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Spirit of the Day / P. Pavluk

P. 2 Another “way, truth, and life”

P. 3 Theology or Technology?

P. 4 Modern false teachers: educated ignoramuses

P. 5  “Spiritual erotic” and other consequences

P. 6 Conclusions

Mass culture is production which includes imitation of art, philosophy, science, and pseudo Christianity. And it is pseudo Christianity that finally draws human souls away from the truth into perdition. Modern world stream of blasphemies and mockery on the good is directly related to pseudo Christian teachings, since they have one consumer – numerically prevailing mass man.

The mass culture phenomenon since long ago dictates its will to Western civilization and, since we live in the informed world and this process has global character, we clearly feel its presence in our country.

However, the goal of this article is to show the danger of mass culture for the church, warn of the danger of thoughtless attitude to trends of postmodernism, for which the church walls are far from not being impregnable.

 

Tactics: moderate drive

Postmodern enticement so finely dresses itself in such starry-eyed forms that majority of believers from traditional evangelical churches don’t see and don’t realize the danger. And everything happens in a very banal way, as in a well-known experiment with a frog which, not seeing the danger, swims in gradually warmed water before it is too late to jump out.

Even for the in-churched members, deviation takes place very imperceptibly. The sound volume is gradually increased, new technical special effects enhancing drive are added bit by bit, etc. This is Christianized hedonism.

Young people that consider themselves “advanced Christians that can afford themselves a little bit of sensuality” should bear in mind that they play with enticement and, being voluntarily enticed, give leading space to sinful flesh, insignificantly becoming devil’s allies and the weapon of the forces of evil! In absolute majority of cases, such “truth heralds” voluntarily or involuntarily carry its interpretation of spirituality.

Christianity presented in sensual, play form, loses spiritual basis, whether we speak of service, evangelism or personal spiritual growth.

Speaking of the service to God, its “creative restructure” deprives its vivifying spiritual force and translates into the category of one of the sensual religious practices, cheap counterfeits which the modern world is full of. Due to the change of the service to God, there takes place revision of the very evangelical teaching which is adjusted under certain requirements of tolerance regarding the fallen sinner.

 

Another “way and truth and life”

How does the substitution take place? By way of natural Calvinism brought from the West in combination with seeing man as God. At this, it is explained that the death of Jesus Christ gives us an example of mutual love and compassion. It is enough to realize the degree of His sufferings and God’s love will open before us. This should spur us to change our life and love our neighbors. Postmodern teaches that Christ’s sufferings are God’s way of manifestation of love and example of high morality, by shading the main – atoning sacrifice of God’s Son. But the elimination of Christ’s sacrifice, the main pillar of Christian teaching, leaves this teaching without evangelical power and in essence brings it to paganism. 

Such “Christ” didn’t redeem our sins and doesn’t impute His righteousness to us. This is why it is becoming very common in communication становится, universal: not to trouble anyone’s conscience by reminding about man’s sinful nature, about the necessity of cleansing by His blood and salvation from eternal punishment in Him. Сама Его миссия – the Savior of the world – is becoming not truth but allegory. The very notion of sin is changing – it is no more a lawful consequence of man’s sinful nature but merely some wrong acts which can be corrected. Suffering for Christ’s sake is no more than upholding of moral values, and the values are “a matter of taste,” everyone can have those of his own.

Is characteristic that when someone deepens into modern strategies, not enough attention is paid to issues of godliness and personal holiness, absolute values and notions are promptly emasculated, while the more acting means of evangelism is personal example and personal testimony. And can many of us say to a sinner, as Peter said to the lame man: “Look at us!” (Acts 3:4)? We dry away the source of the living water in ourselves, thanks to which (and only this!) people came and come to God.

Lately, people themselves have changed a lot, their views, value system, life priorities, worldview. Some Christians say that it is more difficult to find seekers of God’s truth not only among young believers, but also among those who believed long ago. This is why another peculiarity of the present is migration from one church (denomination) into another.

In search of “real spirituality”, some of my close acquaintances, young in all senses Baptists, went to canonical and non-traditional Christian denominations. Having not received what they wished in biblical Baptism, they found themselves in traditional Orthodoxy, and others, in new evangelical churches. Both became church ministers that are open for the communication with spiritual worlds of different vectors.

 

Theology or Technology?

