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Sacred history may be viewed as the account of the great battle between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness, between the true worship of God and paganism. It is indeed the defining struggle of the human race and of this age; the Biblical description of which begins on the earliest pages of Scripture and does not end until the bodily return of Jesus Christ in the final chapters of the Revelation to John.
This struggle was prominent in the kingdom period of Israel's history. Israel's first human king, Saul, showed how far he had fallen away from the Lord when he consulted the witch at Endor, breaking the Law of Moses and orders against witchcraft and spiritism he himself had given. Even Israel's wisest king, Solomon, son of David and builder of the first Temple in Jerusalem, was later influenced by his wives to take part in pagan ceremonies. If such a wise man as Solomon could succumb to such temptations, those who are less wise should be all the more on guard. The struggle with paganism is a major theme throughout the major and minor prophets.
In the New Testament, we see the perfect Israelite, Jesus, overcome the tempter of souls to fulfill His mission as the Messiah of God. Through the cross of Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead, the sovereignty of God over the kingdom of darkness was made manifest forever, and all authority over heaven and earth was delivered to Jesus (Matthew 28:18). The Christian church, of which Jesus is the cornerstone, was equipped on the day of Pentecost to evangelize the world by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. What a great tragedy, then, when those in the church, like many of the Israelites in the Kingdom Period of Israel and after, bring paganism into the Christian camp.
Paganism is being introduced into the church today by radical feminists. We live in a society where many intellectuals, including radical feminists, view life as one, great power struggle. All beliefs and statements of faith are considered to be expressions of power, written to keep some group oppressed. Therefore all writings, even religious ones, are to be subjected to a process called "deconstruction," which, it is believed, lays bare what is considered to be the "true intent" of the author of any text. However, critics of deconstruction, including orthodox Christians, understand that deconstruction is a process of reading into the texts what the deconstructor wants to see. The deconstructor starts out to "prove" something, then manipulates the text to support what they have already decided is true - often taking texts out of context and ignoring whatever doesn't support his or her views. Those who practice deconstruction, both men and women, often determine that the Bible and all expressions of Christianity were written by males to oppress women, especially in western culture, including all articles of faith and rituals of the churches. Therefore, it is believed that if women are to reach their full potential, if they are to have power, they must overturn all traditional religious beliefs and practices. This means replacing whatever texts and rituals they can replace and reinterpreting those texts and practices that they cannot.i
Traditional, orthodox Christians see deconstruction as a flawed procedure leading to a completely inaccurate presentation of the teachings of Scripture - a twisting of the Scriptures to support goals never intended by God or the human authors of Scripture - the goals of radical, secular feminism rather than those of Christianity - a substitution of a secular quest for power for the pursuit of Christian spirituality (II Peter 3:16). It is the method of those seeking to ignore the truth of God and to create their own gods to justify their own selfishness (Isaiah 53:6). A true reading of Scripture is against both the oppression of women and the power goals of secular feminists. The beliefs of radical feminism, aimed towards the acquisition of power for "the oppressed" and determined to overturn traditional Christianity, are then introduced as helpful "new" insights to Christians who, for the most part, neither understand deconstruction, nor the struggle for power, nor the pagan nature of the religious practices that are being introduced to them.
Tom Graffagnino has written a wake-up call to Christians everywhere to know what they are about in their spiritual lives, to repent of any evil they have done, and to stand firmly for Jesus Christ and the truth of the Gospel. He has been obedient to Paul's command in Ephesians, "do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them" (Ephesians 5:11).
To promote a deeper understanding of what is happening, Tom takes the roles of researcher - sharing quotes from other sources; journalist - reporting what has happened; and commentator - because as a committed Christian within the United Methodist Church, he is the kind of person who cannot stand by dispassionately when others are trying to undermine our Christian faith. This report is written as much for pagans as for those true to the Christian faith - for the redeeming love of Jesus Christ reaches out to all -- and none the less to those caught up in the spiritual death-grip of paganism. I hope that as a result of reading this study you will have a better knowledge of what is happening today, and what is behind these activities, and will be motivated, as is Tom Graffagnino, to pray and work for a United Methodist Church, and indeed for the whole church of Jesus Christ in this age, to be totally given to the pure worship of the one living God through Jesus Christ.
