In "What the Hell? Vatican caught on damnation of non-believers" Jonathan Owen reports that with a new Pope in place, the Catholic Church is keen to portray itself as open-minded, tolerant, modern and relevant. But as Owen argues, a recent suggestion by Pope Francis that atheists could also be "redeemed" by God has led the church to return to medieval rhetoric with an official Vatican spokesman forced to clarify that non-believers are indeed destined for hell. (thereporter.com.au, 29th May 2013)
In a thinly veiled rebuke of the new Pope, Vatican spokesman Father Thomas Rosica made it abundantly clear that merely being "good" is not enough to avoid going to hell. On the issue of "salvation" he remarked:
"They cannot be saved who, knowing the Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her." (ibid)
On his Friendly Atheist blog, Hemant Mehta wrote:
"We all knew that sense of one-ness and actions-speak-louder-than-prayers wasn't going to last very long." "Atheists, according to Christians, are going to hell unless we accept Christ's divinity. We already knew that. It was still an unusual and welcome gesture from the Pope to recognise that everyone, regardless of beliefs, can do good and 'be saved' - at least it was a step up from what we're used to hearing." (ibid)
Owen's arrogant charge that the Vatican has been "caught" red-handed is entirely reasonable given its widespread acceptance of both Darwin's evolutionary materialism (all that exists is matter and energy in motion) and Teilhard de Chardin's spiritualized Hindu-pantheist conception (matter is divine spirit and evolution now lives and is conscious of itself).
"Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on." Proverbs 4:14
Ideas have consequences, and these neo-pagan conceptions have disastrous ones, starting with God's Truth. God's Truth is no longer immutable. It is no longer what His will approves, what His holiness entails, and what His mind knows:
"A biblical perspective of truth also necessarily entails the recognition that ultimate truth is an objective reality. Truth exists outside of us and remains the same regardless of how we may perceive it. Truth by definition is as fixed and constant as God is immutable." (The Truth War, John MacArthur, p. xx)
Ultimate Truth as our objective reality has been cast down by evolutionary conceptions and supplanted by man's rationalizations and irrational feelings passed off as truth. (Philippians 2:21) This being the case, the Genesis account of creation ex nihilo is no longer true, man is no longer the three part spiritual image bearer of the living triune God, there is no transcendent dimension outside of the space/time dimension, there was no fall, man is not a sinner in desperate need of our Savior, and the idea of eternal damnation is a baseless, hateful notion based in unscientific medieval rhetoric
At the root of the modernist and/or postmodernist, pluralistic, culturally relevant, anti-tradition Church, be it Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or Protestant, is defiance of God, pride unlimited, a yearning for the stones (earthly bread) of this world rather than heavenly manna, and a desire for power with the assumption of divine attributes matched by a driving determination to utterly transform the Christian Church and manipulate and shape mankind's fate.
Modernism emerged out of the Enlightenment, a religious, philosophical, intellectual and cultural revolution that elevated the omniscient mind of man--his will to power, reason and omnipotent criticism over the mind of the Triune God and His Revealed Word.
Puffed up with pride Modernists sought scientific and rationalistic explanations for everything and lauded the superiority of the empirical method as the only reliable way to determine what man can know, thus they foolishly dismissed the idea of immutable truth, moral absolutes, the supernatural dimension, miracles, creeds, doctrines and even man's soul. All of this they stupidly derided as blind faith and superstition and relegated to the dustbin of history. According to John MacArthur:
"Those presuppositions gave birth to Darwinism, which in turn spawned a string of humanistic ideas and worldviews. Most prominent among them were several atheistic, rationalistic, Utopian philosophies - including Marxism, fascism, socialism, communism and theological liberalism." (p. 9)
Overconfident rationalism, human conceit, arrogance, idolatrous men usurping the throne of God---all of this characterized the Modern era which finally issued in organized hatred of God---a universal totalitarian atheism that unleashed catastrophic destruction and rivers of human blood during the 20th century. Depending on the researcher, death totals range from 120,000,000 to 350,000,000 men, women, and children.
At some unmarked point during the last twenty years America and the West moved out of the Modern Age into the Postmodern Age and with Pontius Pilate, postmodern agnostics, atheists, pagans, occult New Agers and their faithless "Christian" counterparts derisively ask, "What is truth?" (John 18:37-38) and claim that we can't be certain about anything, including God's self-revelation through the scriptures.
