Monthly Archives: February 2013

White Supremacists

Probably everyone is familiar to a greater or lesser degree with the White Supremacy movement. We envision KKK members in their pointed white hoods, or survivalists holed up somewhere in the wilds of the upper mid-West fighting off ATF and FBI agents. And these are not unrealistic images. However, as with all cults there is a heretical theological basis to the movement.

The followers of this movement generally think of themselves as part of the Christian Identity movement, or simply the Identity movement. They call themselves this because the distinctive belief that characterizes them is the assertion that they are the true children of Adam, and the true heirs to the promises of Israel. Generally it is posited that only the white (or Aryan) race are true sons of Adam. Other races, especially Jews and blacks, are descended from some other source. There are several theories offered for their variant origin. Some believe that the inferior races are descended from a sexual liaison between the Serpent and Eve. Some think that they are a cursed race (or races) originating either with Adam’s son Cain, or Noah’s son Ham. Others say that the hated peoples are descendents of the demonic “sons of God” who fell in the days of Noah by having sex with human women. Today there are many groups which teach that the non-white races are descendents of pre-Adamite “bestial” peoples, i.e., they are literally “beasts of the earth” and while having bodies and souls, they have no spirits. Whatever their origin, it is commonly held by believers of the Identity movement that Jews, blacks, and all non-white, non-Aryan peoples are inferior, spiritually cursed, and rejected by God.

There are three main categories of Supremacists. The first is the most visible, and probably the most well known. This is the U.S. group known as the Ku Klux Klan, which began after the American Civil War as an attempt to “protect white southerners” and keep “uppity” blacks in their place. The Klan has waxed and waned in its membership and influence through the years. Their heyday was in the 1920’s and 1930’s in the U.S. The second group is those Supremacists who model their beliefs and organizations after Hitler’s National Socialist Party. This includes the more traditional groups which are rooted in the Nazism of the 1930’s and 1940’s, as well as the more contemporary Neo-Nazis groups. The Neo-Nazis are found not only in the U.S., but also in many other places, most notably in Germany, Britain, and other western European countries. The third category is comprised of the Christian Identity churches, such as the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, Aryan Nations. They characterize themselves as the true followers of Jesus Christ, and the promoters of the true gospel, which is meant exclusively for white Protestants.

It is common to see aberrant action and behavior follow heretical belief. This is no less the case with regards to the White Supremacists. There is a perverted and twisted theological base for this movement. The two main areas where the Scriptures are “twisted” by these groups is in their views regarding the true identity of Israel, and the spiritual/physical origins of Adam and Eve’s children. First, the identity of Israel…

In Britain and America in the late 18th and early 19th centuries there was a great deal of speculation as to the fate of the so-called “Ten Lost Tribes.” Out of these speculations arose the idea that the Lost Tribes had through the centuries migrated northward and westward, finally settling in Britain. It was asserted that the Anglo-Saxons are actually the true descendents of Israel. Supposedly this is even evidenced by their name: “Saxon” being held to be a contraction of “Isaac’s Sons.” Also, the word “British” was believed to be derived from the Hebrew words for covenant (berith) and man (ish): Berith+ish = British, or “man of the covenant.” (I am not making this up. They really believe this!) This odd teaching came to be known as British-Israelism. British-Israelites say that Great Britain is the biblical Ephraim and that America is Manasseh, and they are the true Israelites. This strange belief affected a number of cults, including the followers of Joseph Smith, as well as the followers of Herbert W. Armstrong. It also is a major component of the doctrinal structure of the Christian Identity movement.

A second major component of their belief system is the Two-Seed Doctrine. This doctrine asserts that there are two strains of heredity running through human history. In some forms of 19th century Reformed theology this referred to the elect and the non-elect. It was taught that God had infused good seed into Adam and Eve. But with the Fall, Satan had also infused bad seed. Whether you were part of the elect or not was evidenced by God’s providential decision as to which seed you belonged. This teaching is still found in some Primitive Baptist churches. In the Christian Identity movement, they have taken this teaching a step further and given a racial twist to it. They also assert that there are two seeds present in the history of the human race(s). First, there is the natural and godly seed. This seed began with Abel, the son of Adam and Eve. However, there is another seed, an ungodly, wicked and cursed seed. This seed began with Cain, who was the unnatural offspring of a sexual encounter between Eve and the Serpent/Satan. The first seed is represented in the pure, white, Aryan followers of God. The second seed is represented in the corrupt, “colored,” non-Aryan children of the Devil. Throughout history there is a spiritual and racial conflict between these seeds. And, of course, one of the greatest sins we can commit is to mix the seeds.