Rev. Sterling M. Durgy
The American Night Watch
"The fine flower of unholiness can grow only in the close neighborhood of the Holy. Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar." ----Screwtapeii
Blatant neo-paganism has been characteristic of some United Methodist Women's activities for some years now, especially in the Re-Imagining conferences that we will discuss. The May 1998 convention of United Methodist Women (UMW) marked another large step on the downward path of this large, Christian women's organization. It is my intention to share with you not only what happened in Orlando, but to relate some background information that will be known only to those who, like myself, have done some reading in neo-pagan literature. From this perspective, concern about what is happening among United Methodist Women is heightened even more. Nor is this just about the past. A pagan ceremony has been introduced into the United Methodist Book of Worship. Like the paganism brought into the nations of Israel and Judah by their wicked kings, queens, prophets, and priests, neo-paganism is now being aggressively and unashamedly introduced into Christian worship itself -- the most sacred of all Christian activities.
While the purpose of this report is to explore a ritual that took place during a meeting of United Methodist Women, this will also bring us to consider neo-pagan belief in "the goddess." Consider this statement made by Adolf Hitler at his trial for treason for the Beer Hall Putsch in February 1924:
"...the goddess of the eternal court of history will smile and tear to tatters the brief of the state prosecutor and the sentence of this court. For she acquits us." iiiIs this purely figurative language? Did Hitler say this merely to intimidate his listeners? Or did Hitler actually believe in the existence of a "goddess of history?" Whether Hitler did or not, there are many who do. Hitler and his third Reich are now in the past - but others who believe in "the goddess" are aggressively promoting that belief in our time. A woman who calls herself "Starhawk" is considered by many to be the high priestess of Dianic witchcraft. Here is what she has said about "the goddess:"
"The Goddess has infinite aspects and thousands of names--She is the reality behind many metaphors. She IS reality, the manifest deity, omnipresent in all life, in each of us. The Goddess is not separate from the world--She IS the world, and all things in it: moon, sun, earth, star, stone, sea, flowing river, wind, wave leaf and branch, bud and blossom, fang and claw, woman and man. In Witchcraft, flesh and spirit are one . . .
"The image of the Goddess inspires women to see ourselves as divine, our bodies as sacred, the changing phases of our lives as holy, our aggression as healthy, our anger as purifying, and our power to nurture and create, but also to limit and destroy when necessary, as the very force that sustains all life. Through the Goddess, we can discover our strength, enlighten our our minds, own our bodies, and celebrate our emotions. We can move beyond narrow, constricting roles and become whole . . .
"The symbol of the Goddess conveys the spiritual power both to challenge systems of oppression and to create new, life-oriented cultures." iv
The last line of this quote is worthy of careful attention, showing why this belief system is so attractive to some in contemporary culture - it fits neatly into the thinking and goals of radical feminism - where the word "oppression" is commonly used and the goal is "power." We will want to keep this in mind as we examine what happened in Orlando in May 1998.
The 1998 United Methodist Women (UMW) Assembly was held May 14th to 17th in Orlando, Florida. Some 10,000 women attended the convention. The theme of the meeting was "Make Plain the Vision." Our knowledge of this meeting comes from a report by the women of RENEW, the evangelical coalition for United Methodist women, who were in attendance at the Assembly in Orlando.v Their report is printed in a special edition of their newsletter.vi
In the journal which was sent before the Orlando gathering to those who pre-registered, several feminist/womanist authors were referenced -- among them, Mary Daly and Miriam Therese Winter, each of whom we shall have occasion to speak of below. Other professed "goddess religionists" were also highlighted in the UMW pre-assembly journal including Lettie Russell, Delores Williams, and Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz -- all of whom are actively involved in the infamous "Re-Imagining" movement within the mainline denominations -- women for whom "the goddess" reigns supreme.
