A Current Concern
[To start off, this post is more geared to believers in YHWH, the God of the Bible than to those who believe in other deities or are agnostic. This being said, when I say the word “God” in this post I am referring to the God of the Bible and of Israel]
I have something I feel I need to say.
I feel I need to share my heart concerning a pattern that I’ve observed the past few years among Western believers thats been distressing to me. I believe the main root of this pattern is a growing lack of belief in the full authority of Scripture.
I’ve seen teaching and performed personal research that for me has completely legitimized the Bible in many different ways. (For a long study on the topic of Biblical legitimacy, please see this link: Can I Trust My Bible: Rabbi Greg Hershberg)
If the Bible is the legitimate Word of God, and these following statements are what the Word has to say about its own legitimacy, then it's safe to say that, especially in its earliest forms, the Word can be completely trusted in its authority.
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“…knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.." 2 Peter 1:20-21
"Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth." John 17:17
I could talk more about what I think about the Word, but that would be a whole other post! Believing that the Scriptures are not completely accurate, believable, or trustworthy enough for us to build our whole lives upon, I believe is the source of the concern I’m about to share.
(I need to insert an important scripture here before going on. The context of this scripture is after God had walked with Israel through the wilderness for forty years and was about to take them into the promised land. He is laying ground rules for them to follow once they enter the land that will ensure their peace and prosperity.)
“These are the statutes and rules that you shall be careful to do in the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place. You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way. But you shall seek the place that the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there. There you shall go, and there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, your vow offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the Lord your God has blessed you. … When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.”
Deuteronomy 12:1-7; 29-32 (italics and bold mine)
I know that was a big chunk of Scripture, but I needed the whole context to make a point.
I think an important aspect that is often missed when reading this scripture is that in this scenario, God is not talking about Israel worshiping foreign gods. He is warning them not to worship the LORD THEIR GOD in the ways that the peoples of Canaan worshiped the foreign gods of their land.
The concern I’ve observed is that other beliefs which proclaim a different way of living that is contrary to how God calls us to live, have seeped their way into the church. This is not a small issue to be ignored or pushed away. One of the most insidious beliefs right now that has done lasting damage to peoples faith is the New Age movement.
New Age as defined by dictionary.com is: of or relating to a movement espousing a broad range of philosophies and practices traditionally viewed as occult, metaphysical, or paranormal. Here's the definition of occult: of or relating to magic, astrology, or any system claiming use or knowledge of secret or supernatural powers or agencies.
The word of God is VERY clear when it talks about if we should in any way be involved in the occult, magic arts, astrology, ect. Here are a few scriptures to back this up:
“Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:31
There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.” Deuteronomy 18:10-12
And he burned his son as an offering and used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger. 2 Kings 21:6
And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. Acts 19:19
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:19-23
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8
There are more scriptures than listed here, but this gives you a good picture. Not only does the new age movement promote the occult but also beliefs derived from religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. When it comes to practices from these religions (and I know this might not be received well) such as yoga and eastern meditation, I want to simply point to the verse that I quoted in full at the beginning of this post, Deuteronomy 12:1-7; 29-32.
I have heard that people who do these things in the believing community say that for them, these practices - as well as other media that promotes or is associated with things of the new age, magic or witchcraft - aren’t used as a means to worship our Creator for them. Some people see these things as harmless entertainment, a good way to stretch or a way to calm down.
To this point of view, I want to offer an illustration. Let’s say that you’re married to the love of your life who loves you more than anyone ever has. Instead of doing things, going places or interacting with your spouse the way that you know they love and enjoy, you treat your spouse as if they are your ex. You take them to eat at places they hate that your ex loved, you buy them things your ex loved but they hate and do activities that you KNOW your spouse hates but that your ex loves. You’re doing these things for your spouse, but how do you think they feel knowing that you KNOW it’s what they hate, let alone that your ex loved, and yet you are still doing it?
Aren’t there other stretches we can do that are not coming straight out of a false religion, or other interesting fiction books we could read that are not based on things that our God and Father call an abomination?
Some may argue that God can redeem these practices or other media if there are redeeming qualities about them. Now, I don’t want to say that God isn’t able to redeem, of course He is! Look at all of us! But - what about things that originated from the enemy, that were originally his to begin with? People were created in the image of God, so we are redeemable. The source of the New Age is in the occult, which is the opposite way of God. I don’t believe the Father gives us the liberty to “baptize” or “Christianize” anything we want as we please. (Now if you believe He does, and you know of multiple scriptural references for that belief I am missing, please let me know! I truly desire to stay humble and teachable in all this.)
I say all of these things because I truly feel the Holy Spirit asked me to share them. I have seen and heard of several individuals who have been pulled away from the faith through the enemies insidious use of the New Age movement. And that breaks not only my heart, but more importantly the heart of the Father. At one time, I too began to dabble with the practices I've mentioned. I have since repented, and continue to repent of idolatry in my life as the Father reveals it to me by the Holy Spirit.
The more I study the Word of God and seek to walk His path and live according to His standard and ways, the more I am able to see that the LORD truly is not taking away our freedoms when He is getting these incorrect lifestyles out of us. I see now He is truly setting us free into beautiful, protected, loving life filled with the lover and completer of our souls - Himself!
I have found an amazing resource for more information about the New Age movement, from a man who was very involved in it and was then saved by the LORD out of it. You can find Steven Bancarz YouTube channel by clicking the link below.
I’m not asking the you do anything with the information in this post, but to pray and ask the Father Himself what is true and what He wants you to do. Seek the truth for yourself - not YOUR or MY version of truth, but what THE truth in His word.
(All Scripture quoted is from the ESV)