While some New-Nazi groups have reverted to a pagan theology, believing this to be the truest expression of their Aryan roots, most White Supremacists claim to be Christian. And while they may superficially seem to agree with many basic Christian beliefs, e.g., the Trinity, the Resurrection of Christ, etc., in reality they reject the true Gospel of Jesus. First of all, their faith is more about race than it is about grace. Racial purity and ethnic heritage is essential to salvation in their worldview. Also, the racist and hate-filled ideology they espouse is completely inconsistent with the Gospel of the Savior who died for the whole world, and desires that all men come to salvation.

Summary of Beliefs

God: Superficially orthodox in Christian Identity churches, including belief in the Trinity. Some
Neo-Nazi groups are pagan in theology.
Jesus: Jesus is the Savior of the Aryan people, true sons of Adam.
Salvation: Salvation is essentially a result of birth; race is of paramount importance.
Sin: Holiness and purity are expressed in racial terms; racial purity is the utmost good.
Afterlife: Basically heaven is for the good, white Christian.
Scripture: For the Christian Identity groups, and the Klan, there is an allegiance to the Bible, as
interpreted with their hermeneutic. The writings of Hitler, and other such leaders of the past may also be revered.
Truth: Truth is absolute, as determined by the heretical teachings of the leaders. The White
Separatists are the true church of Jesus. All other churches are heretical.

Sources:

Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult by George A. Mather and Larry A. Nichols.
The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects and New Religions by James R. Lewis

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Forgive Me, O Great Gaia!

Okay, so here is my beef. If you are going to believe in evolution, then be consistent about it. Don’t say you believe in the evolution of species—which generally presupposes God as either nonexistent or irrelevant, and blind chance as the motivating force of reality—and then use theistic and creationist terminology.

What am I talking about? Well, some time back I saw one of those nature programs on PBS. Now I like PBS. I find many of its programs interesting and informative. But I have to take their worldview with a grain of salt. (Should I say “lump”? How about enough salt to make soup in Lake Superior?) Their programs that deal with nature and science always have an evolutionary bias. I have come to expect it, and can usually choose to ignore it. (“Liar!” I get somewhat upset every time.)

But this one program sticks in my mind, and I can’t just forget it. I am watching this program on birds and wetlands. Most of you know how much I like birds, so I am really enjoying this program.

Well, suddenly this nice nature walk turns into a lecture on conservation. No problem—except that in the middle of this treatise on evolution and the competition of species, with a good dose of environmental concern thrown in, we start hearing about “man’s role,” “mankind’s responsibility,” and our “stewardship of the earth.”

Hello! Does anybody out there understand the concept of stewardship and responsibility? Stewardship means you are holding something in trust for someone else. Responsibility means we will answer to someone else for our actions. If we are stewards of the earth, to whom are we responsible? Doesn’t saying we are stewards of the earth assume that there is someone (some One?) to whom we will answer for how we treat this earth?

By the way, while we are talking about this stuff—there was another thought that occurred to me while watching this program. As is typical with such PBS fare, humanity got the rap as being the bad egg in the universe’s Easter basket. I guess you could say, we are the thorn in Gaia’s side.

But let us assume for a minute that the philosophical bias of this PBS program is true—that we all arrived here on the evolutionary highway. Isn’t evolution essentially amoral and ethically neutral? If evolution is true, there is no good or bad involved—just what is, i.e., what has evolved. No one faults foxes for eating rabbits, or lady bugs for eating aphids. So why does mankind, only an evolved primate, become the pimple on evolution’s face? (A face that had its cosmetics applied randomly, I might add.)

