The age that saw the advent of Jesus Christ was a dark age rich in nature religions, superstitions, open intercourse with demons as well as philosophical and ethical systems encompassing the animism, sex worship and human sacrifice of the vast majority of the world to the Atomism (physical materialism) and pantheist Stoicism (spiritual materialism) of Greek nature sages, the Roman pantheon of deities and the Greek mystery religions. The darkness of sin was everywhere.
Into this putrid cesspool of unfettered libido and perverted revelation came the "light that shines in darkness" (Isaiah 9:2; John 1:5), the Son of God, fully man, fully God; the supernatural Source of life, being, personality, mind, and salvation (John 14:6) ; the self-consistent, unchanging standard of goodness, order, truth, wisdom, and knowledge (James 1:16-18; Rom. 3:4; Num. 23:19; Ezek. 24:14); the supernatural Creator-God Who from the beginning reveals Himself to mankind through His living Word, the Word by which He created all things ex nihilo (Gen. 1; Ps. 19; John 1:1-5; Col. 1:16); and Who through His Gospel of God's Grace, miraculous powers, death and resurrection cut through the intricate matrix of nature systems and across the whole web of fatalism, despair and fear of death to draw men unto Him.
In keeping with His Gospel, our Lord not only announced it but foretold the trials and tribulations that would encompass His followers.
The most lethal in our age is the spirit of apostasy that dresses evolutionary materialist and spiritually pantheist nature religions in Christian clothing in an attempt to overhaul the Christian faith.
In "Apostasy in America: An Overview of Warning Signs in Our Time," Dr. Peter Jones, Professor of Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in California writes that in order for the,
"...pagan lie to succeed, it needs to look as much like the truth as it can. Hence the imperious necessity in the malevolent eschatology of spiritual darkness for the appearance of a new hybrid--'Christian' paganism." (Jesus and the Den of Thieves, SCP Journal, Vol. 20:3-4, 1996, p. 15)
The malevolent spirit of apostasy began its work within modern “Christian” change-agents---false prophets, false messiahs, false apostles, and other workers of deceit who, though transformed into ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-15), were in reality the intellectual heirs of a way of thinking that from its inception during the Renaissance has by its' nature been a counter-cultural, anti-tradition rebellion against the supernatural Triune God and Christian theism (Matthew 7:15-23) that like authentic Christianity is a movement of spirit having its taproot and energy in Satan, the father of lies, accommodation, change, rebellion, heresy, schism, and apostasy.
In his two books, "The Occult Underground: The Dawn of the New Age" and "The Occult Establishment," historian James Webb chronicles the rise of what he calls an occult intelligentsia as it emerged out of the Renaissance. Webb sees the Renaissance as a spiritually traumatic time in which the spiritual roots of many people were shaken free of Christianity. As a result, numerous Churchmen and Christian humanists eagerly embraced the materialist/pantheist occult traditions — Hermeticism, Theosophy, Buddhism, reincarnation, karma, esoteric Cabbalism, alchemy, neo-Platonism, and Gnosticism — sweeping into Christendom at that time.
"The Occult Underground" was originally called "The Flight from Reason" because Christians were turning back to nature religions and occultism — the science of magic. Webb's main point is that since the Renaissance, a powerfully influential occult spiritual community existing at the highest levels of Church and society has been both the intelligentsia and the real powers behind what has been variously called the Progressive Underground, the Anti-Establishment, and the Anti-tradition, Counter Culture, the aim of which is twofold: first, the total destruction of the Old Order based on Christianity , and second, the creation of a socialistic kingdom of heaven (New World Order) here on earth which is to rise out of the smoldering ashes of the Old Order.
