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Friday, January 25, 2008

This is long, but is Important,
and so Should Be Read.

CunningDove has brought up An Infinite Sadness.

To quote the divine CD:

...the nut cases that called to complain to one of my favoriate radio stations for playing Sprite commercials on a Christian Station. Ya know, cause a "sprite" was an Irish Imp.

An imp being an emissary of the Evil One, more mischievous than wicked. Hmmm...y'know I have never read of an "imp" in the Scriptures. Or a Sprite.

So why are these warders-off of spiritual danger even worrying about them? They are mythological creatures, like faeries, unicorns and Nessie. They are not in the Miserific hierarchy in the book of Ephesians. Jesus didn't cast out imps. Neither did He cast out midichlorians.

A local "study group" had a leading of the Holy Spirit to rid their households of Things. Alas, they did not go the Franciscan route of Poverty, no. These were Specific Things, like Barbies, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys, and Star Wars figures, because of Mystical Powers represented thereby.

Except for Barbie. Her...superstructure...was feared to be a source of Bad Body Image for the little girls. I've never heard anyone but feminists and charismaniacs whinge about Barbie's boobosity.

I may have held forth on this in the past, but there is a phenomenon in the Christian hinterlands I have dubbed "Holy Ghost Law". Here's how it works:

In my praying - meditation - and/or overheated imagination, I get a "leading" that I need to clear up an area of my life. Say I collect Star Wars stuff...for some reason it is fingered as incipient idolatry, so I should get rid of my stuff. If it is truly the Lord's leading, then surely I should do so. The Ephesian Christians burned their magic books, though I'm not certain that PVC action figures quite translate the same. So I get rid of the Star Wars stuff, and achieve some measure of peace or victory in that area of my life. If that is as far as it goes, fine. But come Thursday night, and I share my Leading and Victory with the prayer group, and a subtle message gets passed along:

God blessed me for doing this. He'll bless you if you do it, too.

Very subtle, caught rather than taught. Subjective. A week from Saturday, everyone has cleaned their kids' closets out, and the smoke of burning plastic carries the praises and obedience of His people God-ward. A movement has begun, a Law has gone forth.
"Holy Ghost Law", so called because a "leading by the Spirit" to an individual was communicated to the group, and they bought it. No checking Scripture, trying the spirits, just Being the Herd.

Peter was called out to walk on the water. No-one else on the boat.

This is ultimately the same mechanism that spreads wacky superstitions throughout the church. If you watch a horror movie, it's an invitation for a demon to oppress you.

Steven King novel?
Demon come-on.

60's Tiki decor?

Heavy metal Rock and/or Roll?
Oh, such demons...

Travolta's Battlefield Earth ?
That's just bad taste.

PLEASE to give me chapter-and-verse on the instant possession business. A Christian, the Holy Spirit resident, is nowhere shown in Scripture as being in danger of being demonized. Just not in there. So where did the demon-under-every-rock doctrine come from?

I have no idea. I have suspicions, though. From the barking and writhing at Cane Ridge and other revivals of the Second Great Awakening, down the sawdust trail of 20'th century revivalism, to the stadium crusades and television huckstervangelists, emotional histrionics and psychodrama have played a huge role.in getting a response from the audience. Go here for a look at the role of bringing a hearer to crisis so as to "make a decision for Christ". What better hook than to blame some of the fireworks on the Devil and his minions. Because of their emotional appeals, revivalists create their own audiences, often the unstable, mentally ill, or lookers-for-a-quick-fix. By adroit manipulation, the "preachers" can bring massive emotional pressure to bear: to contribute, to confess, to make "a decision for Christ", pressure that reads out in unusual ways: crying, wailing, trembling, and worse.

Compare the tactics of 20th century revivalism to those of the Early Church, when a disciple was taken through a period of study of the Word of God and reflection before being baptised, so the believer could truly and informedly make confession of Jesus as the Son of God.

