ungrateful are all negative emotions.” The following verses (4:12-13) in Philippians offer us a glimpse into the meaning of the real secret to life: “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance, and want. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” In contrast, the teaching of The Secret is that by expressing gratitude we increase our opportunity to receive more.{43}

2. We should give thanks. Above all, the Christian should be thankful because of what Jesus did for him on the cross. However, there are those who are less than thankful. Romans 1:20 tells us that we have no excuse of not knowing that God exists because of His creation. Verse 21 says, “Although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools . . .”

Colossians 3:15-17 offers new believers this exhortation:

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts . . . And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Michael Bernard Beckwith says that we are to sing our own song. The scripture seems clear that our song is to glorify God rather than ourselves. Beckwith comments, “You can begin to feel the love that’s surrounding you, even if its not there. And what will happen is the universe will correspond to the nature of your song.”{44} In other words the Universe—God—will comply with the commands in “our song.”

3. We should give liberally. It is without question that the Christian should be a generous giver because he has been given so much. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 offers this truth:

“The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.”

On the other hand, The Secret teaches that “giving is a powerful action to bring more money into your life, because when you are giving you are saying, ‘I have plenty.’”{45} The principle here, for those who follow the teachings of the Law of Attraction, is to be positive in your actions and thereby send the correct frequency or vibration into the Universe so you can get more. In my view, the biblical standard is far more pleasing to a holy God.

4. We should focus on the good in others. The Christian is to consider others better than himself and not become jaded. Philippians 2:3 offers this counsel:

Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Here once again, The Secret or the Law of Attraction is contrary to the teachings of Jesus. Marci Shimoff makes this revealing statement: “But for relationships to really work, we need to focus on what we appreciate about the other person, not what we’re complaining about.”{46} On the surface this admonition sounds really great; however, as we have seen before in the Law of Attraction, the actor’s actions are really all about getting what he wants. Shimoff continues her comment, “When we’re complaining about those things we’re only getting more of those things.” The dynamics of inter-personal relationships do seem to agree with Shimoff’s premise: if we’re less than adorable we’re going to get that reflected back to us by others. I agree that this may likely be the case. But our doing so as a follower of The Secret is to multiply our chances at getting what we want rather than looking after the interests of others.

5. We should praise and bless our enemies. The scripture clearly teaches that the Christian is to bless others.{47} The Christian who hears this idea from the stable of teachers under Rhonda Byrne will likely believe that The Secret is in alignment with God’s Word. But not so fast! According to Lisa Nichols, we are to recognize the beauty in those things around us and then “bless and praise them.” Ms. Byrne offers this understanding of blessing: “Lisa’s wise words, to ‘praise and bless’ the things around you, are worth their weight in gold. When you are blessing or praising you are on the highest frequency of love. In the Bible, the Hebrews used the act of blessing to bring forth health, wealth, and happiness.” In other words, we should confer our blessing so we might gain prosperity! Another head-shaking comment follows the above statement: “Praising and blessing dissolves all negativity, so praise and bless your enemies.”{48} Blessing is an important part of the Christian life. We are blessed to be a blessing. Psalm 128:1 and 4 say, “Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! Lo, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.” The Psalmist draws our attention to another truth that The Secret chooses to ignore. Ms. Byrne’s worldview and that of all likeminded teachers discounts the precept that one should fear the Lord. In their view, the “Lord”, the Universe, is not to be feared, but to be commanded to act on their behalf and bring them the riches they desire.

Finding Our Way in Commonsenseville

In the Law of Attraction and The Secret it is difficult to discern the occultic trappings when our focus is on such commonsense teachings as seen above. However, for the discerning it becomes clear that the perceived “truths” taught as The Secret are in reality false teachings for the Christian. They do not line up with God’s Word. They are out of focus and agreement.

The Secret is the latest in a series of examples that are used by the enemy of truth to nullify God’s authoritative Word. A previous film that made its way into the minds of many unsuspecting viewers was What the Bleep!?, a 2004 film dealing with much of the same material as The Secret. There have been numerous books touted by Oprah Winfrey and others who sing the praises of the same world view.{49}

Romans 12:1-2 offers us God’s truth in light of the emotional feelings encouraged in The Secret. Paul exhorts his brothers,

I appeal to you therefore by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Note that Paul did not say that we should consult our feelings about the matter, but that our spiritual worship is to present our bodies as a sacrifice to the Lord. The message of The Secret is not selflessness, but selfishness and self indulgence.

The discerning Christian must not only become aware of such cultural shifts as noted above, but he must be well-informed of the underlying falsity of such views—to judge rightly using the scripture as his guiding light. Our adversary is not asleep at the switch. He is looking for those whom he may devour by his cunning deception. The challenge for the Christian is to remain true to the scripture and faithful to the end. Our life’s purpose is to glorify our Father. Jesus clarified this truth by saying, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.”{50} Then Jesus added,

And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent. I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work which thou gave me to do; and now, Father glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made.{51}

We have seen by the above information that the purpose of the Christian life is to glorify God—not one’s self. It is not about garnering the wealth of the world, or to live in perfect health. Our true motivation in all that we do is to honor our Creator and to point others to the mercies and goodness of a loving Father.

Author’s Comment:

This article is dedicated to Maureen who appeared on Oprah 2/16/2007, and the other Maureens who desire to know if the message of The Secret is one that they might incorporate into their Christian lives. My prayer is that this article will help them discern God’s truth and then apply it in their lives. Proverbs 4:23

Notes

1. www.thesecret.tv/home-synopsis.html
2. Wattles, Wallace, The Science of Getting Rich, 1910. For a complete manuscript see: blog.marcaccetta.com/blog/files/the_science_of_getting_rich.pdf
3. Language translations: German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Japanese, Chinese.
4. www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1573136,00.html
5. Karin Klein, Self Help Gone Nutty, LA Times, Feb. 13, 2007 tinyurl.com/2bldwp
6. From the Oprah.com website: “One Week Later: The Reaction to “The Secret”. . . One week later…the reaction to The Secret! Your emails poured in and Oprah.com went off the charts! The secret to making more money, losing weight, falling in love, landing your dream job…and you want more! The questions, the successes and the lives changed. Stories you have to hear! A follow-up to the show everybody is talking about! Talk about this show.” http://tinyurl.com/39jkxf
7. What the Bleep!?, www.whatthebleep.com/whatthebleep/ The movie is greatly influenced by the teachings of J. Z. Knight (Ramtha). The three producers of the film were involved with The Ramtha School of Enlightenment and Ms. Knight had creative control over the film. In reality the film was nothing more than an infomercial for Ms. Knight and her school. www.ramtha.com/default.asp
8. The Secret comes to Oprah, 2/8/2007, blog.marcaccetta.com/blog/2007/02/the_secret_come.html#more
9. Ibid.
10. www.Quantumtouch.groupee.net
11. www.newsobserver.com/105/story/538825.html
12. This universal arrangement is not pantheism (all is God), but panentheism, (God in all things and beings) a term devised by Karl C. F. Krause (1781-1832) to describe his thought. It is best known for its use by Charles Hartshorne and recently by Matthew Fox. Panentheism says that all is in God, somewhat as if God were the ocean and we were fish. If one considers what is in God’s body to be part of God, then we can say that God is all there is and then some. The universe is God’s body, but God’s awareness or personality is greater than the sum of all the parts of the universe. All the parts have some degree of freedom in co-creating with God. At the start of its momentary career as a subject, an experience is God-as the divine initial aim. As the experience carries on its choosing process, it is a freely aiming reality that is not strictly God, since it departs from God’s purpose to some degree. Yet everything is within God. www.websyte.com/alan/pan.htm
13. www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com Napoleon Hill made the statement, “Whatever your mind can conceive and can believe, it can achieve” popular in his book Think and Grow Rich.
14. See our article on Neale Donald Walsch: http://christianinformation.org/article.asp?artID=63
15. See our article on Unity: christianinformation.org/article.asp?artID=46
16. Eric Butterworth, Discover the Power Within You, (New York, Harper & Row 1968). Also see our article on Oprah: christianinformation.org/article.asp?artID=103
17. See: Acknowledgments – Inspirational Teachings, Byrne, Rhonda, The Secret, p. xv. www.abraham-hicks.com/teachings_brief.php”, www.money-health-relationships.com/abraham-hicks.html
18. Helen Schucman, A Course in Miracles. Article, Kenneth Wapnick, Awaken From the Dream, (Roscoe, N. Y., Foundation for A.C.I.M. 1987) p. 2. Note the hyperlink in the text to our article on A Course in Miracles.
19. Rhonda Byrne, The Secret, (New York, Atria Books 2006; Hillsboro, OR, Beyond Words Publishing 2006) p. 28.
20. Ibid., p. 27.
21. Ibid., p. 31.
22. Ibid., p. 156.
23. Ibid., p. 159. See also James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy, (New York, Warner Books 1993) p. 42. “In other words, the basic stuff of the universe, at its core, is looking like a kind of pure energy that is malleable to human intention and expectation in a way that defies our old mechanistic model of the universe—as though our expectation itself causes our energy to flow out into the world and affect other energy systems.”
24. Ibid., p. 33. Betty Eadie, Embraced by the Light (Placerville, CA, Gold Leaf Press 1992), p. 57-58. Also see our article on Ms. Eadie: tinyurl.com/34kxv8
25. Byrne, p. 35; Redfield, p. 153.
26. Byrne, p. 39.
27. Ibid., p. 40.
28. Ibid., p. 47.
29. Ibid., p. 48.
30. Ibid., p. 51.
31. Ibid., p. 160.
32. Gary Zukav, The Seat of The Soul (New York, A Fireside Book, 1990), p. 240.
33. Wayne Dyer, The Sacred Self (New York, HarperCollins Publishers, 1995), p. 237; Redfield, p. 148, “Our higher self, our evolutionary identity.”
34. Ibid., p. 237.
35. Ibid., p. 287.
36. Byrne, p. 162; Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics (Boulder, Colorado, Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1975), p. 130-131, 307.
37. Byrne, p. 164.
38. Ibid., p. 173.
39. Ibid., p. 23. Also see our article on Meditation, christianinformation.org/article.asp?artID=78. See also Psalm 1:2, Joshua 1:8.
40. Jean Houston, The Possible Human (Boston, J.P. Tarcher, Inc., 1982), p. 178-180; Zukav, pp. 217, 237; Willis Harman, Higher Creativity (Los Angeles, Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1984), pp.108-109.
41. See our article on Oprah, christianinformation.org/article.asp?artID=103.
42. AMROC website: “On the Spiritual Level: Achieve a gradual inner awakening, leading to a permanent awareness of the unity of all creation and your personal relationship with the “oneness” of the universe. This leads to an integration of all aspects of your being. From this spiritual foundation, from your connection with the greater whole, everything else flows. The Rosicrucian studies aid you in developing a workable and practical philosophy of life and the inner peace that comes from understanding the nature of the universe and your relationship to it. www.rosicrucian.org/about/mastery/mastery04potential.html. https://www.thesecret.org/mastery/benefit.html
43. Byrne, p. 74, 77.
44. Ibid., p. 35.
45. Ibid., p. 107-108.
46. Ibid., p. 121.
47. Luke 6:28.
48. Byrne, p. 152.
49. See our article on Oprah: christianinformation.org/article.asp?artID=103.
50. John 15:8.
51. John 17:3-5.

