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from Campus Reform:

Penn State has removed Gideon Bibles from hotel rooms after a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) accused the Bibles of advocating the killings of nonbelievers.

“The bible [sic] calls for killing nonbelievers, apostates, gays, ‘stubborn sons,’ and women who are not virgins on their wedding nights,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a statement last week. “What is obnoxious in a private hotel, however, becomes inappropriate and unconstitutional in state-run lodgings.”

A spokesperson from the university has confirmed toCampus Reform that the Bibles have been removed from individual guest rooms following an inquiry from FFRF earlier in the summer.

“The decision to remove Bibles from individual guest rooms was made following questions from the Freedom From Religion Foundation,” Lisa Powers, director of strategic communications at Penn State told Campus Reform in an email. “It raised our awareness and we took the opportunity to review our hotel practices. We wish to be respectful of all religions, and also of those who have differing beliefs, yet we still want to make the publication available to those who desire to read it while staying with us.”

FFRF claims in their statement that Penn State officials confirmed to them that the Bibles have been removed from the two university-run inns, but Powers confirmed to Campus Reform that the Bibles can still be found by guests in public areas.

“The Gideon Bibles have not been removed from our hotels,” Powers said. “The Bibles have been removed from individual guest rooms. Bibles and other publications are now available in our libraries and other public access areas (our Nittany Lion Inn has two libraries).”

Powers said that the Bibles had been in the Nittany Lion Inn rooms for “decades” and had been in place in the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel for “probably a dozen years.”

She also confirmed that the individual hotel rooms have no other publications.

Penn State is not the first school that FFRF has gotten to remove Bibles from its hotel rooms. In February, Iowa State University removed the book from its hotel rooms following a complaint from the organization.

FFRF, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit, attacked Clemson University’s head football coach earlier this year, accusing him of showing a “preference for and endorsement of Christian religion.”

Who Are the Peacemakers?

From The Jerusalem Post:

On the evening of April 27, 2014, Ed Stetzer tweeted the news to his followers that Fuller Seminary’s Glen Stassen had passed away.

“May we all love peace as much as he did,” Stetzer added.

Stassen, the Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller, had a long career, having taught at Duke and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well.

He was also the co-author of the notorious “An Open Letter to America’s Christian Zionists,” in September 2011. Along with his friend, Dr. David Gushee, Stassen accused Christian supporters of Israel of egregious moral and theological errors, going so far as declare that Christian supporters of Israel are “sinning” by doing so.

Further, Stassen and Gushee accused Israel of creating the conditions for war, since some Israeli communities exist on land that has been proposed as a Palestinian state. It is important to note that while anti-Israel activists like Stassen and Gushee insist that the government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu has “unofficially” decided to “renounce this path,” referring to the establishment of a Palestinian state, the pair offers no proof. In fact, Netanyahu gave a speech in June 2009, in which he endorsed in principle the concept of a future Palestinian state.

Such facts are sanitized from diatribes by the Christian Palestinianists*.

Sadly, Stassen’s brand of mendacious, accusatory allegations is apparently of no consequence to major evangelical leaders like Stetzer. As president of LifeWay Research, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources (the official publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention), Stetzer is widely influential, and actively networks with any and all American denominations.

For Stetzer, Stassen was a man of peace.

Alarmingly, this is not an isolated case, where Israel and her supporters are concerned. The new president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Dr. Russell Moore, appears to be nearer to Stassen’s view of Christian Zionists and Israel than his predecessor, Dr. Richard Land.

Moore, an advocate of Covenant Theology, declares that such scholars “have maintained that the church, not any current geo-political entity, is the ‘new Israel,’ the inheritor of all Israel’s covenant promises.”

This statement should trouble pro Israel Christians who battle the scourge of Replacement Theology. Moore is a “player,” and his influence will only grow.

The new thing Palestinian apologists are doing, strategically in the propaganda wars, is targeting not only Millennials, but the most conservative denominations. Not only have tears appeared in the fabric of Christian-Israel relations in the SBC…it’s happening within Pentecostal circles, as well.

