Junk Theology: How Goddesses and Witchcraft are Invading the Church
|‘The God of the Bible locked in mortal combat for the souls of men with the goddess of revived paganism—…Few in the church and the popular culture realize the enormity of the revolution going on around us.’ 1
Peter Jones, Ph.D., Spirit Wars
It’s an ordinary Sunday, nothing to distinguish it from any other. You and your family walk into your chosen place of worship– perhaps an Episcopal church, or a United Methodist, or a Presbyterian, or Lutheran, or Roman Catholic. You sit in your usual pew, you glance around– and you notice something different. At first the changes are hard to identify. Then it hits you.
There are no crosses. None.
Instead, at the place of honor on the altar, is perhaps a tree, or a circle representing the earth and nature. Or, perhaps a statue, ethereal and abstract, of an unclothed woman, surely reaching to the sky, surely spiritual in pose, meant to represent a cosmic dream, a unifying principle.
In other words, a goddess. An idol.
What would be the response of most members of these churches? Would they feel vaguely uncomfortable, and leave? Or feel vaguely uncomfortable, but stay? How would you react? Would you accommodate this new expression of spirituality as being a natural outgrowth of a continuing quest for knowledge of the unknown? Or would you, knowing what is really going on here, take your family, rise and walk away from a place where Christ no longer is worshipped?
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bringing on themselves swift destruction.”
Among the false teaching predicted in Scripture is perhaps the single unifying heresy of our age — a pagan return to earth-centered religion, embodied in a “feminine expression” of deity. Goddess worship, even in its ultimate form–witchcraft–is now being openly,even proudly practiced in mainstream Christian denominations, in defiance of the foundations of the faith.
Could the scenario above become reality? We believe it can and will, unless informed, courageous, convicted Christians stand against the introduction of doctrinal error into mainline congregations. Will such brave stands be made?
The cause for alarm is the massive nature of the assault, which doesn’t end at the church door. The ultimate philosophy behind the global agendas of feminism, homosexuality, environmentalism, abortion rights, multiculturalism, and anti-“fundamentalism” has its roots, knowingly or not, in the new paganism. The political agendas reinforce the religious bias and vice versa. Concerned Christians need to understand what is happening to the culture as a whole. When even prominent members of the media are practicing witchcraft, it’s time to worry. More on this later.
An important book explaining the feminist spirituality movement and its ancient roots is Spirit Wars: Pagan Revival in Christian America by Peter Jones, Ph.D.(Main Entry Editions). Jones is a Harvard and Princeton trained professor of New Testament at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California, and has written and lectured extensively on the spiritual basis of the current chaos in American and global culture.
Spirit Wars identifies a revived interest in Gnosticism, the pseudo-Christian teaching of the first and second centuries after Christ, as the foundation of current feminist rejection of traditional Christianity. At the root of this rejection is the same old rebellion as that of the Garden–merely embellished in the pompous rhetoric of radical feminist theological scholarship as well as in pop feminist teaching and literature.
The primary source of this rebellion is inside, not outside the Christian church. But because we are a culture that has been dominated by Judeo-Christian thought, the emergence of this as the predominant version of “Christianity” is also transforming the whole Western worldview into one that is pagan in orientation. Jones summarizes the conflict eloquently: “…Two religious faiths, and only two, battle for the spirit and the mind of the modern world…The present contest is between two powerful spiritualities: Christian theism/ God the Father, and pagan monism/ the Mother goddess.” 2
THE FALSE CHRIST OF THE RELIGIOUS LEFT
“The earth is a woman, and she rises. We all live in her,” chants a group of Catholic women who met several years back for a WomenChurch conference in Boston.3
A tenured professor of theology at Boston College, a self-declared lesbian witch, stands up at a major Bible conference in 1992 and says,”What’s all this biblical bulls–t?” She ischeered by the crowd of seminarians, ministers, and Bible scholars.4
And the speaker at the fourth Re-Imagining Conference in Minneapolis in 1996 invited the audience of several hundred Christian women, many of them ordained ministers or active in their churches, to bite into the apples available on their tables. “Let us bite into the apple in celebration, for we, like Eve, are created to know.” In a brazen mockery of the Fall, the women cooperatively devoured their fruit. The same conference featured a “goddess wall” with reproductions of 33 ancient and modern goddesses, among them Gaia, Mary (Jesus’ mother),the Babylonian Ishtar, and Diana.5 Let’s not forget–this was a Christian women’s conference.
