Saturday, March 7, 2015

Pagan Christianity

Paul writes to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:1), “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…” To the Thessalonians Paul writes (I Thessalonians 2:3), “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ] will not come unless the apostasy comes first…”

I recently had a conversation with a friend who shared with me about something going on in his life and his attitude toward it that I thought had no Biblical foundation. His one “Biblical” basis for thinking and acting the way he was, was one New Testament verse, and as we should all know, a text without a context is a pretext for a proof text. During the course of our conversation he said to me, “I’ve read that the ancient mystery religions had this same attitude [his attitude toward the subject and practice we were discussing], so I think that perhaps God is leading me in this same way.” My friend was allowing his experience to drive his thinking to the point where he sought theological justification not only outside the Bible, but inside pagan mystery religion.

A recent catalog from Christian Book Distributors has The Circle Maker on its front page; an example of basing thinking and prayer on methodology not found in the Scriptures; apparently the only thing that matters in this approach is that it works. It is hardly the picture of the prayer born of relationship that Jesus teaches in the Gospels. Overt pagan religions have also made the argument that their prayers and rituals work – with that in mind The Circle Maker has much company.   

Paul writes in Colossians Chapter Two, “For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth  that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Paganism has a preoccupation with secret wisdom, with special methodology, with hidden codes and keys to understanding. Paganism says, “God didn’t really mean what he said, eat this fruit and you’ll be like him.” That is the mantra of the enemy, that is the siren song that leads to apostasy.

Paganism is also fixated on interpreting events and predicting the future. While the Gospel encourages us in the hope of the return of Jesus Christ, in the hope of His appearing; Pagan Christianity is obsessed with a focus on world events and assigns particular meanings to current events; it does so not with Jesus Christ as its focus, but with our own interests as its focus. A cursory survey of materials in the CBD catalog illustrates this with its “End Times” section focused on blood moons, Isis, End Time codes, chronological orders of the End Times, events shaking the world, making the book of Revelation clear, and unlocking mysteries.

This extra-Biblical obsession with the future is a hallmark of paganism. When the prophets and apostles write of the future they write looking toward the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus, they write encouraging their readers to trust in Jesus, to know Jesus, to follow Jesus, to be obedient to Jesus, to testify of Jesus to others, to be faithful to God and to be faithful to each other. The Biblical writers do not appeal to our curiosity, they do not tantalize with us promises to teach us something secret, and they don’t indicate that what they write can be easily understood. The men who wrote the Bible often wrote of the future appearing of Jesus to encourage His followers in the midst of their suffering – in fact, that is the primary motivation of the New Testament writers; when I survey North America I don’t see much suffering, to the contrary, I see people who write about the “End Times” usually assuring Christians that they won’t experience severe suffering but rather will be “raptured”.

Above all else, the men who wrote the Bible point us to Jesus. Biblical eschatological teaching, Bible prophecy, always points to Jesus Christ – Jesus is always the center of gravity.

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