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from The National Review:

The divinity schools at Duke and Vanderbilt Universities have instructed their professors to start using more “inclusive” language when referring to God because the masculine pronouns “have served as a cornerstone of the patriarchy.” For example: This year’s divinity course catalogue at Vanderbilt tells professors to give “consistent attention to the use of inclusive language, especially in relation to the Divine,” because the school “commits continuously and explicitly to include gender as an analyzed category and to mitigate sexism.”

“It is up to the individual professor’s interpretation for their classes and is suggestive rather than mandatory,” the associate dean for academic affairs at Vanderbilt’s divinity school, Melissa Snarr, said in an e-mail to Heat Street. Now, that may sound fair, but in many cases, it’s really not up to the professor. For example, if we are talking about the Christian God, every single reference to Him in the Bible uses a masculine pronoun . . . which kind of gives you the vibe that Christians have decided that their god is a dude.

The fact is, teaching anything else would be giving inaccurate information — which is what makes Duke’s particular guidelines even more absurd. According to Heat Street, Duke’s particular divinity school is “geared toward people already working in the Methodist church, taking supplemental weekend or summer classes.” Yes, “Methodist,” as in the Christian religion that has already completely, officially, 100 percent decided that their God is a man. And yet, Duke’s guidelines suggest avoiding gender specific pronouns when discussing Him and suggest using “God” and “Godself” instead. (Yes — “Godself.”) Look:

The great thing about this country is that your religion can be whatever you want it to be. If, in your eyes, God is a woman or genderfluid or a microwave, then you can totally refer to God as being a woman or genderfluid or a microwave. Literally no one is stopping you. In fact, there is an entire Constitution protecting your right to worship His Holiness Microwave if that’s how you want to live your life. But if you are talking about the God of the Methodist religion, then it’s just plain inaccurate to refer to Him as anything but “Him.” It would be like teaching Hamlet and calling Hamlet “she.”  There is a point where an obsession over political correctness can blind people from basic of facts, and call me archaic, but I really do feel like facts are still the way to go.

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from Got Questions:

There are several important differences between Catholics and Protestants. While there have been many attempts in recent years to find common ground between the two groups, the fact is that the differences remain, and they are just as important today as they were at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The following is brief summary of some of the more important differences:

One of the first major differences between Catholicism and Protestantism is the issue of the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. Protestants believe that the Bible alone is the source of God’s special revelation to mankind and teaches us all that is necessary for our salvation from sin. Protestants view the Bible as the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. This belief is commonly referred to as “sola scriptura” and is one of the “five solas” (sola is Latin for “alone”) that came out of the Protestant Reformation as summaries of some of the differences between Catholics and Protestants.

While there are many verses in the Bible that establish its authority and its sufficiency for all matters of faith and practice, one of the clearest is 2 Timothy 3:16, where we see that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Catholics reject the doctrine of sola scriptura and do not believe that the Bible alone is sufficient. They believe that both the Bible and sacred Roman Catholic tradition are equally binding upon the Christian. Many Roman Catholics doctrines, such as purgatory, praying to the saints, worship or veneration of Mary, etc., have little or no basis in Scripture but are based solely on Roman Catholic traditions. Essentially, the Roman Catholic Church’s denial of sola scriptura and its insistence that both the Bible and tradition are equal in authority undermine the sufficiency, authority, and completeness of the Bible. The view of Scripture is at the root of many, if not all, of the differences between Catholics and Protestants.

Another disagreement between Catholicism and Protestantism is over the office and authority of the Pope. According to Catholicism the Pope is the “Vicar of Christ” (a vicar is a substitute) and takes the place of Jesus as the visible head of the Church. As such, the Pope has the ability to speak ex cathedra (with authority on matters of faith and practice), making his teachings infallible and binding upon all Christians. On the other hand, Protestants believe that no human being is infallible and that Christ alone is the Head of the Church. Catholics rely on apostolic succession as a way of trying to establish the Pope’s authority. Protestants believe that the church’s authority comes not from apostolic succession but from the Word of God. Spiritual power and authority do not rest in the hands of a mere man but in the very Word of God. While Catholicism teaches that only the Catholic Church can properly interpret the Bible, Protestants believe that the Bible teaches God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all born-again believers, enabling all believers to understand the message of the Bible.