Interestingly, RENEW notes that there was only one reference in the UMW pre-assembly journal to any well-recognized woman of the Christian faith -- and that was one quote from Mother Teresa.
The Saturday morning session of the UMW/Orlando meeting began with a ritual that we will want to take particular notice of. All in attendance were invited by the conference leadership and program planners to participate in this ritual. To describe the ritual I will provide a quote from the RENEW newsletter -- words in brackets are my notes added to the text for reasons that will become clear later:
". . . Saturday morning began with the choral call to worship . . . and moved into a litany wherein the 'wisdom of directions' was sought. Christ was identified as the center of creation, and the cross was at the center point.
"However, those present were invited to face East '. . . the direction of the rising sun [Fire] (from which) we glean wisdom and knowledge'.
"Then to face South, '. . . from the South come guidance and the beginning and the end of life [Earth].'
"Participants then faced West, 'From the West come purifying waters [Water].'
"Finally all present faced North, 'From the North come strong winds and gentle breezes [Air]
"While all present returned to center to 'discover Christ,' one had the feeling that the 'source' of this focus was not Christ, but the power of directions." vii [italics added for emphasis]
It would be appropriate at this point to ask a few pertinent questions about this ritual:
What is this ritual and litany all about?
Why such emphasis upon the Four Directions?
Why the emphasis on the elements Earth, Air, Fire, and Water?
From where and from whom does this ritual originate?
What does this ritual signify?
What does this ritual have to do with Christian worship?
Indeed,....what is really going on here?
The UMW "Make Plain the Vision" organizers (General Board of Global Ministries-Women's Division) tell us that the litany is simply based upon a pagan rite borrowed from a Lakota Sioux "centering" ceremony. Defenders of the above cited ritual are also quick to point out that the "Orlando litany" has recently been made an official part of the United Methodist Book of Worship. Evidently they also feel that inclusion in the book of worship places the ritual beyond questioning. However, what this might have to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, exactly, is not made clear.
What the UMW Orlando organizers, promoters and defenders also fail to mention is that the above ritual and invocation are also the most fundamental ingredients of wiccan ceremonial magic. It is a practice called "casting a magic circle" and it is elemental in the practice of contemporary neo-pagan witchcraft.
"Casting a magic circle" is a basic wiccan ceremonial rite by which participants "create a sacred space" and invoke the spiritual powers of "the goddess". In her book, The Spiral Dance, (1979, revised in 1989), Miriam Simos (aka. "Starhawk"), the most influential and prominent high wiccan priestess of the "Dianic" wiccan tradition in America, describes this occultic ritual for us in detail (italics added by me for emphasis - words in brackets are my notes):
"The concept of the quartered circle is basic to Witchcraft...the four directions [north, east, south and west]...each correspond to a quality of the self, to an element [ie., Earth, Air, Fire and Water]....and forms of personal power."......
"The Guardians of the Watchtowers" are energy forms, the raiths, or spirits of the four elements. They bring the elemental energy of the earth, air, fire, and water into the circle to augment our own human power. The vortex of power created when we invoke the four directions guards the circle from intrusions and draws in the higher powers of the Goddess." viii
We learn more about this "vortex of power" or "cone of power" from Rosemary Ellen Guiley:
"Power is raised in various ways....Witches invite higher forces to work with them in implementing the spell, usually an aspect of the Goddess or Horned God ["divine" consort of the "goddess"] and the forces of the Elements...." ixIn the wiccan tradition each cardinal point (North, East, South and West) of the magic circle is associated with an element...though "Starhawk" says that the "elements" (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water) are "interchangeable" depending upon the wiccan tradition being used. Rosemary Guiley amplifies.....
