Category: One World Religion

Barna Group Shock Poll Reveals That 47% Of All Christian Millennials Believe That Witnessing The Gospel And Evangelizing Is Wrong

In a study entitled “Reviving Evangelism” the Barna Group, a research center that tracks faith and spirituality in American life, reported that 94% of practicing American Christian agreed that “the best thing that could ever happen to someone is for them to know Jesus.” On the other hand, the same study found that 47% of Christian millennials believe that evangelism is wrong.

by Geoffrey Grider February 17, 2019

The vast majority of practicing Christian millennials believe that knowing Jesus is “the best thing that could happen to someone,” while nearly half believe evangelizing is wrong, a study conducted by the Barna Group reported.

The command of our apostle Paul, rightly divided and dispensationally correct, is that all born again Christian are to preach, teach and otherwise share the gospel of the grace of God with as many people as is humanly possible. It is a theme and a subject he touches on over, and over and over again. However, your average Laodicean end times church spends precious little time on the doctrines that Jesus and the Holy Spirit gave to Paul during those three and a half years of his “christian college” education in the Damascus wilderness.

“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:1-5 (KJV)

But here at NTEB, we are not confused about the Bible’s crystal-clear command to preach the gospel while breath remains within us. We preach the gospel of the grace of God 24 hours a day everyday through this site, as well as preaching on the streets and in the jails. If you are waiting for the oft-promised ‘end times revival’, you might be waiting quite a long time. But guess what? You can have your very own personal revival that can begin right here and right now! Order yourself a box of our gospel tracts at the bottom of the article, and start evangelising the lost you come in contact with on a daily basis.

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24 (KJV)

Only one life, ’twill soon be past. And only what’s done for Christ will last. Get busy, Christian, and be about the Father’s business. For the night is coming when no man can work.

EVANGELIZING IS WRONG, SAY NEARLY HALF OF CHRISTIAN MILLENNIALS

FROM THE JERUSALEM POST: In a study entitled “Reviving Evangelism” the Barna Group, a research center that tracks faith and spirituality in American life, reported that 94% of practicing American Christian agreed that “the best thing that could ever happen to someone is for them to know Jesus.”

On the other hand, the same study found that 47% of Christian millennials believe that evangelism is wrong.

Almost half of Millennials (47%) agree at least somewhat that it is wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will one day share the same faith. This is compared to a little over one-quarter of Gen X (27%), and one in five Boomers (19%) and Elders (20%). (Though Gen Z teens were not included in this study, their thoroughly post-Christian posture will likely amplify this stance toward evangelism.) source

Specifically, they believe that it’s “wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes they will one day share the same faith.”  Part of their unwillingness to share their faith, a different Barna study called “Spiritual Conversations in the Digital Age” reported, seems to be that the generation entitled millennials believe that people are more likely now to be offended by someone who shares their faith

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9625

Vatican Officially Releases Chrislam Logo For Pope Francis Upcoming ‘Servant Of Hope’ Tour To The Muslim Nation OF Morocco

The official logo of the Pope’s visit was chosen from about 50 entries in a competition. An explanatory note accompanying the logo’s release says that a cross and a crescent in the logo are symbols of Christianity and Islam which highlight the interreligious relations between Christians and Muslims. In fact, during the 2-day trip, Pope Francis will meet the leader of Moroccan Muslims, 800 years after the meeting between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan Al-Malik al-Kāmil of Egypt.

by Geoffrey Grider February 10, 2019

The Vatican released the logo for Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Morocco, whose theme is hope. “Servant of Hope” is the theme of the Pope’s visit to Morocco on March 30-31.

Catholics have gotten mad at me over the years whenever I talk about how the Vatican is pushing the hybrid bastard religion of Chrislam, which is to say the merging of apostate Christianity with the religion of castaway Ishmael, who is the father is Islam. Yet just this week, the Vatican rolled out a new logo for Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to the Muslim nation of Morocco, and what is the design? Chrislam.

“And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” Revelation 17:1,2 (KJV)

The pope’s new logo shows a New Age style cross that is encircled about with the crescent moon of Islam, with the colors of yellow and white for the Vatican, and red and green for Islam. That, my friends, is not only the pope’s new logo, it will also serve as the official logo for Chrislam. I am sure Rick Warren had a hand in all this, just gotta find a link to prove it. If you come across one please send it to me.

Vatican releases logo for Pope Francis’ visit to Morocco

FROM VATICAN NEWS: The Holy Father is making the Apostolic Visit in response to the invitation of King Mohammed VI and the Bishops of the country.  The trip to the Muslim-majority nation includes the cities of Rabat and Casablanca, and will be the Pope’s 26th outside Italy.

