Sunday, January 24, 2010

"This Growth Will Grow Up and Will Become the Treetops"

Posted by Christine Pack

"The word "emergent" -- the part of it that I liked most was its use in forestry, where the emergent growth, or in agriculture it's pre-emergent growth, it's the growth that's just down right at the surface, and it's just broken through, and it's small. So we said, what we are is this small, little thing that's broken through, but down the road.....this growth will grow up and will become the treetops. So in the forestry world, you determine the health of a forest both by what you see at the treetops from a flyover but also by the level of emergent growth and pre-emergent growth. So we said, hey that's kind of our metaphor, we're not trying to eliminate anything else that exists - in fact, we're gonna grow up inside of the shadows of all the rest of this. So "emergent," it kind of captures us pretty well, that's what we think this is, it's not competition, it's not anything like that, it's just that which is now growing up inside of the context that the rest of this has already existed." Doug Pagitt, discussing the Emergent Church

The Parable of the Weeds (Matthew 13:24-26)
"Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared."

photo credit: depone via photopin cc

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Karma Just Doesn't Cut It

Posted by Christine Pack

I had an abortion when I was 20 years old. I was not a Christian at the time. By this age, I had completely discarded any teachings I had learned having grown up in church, and to my mind, Christianity was for the weak, for those who needed a crutch, an opiate for the masses. Let the simple people have their silly little superstitions to keep them warm at night, I didn't need it. But after the abortion, my life took a curious turn: I spent the next 15 years looking for salvation. Oh, I would have never admitted to any such thing. Quite honestly, I didn't even have a framework for such a concept. But when I look back on my life, that's exactly what I was doing. Something inside of me (my conscience?) knew that I needed atonement, and I unconsciously set about looking for it.

I began to restlessly move through belief system after belief system, searching for redemption. As long as there was no sovereign holy God to whom I was accountable, any religion was fine for me to try: hinduism, buddhism, kabbalah, paganism, mysticism, occultism, shamanism, wicca, humanism - whatever. The problem was that within each system, guess what? There was no redemption. I would read all the books and do all the practices I learned to do -- meditation, fasting, yoga, reiki, hypnotherapy, crystals, astrology, numerology, visualization, tarot cards -- but when I would get to the end, I would always think: that's it? There was no "there" there.....

At the end of all my searching, I had ended up with a vague sort of belief system that all paths led to God, that there was no way to know him personally, that he/it was probably some kind of impersonal force out there. I leaned toward Buddhism and the law of cause and effect (karma), but what I really thought was that there was no way for anyone to know for sure.

By age 35, I was married to a wonderful man and was a new mother to a precious baby boy. But my life had taken another strange turn. For some reason, I had become consumed with fears that something horrible was going to happen to my loved ones. My fears would paralyze me, they would wake me up at night, they would leave me in a cold sweat, my heart pounding, thinking horrible thoughts that I couldn't stop thinking. I had no control over my thoughts, I only managed to sort of co-exist with them.....but I could bleakly see that these fears had only worsened as time passed. My outer life looked great (sweet husband, precious baby). But my inner life was a shambles.

When 9/11 happened, my husband, who was an agnostic, and I began to attend a local church. We were really rocked by this catastrophic event. We began to think more soberly about the weighty questions that everyone has: Is there a God? Can we know Him? If He does exist, what does He require of us? We had both grown up attending church, but had thrown it off as foolishness when we became adults. Now, we were taking a new look. Between the 2 of us, we had covered most of the other world religions! Time to examine again the claims of Christianity.

I was saved when our pastor preached through the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments? Isn't that sort of old-fashioned and kind of legalistic? Well, our pastor didn't teach the Ten Commandments as a way to live so we could get better and better, and hopefully someday be "right with God." What he did was pull back the veil of the Holy of Holies and show me a picture of who God was. He was a God so blindingly holy that one transgression of these Commandments was enough to doom me. This was no prescription for getting right with God: this was a one-way ticket to hell! One lie, a death sentence. One covetous thought, a death sentence. One single act of rebellion against my parents, a death sentence. I sat still as he spoke, desperately trying to think of all the "good things" I had done in my life that might get me a pass. Finally, our pastor came to the 6th commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," and I was undone.