© 2007 Russell V. Wise. Reprinted with permission.


“You Haven’t Got A Clue About ‘A Course in Miracles’”

With all due respect, you really haven’t got a clue about what “A Course in Miracles” says. Jesus was way too nice of a fellow to have people like you confuse His Love with hate, fear, and death. That is why He channeled the Course.

By the way FYI, the Jesus of the Course is not the Jesus of the New Testament. This might be a good place for you to start your research on ACIM….:-)

Thanks for your reply to my article on The Course. I appreciate your spiritual astuteness. Perhaps you could help me understand who Jesus is? I must be confused. Could it be that the channel of The Course is an alter ego? That could possibly answer the dilemma.

As I am most assured, you are undoubtedly familiar with The Course’s use of biblical language. The Course refers to the Son frequently (pages 290, 301, 357, 557, 620). In most circles when the term “son” is written Son of God, there is a strong inference of deity and singleness. In other words, there is only one, not many.

Marianne Williamson—I’m sure you are familiar with her—in her book A Return To Love uses biblical references to make her points about Jesus and His teaching (page 16 for one). She, along with the author of The Course consistently refer to the Holy Spirit, a clear biblical reference and not found in other religious texts. Therefore, one would rightly make the assumption that the Jesus being referred to in the text is the Jesus of the Bible. Marianne makes at least one reference to the Bible (see page 66) where she references the creation of Eve. She makes numerous references to biblical material, the crucifixion, the resurrection, the beatitudes, to name only a few.

Now, either the Jesus of the Bible is the primary individual referenced in The Course or Marianne Williamson, as the foremost spokesperson of The Course, along with the author (channeller) of the text is intentionally attempting to deceive the masses. Help me out, I remain confused. You can’t have it both ways.

If you can shed further light on the above ideas I would welcome your input. Otherwise, I wish you well on your spiritual journey and peace.

Russ Wise
Christian Information Ministries
(formerly with Probe Ministries)


“Satanism Has Nothing to do with Satan!”

A lot of Russ Wise’s article on Satanism made sense. The only idiot thing he did and every other person on that site did was make a common error due to lack of research. If any of you had researched Satanism properly instead of judging (which made you look very unintelligent) you would have realized that the practice of “Satanism” has absolutely nothing to do with Satan. I have a friend who is Satanic and have studied the religion on my own. In my studies I observed that Satanists don’t worship Satan. They believe in the worship of themselves and giving in to desire. I think everyone should do that every now and then, within reason.

Another thing he did wrong was the way he judged teenagers. Almost every teenager is depressed, or has a low self esteem. Teenagers emphasize social acceptance and few get it, and it makes them feel bad. A lot of children don’t get the proper attention from parents. Seems they’re all Christian to me. A lot of children like vampire movies, which doesn’t mean they’re satanic. I think that Russ and everyone other Christian should open up their eyes just a little and recognize that not everyone will be Christian. Not everyone will believe God. I’m wiccan, but I was Baptist for 14 years.

I’m responding to your email regarding my piece on Satanism. Let me first say that the piece I wrote was originally limited to space available for a radio transcript. I wish I would have had more space to have elaborated on the topic. I hope to update the article and broaden the information presented so a more comprehensive understanding will be known.

I agree with you that Satanism is primarily a self-centered belief system that indulges the base desires of an individual. However, you must admit that Satanism, as Christianity, is subject to more than one interpretation. I’m sure you have heard of Richard Ramerez, the night-stalker, and self proclaimed Satanist. He without doubt worshipped Satan.

You may not have heard of Sean Sellers, the 17 year-old self-styled Satanist, who killed his mother and father because Satan told him to. I’m not going to hold Satan accountable for Sean’s or Richard’s actions. However, it is obvious that the influence of a malevolent spirit being is at play here. Likewise, we cannot hold God accountable for every unloving act that His created beings make. As a result of God’s love we have free will and will ultimately be held accountable for our actions.

God does not orchestrate our lives as a puppeteer even though He could if He desired. On the other hand Satan, as a created being, cannot as well. But Satan can influence or oppress the individual in a negative manner, thereby causing one to commit evil acts.

If I can be intuitive for a moment, I suspect that you probably do not believe in Satan as a physical being. If so, could your pre-conceived bias color your view of who Satan is and ultimately his influence on humanity? As a Christian, I believe in Satan and his demons and their desire to confuse and confound mankind spiritually. In other words, to rob men and women of the joy and peace that can only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Now as for my judgmental attitude of teenagers. I wholeheartedly agree with you that teens are often depressed and suffer from low self-esteem. My observations are simply those made by individuals in the field of psychology and law-enforcement. I do not accept your conclusion that I am judgmental in this case. Maybe others!

It is grievous that many teens do not get the attention they need from parents or other adults. I recognize that when teens do not get what they need emotionally, etc. they are susceptible to negative influences. Sean Sellers is a classic example. I’m sure we could name others.

At the risk of running on, let me thank you for your critique. I consider it part of making my comments more reliable and ultimately more helpful for those who seek truth in the spiritual realm.

Best regards to you in your spiritual quest–remember God loves you!

Russ Wise
Christian Information Ministries
(formerly with Probe Ministries)


Goddess Worship – A Christian View

“The goddess, or Great Mother, has existed since the beginning of time . . . it is out of the primordial depths of her womb that the Universe and all life is born.” —Morwyn, Secrets of a Witch’s Coven

Reverence for the goddess is becoming prevalent in our day. The goddess is embraced by witchcraft, radical feminism, the occult, and the liberal church. The New Age that is about to dawn upon us will be, according to the occult world, a feminine age. Likewise, those who hold this view believe that this current, masculine age has been an age of destruction and broken relationships among humanity. The New Age with its feminine energies will bring balance to the destructive aspects of the Piscean Age.