In the religious order the spirit of apostasy intends to fully possess the Christian faith and through revolutionary change-agent theologians and priests transform it completely:
“The natural parents of modern unbelief turn out to have been the guardians of belief.” Many thinking people came at last to realize, “that it was religion, not science or social change, that gave birth to unbelief. Having made God more and more like man….the shapers of religion made it feasible to abandon God, to simply believe in man.” (American Babylon, Richard John Neuhaus, p. 95)
Between 1925 and 1937, Archbishop Fulton Sheen published 36 volumes dealing with the decadence of western society as the result of its apostasy from the Triune God and its’ philosophical and Biblical-based foundations in favor of a new pagan Gnosticism with its dream of an earthly paradise, a kingdom of an immanent (materialist/pantheist) god-force built by god-men here on earth. Thus said Sheen, modern atheism was not only an esoteric philosophy,
"... preached by learned professors at Harvard and Yale; it was a new messianism emanating from Moscow and threatening to cover the face of the earth." (Great Catholic Books Newsletter; Volume II, Number 2, Fulton J. Sheen Issue)
Pointing to modern evolutionary thinking as the primary doctrine underlying modern atheism, a synthesis of all heresies called Modernism by Pope Pius in his 1907 encyclical “Pascendi Dominici Gregis,” Sheen wrote:
"Modern philosophy has seen the birth of a new nation of God...It is God in evolution. God 'is' not. He 'becomes.' In the beginning was not the Lord, but in the beginning was 'Movement.' From this movement God is born by successive creations. As the world progresses, He progresses; as the world acquires perfection, He acquires perfection. (Moreover) man is a necessary step in the evolution of God. Just as man came from the beast, God will come from man..." (ibid)
Communism: Effect of Judgment
Regarding the cult of Communism, Sheen argues that it is the price of our sins. Communism, the "apocalypse of violence" began in the heart of Christendom; it emerged from rebellion against the supernatural Triune God and true Christian theism. Its philosophy is German,
"... its sociology French, its economics English. Karl Marx, its founder, patched the dialectics of Hegel on to the materialism of Feuerbach, to the sociology of Proudhon, to the economic problems born of liberalism, and out of it came the new gospel which has now turned upon its creators to torment them for the past. (Communism and the Conscience of the West, New York, 1948, pg. 52)
The cult of Communism is thus both an effect and a judgment on Western civilization,
"...it was born of our unfulfilled Christian duties, our abandonment of the Father's House in favor of materialism; a judgment because it reveals how wrong has been our thinking, how evil have been our deeds." (Great Catholic Books Newsletter; Volume II, Number 2, Fulton J. Sheen Issue)
Ultimately, Marxist Communism's materialism was unappealing both to Russians and Western and American civilization, so whereas occult spiritual pantheism had previously flowed beneath atheist-materialist-communism and neo-pagan Nazism during the twentieth century, today that order is quickly reversing. From positions of great power within the Church, seminaries, global interfaith movements and the U.N., occult spiritual pantheists are brazenly striding onto the world-stage in full public view while materialism slowly fades to black.