It seems to me that if man has developed the intelligence to learn how to exploit the environment, to rape the land, to wantonly kill and destroy animal and plant species—well, who is to complain? (And to whom?) Evolution, along with the chaotic blind goddess Chance, has brought homo sapiens to this point. We are the top competitors in the field, the masters of natural selection. So what if we kill off spotted owls or dodo birds or Bengal tigers… we have evolved to the point of being able to do so. Who is to say we are wrong? Who’s to say there is such a thing as wrong?

Unless…

Unless, evolution is a bunch of bunk, and random acts of nature did not bring us to this point…

Unless creation is a fact, and there is a Moral Agent who started the whole shebang going…

Unless there is a Creator, and HE did make us, and we are going to answer to HIM one day!

Then you do have stewardship
And responsibility
And moral choices
And right and wrong—including how we treat the environment!

You can’t have your cake (of moral responsibility) and eat it too (i.e., have it devoured by blind, random chance).

Sorry, Darwin.

Christian Environmentalism

Question: “Should Christians be concerned about ecology and the environment? It seems like all the environmentalists I see are wacko tree huggers. Weren’t we given dominion over the earth… and doesn’t it mean the earth exists for us to use for our benefit?” (R. in Pennsylvania)

My Answer:

I understand the feelings of R. We often see odd things happening in the name of environmentalism. For example, many times it seems like people and human needs take a back seat to owls, dragonflies and slugs. “Save the environment!” is the cry, even if it means harm to people, jobs and the economy. Along with this concern there is another legitimate danger. Often what is called “environmentalism” is simply a mask for a certain political agenda, or even advancing pagan and Eastern mystical ideas. As a result, ecological concerns have often been the target of strong criticism by Christians. And Christians who are interested in the environment are dismissed as “liberal” or “wacky.”

I think that there should be a middle ground somewhere… something between being an “environmental wacko” and having no concern for the earth at all. God did indeed originally give mankind dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28, Psalm 8:6). The Lord gave the earth to mankind as his proper home and domain (see Psalm 115:16). But along with mankind’s charge to have “dominion” and “subdue the earth” came a responsibility to care for this world (cf. Genesis 2:15). While man is highest in the created order, and God has put “all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:6), we still must remember that we do not own this world. For the “earth is the Lord’s” (Psalm 24:1, cf. Psalm 89:11). We are stewards of this planet. And so we will answer for our use of the earth.

I personally have no problem with using the earth for our benefit. We are allowed to eat plants and herbs (Genesis 1:29-30), to eat the animals of the earth (Genesis 9:2-3), to till the ground and use the resources God has placed on this planet. God gave us this world for these purposes. But we must do this responsibly and appropriately. After all, it is God’s world we are using. To abuse this planet is an affront to God. It is showing disdain for the Creator, and not honoring the Maker of all things. That is why the Bible says that God will “destroy those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18). God takes the care of His world very seriously. So should we.

Angels of Light?

When I was in high school I was privileged to watch a true revival among the students of Henrico High, on the outskirts of Richmond, Va. A number of members of my class came to know the Lord, and interest in spiritual matters was greatly heightened even for many nonbelievers. At that time, I can remember these young believers engaged in a search for Christian heroes. Anyone who was famous and a believer was someone to be looked up to. One likely candidate at the time seemed to be John Denver. There were many rumors regarding his interest in spiritual matters. Of what type of spirituality this consisted we had no certain knowledge. Some were positive that he was a born-again Christian.

Some serious students began to investigate the matter. One guy, more spiritually seasoned than most, took the lead. He was somewhat of musician himself, and used to sing some of Denver’s songs in our impromptu gatherings of teen believers. I well remember the day that he found some solid information about John Denver’s perspectives on religion. We were crestfallen when he informed us that Denver was not a Christian. Instead, he was deeply committed to an Eastern/Occult belief system. Reincarnation, astral projection, psychic powers and pantheism were more his tune.