The most convenient ground for new Christian movements is charismatic churches, for instance, “Hillsong.” This is a new charismatic movement founded in Australia which plants churches with the help of psychological and technical means. These churches accentuate the importance of the work of the Holy Spirit in life of every believer, universal church, and many a leader speak of the importance of “spiritual gifts,” such as prayer in “tongues” and “anointing of the Spirit.” Here they also imply parallel punctuation: it is enough to receive a certain “gift”, and then everything will go smoothly.

One shouldn’t strain himself studying biblical texts and go through hardships of personal spiritual growth. It is enough to receive a simple teaching, learn certain words and key phrases. The rest will be miraculously done by the Holy Spirit. As a result of such teaching, non-repentant people become church members, who soon go into the world being disappointed and often become opponents of Christianity. Even if they stay in church, they mix carnal Christianity with practical occult. As an outcome, there is a poisonous mixture which is able to poison even outwardly healthy evangelical believers, out of curiosity attending such churches. (This is why we believe that the main problem of our Christianity is not in new churches and traditions but in people, in personally every church member.)

No doubt, this church also has much of what promotes the quantitative growth of the community. It is quite possible that the brink has not yet been crossed behind which deviation begins, but, in any case, here it is approached very closely. The paradox is that, with diminishing of godly, supernatural church status at the beginning, as a rule, there takes place multiplication of church comers. Soon they understand that, if the church is also dominated by this culture, it is better to just have a good sleep on Sunday morning. As a result, there takes place massive harmful rotation: people come to such church as non-believers (spiritually “cold”, i.е. with high potential energy), and leave it as disappointed people of little faith (“lukewarm,” inert).

At services, heartfelt songs on the love for Christ are sung. They contain few words, music, but too many feelings are forced for the sake of feelings.

 

Factually, it is an entertainment. Christ clearly said: “If any of you want to come with me," he told them, "you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me” (Мr 8:34); and in another place: “… Those who do not take up their cross and follow in my steps are not fit to be my disciples” (Мt 10:38). But the news on the Cross and co-crucifixion with Christ (Rom. 6:6) strongly contradicts the carnal gospel of prosperity. Here it is not God who reigns, but the carnal flesh that doesn’t want to follow Christ to the cross. Thereby an ideal opportunity is created for comfortable time-spending, but, due to the absence of influence of the Word and the Holy Spirit, church members have no radical essential changes. The will of God is replaced by positive thinking clothed in religious dress.

To keep up to date, some evangelical churches began imitating the charismatic style of services. There resounds loud and dynamic instrumental music, there are used various special effects, psycho techniques, and the message uses video clips like “Laugh balls,” etc. This is all liked by the youth and not much by the people of elder generation – it is obvious that leaders of such churches have no true reference points and distinction of good and bad, they have no criteria of genuineness.

 

Trying to understand the forming theological direction of such churches, I attended different new evangelical churches of Zhitomir, Kiev and Odessa. And I had such questions:

  •      Why does such light “Christianity” attract the youth from traditional churches? Young people serenely tune into sensual “worship” and then receive “spiritual baptism” and other kinds of “anointing.”
  • Why, among the enticed, are there people with theological education got from Baptist seminaries?
  •     Isn’t the stumbling over Baptists taking place only because of the restraint in the expression of agitated feelings? And wider: isn’t the essence of Christianity reduced only to the freedom of the expression of excitement, driving in worship? Who do we please, choosing forms and methods of worship: people or God? Isn’t the worship “in spirit and truth” means sensual ecstasy? What is the will of God for Christians? Did He call us to evangelism, holiness – or to search of new forms of worship (Мt 28:19,20; 1Thes. 4:3)?
In my opinion, as in the case with the antichristian project of so-called “Jehovah Witnesses,” the ideological roots of the modern “new pagan evangelism” are grown in special laboratories that belong to adherers of omnivorous religiousness of New Age. They originated in the Californian hippy movement of the 1960s. Hippy mysticism, together with secular Christianity, is directed exclusively to feelings. Of course, a non-crucified, non-humbled flesh is transformed into carnality, the general tendency of the time: not strife for life in spirit, but for comfortable life in flesh. But any attempt to reach God by technical means is magic. This contradicts to the traditional Christian idea that fellowship with God is done through faith based on Bible knowledge and not emotions.

