Feb 16, 2017

Mutating DNA

Ed's Note:  This is Part 2 in a series on the changing evangelical church. ~ St. Mark

past tense: mutated; past participle: mutated
·         change or cause to change in form or nature.

"technology continues to mutate at an alarming rate"
(with reference to a cell, DNA molecule, etc.) undergo or cause to undergo change in a gene or genes.

"the virus is able to mutate into new forms that are immune to the vaccine"

On this dark February evening, I am somewhere over the Caribbean Sea in Row 45 of 52, onboard an Air Canada 767. The seven hour deadhead home from my Bogota shift has given time for reflection. I've been reading Ray Yungen's, "A Time Of Departing", an expose, discussing the drastic error-prone changes in the emerging church.  Yungen writes of New Age spirituality that has infiltrated even much of the evangelical church. While many of the changes are subtle and sometimes difficult to articulate, others are boldly erroneous. Contemplative prayer, "Christian-Yoga", breath prayer, meditation-prayer, spiritual-formation and the "silence", Pantheism (all is God), Panentheism (God is in all things) to name a few. In many churches, according to Yungen, Christianity has sold out to high-tech marketing, a watered-down gospel and many churches have begun their descent towards spiritual apostasy. Sin and repentance are de-emphasized; thinking is deemed less important than feeling.  The love of sound doctrine that has always been a distinguishing characteristic of evangelicalism has all but disappeared.  

It is important to understand that Satan is not simply trying to draw people to the dark side of a good versus evil conflict.  Actually, he is trying to eradicate the gap between himself and God, between good and evil, altogether.  ~ Ray Yungen

Bible scholars remark how the Church is difficult to attack from the outside and history has shown this to be true; through significant and relentless attack it is still very much standing. God always has his people for his purposes!  In the same breath, the same scholars point out how vulnerable the church is to attack from the inside!  Jesus was attacked from the the inside by Peter and Judas as we see in the gospels.

My reading got me thinking through some of the church oddities I'd witnessed in the past few decades. Some of the oddities are not necessarily New-Age, but each occurrence indicates to me that unless one is grounded in biblical understanding, it can be a slippery slope to allowing a variety of junk to creep in.  

Several years ago now, I was invited to what was billed as an "all-church-prayer" service at my own local church, some time after "the new pastor" replaced the "old-timer". In all good faith I approached the event as an opportunity to join with like-minded others to call on God on behalf of the needs of others, and take time to worship corporately and also call on God for the things in my own life that I'd identified as prayer items. One of those things I'd identified was prayer for my local church whose membership had drastically fallen nearly 70% in recent months. 

As a Pentecostal pastor's son certainly a dedicated all-prayer service was nothing new. In 60 years I've seen it all or so I thought. Throughout my entire life I've been in all kinds of prayer meetings.  Since a baby. I've been in passionate prayer meetings, I've attended lively prayer meetings brimming with fervent singing and worship. Large crowds, small groups, loud groups, warm-house-groups, quiet church-groups, intense altar-area services. I've seen a variety of postures: Kneeling down, standing up and even prostrate postures as I'll share. As a boy, I nearly rolled over laughing as fervent Saint-Annie called on God against the "diry-farts" of the devil coming against her family as she loudly misspoke Ephesians 6 at a prayer service.

 Twice now, once in Windsor and once in Delta, BC,  I've been in a prayer line-up where the so-called "Evangelist / Man-of-God" literally has attempted to push me over into the waiting arms of his assistant standing behind. Believe me, I'm no pushover!  Squaring my shoulders, leaning into the push and firmly planting my second foot behind me, prevented me from falling to my back like the people beside me on both of these occasions. One guy gave me an extra loud victory-shout-prayer accompanied by an extra shove. Alas, his prayer was not answered as I literally dug my heels in all without grinning too hard! He got the message and moved on to knock-down the next victim in line.  What a Man of God; What nonsense!

I've also attended cold prayer meetings, and frankly others have been bizarre like the non-denominational one in BC.  Andrea and I had heard about the church and it's happenings; Word was out all over town ...and thus we went to check it out for ourselves.  I was having a hard time believing the zany reports.  Strangely, it was all true! There I witnessed exceedingly zealous adult participants roaring loudly like lions, and literally making other farm animal sounds accompanied by peals and fits of explosive laughter.  Similtaneously, that church claimed that "the spirit of revival was sweeping through their midst".  Hmmm...Yes, Andrea and I did walk out of that one after a few minutes unable to understand the mislead zealots. 