The superficial, compromised Christianity accommodated for decades in mainline churches is the reason such foundational error is being tolerated. “Does the average Christian know what is going on in our ostensibly civilized society?” Peter Jones asks. “Pagan ideology, sometimes of the most radical and anti-Christian nature, is taught in university departments of religion, theological seminaries, mainline church agencies, feminist networks, and wicca covens across the land. It adopts the name of Christianity, but it will render our world unrecognizable.” 6
Before we delve into the ideas behind this rebellion, it is important to emphasize Jones’ point: that while this might seem on the surface to be merely a Christian church issue, it is actually the engine driving a massive global transformation in thought, from Judeo-Christian democratic principles to neo-pagan, power-based postmodernism. And, far from an evolving new concept, a “bridge to the 21st century,” this is a road mankind has traveled before, with disastrous results. Even the current pagan packaging has eerie similarities to ghosts of ancient civilizations.
Tolerance and peace are hardly part of the “new understandings” of our faith, but rather distortions and neuroses. When the crucifixion of Jesus is denounced as too bloody and a form of “child abuse,” as did Christian feminist speakers from the podium of the goddess-exhalting Re-Imagining Conference in 1993, it’s time to take a hard look at what’s behind all this and where it’s taking us.
THE FEMINIST CASE AGAINST THE BIBLE
The background for the revolution is a feminist rebellion against the so-called “patriarchy” of Genesis, subsequent biblical references to women, and the treatment of females down through church history. Are the critics totally off-base in some of their claims? No. Males have sought to twist scripture at times to suit their needs for ambition and dominance–and still do. That’s human nature.What is dreadfully wrong,however, is the reasons behind the criticism, the rebellion it reveals, and where these radical religious approaches would take the church if followed.
“At the beginning of the current women’s movement in religion, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, feminists pointed out how women often were completely excluded from the full practice of Judaism and Christianity,” says author Rita M. Gross.7 This seems like a statement with some validity. Later in the same book Gross destroys her credibility with radical, blasphemous ideas, including explaining the virtues of witchcraft. This is typical of feminist spirituality.
Yes, there have been some abuses of patriarchy in Christianity. Are they to be attributed to the canon of Scripture or to human sin? I don’t think a person who truly loves the Lord would see justification for abuse in the Bible. As one looks at where most of these feminists ultimately take the argument, there is such obvious rage behind their premises, and such extremism in the goals, that the real motivation becomes clear: payback, destruction, and empowerment no matter what the source of the power.
The feminist approach to Scripture begins with suspicion. A feminist reading of the Garden of Eden story sees not a caring parent but a jealous, possessive male deity whose objective was to place limits on humans, particularly Eve. After her disobedience (which was just a trick, anyway), this unjust God placed women in a position of subordinance that limits the expression of their gifts and puts them forever at the mercy of males.
As the narrative continues, the Hebrew patriarchs then refused to let their people worship any female deities, unlike neighboring cultures, all of whom had goddesses. These other cultures were more gentle and less warlike, the theory contends, and if worship today would retrieve those ancient matriarchal traditions and cast off oppressive and violent male religious dominance, society would evolve into a peaceful utopia where women would certainly be equal and perhaps even superior. The rigid black and white dualism of Christianity and Judaism– good and evil, sin and redemption– would be replaced with justice and “freedom” in a celebration of the human as being at one with all creation, as expressing only natural impulses (including sexuality in any form), and unfettered by the guilt of male-dominated belief systems.
One can recognize in this approach not only the philosophy of the religious left, but the underlying premise of all current liberal thought. This so-called human rights orientation is probably the primary source fueling the growing animosity to biblical Christianity. It is based on a shallow and self-focused reading of Scripture; false information about ancient history; a personal commitment to sensuality and self-indulgence no matter what the cost; a failure or deliberate unwillingness to differentiate between human failings and foundational biblical principles;and ignorance of or disregard for the results of paganism, which are seldom peaceful but ultimately tend toward violence.
Feminists develop these twisted premises in an avalanche of popular and scholarly books with titles like She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse; Goddesses in Everywoman; The Gospel According to Mary: A New Testament for Women; When God Was A Woman; Sexism and God-Talk; and The Rebirth of the Goddess. It is the unfortunate or uninformed person who is seduced into adopting what amounts to blasphemous beliefs, based on the pseudo-theology presented in such pages.
And the mass marketing of these ideas to women through popular media is omnipresent. The popularity of the book The Da Vinci Code attests to the willingness of the public to absorb silly notions like Jesus having married Mary Magdalene and fathering a child.8 An article featuring “The 25 Most Influential Working Mothers” appeared in an issue of Working Mother magazine recently. One of the honorees was Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton University. “Pagels is a towering force in the theological community and a beacon for women seeking a voice in the Church,” declared the article. “By exploring the suppression of women by early Church leaders, Pagels has raised the Christian community’s consciousness about sexism in organized religion.”9
Pagels is the author of such books as The Gnostic Gospelsand The Origin of Satan and is responsible for much of the modern acceptance of Gnosticism as a valid Christian view. No other woman representing the field of religion was mentioned in the article, once again demonstrating the exalted position the pagan viewpoint holds among our cultural communicators, and no conservative in any field was included among the twenty-five. Among other honorees were, predictably, Hillary Clinton and Rosie O’Donnell.
