11.16.22 / People Want an Enchanted World
Hey, Calvary Fremont –
With 1.5 million potential practicing witches across the U.S., witchcraft has more followers than the 1.4 million mainline members of the Presbyterian church. “From 1990 to 2008 Wicca grew from an estimated 8,000 Wiccans to about 340,000 practitioners.” The increase has been led by a rejection of mainstream Christianity among young Americans as well as a rise in occultism. Videos labelled #WitchTok have so far totaled 18.7 billion views.
Progressive occultism – the language of witches and demons, of spells and sage, of cleansing and bad energy, of star and signs – has become the de facto religion of millennial progressives. Its rise parallels the rise of the religious “nones.” 23% of Americans call themselves religiously unaffiliated, a number that spikes to 36% among millennials. Yet few among this demographic identify as atheists or agnostics. A full 72% of “nones” say they believe in God, or at least some kind of nebulously defined Higher Power. They are suspicious of institutions, authorities, and creeds. https://www.newsweek.com/witchcraft-wiccans-mysticism-astrology-witches-millennials-pagans-religion-1221019
Please note – the majority of those who reject mainstream Christianity aren’t necessarily flocking to science and a bare secularism, but to alternative spiritualities. Their worldview hasn’t collapsed into a naked materialism where only matter matters. In leaving Christianity behind, they haven’t left the spiritual world behind. They believe in an enchanted world – a world of witches and warlocks, spells and curses, magic and potions. They believe in an unseen world wielding unseen power. Though science isn’t rejected, they don’t live in the world of test tubes and Bunsen burners, but in the world of Harry Potter. Truth isn’t found in the laboratory, but in the labyrinth. This enchanted world and worldview leaves behind the three most objectionable dimensions of Christianity – Religious Exclusivity, Theological Precision, and the Moral Mandate.
Religious Exclusivity. I am always amazed when people admire Jesus for His love and open-mindedness and then criticize the Church for being closed minded. When the Church insists that faith in Jesus is the only pathway to eternal salvation, we are considered to be intellectual Neanderthals who are out of step with Jesus. Yet this insistence on the exclusivity of Jesus comes from Jesus Himself. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father except through Me.” I admit, it would make life easier if faith in Jesus was just one of many ways to God. This would make Christianity immeasurably more acceptable to people. Confrontation is automatically built into a message of Religious Exclusivity. The message of Religious Exclusivity comes with the strong implication that if you don’t agree or don’t accept – you’re wrong – your eternal salvation isn’t assured. Those who leave Christianity leave behind the offense of Religious Exclusivity.
Those who reject Christianity leave behind the offense of Theological Precision. In the world of wizards and warlocks, you have your truth and I have mine and it’s all cool. You have your notion of God and I have my understanding of God and it’s all good. When someone says that truth is relative, they mean that truth doesn’t matter – all that matters is their preference. Truth isn’t that which corresponds to reality; truth is that which corresponds to my preferences and desires. This is the exact opposite of precision. In this world, notions of God (or Goddess) are vague and hazy. In contrast, the Creeds of Christianity labor to provide Theological Precision for the Church. The more that God is like one thing, the less He is like something else. God reveals Himself in the Bible with great precision. The Church is to be faithful to this self-revelation of God. All churches have their doctrinal statements where they communicate their vision of God. And sometimes the Theological Precision of these doctrinal statements result in division between churches. Yet the very attempt at Theological Precision implies the serious endeavor to understand this God who has revealed Himself to us. I admit, less Theological Precision would probably result in less Ecclesiastical Division and more acceptance by those outside the Church, but the price would to be remain in a fog where God has given light. Our God isn’t whoever you want Him to be – He is who He has revealed Himself to be. Those who reject Christianity leave behind the offense of Theological Precision.
Those who reject Christianity leave behind the offense of its Moral Mandate. I think (actually, I know!) more young people wouldn’t leave Christianity if pre-marital, extra-marital, and same-sex sex was allowed – or at least winked at. If you don’t love Jesus and love holiness, the Moral Mandate of Christianity is crushing. It crushes the flesh and labors against undisciplined desire. If Christianity only offered a moral ambiguity instead of a blinding vision of holiness, if it only left certain behaviors optional – it would retain so many more people.
People reject Christianity for its Religious Exclusivity, Theological Precision, and Moral Mandate. I admit, my life would be much easier if I didn’t have to insist on these dynamics inherent within the Christian faith. Churches that are considered progressive are softening in their Religious Exclusivity, Theological Precision, and Moral Mandate because they want to attract the culture and not offend it. Yes, it’s an easier road, yet it’s a road that ultimately leads to irrelevance. I urge you not to abandon that which is offensive about Christianity because as you abandon what is offensive, you dispose of that which is spiritually powerful and eternally relevant. Fight the good fight!
Be blessed and stay healthy and follow Jesus – Pastor Tim