Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Is There an Idol in Your Worship? Part 2


Yesterday we saw how the Jews have had issues with syncretism, the blending of pure worship with the impure, throughout their history. But this problem is not confined to the Jews. All people have trouble staying within the confines of what is acceptable to God and certainly Christianity is not an exception. Our worship throughout our own history has been tainted with the impure.

Let's look at several examples:

The Christianity that many people practice today is rife with New Age/Hinduism. This is probably most evident in what is called Contemplative Spirituality as expressed in Contemplative Prayer.  A Christian word or phrase is repeated over and over again until the mind is emptied of any other thought. At this point it is believed that God's voice can be most clearly heard. Unfortunately, prayer was meant to be a communication with God involving an active mind. Emptying the mind (or centering) allows demonic voices to be heard rather than God. Contemplative Prayer is also used in the walking of labyrinths (somewhat like a maze, but has only one direction to follow).

Mysticism in Christianity is today highly desired. Many of the so-called "desert" fathers and contemplative orders in Catholicism in history were engaged in mystical (occult) practices. Some of Christianity's favorites are mystics such as: Bernard of Clairvaux, Theresa of Avila, Ignatius Loyola, St. John of the Cross, Thomas Merton, and Henri Nouwen.

Another practice that has crept into the Church is yoga. Although its practitioners claim that it has been "Christianized", Hindu yoga masters say that that is impossible, since the positions and moves are all geared to moving kundalini energy (serpent power) through the body.

A new kid on the block is Chrislam, the blending of Christianity with Islam. But just as with Hinduism, Islam has nothing in common with Christianity. The blending of these false religions with Christianity does nothing but destroy the truth of Christianity.

But there is more! Even more subtle than these are some of the most accepted practices in Christianity. Almost every Christian celebrates Christmas and Easter. These have become the defining holidays of Christianity. But are they even proscribed by Scripture? The answer is "no". Does this mean that the celebration of Yeshua's birth and resurrection should not be done? The answer to this question is a little more complicated. Since there is no command not to celebrate them, technically, Christians are at liberty to make up their own minds about whether to celebrate or not (See Romans 14:5). However,  there are problems with the days that have been selected as well as the practices involved.

Yeshua was not born on December 25. See here: The date was already a pagan holiday. Saturnalia was a Roman holiday celebrated from December 17-25. It was a week long celebration of lawlessness. When Christianity became an accepted and eventually primary religion of the land the leaders wanted to encourage the pagans to come into Christianity. By keeping their "beloved" holiday many of the pagans were then willing to convert. Similar circumstances brought in the traditions that Christians so love today, like having a Christmas tree in the home, mistletoe, gift giving, and Santa Claus. All of these come from pagan traditions.

Easter is also problematic because Yeshua was resurrected on the Feast of First \Fruits, which falls right after Passover. Again, in the 4th Century the date was officially moved to the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs after March 20th. This means that Easter and the Feast of First Fruits rarely falls on the same day. The name Easter refers to a pagan goddess (Ishtar) and again the traditions surrounding the Christian celebration (sunrise service, bunnies, and eggs) all come from pagan sources.

Co-opting pagan holidays does not make them Christian. Just like the blending of Christianity with Hinduism, blending Christianity with paganism only destroys Christianity. It is a form of IDOLATRY.

God has given us in His Word the ways that He wants us to worship Him. He has given us the holidays that we are to celebrate. They are listed in Leviticus 23. We don't need to add to them. There is richness and profound meaning to be had if we would but listen to His Word and embrace His feasts. This is the only way that we can be assured of staying within the confines of what is acceptable to God. Why would a Christian want anything else? Why would we want to practice syncretism?

(For further information read In Defense of Truth, Replacement Theology, and Messianic Guide to the Epistles by Ray Looker.)

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