Postmodern Pontius Pilate, Peter Drucker, played a key role in the development of the contemporary 'new way of doing church' formulated by Bill Hybels, Rick Warren and countless other contemporary church growth gurus that is slavishly cloned by thousands upon thousands of infatuated pastors here and around the world.
In "Peter Drucker's Mega-Church Legacy" Herescope (Discernment Research Group) reports:
"One perhaps unexpected example of Druckerism is the modern mega-church movement. He suggested to evangelical pastors that they create a more customer-friendly environment (hold back on the overt religious symbolism and provide plenty of facilities). Bill Hybels, the pastor of the 17,000-strong Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, has a quotation from Mr Drucker hanging outside his office: 'What is our business? Who is our customer? What does the customer consider value?'" ("Trusting the teacher in the grey-flannel suit" The Economist, Nov 17th 2005, Herescope, November 18, 2005)
"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness.... Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!" Isaiah 5:20-21
The Drucker-style consumer and business church model grows by opening the front door of the Church to pagans, atheists, and agnostics, and to make them feel comfortable it de-emphasizes immutable truth, moral absolutes, Original Sin, hell, confession, repentance, true spiritual growth, apologetics, reverence and traditional hymns and proposes instead an irreverent, laid-back horizontal approach tailored for the carnal appetites and felt-needs of the "unchurched and dechurched" rather than for the spiritually-mature.
This way of reasoning is in keeping with the postmodern mentality that believes that as Christian theism is no longer a matter of Divine Revelation it can be deconstructed and changed so as to reflect human experience, emotions, desires, and appetites.
The driving ambition to deconstruct and deceptively change God's Word means that church growth gurus and like-minded pastors are actually revolutionary change-agents---transformational leaders, the new Prometheans who hold in contempt statements of faith, appeals to transcendent Authority, definition, rules, processes and doctrinal boundaries and reject any concept of certain, objective, and universal knowledge as well as all of the spiritually mature believers who profess them.
"...all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned..." 2 Timothy 3:1-14
Because the most spiritually mature and discerning are resistant to change they are disparaged, marginalized and ridiculed as 'traditionalists' and demonized as divisive, narrow-minded, confrontational troublemakers and eventually forced to leave. Bob Buford's widely read church growth management manual, Leading Congregational Change (LCC), promoted by Buford's Leadership Network, offers a popular strategy for dealing with odious faithful traditionalists heartily endorsed by Rick Warren who tells church-growth advocates that this is the book they should read before changing anything.
Buford defines the spiritually mature thinkers and discerners in every Church as "pockets of resistance" that must be dealt with by change-agent pastors and team members:
"Address Specific Pockets of Resistance. Resistance is the 'opposite reaction' to change.... [It] can come in many different forms—confrontational or passive-aggressive, from known troublemakers or loyal supporters, as a result of a specific change or of an incorrect perception...." (Leading Congregational Change, pp. 90-91, from "Spirit-Led or Purpose Driven?" pt. 4, Berit Kjos)
"My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent." Proverbs 1:10
The successful change operation depends on persuading the less spiritually mature majority to submit to a "new way" of doing church. In this new model, the congregation of individual minds is reduced to an emotions-fueled collective unconscious--a belly sated by the bread of this world--- guided by a cheerleader pastor who is himself the servant of a "Christianized" version of George Orwell's totalitarian Big Brother. This "new" Big Brother works through a vast interlocking network with tentacles that stretch for example, from the much promoted National Back to Church Sunday event to the Billion Soul Network, Global Church, Leadership Network, World Leaders Group, Global Leadership Conference, Bill Hybels global empire (the Willow Creek Association) to Rick Warren's personal empire and his monumentally ambitious U.N. approved P.E.A.C.E Plan to New World Order elitist Tony Blair and his syncretic interfaith initiative:
"Tony Blair has just embarked upon a project to further the cause of global governance, and he is intending to use religion as the vehicle. Called the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, its purpose is to create momentum for achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals. His role is not unlike that of John Foster Dulles nearly a century ago, who worked to create 'an international ethos' [through the Church] which would be essential as any foundation for any lasting international political structure.' Commenting on this, historian Dr. Martin Erdmann wrote, 'The first responsibility of the Church would thus be to inform the general public about international affairs.' He explained how 'the churches would need to unite their forces to transform the present sovereignty system into a world order system wherever possible.'" (Herescope quoting from Building the Kingdom of God on Earth, 2005, p. 113 ibid Kjos)