 

It is necessary that modern believers understand the motivation of the prince of darkness for effective prayer and successful opposition to him (i.е. having spiritual war). Otherwise, satanic hoards will be actively functioning among Christians that don’t realize their presence or spiritual influence but instead use occult symbols and “out of curiosity” read horoscopes, address to all sorts of non-traditional methods of treatment of body and soul based on Eastern religious and philosophical practices. They cannot destroy the deeds of darkness by prayer, because they are unable to identify those, although, according to Apostle Paul, they should be  “not unknown” to us. This is why, mainly due to ignorance and the egocentric worship to flesh, here is the coolness among the people of God.

 

Such Christianity presents no danger to Satan. On the opposite, he even promotes that its potential opponents, future warriors of Christ, filled up the rows of dancers, one could call them emotionally jumping modern “pop” Christians. Such Christianity, by demonic definition, is not called to “bind and unbind”, solve issues of spiritual order. It principally is getting ready to receive omnivorous Christ the Master, the general rescuer for all followers of the New World Order.

 

Modern false teachers: educated ignoramuses

Educated ignoramuses always presented special danger to Christianity. Without trying to know God on His conditions, they easily fall under enticement and mushroom ideas alien to Christianity. For instance, they easily replace the written God’s Word with personal revelations, as if received from God. Such is the ancient enticement of Satan: reaching perfection and spirituality without holiness and efforts has done and continues doing ruining work among Christians. But the critically thinking mind realizes that, by destroying the Scripture, we fall under influence of another spirit and deal with another god!

 

For man’s orientation for quick and often artificial attainment of spirituality without preliminary setting his inner man free from chains of sin and carnal nature leads to spiritual diseases.

As a result, a new modern type of Christianity is formed, which is based on displaced concepts about spirituality and character of a Christian. Biblical principles of spirituality, with dominating of the freedom of the spirit and restriction of flesh, are gradually substituted by secular way of life with freedom of flesh and restriction (quenching and grieving) of the Spirit. By pleasing the requirements of the time, liberalism and Christian humanism have washed away spiritual criteria, and this is one of the main reasons of turning to false teachings in Church.

Besides, with the help of the modern translation of Proverbs, allegories and other texts of the New Testament receive a renewed original interpretation. As a consequence, there comes an unrealized negation of biblical principles: adoration before God’s holiness and piety, strict obedience to the Holy Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In other words, people imperceptibly turn way from God. People who are in such surrounding don’t understand that there is not only change of style and form, but also the essence of the Gospel and they already worship another god.

 

The sermon in such church is not Christ-centered but man-centered. The lightness of such sermon is obvious. Skits, performances, movie shows replace the expositional preaching of the Scripture. To my mind, pastors are cheated because they lost their faith and the power of the Holy Spirit acting through the proclamation of the Scripture. By imitating mass culture, some churches want to confirm their success by the growing number of church comers using different methods of rapid growth for this. As a result, there takes place the replacement of God’s methods by human counterfeits and, with the help of PR technologies, the Scripture is transformed into a consuming product.

One cannot be a successful Christian without knowing the Bible and using it in daily life under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. In His Word, God gave enough light for us not to walk in darkness.

In all, nothing is new in modern truth-forsaking. Beginning with apostolic ages, such banal things repeatedly occurred in history of Christianity. Only today the war with Christianity is conducted on spiritual, informational and psychological levels. This is why the prophet Hosea’s words are so vital: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). As a result of elementary ignorance, lack of trust to reliable information in the Bible, many sincere seekers of the truth get in different enticements and errors.

 

The main characteristic of the false teaching is elimination of necessity of carrying the cross when following Christ. Generally, the cross of Christ is a corner stone for luring spirits and it defined any thoroughly disguised system of enticement. All who take away the cross of Christ violate the spirit of the Gospel directly or indirectly and are victims of enticement.

Only the message on the cross of Jesus Christ is able to help the needy and the burdened. The gospel, like a mirror, shows the man his real essence. It is tart and seasoned with bitter herbs. But the unbroken, un-co-crucified with Christ carnal flesh imitates Christianity and strives to know the answer to the Satan’s question: has God truly said?

In general, the process of secularization of Christian church today is happening by way of its “humanization.” This leads many local churches to gradual contamination with pragmatism of time and lack of spirituality. (Мt 24:38; Lk 17:27) and calls the grief and striving after wind with those Christians who practically  witnessed real strength and power of the Holy Spirit.

Concession to dominating culture is a way to failure, which is confirmed by the example with liberal churches. To compile with the time, they constantly changed the form of church services and the accent of the gospel. Revising the Holy Scripture, they focused attention on man’s and not God’s importance, losing at this the evangelical “salt” and dooming themselves to failure. And all modern evangelical churches which don’t take postmodern critically, risk to find themselves in a similar situation, for the doors of the time will be knocked by ultramodern.