I want to use this incident to illustrate an important point: Everyone we think of as “spiritual” is not necessarily godly or right. This is so vital to realize. We now live in a society that has lost it Christian moorings and has been set adrift on a sea of spiritual ignorance. Most people, Christians included, don’t have a clue about how to discern between error and truth. By and large, we are doctrinally illiterate. I think if one were to quiz the average American, we would find that not only do we score low on math and science skills, but we also would bottom out on the “truth test.” When it comes to telling the difference between what is false and what is true, we are generally naïve, if not downright ignorant.

Let me give you a few examples. (Sad to say, I could list dozens.)

A few years ago I was in a Christian book store, part of a well known chain of stores. Prominently displayed was an entire series of books on famous Christians. It was called “Champions of the Faith,” or something like that. One of these books was about John Chapman, more popularly known as Johnny Appleseed. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like Johnny Appleseed. I can still remember enjoying the Disney cartoon version of his life’s story when I was a child. I think that he was a man of character, discipline, vision and compassion. He did a noble and laudable work. But he was not, and I say this emphatically, he was not a Christian. Chapman was a follower of the Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg founded a movement that mimics Christianity in many ways, but rejects the essentials of the faith. Swedenborg repudiated belief in the Trinity. He denied that Christ’s death atoned for our sins. His religion is both mystical and works oriented, denying the doctrine of salvation through grace. Though a brilliant man himself, his spiritual experiences were nothing short of wacky. He claimed to have taken repeated jaunts through heaven and hell, describing their workings in great detail. His visions were often necromantic—replete with intimate conversations with Jesus, Paul, Moses, Luther, Augustine and other dead saints. This is not the stuff of the true faith of Christ. So you see, as a believer in Swedenborgianism, Johnny Appleseed may have been religious, he may have been a person of noble and distinguished character, but he was not an exemplar of Christian truth. And he was definitely not a “champion of the faith.”

By the way, Chapman is not the only famous “Christian” who was actually a Swedenborgian. So was Helen Keller. Again, Ms. Keller serves as a remarkable example of courage, determination and the power of the human spirit to overcome the adversities of life. But her life does not model true godliness and genuine faith. She was a member of a cult. And (it is truly tragic to say) she died believing a pack of lies and truckload of nonsense.

Another more contemporary illustration of my point is to be found in Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Now, I know I am treading in dangerous territory here, for Mother Teresa is held in such high esteem the world over. She was a person of such compassion, such kindness, such nobility of spirit, that to venture to criticize her at all seems mean-spirited. But she illustrates my point so well. For in accepting the genuine goodness of the woman, most people would be open to also accepting almost anything she said or did, or believed for that matter. As with many good people, her human virtues would seem to validate her theology. But this is a false premise. “Good people” can believe lies and promote error. And this she did.

You see, Mother Teresa was in the forefront of a popular move in the Catholic Church to have Mary, the mother of Jesus, to be officially declared as the Mediatrix of all graces. She was one of those who petitioned the Pope to define this teaching as a dogma of the church. What does this teaching mean? Mediatrix of all graces? What is that? Simply put, this teaching asserts that Mary acts as the agent for all grace which God dispenses to man. No work of grace, including salvation itself, comes to mankind without first coming through Mary. In essence, this would elevate her status to the same level as that of Christ Himself, making her a Co-Savior and Co-Redemptress with the Son of God.

Now I understand that many, if not most, Catholic theologians, clergy, prelates and scholars already teach this error. But it has never been defined as a dogma of the church, which is what Mother Teresa desired. And in this matter, this dear woman was wrong—drastically wrong. This doctrine about Mary is nothing less than heresy. It demeans the mediatorial office and redemptive accomplishments of Christ (see 2 Timothy 2:5, Acts 4:12, etc.). It asserts that His atoning work on the Cross was insufficient without the subsequent work of His mother. To affirm that Mary is the dispenser of all grace is to raise her to actual divinity, while at the same time denigrating the uniqueness and preeminence of her divine Son. Yet… Mother Teresa lobbied the Vatican for Mary to be declared “Mediatrix of All Graces.” This is nothing short of blasphemy!

Do you start to see the point? Good people—men and women who do admirable works and great deeds of charity, persons of indisputable integrity and laudable character, people admired by sinner and saint alike—may still be totally deceived when it comes to spiritual truth. This does not mean that we do not esteem them for their good work. Nor that we should despise their legacies and their influence. But let us be influenced by what is truly exemplary in their lives—their deeds, not their beliefs.

