Pagan Spirituality in The Culture, Churches, and Military and A Biblical Response

Welcome, my friends, to the program.  Glad you’re with us.  This is Brannon Howse here.  Before we go to the auditorium of a recent Worldview Weekend for this week’s presentation, let me bring you up to speed on some of the things happening in America and around the world through the lens of a Biblical worldview.


Have you noticed the rise of pagan spirituality in America?  Well, it’s growing, and it’s growing fast.  In fact, the now all-time grossing film is Avatar.  Now, what is this film Avatar all about?  It’s about pantheism.  It’s about all is God and God is all.  We’re all one.  We’re all part of each other, and when you die, you go back into nature.  Reincarnation.  Pagan spiritual growth.  Pagan spirituality.  That’s what this is.  Pagan spirituality is the worship of nature.  Hmm.  Does the Bible talk about that?  Oh, yes.  Many times.


In fact, Romans 1:25 says that, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator who is blessed forevermore.”  See, I believe from studying Romans 1, there are five consequences for rejecting God.  Five national consequences  for rejecting God.  I’ll deal with that in a future program, but one of those five consequences for rejecting God over and over and over is number one.


This – Romans 1:25.  “They worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator who is blessed forevermore.”  The worship of nature.  Pagan spirituality.  Are we seeing that in America as we’ve rejected God over and over and over?  Yes, we’re seeing the rise of the worship of nature.  Pagan spirituality.  Now, don’t take my word for it alone.  Here’s an article out of  The Denver Post.  This is dated June of 2008.  The Denver Post.  It says, “Neo-paganism Growing Quickly.”  You know what it says?  That pagan spirituality is doubling in America every 18 months.  Pagan spirituality is doubling in America every 18 months.


Well, indeed it is.  Here’s another article right out of The Washington Times.  It’s entitled, “Americans Carve Out Their Own Religion.”  It’s dated December 11, 2009.  Americans carve out their own religions.  Listen to what this articles in The Washington Times says.  “When it comes to religion, many Americans like the mix-and-match, build your own approach.”  In other words, pagan spirituality, or what we know as, or have known for many years as the New Age movement, is more commonly referred to now as neo-spirituality, neo meaning new.


The new spirituality, or neo-spirituality, or pagan spirituality.  It’s what Oprah Winfrey’s been promoting and many others.  Shirley Maclaine for many, many years.  But it’s a smorgasbord.  It’s a spiritual buffet.  Pick and chose.  Build your own religion.  Take a little from this religion, a little from that religion, make your own religion.  And that’s what The Washington Times is saying.


The article goes onto say to say, “Large numbers attend services of traditions other than their own, and blend Christianity with eastern and New Age beliefs a survey finds.”  Did you hear what he just said?  A blend of Christianity with eastern and New Age beliefs.

You know, I believe that is the apostasy of the last day.  The falling away from traditionally held Biblical truths.


Here’s another articles based on that very same survey.  It comes out of USA Today.  This one is dated, when is the date on this?  Well, I don’t see the date on this, but it’s based on that same study from Pew Research.  It’s titled, “More U.S. Christians Mix in Eastern New Age Religion.”  More Christians mix in eastern New Age religions.  Listen to what the article says.  It says, “Devotion to one, clear faith is fading.”  Devotion to one, clear faith is fading.  That’s the belief really of universalism.  All roads lead to God.  Or pluralism.  All religions and beliefs are equal.


The article goes onto say, “These findings all point towards a spiritual and religious openness.”  They’re open.  Why are they so open?  Because we have overdosed on non-judgementalism.  We don’t want to say that, “Hey, the exclusivity of Jesus Christ in John 14:6.  Jesus said that, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’”  We don’t want to say that.  That’s not inclusive.  That is not open-minded.  That is harsh and judgmental to preach the exclusivity of Jesus Christ.  So, they’re looking for a religious faith that is politically correct.    


What the article goes onto say, and this is very scary.  “Despite Americans overwhelming belief to someone they call God,” 92 percent have an allegiance to someone they call God, the articles says, “In Pews 2008 religious landscape survey, 70 percent said many religions can lead to eternal life.”  Many religions can lead to eternal life.  Hmm.  Genesis 3.  Did God really say – this is what this is.  It’s the lie of Satan.  “Aww, don’t worry about it.  All roads lead to God.”  Pluralism.  The acceptance of pagan spirituality, and 68 percent said that, “There’s more than one true way to interpret the teachings of my religion.”  The article went onto say, “In short, we believe,” meaning the American people, “We believe our own experiences are authentic and ‘no authority’ can say otherwise.”