Although the Assemblies of God has revoked the credentials of Dr. Paul Alexander (professor at Palmer Theological Seminary, Eastern University), the charismatic former president of the Society for Pentecostal Studies is a known Palestinian advocate and often peppers speeches with Liberation Theology themes. Many believe that pro Palestinian activists in these circles are simply waiting for the establishment leadership to retire before welcoming Alexander back to the fold.

Controversial author Brian McLaren, a key leader in the Emergent community, also builds bridges to Southern Baptists and Pentecostals, where his unorthodox views (and anti-Israel animus) fly under the radar.

Robert Nicholson, a researcher in Christian-Jewish relations, based in New York, recognizes the depth of the problem:

“Contrary to popular opinion, strong Christian support for Israel is not inevitable. Although most evangelicals still stand strongly with Israel, many in the younger generation have been influenced by progressive elites and become disillusioned with the Jewish state. Some have embraced an aggressive social justice agenda that tends to be antagonistic to Israel; others are apathetic or disinterested in the prospect of waging another divisive culture war.

“In addition to this generational drift, there is also a theological shift taking place. Old attitudes of replacement theology that were once confined mainly to Catholic and mainline Protestant churches have recently begun to infiltrate evangelical circles under the guise of various theologies.”

Influential leadership groups within evangelicalism are working overtime to bring Millennials into the Palestinian fold. At the “Catalyst Dallas” conference in Dallas in May, former director Brad Lomenick told a capacity crowd that “We have a big vision, but a small target”—28-30-year-olds. Lomenick has been instrumental for more than a decade in bringing progressive thinkers like McLaren, Jim Wallis, Cornel West, and Lynne Hybels to Catalyst. Each embrace the Palestinian view that Israel and her supporters are a threat to peace.

n addition, well-known groups like World Vision have quietly promoted a pro Palestinian viewpoint for years. Within the last year, World Vision has co-sponsored “Hope for the Holy Land” seminars, featuring Hybels, Holy Land Trust director Sami Awad, and World Vision’s Mae Cannon to present slanted perspectives of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The group even presented at North Coast Calvary Chapel (Carlsbad, California) in 2013, thus further illustrating the strategy of co-opting even the strongest pro Israel communities.

No longer is the Palestinian narrative the worldview of mainline and Catholic churches. Now the agenda is to drive straight into the heart of evangelicalism. Certain key evangelical leaders in the U.S. are taking the evangelical community to the left, theologically and ideologically. A reversal of support for Israel is but one of their agenda items.

Young, progressive pastors like Jonathan Martin (Renovatus Church, Charlotte, North Carolina) also mainstream the Palestinian narrative, which focuses heavily on blaming the “Israeli occupation” as the chief obstacle to peace. Little-to-no mention is made of Palestinian terrorism, incitement, or denial of Jewish history. Martin has hosted a screening of “With God on Our Side,” with director Porter Speakman, Jr. and Stephen Sizer.

Lomenick’s revelation of the demographic targeted by the progressives is validated further by the appearance of Religion News Service writer Jonathan Merritt at a fall, 2013 meeting in Washington D.C., where pro Palestinian advocates like Todd Deatherage met to strategize ways to bring the Palestinian narrative deeper into the American church. Merritt’s gift for storytelling was considered to be an asset by the host organization, Telos Group.

In the March/April issue of Relevant magazine, publisher Cameron Strang wrote what many consider to be a highly biased account of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In his cover story, Strang followed a path similar to that of his friend, the author Donald Miller, who accused Israel of war crimes in a November 19, 2012 blog post.

Strang’s article, however, was immediately critiqued by a host of analysts. CAMERA’s Tricia Aven wrote a lengthy analysis, outlining numerous problems with Strang’s conclusions. Among them, Aven pointed out that Strang’s foundational premises were flawed and biased:

“In his article, Strang writes, ‘Israelis must find a way to acknowledge Palestinian demands for sovereignty in a portion of the historic land of Israel.’ He makes no mention of all the times the Palestinians have been offered sovereignty and have refused it.”

Strang declined several requests to comment on the CAMERA piece, even calling further dialogue “pointless.”