It required study, discussion, disciple-making. and no quick fixes. Even faith and baptism is not a quick fix (Insta-Christian...JUST ADD WATER ) beyond what the Scriptures teach

Acts 2:38, And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ASV,

1Pe 3:21 Those {Noahic} flood waters were like baptism that now saves you. But baptism is more than just washing your body. It means turning to God with a clear conscience, because Jesus Christ was raised from death. CEV

Rom 6:3 Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?
Rom 6:4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father; even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Rom 6:5 For if we have been joined together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection; CEV

As your entry into the Kingdom, and the burial of the old man of sin, you have a new start, but it is the start of growth to maturity. It's a long haul deal.

The superstitions that are rife throughout Christendom today are symptomatic of the desire for the quick fix. Got a problem with a habit, or besetting sin? Go to a deliverance service and get it cast out!

Now, if through the study of God's word, you come to a place where the tribal masks in your den make you uncomfortable, by all means, take 'em down.(Jas 4:17 Therefore to him who knows to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin.) But don't turn it into a universal commandment. If my Thunderbirds collection is troublesome to the Almighty, well, that's what the Word and the Spirit are for.(Joh 16:8 And when that One [the Holy Spirit] comes, He will convict the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment.)

Just don't do the Spirit's job for Him. Abraham was God's Little Helper, and we read of the results of that in the Mid-East news all the time.


Ian McLeod said...

The whole teaching of "you should get rid of/do X to make Y happen" sounds much like magic, to me. Especially when things are being burned (often a Pagan ritual). You are correct, the only clear example is on books of spells and the like. Everything else is a matter of conscience ("What is not of faith is sin.") If I had a book which recommended that I burn certain other objects in order to make God happy, I would have to burn it as a spell-book. :P

And the whole "this (these) objects are evil" concept betrays shades (spooky!) of animism--something more befitting a Shintoist or an African tribesman than a Christian.

The Aardvark said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Rigel Kent said...

This reminds me of a story a friend of mine told me once. He's christian (catholic if you're curious about denomination), and he joined this prayer group several years ago.

This group got into a casting out demons kick. It got to the point where they went a whole meeting without mentioning Jesus once. The whole thing was demon this and demon that.

It was at that point he realized he needed to leave. He never went back.

The Aardvark said...

Thass what I'm talkin 'bout.

One of the enemy's most potent tactics is to Get Us Off Message. Throw in a healthy dose of tinfoil hat, and you get endless prating about "The Antichrist" instead of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

I'll share some weirdness in a future installment.

MacLaren said...

Dude. Nessie is real.

The Aardvark said...

I chose each of the "mythic" critters purposely.

As a MacLeod, I have fairies in my lineage.

Alas, of both types.

Rigel Kent said...

Of the clan Mcleod? And how many heads have you chopped off.

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

Ian McLeod said...

Rigel, I'll field that: Duncan was a lightweight.

The Aardvark said...

I was MacLeod before MacLeod was cool.

...and don't forget about the lightning.

It's hereditary.

Unknown said...

I always much preferred Connor anyway.

Hey, say hi to Methos for me if you see him. ;)

Unknown said...

Now, back to the topic at hand.

I fail to see how objects in and of themselves can be evil. An object just sits there, it's the intent behind the one putting it into use which makes an object a vessel of good or ill.

Look at it this way, what's the difference between a lovely statue, a monument, and an idol? A statue is appreciated for its looks, a monument for the event it commemorates, and an idol is revered as a vessel and/or image for a powerful being. On their own, they're all simply hunks of rock, wood, metal, or clay fashioned to look like something. It's the meaning us humans foist upon the object that makes the difference.

The Aardvark said...

When God spoke to His covenant people through the prophet Isaiah, he said:

Isa 44:13 He fashions wood, and stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil; he shapes it with carving tools, and he marks it out with the compass, and makes it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man, to sit in the house.
Isa 44:14 He cuts down cedars, and takes cypress and oak, which he makes the trees of the forest strong for him; he plants a tree, and the rain makes it grow.
Isa 44:15 And it shall be for a man to burn; for he will take some of it and warm himself. Yes, he kindles it and bakes bread; yes, he makes a god and worships; he makes it a graven image and falls down to it.
Isa 44:16 He burns part of it in the fire; with part of it he eats flesh; he roasts roast and is satisfied; yea, he warms himself, and says, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire.
Isa 44:17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image; he falls down to it and worships, and prays to it, and says, Deliver me! for you are my god.
Isa 44:18 They have not known nor understood; for He has shut their eyes so that they cannot see; and their hearts so that they cannot understand.
Isa 44:19 And none thinks within his heart, nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread on the coals of it; I have roasted flesh and eaten; and shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?

