Cultural Warts or Faithful Servants?
According to recent polls, most young people “have graded Christianity, and so far, the grades aren’t looking good.” Young believers do not want the name “Christian” because of “the baggage that accompanies the label.”
We all have baggage, but there is something very fishy going on here. Why is the most ethical, humane movement in two thousand years of Western history now covered in abject shame? Christianity has become “unchristian.”
Much of the malaise of the young is due to the culture’s intimidating opposition to the biblical world and life view, which sees Christianity as the great obstacle to a better human future. This pressure produces various reactions:
- Silence is a virtue: Campus ministries, mission organizations, large sections of the Evangelical church are hospitals for the hurting, but their mouths are closed;
- Deeds not creeds: avoid hot button issues. Christians invent a non-offensive Gospel, limiting their witness to “missional” socio-economic and environmental issues;
- Cultural approval: Opposition will disappear if the church down-plays law, sin, the Cross, and personal salvation;
- The Right Label: Jesus followers, not “Christians”;
- Cultural adaptation: absorb the culture’s good, life-enhancing, progressive agenda; stop trying to save souls.
In the meantime, while our hearts may be warm, we are losing our voice, which is just what the godless culture ordered!
Liberals have been saying this for years. Lloyd Geering, an apostate Presbyterian of the last generation, states:
Christianity…needs to be seen not as something eternally fixed but as an ever-changing and developing process. The modern secular world is all part of that evolving process.
Main-line churches, faced with a dramatic loss of members and funds, in the words of one journalist, have undertaken “a great experiment to redefine [themselves] through an intense engagement with the surrounding secular world…to blur the boundaries between religion and the broader society.”
Why is Christianity so unpopular now?
The most satisfactory answer, in my opinion, is the documented fact that influential segments of the culture have recently converted in one form or another to religious paganism and have thus abandoned the fundamental worldview notions of orthodox Christianity. The younger Christian generation faces the enormous danger of allowing the culture to throw out our baby with their “baggage.”
It is crucial to understand the deeply anti-Christian origins of the present culture.
Among the first signs of this pagan conversion was the New Age movement (1960s–90s), which has matured into today’s progressive “New Spirituality.” Now the old hippies are joined by millions of ordinary, middle-class citizens in saying, “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” This common phrase needs to be decoded.
- Spiritual means “I define my own god whom I conveniently find within” (One-ism). It is authentic, and clearly good.
- Religious is a code word for the religion based on divine revelation from the outside (Two-ism). It is an external imposition and clearly bad.
The once-marginal New Age has gone mainstream under our noses.
The catalyst for our present situation is the radical, marginal movement that occurred in the Sixties—the “Cultural Revolution.” Dr. Elizabeth Fox-Genovese was a radical feminist, Marxist American Historian, who taught at Harvard. In 1998, after her conversion to Roman Catholicism, and near the end of her life, she observed about the Sixties cultural revolution in which she was an enthusiastic participant: “within a remarkably brief period …has occurred a cataclysmic transformation of the very nature of our society.” As a historian, with a front row seat, she recognized that there was nothing “normal” about the Sixties cataclysmic transformation. In other words, the “new normal” is not normal.
The rising generation may not know the historical details, but the soul of this “progressive” view of life and the culture it spawned are profoundly opposed to historic Christianity. It is foolhardy to expect our culture to approve the Christian faith, when it was created with the very intention to eliminate that faith. More often than not, when the culture “approves” of a Christian action, that action is probably “unChristian.”
If you want to know the thinkers who mentored the “influential segments of the Sixties culture” you will have to wait for the next Inside/Out!
Suffice it to say for now that the origins of the present culture plunge deep into the occult, while its future projects include the silencing of Two-ist Christianity altogether. It can only be countered by courageous Christian believers from this rising generation who are willing to engage the revolutionary intellectual “strongholds,” the “arguments and “lofty opinions raised against the knowledge of God,” in order to “take every thought captive to obey Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) with “transformed minds” (Romans 12:2) by understanding and imitating “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). Just do it!
