It should come as no surprise. These dots connect themselves. What concerns me however is the obliviousness to their own culpability demonstrated by the lamenting of the main stream evangelical leadership (MSEL).
Peter Jones, a teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America and Director of truthXchange writes, No “Next Big Thing”?—Bad Conclusion! How many “believers” will find their way into the suffocating arms of religionless Gospel-less Christianity?
Maybe someday the realization of what they have done will hit them like those, post Lister, who recalled walking with unwashed hands from one surgical patient to another, and the resulting carnage of infection that resulted. Hopefully that realization occurs before this spiritual sepsis is loosed upon the entire body. I’d say I fear it won’t, but I know it won’t. And I won’t fear despite, because it is clearly written as is the outcome.
Jones recounts assertions by a NYT commentator regarding his sensing of a revival of Christianity despite “relativism and rootlessness that has weakened the church”
The brilliant religion commentator for the New York Times, Ross Douthat, in Bad Religion (2012) concludes that while postmodernism has produced an exhausting “relativism and rootlessness that has weakened the church,” a revival of Christianity can be envisaged.
A reviewer recounts that Douthat came to his conclusion by elimination, having seen no next big thing poised to oppose Christianity, then Jones predictably veers off to lambast Christian liberalism and its assumed social justice movement so popular this five minutes.
I must differ from Douthat and with all who fail to see the power of the contemporary revival of apostate “Christian” liberalism, revitalized by a natural alliance with the progressive spiritual neo-paganism now dominating our culture.
The partial truth of that assertion, combined with the attractiveness of his preferred object of blame (liberal Christianity) causes him to ignore his, and the churches role in what is happening. He spends the rest of the article lambasting the predictions of an uber Universalist instead of seeing the finger prints of decades of BOTH liberalism and its niece, evangelical feminism, on the outcome which alarmingly she may be closer to the truth about than his blinders allow him to see.
Diana Butler Bass, in Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening (2012), triumphantly announces the advent of “the Fourth Great Awakening.” Emergent activist Shane Claibourne hails this as “new life budding from the compost of Christendom.” For Brian McLaren, Bass’s prophetic voice is “provocative, inspiring…a sage guidance for the future.” Does the term “Great Awakening” indicate a reclaiming of 18th century Gospel orthodoxy? Not a chance!
For Bass “religionless Christianity” is the elimination of creeds and dogmas, of authority structures and inhibiting moral codes, of a propositional, inerrant Bible. She hails a movement borne along on the breath of an undefined “Spirit” into an age of pure inner experience. This Awakening has nothing to do with historic Christianity.[emphasis mine]
Remember, it is relationship, not religion, and I am certain those words have passed Jones’ lips innumerable times. Those creeds and dogmas are pure religion. But what is relationship?
Such an “interfaith” One-ist view of the Spirit involves a radical redefinition of God that ditches “submitting to a transcendent—and often distant-God” in favor of “finding one’s self in God and find[ing] God in one’s self.” This involves praying to God as “our Mother” and seeing the godhead “in less dualistic [Two-ist] terms,…less in terms of an absolutist, sin-hating, death-dealing ‘almighty Father in Heaven’ and more in terms of…the nourishing spirit of mother earth.” [emphasis mine]
So close…it is literally written right there, heck, he wrote it, and he missed the obvious connection to a significant contributor to the slide into this kind of paganism. Must I spell it out?
I will, later.
Jones discards Bass’ views as pure pagan and says it “jettisons the transcendent God of the Bible and removes the need for a divine Savior”, yielding pagan Gnosticism.
In the biblical Gospels, Jesus’ question, “Whom do you say that I am?” gives rise to the heavenly revelation of his divine nature. For Bass, the question “plunges Jesus’ friends into …the self-query, ‘And who am I?
The Gospel of Thomas has Jesus telling Thomas not to call him Lord because they are equals. Read that again in context of the point I am making here. Hold that thought.
Knowledge of the self as divine is true salvation. Bass shows this by citing the Gnostic Book of Thomas the Contender: “…he who has known himself has already understood the depth of all things.” [emphasis mine]
How deep IS the depth of all things? How deep am I? Let’s look at what I (collectively) can do once i plum the depth of me.
As Bass puts it, “Salvation is not…escaping some dreadful fate of judgment…at the hands of a wrathful God; rather, it is being saved to ourselves.” She leaves no place for the cross or the atonement. The “Spirit” now at work since the Sixties is “a romantic spirit…[with] an ethic of self-realization.” Such moralism is salvation by works for the creation of “a global common good.” This “Awakening is actually something we can do”—delivering people from the “fear of women, Islam, pluralism, environmentalism, and homosexuality.”
Jones sees the dystopian theological future clearly.
So in this time of emerging “new universalism,” when it is becoming illegal to teach from certain Bible texts, how many “believers” will find their way into the suffocating arms of religionless Gospel-less Christianity?
And, he generally states how to attempt to avert that future. However, in doing so he illustrates why that future (as we read in prophesy) will not be averted.
In light of this “next big thing” we do need a revival—of biblical Truth, but it will not be easy. Pray that the Lord will revive his church by courageous preaching of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, the only power of God unto salvation.
So, we have a faith, Christianity. Said faith has a clearly delineated history, a descriptive narrative full of compelling stories and claims of promise of eternal life, claims of, objectively, God, and his nature, and how we as His followers are to comport in our best effort to edify Him while our earthly life persists. Our faith, in practice, does require things from us, and in the past we grounded certain things, anchored them if you will, in ritual. We can all disagree on what degree of ritual is appropriate and what degree is idolatry and a host of other functional details, but we have truly thrown out the baby Jesus in the bathwater of ritual and requirements on us for which we will be accountable. After all, being held accountable is off putting.
Let me introduce you to the Personal Jesus (TM). He IS that into YOU. Those depths of you, he has plumed them, hence he knows you and most importantly…..he understands. he understands why you FEEL as you do, and why you do the things you do, he knows your heart in other words, and the heart IS you and he is IN you, in your heart and that’s the new alpha and omega of you.
Its not religion (rules, accountability, ritual, creed, dogma)….its relationship…between you, and well, YOU. That’s right, the Personal Jesus is YOU.
Men are wondering , if accountability has been tossed out, and this new personal mantra adopted, why are we not getting all spiritual and content and zen and stuff? That’s easy, we didn’t ask for the Personal Jesus (TM), in fact something about that makes most of us very uncomfortable because he is reflected in the outward aspects of churchianity. AND, accountability for men was never dropped. The reason is, the proclivity of men is a necessary thing for the Personal Jesus to use (after you tell him your story sweety) to better understand you and empathize. He wants nothing from you, he wants only whats best for you, and that makes him (and therefore you) happy.
I often state that liberalism greases skids for feminism. This article by Jones COULD have illustrated that very handily with regard to the church. With code terms like common good used alongside references to mother god and nurture and nourish, as well as a laundry list of liberal causes, by raising evangelical feminism as part of the topic, common point of origin starts to fade into view like point perspective like two drawn parallel lines going into the distance.
But by omitting any causal reference to evangelical feminism he demonstrates the lengths to which the church will go to obfuscate and maintain the status quo gender wise or the ignorance with which they accept it, like the fish accepts wetness. In this he failed to connect dots that really do connect themselves.
[Edited to add, this writer at the same site scratches the surface of getting it, as seen in his last paragraph}