Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Intoxicated by False Religion

Last week, I listened to a talk about Revelation 17 by Mike Bickle. He taught that the chapter describes the emergence of a new world religion. In a few years all the religions of the world, including much of Christianity will merge to form a new false religion. He said that entire world would quickly be intoxicated by this new religion. Judging by their questions, the bright young audience was obviously impressed by his teaching.

I am puzzled at why people are not shocked by this teaching. The Holy Spirit has been struggling to establish a worldwide religion for two thousand years. Most Christians doubt that he will ever be able to do it, yet they are happy to believe that the devil can get the acceptance worldwide religion in two or three years. He can pull off a task that the Holy Spirit has failed to do.

Here are two interesting questions.

Do you believe that a false religion can sweep the entire world and intoxicate the nations in a few short years?

Do you believe that the Holy Spirit can sweep the world with a revival that will establish the Kingdom of God?
Which of these do you think is most likely? If you voted for the first option, you have more faith in the ability of the devil than you have in the Holy Spirit. You believe that evil is more powerful than righteousness.

In terms of ability and power, most Christians rank the Holy Spirit above angels, but well below the devil. Some Christians would prefer to have angels active in their lives, which suggest that they rank the Holy Spirit below the angels.

Many Christians see nothing wrong in believing that a false religion could sweep the world in a few years. They declare, “The Bible says it, I believe it”, but do they have the same fervency about what Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would do?


Gene said...

I have this problem.

I read the first chapter of Romans.

Seems clear to me.

Ron McK said...

Romans 1 explains why rebellious men believe and worship any and anything, but it does not explain how all men could be herded into one world religion. It does not explain why rebellious men would all submit to the same religious leader.

Gene said...

It will come couched in "Christian" terms and concept. Wolves in Sheep Herder clothing.

They will call it a great move of God. Revival. Unity. Universalism.

Rebellious people will buy into it. After all, everyone's a "Christian" now.

I wrote on this. You probably saw it. The great deception is begun.

Ron McK said...

Open your eyes, Gene. Everyone is not "Christian" now.

In many parts of the world "Christian" is hated, because people see what Christians are doing in Iraq and other places.

In the Europe and much of the west, people do not hate "Christian", they simply ignore it as part of an irrelevant past. Religion is generally declining and spirituality is replacing it. Spirituality is amorphous. It it is not interested in a world-wide religion, because religion is the problem, not the solution.

I suspect that even in America, "Christian" has ceased to be a winning brand.

Anonymous said...

Christ asks His disciples as to whether He will find faith on the earth when he returns. He also proclaims that the last days will be shortened for the sake of His people, lest all be deceived.

Yes, we Christians must have hope in God, in whom all things are possible. Yet every person has free will, and when the longsuffering of God is no more to any beneficial effect, when the suffering of the righteous is so great, when the whole world has fallen in apostasy (to secular humanism, that is, nihilism), then will Christ bring about a new heaven and a new earth.

Ron McK said...

Your response illustrates the point of my post perfectly. Christians have tremendous faith in negative stuff (which is actually faith in the devil). Jesus words about finding faith on earth when he returns were not a statement, but a question, and it is not clear that the correct answer to the question is No. Christians seem to have great faith in God's ability to allow things to go to the dogs. Would that they had as much faith in Jesus other clearer much more positive words.

I can understand how free will would cause people to reject Jesus, but it does not explain how the entire world could be herded into one world church. Frankly, I do not believe that the devil has the power to do it. He has even greater disunity problem than Jesus.

I cannot understand why your only hope is that Jesus will return and rescue you. Why do you have no faith in the ability of the Holy Spirit.

I have faith in ability the Spirit of God to do what Jesus promised he would do. I rate him miles above the Devil. I believe that the devil will fail in most of what he wants to do. I believe that he Holy Spirit would succeed far beyond what most Christians believe.

Anonymous said...

Christ does not present a utopian vision of this world, because this world stands in opposition to the Kingdom of Heaven. Indeed, Christ refers to Satan as the prince of this world. In the temptations in the desert, Christ explicitly rejects worldly dominance, instead witnessing to the beauty of the Kingdom through sacrificial love for all, even those at war against Him.

Unfortunately, Christianity is often presented as utopian nowadays because of misinterpretations regarding the "thousand-year reign of Christ." Christian commentators from the time of the early Church up until relatively recently were unanimous in understanding that the thousand-year reign refers to our current age; for with the coming of the age of the Resurrection the devil no longer has free reign over the world. Now that Christ has reunited God and man in Himself, we can experience the Kingdom even here and now by witnessing to it through the new commandment of loving one another as Christ loves us.