Another misguided and puzzling denominational scene I witnessed in a large church was a altar-area "prayer-contest" between two less than humble pastors each trying to demonstrate their greater "humility" by each showing who would be the more humble during the post-service-prayer service. Wait for it!  -It was ...Who could get their head lower to the floor?  Yes very strange and very true!  The evident winner, at least the one I silently named as such, was the one who ended up full-length prostrate in his three-piece suit, nose pressed to the carpet shouting the words of David no-less "I can get more un-dignified than this!" (Well, I'll take him at his word...I believe he probably could have!)  The befuddled crowd of onlookers were both perplexed and embarrassingly amused. I'm wondering if this scene caused the Father's heart to be saddened as they really only "prayed" and pandered self-servingly to their crowd. Even the prophets of Baal would've been confused. Performing prayer in front and for the benefit of others is a mistaken way to demonstrate your great degree of humility.  While some of these services have challenged me, yet I will always believe in God's ability to change a situation through the mighty avenue of prayer. Without doubt, prayer moves the hand of God!

Anyhow, let's say I've experienced a broad scope of prayer-service stylings. Yet this time as I walked into the sanctuary, I immediately sensed something made me uncomfortable, yet I couldn't put my finger on exactly why. My mind goes back to the 60's and my boyhood when the neighbour girls tried to coax me to participate in a Ouija-board seance. It felt dark, foreboding and alarmed me. I left and went home.

The communion-altar area was "decorated " with numerous white flickering candles in the darkened large room. Deep bass background "mood-music" tones beamed gently out of the sanctuary sound system. The pastor had selected bass tones to "set-the-mood"!  The bass tones didn't have a melody, just a confusing series of soft "boom boom booms" each in a different key.  It was sort of like hearing a New Age bass guitarist repeatedly play the Morse code "SOS" with the muffled bass sounds in slow motion. Dot-dot-dot-dash-dash-dash-dot-dot-dot with a pause before it's inevitable repetition. It would play for about 20 seconds at low-frequency and stop for 20 seconds. Wash-rinse-repeat for an hour;...Very disconcerting to my ears.

As my annoyance, nerves and discomfort increased steadily,  I readied for whatever discomfort was ahead, I silently and determinedly thought "... God, I've come to meet with you tonight, and won't leave until I have done so in spite of how I feel with these disturbing distractions".  I wandered off to the side of the room and in the darkness I knelt, put my fingers in my ears and began to call on the Name as I completed the evening with the purpose I'd come for. Then again as years before with the Ouija-board scene, I left and went home. An evangelical church that needs New-Age "mood-music", and a darkened room lit with white candles to get its parishioners "feeling in the mood" to spark a call on God is indeed a sad thing to see.

I agree heartily that we need to continually find ourselves at the altar. Recently I was told by my pastor "as long as I'm here, there will NEVER be an altar call" (exact words verbatim). I was flabbergasted to say the least. Instead in place of an altar call, he tells the congregation "...email me if you have questions". (Exact words verbatim during an Easter service). He brought in a woman who led the congregation in yoga breathing exercises in the Sunday morning worship service saying "...some of you need help with stressful life circumstances... these breathing exercises will help you to be calm". (Again this was exactly what she said without exaggeration). Yup... I wouldn't have believed this happened in a PAOC church either...except I was there stunned with my mouth open.

 I'm seeing a watered-down gospel. However I don't feel this is an isolated situation. In my opinion many churches have begun their descent towards spiritual apostasy. Sin and repentance are de-emphasized; thinking is deemed less important than feeling. The love of sound doctrine that has always been a distinguishing characteristic of evangelicalism has all but disappeared. In this case, this same gentleman often dresses for his success in skinny jeans & sneakers (etc.). He told me that this church has to be "taken-down and then built up again". I can only surmise that this means basically that the old saints have "gotta go" and we are setting this place up for young, middle-age Canadians. (or as Rick Warren says, "Pillars of the church only hold things up"). When the old timer left (he was 66 years old), this "new guy" (apx 45 years old now) put the pulpit in storage in the basement, and moved away the seats to make room for about a dozen big, round tables that seat 6 people with white table-cloths on them. This apparently is to facilitate & foster better fellowship and conversation during the AM service. (Otherwise they listen to the preaching????). I pray often for this pastor.

Call it theological drift or whatever you want, but this definitely is not our DNA! 
Has our DNA has mutated? The Church is under attack from the inside. Such is the spirit of the emerging New-Age church.  We need an awakening from the Holy Spirit.


Here is a story from the Babylon Bee:
Holy Spirit Unable To Move Through Congregation When Fog Machine Breaks

    • It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery...

     The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love...

    You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”   I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty.  ~ Galatians 5
  • Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.  ~ 1 Timothy 4:1
  • Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.  ~ 1 John 4:1
  • For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9
  • For in him (Christ) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.  And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power ~ Colossians 2:9-10
  • But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do. ~ Matthew 6:7
  • And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no gret thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. ~ 2 Corinthians 11:14-15
  • All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.  ~ 2 Timothy 3:16
  • Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:21
  • Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. ~ 2 Thessalonians 2:3
  • While the bridgroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.  ~ Matthew 25:5
  • Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. no man comes to the father but by me."  ~ John 14:6

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