"...the magic circle provides a sacred and purified space in which all rites, magical work and ceremonies are conducted. It offers a boundary for a reservoir of concentrated power and acts as a doorway to the world of the gods....Within the circle it becomes possible to transcend the physical, to open the mind to deeper and higher levels of consciousness." x
"The four elements of nature---earth, air, fire and water--form the foundation of natural magic. Modern witches and pagans revere these forces. The elements are associated with the cardinal points of the magic circle and a hierarchy of spirits...In western occultism, the four elements are considered the basis of all life, not only on the planet but throughout the universe as well....." xi
In Gerina Dunwich's book, Wicca A to Z: A Complete Guide to the Magickal World, the word invocation is defined in this context:
"The art of summoning or conjuring a spirit, elemental, or deity, usually as part of a religious ceremony or magickal rite. In Wicca and Neo-Paganism, invocations are traditionally made to the elemental spirits of Air, Fire, Water and Earth when the magick circle is cast. They are called upon to guard the circle and to witness the magickal workings taking place within it." xii
Ms. Dunwich amplifies further as she describes the nature of the Elementals:
"[The elementals]...also known as 'Guardians of the Watchtower', or the four directional points at the perimeter of the magick circle, the elements are perceived by witches and practitioners of the magickal arts as spirit creatures that personify the qualities attributed to the four ancient elements of Air, Fire, Water and Earth....East symbolizes the spirit, individuality and identity...South symbolizes life...psychic power of the soul....North symbolizes strength, fertility, and the physical." xiii
How and why are United Methodist Women being encouraged to participate in pagan, neo-pagan and wiccan rituals in the name of Jesus Christ? Who is encouraging the UMW to explore this dangerous occultic realm?
Again we might ask: "What IS going on? . . .
Obviously, there are some unusual spiritual practices being promoted and pushed upon the unsuspecting who belong to the organization of United Methodist Women (UMW) -- occultism in the name of Jesus. Most of the women who attended the Saturday morning opening service in Orlando were unwittingly introduced to dangerous areas of spirituality from which Scripture and our Lord clearly warn us to flee:
The 'magick arts.'Unbeknownst to the vast majority of women who were present at the "Make Plain the Vision" Saturday morning opening in Orlando, they were deceptively and "craftily" given a taste from "the goddess's" tempting plate . . . It is as if the United Methodist Women created a college course:
Intro to Witchcraft 101: General Board of Global Ministry (Women's Division) approved. Course Fee/Tuition: Free (graciously funded by the tithes and offerings of United Methodist faithful across the country) ............. credits: 0
In Minnesota, the "goddess" Sophia was also officially introduced to the mainline Protestant church. xv Indeed, "Sophia" took center stage. The gathered "re-imaginers" were offered samples from Sophia's "milk and honey communion" table. The ladies in attendance celebrated this "goddess of wisdom" in a spirit of discovery. They were creating "new theology" and were receiving "new revelation" from the "goddess" of the pagan past.xvi
The ladies in attendance reverently approached Sophia's tempting table -- and took a bite from the "new" sacramental offering of change.
Three years later, at the 4th Annual Re-Imagining Convention in Minnesota, "Sophia" was not alone. At this 1996 Re-Imagining convocation, Sophia was again glorified -- but this time she was also joined by at least 33 other goddesses, including Isis, Ashtar-Astarte, Ochun, Artemis, Aphrodite, and Diana.
Also present at the 1996 "Re-Imagining Conference" in Minneapolis -- in addition to the eager "re-imaginers" and the panoply of exotic and erotic, pagan "goddesses" -- was Cokesbury, the official publishing house of the United Methodist Church. Cokesbury "set up shop" amidst the goddess worshipers. The Methodist publishing house prominently promoted their "new" feminist theological line of materials at a bookstore/display area which was advertised with a large sign which read:
Cokesbury: Resources for Re-Imaginingxvii
You could say that in 1996 the "vision" became a bit "plainer."
However, it is possible to trace the origin of this to a time twenty years before the Orlando conference, years before the first Re-Imagining conference.