Rosemary Radford Ruether, in her book Womanguides: Readings Toward a Feminist Theology, states that

It is to the women that we look for salvation in the healing and restorative waters of Aquarius. It is to such a New Age that we look now with hope as the present age of masculism succeeds in destroying itself.

According to Starhawk, a feminist and a practicing witch,

The symbolism of the Goddess is not a parallel structure to the symbolism of God the Father. The goddess does not rule the world; She is the world.(1)

In order for this feminine age to come into full fruition, a shift in consciousness must take place in the world. This shift in thinking and perception of reality will bring forth the goddess.(2)

According to those who believe in the Great Goddess, Europe was once inhabited by a matriarchal, egalitarian society. Europeans, they claim, worshipped a matrifocal, sedentary, peaceful, art- loving goddess 5,000 to 25,000 years before the rise of the first male-oriented religion. They maintain that this egalitarian culture was overrun and destroyed by a semi-nomadic, horse-riding, Indo- European group of invaders who were patrifocal, mobile, warlike, and indifferent to art.(3)

These Indo-European invaders considered themselves to be superior to the peaceful and art-loving goddess worshippers because of their superior military ability. The matriarchal religion of these early settlers was eventually assimilated into the patriarchal religion of the invaders. As these invaders imposed their patriarchal culture on the conquered peoples, rapes(4) and myths about male warriors killing serpents (symbols of the goddess worshippers) appeared for the first time. As the assimilation of cultures continued, the Great Goddess fragmented into many lesser goddesses.

According to Merlin Stone, author of When God Was a Woman, the disenthronement of the Great Goddess, begun by the Indo-European invaders, was finally accomplished by the Hebrew, Christian, and Moslem religions that arose later.(5) The male deity took the prominent place. The female goddesses faded into the background, and women in society followed suit.(6)

The Goddess and Witchcraft

In the world of witchcraft the goddess is the giver of life. Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., in her book Goddesses in Everywoman, has this to say about the goddess:

The Great Goddess was worshipped as the feminine life force deeply connected to nature and fertility, responsible both for creating life and for destroying life.(7)

Bolen goes on to say that “the Great Goddess was regarded as immortal, changeless, and omnipotent” prior to the coming of Christianity. For witches, the goddess is the earth itself. Mother Earth, or Gaia, as the goddess is known in occult circles, is an evolving being, as is all of nature. Starhawk, in her best-selling book The Spiral Dance, says that “the model of the Goddess, who is immanent in nature, fosters respect for the sacredness of all living things. Witchcraft can be seen as a religion of ecology. Its goal is harmony with nature, so that life may not just survive, but thrive.”(8)

The witch views Gaia, or Mother Earth, as a biosystem. She attributes consciousness to the earth and believes it to be spiritual as well. In other words, Gaia is a living and evolving being that has a spiritual destiny.

The environmental movement of our day is greatly influenced by those who practice witchcraft or hold neo-pagan beliefs. Witchcraft is an attempt to reintroduce the sacred aspect of the earth that was, according to its practitioners, destroyed by the Christian world. The goddess is, therefore, a direct affront against the male-dominated religion of the Hebrew God.

Christianity teaches that God is transcendent, is separate from nature, and is represented to humankind through masculine imagery. Witchcraft holds a pantheistic view of God. God is nature, therefore God is in all things and all things are a part of God. However, this God is in actuality a goddess.

A fundamental belief in witchcraft is the idea that the goddess predates the male God. The goddess is the giver of all life and is found in all of creation. “The importance of the Goddess symbol for women cannot be overstressed. The image of the Goddess inspires women to see ourselves as divine, our bodies as sacred, the changing phases of our lives as holy, our aggression as healthy, and our anger as purifying. Through the Goddess, we can discover our strength, enlighten our minds, own our bodies, and celebrate our emotions.”(9)

For Betty Sue Flowers, a University of Texas English professor, the women’s spirituality movement is the answer to the male-oriented religion of Christianity. At the International Conference on Women’s Spirituality in Austin, Texas, Flowers stated that

The goddess is a metaphor that reminds us of the female side of spirituality. Metaphors are important. You can’t know God directly. You can only know images of God, and each image or metaphor is a door. Some doors are open and others are closed. A door that is only male is only half open.(10)

The Goddess and Feminism

For many in the feminist world, the goddess is an object of worship. Those in the women’s spirituality movement “reject what they call the patriarchal Judeo-Christian tradition, deploring sexist language, predominantly masculine imagery and largely male leadership.”(11)

According to a Wall Street Journal article by Sonia L. Nazario, “women first wanted to apply feminism to political and economic realms, then to their families. Now, they want it in their spiritual lives.”(12)

To understand fully the implications of the women’s spirituality movement, one only needs to read the current literature on the subject. The editors of the book Radical Feminism state that “political institutions such as religion, because they are based on philosophies of hierarchical orders and reinforce male oppression of females, must be destroyed.”

The radical feminist believes that the traditional church must be dismantled. Naomi Goldenberg, in her book Changing of the Gods, states that “the feminist movement in Western culture is engaged in the slow execution of Christ and Yahweh. . . . It is likely that as we watch Christ and Yahweh tumble to the ground, we will completely outgrow the need for an external God.”(13) The deity that many in the feminist camp are searching for takes on the form of a goddess. Some in the goddess movement, according to a Wall Street Journal article, “pray for the time when science will make men unnecessary for procreation.”(14) The radical feminist sees the goddess movement as a spiritual outlet for her long-held beliefs. Mark Muesse, an assistant professor of religious studies at Rhodes College, agrees that “some feminist Christians push for changes ranging from the ordination of women and the generic, non-sexual terms for God and humanity to overhauling the very theology.”(15)

Perhaps the most descriptive word for the feminist movement is “transformation.” Catherine Keller, associate professor of theology at Xavier University says in her essay “Feminism and the New Paradigm” that “the global feminist movement is bringing about the end of patriarchy, the eclipse of the politics of separation, and the beginning of a new era modeled on the dynamic, holistic paradigm. Radical feminists envision that era, and the long process leading toward it, as a comprehensive transformation.”

Another aspect of this transformation is the blending of the sexes. The feminist movement seeks a common mold for all of humanity. Jungian psychotherapist John Weir Perry believes that we must find our individuality by discovering androgyny. He states, “To reach a new consensus, we have to avoid falling back into stereotypes, and that requires truly developing our individuality. It is an ongoing work of self-realization and self-actualization. For men it means growing into their native maleness and balancing it with their femaleness. For women, it’s the same–growing into their full womanhood, and that includes their masculine side.”(16)

This process sounds more like androgyny or sameness than it does individuality.

This paradigm-shift is nothing less than the reordering of man’s understanding of God, a shift in thinking of God through predominantly masculine imagery to seeing and experiencing God as a goddess, the mother of life.

The Goddess and the Occult

In the world of the occult, also known as the New Age, the goddess is believed to be resident within the individual and simply needs to be awakened. In other words, the individual is inherently divine. Starhawk, a witch who works with the Catholic priest Matthew Fox at his Institute of Creation Spirituality, says that an individual can awaken the goddess by invoking or inviting her presence. Starhawk tells us that “to invoke the Goddess is to awaken the Goddess within, to become . . . that aspect we invoke. An invocation channels power through a visualized image of Divinity.”

Starhawk continues, “We are already one with the Goddess–she has been with us from the beginning, so fulfillment becomes . . . a matter of self-awareness. For women, the Goddess is the symbol of the inmost self. She awakens the mind and spirit and emotions.”(17)

Jean Shinoda Bolen, a Jungian analyst and clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, answered the question, What ails our society? by saying, “we suffer from the absence of one half of our spiritual potential–the Goddess.”(18) Individuals who follow New Age teaching believe that the male-dominated religion of this present age has done an injustice to humanity and the ecosystem. Therefore there must be a balancing of energies. The male energies must diminish and the feminine energies must increase in order for the goddess to empower the individual.

The New Age of occultism promises to be an age of peace, harmony, and tranquility, whereas the present dark age of brokenness and separation continues to bring war, conflict, and disharmony. So it is the goddess with her feminine aspects of unity, love, and peace that will offer a solution for mankind and circumvent his destruction. For many in our society, this appears to be the answer to man’s dilemma. However, an occult solution that denies Christ’s atonement for sin cannot fully meet a Holy God’s requirement for wholeness.

