Monday, April 01, 2013

Rampant Fake Spirituality, pt. 2

Read Part One.  There is important introductory information there.

God created us for a relationship with Him.  He is a Spirit.  The relationship with God will be a spiritual relationship.  Satan would like people to be fooled about their relationship with God.  A way that Satan fools people is by causing them to think that a feeling they've experienced is from God, when it isn't.  Since a person can't see God, he depends on a feeling as signal of God's working or presence.  There's nothing that Satan would like people to be fooled about more than worship.  He doesn't want God to be worshiped, but if people feel like they're worshiping God, when they're not, and even just the opposite, they're dishonoring Him, that would nicely accomplish Satan's goal.  It's also possible that some don't even care that God is honored, as much as they get to entertain and then have people express how wonderful they are, and then the combination of entertainment and spiritual experience comes together in music.

Charismatics developed a very complicated superstructure of fake spirituality over a number of years, until they had an elaborate theology and group of go-to experiences to validate their reality.  Many have been fooled by that.  The same type of deceit or modified forms of it have fooled and are fooling other self-professing non-charismatics.  Anyone can be deceived.  Please think about it.

Feelings can replace true spirituality.  Men who need God replace it with feelings produced by their music, videos, sports excitement, and personal relationships.  Faith doesn't depend on feelings, but faith lacks the preferred pseudo-confirmation of a feeling.  Judging spirituality is controversial.  People don't want their spiritual experiences invalidated.  They react with anger to that.

On the other hand, people want their feelings validated.  They want their feelings to be accreditation of their spirituality.  They like the feeling.  Since they like the feeling, it would be great if the feeling would count as spirituality.  Deceit works better when there is a fleshly appeal to it.

Music can produce feelings.  Certain rhythms and chords interact with the flesh for a pleasant feeling.  The popularity of rock music and related genres occurred because of the feelings they gave.  The Charismatic movement started mixing that music with their concocted experiences.  The feelings synthesized with their version of Christianity.  The Charismatic movement boomed.  That part of the movement flowed into evangelicalism.

Let me take a step back, because Charismaticism didn't initiate the incorporation of feelings into Christianity.  That started with revivalism.  Finney and then Moody used music to shape audiences.  Their theology called for human means to meet divine goals.  Moody's music wasn't as bad as the rock of today, but it shifted things that direction.  The Charismatics stemmed from revivalism, becoming revivalism on steroids.  This was the original gospel music, because music was a method to lead to a desired outcome.  All of what I'm writing is true.  Some of the same people, who rely on the exact methods of Finney, savage the operation of Finney.  It's rank hypocrisy.  Worse than that, it's fooling people just like Finney did.  Finney proclaimed that he was manipulating people.  The new evangelicals deny it.

Billy Graham experimented with all sorts of means in his crusade to draw a crowd and to prime their emotions to move at an invitation.  Men all around copied him. These methods "worked" and were imitated even more.  It became the norm.  It had a "history" to it.  Any critics were marginalized.  "They were emphasizing second tier doctrines."  "They were judging in areas that scripture was silent."  "They were legalists."  "They are divisive."  "They are fundamentalists."  I was called a liar recently for calling it what it was. Whatever.

The Jesus movement used these methods to merge a segment of a generation in the 1960s.  Even a conservative evangelical like John MacArthur called it a genuine revival.  That movement brought Christian rock mainstream into the church.  Many evangelical radio programs start with their own Christianized version of bumper music.

People confuse the feeling they get in "worship" as some kind of spiritual sensation.  They're getting in touch with God somehow, are on His frequency.  At times, they even send up their hands, like raising the antennae.  Those feelings are not spiritual.  They're flesh.  So what is flesh they think is spiritual.  This is spiritual deceit.  People think they're spiritual, when they're not.  When they operate on these terms in their "worship," they'll take that lack of discernment to many other areas.  And they do.

The worst result is the loss of worship.  Instead of worshiping God, the participants are serving themselves.  They like the feelings, and now they are justified as worship.   It is more insidious and evil than if it were just a straight secular rock concert.

This form of fake spirituality is described in a paragraph by Peter Masters as

gathering thousands of young people annually, and featuring the usual mix of Calvinism and extreme charismatic-style worship. Young people are encouraged to feel the very same sensational nervous impact of loud rhythmic music on the body that they would experience in a large, worldly pop concert, complete with replicated lighting and atmosphere. At the same time they reflect on predestination and election. Worldly culture provides the bodily, emotional feelings, into which Christian thoughts are infused and floated. Biblical sentiments are harnessed to carnal entertainment.

He continues:

In times of disobedience the Jews of old syncretised by going to the Temple or the synagogue on the sabbath, and to idol temples on weekdays, but the new Calvinism has found a way of uniting spiritually incompatible things at the same time, in the same meeting.