At a time when Israel finds itself increasingly isolated internationally, long-time activists for Israel are deeply disturbed by these efforts to influence young evangelicals. The methods, goals, and outcomes among the Christian Palestinianists are deep, wide, and pervasive in the American church.

Only now are key Christian and Jewish groups and leaders waking up to this new reality. Something must be done about it!

The question can be asked: who are the real peacemakers among activists for Israel and the Palestinians?

from The Blaze:

After an international Christian group for college students, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, was “derecognized” by all 23 California State University schools because IVCF wouldn’t stop requiring its leaders to hold Christian beliefs, a writer for Christianity Today wondered what might be coming next.

“It’s not just InterVarsity that will be impacted,” Ed Stetzer wrote. “Following the same logic, any group that insists on requiring its leaders to follow an agreed upon set of guiding beliefs is no longer kosher (irony intended) at California’s state universities. This will impact many other faith-based organizations with actual, well, faith-based beliefs. Presumably, even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would have to allow Oscar Meyer to lead their campus chapters.”

Stetzer then offered, “Only in a modern American university would this make any sense.”

More from his analysis:

Now, it’s not persecution. Christians are not banned. People can share their faith. But, now, what we once called “equal access” has taken another hit — people of faith do not have equal access to the university community, like the environmentalist club, the LGBT organization, or the chess club.

The university system has decided that speech with beliefs that undergird it — and shape how it is organized — has to be derecognized.

Stetzer asked IVCF’s national field director & campus access coordinator to explain how the IVCF chapters in California state schools are affected. Here’s what Greg Jao told him:

Loss of recognition means we lose 3 things: free access to rooms (this will cost our chapters $13k-30k/year to reserve room). We also lose access to student activities programs, including the new student fairs where we meet most students. We also lose standing when we engage faculty, students and administrators.

Stetzer tore into what he sees as universities’ “continual sanitization of unacceptable religious voices” and then noted a very big irony, writing that “those who champion nondiscrimination, in the name of nondiscrimination, are creating rules that push out those who ‘discriminate’ based on biblical belief statements.”

Jao sees another irony, telling Stetzer that “the university is using a rule intended to protect and to include religious groups to exclude religious groups because they want their leaders to be representatives of that religion. It’s an imposition of a civil religion (democratic process) on a religious leadership selection issue.”

Stetzer concluded by noting it appears this trend will continue.

“But, the question remains, how will Christians react? I hope they won’t call themselves persecuted, since that lessens the persecution in, for example, Iran. However, I also hope they will speak up graciously. And, that even people who are not religious will see the danger of stripping faith from the organized conversation at the university.”

from Stand Up For The Truth:

Dwight Visioncasting

What is Vision Casting? Where does it come from? And is Vision Casting Biblical? There is a way that is biblical, as our guest explains. And unfortunately, there is a broad way that a growing number of church leaders cast vision that is nowhere to be found in Scripture – but is often used to control and manipulate.  Today we’re going to explore those methods with our guest.

Chris Rosebrough is the host of the daily radio program, Fighting For The Faith, heard around the world on Pirate Christian Radio, a broadcast group he founded to help Christians discern God’s Word by taking a look at what people say and teach in the name of Jesus and holding it up to the light of Scripture.

Stand Up For The Truth is a radio and online ministry that covers news of the day, trends in the church and theological issues that Christians deal with and talk about every day, and we give you a place to be educated, equipped and connected to help you discern along the way. But most importantly, we point you to Christ Jesus as our Savior, and His Word – the Scriptures, as the truth that you can depend on. In fact, you should filter everything you read, hear and consume as a believer – including what you find on this program – through the Scriptures to see if it lines up.

 

Listen to the podcast here.

“To pastors outside the Christian-rock-star echo chamber, the issue has never really been one of “will Driscoll repent?” Rather the issue has always been one of “will Christian leaders recognize how foolish it was to expose their people to Driscoll’s preaching and leadership?”