FEARLESS AND GODLESS
One of the most striking features of radical feminist Christianity is its outright repudiation of even the possibility of truth in the original biblical account. This is postmodernism at its finest, which simply makes up truth with no basis other than, “Because I want it this way.” For example, Rita M. Gross’ Feminism and Religion proceeds from the usual feminist theological assumption that God as presented in the Bible simply does not exist, and that “imposing” Him on the Jewish/Christian world was the triumph of a cruel patriarchy, not the work of an Almighty deity. Males in the non-Western world are much nicer, according to Gross. “Western monotheism is unique in its fear and denial of images of female divinity.” 10 (Emphasis added).
Fear is a key concept in the feminist spin on Judeo-Christian religion. Western men are supposedly afraid of the unfettered sexual expression of women (particularly lesbianism) so they have to contain femininity within certain boundaries, and they invented a male god to do so. It is no coincidence that many if not most of these feminist theologians are also lesbians. Not unlike other homosexual writings, there is an assumption that fear of something harmless (which homosexuality is presumed to be),rather than avoidance of something destructive, is at the base of biblical proscriptions against sexual perversion.
But it is not only women who are receptive to the reemergence of matriarchy/ pagan images in Christianity. More and more liberal men are arguing in defense of this same view. In a book called Fire in the Belly, author Sam Keen says, “Feminists who argue that goddess-worship historically preceded the notion of God as father are certainly correct.”11 Good and evil were not at the heart of the struggle in the Garden; it was matriarchy vs. patriarchy, he maintains. And the loss was freedom of sexual expression. The male-dominated God replaced sex with violence.12
REBELLION AND WITCHCRAFT
The amount and nature of the open rebellion against doctrine is being downplayed, even hidden, by the leaders of national congregations. The Re-Imagining Conferences have attracted many women and some men in church leadership but have been publicized little except among conservatives within church circles.
There has been acknowledgement among mainline Protestant denominations that the participation in conferences like Re-Imagining has affected donations– negatively. And there is an emerging countermovement to stand against radical feminism and other postmodern debates within the church. An organization called the Association for Church Renewal was formed with James Heidinger of Good News as president. Diane Knippers of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and Todd Whetzel of Episcopalians United are vice-chairs.13
Probably the most disturbing element is the emergence of the actual practice of witchcraft within the church.The unwary Christian woman today may be seduced into goddess worship as an interesting and attractive alternative to tradition. But she may quickly find herself involved in the outright practice of witchcraft without knowing it, because witchcraft is basically the ritual aspect of nature/goddess worship. Casting a circle, the drawing down of power, the importance of not breaking the circle–these are witchcraft rites designed to call on the demonic. They are usually not identified thus, because Satan’s existence is largely discounted by liberal theologians–another reason why there is no fear of dabbling in the unknown.
And witchcraft is beginning to be accepted rather casually in religious, even Christian circles. Certainly the media has little problem with it. Margot Adler, the New York Bureau chief for National Public Radio, and who is a frequent commentator on their shows like “All Things Considered,” is a practicing witch. No, we are not kidding.Adler is the author of Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-worshipers and Other Pagans in America Today (Beacon Press,1986), a very popular feminist book describing ritual and goddess worship–positively.
“Witchcraft is the wave of the future,” states Peter Jones firmly in Spirit Wars. He notes that at the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, witches were given official status.14 In Salem, Massachusetts, the local ecumenical group includes representatives of Protestant churches, Catholicism, a Jewish rabbi, and the high priest of the Rosarian Order of Wicca.15
IF WE DO NOTHING
If you as a Christian aren’t totally sure about this issue–why this feminist spirituality movement is deeply rebellious and ultimately destructive to the church — then a reading of Spirit Warsor one of Jones’other books is a must.(See his group’s web site at www.cwipp.org) All of the mainline denominations have conservative groups concerned about these issues. Get in touch with the group within your denomination and find out how you can become informed about their views and perhaps involved.
What happens if we do nothing? The face of the confessing Christian church is on a course of self-destruction unless we are willing to confront the change agents. Of course, the authentic church is in no danger of disappearing–that victory was won at the cross. But do we want to be marginalized to the point where genuine faith must go underground? One expert in the field of false faith believes that, not only could the form of the church change, but so could America.
Talk with fellow Christians, especially those who are undecided on this issue. We must stay informed about current issues, and remain strong in the faith. For real conviction, the best defense is Bible study and discussion groups combined with prayer.
Just to clarify, that’s prayer to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit–only.
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
“For day after day they seek me out; They seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God.”
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