In an instant, I realized how my inner need for atonement had driven me relentlessly to pursue redemption in some way through the many religions I had tried. And I realized the futility of any way other than the one God had prescribed. Jesus' words that I had learned in my childhood went through my head: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No-one comes to the Father but through Me." Suddenly, the realization washed over me that my fears were actually the by-product of the karmic belief system I had come to embrace! This impersonal system of cause-and-effect demanded payment for what I had done. And my fears were my own inner struggle with attempting to reconcile my unforgivable crime - the abortion - with the cool, impersonal laws of karma that I felt pressing down on me: I killed; therefore, there must be a corresponding death. Would it be mine? My husband's? My baby's? That's the law of karma. Those were the fears that enslaved me. I realized I didn't want justice; I wanted, I needed mercy.

I knew in an instant I would never be able to atone for my sin - never. I could never atone for myself, I could never save myself. I needed to be saved. I needed a Savior.

Suddenly, the gospel message, the very heart of Christianity, made glorious sense to me. God sent Jesus to make atonement for me because I couldn't make atonement for myself. Jesus suffered on the cross so that I would not have to pay the penalty for my sin. There truly was no other way! I was dumbfounded as the simplicity of God's plan broke over me in a fresh way. Scripture came flooding into my mind, suddenly making sense. God had used my sinful, murderous, selfish act to drive me to my knees and save me. And yet, He did save me, even me, a wretched, depraved sinner. What an amazing God.

In a sense, Buddhism got it right with the idea that there was a ledger being kept somewhere, recording rights and wrongs, and also the idea that wrongs had to be corrected. But only Christianity makes a way for sinners to be made right with God without being punished themselves. Someone did pay the price for my sin...only, it wasn't me. In the face of such infinite mercy, who would want something as small as karma?

photo credit: kleer001 via photo pin cc

 Additional Resources 

When Abortion Suddenly Stopped Making Sense (The National Review)

A Christian Woman and Her Frightening Experience With Yoga ( Drs John Ankerberg and John Weldon)

"Christian" Yoga? (Caryl Matrisciana)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mysticism: A Counterfeit Holy Spirit

Posted by Christine Pack

An excellent article at More Books and Things discusses the startling trend of Calvinists beginning to embrace mystical practices such as contemplative prayer, taize, lectio divina, centering prayer, etc. Mystical Calvinists? An oxymoron, if ever there was one. Calvinists are supposed to be the solid ones, the ones holding the line on attacks against the Sola's.....right? Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? Okay, for anyone unclear on this:
Mysticism = the Opposite of Sola Scriptura
But in today's crazy, mixed-up world of postmodernism, syncretism and ecumenism, the Calvinists are letting down their guard. They're letting themselves be convinced that there is a type of mysticism that is not pagan, but is Christian, biblical and necessary for being close to God.

For those who don't know, Sola Scriptura was one of the rallying cries of the Reformation. It is the doctrine that the Bible is the only infallible and inerrant authority for Christian faith, and that Scripture alone contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness.

Christian proponents of mysticism, however, are making the assertion that Scripture is not enough of a revelation from God. No, according to them, we've got to power down, get still and silent, and "hear" from God.

However, speaking as a former mystic/gnostic/hindu/buddhist/pagan, I can attest that the "powering down" thing that mystics do is not biblical. In Matthew, Jesus makes this cryptic statement: "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. ..." "Meaningless repetition" - does that not sound like mantra meditation?

As a New Age mystic in the 90's, I moved freely from religious system to religious system without difficulty. Why was I able to do this? Because syncretism is not just for Christians, silly rabbit! It was considered very tolerant and forward-thinking in the late 80's and 90's in New Age circles to take a little of this, a little of that, and craft for yourself a belief system that you could be comfortable with. But, no matter what religious system I found myself in, mysticism was always at the core.

Okay, let's think about why mysticism would be at the core of so many false religions. It must serve some purpose, after all. Well, my take on this, having participated in many different "flavors" of mysticism is that mysticism functions as a counterfeit Holy Spirit experience.

So - what is the true Holy Spirit and how does it function? All true Christians are indwelt with the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion. When this happens, the Holy Spirit comes to live and dwell inside each newly born-again Christian until their time on this earth is over. The Holy Spirit has many functions, among them bringing conviction over sin and illuminating Scripture.

False religions do not have this indwelling of the Holy Spirit taking place within their adherents. So what's a Devil to do? Well, he'll just do what he's always done, and rather successfully at that: create some kind of counterfeit experience to mimic a real blessing given by God to true Christians.

