Beware of Religious Catch-Phrases
It seems that faith in America has become politically correct. A recent news article noted that Americans are surprisingly flexible about religion and faith. It indicated that nearly six out of ten Americans blend their faith with New Age and Eastern mysticism beliefs. Americans are mixing and matching their religious beliefs, practices, and rituals with those of other religions. Regular churchgoers also believe in things like astrology and reincarnation. Alan Cooperman of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life put it this way, “… they practice in many cases, more than one faith.”
A poll by the Pew Form found that Americans are “personalizing” their faith, picking and choosing what pleases them from a variety of religious traditions. The survey also found that 25% of Americans attend services of various faiths or denominations. The poll further found that nearly half of the public report having a “religious or mystical experience… a spiritual awakening.”
As an example of this ecumenical movement, Rabbi David Ingber was raised as an Orthodox Jew, but then practiced Taoism, martial arts and yoga as part of his spiritual journey. Then, ten years later, he was back to Judaism. Now he leads his congregation in yoga and meditation. He believes that he has reached a level of maturity that entitles him to “dabble,” and to “borrow” from other religions.
While reading about this new development, it occurred to me that the media is quite adept at using religious words and catch-phrases in attempting to justify non-Biblical practices. If we “blend” our faith with New Age beliefs, this doesn’t sound so bad. (“Blend”–now there’s a word with a deceitfully pleasing sound.) Surely it’s OK if we just “dabble” and “borrow” from from other religions.
One tricky catch-phrase defending this practice was that “God embraces all of us.” This statement sounds so positive, but it’s actually denying a fundamental Christian doctrine. John 14:6 says, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
The article used another often-cited, but deceitful, catch-phrase. It said that we shouldn’t “just ignore” other denominations.” Well, obviously the Bible teaches us that we should love everyone, and exclude none. However this statement implies that we should include the belief systems of others into our own. The Bible repeatedly warns against such practices. We are to remain steadfast to the truth, and reject false doctrines. 1 Timothy 6:3-5 says, “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.”
One person commended “… any place where people are getting in touch with their own sense of the divine.” Another person indicated that “… there is a way for those who love God to love God together…” We need to ensure that our “sense of the divine” is the one true God. We should beware of “religious or mystical experiences” that seem to provide a spiritual awakening.
Another person in the article indicated that people are just trying to “… go beyond the labels.” Although this sounds nice, certain labels are still valid; such as true and false.