Worldview Weekend:

In many ways, Mark Driscoll’s stepping down from his church brings to a close a somewhat ignominious chapter in the history of American Evangelicalism (you know something is ignominious when it gets Voxified). The Driscoll Decade of Drama unfolded like a circus: for ten years there was a show in town, and there were otherwise respectable people selling tickets. Many of those people have now taken to hoping for Driscoll’s repentance. Here is the most famous example:

First, a few disclaimers. 1. Ten years ago I made a personal rule to not blog on anything related to Mark Driscoll. To the best of my memory I have kept that quasi-vow, but am breaking it now.

Second, I have a huge/tremendous respect for John Piper and Douglas Wilson. They are probably my two favorite living authors, and Wilson is probably my favorite Christian blogger (along with Challies, of course). I mean no disrespect to these men at all.

Now then.

It strikes me that in the chorus of calls to pray for Driscoll’s repentance, or hope for his hopeful repentance, or whatever other optimistic attitude we are supposed to have for that aforementioned repentance, there is something missing. Namely, the ownership of the problem.

And here is where some history is helpful. Much of this is old news, but bear with me.

About 12 years ago Driscoll began publishing and advocating a new way of doing church. Out with regenerate church membership. Out with corporate worship music as it has always been known. Out with sanctification as a theme. Out with a pastor who is actually in your church. In with being cool, in with being gruff, in with the occasional coarse language. While this simplifies it a bit, you get the idea if you see Driscoll in this stage of his ministry essentially taking the seeker sensitive movement to the grunge community of Seattle. MacArthur even labeled his approach to ministry “Grunge Christianity.” While he didn’t mean it as a compliment, that’s the way it was taken, which pretty much says it all.

Over the next few years Driscoll gained national influence as other Christian leaders propped him up. John Piper brought him to his own pastor’s conference as the key-note speaker. The Gospel Coalition made him a board member. He was able to reach a wider and wider audience.

By 2009 it was obvious that the doctrine of sanctification was seriously neglected in the theology that was coming out of Acts 29 and specifically Driscoll’s preaching. In April of 2009 John MacArthur wrote a series of blog posts on Driscoll’s preaching (The Rape of Solomon’s Song)—which to my knowledge is the last time he has said anything publicly about Driscoll. This was the year I gave up talking about/reading/listening to Mark Driscoll. By that point it was either obvious to people what the danger was, or there was really no helping it.

Unfortunately, also in April of 2009 Driscoll preached at the Gospel Coalition’s national conference. And even after that other leaders and institutions continued to expose their people to Driscoll’s leadership and preaching. He did a marriage conference and Liberty University. He started a conference with Rick Warren. He featured on Family Life’s Men’s curriculum. In other words, the groups that Driscoll was lambasting in his books 10 years earlier were eager to have him, and equally eager to expose their people to his teaching.

And Driscoll in turn used his increased influence to expose his new followers—including The Gospel Coalition crew—to TD Jakes. Driscoll’s subsequent claim that Jakes’ modalism could be considered orthodoxy appeared to be the last straw with the TGC crowd through, and Driscoll left their council a short time later.

We can skip the bit about plagiarism, or his stunt at Grace Church, or no-compete clauses for pastors, or buying his way onto the New York Times bestseller list with church money, etc., and jump to present day. Driscoll has been removed from Acts 29, and “charges have been filed” against him within his own church. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds bad. So bad that he is stepping down for six weeks.

Which brings us back to the blog/tweet that we should be hopeful for Driscoll’s repentance. While I am always in favor of repentance, and  remain hopeful for it in everyone, the call for it here is exceptionally tone deaf.

That’s because to pastors outside the Christian-rock-star echo chamber, the issue has never really been one of “will Driscoll repent?” Rather the issue has always been one of “will Christian leaders recognize how foolish it was to expose their people to Driscoll’s preaching and leadership?”

That remains my question today for those that lent him their pulpit and their audience. Looking back on the whole decade (2004-2014), do those leaders (Piper, Wilson, Liberty, Denis Rainey, D. A. Carson, and so on) see that they had a role to play in this? Douglas Wilson–who is one of the Christian leaders who helped Driscoll grow his audience–wrote that he is concerned that some people jumped on the Driscoll train because it was the cool ticket in town, and now they are jumping off only because it is the new cool. To which I say: when the train is on fire, of course it is cool to jump off–after all, everyone is doing it.