In her book Drawing Down the Moon, Margot Adler, the most prominent and influential high priestess of Gardnerian witchcraft in the country, describes this eerily unsettling scene in a chapter entitled "Women, Feminism and the Craft" - a scene chillingly like the one at the 1998 UMW Assembly in Orlando. Notice Mary Daly below, who was referenced in the pre-assembly journal for the Orlando UMW meeting in 1998:
"On a Friday night in Boston, April 23, 1976, some one thousand women sat down on the benches and pews of the Old Arlington Street Church. The benches filled up and the women spilled over onto the floor and into the aisles, and became silent as... flute music....created a sense of peace. The lights were dimmed and Morgan McFarland, Dianic High Priestess [wicca/witchcraft] came to the front, wearing a long white robe....The occasion was a ritual: 'Declaring and Affirming Our Birth'---to mark the beginning of a 3-day women's spirituality conference....The conference was attended by over over 1,300 women, and besides an address by feminist theologian Mary Daly, the conference was most noteworthy for the large number of Witch priestesses who attended from as far away as Texas and California . . .
"Morgan steps out in front and speaks......
"'...The Goddess arose from Chaos and gave birth to herself...Her movements made the wind and the Element Air was born and did breath.'
"'A candle is lit in the East.' .....
"'And the Goddess named Herself: Arianrhod---Cardea---Astarte. And the sparks were struck from Her dancing feet so that She shone forth the Sun...and the Element Fire was born.'
"A candle is lit in the South."
"'And the Goddess named Herself: Sunna--Vesta--Pele. About Her feet swirled the waters in tidal wave....and the Element Water did flow."
"' A candle is lit in the West.'
"'And she named Herself: Binah--Mari Morgaine--Lakshmi...and she brought forth the Earth so that the shores were her footstool....'
"'And a candle is lit in the North.'
"And the Goddess named Herself: Cerridwen--Demeter--The Corn Mother....I am Artemis...I am Isis...I am Ngame, the Ancient One...And I shall be called a million names. Call unto me, daughters , and know that I am Nemesis...." xviii
Priestess Adler's description continues......
"Later, the cauldron is filled with fire and the chanting begins, at first very softly:
'The Goddess is alive. Magic is afoot....The Goddess is alive. Magic is afoot.'
"Then it becomes louder and louder until it turns into shouts and cries and primeval sounds....
"Morgan speaks for the last time......
"'We are Virgins, Mothers, Old Ones----All. We offer our created energy: to the Spirit of Women Past, to the Spirit of Women yet to come, to woman spirit present and growing. Behold, we move forward together.' " xix
A few pages later Priestess Adler makes this observation about the nature of the convocation described above:
"...literally hundreds of other women, workshops and lectures on women's spirituality and the power of the ancient goddesses are everywhere, at adult education centers, at feminist bookstores and new age institutes. Jewish and Christian women are examining the feminine... The idea of the Goddess has entered mainstream literature and ideas...Feminists engaged in goddess spirituality have been entering theological seminaries in large numbers and they are writing new history and new theology." xx [italics added for emphasis]
Please keep in mind that this assessment, appraisal, and observation was written by Gardnerian Priestess Adler nearly 20 years ago. It would seem that, knowingly or unknowingly, many are fulfilling Priestess Adler's scheme to enter and transform mainline Christianity.
Dr. Suchocki, in her opening address to the convention focused her attention upon the present "wave of change" that is sweeping through certain quarters of the denomination:
"...this...tidal wave is continuing...This' new order' operates on a principle of God's enabling call coming to persons from every race and tongue and gender and biological orientation....Dr. Suchocki was joined in Atlanta by Miriam Therese Winter, the only other keynote speaker to be invited to the convention for United Methodist clergywomen. You may recall that she was one of those referenced in the pre-assembly journal for the 1998 UMW gathering in Orlando. Ms. Winter, a radical "goddess" theologian, author and liturgist, "explored a variety of names and images for God including Sophia" as she addressed the 800 Methodist clergywomen at the meeting. It is interesting to note that Ms. Winter's past writings include this ominously familiar litany, "A Psalm in Search of the Goddess", from her book Womanwisdom (my notes in brackets):
"With every major change in the church's history, there has been a concurrent 'undertow' pulling people back to the status quo .....The undertow is strong today and would pull us back toward a past that is no longer possible. When we become fearful because of the loudness and viciousness of the voices, then we are well-advised to note that such an undertow exists each time our tradition crests on its most important waves of change." xxi
Caller: Who are You, O Holy One? How have Your daughters named You?