Logo design

The official logo of the Pope’s visit was chosen from about 50 entries in a competition. An explanatory note accompanying the logo’s release says that a cross and a crescent in the logo are symbols of Christianity and Islam which highlight the interreligious relations between Christians and Muslims.

In fact, during the 2-day trip, Pope Francis will meet the leader of Moroccan Muslims, 800 years after the meeting between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan Al-Malik al-Kāmil of Egypt.

The logo has the colours of the two countries: green and red for Morocco, yellow and white (background) for the Vatican.

Under Pope Francis’ name is the motto of the visit: “Servant of Hope” because the Pope is known as the Servant of the Servants of God.  The motto is also the title of the pastoral letter that the Regional Episcopal Conference of North Africa (known by its French acronym CERNA) gave to Pope Francis during its last ‘ad limina ’ visit to Rome in 2015.

“Morocco” is written in Arabic to honour the country that is hosting the Pope.

Interreligious dialogue

Prior to the Morocco visit, the Pope is scheduled to make a trip to the United Arab Emirates on February 3-5.

Addressing the Diplomatic Corps on Monday in the Vatican, Pope Francis said that his visit to the 2 predominantly Muslim countries, “represent two important opportunities to advance interreligious dialogue and mutual understanding between the followers of both religions, in this year that marks the eight-hundredth anniversary of the historic meeting between Saint Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kāmil.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9612

The Pope And Islam’s Most Important Imam Just Signed A Covenant That Pushes Us Much Closer To A One World Religion

A historic interfaith covenant was signed in the Middle East on Monday, and the mainstream media in the United States has been almost entirely silent about it.  Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb is considered to be the most important imam in Sunni Islam, and he arrived at the signing ceremony in Abu Dhabi with Pope Francis “hand-in-hand in a symbol of interfaith brotherhood”.  But this wasn’t just a ceremony for Catholics and Muslims.  According to a British news source, the signing of this covenant was done “in front of a global audience of religious leaders from Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other faiths”… 

The pope and the grand imam of al-Azhar have signed a historic declaration of fraternity, calling for peace between nations, religions and races, in front of a global audience of religious leaders from Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other faiths.

Pope Francis, the leader of the world’s Catholics, and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of Sunni Islam’s most prestigious seat of learning, arrived at the ceremony in Abu Dhabi hand-in-hand in a symbol of interfaith brotherhood.

In other words, there was a concerted effort to make sure that all of the religions of the world were represented at this gathering.

According to the official Vatican website, a tremendous amount of preparation went in to the drafting of this document, and it encourages believers from all religions “to shake hands, embrace one another, kiss one another, and even pray” with one another…

The document, signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, was prepared “with much reflection and prayer”, the Pope said. The one great danger at this moment, he continued, is “destruction, war, hatred between us.” “If we believers are not able to shake hands, embrace one another, kiss one another, and even pray, our faith will be defeated”, he said. The Pope explained that the document “is born of faith in God who is the Father of all and the Father of peace; it condemns all destruction, all terrorism, from the first terrorism in history, that of Cain.”

There is a lot of language about peace in this document, but it goes way beyond just advocating for peace.

Over and over again, the word “God” is used to simultaneously identify Allah and the God of Christianity.  Here is just one example…

We, who believe in God and in the final meeting with Him and His judgment, on the basis of our religious and moral responsibility, and through this Document, call upon ourselves, upon the leaders of the world as well as the architects of international policy and world economy, to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing.

On top of that, the document also boldly declares that “the diversity of religions” that we see in the world was “willed by God”…

Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept;

In essence, this is saying that it is the will of God that there are hundreds of different religions in the world and that they are all acceptable in His sight.

We know that the elite want a one world religion, but to see the most important clerics from both Catholicism and Islam make such a dramatic public push for it is absolutely stunning.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9608

BORN ALIVE ABORTIONS: Days After Gov. Cuomo Signs Extreme Baby Killing Bill, Democrats In Virginia And Rhode Island Want To Enact Similar Laws

by Geoffrey Grider January 30, 2019

A Democratic lawmaker in the Virginia House of Delegates proposed a bill Tuesday that would allow abortions through the end of the third trimester of pregnancy.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo set in motion a macabre wheel of death when he signed in to law the New York  Reproductive Health Act last week. At the moment he did, it officially made New York state the only state in the country to authorize the killing of a born alive baby. But what a difference 7 days make.