For the pagan, the goddess represents life and all it has to offer. “The Goddess religion is a conscious attempt to reshape culture.”(19) This reshaping is nothing less than viewing man and his understanding of reality from a female-centered perspective, the focus of which is on the Divine as female. Therefore considerable emphasis is placed on feminine attributes, ultimately focusing on eroticism and sexuality. “Women are clearly the catalyst for the formation of the new spirituality. It is women above all who are in the process of reversing Genesis . . . by validating and freeing their sexuality.”(20)

A major part of this transformative process is the empowerment of women. The rise of the goddess is a direct assault on the foundation of Christianity. This new spirituality affirms bisexuality, lesbianism, homosexuality, and androgyny through the expression of transvestitism.

As this revival of the goddess continues, a growing lack of distinction between male and female will become the norm. Jungian psychotherapist John Weir Perry believes that “both current psychology and ancient history point to an emerging transformation in our sense of both society and self, a transformation that includes redefining the notion of what it means to be men and women.”(21)

The Bible clearly indicates that men and women were created as distinctive beings, male and female. The rising occult influence in our society seeks to undermine the biblical absolute that gives our culture stability. Once again the Bible rings true as it states, “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 teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”(22)

The Goddess and the Liberal Church

The message of the goddess has gained a hearing in the church as well. The philosophy of the goddess is currently being taught in the classrooms of many seminaries. Mary Daly, who considers herself to be a Christian feminist, says this about traditional Christianity: “To put it bluntly, I propose that Christianity itself should be castrated.”(23) The primary aim of this kind of “Christian” feminist is to bring an end to what she perceives as male-dominated religion by castrating the male influence from the religion.

Daly continues by saying, “I am suggesting that the idea of salvation uniquely by a male savior perpetuates the problem of patriarchal oppression.”(24)

Rev. Susan Cady, co-author of Sophia: the Future of Feminist Spirituality and pastor of Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, is one example of the direction that Daly and others are taking the church. The authors of Sophia state that “Sophia is a female, goddess-like figure appearing clearly in the Scriptures of the Hebrew tradition.” Wisdom Feast, the authors’ latest book, clearly identifies Jesus with Sophia. Sophialogy presents Sophia as a separate goddess and Jesus as her prophet. The book takes liberty with Jesus by replacing Him with the feminine deity Sophia.

Another example of how goddess thealogy (feminist spelling for theology) is making its way into the liberal church is through seminars held on seminary campuses. One such seminar, “Wisdomweaving: Woman Embodied in Faiths,” was held at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in February of 1990. Linda Finnell, a wiccan and one of the speakers, spoke on the subject of “Returning to the Goddess Through Dianic Witchcraft.” Two of the keynote speakers were of a New Age persuasion. In fact, one speaker, Sr. Jose Hobday, works with Matthew Fox and Starhawk at the Institute for Creation Spirituality.

A growing number of churches in the United States and around the world are embracing the New Age lie. Many churches have introduced A Course in Miracles, Yoga, Silva Mind Control, Unity teachings, and metaphysics into their teaching material. Some churches have taken a further step into the New Age by hiring individuals who hold a metaphysical world view.

Whether the individual seeks the goddess through witchcraft, the feminist movement, the New Age, or the liberal church, he or she is beginning a quest to understand and discover the “higher self.” The higher self, often referred to as the “god self,” is believed to be pure truth, deep wisdom. This truth or wisdom embodies the basic lie of deification. As Christians we must learn to discern every spirit lest we become deceived.

Notes

1. Starhawk, The Spiral Dance (New York: Harper & Row 1989), 23.

2. Elinor W. Gadon, The Once and Future Goddess (New York: HarperCollins, 1989), xiv.

3. Ibid., xii-xiii. See also Lynnie Levy, Of a Like Mind (Madison, Wis.: OALM, 1991), vol. viii, no. 3, pp. 2-3.

4. See also Zsuzsanna Emese Budapest, The Holy Book of Womwn’s Mysteries (Oakland, Calif.: Susan B. Anthony Coven No. 1, 1986), 12.

5. See also Gadon, The Once and Future Goddess, xiii.

6. Jean Shinoda Bolen, Goddesses in Everywoman (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1984), 21.

7. Ibid., 20.

8. Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, 25.

9. Ibid., 24.

10. Carlos Vidal Greth, “The Spirit of Women,” The Austin- American Statesman, 5 Mar. 1991, sec. D.

11. Ibid.

12. Sonia L. Nazario, “Is Goddess Worship Finally Going to Put Men in Their Place?” The Wall Street Journal, 7 June 1990, sec. A.

13. Naomi Goldenberg, Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions (Boston: Beacon Press, 1979), 4, 25.

14. Nazario, “Goddess Worship.”

15. Deirdre Donahue, “Dawn of the Goddesses,” USA Today, 26 Sept. 1990, sec. D.

16. John Weir Perry, “Myth, Ritual, and the Decline of Patriarchy,” Magical Blend 33 (January 1992): 103.

17. Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, 99.

18. Jean Shinoda Bolen, “The Women’s Movement in Transition: The Goddess and the Grail,” Magical Blend 33 (January 1992): 8.

19. Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, 11.

20. Donna Steichen, “The Goddess Goes to Washington,” Fidelity Magazine (December 1986): 42.

21. Perry, Decline of Patriarchy, 62.

22. 2 Tim. 4:3.

23. Alice Hageman, Theology after the Demise of God the Father: a Call for the Castration of Sexist Religion (New York: Association Press, 1974), 132.

24. Hageman, Theology, 138.

 

 


Pokemon

Former Probe staffer Russ Wise provides a conservative Christian assessment of the Pokemon character and games.

Pokemon, also known as pocket monsters, has become the biggest game phenomenon among pre-adolescents in modern history. It has not only won the hearts of young boys, but young girls as well.

Pokemon - PikachuPokemon has not only captured the game and collecting market among young people; it has also captured the financial market. Pokemon began in Japan as a Nintendo Game Boy game, and now encompasses television with a cartoon program by the same name, plush toys, posters, coloring books, T-shirts, comics, audio CD’s, strategy books, hats, and a growing list of other possibilities. Mewtwo Strikes Back, a full-length motion picture, will be out November 10th.

And Who Is Pokemon?

In The Land of Pokemon there are dozens of exotic little monsters who have magical powers. They come in all shapes and sizes and have both strengths and weaknesses. However, they can be trained. The goal of the trainer is not only to have the right Pokemon for the event but also to have properly trained the Pokemon. Thus, the trainer can ultimately capture them all and become a master.

Pokemon have more working for them than having strengths and weaknesses; they also have the ability to evolve into “higher forms” by making a conscious choice rather than evolving as a matter of, –oh well!– evolution. Pokemon can either evolve or devolve depending on the trainer’s needs. Pokemon also has characters that are psychic or ghostly, thereby giving them advantages by displaying supernatural powers.

Problems in the Land of Pokemon

As mentioned earlier, Pokemon has captured the minds and hearts of our youth, not to mention their pocketbooks. The game has become so competitive that parents have begun to make purchases while their young players are in school. A recent Dallas Morning News editorial, written by a Dallas-area mom, bemoaned the fact that parents have ruined Pokemon for children because they have purchased unfairly and taken the fun out of the game for children in general. It seems that parents have become over-zealous in their desire to give their children every advantage.

Another problem that Pokemon raises is that young peole cannot make good decisions about when to play and “not” play. A growing number of schoolteachers and schools have banned Pokemon from their schools and classrooms. Students have difficulty leaving playtime at the classroom door, thereby not giving the teacher their full attention during class.

Students also have difficulty dealing with their emotions after making a “bad” trade or purchase. It is not uncommon for a student to become depressed after a bad deal literally ruining his day.

There have been reports of young people having their valuable cards stolen on campus or in the clssroom. You can imagine the trauma of having your card collection of several hundred dollars disappear.

Eric, a thirteen-year-old enthusiast, said, “It’s highly addictive and I think it’s fun that there’s a world out there with imaginary creatures that you can control and are highly powerful.”

pokemon psychic surpriseAnother problem, and one that the Christian cannot ignore, is the occultic influence that comes with the game. Pokemon who have psychic abilities and are able to evolve or devolve introduce an occultic world that young people may not have the maturity to deal with. The wise parent will oversee this child’s activities and playtime, interacting with his child, and instructing his son or daughter in their faith. In a word, it offers the parent a teachable moment that may not otherwise occur.

Teachable moments are precious and few. It is not uncommon for Christian parents to overreact and want to protect their children from all negative influences in their lives. However, it may be an opportunity for parents to teach their children a biblical truth, rather than calling for the censors.