But my real question to Wilson is: “Do you see your responsibility for directing people to the train to begin with?”

When the credits roll on this generation of American Christianity, there will be this interesting segment in the 2000’s where a famous Christian essentially mocked sanctification, and instead of being rebuked he was promoted. Obviously this ended poorly for the famous Christian (and his church), but what of those who bought the ticket and took the ride? What of those who sold the tickets? Is it too much to wonder if they will say more than “we sure hope he experiences a sense of hope in this time?” Wilson says that is the best he has to offer—but I don’t buy it.

Specifically, we need more than a simple, “I like Driscoll, and I hope things work out well for him.” I’d like to hear them say, “the biblical qualifications for elders are important, and we made a judgment mistake in holding someone out as a Christian leader who did not meet them.”

Yes, I hope Driscoll comes out feeling like a new man. But more than that, I want the evangelical leaders who were largely responsible for shaping the last decade of Christian leadership to understand the importance of the biblical qualifications for pastors. I want them to see that while the Driscoll Drama may have happened anyway, that doesn’t mean they needed to sell tickets.

(I encourage everyone to read Eric Davis’ post a few weeks ago—there he offers a few necessary lessons from this ordeal)

2 Timothy 3:2 “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy” 

The big lie of Humanism goes all the way back to Lucifer’s rebellion against God:

Isaiah 14: 12-16:

“How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.

The big lie is “it’s all about me” And that is the lie that Joel Osteen peddles! Humanism teaches that there is no God, That we ALL are God, or we all have a God spark in us and we just need to realize that, and when we all do then we can have “Heaven on Earth” Sorry folks but that is the biggest lie ever told! Look around us at what this kind of thinking has created in our society!

The only way that a man can be changed is to “die to self” and surrender his life to redemption in Jesus Christ, and when he does that then the Holy Spirit can come in and begin to guide that person via God’s Word: The Bible! The Holy Spirit will open that person’s eyes to God’s Truth in God’s written word, The Bible! Not via false humanist words straight form the pits of Hell!

from Christian News:

A recently recorded video is circulating online of Victoria Osteen, wife of megachurch speaker and author Joel Osteen, calling on congregants at Lakewood Church to ‘do good for your own self’ because obedience, the church and worship are not for God as much as for self-happiness.

“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—I mean, that’s one way to look at it—we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy,” she declares in the undated 36-second clip with her husband standing by her side and nodding. “That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy…”

“So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy,” Osteen continues. “When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”

Osteen is the author of the book Love Your Life, and is “co-pastor” of Lakewood in Houston, Texas. Her husband Joel is known for his motivational speeches and his books Your Best Life Now and It’s Your Time.

Steve Camp, pastor of The Cross Church in Palm City, Florida and former singer/songwriter, told Christian News Network that he viewed the video on Wednesday, and while saddened, he was not surprised at her remarks. He stated that Osteen’s statements were humanistic in nature and antithetical to Scripture.

“It’s the age old sin of idolatry—that it’s not about God, it’s about us,” he explained. “True worship for the humanist is about how we feel at the end of the day and what gives us meaning, as opposed to what gives God glory.”

“When we come to see men happy rather than God glorified, it’s not worship, it’s idolatry,” Camp stated, reading from Psalm 115:1, which states, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.”

He said that Osteen’s words were essentially blasphemous because they disregard God’s holiness and the way that He is to be worshiped.

“She honestly believes that God exists to make us happy rather than holy,” Camp lamented. “She honestly believes that worship is about our fulfillment rather than His glory. That’s the bottom issue here.”

But he outlined that Scripture commands man to be selflessly abandon themselves to Christ and to not worry about their own lives.

“1 Corinthians so clearly says that whether we eat or drink, do it all to the glory of God. It’s not just self,” Camp stated. “Jesus said … in Matthew 16, ‘Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.’”

He also pointed to Acts 20:24, which reads, “[N]either count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

“The Osteens have just inverted that. They think it’s not the denial of self, but the exaltation of self,” Camp lamented. “They’re not trying to pursue a cross; they’re trying to pursue prosperity. And they’re certainly not following the biblical Jesus; they’re following whatever brings happiness and contentment.”