So let's look at how mysticism functions. Practically speaking, how does Satan get people into a mystical state? Well, there are many different avenues he has given us for getting into this state. One of the most widely used practices is mantra meditation. This is done by using a repetitive device (repeating a word, focusing on breathing, singing or speaking a phrase over and over) until the mind is emptied and "parked." It's not driving, it's not in reverse, it's idling. It's parked. There are other ways, of course, such as staring at a candle or an image, drumming, whirling, dancing and taking mind-altering drugs. But for our purposes here, we're going to be looking mainly at mantra meditation, as this is what is flowing unchecked into once-solid churches.

In this meditative state, a person is still awake and somewhat aware but one's God-given boundaries are down. So what happens to a person in this state? Mantra meditation is so very seductive because it generates a very powerful, seemingly supernatural experience that can make one feel as if they are actually encountering "God." The first meditation I ever did at age 20 left me utterly convinced that I had experienced the presence of God. In hindsight, I believe that this encounter truly was supernatural. The Bible tells us that Satan himself can masquerade as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). So I ask you: would Satan be so bold as to actually pretend to be God? Of course he would. He's no gentleman. It's not like he would say to himself, "Well, that would be deceitful, I can't do that!" More like this: "That's deceitful - awesome!! I wonder how many times I could trick people into thinking they're encountering God before somebody starts to catch on?" And Satan was more than happy to give me an "experience" if it would turn me away from the one true God.

Something else happened during my first meditation that I didn’t realize until years later. I came out of that FIRST meditation session with an altered worldview. Now think about that. In the space of 20 minutes (because that's all the time it takes to do a meditation), my worldview shifted dramatically. Prior to this meditation experience, as far as I was concerned all spiritual choices were still "on the table" for me: Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, paganism, gnosticism, etc. But after I had come out of that first meditation, the Christianity of the Bible was no longer on the table for me. Why? Because Christianity is the only religion with such unbending and exclusive truth claims. ("I am the Way, the Truth, and the comes to the Father but through Me.") And meditation counters this claim by generating an experience in which a person feels a profound sense of interconnectedness and oneness with all that "feels" counter to the exclusive truth claims of Christianity. It feels just like you have had an encounter with God, that you have been in the presence of the Divine...only, you haven't.

Now. Let's look at the logical conclusions that practicing mystics MUST come to if they are staying true to their belief system: If I can experience God through meditation, then the cross has no meaning. And Jesus was a liar when He said that He was the only way to God.

Unfortunately, many Christians today are very innocent and naive about the dangers of the occultic realm (which is precisely where mantra meditation leads) because they have not been warned about it by their pastors and they have had no direct personal experience with it (and in this postmodern age, direct personal experience seems to trump everything). Yet, instead of (1) following the clear mandate of scripture on this and (2) listening to those of us who have had direct personal experience with the occult and who attempt to warn about how dangerous it is, many Christians today blindly follow their leaders into any and every new teaching (contemplative prayer, lectio divina, breath prayers, Jesus prayer, etc.). And those who sound the alarm are labeled as narrow-minded, intolerant, Pharisaical, and judgmental....not by the world, but by their fellow Christians!

Also, among professing Christians there is almost an attitude of, "Hey, I can't be deceived, I'm a Christian!" As if somehow just being a Christian renders one "deceit proof." But if this were true, then Jesus would not have given warning after warning for us to vigilantly guard against false teachers and false doctrine, and to take care that no one deceive us.

Christian mysticism is being taught in many seminaries today, including but not limited to the institutions listed below:
Dallas Theological Seminary
Bethel University
Fuller Theological Seminary
Biola University
Moody Bible Institute
Wheaton College
John Brown University
Popular Christian authors whose writings fill the shelves in Christian bookstores promote mysticism. Some of the most well-known authors are listed below:
Rick Warren
Rob Bell
Brian McLaren
Doug Pagitt
Shane Claiborne
Tony Jones
Dallas Willard
Richard Foster
Dan Kimball
Donald Miller
Erwin McManus
Brennan Manning
Laurie Beth Jones
Phyllis Tickle
Ruth Haley Barton
Tony Campolo
Christian mystical practices come in many different guises, including, but not limited to:
Spiritual Formation
Spiritual Disciplines
Ancient Future
Centering Prayer
Lectio Divina
Jesus Prayer
Contemplative Prayer
Contemplative Spirituality
Walk To Emmaus
The Silence
Promoters of Christian mysticism today say "Embrace the silence!" The Bible says, Test the spirits and flee from deception (I John 4:1), hold fast to what is true (1 Thess. 5:21) and don't assume immunity from deception (Matthew 24).