While the National Back to Church Sunday campaign holds out the promise of something wonderful, in back of this campaign is the Billion Soul Network. (Back to Church Sunday Engages with Billion Soul Network, backtochurch.com)
In demonstration of its' syncretic spirit, consumer and business mentality and globalist goals, in Feb 2012 the Billion Soul Network issued an email containing ‘A Special Message From Dr. Ken Blanchard.’ Blanchard, whose spiritual leanings are toward occult New Age spirituality and spiritism, was promoting the 2012 World Leaders Conference presented by World Leaders Group. Featured speakers included Tony Blair, Cokie Roberts, Ken Blanchard, Tony Dungy, Bill Hybels, Henry Cloud, Patrick Lencioni, Craig Groschel, James Blanchard, Erwin McManus, Mark Floyd, and Tim Sanders. (Watching: A “Billion Souls” and the World Leaders Conference, standupfortruth.com, 2012/03)
Despite its' syncretic spirit, man-centered religion and other obvious bad aspects, the Billion Soul Network describes itself as a God-birthed movement, though of course it doesn't tell us what "God" supposedly birthed its movement. Its' aim is missional, (a favorite word of NAR and syncretic global church growth advocates) thus its aim is to ‘help plant five million new churches for a billion soul harvest’ and ‘finish the Great Commission by AD 2100." In the spirit of syncretism, the Billion Soul Network asserts,
‘We can achieve more together than we ever could alone by synergizing our efforts to bring back the King.’ (billion.tv)
In this light we can understand why church-growth guru Bill Hybels polls unbelievers and tailors Sunday morning service to their expressed needs. What unbelievers want is a "new" church, an anti-traditional culturally relevant place where they can feel unthreatened by "hymns" and harsh words such as "sin" and "hell." What they want are the stones of this world transformed into bread, thus Hybels makes sure they are entertained in a creative, humorous, culturally relevant atmosphere:
" ... a place designed for [the unbeliever]. We have put a lot of time and thought into what non-churched people want from a Sunday morning service. And we have concluded that they basically want four things: (1) anonymity; (2) truth presented at an introductory level; (3) time to 'make a decision'; and (4) excellence in programming, creativity, humor, contemporary [worship], relevancy, etc." ( Hybels' 1990 message: "Who We Are at Willow Creek.")
Thousands upon thousands of immature believers and carnal people attend Willow Creek's "seeker sensitive services" where they can dress down and dine on earthly bread without guilt or shame. There is no room for heavenly manna in Hybel's Willow Creek empire-- no uncomfortable sermons against sin, no hymns, nothing about judgment, and no call for repentance.
Instead fleshly appetites are lavishly sated by a 20-piece "Christian" rock band with laser lights and an elaborate sound system, energizing pop-rock singers, multi-media displays, plays, stories and thin gruel punctuated by jokes geared to those who are investigating Christianity. To further entice the seeker-sensitive crowd there are darts, basketball, and coloring for the youngsters, a massive food court and a fully-out-fitted exercise gym. (Bill Hybels, Biblical Discernment Ministries)
As is the case with all postmodern 'new church' formulas, the Hybels model weaves the reigning pagan system of the world with the sacred and the dark with light, thereby compromising the Revealed Word and rejecting the proposition that truth "by definition is as fixed and constant as God is immutable." (MacArthur, p. xx)
"...do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.... Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good." Romans 12:2, 9
As its focus is on supplying unbelievers with earthly bread, there is no heavenly bread, hence no possibility of renewing the spirit of the mind (Ephesians 4:23-24):
"The spirit is the human spirit, having its seat in and directing the mind...The renewal takes place, not in the mind, but in the spirit of it. "The change is not in mind psychologically, either in its essence or in its operation; and neither is it in the mind as if it were a superficial change of opinion either on points of doctrine or practice: but it is in the spirit of the mind; in that which gives mind both its bent and its materials of thought. It is not simply in the spirit as if it lay there in dim and mystic quietude; but it is in the spirit of the mind; in the power which, when changed itself, radically alters the entire sphere and business of the inner mechanism" (Vincent's Word Studies).
In the final analysis, the trendy, culturally relevant, tolerant "new" churches over and across the entire denominational spectrum throughout America and around the world are being changed from places of life into places of death. They are becoming trendy, culturally relevant mausoleums of death. (Isaiah 66:3-4)