That is so postmodern.  They’re saying that we believe our own experiences validate what we believe.  That’s postmodernism.  Truth and reality are created by man and not by God.  How do you know it’s true?  If  it works for you.  If you have a religious experience and it works for you, then it’s true for you.  You can know if something is true by having an experience.  That’s why Richard Cimino and Don Lattin writing in their best-selling book, Shopping for Faith said, “Religious experience is replacing religious doctrine.”  People are more interested in a religious experience than studying Biblical doctrine.  Throw Biblical doctrine out and what do you end up with?  Neo-spirituality.  Pagan spirituality.  Worship of nature, eastern mysticism mixed in with Christianity.  It really doesn’t matter.


Here is what an article in The Tennessean had to say.  This was an article written and published in The Tennessean, written by Bonna Johnson.  This was September 14, 2008.  Now, this is particularly interesting.  “Meditation Goes Mainstream” is the name of the article.  Meditation goes mainstream.  “As many mainstream Christians discover practice, others say its takes focus off God.”  What are they talking about?  How Christians are incorporating New Age teaching, or mysticism, into the Christian religion.


Listen to what this article says.  Just read a couple highlights from the articles.  Here’s what it says.  “30 minutes of meditation first thing in the morning completely changed his life says Scott, who also meditates with members of Self Realization Fellowship in Berry Hill, which incorporates reading from the Bible and the Hindu holy book in their Sunday services.”  So, we’re going to read from the Hindu holy book, and we’re going to read from the Bible.  And, yet, we’ll also call ourselves Christians at the same time.  Hmm.


Does the book of 1 John have anything to say about this?  Yeah.  Ten signs, ten hallmarks of a true convert.  One of them is you don’t accept false teaching.  You don’t follow that which is contrary to the teaching of the Word of God.  How can you call yourself a Christian when you’re bringing in false teaching and mixing it with Christianity?  It ceases to be Christianity when you do that.


The article goes onto say, “For Carolyn Goddard of Nashville, she was drawn to centering prayer, a form of contemplative prayer, to deepen her connection with God.”  Now, what it centering prayer?  What is contemplative prayer?  I’ve been speaking about this for many years.  What it is, is transcendental meditation.  Transcendental meditation is all it is.  But we’ve given it new, more mainstream names likes centering prayer, breath prayers, contemplative prayer.  And many people who claim to be Christians are practicing contemplative prayer.


Now, I’ve had people say, “Well, Brannon, contemplative prayer – that is not the same thing as transcendental meditation.”  Well, I know it is because I’ve studied it in-depth.  But again, you don’t have to take my word for it.  Even this article goes onto say this.  “A Colorado monk revived this ancient ritual of resting in God in the 1970s as an alternative for Christians lured to transcendental meditation.”  There you go.  Even the article in The Tennessean acknowledges what I’ve been saying, and what some Christians have been saying.  No, I was wrong.  No, I wasn’t wrong.  This secular newspaper even knows what I’m saying to be true.


Which is what?  “Contemplative prayer was revived by a Colorado monk in the 1970s as an alternative for Christians lured to transcendental meditation.”  You see, contemplative prayer, breath prayers, centering prayers, which is really transcendental meditation, comes from the eastern religions.  And it’s really the idea of emptying one’s mind.  Meditation comes from the Hindu religion and is about emptying one’s mind.  Making the natural world disappear, and merging into the spiritual world.  Making the natural world disappear, and entering only into the spiritual realm.  Emptying your mind.


Biblical meditation is not about emptying one’s mind.  Biblical meditation is about filling one’s mind with scripture.  Biblical mediation is about the filling of one’s mind with scripture.  Look, I’ve got a friend of mine who was involved in transcendental meditation and other occultic practices.  In doing so he met five entities with five names.  Demons.  How did he meet them?  Through transcendental meditation.

But the church, people in the church, people who claim to be Christians, are now incorporating transcendental meditation into their Christianity.  But they’re giving it another name.  Contemplative prayer.  Breath prayers.  Centering prayers.


“Today there are about 25 centering prayer groups that meet throughout Tennessee, with 13 in the Nashville area.”  You know this is the Bible belt, and yet this is what is being accepted.  “You don’t have to go outside the Christian tradition to find methods of meditation.  It’s part of our heritage as well,” says this one individual.  He goes onto talk about the fact that he goes to a certain church, and he’s an instructor with Contemplative Outreach of Middle Tennessee.  Look at this.  “A Christian who attends an international church and considers herself non-denominational,” her last name is Finch, “also has been attending a Buddhist center to mediate.”  Wait a minute.  She’s attending a Buddhist center to meditate, but yet she calls herself a Christian and attends an interdenominational church.