Many who agree with Masters have given up the fight on this.  They have concluded that it isn't worth it.  They don't like it, but they don't want to minimize their influence by bringing it up.

Masters isn't the only evangelical saying this kind of thing.  In his biography on John MacArthur, Iain Murray has the gall to spend a few pages criticizing him for this.  He's not as harsh as Masters or me, but he brings it up, in his biography no less.  He writes (p. 57):

I want to add a measure of regret that MacArthur does not seem to have given fuller attention to an issue connected with all these controversies. The contemporary decline in public worship bears a relationship to antinomianism, with the charismatic movement, and with the practice of the Church of Rome. . . . A lost consciousness of the majesty of God has turned worship into providing what people desire.

When I watched the "worship" at the recent Shepherd's Conference of Grace Community Church and MacArthur, joined by hundreds of pastors, if not thousands, on display was the acceptance of this fake spirituality on a massive level.  This is where people are at today.  Some might say that they accept it, because it is in fact acceptable.  It's not wrong.  It's even a superior spiritual experience.  "We've reached new heights of spirituality with it."  No.  It is the same fake spirituality that Jonathan Edwards criticized in his Treatise on the Religious Affections.  Of course, what Edwards bemoaned and rejected, was much more tame than that produced by evangelicalism (even conservative), but it was what he was talking about.  All of this is tell-tale of rampant fake spirituality, when its "conservative" leaders gather to be fooled by it themselves.

I can't talk about everyone on this, but there is an interesting synergism between evangelicalism and revivalist fundamentalism here.  What you hear at Lancaster Baptist Church and West Coast Baptist College and then at Grace Community Church are amazingly the same.  They are almost identical in their feelings.  They are producing the very same fraudulent spirituality.  How could they be so much the same?  What Murray wrote, pragmatism, is the common denominator.  They're both moved by success.  This stuff works.  And when it works, the sense is that it must be the "power of God."  You hear both Paul Chappell and John MacArthur talk about the power of God.  They even have a similar take on it.  The charge in their power is seen in their music.

I don't know if these churches can or will turn back from this.  Once you've gotten where they're at, it's tough.  Giving it up is like weaning yourself off of caffeinated beverages.  It doesn't feel very good to let it go.  They would lose a lot of people if they did, and that wouldn't be worth it.  It would be to admit their "worship" is wrong.  That's a heavy admission.  What I predict is that it will  all just get worse and worse in the next generation.  It's very much like our country moving from FDR to Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama in our addiction to spending and debt.  The feelings will mount and the deceit will grow without a stark, clear repentance and willingness to call it what it is.

5 comments:

Bill Hardecker said...

It is the strangest thing that so many photos or graphics about worship have individuals or groups of people with their hands up. A trip to the Christian bookstore (which is always local, never universal, BTW, I wonder if Christian authors who hold to the universal church theory take universal, invisible money for their books, but I digress) will illustrate this. A CCM music CD will have something like that. A Study Bible for teens. A booklet (on the topic of worship). A poster advertising a church worship or service. A "sacred" music video (where people sing and act like they could sing while gyrating or something like that). Everyone, it seems, knows that raised hands is a universal symbol for worship, right? Like send up the hands and close the eyes and use vain repetitions (like the mantra-type "Worship" music of Contemporary Worship). Biblical worship is spirit and truth (because that's how the Lord defined it for us) hence it isn't about hands or bodily parts. I get irritated with the "universal sign" of worship. A better symbol of New Age Worship ought to be a golden calf. Okay, irritation rant done. Much to ponder in both articles, thus far. Can't wait for part 3 and the rest.

Kent Brandenburg said...

thanks bill

Kent Brandenburg said...

thanks bill

Anonymous said...

Nehemiah 8:6
And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

Psalm 28:2
Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.

Psalm 47:1
O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.

Psalm 63:4
Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.

Psalm 88:9
Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: Lord, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.

Psalm 134:2
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord.

Psalm 141:2
Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

Psalm 143:6
I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.

I'm not a theologian, just a simple person who takes these Scriptures literally. I don't see the lifting of hands as I worship to be a sin. I agree with much of your article, but the condemning of raising hands in worship to God does not make sense to me.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hello Anonymous,

I get sick of anonymous comments. I allow them, I know. But I'm sick of them. I put myself out there, but I'm pretty sure that people won't say their name because of three four beliefs that I have, and people's unwillingness to associate here at all. Nevertheless, I'll talk to you.

I didn't say there was anything wrong with raising hands, but that has become a norm among the Charismatic and CCM movement as some kind of indication of connection that they feel with God. I call it raising their antennae. It's not what we read in these verses. They might think that they are affiliating with those verses and so justify that connection, but it's impostor. So there we go.