Voice: I am Nut of the sky [Air] , of Egypt, Goddess of affection.
People: Nut, we call upon Your name and long for Your affection.
Caller: Who are You, O Holy One? How have Your daughters named You?
Voice: I am Anath-Astarte, and Lady Ashera of the Sea [Water] from the biblical land of Canaan.
People: Anath and Astarte, forgive us, for all we have done to You............etc., etc.xxii
Ms. Winter's litany continues offering such interactive prayers to a number of additional "goddesses", including "Sophia", "Isis", "Ishtar and Innanna," "Gaia," "Aphrodite," "Artemis," "Re" the Egyptian sun god and numerous others. At the Atlanta meeting, Ms. Winter also shared her wisdom and insight concerning the various "goddesses" in workshops and consultation settings.
Tragically, it appears that the "goddess" has more than her foot in the door at some agencies within the United Methodist Church. The "goddess," or at least her workers, are hard at work.
So again. What . . . really . . . is going on here?
In 1994, Os Guiness wrote:
"Paganism is growing up in our churches, speculative gnosticism is resurgent in our circles. A horror of great darkness is welling up in our own house." xxiii
Harold O.J. Brown in his book The Sensate Culture makes this observation:
"When religious groups compromise their foundational beliefs in order to co-exist with the late sensate culture rather than challenging it or standing against, they, in effect consent to their own liquidation....When the culture ridicules traditional religions and drives them to the fringes, millions of people, feeling a void in their lives, will resurrect ancient or exotic religions or fashion new ones to their own liking." xxivAre we witnessing today the liquidation -- the spiritual meltdown -- of the United Methodist denomination as a viable, effective and meaningful Christian witness in this darkened world of sin? Certainly, the denomination of John and Charles Wesley is being insidiously attacked from the inside by what amounts to spiritual disease.
Much of the Methodist leadership seems to be in a state of denial. Her bishops seem either unwilling or unable to recognize and acknowledge the crisis -- and some bishops are actively engaged in promoting this apostasy, and thus the tragic demise of the denomination. Without responsible Christian leadership, the unfed laity are the unwitting victims of a prolonged exposure to false, unscriptural teachings, compromise, half-truths, and a "make-me-feel-good, Mr. Preacher" mentality.
Millions have left the denomination over the past two or three decades, but millions more remain in the pews. Some of those remaining are frustrated and righteously angry. Some seem dazed, bewildered, and confused.
Many seem simply asleep and unaware.
Astoundingly, most seem to believe that "all is well".
But truth and reality cannot be ignored; much less God and God's Word.
When God's Word is compromised -- especially when it is compromised so relentlessly and persistently over several generations, the tragic effects and results are as predictable as they are inevitable. Sooner or later, as the darkness progressively descends, one begins to recognize with whom the compromises have been made all along (1 Peter 5:8-9).
The time for "Band-Aids" and aspirin is long past.
Occultism, sorcery and the "magick arts" are being peddled at the very altar of the church. This deceptive, syncretistic, prostituted faith, and "new vision" is being aggressively and deceptively promoted by some, embraced naively by many -- and effectively opposed by practically no one.
The "new vision" is beginning to come into focus. It is, indeed, becoming plainer and plainer. And it is a vision that has nothing to do with traditional Christianity or Methodism. It is a rejection, not only of traditional doctrine, but of God, His Christ, and His Gospel.
"I would like to suggest, friends, that we have trouble dealing with newness -- transformation, the making of all things new, is scary, risky and even too radical for some of us...." xxvAnd, of course, Ms. Sohl is exactly right. The blending of goddess worship, earth worship, pantheistic neo-paganism and witchcraft is indeed risky business. After all.....