 Additional Resources 

Fighting For The Faith Interview on Mysticism

John MacArthur on Spiritual Formation and Biblical Sanctification

What Is Mysticism?

Mysticism: Who Needs Crack?

The Dangers of Contemplative Prayer

What Is Mysticism? (5-Part Series by Dr. Gary Gilley) - Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 and Part 5

Mystical Youth Ministry

Biblical Silence vs. Mystical Silence

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Lesson of the Plucked Chicken

During those final days of the collapsing Marxist experiment in the Soviet Union, Soviet novelist Chingiz Aitmatov retold the following story, which has been paraphrased here:

On one occasion, so it was narrated, Stalin called for a live chicken and proceeded to use it to make an unforgettable point before some of his henchmen. Forcefully clutching the chicken in one hand, with the other he began to systematically pluck out its feathers. As the chicken struggled in vain to escape, he continued with the painful denuding until the bird was completely stripped. “Now you watch,” Stalin said as he placed the chicken on the floor and walked away with some bread crumbs in his hand. Incredibly, the fear-crazed chicken hobbled toward him and clung to the legs of his trousers. Stalin threw a handful of grain to the bird, and it began to follow him around the room, he turned to his dumbfounded colleagues and said quietly, “This is the way to rule the people. Did you see how that chicken followed me for food, even though I had caused it such torture? People are like that chicken. If you inflict inordinate pain on them they will follow you for food the rest of their lives.”

Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God, (Word Publ., Dallas: 1994), pp. 26-27

The question is...what will we do in America after our feathers have been plucked? Will we cling to the one who did the plucking? Have we been made soft by a generation of X-box playing and Big Mac eating? Is Big Government the answer?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Twilight - Part 2: Satan's Grim Parody of Blood Leading to Eternal Life

Posted by Christine Pack
“…because the life of every creature is its blood.” (Leviticus 17:14) 
“If anyone eats blood, that person must be cut off from his people.” (Leviticus 7:27) 
“You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.” (Acts 15:29 )
Ever since the Fall, Satan has been doing his best to deceive, beguile, trick and confuse the creatures made in God’s image. After all, Satan is no gentleman. He is bluntly described in the Bible, as “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44), and his is a predatory, murderous hatred. But since he can’t get at God, his desire now is to use his still powerful intellect to confuse the humans who are so precious to God. God knows this, and that is why he graciously and mercifully gives us warning after warning in Scripture about Satan and his schemes:

“Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”
(2 Cor 11:14) Meaning, Satan will rarely show up with red horns and a pitchfork, billowing sulfurous smelling smoke. No, often times he masquerades as someone wanting to help us, as our friend, just as when he presented himself to Adam and Eve in the garden: “Hey, I’ve got your back! That God, he’s holding out on you, but let me tell you, eating from that tree will be great for you!” He didn’t say it in these exact words, but that was his message.

The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness is another example. Does anyone recall that Satan actually quoted scripture to Jesus? And he didn’t misquote Scripture, either. By that I mean that he didn’t misquote a single word…he just quoted it out of context. That’s why false teachers can be so deceptive: they often quote scripture word for word…just out of context. Obviously, to the undiscerning, this can give the appearance of being religious, spiritual, even good. This was the same trick employed by Satan in the desert, but was his motivation to do good, to help Christ? No, it was to gain power for himself and to tempt Christ into abandoning God’s plan of salvation for humanity. As far as he was concerned, if quoting the Scripture would get him where he wanted to be, well, he certainly wouldn’t be above that.

“The devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
(I Peter 5:8) Satan may be able to masquerade as our friend (as he did with Adam and Eve), or as “an angel of light” for a period of time, but eventually his mask will slip and his true agenda will be exposed: he wants, above all else, our destruction. Remember the old folk legend that closes with the caution: “Beware of dancing with the devil, because in the end, it will be the devil that dances with you.” In other words, Satan may seem like our friend, and his enticements may tickle our flesh momentarily, but in the end, he will walk away laughing, leaving wreckage and death behind him if he can. He is a cruel playmate.

As Christians, we know (or should know) that Satan loves to take wonderful blessings from God and make his own grim version that he can present to people as a better version than God’s blessing. The first known example of Satan’s attempt to pervert what God has given and intended as a blessing is in the Garden of Eden. Another example is sexuality. According to God's boundaries, sexual relations must only be within the framework of marriage, between one man and one woman. And through this covenant, God blesses his people greatly. Adultery, sexually transmitted diseases, pornography and divorce are all grim examples of what happens when covenantal marriage vows are broken.