Protestants point to passages such as John 14:16–17: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (See also John 14:26 and 1 John 2:27.)

A third major difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is how one is saved. Another of the five solas of the Reformation is sola fide (“faith alone”), which affirms the biblical doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8–10). However, Catholics teach that the Christian must rely on faith plus “meritorious works” in order to be saved. Essential to the Roman Catholic doctrine of salvation are the Seven Sacraments, which are baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony. Protestants believe that, on the basis of faith in Christ alone, believers are justified by God, as all their sins are paid for by Christ on the cross and His righteousness is imputed to them. Catholics, on the other hand, believe that Christ’s righteousness is imparted to the believer by “grace through faith,” but in itself is not sufficient to justify the believer. The believer must supplement the righteousness of Christ imparted to him with meritorious works.

Catholics and Protestants also disagree on what it means to be justified before God. To the Catholic, justification involves being made righteous and holy. He believes that faith in Christ is only the beginning of salvation and that the individual must build upon that with good works because God’s grace of eternal salvation must be merited. This view of justification contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture in passages such as Romans 4:1–12, Titus 3:3–7, and many others. Protestants distinguish between the one-time act of justification (when we are declared righteous by God based on our faith in Christ’s atonement on the cross) and the process of sanctification (the development of righteousness that continues throughout our lives on earth). While Protestants recognize that works are important, they believe they are the result or fruit of salvation but never the means to it. Catholics blend justification and sanctification together into one ongoing process, which leads to confusion about how one is saved.

A fourth major difference between Catholics and Protestants has to do with what happens after death. Both believe that unbelievers will spend eternity in hell, but there are significant differences about what happens to believers. From their church traditions and their reliance on non-canonical books, the Catholics have developed the doctrine of purgatory. Purgatory, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, is a “place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” On the other hand, Protestants believe that because we are justified by faith in Christ alone and that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us—when we die, we will go straight to heaven to be in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6–10 and Philippians 1:23).

One disturbing aspect about the Catholic doctrine of purgatory is the belief that man can and must pay for his own sins. This results in a low view of the sufficiency and efficiency of Christ’s atonement on the cross. Simply put, the Roman Catholic view of salvation implies that Christ’s atonement on the cross was insufficient payment for the sins of those who believe in Him and that even a believer must pay for his own sins, either through acts of penance or time in purgatory. Yet the Bible teaches that it is Christ’s death alone that can satisfy or propitiate God’s wrath against sinners (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10). Our works of righteousness cannot add to what Christ has already accomplished.

The differences between Catholicism and evangelical Protestants are important and significant. Paul wrote Galatians to combat the Judaizers (Jews who said that Gentile Christians had to obey the Old Testament Law to be saved). Like the Judaizers, Catholics make human works necessary for one to be justified by God, and they end up with a completely different gospel.

It is our prayer that God will open the eyes of those who are putting their faith in the teachings of the Catholic Church. It is our hope that everyone will understand that his “works of righteousness” cannot justify him or sanctify him (Isaiah 64:6). We pray that all will instead put their faith solely in the fact that we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith” (Romans 3:24–25). God saves us, “not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5–7).

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This is from a website long ago deleted:

Introduction

Doomsayers for many years have been predicting the decline and fall of this country. And while many of these short-term predictions have proved inaccurate, there is some truth to the prevailing belief that this nation will fall like every great nation before it. Apart from revival and reformation, this nation is destined to decline.

The problem with many of these doomsayers is that while their prognosis is right, their diagnosis is wrong. Yes, the future is bleak. But our problem is not ultimately political, economic, or social, as these doomsayers would have us believe. The decline of this nation (just as the decline of every other nation) is due to spiritual factors. The political, economic, and social problems we encounter are the symptoms of the spiritual deterioration of a nation.

Just as there are spiritual principles that influence the life of an individual, so there are political-spiritual principles that govern the life of a nation. And though we may feel that these are obscure and difficult to discern, in reality they are visible to anyone willing to look at the record of history.

Our problem is that we don’t really learn from history. George Santayana said that “those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.” The philosopher Hegel said, “What experience and history teach us is this: that people and government never have learned anything from history or acted on principles deduced from it.” Or as Winston Churchill said, “The one thing we have learned from history is that we don’t learn from history.”