 

If mass culture, by technically raising a foolish consumer, decreases its level of perception and motivation его to please the manufacturers of often unneeded production, then why should Christianity follow suit? It constantly repeats to young people: “relax,” “don’t strain yourselves,” and we, professors of a Christian university, state the constantly falling intellect of high school graduates.

Of course, the talk on modernism (ultra modernism?) requires special knowledge and preparation. But even the top of the iceberg which can be seen with a naked eye looks threatening…

 

 “Spiritual erotic” and other consequences

Today the church staging and secular styles of music-singing performance are presented as a means of raising the authority of the Church and strengthening of the influence on non-believers. However, it is first of all the believers who lose their positions. Getting into different styles, so-to-speak worship with the help of staged show and instrumental music, having given in to unripe feelings, they become dependent on them and, increasing musical decibels, they experiment with their emotions. Thus, young Christians fall under dependence on a phenomenon which can be conditionally called “spiritual erotic,” which gradually leads to spiritual adultery. As a consequence, the Christian is not seeking God but compulsory satisfaction from “prayer,” “worship,” etc.

 

As a result of spiritual fall, differences are imperceptibly erased between the Christian spirit and “the spirit of this world,” which leads to emergence in Christian sphere of various kinds of enticements. Some young believers smoke, take alcohol. Because of connivances of a flesh, there is no transformation and renewal of mind and imitation of Christ, there is no awe before the greatness of God and His holiness. Spiritual emptiness is filled with occult fakes like “encounter,” fellowship with non-physical “spirit of Christ” and other false ideas.

This is the main danger of the merging of mass culture into Church which has a two-thousand-year history. Of course, in the context of its surrounding, church culture inevitably becomes subject to changes, but this should not happen at the expense of the quality and substantial part of Christian life. In the scripture from the epistle to Timothy which was chosen as a epigraph for this article, it goes about evil spirits and not people whom these spirits use as their tools. Consequently, certain people, when thinking of a false idea as of something holy and genuine revelation from God, defend the teaching of evil luring spirits.

 

The desire of church leaders to hold the youth in church brings to many a compromise which lead to the deviation from serious attitude to the Bible, practice of prayer and perfection in holiness and fear of God… Laodicean (“lukewarm”) church is pleased with fun, laughter, parties, games. At the head of the corner here stands the fallen man and not God.

 

Conclusions

The purpose of the evil one’s efforts is spiritual coolness of Christians, to stiffen the voice of Church and that no one withhold and rebuke evil. This is why it is very important to actively propagandize Christian culture and its values in the world. Best artists, musicians, writers, poets of all times found in the Holy Scripture sources of inspiration, philosophic wisdom, while as ethic norms and rules written in the Bible, more just and pure of which the man failed to create, exist for centuries.

Christians need to raise their educational level, to skillfully and intelligibly remind “the world lying in sin” of the necessity of repentance and turning to God. For the center of God’s action are people called by Him that are filled with His Word and His Spirit. Such people fearlessly do God’s will, at any time and at any place boldly proclaim the Good News (Acts 4:31). For we are entrusted with the preaching of what God said and not what people want to hear. It is better to be separated by the truth than to have false unity in false ideas. May we be hated for the truth than loved for heresy. It is better to be rejected with God than dance with faltering crowd.

 

Educational activity is needed also in Christian surrounding. When, instead of striving for spirituality, people restrict themselves by morality, there is confusion of concepts. Then, from God’s establishment, the church is turned into an interest club or a youth party.

By truthful display of different socially significant events, informing society of life and social ministry of the church, directly participating in formation of public opinion, we will be able to more effectively perform the Great Commandment of our Lord Jesus Christ (Мt 28:19-20).

We know that, by the efforts of the prince of darkness, humankind is subconsciously preparing for voluntarily acceptance of occult and politized religion of “the man of sin,” or Antichrist, “the wicked one will ome with the power of Satan and perform all kinds of false miracles and wonders” (2 Thes. 2:9).

This is why we need to be alert and spiritually sober, not to give room to the enemy in the church or in one’s heart, so that we could say, like Jesus Christ: “…The ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me” (Jn 14:30).

 

Published on 18.07.2008 

 

Translated by Anna Sedova

 

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