“And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.” Genesis 21:16 (KJV)

Now the Democratic governors of both Virginia and Rhode Island are saying that they will sign bills that do everything that New York’s Act does, and then go a few, pardon the pun, baby steps further. In 2019, The Democratic Party has rebranded itself as the ‘Merchant of Death‘ Party by making the mind-numbing leap from abortion pre-born babies in the womb to slicing their throats after they are born alive and healthy.

In the 1991 movie, ‘What About Bob?’, Bill Murray plays Bob Wiley, a hilarious multi-phobic patient of psychiatrist Dr. Leo Marvin, played by Richard Dreyfuss. A highlight of the movie is the ‘death therapy’ protocol designed by Dr. Marvin in a desperate attempt to rid himself of his patient Bob Wiley. But there is nothing funny about using the ‘death therapy‘ now being pushed so hard by the Democrats to rid themselves of babies that they created but no longer want.

Northam on Abortion Bill: Infant Could Be Delivered and Then ‘Physicians and the Mother’ Could Decide If It Lives

FROM WASHINGTON FREE BEACON: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D.) commented Wednesday about a controversial 40-week abortion bill and in so doing said the law allows an abortion to take place after the infant’s birth.

“If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother,” Northam said, alluding to the physician and mother discussing whether the born infant should live or die.

A Democratic lawmaker in the Virginia House of Delegates proposed a bill Tuesday that would allow abortions through the end of the third trimester of pregnancy. The video of Delegate Kathy Tran presenting her bill led to an exchange where she admitted that her bill would allow for a mother to abort her child minutes before giving birth. READ MORE

Catholic Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo Vows to Sign Bill Legalizing Abortions Up to Birth

FROM LIFE NEWS: Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is pushing a radical pro-abortion bill in her state while claiming to be Catholic. The legislation, which contradicts the teachings of the Catholic Church, would legalize abortions for basically any reason up to birth. A state House committee is expected to vote on the bill today.

Earlier this month, Raimondo promised to support the pro-abortion bill in her State of the State address,NBC 10 reports.

“Let’s make this the year we codify women’s access to reproductive health care here in Rhode Island,” Raimondo said.

The Rhode Island Reproductive Health Care Act, co-sponsored by state Sen. Gayle L. Goldin and Rep. Edith H. Ajello, would strip away even minor, common-sense abortion regulations – ones that a strong majority of Americans support. It would eliminate all protections for unborn babies and codify Roe v. Wade into state law in case the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the ruling.

The bill appears to allow restrictions for late-term abortions, but it adds a broad “health” exception for abortions after viability. The exception would allow women to abort unborn babies up to nine months of pregnancy for basically any “health” reason, including “age, economic, social and emotional factors,” a definition given by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Doe v. Bolton

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9599

Tel Aviv Skyscraper: Remake of Tower of Babel or Preparation for Third Temple?

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz January 28, 2019 , 12:45 pm

“See, a time is coming—declares Hashem—when the city shall be rebuilt for Hashem from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate;” Jeremiah 31:37 (The Israel Bible™)

One of the largest real-estate developers in Israel revealed plans for the soon-to-be tallest building in Israel that looks surprisingly similar to images of what the Tower of Babel may have looked like. But a closer look reveals the new building may be much more, what one rabbi thinks could be a dry-run for building the Third Temple.

The Azrieli Group, an Israeli real estate and holding company, announced their plan to build Israel’s tallest building as an addition to their already impressive Azrieli Center Complex in Tel Aviv. Topping out at 91 stories and reaching 1,150 feet toward the heavens, it is estimated that the Spiral Tower will take six years to complete at an estimated cost of $666 million. The new tower will take its place next to the iconic circle, square and triangle towers that make up the Azrieli Complex. By building the Spiral Tower, the Azrieli Group will outdo itself as they built the current tallest building in Israel, The Azrieli Sarona Tower which stands 782 feet high with 53 floors, just two years ago.

The plans are ambitious, with around 150,000 square meters containing commercial space, offices, residences, and a hotel. Six underground parking levels, covering an area of 45,000 square meters, will be built at the base of the structure, in addition to a commercial floor connected directly to the light rail. The tower’s peak will include space for conferences and meetings, recreational space, and a 360-degree view of Tel Aviv and the surrounding area. it is predicted that approximately 100,000 people will pass through the center every day.

The unique design was produced by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), a New York-based architecture firm which is responsible for five of the 10 tallest skyscrapers in the world. According to the press release, the architects took their inspiration from nature as well as Jewish heritage.