The refrains that are often heard are: “It can’t happen here,” or “Our country is different.” But the reality is that nations are born and die just like individuals. Their longevity may exceed the average person’s lifespan. But the reality is that nations also die.

History has shown that the average age of the great civilizations is around two hundred years. Countries like Great Britain exceed the average while other countries like the United States are just now reaching the average age.

Each of the great civilizations in the world passed through a series of stages from their birth to their decline to their death. Historians have listed these in ten stages.

The first stage moves from bondage to spiritual faith.

The second from spiritual faith to great courage.

The third stage moves from great courage to liberty.

The fourth stage moves from liberty to abundance.

The fifth stage moves from abundance to selfishness.

The sixth stage moves from selfishness to complacency.

The seventh stage moves from complacency to apathy.

The eighth stage moves from apathy to moral decay.

The ninth stage moves from moral decay to dependence.

And the tenth and last stage moves from dependence to bondage.

These are the ten stages through which the great civilizations have gone. Notice the progression from bondage to liberty back to bondage. The first generation throws off the shackles of bondage only to have a later generation through apathy and indifference allow itself to once again be enslaved.

This is the direction this and every other country is headed. The book of Judges shows that the nation of Israel passed through these same stages. And this country will do the same unless revival and reformation break out and reverse the inexorable decline of this nation.

The Cycle of Nations

In his book The End of Christendom, Malcolm Muggeridge makes this powerful observation. He says:

I conclude that civilizations, like every other human creation, wax and wane. By the nature of the case there can never be a lasting civilization anymore than there can be a lasting spring or lasting happiness in an individual life or a lasting stability in a society. It’s in the nature of man and of all that he constructs to perish, and it must ever be so. The world is full of the debris of past civilizations and others are known to have existed which have not left any debris behind them but have just disappeared.

He goes on to say that

…whatever their ideology may be, from the Garden of Eden onwards such dreams of lasting felicity have cropped up and no doubt always will. But the realization is impossible for the simple reason that a fallen creature like man though capable of conceiving perfection and aspiring after it, is in himself and in his works forever imperfect. Thus he is fated to exist in the no man’s land between the perfection he can conceive and the imperfection that characterizes his own nature and everything he does.

Nations rise and nations fall. Every nation has followed this progression from bondage to bondage.

The nations of this century will be no different. But let us not accept the Marxist notion that these are fixed and intractable laws of history. Christians can point to unusual times when revival has redirected the inexorable decline of a civilization. In the Old Testament, Jonah saw revival postpone God’s judgment of Nineveh. In the sixteenth century, Martin Luther and John Calvin saw a Protestant Reformation transform Europe. And even in the history of the United States the First and Second Great Awakenings changed individuals and our society.

But apart from God’s intervention, nations will decline and eventually pass off the scene. Much of the Old Testament records the history of the nation of Israel. It passed through these same stages and so will every country in the world.

As Christians we must recognize that nations will rise and fall just as individuals will be born and die. Our civilization will not last indefinitely, but will eventually pass off the scene. Only God’s Word endures forever. We should not put our trust in the things of this world for they are destined for destruction. Instead, we should put our faith in God and His word.

The Decline of the Family

Nations most often fall from within, and this fall is usually due to a decline in the moral and spiritual values in the family. As families go, so goes a nation.

This has been the main premise of thinkers from British historian J. D. Unwin to Russian sociologist Pitirim Sorokin who have studied civilizations that have collapsed. In his book Our Dance Has Turned to Death, Carl Wilson identifies the common pattern of family decline in ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Notice how these seven stages parallel what is happening in our nation today. In the first stage, men ceased to lead their families in worship. Spiritual and moral development became secondary. Their view of God became naturalistic, mathematical, and mechanical.

In the second stage, men selfishly neglected care of their wives and children to pursue material wealth, political and military power, and cultural development. Material values began to dominate thought, and the man began to exalt his own role as an individual. The third stage involved a change in men’s sexual values. Men who were preoccupied with business or war either neglected their wives sexually or became involved with lower-class women or with homosexuality. Ultimately, a double standard of morality developed.

The fourth stage affected women. The role of women at home and with children lost value and status. Women were neglected and their roles devalued. Soon they revolted to gain access to material wealth and also freedom for sex outside marriage. Women also began to minimize having sex relations to conceive children, and the emphasis became sex for pleasure. Marriage laws were changed to make divorce easy.