Another example is the occult. God gives explicit instructions throughout both the Old and New Testaments on how God’s people should respond to the occult. In a word, flee! In Deuteronomy, we are given a detailed account of what God tells us to avoid: “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. ‘For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you.’ ” (Deut. 18:10-12).

This passage in Deuteronomy makes quite clear what the LORD considers to be occultic and wicked. Now, as Christians, we all know the standard we are to use in determining whether something is good or bad for us. We’ve practically been trained! If quizzed on this, we will automatically produce the right answer: Our standard is the Bible, of course. We know this, but do we really live this out in our day-to-day lives? I would submit that in today’s culture, a disconnect has developed between (1) what we know to be true and (2) how we practice this truth (or fail to practice this truth) in our daily lives.

And this brings me to the subject of Twilight. Now, let me stop and give a little background on what the Twilight phenomenon is, for those who haven't heard of it -- and there can't be many since Twilight has been a blockbuster best-seller and has already been made into two movies, one released last fall, and the other to be released November 2009. Twilight is the first in a series of four books written by Stephanie Meyer that chronicles a love story between a vampire (Edward) and a human girl (Bella). And according to USA Today, it's even bigger than Harry Potter:
"Stephenie Meyer's four-book Twilight series has sunk its fangs into USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list — with no signs of letting go. Meyer's domination of the list for the past 12 months has smashed records that until now had belonged to J.K. Rowling." (August 4, 2009-USA Today)
I personally became aware of this book only in sort of a peripheral way when it first came out. From time to time, I hear about books and movies with an occultic theme, but they don’t really register on my radar; they don’t, that is, until I start to hear about Christians who are enthusiastically embracing the new phenomenon to come along, whether it is Harry Potter or Twilight or whatever. How can this be? How can people profess faith in Christ but then fail to make choices that reflect having a Biblical worldview? An extremely occultic, sexually charged book comes out and what do the Christians do? Flee? No. Along with the pagan culture, they embrace it. And make Bible studies centered around it. And herald Edward (the vampire love interest) as a Christ figure.

Which brings me to my last, and most important, example of a Godly blessing which Satan attempts to pervert with his own demonic parallel: the blood. Obviously, blood is very important in scripture because it is how we approach God. In the Old Testament the blood of animal sacrifices atoned for, and temporarily covered, the sins of God’s covenant people. In the New Testament, it is the perfect blood of Christ that atones for and covers the sins of God’s people. Because blood is the way in which we approach God, God has gone to great lengths to shine a spotlight on blood throughout the entire Bible. He does this by carefully laying out the Old Testament sacrificial system in great detail (a shadow of what was to come), and then expanding our understanding of this in Hebrews (Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Testament shadow only dimly understood before his coming): “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb 9:12). This is “God’s version” of blood leading to eternal life: a perfect, spotless Lamb (Jesus) who sheds His own blood in an atoning sacrifice by which to secure the souls of, and everlasting life for, his people.

And then there's “Satan's version” of blood leading to eternal life in Twilight: a sexy, magnetically attractive teenage boy vampire who feeds on the blood of his victims, who are then “given” eternal life, albeit a very grim version of it. However, this horrific version of eternal life is made enticing in the Twilight series because the characters are portrayed so positively and sympathetically. The love interest of the vampire, Bella, literally begs this vampire boy to drink her blood so she can be with him forever!

Just like the Harry Potter series, this series of books about vampires has been phenomenally popular in the culture (which we would of course expect). But it has also been popular and widely read among professing Christians. Now, does anyone besides me see the irony of this? We already have God's own beautiful, epic story about sacrificial love and blood and eternal life -- the story that is the very heart and soul of the Bible. So why on earth would we settle for Satan's grim parody of this?

When I was involved in the occult more than a decade ago, I briefly practiced magic with a group that identified themselves as "white witches," meaning they only practiced magic or witchcraft deemed to be “beneficial” or “good.” I did not stay long with this group because even in covens of "white" witches, there is always an undercurrent of darkness - always. I remember sitting in a class with this group, and thinking, "Why am I scared?" It was a beautiful fall day, and we were sitting in a window-filled room awash with light. I looked outside the window and saw nothing but beauty: brilliant blue skies, bright sunlight, lush orange and red foliage. But inside the room, there was an undercurrent of darkness. It is the same with vampirism. We can "cutesy" up the legends of vampires all we want (Count Chocula cereal, the Count on Sesame Street) or we can sex them up (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twilight, the HBO series True Blood), but the fact remains that at their core, these stories are wicked and, more than that, deemed to be off-limits to Christians.

