And when Saul and his men went into battle, they found the Philistines in total confusion, every man's sword against the other. (1 Sam 14:20 KJV, NIV)
… Casting down arguments, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor 10:5 NKJV)
In the present day, it's not the Philistines, but rather the Christians, who strike each other with their "swords". This is a result of one of Satan's cleverest and most effective strategems. The Devil hastens to establish a presence in every area of human activity, planting his flag there in order to make Christians think that activity belongs to him. Christians become divided against themselves, as some think the activity is harmless, while others consider it to be deceptive and demonic. In many churches (especially those commonly called 'fundamental'), Christians are made to feel that truly devoted disciples of Jesus must give up such activities. The list of "worldly activities" becomes longer and more enticing, while the "spiritual" activites become increasingly bland and uninteresting. Christians who become interested in the "wrong" things are made to feel that they motivated by sinful, wayward appetites which must be suppressed. Nonbelievers get the idea that Christianity is primarily a religion of "don'ts".
In just this way, Satan has fooled many people into thinking of heaven as a boring place where all we're allowed to do day and night is sing hymns and shout "Hallelujah", because other activities are not purely "spiritual".
Here are some examples of activities which Satan has given a bad name among many Christians.
Pure science: Only a vanishingly small percentage of the leading researchers in physics or mathematics hold any kind of evangelical or fundamental Christian belief. Research programs in pure science at Christian colleges and universities rank near the bottom. The seeds of this situation were planted about the time of Darwin, and they germinated throughout the early twentieth century. The great conceptual revolutions associated with relativity and quantum mechanics were accomplished by scientists who did not believe in a personal Creator. Christians may boast of Newton, Maxwell, Kelvin, and Pasteur, but have had no scientific champion for nearly 100 years, except in the contested area of "creation science" (which most research scientists would not recognize as science at all).
Christians are widely encouraged to meditate on Scripture, which in practice
usually amounts to a technique for memorizing the Bible. However, meditation
of any other kind is widely considered to be dangerous and a way to open
one's mind to Satanic influences.
Scripture itself refutes this misconception. David meditated on the handiwork of God revealed in nature (Ps. 8:3). He also silenced his mind and communed with his heart (Ps. 4:4), which is a meditative practice commonly taught by Indian gurus. Similar examples of meditation may be found in Gen. 24:62 and Ps 63: 6.
Western Christianity lacks depth, in part because of its suspicion of quietness, stillness, and contemplation which are associated with Eastern religious practices.
Fairy stories and myths: These are associated with idolatry and heathen gods. It took the genius of C. S. Lewis (who came from a neo-pagan background) to make fairy stories a powerful vehicle for presenting the Gospel (e.g. the 'Narnia' series). Some Christians accept these enthusiastically--but fundamentalist Christians are likely to be very suspicious of any stories which treat magic and mythology as anything but demonic.
Holidays: Many of the common customs associated with Christmas, Halloween, and Easter have pagan origins. For this reason, many Christians shun them. But many of these customs lend themselves readily to Christian interpretation. Is it not possible that God was acting through these customs to drop hints into ancient pagan cultures, and prepare hearts for the full revelation of His grace in Jesus Christ? The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Ro. 14:7). Whatever means genuinely further these ends should be seen as the product of God's grace, regardless of who originated them, and should be used to the fullest extent possible.
music: A large proportion
of recognized "great" composers (especially since the Romantic era) are
spiritually or morally suspect in the eyes of orthodox Christianity. Consider
Mozart (a Deist), Beethoven (an alcoholic), Schubert (died of syphillis),
Schumann (went insane), Chopin (a philanderer), Tchaikovskii (a homosexual).
A "Christian" argument against their music goes something as follows: Since
their personal lives bore bad fruit, neither could the fruit of their creative
imagination be good. But is it fair to blame their music for their moral
lapses? Is it not possible rather that the spiritual and emotional strain
of creation depleted and weakened them, making them susceptible to destructive
compulsions and neuroses? Similar things can be seen among prominent figures
within the Christian community.
The current culture of so-called "Christian" music (available in "Christian" bookstores and played on "Christian" radio stations) consists either of traditional hymns or music in the pop/rock idiom written by contemporary musicians whose beliefs and morals are certifiably 'O.K.' One can hardly find a single classical piece of music played on any 'Christian' radio station -- save perhaps Handel's "Messiah" at Christmastime.
While classical music may not be preached against in fundamental churches, it is certainly not considered a 'spiritual' occupation or hobby. On the other hand, the traditional denominations tend to have a much more favorable view of the spiritual benefits of classical music. This is just one more point of contention between these two arms of Christ's body.
Others: Here I briefly mention several other activities which have been pronounced "guilty by association" by many Christians, while other Christians find them perfectly innocent: Yoga and Tai Ch'i (associated with Eastern religious practice); Dancing, movies (associated with revelry and loose morals); Card Playing (roots connected with fortune-telling); Environmentalism (Associated with Earth-worship and pantheism); Glossalalia (Associated with emotionalism and sensationalism); Computerized information (associated with 'the mark of the Beast' and '1984'-style totalitarianism).
It's evident that if Christians were to confine themselves to activities with no questionable associations, they would be restricted to a very small area indeed. But rather than relying always on quarantine, Christians should be actively working to cleanse, to heal, to redeem: to reconcile every field of human endeavor to Christ. Of course, we must be careful in this program, lest our faith be infected with strains of worldliness. But the stakes are too high for us to demur -- the advancement of the kingdom of God demands that we take the risk.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, the earth is Yours, and its fulness; the world, and those that inhabit it. Help us grasp the depths of Your love through the rich enjoyment of all good things of Your creation. Teach us to appreciate the holy in every aspect of human experience. Teach us to separate the unclean from the clean, and cut out the bad spots which Satan has introduced into the good fruit of Your blessing. Teach us to live life on this earth to the fullest, that we may be ready to step into the abundant life prepared for us in heaven. You made all things good, and you made us good -- may we return to that original goodness, through the knowledge of Your unblemished son Jesus Christ.
Copyright © 1998 CrossPollen
Last Revised: July 8, 2002
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