“The tower was planned and developed in a unique geometric shape, never before seen in Israel, which captures the eye and the imagination. The main challenge for the initiators and architects was to create harmony between the three iconic towers that form Azrieli Center and the new tower, an impressive, one-of-a-kind structure which stands on its own. The tower’s design takes inspiration from the twists of a snail’s shell, attempting to imitate their natural form. The design also draws inspiration from ancient biblical scrolls and the way they unfurl upwards.”

More cynical critics of the design might draw a comparison between the elegant design presented by the developers and certain depictions of the Biblical Tower of Babel. Though the Biblical account contains no details other than it builders aspirations for it to reach great heights.

And they said, “Come, let us build us a city, and a tower with its top in the sky, to make a name for ourselves; else we shall be scattered all over the world.” Genesis 11:4

Traditional Jewish sources provide additional details. Midrash (homiletic teachings) described “an idol on the top holding a sword, so that it may appear as if it intended to war with God.” The Midrash also described a structure built on tall columns designed to protect the tower from another divine flood.

Some modern scholars have associated the Tower of Babel with known structures, notably the Etemenanki, a ziggurat dedicated to the Mesopotamian god Marduk built by Babylonian King Nabopolassar in 610 BCE. Indeed, the Spiral Tower Design closely resembles a ziggurat, an ancient structure from the Middle East built as a terraced compound of successively receding stories or levels. at the top of each ziggurat was a shrine. Also, similar to the Azrieli Towers,  each ziggurat was part of a larger complex that included a courtyard, storage rooms, bathrooms, and living quarters, around which a city was built.

Rabbi Yisrael Rosenberg is an author who has a powerful connection to the spiritual implications of construction. His daytime job is as a tour guide for the Western Wall tunnels.

“The main of the sin connected to the Tower of Babel was not in their action but in their intention. The bottom line is that the intent of the builders and the architects of the Azrieli tower is l’shem shamayim (in the name of heaven). The fact that they envisioned a Torah scroll while designing the building is remarkable. Even if it was just for beauty, beauty can be to praise God’s creation.”

Rosenberg noted that the builders of the Tower of Babel came together to challenge heaven, hence their punishment was to be divided and scattered.

“Tel Aviv needs high towers since it is becoming densely populated,” he said. “This is a Tikkun (fixing) for what happened after the Tower of Babel. It allows people to be together in Israel.”

He also noted that for the 2,000 years of exile, Jews excelled in many fields but were less represented in architecture and land development.

“Everything we learn about construction in Israel is just one step away from the Beit Hamikdash,” the rabbi said. “Just like Solomon’s Temple, the Third Temple will be with the agreement and blessings of every nation in the world and it will be the greatest construction project ever seen. We need to learn how to lead the world in this project.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9593

United Methodist Church Next In Line To Fall As General Assembly Set To Unveil The ‘One Church Plan’ To Include Unrepentant LGBTQ Members

It’s no secret that the United Methodist Church has been apostate for years. They do not stand on the Scriptures as their authority nor do they hold to an orthodox view of Christ–to them God is a sin-affirming God who accepts people just how they are without repentance. However, officially, the United Methodist Church currently does not allow the ordination of openly LGBTQ clergy–but that appears to be about to change.

by Geoffrey Grider January 25, 2019

February 23 marks the date for a special session of the General Assembly of the United Methodist Church, a gathering of denominational leaders, bishops, and clergy to deliberate the issue of homosexuality and other sexual perversions present in the church.

One by one, we are watching all the Christian denominations bow to the pressure of the LGBTQ Movement. The Presbyterians have already fallen, most of the non-denominationals are lukewarm already, and even some of the Baptist branches are beginning to experience trouble with their Pilot Light. The gospel is just too hard, it offends too many people, and church just cannot grow by preaching Biblical truth. This is exactly what Jesus meant when He gave this Revelation prophecy regarding the professing church to John back in 96 AD about the coming Church of Laodicea. It’s here.

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” Revelation 3:14-18 (KJV)

The end times are indeed upon us, and no, praying for it to “go away” will not work. The current rising darkness is what the Bible says would happen in the last days before the Pretribulation of the Church. Why do you think the Church is taken out? One reason is it has ceased to be salt and light, and therefore has no use any longer. But you can still be on fire for God,  you can still witness and see souls get saved. Get busy, the Master approaches!