Again my friends, this I believe is the sign of the apostasy of the last day.  The falling away from traditionally held Biblical truths.  It is not only in the church, churches in America.  And I’m not talking about the true church.  The remnant.  The Bride of Christ.  I believe many of these people think they’re Christians, but I have to question whether they really are according to Scripture, and what are the signs and hallmarks of a Christian who does not accept false teaching.  It’s all in the book of First John.


But this is also now coming into our military.  Here’s an article out of The Air Force Times.  “Pagans Get Worship Space at Academy.”  Pagans get worship space at academy.  At the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, they now have set up a circular stone pagan site for people to worship and participate in pagan spirituality, or the Wiccan religion.  The Wiccan religion – again the worship of nature.  In fact, The Air Force Times says, “Wicca is the largest religious group in the Air Force after Christianity.”  Did you know that?  The Wiccan religion – the worship of nature, pagan spirituality – is the largest religious group in the Air Force after Christianity.


That is very frightening to me because, well, anytime you start to mix our military with pagan beliefs and pagan spirituality, it’s not a good thing.  It’s not a good sign.  In fact, in my book, Grave Influence, I deal with that topic, and how Hitler, who was involved in pagan spirituality – the worship of nature, reincarnation – used pagan spirituality with his military to desensitize his military, and get them to do things they otherwise would not do.


In other words, he demoralized his military.  He removed a moral foundation built on absolute truth.  He brought in moral relativism.  He brought in the situational ethics of cultism that says, “You’re your own god.  You decide for yourself.  There is no absolute truth based on the character and nature of God.”  And he was able to convince his soldiers to do things they otherwise would not have done.  I don’t think it’s a good idea at all to see our military embracing pagan spirituality.


I’ve got several articles on the fact that the military is also now incorporating yoga into the military.  This has been going on for sometime.  I know there are some people who say, “Well, we do Christian yoga.”  Folks, there’s nothing Christian about yoga.  Yoga in Sanskrit, means yoked or union with a Hindu god.  Why would you want to do that?  There is nothing Christian about yoga.  Again, it’s about the emptying of one’s mind.  Biblical meditation is about the filling of one’s mind with Scripture.


Now, you say, “Well, I do yoga.”  I’ve asked people often, “What do you mean by that?”  “Well, I do these stretches.”  Well, you know what, if you’re doing stretches and that’s all you’re doing, than you’re not really doing yoga and don’t call it that.  Just call it stretching.  But if you’re actually trying to enter into a point of centering or silence or entering one’s mind, meditation, then that is not Biblical at all.  But if you’re just stretching, than call it what it is: stretching.  You’re not really doing yoga.  But there is no such thing as Christian yoga.  That’s like saying you have a Christina Ouija board.  It’s ridiculous.  You cannot mix light and darkness.


Here’s finally an article from the BBC.  The BBC is acknowledging now that pagan spirituality is being used to promote environmentalism.  The article says, “For some this appropriation of religious language and themes reveals the extent to which climate change is, for a section of the green movement, part of a much wider agenda for radical social change.  Scratch the surface of a lot of greens,” meaning those involved in the green movement, “and you’ll find quite a lot of anger about the way people are,” says this individual.  “There’s a lot of passion to do more than just reduce carbon levels.”  In other words, the whole environmental movement is about not just reducing carbon levels.  It’s about changing the way we think.  Political, social, and religious structures.


How do I know that?  Well, the article in the BBC goes onto say, “There’s always been a part of the environment movement that has wanted to change who people are and change society.  Some greens want to change our relationship with nature and get us interested in nature, and get us interested in consciousness rather than consumption.”  Get us interested in consciousness rather than consumption.  These are very philosophical messages.  This is coming right out of the BBC.


What are they saying?  There’s a segment of the environmental movement that is using philosophical ideology, a worldview, to get people to be more interested in consciousness than consumption.  What do you mean consciousness?  To understand that we are God.  We should be one with nature.  Pantheism.  All is God.  God is all.  The message of Avatar.  The message that’s so popular in our culture today, doubling in America every 18 months, according to The Denver Post.


“But the missionary zeal of such campaigners is often disguised by their use of science to support their agenda.”  So they’re disguising a pagan spiritual worldview, wrapping it in science, and saying, “This is what we’re really about.”  But what this article has people admitting that what this is really about is not so much about science, not so much about consumption, but about understanding our consciousness and our need to become one with the universe.  Pantheism.  Mother Earth.  The worship of nature.