Years ago, long-time Vatican observer Malachi Martin (1921-1999) described a situation in which the Curia is divided between 'progressive' (evolutionary pantheists) and 'traditionalists;' between adherents of evolutionary conceptions such as Teilhard de Chardin's quasi-Hindu conception, pro-abortionists, women and 'gay' priests, homosexuality and openness to non-Christian nature religions and philosophies and those who oppose such an agenda. According to Martin, 'progressives' hold all the important positions of power, and so are able to bring about a major revolution that if unchecked will constitute,
"....one of the most spectacular expressions of apostasy in the modern era, dressed up in all the traditional robes and much of the terminology of Christianity but denying its essence." (ibid, Jones, p. 17)
As for America's Evangelical Church, the devilish spirit of apostasy has for many years been entering through the open door of accommodation. Decades ago Francis Schaeffer perceived this devilish spirit already at work amongst evangelical Protestants. In The Great Evangelical Disaster he wrote:
”Accomodation, accommodation. How the mindset of accommodation grows and expands…For the evangelical accommodation to the world of our age represents the removal of the last barrier against the breakdown of our culture. And with the final removal of this barrier will come social chaos and the rise of authoritarianism in some form to restore order.” (p. 401)
Schaeffer rebuked evangelical compromisers, warning them that to accommodate,
“…to the world spirit about us in our age is the most gross form of worldliness in the proper definition of the word.” (ibid)
In “Accommodating the Culture,” Pastor Larry DeBruyn writes that the Apostle John warns against compromise, saying that whoever accommodates their Christian faith with the reigning culture’s system is guilty of adultery via the lust of the eyes (materialism), the lust of the flesh (eroticism) and the pride of life (egoism):
“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)
Despite whatever feel-good pop rock musical ecstasy and other sensory feel-good passions might be "ginned up" during anti-traditional worship celebrations in compromised churches said DeBruyn, adulterated worship:
"... does not love the Father—let it be repeated, does NOT love the Father! (1 John 2:15-17) James tells us that the Christians’ snuggling-up with the pagan culture (And there’s no question that we’ve become a pagan nation.) is hostility toward God (James 4:4)." (Accommodating the Culture, DeBruyn, Herescope, March 21, 2013)
Accommodation to the world spirit is hostility toward God thus it brings collapse, which is why the compromising evangelical church is on the verge “within ten years—of a major collapse….” warned Michael Spencer in “The Coming Evangelical Collapse.”
Collapse will follow the deterioration of the accommodating mainline Protestant world,
“…and that will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West. I believe this evangelical collapse will happen with astonishing statistical speed; that within two generations of where we are now evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its current occupants, leaving in its wake nothing that can revitalize evangelicals to their former “glory.”
"The response of evangelicals to this new environment will be a revisiting of the same rhetoric and reactions we’ve seen since the beginnings of the current culture war in the 1980s. The difference will be that millions of evangelicals will quit: quit their churches, quit their adherence to evangelical distinctives and quit resisting the rising tide of the culture." (internetmonk.com)
The spirit of apostasy is also entering the Church through American New Testament scholarship. Dr. Jones reports that it is introducing apostasy into the Church's scriptures, and this is just one warning sign among very many others pointing to the coming of age of pagan spirituality dressed in Christian terminology but denying its essence, its' living waters.
As with Malachi Martin, Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, sees a growing chasm in the evangelical church. In his book, “The Disappearance of God” he reports that on one side are the faithful traditionalists, on the other, the anti-traditional Emergent and self-autonomous contemporary church, which defines itself over and against Traditionalism, or Authentic Christianity.
The contemporary church is strongly attracted to the counter-cultural, anti-tradition modernist kind of Christianity proposed by the Emerging Church, whose leaders include Brian McLaren, Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, and the spiritually pantheist Rob Bell. As the spirit of anti-tradition, defiance, change, heresy and apostasy energizes the Emergent Church, and the contemporary mind embraces its' pseudo-theology it is therefore uncomfortable with fundamental doctrine, said Mohler. It prefers "change""progress" "novelty" "tolerance" "inclusion" and "feelings," especially whatever "feels good." It rejects discipline and wants humanistic feel-good messages and diversionary entertainment rather than expository sermons and sound teaching. Since its' deity is a dead-god of "all-inclusive love" it never speaks of wrath and judgment, hence hell, sin, and repentance are not just unwelcome, but are in fact "intolerable" to the self-autonomous contemporary mind.
Dr. Mohler warns Christians within apostatizing churches that Authentic Christianity is very narrowly defined. All Christians across a vast denominational range who hold fast to the fundamental doctrines are Authentic Christians while all who do not are not by definition Christian. Fundamental doctrines are:
"The Trinity (including full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ); the authenticity of Scripture (the Revealed Word of God); the Incarnation (death, burial, resurrection); justification by faith; sin (humanities willful revolt against God the Father); the traditional doctrine of Hell, and the absolute sovereignty of God the Father."
