Friday, July 05, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Those Pesky Evangelicals

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

The 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Toronto, Canada was ecumenicalism monetized, organized and with a working agenda for planet-wide spiritual dominion.

That’s not hyperbole. They’re not hiding much these days, and almost anyone who makes an effort is free to come in to their major gatherings and take a look. They want both a world government and a viable world religion to make it happen. Something close to 8,000 delegates got together to plug away at the project. These included Catholics, Buddhists, Baptists, the Bahai, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, indigenous spiritualists and even a video message from the Dalai Lama. You name it, they were there. Carl Teichrib was also there, reporting.

Tom: Assuming it’s accurate, what interests me about Teichrib’s summary is that the Interfaith Engagement panel he attended was particularly troubled by evangelical resistance to their project. They considered at length how to break down the walls that keep evangelicals from fully participating in their little Babel 2.0. Their recommendations were intriguing.

How to Break Down Evangelical Resistance

Here are a few:
  • When making contact with an evangelical church, do not approach the lead pastor. Spend time, rather, building relationships with the associate pastor or youth leader.
  • Couch the interfaith agenda within the acceptable language of community development, social justice, and acts of compassion.
  • Leverage Bible verses in a way that appeals to a wider sense of love and acceptance.
  • Have the younger/junior pastor meet his equivalent from one other faith only. Do not bring more religions into the mix until a bridge between the two faith leaders has been solidified. This is best accomplished by having them jointly participate in community projects.
This is actually pretty clever, don’t you think?

Bernie: It reads like a “how to” guide:
  1. Find the weakest link that is high enough in the chain to do maximal damage
  2. Tug at the heartstrings
  3. Distort — don’t confront — accepted principles
  4. Mask your intent until such time as you have a solid alliance in place
Tom: It’s actually quite like a Saul Alinsky prescription for success, if you’re familiar with his work. It’s the whole “community development” thing that is the first clue. I like your “weakest link” point though.

Leveraging “Relevance”

But why are youth pastors and associates considered so susceptible, do you think?

Immanuel Can: The young, especially those in leadership, are less well-taught, more naive, more susceptible to flattery and influence, and less theologically grounded than the elders and older leaders. They’re much easier to sway, confuse or mislead. And they have access to the young people around them, so the evangelical church can be broken down from that level far easier than it could from other levels. Children have too little influence, and older leaders are too well-taught, or too resistant to new things. The drive to remain “relevant” to the youth can be engineered to cut down resistance to compromise and change.

Tom: I agree. But I’m curious: did either of you see this coming? I didn’t, if I’m honest. I mean, I knew all about ecumenicalists. I just had no idea they were this organized and this determined.

IC: Not really. I knew that the so-called “mainline denominations” — meaning the more organized and politically Left churches — were in serious decline, aging and falling in numbers very significantly. I did not foresee any threat to evangelicalism arising from there. They had been the main drivers of the “ecumenical” ideology, so I assumed that was going away as well. But this attack looks different: it looks primarily driven by agendas without even a veneer of Christianity, with the goal of global ideological unification. And there’s a serious danger, in that ideology, that when evangelicals do not co-operate, they will be tarred as “regressive”, and as “holding back the great leap forward”.

Resistance Is Not Futile

Bernie: This is not the sort of approach that you would take when you are seeking compromise. This approach — if successful — would mean the destruction of any evangelical group who encountered these folks. At the heart of this is the denial that Christ is THE way, THE truth and THE life and, once that distinctive is gone, nothing else matters. If there’s anything worth fighting and dying for, it is that central truth of Christianity — the centrality of Christ himself. It also mirrors quite well the approach we have described in Eden.

I take that to mean that anything that smacks of this is to be resisted fiercely and immediately before it can metastasize.

Tom: Amen to that. IC, supposing we evangelicals do get labeled as the main impediment to the “salvation of the human race”, what then?

IC: If evangelicals are thought to be the only reason humanity has not unified and jumped ahead to the next level of “spiritual evolution” of the race, then we are the sand in the works of the great machine of progress, you see; and this makes us very, very bad people. (I mean, what could you say about those who stubbornly impede everyone else from reaching collective utopia, and remain the only real roadblock when everyone else has jumped on board?) At some point, the ecumenical ideologues will see it as necessary to eliminate us somehow … and will think it’s a service to mankind (and perhaps even to God) when they do.

Tom: So what we’re talking about here is really an existential crisis for evangelicals. As Bernie says, if we give up the centrality and uniqueness of Christ, we’re effectively finished as a testimony here on earth. If we continue to maintain that truth when everyone else around us has abandoned it, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say we’re running the risk of immense persecution, even extinction.

Looking for a Handle

Now, we are not quite there yet, at least not openly. Currently they’re not breaking down the doors, they’re just trying to weasel their way into evangelical churches to spread their message. But if they’re targeting the most youthful, visible leaders, they’re obviously unaware that some evangelical churches don’t really go in for that. That makes the churches that are big enough to pay a pastor to run the show the first and most obvious targets.

IC: Absolutely. It’s always easier to turn a mass of people when you can grab them with one “handle”. But an even more dangerous trend in some evangelical churches is the designating of a “youth pastor”, who has more-or-less unfettered access to the young people. In some churches, the teens essentially run their own church-within-a-church, and awareness among the elders of what’s being taught or practiced there is sketchy at best.

Tom: That can be disastrous when you’re talking about an age group that is naturally sympathetic to “diversity”, “inclusiveness” and the usual buzzwords that accompany ecumenical thinking.

IC: A popular youth leader who goes his own way can not only mislead, but can actually strip a congregation of all their young people at one go, simply by pulling up stakes and moving out.

Tom: There’s real wisdom in having servant leaders whose names are not plastered everywhere on your church websites and printed documentation. Designating a person a “pastor” simply makes them a target for this sort of group. The wisdom of the Lord’s teaching about not taking religious titles is becoming increasingly apparent. It’s a safety mechanism as well as an antidote to pride.

We should definitely continue this next week. Maybe we can talk about both strategy and tactics a little more.

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