The fact that Pokemon opens a door into the realm of the occult and the world of fantasy should concern parents because it can easily lead to a deeper involvement with other games that are more seductive and ultimately deadly.

A concern worth noting is that Pokemon may whet the appetite for more sophisticated fantasy games such as Magic and ultimately Dungeons and Dragons. Pokemon is primarily played by elementary-aged students, whereas Magic is played by junior high students, and Dungeons and Dragons is mostly played by students in high school and older. Each game introduces the player to more and more seductive and occult fantasies and activities.

What is a Parent to Do?

If you have decided that your child will be allowed to play, it would be wise to limit the time he or she can play. Set limitations on when your child can play–after homework is done, chores are completed, etc.

It may be wise to limit the amount of money that will be used for the game. Pokemon, with its addictive potential, can easily become a money pit. It may be instructive to encourage your child to use his own money that he has earned through chores, for example. Learning the value of a dollar is always a good lesson to learn.

We need to ask the question, What is this game teaching me–or my child–about magic, power, God, and spirituality? Do the answers to these questions bring my child or me into a closer relationship with God? If not, why?

Positive Lessons to Be Learned

pokemon goldyPokemon has positive lessons to be learned. However, these lessons need to be channeled in a productive manner. Proponents of the game offer several reasons why Pokemon is and can be enriching.

First, the game is a social time for engaging in friendly play.

Second, the game fosters cooperation. It takes the help of one’s playmates to capture and train all one hundred and fifty-plus Pokemon.

Third, the game helps the player develop skills in using strategy, thinking, and memorization. The game also encourages a child to develop reading skills so he can achieve mastery.

Fourth, the game promotes negotiation and organization skills that may be useful in life.

Wrapping it Up

Pokemon helps develop positive skills in the life of a young person. However, the game can easily become addictive and disruptive. The introduction of psychic powers and other occultic manifestations are indeed troublesome. We as parents must be proactive in teaching our children how to discern those things that are destructive to their relationship with God.

We must keep our focus on the things of God. Philippians 4:8 tells us to keep our minds on those things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely and of good report. These are the things that we are to dwell on–not on the magical world of fantasy and psychic power.

©1999 Probe Ministries.


Cruci-Fiction and Resuscitation

This article is also available in Spanish.

The title used above was the headline of a paid advertisement in a campus newspaper from a major university. Allegedly written by a university student named “Daniel,” the ad appeared as a result of Resurrection Week on that campus in the spring of 1997.

I received a copy of the ad in a letter from a long-time friend of my son. He was angry, confused, and scared by the article. He opened his letter by saying, “This is one of the most upsetting articles that I have ever read. This paid advertisement’ has contradicted everything that I believe in. It makes a mockery out of the way I have chosen to pattern my life. It even frightens me.”

In this essay we are going to address the misleading statements and half-truths found in the article. A few days after receiving this correspondence, I took the article and broke it down into nine significant errors or issues raised by the author. My procedure will be quote each half-truth or misleading statement, then address it.

I do not presume that this brief treatment will completely answer all of the objections raised by the “paid advertisement,” but these thoughts were a great help to my son’s friend as he took a deeper look at his faith. I trust that they will be equally helpful to you.

Christian Scholars and the Bible

Problem #1

“Have you ever wondered why so many biblical experts are so skeptical about Jesus’ resurrection’ and why even a growing number of Christian scholars and theologians are heard saying that his resurrection is not so central to Christianity” (“Cruci-fiction”).

It appears that Daniel is only interested in going to those “biblical experts” and “Christian scholars” that support his position. It is no secret that there are a number of Christian scholars who hold a low view of the Bible and the deity of Christ, i.e., they do not believe in the veracity or trustworthiness of the Scriptures or the deity of Christ.

They very often question not only the deity of Christ and His resurrection, but also the Trinity, His uniqueness as a Savior, and His second coming. They also tend to discount hell as a place for eternal damnation and consider sin as only a mistake. They see guilt as being of no consequence because it is imposed on humanity by those who would enforce a strict moral code of conduct.

Daniel’s comment about Christian scholars and theologians not considering the resurrection of Jesus being of any real importance is a ridiculous notion that denigrates the uniqueness of Jesus and ultimately places Him on the same plane as Buddha, Krishna, or any other “holy man” in history. Jesus is totally unique and that distinct difference is based on His resurrection in bodily form. Without the Resurrection, there is no salvation for we are still in our sin.

Next, we will look at Daniel’s assumption that there were tens and possibly hundreds of “gospels” in existence at the time the church selectively chose the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as a basis for understanding God’s truth, along with his assertion that the Apostle Paul fabricated these writings to alter the truth.

Numerous Gospels

Problem #2

Now we are going to look at the question of the canon: just where did the Bible come from and how can we know that it is trustworthy?

Our antagonist, Daniel, continues by making this statement:

“Since preachers have often failed to inform the people of what really happened in events surrounding the so called resurrection,’ I will make an attempt to give the most possible accurate picture. Our information source will be the four surviving gospels even though they have been carefully selected by the Church from a pool of a multitude of gospels’ tens, possibly hundreds. . . . The four surviving gospels were edited and corrected over time to best fit the doctrines worked out earlier by Paul” (“Cruci-fiction”).

There is no doubt that there were a number of “gospels” circulating during and after the first century. But, Daniel’s problem is that he does not have an understanding of how the Bible was canonized. There were several ways various writings were judged to be authentic. If they failed in any one area, they were suspect overall.

First, for a gospel or other book to be considered authentic by the early church, the author must have been an Apostle, one who had been with Jesus during His ministry.

Remember that Jesus promised His disciples the Holy Spirit would enable them to remember His teachings so that they could communicate them accurately to others. He said to the Apostles, “These things I have spoken to you, while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 16:25-26). Jesus, who is absolutely reliable, believed that what the disciples wrote about Him would be just as true as if He wrote it Himself. That means that it would be historically accurate.

Second, the book had to be authoritative. Did it come from the hand of God? The previous passage indicates that a genuine message from God would come through the Holy Spirit.

Third, is it prophetic? Was it written by a man of God?

Fourth, is it authentic? When in doubt about a manuscript, the Church fathers threw it out.

Fifth, is it dynamic? Did it contain the life-transforming power of God?

Sixth, was the book received and used by the people and considered to be authentic and authoritative?

Daniel uses Irenaeus as a source for the idea of tens, even hundreds, of possible gospels circulating in the first century and subtly implies that he (Irenaeus) questioned their authenticity out of hand. However, we know that Irenaeus, according to historical documentation, gave credence to the four Gospels of the Bible.

Irenaeus was a student of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, had been a Christian for eighty-six years, and was a disciple of John the Apostle. Irenaeus wrote the following regarding the four Gospels of the New Testament:

So firm is the ground upon which the Gospels rest, that the very heretics themselves bear witness to them, and, starting from these (documents), each one of them endeavors to establish his own particular doctrine. For as there are four quarters of the world in which we live, and four universal winds, and as the Church dispersed over all the earth, and the gospel is the pillar and base of the Church and the breath of life, so it is natural that it should have four pillars, breathing immortality from every quarter and kindling the life of men anew. Whence it is manifest that the Word, the architect of all things, who sits upon the cherubim and holds all things together, having been manifested to men, has given us the gospel in fourfold form, but held together by one Spirit (Against Heresies III).

It seems as if Irenaeus would probably differ with Daniel on this count.

The latter part of Daniel’s statement, “The four surviving gospels were edited and corrected over time to best fit the doctrines worked out earlier by Paul” holds no water as well.

Daniel makes it seem that Paul was the official editor of the New Testament and that nothing made the canon unless he approved of its inclusion.

Daniel seems to overlook the fact that the books of the Bible were decided upon by Church Councils and not individuals. Plus, there is an overwhelming amount of manuscript evidence to help the inquiring student to recognize that there was no wholesale editing of the Gospels. (For more information on this, see the Probe article Are the Biblical Documents Reliable?)

Remember these manuscripts were being used daily by the Church and those using the Scripture were contemporaries of Paul. If, in fact, he had edited or distorted the writings of the Apostles, he would have had his hand called (see Acts 17:10-11) and would have been ostracized. The fact is, it didn’t happen.

Crucifixion and Prophecies

Problem #3 Next, our antagonist, Daniel, questions the fact that Jesus really died on the cross and makes this statement regarding the event.

“In order to speed up death of the crucified , he ordered the soldiers to break the legs of both criminals, but not those of Jesus” (“Cruci-fiction”).

