Cheap Mysticism vs. True Freedom

Buddy Christ
For far too many Christians, this is the idol that they worship.

Okay, let’s try this again without the wierd error.

I apologize for not posting yesterday. I normally blog during my lunch break but the wife and I decided to enjoy lunch outside together and then we had guests over in the evening.

As I’ve looked at my increasingly busy schedule–readying the Revelation series that I’ll be starting in June over at Cyber-Synagoge, for example–I’ve come to a decision: Instead of trying to blog every day, I’m going to put up three good posts a week, probably on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. They will probably be a bit longer than what I’ve commonly done before, and hopefully better thought-out.

In any case, today I’d like to pursue a bit futher a topic that I touched on in Idolatry Insults Human Dignity:

There’s another, more insidious form of idolatry that also insults the dignity of Man, and that is worshiping a mental image of God which is made in our own image. A god who always likes what we like and hates what we hate, who would vote the way we vote and who at least doesn’t really mind our sins. A god who encourages us to stay in our degraded state, not to rise again to the majesty that He gave to both the first and the last Adam. In Christianity–or Churchianity, at least–we could call this the idol of the Buddy Christ or the Boyfriend Jesus.

Seriously, when you can take 99% of all pop-Christian music and swap out “Jesus” for “boyfriend” and the song still works, there’s something seriously wrong with Evangelical culture.

The only Being worth worshiping and serving for such a being as Adam is the Eternal God, the Most High, the Creator of All. And we need to serve only Him, not the pale images of him that we build in our heads as surely as the idolaters of ancient Israel built out of wood.

Yes, that’s Einstein.

The truth of that statement was reinforced for me on Sunday when I went down to the bookstore to use up the last of a gift card I had gotten for my birthday. I eventually settled on a new journal and a book I had seen earlier called Show Me God by Fred Heeren. I haven’t gotten very far into it yet, but I wanted to share the following aside in which the author shares a conversation that he’d had with an editor back when he was trying to sell the book:

“I think like most people,” he said. “I’m a family man. I put in my time at the office, I come home. I go to church. I’m satisfied with the answers they give. Your book’s got no appeal to me. No one’s going to buy your books unless you appeal to some universal self-interest, some basic want. And what do people want?”

“Truth?” I ventured, just to be perverse.”

No, no–people want to dominate others. They want to emulate the admired, to be admired. They want more power, more popularity, more self confidence,” and he continued with another list, concluding: “You need to tell people how this will make them richer, happier, more fulfilled, how it will give them a spiritual high.”

As I read those words in the car on the way home (I talked my wife into driving just so I could), I thought of the rather extensive religious section the store we had been to had had, and just how many of the books I had looked at were subtitled things like, “How to get more (fill in the blank) from your spiritual walk,” or “Unleashing the power of ______________.”

Seriously, read this book. It’s the best on the subject that I’ve found so far.

Dr. Ed Murphy wrote in his incredible work The Handbook For Spiritual Warfare, “All occultism is a power game.” That is, the fallen spirits draw people into invoking and worshipping them by promising them power, popularity, riches, etc. Well if that’s the case, and I believe it is, then 90% of what was being marketed as Christian were actually occultic codexes in disguise.

This book store actually had a fairly impressive religious section–unlike many stores, actually larger than the New Age/Occult section next to it. But if you properly sectioned the books, moving the “Christian” “power” books and the works on surface-level, New Age derivations of Kabbalah that masquerade as Judaism and put them where they really belonged, you would have one small shelf of true religious works arrayed against entire walls of the occult.

And I don’t blame the stores and publishers–they really are just selling what people were buying! It’s just like Paul warned Timothy:

1Ti. 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

2Ti. 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

There is a yearning in the human heart for the Divine–but also a yearning for sin. To truely ascend to the Throne of Hashem requires, as Yeshua told Nicodemus, a new birth, a conversion so radical that we do indeed become new people. And to be perfectly blunt, most people don’t want that. They don’t want the sacrifice of ego that it takes to admit that one has greviously sinned and is in desperate need of redemption. They don’t want to give up the pleasures of the well-kept slave and take on the responsibilities and sacrifice that are the duties of true freedmen of the Holy One. They want an instant gratification that makes them feel spiritual without making them give up their favorite vices.

Guess who’s willing to provide that?

This isn’t an American instant-gratification cultural problem. This goes right back to the Garden of Eden. Given the choice between slowly receiving wisdom from the Eternal and trying to take a shortcut with the promise of instantly making us gods without the need for true growth, even our first ancestors in their unfallen state chose the pomegranate.

But Hashem in His mercy has given us again a Tree of Life–not a vague kabbalistic construction (useful as it is as an illustrative tool), but the true Tree of His Incarnate Wisdom in Yeshua our Messiah. But one has to choose: We cannot eat both the fruit of the experiential knowledge of both good and evil and of the fruit of Life at the same time.

Shalom

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