But when the appointed time comes, the devil will be loosed to perform the mystery of lawlessness, which is in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 24 is attested to be a time of tremendous human suffering, where the faithful must literally flee the cities. The adversary will work his power to deceive the nations, who will succumb to the temptations that Christ rejected. While Satan must work in overtly evil ways to deceive the unspiritual, those who labor in spiritual warfare know firsthand the subtle spiritual deceptions that he can craft: consider that he is called "the father of lies" by Christ.

Consider the "I'm ok, you're ok," of secular humanism. You can believe in whatever you want, as long as you don't believe and affirm that it is true. C.S. Lewis warns explicitly against this thought taking hold in the education system and in society as a whole in "The Abolition of Man." If nobody can affirm anything as true, then all is false: unconsciously, most of the "modern" world subscribes to what is properly called nihilism, and its plague is seen all across the decadence of cultures that do not witness to the beauty of the Kingdom, but rather create ever greater slavery to the passions. "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" -- this is the false "love" of secular humanism, the "love" that actually stands in opposition to truth.

Thus we come to Christ's statement that the days must be shortened, lest the very elect be deceived. If that isn't a clear statement as to how horrible this time will be, I don't know what to tell you. The horror lies not just in the physical tribulations of the suffering of the end times, but in the total delusion of the people. The physical suffering of the last times described in Revelations is God's final call to the world to repentance, the final acts against the utopian Babel. This is what Christ Himself says will happen! This is faith in what Christ has warned us to be ever vigilant against, lest we be found like the foolish virgins: away without oil when the Bridegroom returns.

In the end, the wrath of the devil will be utterly useless against the unconquerable love of the Crucified and Resurrected One. Just as we His creation can offer nothing to our Creator, so the adversary can do nothing against the Master of All, except violently reject the life of the Kingdom offered freely as a gift to all. Yet as Satan does this, he will labor in spite to drag as many souls with him, to create as many people who will hate God -- or rather, love a false god -- and thus reject the Kingdom offered to us.

Anonymous said...

A clarification: I did not mean to imply above that you have no knowledge of these struggles in spiritual warfare! I wanted to avoid making any presumptions about knowing your spiritual life, but I realize now that this could have come across in a holier-than-thou way. Please forgive me.

I should also clarify that I am by no means endorsing escapism -- it is our duty to make the Kingdom manifest through actions of love, by the grace of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ. Of course Christ could work to create a worldwide spiritual revival, provided that He has willing workers and recipients of the Gospel message.

What I want to convey is that at least in regards to the culmination of history in Christian eschatology, Christ presents us with a falling away of all peoples, which necessitates the second coming.

Ron McK said...

You do sound a bit escapist and you did not mention the Holy Spirit once.

If Jesus must return to achieve that the Holy Spirit could not do, then there is something seriously wrong with our understanding of his role on earth.

Anonymous said...

What does Christ Himself say about the Holy Spirit? “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever--the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you." John 14:15-18

And what are we told of "the world"?

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. --1 John 2:15
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. --James 4:4

The Holy Spirit stands in total opposition to the world. Any who are enamored of the world cannot receive the Spirit. Thus, this is not a failure of the Spirit or a failure of our faith in the Spirit, as Christ Himself warns us what will occur: because the world will not receive the Spirit offered to them, just as the world would not receive Him. When the suffering becomes so great, then the end will come in order that the elect might not be deceived.

You speak of the Holy Spirit as if He can somehow control and command humanity. Yet Christ refused this control when Satan offered it to Him. Christ reveals to us that true love, the new commandment, can only occur through a free-willed choice, and manifests that unconquerable love by His willing crucifixion and His Resurrection from the dead (the agony in the garden of Gethsemene reveals to us that He had the ability to choose otherwise, in His humanity). It is in this love, the love which St. John says God is, that we commune with God and one another, that we reveal the beauty of the Kingdom which is not of this world.

Do you confess that the Holy Trinity is one God, three persons with one essence? I get the impression that you are divorcing Christ from the Holy Spirit. It is not the case that the Holy Spirit fails: it is fallen humanity that fails to receive the gift of the glory of the true humanity revealed to us by He who is fully God and fully Man, He who took on flesh for our sakes, Jesus Christ.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." -- Rev 3:20-21

This is the victory offered to us. To commune with Christ in our hearts, and after the culmination of all things, to sit with Christ on His throne in the Heavenly Kingdom. We are not offered an earthly kingdom, but the Kingdom of Heaven that stands in opposition to the falsity of this world, which ever succumbs to the delusion of the father of lies. You haven't addressed any of what Christ Himself says will occur in the Holy Scriptures. As I said, God can certainly accomplish anything with us -- but only if we work with Him. Christ warns us that in the end times, we will not have an earthly Christian utopia but rather universal suffering and deception. This suffering and deception will be so great that God Himself will return to put an end to it. Indeed, it was His will not to create an earthly kingdom but to reveal the beauty of the Heavenly Kingdom -- and it was for that reason that he was rejected as Messiah.

