Intrusions Into Christian Faith: Challenges For Christian Theologians (3 – Final)
Lack Of Peaceful Co-Existence:
Lack of Peace has been witnessed among some Church leaders, Christian Theologians inclusive. Please take it as a challenge and preach peace, for our Master is the ‘Prince of Peace, and He is worthy to emulate.
Since the creation of Eve, women have played vital roles in the plans and purposes of God in the world. Women were and are still vessels of transformation in God’s vineyard and source of inspiration to men in the Christian ministry. Pastoral Care and Counseling are tailor-made for women, and women have excelled in the two over the years. Christian women made valuable contributions; they were (are) inestimable jewels, committed, dedicated, loving, and passionate about God. They walked faithfully with God, who used them and produced His fruits and godly attributes in them. God created women as helpmeet for men, and they found their passion and instinct in pastoral care and counseling. The status of women in early Christianity has been quite debated in recent decades; no doubt, it prompted the interest in the women’s movement in Western Countries today. I think the evidence is somewhat mixed. Indeed, there is evidence in the New Testament of women doing many things within early Christianity. In Paul’s letters, he greets women and calls them co-workers.
Paul referred to one of them by a Greek word that means “deaconess.” Women’s activities in the New Testament Period are related to women’s role in the house churches, especially in pastoral care and counseling. The earliest Christian communities met in people’s houses because no churches existed. Women-owned these houses in which the early Christians met, and this is very significant because they did not only provide coffee and cookies; they were prayer warriors and also saw to the spiritual development of the believers. At strategic times in Salvation history, God chose women and empowered them with His Spirit to carry out His will in extraordinary ways. God chose Mary to give birth to the Saviour, and he chose another Mary as the first apostle to proclaim the Good news of Jesus’ resurrection.
God chose women in the early Church to pastor, teach, take care, counsel and proclaim the gospel. Women were co-workers with Apostle Paul and joint-heirs with Christ and their brothers in the Faith. Throughout the Centuries, God has called countless women and empowered them to fulfill both humble and high-profile assignments. Luke 8: 1- 3 days after this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their means.
The Apostolic mothers and wives (those that lived at the time of the apostles or immediately after) were more involved in pastoral care and counseling than Church planting or evangelical outreaches like today’s Pentecostal women. Their contributions were more towards the development and growth of the individual within the believer community (Church). They were involved in consultation, deliberation, and exchange of ideas. Their Christian call was to care for the brethrens’ physical, emotional and spiritual needs. These women helped uplift spiritual ecstasy and assisted those in need and spiritually poor. They brought the principles of God’s word (the Bible) to bear upon human problems. They trusted in the word of God, as directed by the Holy Spirit through prayers. These personalities range from women of the Old Testament, New Testament, 2nd to 5th Century, women of early Quakerism, women in missions, women of the Azusa street revival, and many other celebrated women across the globe. They are role models to today’s young Christian women. These women showed unique love in their services and displayed exemplary character. Some of them did not stop at pastoral care and counseling; they went further by enlarging Churches dominated by male leadership and, after that, started women’s organizations and their ministries.
Church Mothers contributed immensely to Christianity’s growth and deserved to be celebrated, and they are true heroines of the Christian Faith. One woman deserves tremendous applause for her contributions to the gospel’s spread. She has been called “the apostle of apostles,” whose mission is to announce the Good News (Evangelion). Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus Christ resurrected from the tomb (John 20:11-18; Mark 16:9; Matthew 28: 9-10). Because of this, she is considered the “apostle of apostles” and is so-called even by Saint Augustine. She alone met Jesus Christ at the tomb in His resurrected body; it is easy to imagine that she received vital teaching here, one that can be comprehended only by a person whose seven demons have been lifted. In the hour of adversity, Miriam of Magdala proves herself to have the most strength, Faith, endurance, resolution, and hope in her suffering during the Crucifixion of their Master and Friend. Based on the above submissions on the contributions of women to the Christian Faith, it is no longer accepted that there should be any gender discrimination in the Church of Christ.
Proselytisation And Religious Propaganda:
- To induce someone to convert to one’s Religious Faith.
- To induce someone to join one’s political party or espouse one’s doctrine.
- To convert (a person) from one belief, doctrine, cause, or Faith to another.
Rather than Christians forming a block to counter this onslaught with proactive and sustained evangelism, they lure Christian members from one fold to another using all sorts of incentives. Real evangelism is lost as no genuine conversion is done but only to denigrate each other to swell assemblies, all for the financial gains and prosperity of the Pastor/founder. There is nothing spiritual, only temporal gain. The 20th Century witnessed the phenomenal growth of what is known as the Classical Pentecostal Movement. Traditional Church Leaders and theologians reacted negatively to Pentecostal in the first half of this Century. Many judged Pentecostals to be emotionally disturbed, mentally limited, inherently sociologically deprived, and/or concluded that the pneumatic unction claimed by the Pentecostals was not genuine. Many have not abandoned these views, yet the ecclesiastical landscape has been sufficiently rearranged that many traditions have re-evaluated their opposition to the movement. The Pentecostal surge saw many orthodox members moving into Pentecostal assemblies, but this surge is no longer there as the orthodox churches have since become Pentecostal themselves.
Religious Fundamentalism And Violence:
It is witnessed between the Islamic religion and Christianity, which has led to riots, violence, and even war in some parts of Africa. Religious persecution, violation of human rights, and denial of religious liberty challenges constitutional protections of religious freedom. Widespread Discriminatory Legislation or Policies disadvantages Certain Religions. Africa is significantly challenged by the multitude and dimensional Political and Religious Confrontations and Interactions; that has led to unsolved problems. Some of the problems are rooted in conflicts, violence, and war.