For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? II Corinthians 6: 14-15The spiritual deception that is taking place in our midst is astounding....But we cannot say that we have not been warned:
For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other.....The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft....... Galatians 5: 17,19,20
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies ....Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. II Peter 2: 1,2In an effort to accommodate the ways of the world, to be "user friendly" at all cost, many in the United Methodist Church have sacrificed Truth on the altar of "tolerance" and "inclusiveness." The denomination that was born through the faithfulness of John Wesley is now dying through the stubborn rebelliousness and the sinister and deceptive wiles of "the "goddess" and her consort, who in the traditions of witchcraft is affectionately known as "the Horned God." This denomination of late 20th century liberal Protestantism is sinking further into the senseless coma of universalism where there is no sin, where there is no heresy, where there is no Truth, where there is no need of repentance -- and where there is no need for the Blood of the Lamb. She is rapidly succumbing to the progressively deadly and numbing effects of her own spiritual adultery. She is "comfortably" sinking into her own "tar pit" of death and extinction, the result of her own chosen waywardness and idolatry. Predictably, she suffers now from the lethal effects of this viral spiritual infection which has entered her bloodstream, a syncretistic "blend" of doctrinal liberalism, pluralism, universalism, paganism and now -- witchcraft.
For the modern, "liberated" (ie., western) version of United Methodism, the "vision" is indeed becoming very plain:
The Light of Truth is being snuffed out.
Halloween is devouring Christmas.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. I Samuel 15:23 (KJV)
In that day," declares the Lord,....I will destroy your witchcraft and you will no longer cast spells....I will destroy your carved images and your sacred stones from among you...I will uproot from among you your Asherah poles.... Micah 5: 10-14
Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely unless they repent of her ways.... Revelation 2: 20-22
I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die....Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it and repent..." Revelation 3: 1-3
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." Revelation 22: 14-15
We pray that you would remove the scales of spiritual blindness and deception from the eyes of those who would undermine Your redeeming Truth, and infuse those in positions of leadership within the United Methodist Church, and in the church universal, with insight, wisdom and courage.
Help us, Lord, to contend for the faith that has been entrusted to us.
And help us , Father, to do so in a spirit of love with grace and humility.
For further reading we refer you to the articles, current and archived, at the Good News web site - some of which are referenced below. Especially noteworthy are several articles by Dr. John Oswalt, chair of the Biblical Studies Division and Beeson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky.
Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotes are taken from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. All rights are reserved by Zondervan Publishing House. The "NIV" and "New International Version" trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by: International Bible Society, 1820 Jet Stream Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80921, USA.
i "The speakers attacked the Christian Church and orthodox Christian doctrine as the source of oppression of women, racism, classism, violence in our cities, abuse of children, abusive rejection of gay and lesbian sexuality, and pollution of the environment" (Susan Cyre, "Mainline Denial: How our churches are responding to 'Re-Imagining,'" Good News, March/April 1994, http://www.goodnewsmag.org/topics/articles/cyre-ma94.htm, September 16, 1998).
ii C.S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letters. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1976, p. 172.
iii Shirer, William L., The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. City: Simon and Schuster, 1960, p. 118.
iv Simos, Miriam, The Spiral Dance. New York: Harper-Collins, 1989, pp. 22-24. Miriam Simos goes by the name "Starhawk." This book was originally printed in 1979 and revised in 1989.
v The RENEW network is the women's arm of the Good News movement, a movement of United Methodists seeking renewal in the United Methodist Church. In their words, "RENEW is concerned about the theology and philosophy which determines much of the programming and policies of the Women's Division of United Methodist Women. This concern has been substantiated through an ongoing review of resources, the monitoring of pending patterns and the observation of political and social involvements on the part of the Division." RENEW Network, 133 Clarkesville Street, Cornelia, GA 30531. RENEW may be found on the Internet's world wide web at: http://www.goodnewsmag.org/.