In the fifth stage, husbands and wives competed against each other for money, home leadership, and the affection of their children. This resulted in hostility and frustration and possible homosexuality in the children. Many marriages ended in separation and divorce.

Many children were unwanted, aborted, abandoned, molested, and undisciplined. The more undisciplined children became, the more social pressure there was not to have children. The breakdown of the home produced anarchy.

In the sixth stage, selfish individualism grew and carried over into society, fragmenting it into smaller and smaller group loyalties. The nation was thus weakened by internal conflict. The decrease in the birthrate produced an older population that had less ability to defend itself and less will to do so, making the nation more vulnerable to its enemies.

Finally, unbelief in God became more complete, parental authority diminished, and ethical and moral principles disappeared, affecting the economy and government. Thus, by internal weakness and fragmentation the societies came apart. There was no way to save them except by a dictator who arose from within or by barbarians who invaded from without.

Although this is an ancient pattern of decline found in Greece and Rome, it is relevant today. Families are the foundation of a nation. When the family crumbles, the nation falls because nations are built upon family units. They are the true driving social force. A nation will not be strong unless the family is strong. That was true in the ancient world and it is true today.

Social commentator Michael Novak, writing on the importance of the family, said:

One unforgettable law has been learned through all the disasters and injustices of the last thousand years: If things go well with the family, life is worth living; when the family falters, life falls apart.

The Decline of Values

There are many factors in the decline of a nation. Certainly a major one is the breakdown of the family. But another potent but less perceptible force is the power of ideas.

False ideas are bringing about the decline of western culture. Carl F. H. Henry, in his book Twilight of a Great Civilization, says:

There is a new barbarism. This barbarism has embraced a new pagan mentality . . . not simply rejecting the legacy of the West, but embracing a new pagan mentality where there is no fixed truth.

Today we live in a world where biblical absolutes are ignored, and unless we return to these biblical truths, our nation will continue to decline.

To understand how we have arrived at this appalling situation, we need to go back a century and look at the influence of five intellectual leaders who still profoundly affect the modern world. The first person is Charles Darwin (1809-1882). In 1859 he published The Origin of Species and later published The Descent of Man. His writings blurred the distinction between humans and animals since he taught that we are merely part of an evolutionary progression from lower forms of life. Darwinism, as it came to be called, not only affected the field of biology, but became the foundation for the fields of anthropology, sociology, and psychology.

The second person is Karl Marx (1818-1883). He and Friedrich Engels published the Communist Manifesto around 1850, and Marx devoted his life to writing about the demise of capitalism and coming of communism. He understood the importance of ideas. Marx once wrote: “Give me twenty-six lead soldiers and I will conquer the world.” The twenty-six lead soldiers are the keys on a typewriter. The pervasive influence of communism in the world today is testimony to the truthfulness of his statement.

The third person is Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918). Although he may not be as well known as the other two men mentioned, his influence was just as profound. He was a German Bible scholar whose theory on the dating of the Pentateuch completely transformed Old Testament studies.

Wellhausen argued that the early books of the Bible were not put together by Moses but were gathered together many centuries later by several different men called redactors who wove various strands together. He and his disciples established an anti-supernatural approach to the scriptures which is influential in most denominational seminaries today.

The fourth person is Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). He merely took the logical implications of what Darwin was doing in biology and applied them to what today is known as psychology and psychiatry. Freud argued that humans are basically autonomous and therefore do not need to know God. Instead, we need to know and understand ourselves since our problems stem from those secret things that have evolved in our lives from our past.

A fifth person is John Dewey (1859-1952). He is the founder of modern education and published his first work, The School and Society, in 1899. John Dewey was also one of the co-signers of the Humanist Manifesto in 1933.

Dewey, like Darwin and Freud, believed that humans are autonomous. They don’t need to have an authority above them but can evolve their our own system of education. Thus the very foundation of modern education is anti-supernatural.

Ideas have consequences, and false ideas can bring down a nation. The theories of these five men are having devastating consequences in our nation and world. Unless we return to biblical absolutes, our nation will continue its decline.
Spiritual Decline

The decline and fall of nations is usually due to internal factors rather than external threats. Even though some may have fallen to barbarians, their demise ultimately came because of moral and spiritual weakness which manifested itself as military weakness. Historians have listed the stages in the decline of a nation. These should not be too surprising to any student of the Old Testament. The stages of decline parallel the stages through which the nation of Israel passed.