It all depends upon the importance WE attach to an object.

This makes me think of the Adrenaline Junkie: anything for that RUSH! Ooooooooohhhhhh, YEAH! I believe there are people who are addicted to The Subjective. Faith is fine, but they REALLY want an Experience, a subjective readout of their faith. Obedience, worship, applying the discipline of God's Word to their life, these may not be sexy enough. They must have hammer-and-tongs confrontations with the spirit realm to feel that thay're really accomplishing summat.

Fact is, the everyday slog is a confrontation with the principalities and powers - just with less pea soup.

Anonymous said...

Ian McLeod said...
Rigel, I'll field that: Duncan was a lightweight.

Not only am I laughing heartily now... I'll still be laughing when I drive home tonight after reading this line of thought about the MacLeod clan.

The rest of this stuff will require more thought before I say something. But as a quick off the cuff response.

Dude! That is totally what I was driving at!

The Aardvark said...

Check this out:

Anonymous said...

First, while I appreciate the compliment... I am far from Divine. Just ask my mom about her gray hair or Bro. Frank who baptised me why he held me down a little longer - just to make sure it "took the first time"... < -- ok, Bro. Frank didn't really do that, but it sure felt like he did. ;o)

Second, Romans 14 speaks volumes to your main point. It is a pity that the only verse memorized from that chapter is verse 11. Yes, that is a powerful verse. But it has so much more to say "in context."

Romans 14 once held little meaning to me beyond verse 11. It was when I learned that Paul was speaking to those who were eating the meat sacrificed to the 'pagan gods' that this chapter truly "came to life" for me.

What Paul was saying is exactly the point you are getting to in your commentary. It is not the meat it's self that has meaning - it is how we "assign value" to the meat that is relevant. If you eat meat sacrificed to pagan gods, but give thanks to Jesus, what idoloty is there in it? At the same time - if you refuse to eat it because it was sacrificed to a pagan god, Jesus will honor that commitment to purity.

Now, this could drag us into a much deeper discussion - so allow me to follow up with some more verses from Romans...
Rom 6:1-4 "1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."

So to try and put a fine point on what I am trying to say:
The Holy Spirit convicts us of how we should behave. Just because I am convicted that "X behavior" is not glorifying Him, does not mean that He has convicted my good friend of the same thing.

I fear that I could go on & on about this topic - so I shall end this post with, I agree with what you have said in your long but well written post.

The Aardvark said...

Small "d" it is then...the cap was in error.

Hey, if they stay under long enough, there's no backsliding!

Thanks for "getting it" It really gets all over me, seeing how rife the church is with superstition.

Don't get me started on the angel fad a few years back. People are more inclined to read the current inspirational bestseller than rightly dividing the Word of Truth. Myself included. Part and parcel of being a "disciple" is discipline.

Do I believe in angels? Yes.
Demons? Yes.
Deliverance? Yes
Heaven? Yes.

But none of those things comprises the Gospel.

Anonymous said...

I really like the part about "Holy Ghost Law".

A discussion of Sampson being given a "special" set of rules, simular to the ones give to Elizabeth for John the Baptist would really confuse the "Holy Ghost Law" crowd in college. Sometimes I really miss talking to Campus Crusade for Christ staff. :o) Some of them were very week in logic - strong on the 4 spiritual laws, but not much more than that. Some of them were totally cool & knowledgable.

Anonymous said...

And you get a big ol' "Ayyyy-men!" from this holy roller.

The Aardvark said...

I had no doubts.

As to "holy roller" When you're holy, you're devoted to the Lord. When you're rolling, you're getting somewhere.

...give it up, now....

Anonymous said...

Atta-boy Aatdvark! You go bouy!!!

How's that for applause to the "holy roller" comment?

The Aardvark said...

Adequate and acceptable.