vi RENEW, a publication of RENEW Network, Special Post-Assembly edition, vol. 6, no. 2, 1998, p. 2.
vii RENEW, vol. 6, no. 2, 1998.
viii Simos, The Spiral Dance, p.75.
ix Guiley, Rosemary Ellen, Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience. New York: Harper Collins, 1991, p.323.
x Guiley, Rosemary Ellen, Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1989, p. 219.
xi Guiley, Rosemary Ellen, Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, p. 219.
xii Dunwich, Gerina, Wicca A to Z: A Complete Guide to the Magickal World. Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing, A Citadel Press Book, 1997, p. 71.
xiii Dunwich, pp. 48-49.
xiv "This re-imagining conference was indeed rife with heresy. It was worse than we could have possibly imagined. Among the funders listed were: Minnesota Conference Commission on the Status and Role of Women, Minnesota Conference United Methodist Women, and the Women's Division of the UM Church" (Faye Short, "Conference Challenges Orthodoxy," Good News, January/February 1994, http://www.goodnewsmag.org/topics/articles/short-jf94.htm, September 16, 1998).
xvAlthough "Sophia" is identified as a separate "goddess," and is certainly seen to be a separate, pagan deity by the orthodox Christian observer, it is important to recognize that many in the movement call "Sophia" an alternate name for the God of the Bible, and, significantly, others identify "Sophia" in many ways or simply don't know how to describe "Sophia!"
Katherine Kersten reports, "When I asked participants, 'Who is Sophia?', they seemed surprised and uncertain how to respond. One woman volunteered that 'Sophia is the divine energy in women being unlocked by the goddess rituals.' Another said, 'She is the god who has been ignored too long-she is liberating the energy of all women for the good of the community.' One man told me that Sophia 'is the incarnation of wisdom in the women I have known.' But one young woman's response seemed particularly illuminating: 'Sophia is the wisdom within me'" ("Sunday with Sophia," Good News, March/April 1994, , http://www.goodnewsmag.org/topics/articles/kersten-ma94.htm, September 17, 1998). The ambiguity actually serves the purpose of those promoting "Sophia," who seems to be whatever you want "her" to be. This is actually quite close to the paganism of the Greco-Roman world in New Testament times, where people were largely allowed to interpret the gods and the myths in whatever manner they pleased as long as they didn't disrupt the public order. Whether they believe she is a literal goddess or not, by calling her such and worshipping her as such, they all achieve the same end: the rejection of true Christianity, and ultimately, of God and His Christ.
xvi "Naming God Sophia was only the beginning. Conference speakers praised every imaginable religion or spirituality, except orthodox Christianity, and recognized the power of every deity, except Jesus Christ" (Faye Short, "Conference Challenges Orthodoxy," Good News, January/February 1994).
xvii Knippers, Diane, "News Analysis: Re-Imagining Revisited," Good News, January/February 1997, p. 30.
xviii Adler, Margot, Drawing Down the Moon, Boston: Beacon Press, 1979, p. 22-224.
xix Adler, Margot, Drawing Down the Moon, p. 224.
xx Adler, Margot, Drawing Down the Moon, p. 228.
xxi Smith, Alice, Wesleyan Christian Advocate, August 1995.
xxii Quoted in "Goddess Litany at UM Seminary Chapel ignites controversy," Good News, September/October 1995, p. 35, from Winter, Miriam Therese, Womanwisdom: A Feminist Lectionary and Psalter: Women of the Hebrew Scriptures. New York NY: Crossroad/Continuum, 1991.
xxiii Guiness, Os, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1995, p. 131.
xxiv Brown, Harold O.J., The Sensate Culture. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1996, p. 67.
xxv "Make Plain the Vision," RENEW, vol. 6, no. 2, 1998, p. 3.
"Preface - Background and Perspective" Copyright 1999 Sterling M. Durgy. All Rights Reserved.
"Neo-paganism in the United Methodist Church" Copyright 1999 Tom Graffagnino. All Rights Reserved.
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