When asked about the dangers of “me-centered” church, Camp outlined numerous concerns. He explained that besides such congregations not being a real church to begin with, “me-centered” churches are based on pragmatism over Scripture, the pleasure of men over the glory of God, and are more concerned with being liked than being truthful. In doing so, such assemblies thrust the Lord of the Church outside of the Church as in Laodicea, as  Christ declared, “[T]hou sayest, ‘I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,’ and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”

“The gospel is always counter-cultural. It always runs against that with which man wants to be satisfied and pleased with,” Camp explained. “The me-centered church is about what’s temporal rather than eternal. … The end of worship in a me-centered church has to be money, has to be fame, has to be the pragmatics of temporal culture. Therefore, it won’t do anything to offend a culture.”

“What’s the chief end of man? To bring glory to God and enjoy him forever,” he stated, quoting from Thomas Watson. “I think that’s the thing that’s been lost in our culture.”

Camp, who has spoken with Joel Osteen in the past, and has urged him to speak boldly about Christ instead of worrying about public opinion, said that if he were to encourage Victoria—whom he noted should not be serving as “co-pastor” in the first place—he would call upon her to repent.

“Repent of this self-oriented, feel good gospel you’ve embraced, and don’t let your life be of any value to you or precious to yourself,” he said. “The chief concern in this life is not us. The chief concern is that we bring glory to God, that we further His gospel, and that we testify of His grace. We’re here to do his bidding.”

 

 

from Faith Actually:

I’ve often been taken off guard when Christian friends or acquaintances have spoken highly of New Age books such as Eckard Tolle’s widely acclaimed The Power of Now or Rhonda Byrne’s bestselling The Secret. Oprah Winfrey-dubbed “spiritual gurus” such as these promote an insidious form of false teaching under the guise of a benign self-help ethos. Although these teachings mask a treacherous departure from the gospel of Jesus Christ and claim to hold the key to a new spiritual awakening, they are appealing to some Christians who are evidently sucked in by the self-esteemism, widespread popularity, and aggressive marketing of such books. Indeed, Tolle has sold more books than almost any other spiritual author. His #1 New York Times bestseller, The Power of Now, (translated into 33 languages) and his vastly popular follow-up, A New Earth, are frequently touted as two of the most influential spiritual books of our time.

The widespread influence of New Age teaching poses a very real, albeit inconspicuous, threat that the church should take seriously. Despite popular belief to the contrary, the multifaceted movement is still going strong, but less overtly now that many of its concepts have become more subtly ingrained into our collective consciousness. The movement is not relegated to a trippy-hippy, tie-dye clad fringe group, but has been embraced by mainstream culture thanks in large part to the army of celebrities that promote its teachings.

For example, there’s been growing respect for, and adoption of, the practices and philosophies of Eastern religions among Christians. One example is Hatha Yoga, which involves poses and hand positions many of which are depictions of Hindu deities. The hand positions are traditionally called mudras and are thought to help manipulate and channel prana, a supposed divine force or breath of the universe.[1] The purpose of Hatha yoga is traditionally a spiritual practice designed to foster the realization that the true self, the Atman, is divine.[2] Many Christians who practice yoga, however, do not buy into the spiritual side of it, using it for the physical benefits of exercise, flexibility, and muscle-strengthening alone. But some argue that by dabbling in such practices, Christians are opening the door to ungodly spiritual influences. The meditation and relaxation practices in yoga that encourage the emptying of one’s mind, for example, is unbiblical in that contradicts our God-given ability to exercise reason and sound judgement. It also conflicts with Jesus’ command to love God with all of our minds—which necessities a conscious mental state (Matt. 22:37; Luke 10:27). Furthermore, some hold that mindfulness and mind-emptying meditation hold the potential to open us up to demonic persuasion. Due to the popularity of yoga among a significant number of Christians, however, this is a touchy subject. The question becomes, can (or perhaps should) Christians safely practice yoga without compromising themselves spiritually? I will default to former New Ager turned Bible-believing Christian, Marcia Montenegro, in her article on this one.