United Methodist Church Gearing Up For Full and Official Affirmation And Inclusion of LGBTQ Members And Same-Sex Weddings

FROM REFORMATION CHARLOTTE: A Council of Bishops was asked by the General Assembly in 2016 to begin putting together an LGBTQ inclusion plan for the denomination and in 2018, the One Church Plan was unveiled and has the majority support of the denomination’s bishops. Next month, the plan will officially be voted on and is expected to pass nearly unanimously.

It’s no secret that the United Methodist Church has been apostate for years. They do not stand on the Scriptures as their authority nor do they hold to an orthodox view of Christ–to them God is a sin-affirming God who accepts people just how they are without repentance.

However, officially, the United Methodist Church currently does not allow the ordination of openly LGBTQ clergy–but that appears to be about to change.

The one church plan, touted as “supported by the majority of bishops,” includes several key affirmations of homosexuality and other sexually deviant behaviors as acceptable and normal within the church. According to the website,

This plan, preferred by a majority of the Council of Bishops, would remove restrictive language from the Book of Discipline that prohibits same-gender weddings in UMC properties and ordination of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals.” It would add language to protect churches and pastors who choose not to allow same-gender marriages.

While there may be some individual local churches who choose not to fully apostatize on the LGBTQ issue, the issue here is a removal of the biblical restriction of sin-infested clergy in the church. In other words, you may be in open rebellion to God and still be fully included and accepted as a leader–both at the local level and the denominational level–so long as your congregation is cool with it. And let’s just be real, if you’re in the UMC, you’re most likely cool with it.

The justification for calling the special assembly lies in their faulty theological understanding of God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness.

We are aware that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) persons exist in every nation and every culture in the world, with varying degrees of openness, acceptance, and freedom […] There are, and have been, LGBTQ persons serving at all levels of leadership in the UMC, as laity and clergy. Currently they suffer as they are unable to live into God’s calling on their lives to ordination or to lay leadership.”

The idea is that homosexuals “suffer” when they’re not allowed ordination as clergy. But the Scriptures clearly teach that sexual immorality is the judgment of God and not necessarily the cause (Romans 1). The reason they suffer isn’t because they can’t be ordained, it’s because they are in open rebellion to God and God has given them over to a debased mind.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9591

Survey Reveals Many Christians Deeply Confused About Biblical Theology

By PNW Staff December 05, 2018

Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research has published their most recent State of Theology study, and the results show a confused collection of beliefs held by American Christians and especially evangelicals.

The study consisted of interviews with 3,000 adult Christians and follows similar surveys given in 2014 and 2016. Startlingly high percentages of respondents again revealed clearly heretical beliefs when they were asked about the nature of God and belief, their opinions on certain sins and the role of the Bible.

How much of this heretical belief is the result of poor education in Christian theology and how much indicates the influence of external cultural factors that are slowly warping what millions of Christians across the country believe? That remains to be answered, but the results of these questions show several interesting trends in belief following the previous surveys as well as demographic trends among generations.

To give an example of how the survey exposed heretical beliefs held by the majority of the Christians interviewed, 52% responded that most people are basically good, 51% believe that God accepts the worship of all religions and 78% subscribe to the Arian Heresy, which teaches that Jesus was the first and great being created by God the Father. In fact, Jesus is not a created being; He is God the Son.

Ligonier concluded that “Overall, US adults appear to have a superficial attachment to well-known Christian beliefs. For example, a majority agreed that Jesus died on the cross for sin and that He rose from the dead.” When examining issues of theology that go deeper than these basic Christian beliefs or ask the interviewed Christians to wrestle with difficult ethical issues, their reliance on popular opinion and cultural relativism became clear.

A majority of 59% stated that the Holy Spirit is a force, not a personal being, and most shocking of all, the survey showed that 62% of American Christians surveyed believe that “religious belief is a matter of personal opinion and not of objective truth.”

A majority still believes that salvation comes through faith rather than good works and although they believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, they also hold contradictory beliefs that put Jesus outside of the Trinity. The belief that Jesus was a created being is a heresy refuted and condemned at the Council of Nicaea in 325 and also at the Council of Constantinople in 381. This belief was held by 71% of Christians in 2016 and rose to78% in 2018, even though it has not been taught in any American church.

Only 52% of Christians identified abortion as a sin and as many as 38% declared it not to be a sin (others were unsure). Likewise, 41% of Christians interviewed believe that the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality does not apply today. The effects of cultural relativism are clearly visible here across the spectrum of beliefs.

Christians who classify themselves as evangelical claim they see the Bible as the highest authority, but on other survey questions clear contradictions emerge as 30% of Evangelicals admit that the Bible is open for each individual to interpret as he chooses and as society changes.

