Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Void - Part 2

There are two kinds of people in this world.
So, which are you?
Are you the kind that must see in order to believe,
Or, do you believe in order to see?

The Void
-Part 2-
To whom do they turn? 

(This is the conclusion of the article – The Void – Part 1)

Before I continue the original article, in which I wanted to cover three attitudes of why there is “The Void” or absence of a response by the Christian Church in America and western culture to help people who are experiencing paranormal activity of a diabolic nature, I first want to address another subject, and that is the prevailing notion of relativism in our culture. In this article I have been constructively criticizing the institutional Church of us Christians, which by the way I dearly love. [In fact, in defense of the Church, I plan a future article refuting the current notion by many people today that one can rightly say “Well, I am spiritual but not religious.” As one Christian author has said, "Religion has gone out of vogue while spirituality remains a valid pursuit." Often, people are being deceived to pull out of the institutional Church in favor of a solo spirituality – this is a grave mistake and is a tactic of Satan that these people are buying into. It is a powerful current trend, and it is diabolical. But, more about that in the future.] In saying that the Church should do a better job of reaching out to those victims of this diabolical paranormal activity, I also want to say that there is another enemy of truth that is extremely prevalent in our culture which should also be targeted by those who want to help hurting people, and that is this notion that anyone with sincere intentions to help people, can do so by whatever means they wish. In other words, they think the main thing is to help people, and they ignore the proper and right way to genuinely help people. There is sincerity of belief, and there is content of belief. One can be sincere, but be sincerely wrong! The actual content of belief must be true and correct in order to help people, not just a laudable degree of zeal or effort. 

Many, many well-meaning and decent people in our current culture have fallen for the lie that “all paths lead to the top of Mt. Fuji.” This is relativism, and it is wildly popular today. It is the notion of, “Well, what is true for you may not be true for me and you can’t judge my truth…everybody has to find their own way.” This is a lie straight from the pits of hell. As Ravi Zacharias has said, "we have pushed the replay button on the saga of Eden and can now look, touch, and taste anything we wish to because we have become gods, determining for ourselves what is right and what is wrong." We will be damned if we are going to let God or anyone else tell us what the truth is, we will determine it for ourselves. The problem with that is, we will indeed be damned.

Christ said straightforwardly in the Bible, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). It does not get any clearer than that. One must deal with these statements of Jesus. Unlike Mohammad, Confucius, Buddha, or even Deepak Chopra, Christ says He is the only way. You have to agree with him, or say he is a liar. He does not leave you any choice to say, “Well all ways are good and true, it just depends on which way is best for you.” He is the true gate, and through him is the only path that is valid and true. Christ also said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber…truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep…I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:1, 7, 9). All other paths are false. To say that we can get inside the sheep pen by going around Christ is a lie. Period. If that offends you, think about this: the truth has always offended people who believe in the lies. Christianity, just as is Christ, is offensive to some, perhaps even many. The goal is not to "not be offensive." The goal is the truth and to walk in it. I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t tell you that. So, don't believe in lies, believe in the truth. Someone needs to be strong enough to say to those who hold to false belief, and are turning to false solutions, that it is wrong. That’s what I’m attempting to do here. I care enough to confront you with the truth, not in a mean-spirited way, but in a way that is trying to help you not be duped, a way that is simply trying to help you.

I mentioned in Part 1 of this article that when the Church fails to help people claiming paranormal activity, that a void is left (hence the title of the article). I then stated that into the void rushes those that do not have a true answer to these problem, and indeed actually can make the problem much worse. I named some of these schools that victims are reaching out to: psychics, tarot readers, mediums, spiritualists, witches (no longer called witches, but Wiccans – a much more acceptable term), occultists, faith healers, New Agers, Reiki healers, Zen masters, and even Satanists. [Footnote 1] It is the teaching of the Church, supported by massive amounts of scriptural passages which this is based upon [Footnote 2], that these are false ways that are not to be turned to by Christians. The statement that these people are pseudo (false) teachers isn’t my own personal opinion; it is the stated position of the Church. People may not like that, or they may even scoff at it, but that response doesn’t change the truth one iota. The fact remains that those paths are false approaches that in many cases, are false teachings and paths invented by demons themselves in the very attempt to deceive people to NOT find the correct solution to their problems. But, people don’t think about this possibility. Obviously, this deception is working to a highly successful degree in our modern culture. Part of the reason it is succeeding is that the Church has ceded this area by withdrawing and not being very proactive in reaching out to help people claiming to have diabolical paranormal activity. That is the very reason I’m writing this article to begin with – to get the word out to Christians that we need to change our attitude. If we are absent in helping people (thus again, the void), these people will turn to false ways which of course are only too eager to “help.” [One should also note that everyone wants to be well. Everyone wants a life free from pain and stress. Who doesn't want to know God if he truly exists as we Christians insist he does? Human nature is that of a deep longing and reaching for something genuine to worship and follow. False and fake practitioners rush in and take advantage of that "momentum" toward something to worship. We now have a huge "spiritual supermarket" from which to choose. Just be very careful what you choose...only Christ is the real deal.]

