Publication:Pastoral Letter, February 2000
Dear Friend in Christ:
I am writing a letter to you that is somewhat difficult for me to write. But as a result of my current reading, the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and the current rise of Gnosticism in America, I am compelled to write it.
Samson was a powerful – if not always moral_man. In Hebrews, chapter 11, he is listed as a man of faith. One day he was persuaded to sleep in the lap of the desirable Philistine woman, Delilah. He awakened shorn of his hair and his strength; he was bound, blinded, and enslaved (see Judges 16:19). He awakened to a nightmare.
Centuries later, Jesus gave a parable about a farmer who sowed good seed. But while he and his laborers slept, an enemy sowed tares in that same field. Soon the wheat and the tares grew up together (see Matthew 13:24-30).
Recently, I visited Slovakia. The previous year I had visited Poland; both are Central European nations, who during the middle of this century, went to sleep while the enemy sowed insidious seeds of Marxism among their youth and their universities. Then in World War II, those and other nations were handed over to the Soviets. They awoke to a nightmare…that has lasted 55 years.
While God’s people sleep today, the enemy is at work sowing the perverted seed of Gnostic and feminist theology. Naive intellectuals and stupefied religionists slumber in the mistaken notion that theologies don’t really matter; they will awaken later, horrified at the realities of a living nightmare, politically, socially and economically.
Israel, Rome, Europe, and other civilizations should tell us that the price of freedom, peace, and productivity is eternal vigilance. But our ignorance of history may well condemn us to repeat history. While we are concerned with making church more comfortable, to the point of slumber, the same enemy that induced Samson to sleep, and induced Israel and Europe to sleep, is singing her lullaby to us.
“The Twentieth Century is to witness a gigantic conflict of spirits, more serious and fiercer than ever before; the conflict is between the Old and the New World view.” This prophecy was given by the renowned theologian Hermann Bavinck in 1901.
So what is the war about? Let Mary Daly tell us. Ms. Daly is an ex-Roman Catholic Nun, and now an eco-feminist, pagan witch, lesbian, and tenured theological professor at Boston College, according to Peter Jones, author of Spirit Wars. Ms. Daly says, “There was some primary warfare going on…an archetypal battle between principalities and powers…. And I willed to go all the way in the death battle.”
We are witnessing a revival of goddess religions whose hatred for Jehovah has been chronicled in the Bible and in human history. Our local paper, The Mobile Register, ran an article by Gayle White of the Cox News Service on November 20, 1999, which was headed, “Witches Riding Pop Wave.” The article cited current movies and television programs featuring witchcraft and the Wiccan religion. It further referenced surveys that showed at least 50,000 practicing witches in the United States, but others say that the figure is many times higher. Perhaps the more serious statistics are reflected in the best-selling Harry Potter books featuring witchcraft…and aimed at America’s children.
The real issue is not Wicca, movies, or Harry Potter. A casual observer may look on all of it as mere entertainment. The deeper issue is the Gnostic-Pagan root system that has affected our theology, psychology, sociology, families, and even our economics.
WHAT IS GNOSTICISM?
Gnosticism comes from the Greek word “Gnosis.” It means “to know.” Gnosticism is the marriage of Greek Rationalism and Eastern mystery religions. It is the idea that true knowledge comes from inner revelation; it is subjectively attained versus objectively obtained. It is “inner light” from the imagination. It is the blending or “syncretizing” of Eastern religions, Hinduism, Manichaeism, Zoroastrianism, astrology, and goddess worship with Western Mysticism, Judaism, and Christianity. It is a theological vegetarian soup (no meat in it).
Gnostics see man as god (pardon the “sexist” term). They see all humanity sharing a common consciousness and sharing a common life with all creation. According to this line of thought, creation is God, too; since truth is subjectively attained by getting in touch with the “universal spirit,” there are no absolutes or boundaries. We are whatever we want to be. Or as Shirley MacLaine has proclaimed, “I am God.” Or, maybe a tree is God, or maybe a golden calf is God.
One might laugh at all of this because it is foolish. But it is no laughing matter. Nazism and Marxism were also foolish. But we no longer laugh at those ideologies and the death and destruction they caused. They do remind us, however, that mankind without God is foolish.