Am I only riding a hobby horse here? Am I majoring in a minor point? Most assuredly not. Indeed, the truth of the matter is that we are bombarded with the potential harm of deceitful influences through good people. I see it all the time. I hear Christians quoting from Robert Fulghum’s work, e.g., Everything I Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Good stuff? Yes, to a certain extent. Much of it is practical and serviceable in every day life. But Fulghum is a Unitarian minister. Do you honestly think that the doctrines of his heretical church background do not sometimes creep into his writing? Of course they do.

I see Christians reading and quoting the Chicken Soup books like they were new gospels. You know what I’m talking about, that whole series that started with Chicken Soup for the Soul and has now multiplied into an entire library for teachers, women, men, and mothers, and who knows who else. It’s become like a fast food chain. Chicken Soup is being distributed to hungry consumers like Big Macs. But pick up one of these books and you’ll see the Buddha quoted as authoritatively as the Christ. There’s no distinction. All sources of “truth” are treated equally. What “works” in life is promoted as necessarily good and true. This is a commonly held error.

(Need I remind my Christian brethren that there are no “First Amendment” rights in the law of God? All religions do not stand on equal footing in God’s courtroom! All beliefs are not true and acceptable in the sight of the Great Judge of all the earth!)

Turn on your TV and you will see many disturbing examples of what I am talking about. Oprah is a case in point. Oprah Winfrey is considered a “deeply spiritual” person. Sure. That’s why in her motivational seminars she can quote Deepak Chopra as easily as Jesus, and declare emphatically, “When you hear me, you are hearing the voice of God speak to you.” Wow! And did you know that when Ms. Winfrey was filming the movie “Beloved” that she actually prayed to her ancestors and sought to channel their spirits? Is Oprah spiritual? Yes, in one sense. Does she do good works? Decidedly so. Is she a Christian? Definitely not. But many Christians look to her for spiritual guidance and practice.

So what I am saying? We must all learn to be aware, to be discerning. We must really know what the Christian faith teaches, accept it with our whole hearts, cling to it—and willfully reject what is not consistent with it. We can learn much from people such as Johnny Appleseed, Helen Keller, Mother Teresa, even Robert Fulghum and Oprah Winfrey. But we must not look to these individuals when forming our own belief system. When it comes to spiritual truth, such people are often wolves in sheep clothing—or to use another image, angels of light, both deceived and deceiving (see 2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

What About Ouija Boards?

Question: “How should a Christian feel about Ouija boards, palm reading, and things like that? Isn’t this just harmless fun?” (C. in Lynchburg, VA)

My Answer: Although these practices are often viewed as innocent entertainment, they really are very serious matters. When it comes to any kind of fortunetelling (e.g., palmistry, astrology, crystal gazing, Tarot cards, tea leaves, etc.) the Bible is very clear on these matters. These are all forms of divination. Divination means to seek out the future or to seek hidden knowledge through supernatural means. The Bible condemns divination in no uncertain terms. Divination in all its forms is part of the occult, and is grounded in an occultic worldview. The Bible has many passages that deal with this. The classic passage is Deuteronomy 18:9-14. Here you will see all forms of divination declared to be wrong. And God declares that He takes these matters very seriously. The Lord declares that these practices are “an abomination” in His sight.

The Biblical condemnation of divination is especially true when it comes to Ouija boards, séances, mediums, etc. This is not only an occultic practice, but it is an open door to dealing with spirits. Any attempt to contact the dead is actually an invitation for demonic activity. Satan knows how to fool us in these matters. There are many people who have been lured into witchcraft and the occult world through Ouija boards and séances. There are also a number of cults and false religions that had their origins in messages from Ouija boards. I have already read of people who actually were demon possessed because of Ouija boards. It is interesting that witches and occult practitioners takes divination, séances, and Ouija boards very seriously. To them it is no game.

But the final word is that God takes these things very seriously also. To Him, also, it is no game. It is not harmless fun. It is venturing into the Devil’s territory. And you don’t travel there without dangerous consequences.