Well, there you go.  It’s doubling in America every 18 months.  It’s called pagan spirituality.  And the question is really this.  Why is it doubling in America?  What does this mean for the average Christian?  The rise of pagan spirituality?  How should we respond?  The sad thing is most Christians don’t understand pagan spirituality.  They can’t define it.  They can’t even define the word pantheism – the belief that all is God and God is all.  This is worldview 101, and most Christians are not aware of these philosophies.


The book of Colossians 2:4 says, “Don’t be deceived by persuasive words.”  Colossians 2:8 says, “Don’t be cheated according to the traditions of men and not according to Christ.”  You know what?  We have a lot of philosophies that are stealing hearts and minds out of our churches because we aren’t addressing them from a Biblical perspective like we’re doing right now.


The Bible says, “God is in heaven.  You are on earth.  So let your words be few.”  God is the Creator, this is his creation, he is separate from it.  We don’t worship creation because it is distinct and different from him, the Creator.  Romans 1:25 says one of the consequences for rejecting God over and over is that people finally more towards worshipping nature.  “They exchange the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served created things rather that the Creator who is blessed forevermore.”  The verse we opened this commentary with.


How do we as Christians respond to this?  Here’s what we need to do.  We need to understand that people who are involved in pagan spirituality are indeed seeking to be spiritual.  For us as Christians, we can show them the right side of the cross.  The Biblical spiritual side of the cross.  Pagan spirituality and Christianity, one of my friends says, will both get you to God.  One will get you there as your Judge, the other as your Savior.  So why not introduce them to Biblical Christianity?  Because they do want to be spiritual.  They do understand that we are spiritual beings.  We are created spiritual.  Spiritual, and yet we’re also in the natural world.  So show them the Biblical side of the spiritual world, not the occultic side they are pursuing.


They are also pursuing pagan spirituality because they’re looking for a salve, a spiritual salve to soothe their guilty conscience.  Why are they feeling guilty?  Because they know they’ve offended a holy and just God.  The moral law is written on their heart and mind.  And the moral law, according to Romans, either accuses or excuses them.  They know they’ve offended a holy and just God, and they’re feeling guilty, and they’re looking to soothe that conscience of theirs.  Con means sin, science means knowledge.  They sin with the knowledge that they’ve offended a holy and just God.


So, now they’re looking for some kind of spiritual experience that says, “No, I’m my own god.  I don’t need to feel guilty.  I’m the arbiter of what is right and wrong.  I’m the captain of my own soul and my own destiny.”  Well, it’s not working out so well for them.  So they want to be spiritual, and they’re looking to do something with their guilty conscience.

Guess what?  We as Christians have the solution as to how they can be in tune with their spiritual, Biblical side – through Christ.  But also how they can do away with that guilt – through faith and repentance in Jesus Christ alone.  These are two reasons why pagan spirituality is doubling in America.  


Another reason, our final reason, is because they’re looking for truth.  How do you know if something’s true for you today?  You experience it.  If it works for you, it’s true.  The reality is only that which is consistent with the character and nature of God is true.  The rest is a lie.  And sadly, many of these folks are following the lie.  The Bible says that all will be condemned.  All that have not delighted in righteousness, but have delighted in wickedness.  It says they refused to love the truth and be saved.  The refused to love the truth and be saved.  What is truth?  Truth is not a what, it’s a who.  John 14:6.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  They refuse to love the truth and be saved.


For this reason God will give them over to this powerful delusion so they will believe the lie – the lie of Satan that you’re god.  You decide for yourself what’s right and what’s wrong.  You can enter into an esoteric state and discover hidden truth through occultic practices.  They refused to love the truth and be saved.  For this reason God will give them over to this powerful delusion so they will believe the lie, and all will be condemned.  All who have not delighted in righteousness, but have delighted in wickedness.


For us, we need to make sure that our kids are aware, and our grandkids are aware of what these philosophies are all about.  Why they’re not Biblical so they don’t become spiritual prisoners of war to it.  Then we also need to understand that this provides us, the church in these days, with incredible opportunities for the furtherance of the Gospel – if we understand these philosophies, and if we understand how to go out and take what’s common to the culture and turn it into a pulpit.  So, pagan spirituality is doubling in America every 18 months, but it provides an opportunity for the church in America and around the world.


I’m Brannon Howse.  This is the Worldview Weekend Hour.  We’ll be back after this break.  Thanks for watching.  


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