In the end, whereas some questions seem to indicate increasingly heretical beliefs and others reflect more orthodox Christian theology, the majority of the survey exposes a deep confusion about Biblical theology in general. As Christians interviewed were easily swayed by changes in question phrasing or the inclusion of certain popular “catchphrases” a general lack of theological knowledge was apparent.

Clearly, there is more work to be done not only to identify as Christian but truly to engage with what that means; to educate ourselves not just on a few theological touchstones or fixate on a few words, but to really understand the Bible as the Word of God.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9491

The US witch population has seen an astronomical rise

By Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz & Dan KopfOctober 4, 2018

Spirituality is now firmly placed in mainstream culture. The growing interest in astrology driven by millennials, as well as the popularity of crystals and tarot cards via the ballooning wellness industry, have brought mysticism from the fringes, and right into your Instagram feed.

However, as the cosmetics giant Sephora recently found out, mysticism and its more formal manifestation, witch culture, are not topics to be taken lightly. When the company tried to commodify and condense witch-related practices into a “Starter Witch Kit,” they managed to piss off a bunch of actual witches, forcing the kit’s manufacturer to apologize and pull the product.

The kit was clearly aimed at dabblers in witchcraft, rather than those who actually practice it, which was perhaps part of the miscalculation. Data on the existing population of self-identified practicing witches suggests that a robust—and growing—witch community exists.

By the numbers: witches, Wiccans, and Pagans

Though the data is sparse, what we do know is that the practice of witchcraft has seen major growth in recent decades. As the witch aesthetic has risen, so has the number of people who identify as witches.

The best source of data on the number of witches in the US comes from assessments of the Wicca population. Not all people who practice witchcraft consider themselves Wicca, but the religion makes up a significant subset, as Alden Wicker noted for Quartz in 2016.

Wicca is a largely Western religious movement that dates back to the mid-20th century in the US and UK. According to the site wicca.com, it’s a belief system informed by “pre-Christian traditions originating in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales,” that promotes “free thought and will of the individual, and encourages learning and an understanding of the earth and nature.

Birgitte Necessary, who describes herself as a Green Witch from Washington State, defines the religion similarly, explaining it as “a deep adherence to nature and natural law, an attention to the cycles of the earth and the lives within it.” As a Green Witch, Necessary adds that her practices mostly revolve around the plant kingdom and herbal healing.

While the US government does not regularly collect detailed religious data, because of concerns that it may violate the separation of church and state, several organizations have tried to fill the data gap. From 1990 to 2008, Trinity College in Connecticut ran three large, detailed religion surveys. Those have shown that Wicca grew tremendously over this period. From an estimated 8,000 Wiccans in 1990, they found there were about 340,000 practitioners in 2008. They also estimated there were around 340,000 Pagans (pdf) in 2008.

Although Trinity College hasn’t run a survey since 2008, the Pew Research Center picked up the baton in 2014. It found that 0.4% of Americans, or around 1 to 1.5 million people, identify as Wicca or Pagan—which suggests continued robust growth for the communities.

Data on Wicca identification is ever sparser in the UK, the other country with a significant Wicca population. A 2011 government census found that there are 12,000 Wiccans in England and Wales, but previous surveys didn’t collect data on the group.

The rise of witchcraft

“Witch Hill” is an 1869 painting depicting a girl found guilty of witchcraft on her way to the gallows in Salem.

Witchcraft had a long and complicated history before the wellness and beauty industries became recently obsessed with it. Witches have been a fixture in the popular imagination for centuries: And from Snow White to The Crucible to Melisandre in Game of Thrones, beauty, sexuality, and the quest for eternal youth have been baked into our perception of witches.

That perception is also, of course, tied to a bloody history of persecution of witchcraft’s practitioners, and the term “witch” itself has been used as a multipurpose misogynist slur. It’s perhaps that centuries-long perception that has led modern-day witches to reclaim the term, and even coalesce into a political movement.

Some modern witches, such as Courtney Brooke, place themselves in a subset of witches that adhere to a feminist dogma and identify specifically as “feminist witches”:

The mainstreaming of mysticism makes sense when you consider how it overlaps with the interests of the millennial women. As Wicker noted, witchcraft is the perfect religion for liberal millennials who are already involved in yoga and meditation, mindfulness, and new-age spirituality. With that foundation, they might show up for pagan holidays or new moon gatherings, or begin to explore the more serious spiritual concepts at the root of these practices.

This is all aided by the rise of witches on social media (just check out the extremely popular #witchesofinstagram hashtag on Instagram), and a certain kind of Instagrammable witchiness has been identified by market trend-spotters as “mysticore.”