Ron McK said...

Your reply is typical of what many Christians believe. That explains why the modern church is so defeatist and so defeated.

Jesus is constrained by having taken a human body, albeit a spiritual one. He is currently seated at the right hand of the father, so that limits his ability to do much on earth. The Holy Spirit is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscent so he has amazing ability to do things here on earth. Unfortunately his church does not understand this.

I am a true trinitarian, unlike most Christians who believe in a truncated third person (two and halfism).

Anonymous said...

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

As Orthodox Christians profess at the beginning of every Divine Liturgy:

In the tomb with the body, in hell with the soul as God, in paradise with the thief, and on the throne with the Father and the Spirit, thou fillest all things, O Christ, thyself uncircumscribed.

Likewise, the Trisagion prayer, a prayer said multiple times each day by Orthodox Christians, begins as such:

O Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of Truth who are everywhere present and fillest all things, treasury of blessings and giver of life: come and abide in us, cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O gracious Lord.

Of course the Spirit shares the divine attributes fully with the Father and the Son! But as I have said multiple times, each of us must make a choice whether to cooperate with God in synergia, or to refuse the gift that is offered to us. If the Holy Spirit could violate our free will and do whatever He wanted, then there was no need in the first place for Christ to take on human flesh, to endure suffering, crucifixion, and death for our sakes. There would be no reason for the Incarnation nor the Resurrection. God simply could have forced all of us to do something. But that is not the image of He whose likeness we are made in: that is not the true love wrought by a free willing heart. God instead calls us to make a choice, and it is by choosing the path of the cross of love that we accept the gift of the Kingdom offered to us.

Your statement about Jesus being constrained, along with His body somehow being spiritual but not physical, points to various heresies that the Church fought against throughout the first millenium of its existence. Subordinationism and docetism, doctrines which deny the divinity of Christ, have been firmly defeated through the labor of the Church. We profess that Christ is truly God and truly man. He is not limited, for Christ is God. You yourself are "truncating" Christ and making Him less than the other two persons of the Trinity; as such, I do not know how you can profess to be a "true trinitarian."

I in no way mean to offend you by this statement, but in all honesty I must say that if you desire to keep writing about Christianity (especially publicly), then you must study the seven ecumenical councils in order to understand trinitarian theology. You are falling into very dangerous territory regarding your understanding of the divinity and personhood of Christ, and of the equality of the three persons of the Holy Trinity. You have not offered any response to the numerous scriptural passages that I have cited and the patristic teaching I have espoused; you have only stated your opinion. Regarding this, I ask that you reflect upon the teaching of St. Paul:

Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. -2 Thess 2:15

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. -1 Cor 1:10

The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. -1 Cor 10:16,17

The unity of the Church is found in the Eucharistic assembly and in doctrinal unity in Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition. As such, I beseech you, if you profess to be a true trinitarian, if you desire to espouse the true Apostolic faith, please study the ecumenical councils and the history and practices of the early church, to whom the fullness of the faith was imparted to at Pentecost, and of which the Orthodox Church has maintained and defended by her Saints and Martyrs for two millenia.

I apologize if my words come across harshly. I have twice written to you with great effort and concern, and you have not offered a serious response. But if you are going to teach publicly, then you necessarily must be challenged publicly; for teaching about our Savior is not a light responsibility -- even on a blog (indeed, since anyone in the world can read it, I find it to be too grave of a responsiblity... it is with great reluctance that I write)

If you are going to teach something entirely out of line with the Apostolic teaching, then you must offer a substantial defense. Yet I will not argue with you about Trinitarian theology because the Church has already settled these matters long ago by the grace of the Holy Spirit. And honestly, I do not know enough nor have I labored in prayer and humility enough to teach in-depth about the Trinity (to the small degree that such a thing can be done); I trust the Church that Christ founded, I trust the faith "delivered once and for all to the Saints" (Jude 1:3).

Please forgive me, a sinner, for any lack of clarity or charity on my part. May God bless your work with wisdom and understanding.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. -Jn 15:5

Ron McK said...

I do not take seriously commenters who hide behind anonymity and fling out accusations of heresy.

If Jesus has to return again to save us, Christians have a good excuse for sitting in complacency and watching the world go down the gurgler. A challenge to that excuse will be distubing.