Now, a person I consider a friend cautioned me that not all psychics are bad, and that people can receive help from these people. This is a problem of clarity of definition, and I should have been more clear in expressing what I meant by “psychic.” The word psychic is a word that needs to be defined closely. To be “psychic” in a general sense is to be able to receive information that most of us are not getting. In other words, “psychic” is a secular word that is used to describe a person or ability to “see” or “receive” secret knowledge or information about spiritual realities. Many psychics are totally fake – they are frauds and use cold reading and other such methods to dupe gullible people to make money or to feel important. Others receive their information from demonic sources, even though they may not realize it. Others, however, are truly receiving their information due to a genuine spiritual gift by the Holy Spirit. This is where the word psychic is used incorrectly. Those of the third type, that receive their information due to a genuine gift of the Holy Spirit, have what is actually known as the gift of discernment of spirits. This gift is listed in the New Testament in several places. Some people are born with this gift of God but use it unwisely or for selfish reasons, or do not use it at all and therefore waste it (see the Parable of the Talents). However, some use it for good but do not use it in the full sense of using it out of a context of faith for the expressed purpose of leading their “client” closer to God. In other words, they should be using their gift in the context of discipleship (nurturing and growth of the person they are helping to grow in their faith). Instead, they sort of just help them in a secular sense because they themselves aren’t fully grounded in their own faith, although they would say that they are Christian. Finally, there are those who use the gift of discernment properly and fully, helping people to grow in their faith toward Christ.

Where the problem comes in with the use of the word “psychic,” is that all of these people claim to be “psychic.” In a sense that is true, as I just described. The ones I am saying are false and should be avoided are the fakes and those who are receiving their psychic information from Satan. The question then arises, how do we know which of these are actually demonic, even though the psychic herself may not realize it?  – that’s especially the problem for the group that claims to be psychic but are not using their gift in the full context of Christianity – the expressed purpose of getting people back into Church and overtly explaining to them the need to deepen their relationship to Jesus Christ. I suggest using the following criteria: a true psychic (person with the genuine spiritual gift of discernment) will be hammering the theme of encouraging the person to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and the Church. If a psychic or medium you are talking to is NOT expressly doing that, then I think they should be avoided because they simply cannot be trusted. I’m not saying that they are receiving their information from Satan or demons. I am saying that they cannot be trusted as being genuine. A person who claims to be psychic who is not encouraging you to deepen your walk with Christ but instead is doing humanistic types of teaching and telling you the answer is to fulfill your potential and that “the answer” is within you and to tap into the cosmic mind and such things – is not genuine. They could be very sincere, and very “loving” but they are likely deceived, and are leading you to be deceived as well. We don’t get genuine relief from “magic” or from within ourselves or tarot cards or crystals, but from Christ. The scripture says that Satan himself appears often as an angel of light. They may have a genuine gift, but they simply are not using it to the proper degree that they should.

Another thing, a psychic may actually do some things that seem miraculous or amazing. Demons have the ability to perform false miracles. The magicians and sorcerers of the Pharaoh were able to copy many of the miracles of Moses (see the book of Exodus).  Just because they have genuine “power” does not make them genuine in the sense of being right or holy. This power, supplied to some psychics by demons, is there to deceive people, and again, it is a tactic that is succeeding greatly.

I hope this clears up the confusion, and helps explain how cautious we have to be in consulting with “psychics,” no matter how sincere. Part of the reason so many “psychics” operate outside the Church is that the Church has often failed to find a place for them to operate within their gift. That is because it is such a subjective gift, and has to be proven by experience and maturity over time. This results in many people who have the genuine gift misusing it and allowing their genuine gift to be corrupted by mixing it with occult or pagan beliefs and practices. This is very common. Another reason is that the person genuinely gifted by the Holy Spirit refuses to submit themselves to the teaching, direction, and accountability to the Church. That is an obvious problem that the person seeking a psychic should be exploring. Just because someone claims to be psychic, doesn’t mean they really are, or that they are using this ability wisely and correctly. However, a person with the genuine gift of discernment of spirits is one of the greatest assets a pastor or priest could have. In my view it’s a shame we don’t, as the Church, put in the necessary time and effort to develop and utilize these gifted people more. It is also a shame that more people with the true gift don't attempt to stay within the teachings and auspices of the Church and too quickly rush out to "do their own thing."

Now, back to the original intent of my article – my polemic to describe at least three attitudes (there may be more) within the Church that lead to “The Void.”