It is characteristic of our age that relatively few churches vigorously engage in actively teaching the fundamental doctrines as well as fulfilling the biblical mandate. (2 Tim. 4:3, Rev. 20: 1-3)
The biblical mandate where workers of deceit are concerned is twofold:
1. Do not hold to any erroneous doctrine or concept. Because faithful Christians cannot protect themselves from false teachings unless the evils surrounding them are exposed they are to actively contend for the faith once given and by way of apologetics protect the Church from contagion by vigorously exposing the origins, logical fallacies, double-thinking, deceptions, delusions, errors, and tactics of the enemies of Christ.
2. We are to have compassion and charity for those who are enmeshed in false teachings with the primary objective of winning souls for whom Jesus Christ died.
Archbishop Sheen summarized the meaning of the biblical mandate when he argued that just as faithful Christians cannot protect themselves from false teachings unless the evils surrounding them are exposed, neither can those who are enmeshed in them be saved unless their disease is made known to them. Only when their disease is made known to them can they finally be converted to Jesus Christ. (Religion without God, 1928; Old Errors and New Labels, 1931; Moods and Truths, 1932)
Burgeoning Cults: Effect of Judgment
In the updated version of Dr. Walter Martin's "The Kingdom of the Cults," we read that in our own age, the kingdom of cults,
"....stretches throughout the world, its membership in the millions, with over seventeen million cult members in the United States alone." Cults are progressing at an alarming rate and speed, and many utilize the methods of Christianity and of New Testament propagation to woo, "converts from professional Christian fellowships---Protestant as well as Roman Catholic." (p. 23, 483)
Of the increasing stable of cults and false teachings analyzed in Martin's book are Jehovah's Witness, Christian Science, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Spiritism, the Theosophical Society, Bahai, Unitarian Universalism, Scientology, New Age, and the Jesus of the cults.
As with Communism, the kingdom of cults is the result of our sin, of our unfulfilled Christian duties and is therefore both an effect and a judgment on Western and American civilization. With the exception of a few churches vigorously engaged in actively teaching the fundamental doctrines, defending the faith through apologetics as well as fulfilling the biblical mandate (2 Cor. 11:13-15) most churches today, if not apostate are lethargic and woefully delinquent, thus while the average Christian knows what he believes, he is unable to articulate why he believes it, neither can he protect himself and his children against false teachings such as evolution:
"The clergy is largely at fault in this respect because they do not always emphasize the teaching ministry of the pulpit, but rather settle for an evangelistic emphasis with very little doctrinal depth.." (The Kingdom of the Cults (updated), Walter Martin, Ravi Zacharias, General Editor, p. 483)
Strange but Just Judgment
Having left unfulfilled its' Christian duties, America's church has fallen into lethargy and apostasy, hence we see the strange yet just judgment of God upon the Christian church in that He is allowing,
"..the forces of darkness to succeed with the methods of light while denying the source of light and life, the Gospel of Jesus Christ." (ibid, p. 483)
Our age is an age of self-worship and defiance against God issuing into heresy, open apostasy and occult oppression. Space does not allow but for passing reference to the growing network of syncretic interfaith movements spreading like wildfire into unsuspecting evangelical churches. Nor does it allow for much to be said about the rapid infiltration into the evangelical church of occult psycho-spiritual technologies dressed in Christian terminology that open Christians up to dark forces and demonic influence or of the growing network of powerful global agencies espousing syncretistic pagan spirituality.
The malevolent spirit of apostasy began its work right in the heart of Christendom, which today is a vast sea of darkness punctuated here and there by small shining lights. Today it is the case that most of the leadership of apostasy comes from Christian America, and this is why so very many churches over and across the entire denominational spectrum are like cisterns without living water. But people attending such churches cannot see this and no longer know what they have lost,
"..... much less that they themselves are lost....The landscape is changing, the skies are darkening — and this is something we know with a... spiritual sense, a spiritual urgency." (Albert Mohler, The Disappearance of God, p. 158)