Tag Archives: United States

Bill Lockwood: Spiritual Guidance & Modern Superstition

by Bill Lockwood

In Mexico, and in Mexican communities in places such as Los Angeles, there’s a lively movement of prayer to Santa Muerte, Saint Death. You pray to her for protection from the dangers of the night, in the conviction that she can protect you from attack, accident, and violent death. She can also bring trouble to someone who has attacked you unjustly. Prayer to Santa Muerte goes back to the religious life of people in the area before the gospel came to the Americas. (1)

Our modern era is supposed to be a bold new age that has cast off its need for God and the supernatural. According to modernists who signed the Humanist Manifesto’s I & II and the Humanist Manifesto 2000 mankind has outgrown its need for “God.” In reality, however, modernists who reject God eventually opt for the false religious ideas of man—the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

By the “god of this age” the apostle Paul, who penned 2 Corinthians, referred to “all the floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations at any time current in the world.” (2) These are precisely what are lauded by today’s cultural leaders.

A recent Pew Research study found that a large and growing percentage of Americans believe in reincarnation, astrology, psychics, and the presence of spirits in nature. The shock comes, however, in that not only do 6 in 10 Americans accept these beliefs, but that the numbers are the same among those who are self-professed Christians. Even agnostics have adopted occult ideas.

According to a new research by Trinity College in Connecticut, Wicca is one of the fastest-growing religions in the country. Between 1990 and 2008, it saw a forty-fold increase in the number of adherents. One-and-a-half million Americans now identify as either Wiccan or Pagan. As The Christian Post put it, “Wicca functions as a spiritual patina on progressive politics.” The occult is becoming mainstream in America. Such is a culture that continues to reject God.

Multiculturalism

Multiculturalism is not simply the recognition that there are various cultures in the world, or even represented in the United States. According to Charles Tesconi at the College of Education at the University of Vermont, multiculturalism specifically views “all value systems as equal.” The multicultural view treats all diverse groups and ways of life as equally “legitimate.”  “Moral diversity” is the idea. This multicultural perspective therefore de-values biblical concepts as no more valid than any pagan or heathen belief. This is what is integrated into nearly all areas of public education and entertainment. “Diversity” is the watchword.

An example is the recent Disney movie Coco, a beautifully animated film that celebrates the Mexican tradition known as Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead). Dia de Muertos has its roots in a “pre-Hispanic commemoration of deceased loved ones that is practiced by some Latin American indigenous populations” (Smithsonian.com). The film “draws its cultural inspiration from several Mexican variations of this tradition, which also happen to be those most commonly found in the United States.”

In the story-line, Miguel, a young boy is transported to the place of the dead in order to speak with his deceased ancestors. Cynthia Vidaurri, the writer of Smithsonian’s review, then asks:

So here is the big question: Did Disney Pixar get it right? My first response is to ask another question, ‘Right by whose standard?’ Are we talking about the indigenous traditions of celebrating ancestors as they were practiced before the arrival of the Europeans? … What about the Day of the Dead that merged with Roman Catholic practices after the arrival of the Europeans in the Americans? What about the Mexican national celebration? What about the Day of the Dead tradition introduced to the U.S. by Mexican Americans during the Chicano Movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s? Or maybe the Day of the Dead Traditions that are practices by recently immigrated Indigenous Latino populations in the U.S.?

The Smithsonian plainly challenges the cultural norm that was once common-stock in America—Christianity. Right by whose standard? There is no ultimate standard to multiculturalists. This is what we are being constantly fed, from the entertainment industry to the schoolhouse where “diversity” reigns. Little wonder that various forms of superstition such as Wicca, occultism, and prayers to Santa Muerte are being practiced. Remove the One True God from the culture and everything else becomes fashionable.

Isaiah 8

Many of Isaiah’s day (8 centuries B.C. in Israel) felt the same way. Turning away from God, however, they turned to superstition. Isaiah, the inspired prophet of God, relates that they sought spiritual guidance from “familiar spirits” and “wizards.” Some of these “chirped” and “muttered” out their instructions. Others among the Israelites assumed that dead people had access to information that was normally inaccessible to the living. They therefore sought to contact “dead people” in Sheol, especially their relatives to get guidance for the future or advice about coping with the crisis at hand—the threats from foreign nations (Isaiah 8:19).