“But, it's just a book,” Christian women hasten to tell me. “It's just fiction! I’m not drinking anybody’s blood!” True enough, technically, but I would submit that anyone who reads Twilight, or goes to the movie, is vicariously enjoying this demonic world and consorting with evil their heart. And yet what do we hear over and over in scripture? It’s the heart that God wants, not outward compliance, not….legalism. Legalism?! I can just hear the gasps of outrage at this charge, and the furious reply: “I’m not the legalist, you are! You’re the one being the book police!” But let’s just look at the Biblical teaching on legalism and see if this is a fair assessment.

We get our teaching on this from Jesus, who often used the Pharisees as an example of what legalism was. The Pharisees, remember, were the ones who were concerned with the outward appearance of things. They would have never engaged in any wicked, occultic practices, but the Bible records that their hearts were inwardly full of rebellion. Jesus, who brought a new, higher standard, exposed this discrepancy between their outward compliance and their inner wickedness in many ways. He told the Pharisees that though the outside of the cup might be beautiful, it didn’t matter when the inside was filled with filth (Matthew 23:25). He compared them to beautiful whitewashed tombs…lovely on the outside, but inwardly filled with maggots and decay and the stench of death (Matthew 23:27-28). So let's just ask ourselves: in the area of the occult, do we want to be Pharisees (legalists) in the eyes of the LORD; that is, technically correct outwardly, but having a heart that relishes wickedness?

We may not be consorting with vampires, but, when we get our thrills from reading books describing these practices and activities, is it not the same thing, in the LORD’s eyes, as if we had done the thing itself? The imagination is a very powerful thing, and when we watch or read something that requires our imagination, our emotions can often be as stirred as if we had had the experience ourselves. Regardless of how spiritually strong we think we are, we are not immune to the deceptions and enticements of Satan. As God’s redeemed, we are not told that we will never be tempted; on the contrary, we are told that we will struggle “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:12) Anyone who thinks that they can indulge in occultically themed books or movies and not be affected by them is either deceiving themselves or is being demonically deceived.

The cover of Twilight shows a stark black background, with the focus on two hands cupping a ripe, red apple, seeming to offer it up to the reader. This, of course, is an obvious reference to the forbidden fruit of Genesis 3, but in a sensual, enticing way. As Christians, we must remember that it did not turn out well for Eve when she began to long for the fruit God had forbidden. And we must also remember that Satan will rarely present himself in all his awful glory: he delights in taking evil and presenting it as something good and a luscious piece of fruit that is "a delight to the eyes and good to taste." Or a sexy vampire with washboard abs.
"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." (Phil. 4:8)
These are very dark times, and we are charged with the serious task of bringing the gospel to a lost and dying world. We know, of course, that Jesus never intended us to live as Christians only in church. He charged us to go out and love others with a supernatural love, and to present the face of Christ to the world. Now, I will agree that there is a very fine line between being in the world and being of the world. But do we really believe that we can impact the culture when we ourselves are participating in the wickedness of the world? That in any way God could be glorified by our reading of occultic literature?

As Christians, we must look to the Bible and apply the truths that are found there to our everyday lives. Scripture must always be our plumbline, our guide, our moral compass….not the world. It doesn't matter what everyone else in the world is doing: as Christians, we are held to a higher standard; we are to view everything through the lens of Scripture. If we truly believe, as the Bible says, that our struggle is “not against flesh and blood,” but rather, is spiritual in nature, then we must take this warning to heart, and in all that we do, ask this question: “Is what I am doing glorifying to the Lord?” For this must be our standard with every book we read, every movie we watch, every activity we do, and every conversation we have.

Let me close with this final word. If what I have written makes you angry, then please think on this: a secret love for the world and an unwillingness to give up what we know to be evil is not the mark of a true believer (I John 2:15-17). When we are “corrected” by scripture, we might initially resist or struggle against our newfound understanding, but those who truly belong to the LORD will always come back to Him in repentance – always. As Christians, let us love the “correction” we receive from scripture, and love even more the LORD who graciously gives us guidance in every area of our lives. And finally, let us hold fast to the exhortation of Paul in the book of Romans, and cling to what we know is good and flee from what we know is evil. And in this way, we truly will be light to a dark and dying world.

 Additional Resources 

Twilight - Part 1: Emotional Porn