It appears that Daniel is not familiar with prophecy and, in particular, those prophecies relating to Jesus’ death. Psalms 34:20 says, “He keeps all his bones; Not one of them is broken.” The fulfillment of this prophecy is found in John 19:33 where it is said, “But coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.”

The Romans were not novices when it came to crucifixion and death. They knew a dead person when they saw one. It seems that Daniel cannot accept this possibility.

Problem #4

“But one soldier thrust a lance into his side. How can one see that a person is dead without a careful close inspection of signs of life as heartbeat and breathing? How many times are people pulled from water, fires, car wrecks who appear to be dead, but then are resurrected?’ And if the soldier saw that Jesus was dead, why the lancing? No reason for it.


“Moreover, Romans never lanced the crucified. If the soldier did not get special orders from Pilate and if he was only a bit suspicious that Jesus was alive (as he had all reasons to be), he would have broken Jesus’ legs like anyone else’s, no preferential treatment. It seems that the lancing (was) observed only by a mysterious anonymous witness” (“Cruci-fiction”).

Once again Daniel is allowing his bias to overtake his lack of understanding of the prophecies surrounding the Crucifixion

Zechariah 12:10 says, “They will look on me whom they have pierced.”

John 19:34 offers the fulfillment of this prophecy. It reads, “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear.”

Daniel is caught up with the notion that Jesus did not die on the cross, but seemed to have fainted and was resuscitated at a later time, thereby ignoring some basic facts regarding the death of Christ. There is no record that any of the onlookers questioned the fact of Jesus’ death; also the centurion gave testimony of the death of Jesus to Pilate (Mark 15:44).

Furthermore, the piercing of His side confirmed that Jesus was indeed dead. But, equally important is the fact that from the wound came both blood and water. John 19:34 35 gives us an eyewitness account of the effect of the piercing. We read that blood and water poured from the wound, but had Jesus been alive at the time of the piercing, strong spurts of blood would have come forth with every heartbeat. Instead, we are told that a semi-dark red clot was seeping out and was separate from a flow of watery serum. These signs are evidence of massive clotting of the blood in the main arteries and, therefore, proof of death.

Problem #5

Next in our analysis of Christ’s crucifixion, we are going to deal with several problems about which our antagonist, Daniel, attempts to create doubt. In doing so, we catch Daniel using poor logic to make his case against the Resurrection.

Daniel continues by observing that the lancing of Jesus was “observed only by a mysterious anonymous witness which appears only in John’s gospel (and) was the author’s initiative to correct the previously written three gospels which did not document any such lancing” (“Cruci-fiction”).

Each of the gospel writers had different interests: Matthew was a tax-collector; Mark was the son of Mary and close to the Apostles; Luke was a physician; and John was a fisherman. Each of these men likewise had a different perspective in their Gospel narrative. Luke, although he was a physician, wrote his Gospel as a historical account. John offers the reader no account of the birth of Jesus, His baptism, or His temptations; it tells us nothing of the Last Supper, nothing of Gethsemane, and nothing of the Ascension, to name just a few omissions.

However, if we are to use Daniel’s logic we would have to discount all these facts because they were not mentioned in all four Gospels that “survived the editing of Paul.”

Genealogies of Christ

Problem #6

“When Matthew and Luke were independently editing the earlier Mark’s gospel, they knew that its contemporary critics pointed out that the Messiah must come from David’s line and Mark did not mention Jesus’ genealogy. So each made up his own list of names” (“Cruci-fiction”).

Here, Daniel seems to be a bit lazy. Instead of doing a little research to gain an understanding of Jesus’ lineage, he simply makes the comment that each writer just made it up to suit his own wishes.

In Judaism a man’s lineage was his pedigree. It was a matter of high regard for a Jew to have direct lineage from Abraham, thereby proving his Jewishness. The Gospel writers had different reasons for including Jesus’ pedigree.

As Daniel points out, the genealogies given by Matthew and Luke are quite different. There are several possibilities for this occurrence.

Luke includes the genealogy between Adam and Abraham. The section between Abraham and David is the same in both Matthew and Luke. However, the genealogies between David and Joseph are almost completely different. Why is this?

One school of thought is that both genealogies are symbolic and that Matthew gives us the line of royal descent of Jesus and Luke gives us the line of priestly descent.

Another school of thought is that one genealogy (Matthew’s) gives Christ’s ancestral line from Abraham through Joseph (Jesus’ legal father, though not His natural one) establishing Jesus’ legal right to the throne of David. This fits the Jewishness of the Gospel of Matthew. The second part of this approach is that the genealogy in Luke traces Jesus’ ancestry from Mary (Jesus’ physical mother) back to Adam (physical father of the human race). (There are some minor concerns about the spelling of some names in this genealogy, but this seems to be the best answer.) It is also very compatible with the universal character of the book of Luke.

The fact is that we do not fully know which genealogical approach is more correct. However, we do know that genealogies were extremely important to the Jews and the idea of making them up is preposterous and would have been exposed.

Our next discussion will center on the claim that Jesus did not die on the cross, but only swooned.

Burial of Christ

Problem #7

“Thus Jesus was taken off the cross after approximately three hours by Joseph of Arimathea and was buried on his property in his new tomb that he (Joseph) had hewn in the rock.’ Why there? Why didn’t Joseph bury Jesus in the ground as most people were buried, but instead he put him into his own tomb? Because in the ground Jesus would have certainly suffocated. Moreover, Joseph knew that he would be able to reuse the tomb in the future” (“Cruci-fiction”).

It is true that the Romans normally buried those who were crucified in a pit unless the body was claimed. The body of Jesus was not claimed by a family member or by one of the disciples. They were evidently too scared and feared the possible outcome of doing so. It was Joseph of Arimathea who desired a more appropriate resting place for the body of the Lord.

Joseph realized that he had to move quickly in order to accomplish his goal of burial because the Sabbath was close. There was no time for elaborate preparations, and Joseph did what any other believer would have done he made his newly hewn sepulcher available to our Lord.

The tomb was in close proximity to Golgotha and spared Joseph and Nicodemus the trouble of preparing a burial site along with the need to prepare the body.

Problem #8

“What would you do in Joseph’s place knowing Jesus had only been on the cross three hours and had not had his legs broken? Exactly what Joseph did. Once dark settled, he took several of his servants and unrolled the stone to get Jesus out. According to all expectations, Jesus was alive, so Joseph got him out and rolled the stone back. Only the next day did the Pharisees realize their mistake and asked Pilate to guard the tomb, by which time Jesus was resting in Joseph’s house” (“Cruci-fiction”).

On the surface this argument sounds plausible. However, it does not take into account the fact that Joseph fully believed and recognized that Jesus was indeed dead. If he were to follow through, as Daniel suggests, by removing the stone and taking Jesus to his home for recuperation, he would have been directly disobeying Jewish law.

Jewish law prohibited a Jew from working on the Sabbath. They had very strict ideas about what comprised work. It is highly unlikely that Joseph would have risked the penalty for breaking the Sabbath for removing a body that he believed was dead. For what purpose? To risk the penalty of death for breaking the Sabbath?

According to scholars, the stone that was placed at the entrance of the tomb was not only larger than what would normally be used, but one that would take twenty men to move. Beyond the above, if Joseph did return with twenty men to remove the stone and release Jesus, it would be most unlikely that it could have been kept secret. It is untenable to think that such a conspiracy would have succeeded.

Likewise, it is ludicrous to suggest that after the Roman guard was posted and the tomb sealed, that evidence of tampering–should someone be so foolhardy as to try it–would have escaped the notice of the highly trained Roman soldiers. They knew the penalty for failure was death.

Problem #9

“Next we are told that after Sabbath was over women came to the tomb. Why? To anoint the body with spices as Mark 16:1 says? No! It is not a Jewish custom to open graves and anoint corpses which have already been buried and which have been fermenting for two days!” (“Cruci-fiction”).

Here Daniel is correct. However he does not take into account the special circumstances under which Jesus was interred.

Under normal conditions a body would have been properly prepared with ample time in which to complete the task. Joseph and Nicodemus had very little time to accomplish their duty before the Sabbath restrictions were imposed. The women sitting at the preparation site saw that the process was incomplete according to their custom and subsequently desired to prepare the body in the proper way. Therefore, they made plans to return after the Sabbath and finish the process by anointing the body with sweet spices, nard, or some costly unguent.

Perhaps the most damaging piece of information to Daniel’s hypothesis is the fact that the grave clothes were left undisturbed in the place where the body was laid. The body of Jesus was wrapped from the armpits to the ankles with strips of linen twelve inches wide. The linen wraps were then wound around the body placing spices, aloes, and other fine ointments between the wraps. It is believed that a minimum of seventy pounds of spices were used in the process and as much as a hundred pounds were used for someone of Jesus’ position.