Isaiah “bursts out” against all such occult practices that seek guidance from anything but God. “To the law and to the testimony!—if they will not speak according to His Word, there is no dawn of morning for them!” (8:20). Our culture condemns itself to the night from which there is no morning—if we do not seek spiritual guidance only from God.

(1) John Goldingay, Isaiah for Everyone, p. 37.

(2) Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, p. 463.

Bill Lockwood: Mixing Politics and Religion

by Bill Lockwood

In a letter to his wife Abigail in May, 1780, John Adams famously wrote:

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.

To John Adams the most important element of life was family. His continual service to the nation included that he was a delegate to the Continental Congress, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, an official Minister to England on behalf of the United States, and the second President of the United States. But this service he considered a “necessary evil” in order that he might enjoy pleasures of family and that his own future generations might enjoy the same.

In our modern era where warnings against “mixing politics and religion” are memorized and repeated without any real deep thought as to why or even what this means, Adams teaches us a few things about it. His keen mind was able to probe the issues of life and distill the principles and realities involved.

In analyzing what Adams meant when he said “I must study politics that my sons may have liberty to study …”, note the following.

What is Politics?

First, what is Politics? Politics simply means the management or administration of society. The word “politics’ is from the Greek word ‘politika’ meaning the “affairs of a city.” It is “the process of making decisions that apply to members of a group” (Wikepedia). Frequently the word “politics” is used negatively, such as in “play politics.” The root idea of the word, however, refers to principles by which people are to be governed.

The question now becomes, by what set of principles shall we govern society? Shall we use biblical principles or humanistic ones? Shall we use God-inspired principles upon which to base human laws, or shall we simply drift off into allowing people to do “what every man thinks is right in his own eyes?” The only issue in our society therefore is whether or not we plan to manage ourselves according to Christian principles.

This applies to a wide variety of social levels: the workplace, the office, the team, the church, or cities and nations; there is even “international politics.” All policies that are adopted in these various groups are called “public policies” precisely because those policies effect others. Once again, these policies will either reflect Christianity or humanism (non-religion).

These facts being so, whence comes the idea that Christian people should remain free from “politics?” Is it somehow inconsistent with biblical values that Christians should not influence public policy?

Freedom Politics is Pro-Family

Returning to Adams’ quote above, note that he was interested in freedom for his family. He wanted to construct a society along Christian principles that by this framework of freedom his family in future generations might continue to enjoy liberty. Specifically, limited government would allow personal freedom to flourish while at the same time curtail dictatorships or top-down controls that destroy freedom.

A sidebar note: Many confuse Roman Catholicism with New Testament Christianity. Not only were the colonists almost 95% Protestant in their belief-systems, but were afraid of Catholicism. The reason for this is clear. Roman Catholicism is an unbiblical political system that was constructed through the centuries to mimic Old World kingdoms such as the Roman. It too, therefore, is dictatorial and stifles freedom. Its record as a tyrannical power is matched only by other forms of government absolutisms.

Adams was well-aware of all of this. This is why that during the tumultuous formation of the United States he felt that he needed to invest time in order to create a political landscape such that allowed freedom to ring—but this was in order that his children might be able to enjoy more pleasurable pursuits. The political machinery of a nation is a direct reflection of religious values and presuppositions that underlie the society. For future family freedom, Christian politics was necessary.

Politics was not just one “hobby” that Adams chose among others he might have chosen, even though that is the casual way people view politics today. Adams showed this by couching it in his word “must.” In other words, politics was his “duty.” It functioned as an obligation. Political freedom is foundational to other freedoms.

To illustrate, Adams used “war.” Those who enjoy freedom and liberty rely on the sacrifices of untold thousands who study war and become warriors. A warriors’ occupation is not like playing sports, or collecting old cars or antiques. Without a fight for freedom, there would be no games to play or antiques to collect. Someone must do this business of war if we are to have pleasures of life. If we were all running for our lives from enemy soldiers, who cares about playing games?

So also is managing people by politics. It is foundational to freedom at large. For this reason, Cicero, the ancient Roman statesman at the time of Julius Caesar, observed: “For there is really no occupation in which human virtue approaches more closely the august function of the gods than that of founding states or preserving those already in existence.”

So exactly. Christians, being correctly informed, can change the character of the political landscape. By bringing the moral standards of Christ into the civic arena, society itself is transformed. The gospel of Christ not only changes lives and hearts of men, but the course of civil government. Why should Christians not be involved in politics?