But neither should they surprise a student of the New Testament. In the opening chapter of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, he traces a similar progression. In fact, Romans 1 shows the decline of a civilization from a societal perspective. Looking at the Hellenistic world of his time, he reflects on the progression of sin in a nation.

The first stage is when people turn from God to idolatry. Although God has revealed Himself in nature to all men so that they are without excuse, they nevertheless worship the creation instead of the Creator. This is idolatry. In the past, this took the form of actual idol worship. In our day, it takes the form of the worship of money or the worship of self. In either case, it is idolatry. A further example of this is a general lack of thankfulness. Although they have been prospered by God, they are ungrateful. And when they are no longer looking to God for wisdom and guidance, they become vain and futile and empty in their imaginations. They no longer honor God, so their foolish hearts become darkened. In professing to be wise, they have become fools.

The second stage is when men and women exchange their natural use of sex for unnatural uses. Here the Apostle Paul says those four sobering words, “God gave them over.” In a society where lust- driven sensuality and sexual perversion dominate, God gives them over to their degrading passions and unnatural desires.

The third stage is anarchy. Once a society has rejected God’s revelation, it is on its own. Moral and social anarchy is the natural result. At this point God has given the sinners over to a depraved mind and so they do things which are not proper. This results in a society which is without understanding,untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful.

The final stage is judgment. God’s judgment rightly falls upon those who practice idolatry and immorality. Certainly an eternal judgment awaits those who are guilty, but a social judgment occurs when God gives a nation over to its sinful practices.

Notice that this progression is not unique to the Hellenistic world the Apostle Paul was living in. The progression from idolatry to sexual perversion to anarchy to judgment is found throughout history.

In the times of Noah and Lot, there was the idolatry of greed, there was sexual perversion and promiscuity, there was anarchy and violence, and finally there was judgment. Throughout the history of the nation of Israel there was idolatry, sexual perversion, anarchy (in which each person did what was right in his own eyes), and finally judgment.

This progression happened throughout the Bible and to Greece, to Persia, to Babylon, and to Rome. And if it happened to these nations, then it can happen today. Unless we return to God’s principles, decline and destruction are inevitable.

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from CNN:

Pope Francis said Sunday that Christians owe apologies to gays and others who have been offended or exploited by the church, remarks that some Catholics hailed as a breakthrough in the church’s tone toward homosexuality.

“I repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: that they must not be discriminated against, that they must be respected and accompanied pastorally,” Francis said at a press conference aboard the papal plane returning from Armenia.

“The Church must ask forgiveness for not behaving many times — when I say the Church, I mean Christians! The Church is holy, we are sinners!

“As he often does during unscripted moments — particularly papal news conferences — the Pope spoke expansively, saying the church should seek forgiveness for a number of historical slights committed in its name.

Groundbreaking Moment

“I believe that the church not only should apologize to the person who is gay whom it has offended,” he added, “but has to apologize to the poor, to exploited women, to children exploited for labor; it has to ask forgiveness for having blessed many weapons.”
The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at large of America magazine, called the Pope’s apology to gays and lesbians “a groundbreaking moment.”
“While St. John Paul II apologized to several groups in 2000 — the Jewish people, indigenous peoples, immigrants and women, among them — no pope has ever come close to apologizing to the LGBT community. And the Pope is correct of course. First, because forgiveness is an essential part of the Christian life. And second, because no group feels more marginalized in the church today than LGBT people.”
The Pope’s comments came in response to a question about a German Cardinal who said the Catholic Church should apologize for being “very negative” about gays. The Pope was also asked whether Christians bear some blame for hatred toward the LGBT community, as horrifically demonstrated in the Orlando massacre at a gay night club that killed 49 people on June 12.

Repeating the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church about respecting and not discriminating against gays, Pope Francis said that one could condemn certain behavior.

“One can condemn, but not for theological reasons, but for reasons of political behavior…Certain manifestations are a bit too offensive for others, no?

“But these are things that have nothing to do with the problem. The problem is a person that has a condition, that has good will and who seeks God, who are we to judge? And we must accompany them well.”

