Bernie Diaz, September 17, 2019
At the risk of cultural sacrilege, I might in lieu of recent news, rewrite the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s classic folk song, Blowin’ in the Wind, in the first verse as:
How many roads must a weak theologian stumble
and walk down
Before you call him or her a theologian?
How many seas of reason must a white dove sail Before she sleeps in the sand?
As we posted recently (Christ Alone or the American Gospel?; 8/21), we noted that a feature documentary has done an excellent job of exposing the false and dangerous doctrine found in the ‘Word of Faith’ or Prosperity Gospel.Much of the exposition of that movement therein features the mainstreaming of a superficial, man-centered and ear-tickling rather than God-centered gospel and theology.
Within a week or so, two news items- largely hidden under the mainstream news media radar, illustrated the type of theology inherent among so many celebrity ‘theologians’ or famous faces attempting to espouse religious wisdom today, who dine at the spiritual salad bar and buffet table of religious syncretism, believing in a “little bit of this religion and a little bit of that one.”
The first to dine, almost tragically came in the wake of Hurricane Dorian’s devastation of the Bahamian islands, which has claimed at least 50 lives and left 70,000 people homeless.
No less a theologian that current Democratic Presidential hopeful, author and spiritualist Marianne Williamson made a rather novel, if unorthodox suggestion for dealing with that storm – using “the power of the mind” to will the storm elsewhere.
I was initially conflicted over whether to laugh or cry in response to this suggestion, but thankfully deferred to the Biblical admonition to “weep with those that weep” (Ro. 12) in the wake of the storm.
In a since-deleted tweet, Ms. Williamson, a former spiritual guru to Oprah Winfrey to no surprise, suggested that visualizing the storm’s retreat could be an effective way to change its course. “The Bahamas, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas … may all be in our prayers now,” she tweeted, according to images posted by several Twitter users as the storm made landfall and threatened the east coast.
“Millions of us seeing Dorian turn away from land is not a wacky idea; it is a creative use of the power of the mind. Two minutes of prayer, visualization, meditation for those in the way of the storm.”
I could not have made up such new-age and mystical drivel had I tried. The response in fact to many if not most rational human beings was such that her campaign was forced to later explain that the tweet was not intended to be taken literally. Oh.
Her follow-up statement read, “Everyone please pray for the people of the Bahamas, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. May the peace of God be upon them, may they and their families remain safe and their hearts be comforted as they endure the storm.”
Interesting. First, Ms. Willliamson, a long-shot though not atypical liberal candidate for the 2020 Presidential election in many respects, suggested we visualize or dream away Dorian from the U.S., then suggested in the midst of self-imposed ridicule that we pray to God – a God she clearly does not know, for help and peace.
When the author of the best-seller of A Course in Miracles was asked who Jesus Christ was and is, she replied: “Jesus was a human being who while on earth completely self-actualized and fulfilled in all ways the potential glory that lies within us all. He became one with the Essence and Christ Spirit that is in all of us. In that sense, he is our evolutionary elder brother. He demonstrated our destiny.”
She said when asked if Jesus was the only Son of God, “Hogwash! First of all, I believe we are all Sons of God, and it is our destiny to be as Jesus.” All righty then. She’s got my evangelical vote!
I wonder why if Ms. Williamson, heresies aside, as a renowned teacher of self-actualization, fulfilling her ‘God-like glory’ that resides within her, didn’t just take out Hurricane Dorian by herself?
Which begs the question, “Why don’t any self-proclaimed anointed, prosperous and faithful teachers and preachers of the word of faith movement heal the infirmed in most of their local hospitals?”
Similarly, Alex Trebek, the Canadian host of that fine television quiz show Jeopardy!, returned to television after having been diagnosed with Stage Four pancreatic cancer and undergoing chemotherapy.
Despite the ominous long-term prognosis of this stage and type of cancer, Trebek remained optimistic, saying in a magazine interview, “I’m going to fight this and I’m going to keep working, keep the faith and we’ll win. We’ll get it done.”
However, at the salad bar of faith, “Keep the faith” can mean a lot of different things to different people. Is this a case of a Hollywood celebrity unthinkingly using religious language at a vulnerable moment in life? Or does Trebek’s spiritual biography suggest something more significant in?
Little do most know, that Trebek, now 78, grew up Catholic in Canada, grew up attending a Catholic boarding school, but later rejected and today is a critic of the Roman Catholic religion, all the while maintaining evangelical connections through the World Vision relief organization and supporting his wife Jean, an active member of the North Hollywood Church of Religious Science, a church born out of the New Thought movement of the 1920s.
According to one description from a published report, Religious Science teaches that the “individual human mind is an expression of the Universal Mind, and the universe is its material manifestation. Man and nature are, therefore, like the God who is their true being, considered to be fundamentally good, and apparent evil stems from ignorance of the highest identity.”
This entrée at the religious salad bar tastes a lot like Marianne Williamson’s above doesn’t it. Speaking of Romanism…
The Pope – Ashamed of the Gospel?
Our second headline worthy example of theology ‘blowin in the wind’, comes from the Vatican in Rome, which just made a decision to implement a document affirming that the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God.”
That statement issued without correction, was tantamount to “promoting the neglect of the first Commandment” and a “betrayal of the Gospel,” according to Catholic Bishop Athanasius Schneider. In an interview discussing a Vatican-backed initiative to promote the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,” this official in Astana, Kazakhstan, said that “however noble such aims as ‘human fraternity’ and ‘world peace’ may be, they cannot be promoted at the cost of relativizing the truth of uniqueness of Jesus Christ and His Church.”
Amazingly this Catholic bishop is on to something, when he said that the spread of this document in its uncorrected form would “paralyze the Church’s mission” and “suffocate her burning zeal to evangelize all men.” He added: “Attempts at peace are destined for failure if they are not proposed in the name of Jesus Christ.”
Indeed, it is the exclusivity of Jesus and his gospel (Jo. 14:6; Acts 4:12), that continues to be a tough dish to swallow for the salad bar and buffet sensibilities of the “Co-Exist” bumper sticker and morally deist crowd.
It is also long past time in which Biblical Christians admit that the Protestant Reformation of five centuries ago has not completely ended. The evidence is clear that Roman Catholicism and its doctrine preaches what the apostle Paul called and condemned as “another gospel,” when referring to the religious and false Judaizers of his day (Gal. 1:6-10). Our fight for the one truth faith remains.
The passage from the Vatican inciting controversy reads:
Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept.
While the first part of the passage correctly affirms the non-coercive nature of the gospel and Christian faith, it clearly rejects the exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus Christ, when it opens the door to God accepting adherents of any religion other than Christianity, where redemption is found by faith alone in Christ alone.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10, ESV)
But then again, Rome and the Papacy, like many other seeker-sensitive church growth movements, have held to a long tradition of expanding its theological convictions and boundaries, in order to absorb into its fold as many religious dissidents of other faiths as possible.
Indeed, according to Bishop Schneider, in implementing this document without correcting its error on the diversity of religions (which the Vatican has failed to do), “Men in the Church not only betray Jesus Christ as the only Savior of mankind and the necessity of His Church for eternal salvation, but also commit a great injustice and sin against love of neighbor.”
Aside from being informed, ready and alert for false doctrine, to the extent of being prepared to continue to evangelize the lost that actually claim to be Christian, all Biblical disciples can do to is pray for those who Paul described as, “preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed (condemned).”