In 1832, when The Beagle docked in Southern Australia on the way to the Galapagos Islands, Charles Darwin witnessed naked Aboriginals dancing themselves into delirium all night long. You can now see this scene at the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert, attended by sixty thousand hi-tech moderns, including Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos. But Darwin, a notable father of Secular Humanism, was shocked, finding the native display “a most rude, barbarous scene.”
Once ever so secularly humanist, moderns now find orgiastic sexuality and occult spirituality quite acceptable. Who or what produced this massive change in Western culture?
Many influential sources can be named: Darwin, spiritualized by Teilhard de Chardin; the goddess worship of radical feminism; the occultism of theosophist Madame Blavatsky; the political radicalism of Gramsci, Marcuse and Saul Alinski; and the “sexology” of Alfred Kinsey and Hugh Hefner. However, I single out two thinkers:
Carl Jung (1875–1961, picture left), the psychologist, and
Mircea Eliade (1907–1986, picture right), the scholar.
Carl Jung and Mircea Eliade
Both played a decisive role in what the soul of our society has become. As colleagues, they saw themselves as “architects of a new humanism” and were the most widely read popularizers of pagan myths in the twentieth century. One scholar commented: “Both were pioneers who changed, respectively, the theoretical landscapes of psychology and comparative religion.” They altered the way the modern world thinks about both religion and personal soul care.
Eliade was the editor of the Encyclopedia of Religion, sixteen folio-sized volumes detailing all the world’s myths and spiritualities. As the East began to come West, Eliade encouraged Westerners to drop their narrow self-understanding as Christian possessors and missionaries of truth, and to integrate the “exotic” One-ist myths of Eastern religions, witchcraft and indigenous animism, for a fuller appreciation of spirituality. He stated: “It is not impossible that our age may go down to posterity as the first to rediscover those diffuse [non-Christian] religious experiences which were destroyed by the triumph of Christianity.” He was right!
Jung created Transpersonal Psychology based on his own experiences of the occult and on these recently-available pagan traditions. In a once Christian culture, Jung associated pagan occultism with psychological health, available to all. The “subconscious” was the spiritual depth of the human being, where fantasies were mystical experiences of the real spirit world. It caught on. Today the “subconscious” trumps every other authority. A six-foot-four hairy man claims the right to use the women’s bathroom because his subconscious tells him he is a woman. This is why I believe it is right to see the recent massive changes in the once “Christian” West as its conversion to religious paganism.
For Jung the subconscious is guided by the pagan idea of the “joining of the opposites.” Good and evil are relative, male and female are non-exclusive options for whatever fits your fancy. Such joining brings “healing” from guilt, eliminates God, and breaks the malevolent chains of heterosexual monogamous marriage. An original member of Jung’s circle expressed Jung’s vision as “free love will save the world”—the battle cry of the later Sixties sexual revolution. Interestingly, rejecting biblical sexuality as a psychological sickness, Jung also prophesied that yoga would be an essential part of future health.
Jung and Eliade intended to change the world. Jung said: “We must…infiltrate into people from many centers….2000 years of Christianity can only be replaced by…an irresistible mass movement.” What is more irresistible to the masses than the liberation of sexuality for psychological and spiritual health?
Jungian spirituality has seduced the masses. Jung’s personal practice of occultism and sexual freedom, presented as a “scientific” method, gave vast authority to the subconscious. People today justify all kinds of pagan spiritualities and sexual fantasies in the name of self-expression and spiritual health. Not the Bible but my subconscious “tells me so.” This corresponds with the Sixties Jungian mantra, “If it moves, fondle it, if it feels good, just do it.” This last phrase became a Nike commercial!
Hear, young church! This culture is not that of the Founding Fathers or that of the 1950s, which some would like to recover. It is a culture radically transformed by the recent invasion and adoption of pagan religions and infused by Jungian psychology, which is purposefully and specifically committed to the destruction of biblical faith. Approval from this culture is thus no criterion of biblical faithfulness. Don’t be surprised if the beauty of Christ you so highly treasure is now considered an ugly wart on the face of society. But we must stand firm. One day all self-worship and indulgent behavior will be blown away in the wind of God’s righteous judgment. But there is still time to show the glorious beauty of Christ, which alone can save us.