First, ignorance:
Ignorance is a matter of education, specifically, it is a lack thereof. When it comes to the issue of Satan’s existence, the fact is that a huge number of our clergy simply do not believe in the reality of the Devil and his kingdom of fallen angels. These are people who simply have not been educated correctly, and are victims of their poor education that teaches them there is no such thing. I am speaking of both their formal education, and the education they receive by osmosis in growing up in a surrounding culture which does not believe. They are not nasty about it, they simply don’t believe it. It is odd for those of us who have never lived outside the Bible-belt to understand, but a huge number of “theologians” not worthy of the term, as well as priests and pastors, simply do not believe in Satan or demons as personal beings that are fallen angels. Receiving their education in a period of the “enlightenment” (using the term with tongue-in-cheek), they have bought into the reductive doctrines of science (in particular biology, psychology and sociology) which deny spiritual realities. These Christian leaders seemingly have more in common with the teachings of Freud, Rogers or Jung than they do the actual words and deeds of Jesus Christ or the teachings of the Church. The New Testament is literally teeming with demonic activity, and one simply cannot possess a true understanding of the life and ministry of Christ without including his ongoing battle with demons and Satan. Indeed it could be argued that the main purpose Christ came was to battle Satan and his kingdom! Can the words of Apostle John be any clearer? “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” (I John 3:8) In summary, those who do not believe in Satan and demons as personal beings of intense evil and who claim those of us who do believe this way are ignorant, are the ones who are actually ignorant. This ignorance is understandable, but at the same time is hugely damaging. 

Second, are those who actively oppose the idea of Satan and demons as personal evil beings, and have a fierce attitude about it. They are not acting out of mere ignorance (the category above) but out of derision. They scorn such belief as stupid, ignorantly superstitious and which has no place whatsoever in modern man’s sophisticated and enlightened belief system. They think they know better. They are deceived. These men and women proactively engage in teaching and efforts to attack the belief that Satan and demons are real. They occupy pulpits, parishes, bishoprics, teaching positions in seminaries, and they write article and books. They are both Protestant and Catholic. They are leading people astray, and are doing the work of demons in espousing the Number One strategy of Satan: convince humans that we do not exist, and that their problems are caused by themselves or by God himself…not us. [The exposure of this Satanic strategy of deception was actually one of the positive aspects of the movie The Rite.] In doing so, they are going against scripture, the teaching of the Church and for Catholics, against the direct teaching of several of our recent Popes, including John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Finally there are those who believe in Satan and demons as fallen angels who are attacking mankind, especially Christians, in an on-going spiritual war. However, these Christian leaders are simply ill-equipped to deal with it, or don’t have the heart. Or, they are in denominations or contexts where their superiors do not believe (or their congregations) and so they feel they cannot actively engage in such practices as reaching out to help those with paranormal activity. These men and women need courage to stand up for what they believe and find ways to influence and convert their brothers and sisters who don’t understand reality.

To summarize, one simply cannot solve a problem he does not believe exists. The Church, in the business of helping people with genuine problems, has retreated from the area of helping people who have paranormal activity, especially paranormal activity of a diabolical nature. This should not be. For this arena is the crux of the spiritual battle! It is the arena of where the rubber meets the road in spiritual warfare - where Satan is invading the very homes and personal every-day lives of people, and these people are being tormented and attacked. There is no place more sacred than the family, and the home of the family, and this is the arena I am speaking of. Families are being attacked, and they reach out and look for help once they reach a critical point where they realize something truly bad is going on. In the fact that the Church has largely retreated from this arena, an unnecessary void has been created. Into this void…this vacuum, has flooded false teachers who these victims are turning to because we are not there to help. The result is that the blind are now leading the blind, and we all should know where that leads. It is time for Christians, both clergy and laity, to step up and help, and get out on the front lines…into the very homes of suffering, hurting and terrified people who are turning to whoever is willing to help them. Sadly and often, the last place they feel they can turn is the Church down the street from where they live. Let’s change that. Let’s enter that arena with the real solution: the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Let’s occupy the void.

Footnote 1:
For an excellent understanding of the dangers of such New Age "Oprah Winfrey" type approaches and practices, including Reiki, the healing arts, crystals, false psychics, mediums, the Course in Miracles, hypnosis, eastern gurus such as Rajneesh and Deepak Chopra, channeling, astrology, spiritualism, etc, I strongly suggest you read the following: The Light That Was Darkness, by Warren Smith; Ransomed from Darkness, by Moira Noonan; Why Jesus? Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality, by Ravi Zacharias; and, Out from Darkness: One Man's Escape from Satanic Power, by Ben Alexander. If nothing else, read just the Introduction in Zacharias's sums up a tremendous amount of truth in just a few pages. His book sells on Amazon for less than $14.

Footnote 2:
For just a few of the scriptures condemning the turning to such practitioners, and the evil realities of such practices, see: Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6-8; Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:9-14; 1 Chronicles 10:13-14a; Isaiah 8:17-22; Deuteronomy 4:19-29; 2 Kings 21:2-6; Daniel 2:27-28a; Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:8; Exodus 7:8-13; Revelation 22:14-15; John 4:1-3a; Ephesians 6:12; 1 John 5:19; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Matthew 12:43-45; John 10:10; 1 John 3:8; 1 Peter 5:8-9. I challenge you to read every one of these. 

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