The grave clothes constituted quite a mass encasing the body. If we are to assume Daniel’s position that Joseph and several of his servants took the body, we would expect that they were concerned about being detected. Therefore, they would have likely been in a great hurry, and we should expect that the grave clothes would have been left in great disarray with spices trailing out the doorway, not to mention that it would have been difficult to have placed the grave clothes neatly back on the resting place in the dark while being in a great hurry to do so.

However, the observers did not find spices and wrappings trailing out of the doorway. The grave clothes were intact, undisturbed with the exception of the head napkin that was placed slightly above where it should have been found.

John R. W. Stott in his book, Basic Christianity, makes this observation: “The body had disappeared. It would have vaporized, being transmuted into something new and different and wonderful. It would have passed through the grave clothes, as it was later to pass through closed doors, leaving them untouched and almost undisturbed. For the body clothes, under the weight of one hundred pounds of spices, once support of the body had been removed, would have subsided or collapsed, and would now be lying flat.”

The grave clothes represent an undeniable fact: Jesus was not bodily or physically removed from their bondage, but He was indeed raised, transmuted from them in the glorious act of the Resurrection.

©1998 Probe Ministries.


The Goddess and the Church – A New Age Deity

The goddess, or Great Mother, has existed since the beginning of time…it is out of the primordial depths of her womb that the Universe and all life is born. Morwyn, Secrets Of A Witch’s Coven

Reverence for the goddess is becoming more prevalent in our day. The goddess is embraced by witchcraft, feminism, the occult, and the liberal church. The New Age that is about to dawn upon us will be, according to the occult world, a feminine age. Likewise, those who hold this view believe that this current, masculine age has been an age of destruction and broken relationships among humanity. The New Age with its feminine energies will bring balance to the destructive aspects of the Piscean Age.

Rosemary Radford Ruether in her book, Womanguides: Readings Toward A Feminist Theology, states “It is to the women that we look for salvation in the healing and restorative waters of Aquarius. It is to such a New Age that we look now with hope as the present age of masculism succeeds in destroying itself.” According to Starhawk, a feminist and practicing witch, “the symbolism of the Goddess is not a parallel structure to the symbolism of God the Father. The Goddess does not rule the world; She is the world.”(1)

In order for this feminine age to come into full fruition a shift in consciousness must take place in the world. This shift in thinking and perception of reality will bring forth the goddess.(2)

As interest in the occult continues to rise and gain popularity in our culture, the goddess becomes more popular as a deity. The modern woman is at a crossroads in her spiritual quest. It is imperative that she realize her inherent deity, her god nature, for she is to be the salvation of humanity.

According to those who hold a belief in the Great Goddess, Europe was once ruled by a matriarchal egalitarian religion. Their belief dictates that Old Europe was a culture that worshiped a matrifocal (mother-focused), sedentary, peaceful, art-loving, goddess between 5,000 and 25,000 years before the rise of the first male-oriented religion. They maintain that this egalitarian culture was overrun and destroyed by a semi-nomadic, horse-riding, Indo-European group of invaders who were patrifocal (father-focused), mobile, warlike, and indifferent to art.(3) The ease with which the peaceful goddess worshipers were subdued confirmed to the war-like Indo-European invaders their feelings of natural superiority. The matriarchal religion of these early settlers was eventually assimilated into the more dominant patriarchal religion of the invaders. As these invaders imposed their patriarchal culture on the conquered peoples, rapes(4) and myths about male warriors killing serpents appeared for the first time in their history. The serpent was a symbol of the goddess worshipers. As the assimilation of cultures continued, the Great Mother Goddess became fragmented into many lesser goddesses.

According to Merlin Stone, author of When God Was a Woman, the disenthronement of the Great Goddess, begun by the Indo- European invaders, was finally accomplished by the Hebrew, Christian, and Moslem religions that arose later.(5) The male deity took the prominent place. The female goddesses faded into the background, and women in society followed suit.(6)

The Goddess and Witchcraft

In the world of witchcraft the goddess is the giver of life. Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., in her book, Goddesses In Everywoman, has this to say about the goddess:

The Great Goddess was worshiped as the feminine life force deeply connected to nature and fertility, responsible both for creating life and for destroying life.(7)

She also proclaims, “The Great Goddess was regarded as immortal, changeless, and omnipotent” prior to the coming of Christianity. For witchcraft, the goddess is the earth itself. Mother Earth or Gaia, as the goddess is known in occult circles, is an evolving being as is all of nature. In the New Age worldview, environmentalism and the ecological movement play an important part in restoring the goddess. In her best-selling book, The Spiral Dance, Starhawk says

The model of the Goddess, who is immanent in nature, fosters respect for the sacredness of all living things. Witchcraft can be seen as a religion of ecology. Its goal is harmony with nature, so that life may not just survive, but thrive.(8)

Witches think of Gaia, or Mother Earth, as a biosystem. They attribute consciousness to earth and believe it to be spiritual as well. In other words, Gaia is a living and evolving being that has a spiritual destiny. Those who practice witchcraft take responsibility for Mother Earth’s evolutionary development.

The environmental movement of our day is greatly influenced by those who practice witchcraft or hold neopagan beliefs. Witchcraft is an attempt to reintroduce the sacred aspect of the earth that was, according to their belief, destroyed by the Christian world. The goddess is, therefore, a direct affront against the male- dominated religion of the Hebrew God.

Christianity taught that God was transcendent, apart from nature, and was a masculine deity. Witchcraft holds a pantheistic view of God. God is nature. Therefore, God is in all things and all things are a part of God. However, this God is in actuality a goddess and predates the male God. The goddess is the giver of all life and is found in all of creation.

The importance of the Goddess symbol for women cannot be over stressed. The image of the Goddess inspires women to see ourselves as divine, our bodies as sacred, the changing phases of our lives as holy, our aggression as healthy, and our anger as purifying. Through the Goddess, we can discover our strength, enlighten our minds, own our bodies, and celebrate our emotions.(9)

For Betty Sue Flowers, a University of Texas English professor, the women’s spirituality movement is the answer to the male-oriented religion of Christianity. She was a keynote speaker for the International Conference on Women’s Spirituality in Austin, Texas, and addressed the conference on the return of the goddess. According to Flowers,

The goddess is a metaphor that reminds us of the female side of spirituality. Metaphors are important. You can’t know God directly. You can only know images of God, and each image or metaphor is a door. Some doors are open and others are closed. A door that is only male is only half open.(10)

The Goddess and Feminism

For many in the feminist world, the goddess is an expression of worship. A growing number within the feminist movement have bought into witchcraft as the central focus of their allegiance. Those who have become a part of the women’s spirituality movement reject what they call the patriarchal Judeo-Christian tradition, deploring sexist language, predominantly masculine imagery and largely male leadership.(11)

In a Wall Street Journal article, Sonia L. Nazario stated, “Women first wanted to apply feminism to political and economic realms, then to their families. Now, they want it in their spiritual lives.”(12)

To fully understand the implications of the women’s spirituality movement one only needs to read the current literature on the subject. The editors of the book Radical Feminism state that “Political institutions such as religion, because they are based on philosophies of hierarchical orders and reinforce male oppression of females, must be destroyed.”

Radical feminists believe that the traditional church must be dismantled. For example, in her book Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions, Naomi Goldenburg announced,

The feminist movement in Western culture is engaged in the slow execution of Christ and Yahweh….It is likely that as we watch Christ and Yahweh tumble to the ground, we will completely outgrow the need for an external God.(13)

Many feminists are obviously moving away from an understanding of deity as an external “male” God who stands apart from Creation to a conception of deity as a goddess that is realized within one’s inner self and is one with nature.

Some extreme feminists in the goddess movement “pray for the time when science will make men unnecessary for procreation.”(14) The radical feminist see the goddess movement as a spiritual outlet for their long-held beliefs. According to Mark Muesse, an assistant professor of religious studies at Rhodes College,

some feminist Christians push for changes ranging from the ordination of women and the generic, non-sexual terms for God and humanity to overhauling the very theology.(15)

Perhaps the most descriptive word for the feminist movement is “transformation.” Catherine Keller, Associate Professor of Theology at Xavier University, in her essay “Feminism and the New Paradigm,” proclaims that the world-wide feminist movement is bringing about the end of patriarchy, the eclipse of the politics of separation, and the beginning of a new era modeled on the dynamic, holistic paradigm. Radical feminism envisions that era, and the long process leading toward it, as a comprehensive transformation.