‘Immense Blessing’

Francis first uttered that rhetorical question — Who am I to judge gay people? — in 2013, also during a news conference on the papal plane. His comments were hailed as a breakthrough for a church that has historically condemned homosexuality, often in harsh terms. Francis has not changed church doctrine that calls homosexual acts sinful, but he has shown a more merciful approach to people on the margins, including gays and lesbians.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, a Catholic gay rights group, called the Pope’s remarks “an immense blessing of healing.”

“No pope has said more welcoming words to LGBT people than when Pope Francis today offered his recommendation that the Church — indeed all Christians — should apologize for the harm religious traditions have caused to LGBT people. The pope’s statement was simple, yet powerful, and it fell from his lips so easily.” . . . . . . .

 Read the full article here.

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“Joel Osteen is an especially toxic example of this approach. He promotes what he calls the power of “I am.” “Look in the mirror,” he says, “and say, ‘I am.’ Tell yourself that you’re healthy, strong, and successful.” He also warns against saying bad things of yourself because if you do, those bad things will come looking for you. Yet, this is the occultism known as positive confession or shamanism. To dress it up as Christianity, Osteen uses scripture out of context (of course) and twists it to his own ends.”

from Worldview Weekend:

For most of the past century, Walt Disney productions have entertained millions of people with animated tales of magic. Since Mickey Mouse first starred in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, we’ve seen the supposed wonders of the supernatural at work. It’s all meant for fun, of course, and the good guys always win.

But are there really any good guys?

When it comes to real magic, the answer is “no.” Although you may have heard a distinction between black magic—special powers used for evil—and white magic—powers used for good—both are from the demonic realm. White magic is meant to look good, but it’s not. By God’s standard, it is evil, too.

 Seduced by Magic

White magic may well be more dangerous than its dark alternative because it is actually black magic camouflaged as something good. People have always been fascinated by the idea of magic. As A. W. Tozer notes, “So strong is the bent of the human heart toward magic that there has hardly been a time when the faith of Christ has not been plagued with it.”

Strange as it may seem, many people who claim to be Christians these days are fooling around with various forms of magic, Gnosticism, and mysticism, all of which derive from the occult. Many have wrapped occult practices, techniques, and messages in a veneer of Christianity by using Christian titles, terminology, and slogans.

Many within the New Age movement talk about Jesus, God, salvation, or atonement, but they’re playing with words. The New Age is nothing more than the old lie of Satan which he first tried with great success on Eve in Genesis 3:4: “You will be like God.” To people today, that means we each get to decide what is right and wrong. We can discover hidden knowledge. We decide our own truths. Some churches now even offer “Christian yoga,” yet there’s nothing Christian about it. Yoga means yoke or union with a Hindu god.

Yoga’s cousin, transcendental meditation (TM) is likewise popular, originally brought to America by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the mid-twentieth century. Despite the popularity of drug use in the 1960s, many Americans did not want to take drugs to discover their “inner Christhood” or deity through an altered state of consciousness. As a result, the Maharishi took advantage of the opportunity to bring Hinduism to the United States. He gave yoga the more marketable name, transcendental meditation, and brought it to the West.

So, yoga is an integral part of Hinduism, a thoroughly occult-based religion, and we’re supposed to believe it can be Christianized? I don’t think so.

Christians have also gotten involved in other practices unbecoming to Christ followers. Take automatic writing, for instance. It’s the idea that you can read a verse and then sit in silence, waiting for the Lord to tell you—either audibly or “in your spirit”—a message to write down. The practice is supposed to reveal what a particular verse means.

New Age author Helen Schucman actually claims to have written a whole book through automatic writing. A Course in Miracles is acclaimed by devotees to be the ‘Bible of the New Age.’ And who is the entity that supposedly helped Schucman write her bible? She claimed it was Jesus, but no doubt any help she received was from a demon with the boldness to call himself Jesus.

So now automatic writing shows up in Christianity—even among evangelicals. Jesus Calling, one of the best-selling Christian books in the past decade, is written by Sarah Young. Although she doesn’t claim automatic writing as the source for her work, she does acknowledge the influence of God Calling, a devotional book by A. J. Russell in the 1930s. Russell, a New Age mystic, created the book by editing the journals of two unnamed women—the “two listeners”—who credited automatic writing as their source.