Rise of new religions, Cults and Occultism:
Cults are religious worship with rituals. The Long man Dictionary describes a Cult as a group of people that follow a system of worship, especially one that is different from the usual and established forms of religion in a particular Society. Brates (1994) defined a cult as any religious group which differs significantly in some or more respects as to belief or practice from those religious groups, which are regarded as the typical expressions of religion in our total culture. Walter (1996) said, “A cult is a group of people gathered about a specific person or person’s misinterpretation of the Bible.” These groups of people are called Cults because the deeper you get, the more you are entrusted with more profound/cogent information (secrets), and the more exclusive it becomes. Any Society, which does not and cannot reveal all its tenets and beliefs until you are initiated into it, is a Cult. Most of the Cult’s benefits are secular values and not eternal. Cults members consider their mysteries and teachings superior to the Bible’s wisdom. They give mystical interpretations of the scripture. Cult rites of initiation differ from one group to another. The Cultists have a strong and highly respected influence in Society and the Church.
Christianity is clearly in friction with secret societies because of their detestable practices. Christians are obeyers of the WORD of God. The Word of God, as written in Deuteronomy 18: 10-12 warns us against such; “Let no one is found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritists or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these detestable practices, the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.” It is well known that cult members consult mediums and the dead, which is against God’s Word and is detestable to God.
There is a significant difference between Christianity and the Cult despite what seems to be the same practice. With the near extinction of new members to cults and attacks from the Church, in recent times, the secret societies have taken bold steps to conduct their activities openly. There is an excellent drive among them for more members. The order of their funeral and other services is similar to that of the regular Church. Their prayers in which they are silent on the name of Jesus Christ are in Christian Format. They engage in Fundraising activities publicly. They hold their social events openly though the initiation of members and meetings are still held secretly. They have a written constitution to show non-members to create the impression that there is nothing secret about them. They preach messages that share similarities with the Bible but do not trust the totality of Jesus Christ. They preach brotherly love and kindness. The Masonry calls the Bible the volume of the sacred law. Jim Shaw, the former 33rd degree Mason, later converted to Christianity, said, “Masonry is not based on the Bible but Kabala, a medieval book of mysticism and magic.” The Rosicrucian belief is that God is not a person but a principle. “God is seen as devoid of Intellect, Emotions, and Will.” They say that God represents the idea of a father, that the Holy Spirit is the feminine side, and that the son is the cosmic principle.
The Rosicrucian teaches that Jesus is a mystic who taught the Christian principle and other doctrines. The Masons often refer to their deity as GAOUTU. Great Architect of the Universe, or sometimes he is explained as Grand Artificer, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge. These cults think of and consult various messiahs originating in Solar Worship. No Christian that is a true believer of Jesus Christ would want to be a member of any society that denies the fundamental Faith of his religion as the cult members do. It becomes evident that the God who revealed Himself in the Bible – the absolute authority of Christianity is not the same as the Cultists worship.
Given the wide distribution of books promoting psychological mysticism, it is safe to say that this deceptive practice has found its way into every major Christian denomination. The presence of God becomes natural to us in the Word and Sacraments, not in a mystical visualization technique. Modern psychology is not an innocent helping discipline that we can carelessly borrow from the kingdom of the left hand and merge with our pastoral theology. Some theories and techniques in psychology, such as self-esteem, the encounter dynamic, and psychological mysticism, can grossly distort Christian truth and inflict grave spiritual damage upon Christian people.
Christian pastors/priests should be primarily concerned with theology. If a pastor should embrace strange, deceptive theology and visits the same on his people, he will readily be called to task by the church leaders and his fellow pastors because they know their theology. But what if that same pastor embraces strange, deceptive psychology? Who will challenge him? If a pastor/priest has a doctorate in psychology and is in a position of influence within the denomination, he is virtually untouchable. He can promote any theory, recommend any book, and practice any methodology because he is one of the few professionals in a sea of amateurs. Who has the credentials to challenge him? Those who promote deceptive psychology in the Church often hide the roots of their teaching. I suggest that Christian denominations concerned by the intrusions of falsehood into their ranks should appoint a standing committee of apologetic researchers, experts in the occult and orthodox pastors, and lay people who are academically trained in psychology. It would be the task of this committee to research what most busy pastors cannot do and offer the Church their conclusions and opinions concerning some of the deceptive offerings of modern psychology.
I am not suggesting that my thoughts on these subjects are the final word. Undoubtedly, there are pastors, priests, theologians, and Christian psychologists who can offer more academically mature opinions than I can. I would encourage them to do so. I hope and pray that those who read this article will agree with my conclusion. The challenge of addressing these issues lies in the hands of Christian Theologians. The Church, according to Calvin, has spiritual and moral resources to tackle these issues effectively. The Church is responsible for creating the State of peace since peacemaking is an important Christian Virtue. Therefore, peace is reconciliation and harmony between God and people, people and people, and between people and nature (Augsburger, 1990, 135). The Christian Theologians fall short of these responsibilities despite the sustained presence of Christianity for many years. Initially, the Church was very effective as an instrument for enlightenment. The Church introduced all aspects of learning, Medicine, Law, Education, Pharmacy, Teaching, Theology, and Journalism. The Church would have been more effective if the Theologians participated in politics and governance to provide quality leadership. Then there would have been less injustice, oppression, and differentiation but more cohesion, love, fairness, and justice. The doctrine close to Calvin’s heart is that everybody has his calling; your calling is holy, and you must pursue it and excel in it. Some Christians are probably imbibing the Protestant Work Ethic, the direct teaching of Calvin that God is glorified in everyday work and family life.