While the strains of New Age thought that have seeped into our churches may not be immediately evident to us all, those who have been saved out of the New Age movement into Christianity are all too aware of the wolves in sheep’s clothing that lurk around us. Two former New Agers who were miraculously saved into the Christian faith, sister bloggers Christine Pack and Cathy Mathews, have expressed their “concern over false teachings that we realized were coming into today’s Church. Having both been saved OUT of the New Age and occultism, we were alarmed when we began to see some of the same things we did in the New Age creeping into the church…only now, these practices have been cleverly repackaged with Christian terminology, rendering them all the more deceptive.”[3]

In his book, O God: A Dialogue on Truth and Oprah’s Spirituality, Josh McDowell demonstrates how Oprah uses words that might sound like they are based in Christianity, but her real message is radically different from the Christian faith. Likewise, many of Tolle’s ideas are derived from pre-existing, often ancient beliefs with Christian influences. As Montenegro further explains, “The New Age is always a blend of beliefs; intermingling strands from Eastern accepted wisdom, New Thought, Gnosticism, the occult, and even Christianity.”[4] Yet New Agers believe they are rescuing the enlightened parts of Christianity from centuries of male-imposed dogma and have rediscovered its truth through mystical interpretations of the Bible. And for the undiscerning Christian, their use of Christian terminology can be dangerously misleading.

And where is Jesus in all this? Unfortunately, right up front; the name of Jesus is misused frequently within New Age teaching. Many psychics, astrologers, etc. display crosses or pictures of Jesus on their walls. But the New Age Jesus is aCounterfeit Christ who represents an unapologetic departure from the “constraints” of biblical teaching. New Agers unabashedly claim to have freed Jesus from the shackles of religious dogma (i.e. biblical truth) and consequently, on closer inspection, he bears very little relation to the Son of God we know as Christians.

Indeed, the New Age Jesus is devoid of any salvific purpose, being presented an imparter of wisdom, rather than a savior from sins, despite the fact that Scripture clearly claim His purpose on Earth was to do just that (Matt 1:21; Luke 2:11; Luke 19:10; John 4:42; Acts 13:23; 1 Tim 1:15; 1 Tim 4:10; Titus 2:13; 1 John 4:14).

In fact, the New Age Jesus is generally believed to be a mere man who achieved a high level of spiritual enlightenment, which afforded him godlike attributes. He is esteemed as one of the “Masters,” along with Buddha, Krishna, and others, all of whom illuminate the path for humanity to spiritual enlightenment.

The New Age Jesus is disturbingly more Jedi than he is biblical. A widespread New Age belief is that Jesus is actually a separate being from a divine entity, which is often referred to as “the Christ.” Many prominent New Agers, like Tolle and Byrne, perceive “the Christ” as being impersonal, cosmic, and abstract in nature—in essence, a “Christ-force” or “Christ-consciousness.” New Agers claim that this Christ-force took possession of the body of the man, Jesus, in order to guide humanity towards a process of spiritual evolution. “The Christ” is said to lie dormant within each person, waiting to be fully realized so that humanity as a whole may experience spiritual awakening.[5] As Andrew Harvey puts it in his virtual seminar, The Christ Path, “By seeing Jesus’s life with fresh eyes, we take him off the pedestal as an untouchable Savior and begin to see him as a way-shower for all of us to embody more of our innate divinity as we co-create a more just and compassionate world.”[7] 

The Christ-force theory finds its origins in the Gnostic movement that begun in the second century AD, as a heretical sect of early Christianity. Basic Gnostic beliefs hold that humans are emanated from a Supreme Being and are divine spirits trapped inside physical bodies. In Gnosticism, salvation of the soul from the material world is achieved through the realization of gnōsis[8]—esoteric or intuitive knowledge of the truth—rather than the atoning death of a Christ figure. Some Gnostics identify Jesus as an embodiment of the Supreme Being who became incarnate in order to bring gnōsis to the earth. Others, like contemporary Gnostic Reverend Todd Ferrier, founder of The Order of the Cross, suggest that the word “Jesus” was merely a codeword assumed by a historical being. Most Gnostics believe that there has been more than one authentic Messiah, and that “the modern Christian claim that Jesus was the only Christ (or Messiah) is simply not tenable.”[9]