The Hoodwitch, for example, is a bona fide witch influencer, with 329K Instagram followers, who practices “everyday magic for the modern mystic,” and appears at events like LA’s BeautyCon to do tarot readings:

The numbers on Wicca and Paganism may well undercount the total number of witches. Indeed, as Necessary notes, some witches reject Wicca in its current form as “a new age less-than-perfect reinvention of witchcraft.”

But whatever the exact number is, it’s clear that witches are among us—and the current trajectory suggests that their population will continue to grow.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9426

Those Who Left Church Turning to New Age, Pagan Rituals

9:30AM EDT 8/30/2018 YONAT SHIMRON/RNS

Amanda, a 28-year-old Los Angeles resident, used to go to church every Sunday.

She still prays nightly and believes in Jesus, but now she has her own rituals.

“I’ll chant, or I’ll go to Kundalini (yoga) and meditate with a group,” said Amanda, who did not want her last name used because she’s afraid religious groups will target her.

She’s also into crystals.

She keeps a bunch on her nightstand and stows a small bag of them in her purse or backpack during the day.

“The energy they hold is this ancient energy,” she said. “It helps your own energy when you work with them, when you’re near them.”

Amanda wasn’t one of the respondents in a new Pew Research poll. But she fits right in.

The poll shows that beyond a small band of reliably predictable “Sunday Stalwarts,” as the survey calls them, American religiosity is pretty casual, with less than a quarter of Americans attending worship services weekly but nearly all religious groups adhering to some New Age beliefs.

The poll, which grouped 4,729 Americans into seven types, found that though few Americans reject God altogether, most Americans mix traditional faith with beliefs in psychics, reincarnation and spiritual energy that they say can be found in physical objects such as mountains, trees and crystals.

Taken in December, the poll examined beliefs and behaviors that cut across many
 denominations using a method called cluster analysis, which produced seven broad religious typologies. The researchers gave these types pithy names such as “Spiritually Awake” and “Religion Resisters.” Those who believe in no God Pew dubbed the “Solidly Secular.”

Overall, only 23 percent of Americans attend worship services weekly, and only one group — the “Sunday Stalwarts,” who make up about 17 percent of the population — attend in overwhelming numbers. These include mostly Christians but also Jews, Muslims and Hindus who may attend on other holy days.

In addition, the number of Americans who say they read Scripture daily, at only 11 percent, is strikingly low, and those who say religion is the most important source of meaning in their lives make up only 20 percent of the population.

By contrast, New Age beliefs pervade all seven American types identified in the survey.

“New Age beliefs are something we see many group members hold,” said Becka A. Alpert, research associate at Pew, who worked on the poll. But she added, the study cannot explain why.

Fully 41 percent of Americans believe in psychics including 32 percent of “Sunday Stalwarts,” the most traditionally religious group of all.

Forty-two percent of Americans believe spiritual energy can be located in physical objects. Smaller shares believe in reincarnation and astrology.

The group with the most New Age beliefs was what researchers called the “Diversely Devout.” This group, which makes up 11 percent of Americans, consists of Protestants and unaffiliated Americans, the so-called “nones.” Among this group, solid majorities have New Age beliefs.

This is the group that snaps up “smudge sticks” or “sage bundles” — material for ritual or spiritually cleansing burning — and invests in crystals and gemstones touted as possessing energy capable of helping people heal from emotional, physical or spiritual pain.

Crystal enthusiasts say moonstone invokes creativity, citrine boosts energy, and amethyst treats addiction.

Other practices such as yoga, meditation, reiki, ayurvedic medicine — not all New Age — are fast gaining practitioners.

“New Age practices are unstructured,” said Jeffrey Kessler, a Jew who is the president of his Berkeley, Calif. congregation Chochmat Halev but also teaches tai chi, and engages in somatic healing, which combines psychotherapy and various physical therapies to heal trauma. “There’s no authority. People can pick and choose and explore. I think of it as a spiritual freeform way of beginning to connect to something other than oneself.”

Mark Chaves, a sociologist at Duke University who studies American religiosity, said he’d want to look at other surveys to see if the Pew numbers for New Age beliefs are particularly high.

But he added: “It does strike me as interesting that belief in supernatural-ly kinds of things is more prevalent among the conventionally religious.”

The Pew poll also found plenty of traditional religious measures:

* 56 percent believe in the God of the Bible.
* 61 percent believe God will judge people based on what they’ve done.
* 77 percent say God or a higher power has protected them.