Although I don’t agree with everything Merrill Unger writes, he offers an insightful overview of what magic like this is all about:

Magic may be defined as the art of bringing about results beyond man’s power through the enlistment of supernatural agencies. White magic is black magic in pious masquerade. It uses, in a magic way, the name of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, along with Bible phrases and terminology, but is demonic—demonic in character. . . .

It is carried on in many so-called Christian circles. It is called white because it parades under the banner of light in contrast to black magic that openly enlists the aid of the powers of darkness.38

Despite this, many Christians involve themselves in occult practices such as Kundalini yoga. This particular “brand,” popular with some evangelical circles, manifests involuntary bodily movements supposedly induced by a connection with the Holy Spirit. In Hinduism, these are called kriyas and are actually a sign of contact with demons. I detail this in Religious Trojan Horse and show its popularity within the Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation movements, in particular. Similar manifestations embraced by many so-called Christians include holy laughter, barking like dogs, crawling around on all fours, and experiencing uncontrollable shaking of the head, the body, or extremities. Those who demonstrate these unbiblical manifestations believe them to be a sign that the Holy Spirit has come upon them. Unger, obviously, has warned that such a claim is not to be trusted. Even if these people attribute the manifestations to the Holy Spirit, they are actually the work of Satan, the very sort of activity we see in Hinduism and the New Age.

In my Worldview Weekend mega-resource, worldviewpedia.com, I archive video clips of false teachers like Kenneth Copeland and the late Kenneth Hagin involved in holy laughter, rolling on the floor, and being drunk in the spirit. In one, Hagin announces, “Drunk again, drunk again” as people in the audience stumble around, laughing and acting drunk, supposedly overcome by the Holy Spirit. In truth, it is a form of white magic in its typically pious masquerade.

We often see evidence of black magic around us as well. At the mall, you’ll see people in Goth outfits—black trench coats, black shirts, black makeup, and the like—and wearing occult jewelry. That’s the basis of the Gothic look. So, the influence of black magic is fairly easy to spot. Many of them are into the Wicca religion, occultism, or black magic.

White magic, on the other hand, is more difficult to address because its many forms of camouflage include hints of the truth. One of Satan’s most effective strategies is to insinuate just enough truth to attract an audience that would not be attracted to darker things. People then mistake the partial truth for the whole truth, and Satan succeeds in undermining the Gospel. It’s the sort of false teaching we see from sources like Trinity Broadcasting Network and Daystar.

These are outlets for selective truth. At times, I’ve turned on their television programs just to see what they’re teaching, and I’ve noted, “Well, that’s true. This guy is reading from the Bible and is actually teaching it accurately. He described that verse in context.” They offer just enough truth to build credibility with listeners. People in the audience are wooed into thinking the teachers are reliable and therefore don’t recognize when they shift into Scripture-twisting mode. Suddenly, an unwitting audience is believing things like “you need to send in your faith seed,” “apply the power of positive thinking,” “name it and claim it,” or “your words have power to create your future.”

Joel Osteen is an especially toxic example of this approach. He promotes what he calls the power of “I am.” “Look in the mirror,” he says, “and say, ‘I am.’ Tell yourself that you’re healthy, strong, and successful.” He also warns against saying bad things of yourself because if you do, those bad things will come looking for you. Yet, this is the occultism known as positive confession or shamanism. To dress it up as Christianity, Osteen uses scripture out of context (of course) and twists it to his own ends.

Christians should not be duped by such things. Scripture warns us against white magic. In 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, Paul says:

Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

White magic is Satan transforming himself into an angel of light, and the consequences can be extremely serious. For instance, I suspect that Moroni, the angel who allegedly appeared to Joseph Smith and gave him the tablets which Smith “translated” into the Book of Mormon, was a Satanic angel of light. It started one of the largest modern-day cults, the Church of the Latter Day Saints. I believe the same is true of many cult leaders today. They think they’ve encountered an angel when, in fact, they are involved with a demon.

Unfortunately, this is not just a television phenomenon. Chances are there are one or more “churches” in your community that are packed on Sunday morning. One might even be the biggest church in town. The pastor, though, is not really a minister of God. He’s preaching a false Gospel, and the implications for the church leader and his congregation are bleak. Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Matthew 12:30). People are either believers and in the camp of God, or they are in the camp of Satan. So, many “pastors” are not true pastors; they’re hirelings (John 10:12). And as 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 says, their “end will be according to their works.” Those who masquerade as ministers of righteousness really work for Satan.