The problem with Gnosticism is that it has leaped from the pages of history into the arena of the present, and it is attempting to frame the future – a future increasingly relevant to our children and us. Another problem is that it has become militant. It is angry at God as we know Him to be, angry at both Orthodox Christianity and Orthodox Judaism, and especially angry at patriarchy.
The new Gnosticism wears many labels and worships many gods. It comes riding in as a liberal using orthodox terms. Stuffed with lies, it parses words, claiming compassion and espousing freedom. But it is a “freedom” from God the Father in heaven, from the Bible, from the law, from legitimate authority, and from true Christianity.
Gnosticism does worship, however. It worships intellect, the human spirit, nature, ecology, the stars, sexual freedom, the “Queen of Heaven” (also called Artemis, Isis, and other deities_see Jeremiah 44:17-25) and it is the “politically correct” fad currently.
One doesn’t have to look far to see the Gnostic revival – television, movies, books, schools, and yes, churches. We are abandoning the absolutes of God’s government and the Bible, for the subjectivity of individual choice.
We are moving from facts to feelings, and we are laying aside our compass in favor of the “water-witching stick.” Even some stockbrokers are consulting psychics and astrologers to gain the wisdom to invest your retirement funds. Marxism is no longer “hot;” the new fad is Gnosticism. But make no mistake; it is no less malicious and ruthless. Remember Jezebel? This will be an intensifying war. It is not just a culture war, it is a spirit war.
HOW DO WE RESPOND?
I regret having such a short space to discuss such a profound topic. I suggest that you read Spirit Wars by Peter Jones (Winepress Publishing, P.O. Box 1406, Mukilteo, WA 98275) and America’s Real War by Daniel Lapin (Multnomah Publishers, Inc. P.O. Box 1770, Sisters, OR 97759).
Here are some things to consider as we move into the new millennium:
- God, our Father is Sovereign.
- Truth is more powerful than lies.
- We have historical models such as Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, and Daniel. (I highly recommend Joseph and Daniel as models for our situation.)
- The light is darkness’ greatest enemy.
- Excellence is better than “wishful thinking.”
- Facts beat theories every time.
Should we retreat to a safe place? Should we attack the witches? Should we become angry and defensive? Should we hate Gnostics? The answer to all of this is “No.”
When Jesus came to Bethlehem, things were pretty “messed up” in Israel. An Edomite, a descendant of Esau, ruled over Israel, and pagans “ran the world.” When Paul went into Ephesus, Diana or Artemis, was worshipped through prostitution, as Aphrodite was worshipped in Corinth, or as Astarte was worshipped in Samaria, or as Isis was worshipped in Egypt. But neither Jesus nor Paul railed against the goddesses. Nor did they start a war. The war had already begun and it has for us, too_while many of us were asleep.
What Jesus did and what Paul did was to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom. When people came to them or sought to obstruct them, they cast out the evil spirits and healed the sick. They were led by the Holy Spirit to the people who wanted the Good News, and they moved in the power of God.
In a real sense, we must remember that the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s. Does that mean that we do not fight? No, we do fight, but with spiritual weapons (see Ephesians 6:10-18), not carnal ones.
There are different gifts and ministries among God’s people. I do not think it is wise for me to criticize various ministry approaches. We must all answer to God, as we are His servants. For those who would consider my own thoughts, I would advise caution on engaging the enemy – but not fear. I would also advise a person to be sure that God has led them to encounter the enemy and that they be well prepared; not alone, but covered with intercessors. And especially, I would stay focused on the Gospel of Jesus and not all of the heresies that are out there. (Most sinners don’t know or care what a Gnostic is.)
Be evangelistic, and share your faith with relationships that have come to trust your credibility. Remember Joseph came to rule even in Egypt, and Daniel ruled even in Babylon. The “New Age” is our chance to show who the real King is!
By the way…do your know what is being sown in your garden? Stay awake! May God bless you! Please keep us in your prayers and in your budget as we seek to proclaim truth in these strategic times.
Scripture Reference: Hebrews 11; Judges 16:19; Matthew 13:24-30; Ephesians 6:10-18