But only 33 percent of Americans say it’s necessary to believe in God to be moral and only 31 percent rely on their religious teachings “a lot” to help them make decisions about right and wrong.

Some scholars have argued that society is not necessarily becoming more secular; instead traditional religions are giving way to new forms of spirituality that are supplanting, but not always replacing churchgoing.

That was the thesis of a 2005 book, “The Spiritual Revolution: Why Religion is Giving Way to Spirituality.”

That makes sense to psychotherapist Stephanie Anderson-Ladd of Durham, N.C. Ladd works with women who feel alienated by patriarchal religions and helps them connect with the divine feminine through goddess archetypes that can serve as models.

“A lot of people have been turned off by organized religion,” she said. “They’re exploring alternative ways of being a spiritual being on a human path, as much as a human being on a spiritual path. We’re open to many different ways to understand the divine.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9371

Burning Man Recreating Mount Sinai for Idolatry

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz July 31, 2018 , 2:53 pm

All this serves man for fuel: He takes some to warm himself, And he builds a fire and bakes bread. He also makes a god of it and worships it, Fashions an idol and bows down to it! Isaiah 44:15 (The Israel Bible™)

Thousands of people wearing bizarre costumes dance around a huge burning effigy that represents Celtic human sacrifice. Scattered around the pentagon-shaped camp are various makeshift temples to pagan gods. Moving through the crowds is a huge seven headed serpent. No, this is not science fiction or even a pagan festival held in some far-off land. This is the annual ten-day Burning Man Festival that will be held in the Nevada desert in three weeks.

Every year, the Burning Man Festival takes place in the late summer in Black Rock City – a temporary city erected in the Black Rock Desert of northwest Nevada. First held 32 years ago in 1986 as an intimate artists’ gathering on Baker Beach in San Francisco, the festival now attracts more than 70,000 attendees every year.

Though the organizers claim the festival is not religious in nature, there are several elements that appear regularly at the festival that are firmly rooted in idolatry. A 70-foot long seven-headed red metal dragon on wheels named for the ancient Egyptian god Abraxas, is clearly intended to reference Satan as described in the Christian Book of Revelations. Festivals have also featured a papier-mache sculpture of “Lord Shiva Natarja,” a Hindu god described as “the cosmic ecstatic dancer.”

The festival culminates in the eponymous ceremony in which a large wooden effigy of a man is burned. This ceremony, referred to among Druids as the “wicker man,” is almost universal among pagan cults and evolved as a replacement for human sacrifice. This symbolic element came closer to its origins last year when a 41-year-old man committed suicide by throwing himself into the flames of the Burning Man effigy.

Rabbi Daniel Asore, a member of the nascent Sanhedrin, noted that the elements of ancient idolatry are clearly present in this modern-day gathering.The camp is carefully designed in a semicircle contained within a pentagon But when viewed from the air, it becomes clear that the angles are connected by lines creating a pentagram, the universal symbol of witchcraft and black magic.

“They are going out to the desert to recreate the giving of the Torah but they have replaced Mount Sinai as the focal point with the symbol of Satan,” Rabbi Asore told Breaking Israel News. “These people are not atheists. They are idolators. The difference between atheism and idolatry is that atheism denies God while idolatry is an attempt to replace God. They are trying to replace God.”

This year, the festival is going to be a strange mix of pagan worship and high-tech with the theme being “I,Robot,” focusing on artificial intelligence (AI). This theme will be reflected in the centerpiece structure, a massive wooden spiral temple dubbed Galaxia dedicated to the Greek goddess, Gaia. Galaxia is a name taken from a science-fiction novel by Isaac Asimov. In New Age mythology, Galaxia is the mother goddess corresponding to the Greek goddess Gaia, but on a higher galactic level. In mythology, Gaia is the personification of the Earth and the source of immortality. The worship of Gaia figures prominently in Neo-paganism.

“Technology is not, by nature, necessarily evil but it is often used as a temptation to distract people from the truth, to tempt them away from God by telling men they are greater than God,” Asore said. “In the case of artificial intelligence, this is clearly true. They will deny that God rules their lives but they welcome artificial intelligence. Even now, we carry around devices which ‘remind’ them of what they must do. It tracks their every movement and even tells them where they should go, when they need to leave, and what roads to take. This is not an aid. This is already bordering on mind-control.”

“The people who create this technology and the people who use it will deny that their intent is mind control. Truly modern people who were atheists would reject pentagrams and idols and believe there is no controlling power. The aspect of mind control comes from the idolatry giving control to dark forces.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9302