While the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus are central to the Christian faith, in Gnostic tradition the crucifixion is deemphasized (along with the Trinity and other inconvenient truths about Jesus). The Institute for Gnostic Studies states: 
For the Gnostic, pain and suffering are part of the fallen world’s condition…certainly Jesus suffered perhaps inasmuch that he had to take a fallen physical vessel as in the indignities of his crucifixion. However, there is no grace in suffering. The aim is to transcend matter, not wallow in its more painful aspects. The suffering and death of Jesus illustrated the reaction of the ignorant to the Gnosis, while his resurrection illustrated how death and matter could be overcome. It is irrelevant whether Jesus physically came back from the dead or not, since the Gnostics and Jesus have such contempt for matter, it seems highly unlikely that the resurrection had much to do with a re-enlivened corpse. It was an awakening to light, a Transfiguration rather than some ghastly re-animation.[10 emphasis added]In Gnosticism, Jesus’ role is not to die on the cross as ransom for our sins. Instead, “Jesus comes as a revealer, a bringer of Gnosis, an opener of doors, he works to shatter the prison that locks the true Self into the body and awaken the light which is hidden within the heart of man.”[11] The New Age Jesus paves the pathway for humanity to spiritual enlightenment. 

Another manifestation of the New Age Jesus is the astrological Jesus, aka the Piscean Avatar. Former astrologer, Montenegro, explains how in astrology, Christ has become the living symbol of the Piscean Age that spans from His birth to 2,000 years later. Montenegro states: “Since Jesus is considered a higher spiritual being, an Avatar, by many astrologers, he embodies the highest aspects of Pisces: universal love, compassion, sacrifice, intuition, servanthood, martyrdom, and spirituality.” Like the biblical Jesus, the astrological Jesus possesses character traits that set him apart from most men—yet thisCounterfeit Christ is not unique in his deity. In keeping with New Ageism, “The astrological Jesus is still a New Age Jesus, or, in more contemporary terms, the Jesus of the new spirituality. Jesus is the man who realized Christ-consciousness, the innate divinity in all men.”[12]

And therein lies the rub. It’s that old Satanic lie that we can attain personal godhood—the same lie that’s been repeated over and over throughout history in Gnosticism, the Religion of Reason, Marxism, Mormonism, secular humanism, selfism, and the New Age movement—to name just a few—which all hinge on the belief in human perfectibility/deification though human effort. These false religions, spiritual awakenings, and philosophies each distract from—or attempt to completely negate—the human need for a supernatural Savior. (For more on this refer to our previous post on “A Brief History of Bad Ideas“).

And so there is, in fact, nothing “new” about the New Age Jesus at all…He’s been slithering around since the original fall of man in Genesis 3 when Satan tempted Adam and Eve with the lie that if they accessed secret knowledge or wisdom (Gnosticism), their eyes would be opened (enlightenment), and they wouldn’t need to submit to the sovereign God anymore, for they themselves would be as God is. (Gen. 3:1-5). Satan knows exactly how to appeal to our innate desire for self-deification now—just as he did then.

Rather than flatly rejecting Jesus altogether based on the biblical claims about Him, then, New Agers have incorporated the figure of Christ into their occultist beliefs. And by using Christian vocabulary and loosely reappropriating Christian concepts, they have pulled the wool over the eyes of an alarming number of Christians. This strategy of deception is an age-old ploy of Satan: high-jacking God’s truth by using partial truths to lure people in and ultimately to dupe them altogether. Remember that Satan “disguises himself as an angel of light” and “his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:3, 14-15). In the same way, the New Age Jesus masquerades as one who will lead us to our own inner light. 

For this reason, it is important for us as Christians to be aware of the erroneous ideas about Jesus that are propagated by the New Age movement—along with its books, its proponents, its self-esteem gurus, its practices and teachings—so we may escape its ungodly influence, and cling instead to God’s Word on the authentic Son of God, who is the only way, the truth, and the life.

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