Another aspect of this transformation is the blending of the sexes. The feminist movement seeks a common mold for all of humanity. Jungian Psychotherapist John Weir Perry believes that we must find our individuality by discovering androgyny. He states,

To reach a new consensus, we have to avoid falling back into stereotypes, and that requires truly developing our individuality. It is an ongoing work of self-realization and self- actualization. For men it means growing into their native maleness and balancing it with their femaleness. For women, it’s the same growing into their full womanhood, and that includes their masculine side.(16)

This process sounds more like androgyny (or sameness) than individuality and it reflects a paradigm-shift involving nothing less than the reordering of man’s understanding of God. A shift from thinking of God as male to seeing and experiencing God as a goddess: the Mother of Life.

The Goddess and the Occult

In the world of the occult, popularly known as the New Age, the goddess is believed to be resident within the individual and simply needs to be awakened. In other words, the individual is inherently divine. Starhawk, a witch who works with the Catholic priest Matthew Fox at his Institute of Creation Spirituality, says that an individual can awaken the goddess by invoking, or inviting, her presence. Starhawk tells us,

To invoke the Goddess is to awaken the Goddess within, to become …that aspect we invoke. An invocation channels power through a visualized image of Divinity….We are already one with the Goddess–she has been with us from the beginning, so fulfillment becomes…a matter of self-awareness. For women, the Goddess is the symbol of the inmost self. She awakens the mind and spirit and emotions.(17)

Jean Shinoda Bolen, a Jungian analyst and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, when asked the question, What ails our society?, put it this way: “We suffer from the absence of one half of our spiritual potential–the Goddess.”(18) Individuals who follow New Age teaching believe that the male-dominated religion of this present age has been an injustice to humanity and the ecosystem. Therefore, there must be a balancing of energies. The male energies must diminish and the feminine energies must increase in order for the goddess to empower the individual.

The New Age of occultism promises to be an age of peace, harmony, and tranquility. Whereas the present dark age of brokenness and separation continues to bring war, conflict, and disharmony, so it is the goddess with her feminine aspects of unity, love, and peace that will offer a solution for mankind and circumvent his destruction. For many in our society this appears to be the answer to man’s dilemma. However, an occult solution that denies Christ’s atonement for sin cannot fully meet a holy God’s requirement for wholeness.

For the pagan, the goddess represents life and all it has to offer. “The Goddess religion is a conscious attempt to reshape culture.”(19) This reshaping is nothing less than viewing man and his understanding of reality from a female-centered perspective which focuses on the Divine as being female. Therefore, considerable emphasis is placed initially on feminine attributes, but ultimately the focus is on eroticism and sexuality.

Women are clearly the catalyst for the formation of the new spirituality. It is women above all who are in the process of reversing Genesis…by validating and freeing their sexuality.(20)

A major part of this transformative process is the empowerment of women. The rise of the goddess is a direct assault on the patriarchal foundation of Christianity. This new feminist spirituality affirms bisexuality, lesbianism, homosexuality, and androgyny (through the expression of transvestitism).

As this revival of the goddess continues, a growing lack of distinction between male and female will become the norm. Jungian Psychotherapist John Weir Perry maintains,

Both current psychology and ancient history point to an emerging transformation in our sense of both society and self, a transformation that includes redefining the notion of what it means to be men and women.(21)

The Bible clearly indicates that men and women were created as distinctive beings, male and female. This rising occult influence in our society seeks to undermine the Biblical absolute that gives our culture stability. Once again the Bible rings true as it states,

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 teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables (2 Tim. 4:3).

The Goddess and the Liberal Church

The message of the goddess has gained a hearing in the church as well. The philosophy of the goddess is currently being taught in the classrooms of some of our seminaries. In a growing number of seminaries the student population is becoming increasingly female, and many of these women have a feminist outlook on life. Mary Daly, who considers herself to be a Christian feminist, says this about traditional Christianity: “To put it bluntly, I propose that Christianity itself should be castrated.”(22) The primary focus of the “Christian” feminist is to bring an end to what they perceive as male-dominated religion by “castrating” the male influence from religion. Daly continued by saying,

I am suggesting that the idea of salvation uniquely by a male savior perpetuates the problem of patriarchal oppression.(23)

Reverend Susan Cady, co-author of Sophia: The Future of Feminist Spirituality and pastor of Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, is one example of the direction that Daly and others are taking the church. The authors of Sophia state that, “Sophia is a female, goddess-like figure appearing clearly in the Scriptures of the Hebrew tradition.”

Wisdom Feast, the authors’ latest book, clearly identifies Jesus with Sophia. Sophialogy presents Sophia as a separate goddess and Jesus as her prophet. The book takes liberty with Jesus by replacing the masculine deity with the feminine deity Sophia. Another example of how goddess “thealogy” (note feminist spelling for theology) is making its way into the liberal church is through seminars held on seminary campuses.

One such seminar was held at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. “Wisdomweaving: Woman Embodied in Faiths” was held at the school in February of 1990. If one looks at the schedule of the seminar, it is obvious that the emphasis was not on orthodoxy. Linda Finnell, a follower of Wicca and one of the speakers, spoke on the subject of “Returning to the Goddess Through Dianic Witchcraft.” Two of the keynote speakers were of a New Age persuasion. In fact, one, Sr. Jose Hobday, works with Matthew Fox and Starhawk at the Institute for Creation Spirituality.

A growing number of churches in the United States and around the world are embracing the New Age lie. Many churches have introduced A Course in Miracles, Yoga, Silva Mind Control, Unity teachings, and metaphysics into their teaching material. Some churches have taken a further step into the New Age by hiring onto their staffs individuals who hold to a metaphysical worldview.

Along with the deception that is subtly gaining influence in the liberal church, there are a growing number of churches affiliated with the New Age. These churches, without apology, teach the Luciferian gospel. They are the seed-bed of the occult.

It is amazing that while the liberal church will not accept or believe in Satan, they are willing to embrace Lucifer as an angel of light. It is interesting to note that the New Age Church represents itself as the Church of Light.

Whether the individual seeks the goddess through witchcraft, the feminist movement, the New Age, or the liberal church, he or she is beginning a quest to understand and discover the “higher self.” The higher self, often referred to as the “god self,” is believed to be pure truth, deep wisdom. In actuality, this so-called “truth” or “wisdom” embodies the oldest lie in the Book, the lie of self- deification: “Ye shall become as Gods.” As Christians we must learn to discern every spirit lest we too become deceived.


 

Notes

1. Starhawk, The Spiral Dance (New York, N.Y.: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1989), 23.

2. Elinor W. Gadon, The Once & Future Goddess (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989), xiv.

3. Ibid., xii-xiii. See also Lynnie Levy, Of A Like Mind (Madison, Wis.: OALM, 1991), vol. VIII, no. 3, pp. 2-3.

4. See also Zsuzsanna Emese Budapest, The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries (Oakland, Calif.: Susan B. Anthony Coven No. 1, 1986), 12.

5. See also Gadon, The Once & Future Goddess, xiii.

6.Jean Shinoda Bolen, Goddesses in Everywoman (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1984), 21.

7. Ibid., 20.

8. Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, 25.

9. Ibid., 24.

10. Carlos Vidal Greth, “The Spirit of Women,” The Austin- American Statesman, 5 March 1991, Sec D.

11. Ibid.

12. Sonia L. Nazario, “Is Goddess Worship Finally Going to Put Men in Their Place?,” The Wall Street Journal, 7 June 1990, sec. A.

13. Naomi Goldenberg, Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions (Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press, 1979), 4, 25.

14. Nazario, “Goddess Worship.”

15. Deirdre Donahue, “Dawn of The Goddesses,’” USA Today, 26 September 1990, sec. D.

16. John Weir Perry, “Myth, Ritual, and the Decline of Patriarchy,” Magical Blend 33 (January 1992): 103.

17. Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, 99.

18. Jean Shinoda Bolen, “The Women’s Movement in Transition: The Goddess & the Grail,” Magical Blend 33 (January 1992), 8.

19. Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, 11.

20. Donna Steichen, “The Goddess Goes to Washington,” Fidelity Magazine (December 1986), 42.

21. Perry, “Decline of Patriarchy,” Magical Blend, 62.

22. Alice Hageman, Theology After the Demise of God the Father: A Call for the Castration of Sexist Religion (New York: Association Press, 1974), 132.

23. Ibid., 138.

 

©1997 Probe Ministries.