Scripture records a revealing story of white magic at work. Look at Acts 16:16-18:

Now it happened, as we went to pray, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.

Divination is another word for magic and is also an occult practice. Any time you see the word divination, you’re talking about something that deals with the occult.

The slave girl in this story apparently is able to reveal information, like a fortune teller, that supposedly comes from the spirit world. Her owners sold her divination services and made a lot of money. They certainly didn’t care about her soul. They were interested only in the money. The demon speaking through her did as so many false teachers do today. It laced its comments with just enough truth to be convincing. “These men are the servants of the Most High,” it announced, “who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” That is, after all, exactly what Paul and his companions were doing. Yet the demon had a seriously ulterior motive. It was using the girl to infiltrate the group of believers. And isn’t that what goes on today? Demonically inspired false teachers infiltrate the Church, speaking just enough truth to build credibility and attract an audience.

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This is absolutely Despicable!

from Christian News:

Lou Engle of The Call is again raising concerns after a Roman Catholic leader prostrated at his feet on Saturday in declaring that he wanted to “kiss his feet” in an act of reconciliation between Christians and Catholics, and Engle returned the act by likewise kissing the man’s shoe.

The gesture took place during “Azusa Now,” an event hosted by The Call, which was attended by over 100,000 people at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

“Believing that decades of globe-spanning prayer have saturated the heavens, we will boldly ask God for the rain of revival,” a description of the event states. “We will consecrate an entire day—15 hours—for the purpose of unity, miracles, healing, and the proclamation of the gospel.”

Engle had specifically invited Roman Catholics to attend the event.

“We just want to welcome our Catholic brothers and sisters from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to gather together to pray,” he said in a promotional video. “Come join your brothers and sisters at the Memorial Coliseum believing for a move of unity and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”

One segment of the event featured Matteo Calisi, a Roman Catholic leader who had been appointed by “Pope Benedict” to serve on the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and had also served as president of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships. Calisi founded United in Christ, an organization that strives for ecumenism between Christians and Catholics.

During the segment at Azusa Now, Calisi told the audience that division between Christians and Catholics is a “diabolical sin,” and that Jesus “doesn’t care” that Christians and Catholics disagree on biblical doctrine.

“He doesn’t care about our differences,” he said through a translator. “We’re not going to be known by our differences … but for the love we have for one another.”

“We Catholics … we want to ask you Protestants for your forgiveness for not respecting the love of Jesus,” Calisi said. “Please give us your forgiveness and your mercy.”

He stated that he wanted to wash Engle’s feet on stage as a gesture of reconciliation, but since it was not possible, he desired to instead kiss his feet.

“We wanted to, Lou, kiss your feet as Catholics,” Calisi said, to which Engle nodded. “And just honor you with this gesture right now.”

Calisi then laid prostrate Engle’s feet, clutching one foot with his hands. Engle placed both hands upon Calisi’s back as he did so.

When Calisi stood, Engle moments later fell to the ground prostrate at Calisi’s feet and kissed one shoe, as others gathered around to lay hands on them. Calisi then spoke against what he called a “spirit of division” between Christians and Catholics.

While some characterized the gesture as a “tender moment,” others expressed deep concern.

“What’s up with Lou Engle letting the representative of the Catholic Church kiss his feet because it would logistically be impossible to wash his feet?” wrote one man from Brazil. “I seem to remember John falling at the feet of an angel … and the angel freaked out! He yanked John up onto his feet and admonished him for doing so. Worship God!!! was the charge set forth by this angelic being who understands the Kingdom of Heaven!”

“This kind of stuff must stop!!! I don’t care where it happens, the ‘holy environment’ it happens in, to whom the ‘honor’ is bestowed or the intentions behind it I call malarky!” he said.

“Besides all of the bad teaching etc., shame on Lou for letting anyone bow prostrate to him and kiss his feet,” another said. “What a big difference from true, biblical apostles like Paul who tore his garments and corrected such an error. The rampant, false teachings and practices in pockets of the American ‘church,’ makes me feel literally sick to my gut.”

The incident begins at approximately 6 hours 55 minutes into the video

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