It’s interesting to me that New Agers and astrologers believe we either are entering or have just entered the Age of Aquarius, which is supposed to be this era of spiritual awakening for humanity. It’s interesting because that actually seems to be happening to a degree. More and more people are coming to a heightened awareness of spiritual forces at work in the world and of something greater than themselves. In this post-postmodern era, following a long post-enlightenment period during which even the Church-at-large mostly abandoned belief in the supernatural in favor of a materialist and naturalistic worldview, people both within and without Christianity are waking up to the fact that there’s too much that is left unexplained by such a worldview. And as things get darker and darker, both Christians and non-Christians are gaining a stronger sense of the reality of spiritual warfare.
The enlightenment was a real mixed bag, wasn’t it? It led to some great things, like a better understanding of science and physics and nature, and it led to the advancement of Judeo-Christian values and beliefs in human dignity and liberty and God-given rights that led to the founding of our nation. But it also led to humanism and secularism and atheism and the abandonment of belief in the supernatural, even in the Church.
I find it highly ironic that among his worshipers, Lucifer is heralded as the Light-bringer, the one who bestowed the gift of knowledge on humanity — yet he used, or perhaps even instituted this Age of Enlightenment, which brought us an increase in knowledge, to convince the world that he doesn’t exist, which may have been an even more effective trick than managing to convince so many that God doesn’t exist.
But after a couple hundred years or so of that being the dominant viewpoint, people are coming back around to belief in the supernatural, if not necessarily to belief in God. I don’t hold with the beliefs of astrologers and New Agers, but I absolutely believe that they are in touch with beings beyond this realm, demons and/or fallen Elohim, who are giving them factual information, albeit twisted facts that suit their agenda to keep humans as far from God as possible. Some of those beings may even be some of the Powers and Principalities who are allowed to direct, to an extent, the culture and the affairs of those who don’t belong to Christ.
And make no mistake: if you don’t belong to Him, you belong to them.
Sadly, because so much of the Church embraced materialism, local church bodies who know and understand what we’re dealing with and are equipped to instruct their congregations in how to deal with this increasingly more aggressive spiritual activity and deception are few and far between. Most churches also aren’t equipped to handle, say, an unbeliever who has a sensitivity to these things and who tries turning to the church for answers.
For something like 1800 years, the Church was able to provide a Biblical basis for understanding and dealing with the supernatural and paranormal and placing it in its proper context. But for the last 200 years or so, and especially the last hundred, a pastor’s response to someone dealing with demonic oppression or who has encountered something they can’t explain is more likely to be along the lines of, “You should probably see a counselor and maybe get on some medication.”
Of course, there’s the other end of the spectrum–hyper-charismatic and NAR-type churches who embrace the supernatural to an unhealthy degree, going way off the Biblical script in order to have experiences that prove how spiritual they are, emphasizing the Holy Spirit over Jesus, teaching unbiblical doctrine and dangerous spiritual practices that open them up to the same ungodly forces that New Age and occult practitioners flirt with on the regular. A close cousin to this is Richard Rohr’s brand of Progressive Christianity, with its meditative practices and spiritual disciplines meant to achieve enlightenment, and its gnostic and New Age panentheistic views of the Universal Christ Consciousness rather than faith in the person and finished work of Christ Jesus.
And then there are all of the non-Christians who are growing in spiritual awareness, who are turning to things like New Age and the occult, paganism and witchcraft in their attempt to grapple with, understand and dominate this new reality.
I think the Church’s failure to provide sound, Biblical answers to all of this, answers that don’t dismiss or redirect, but equip believers and affirm their experiences, is largely responsible for why we’re seeing such a rise in all of the things mentioned above.
I’ve taken in a couple of things lately, one a Christian podcast and the other a decidedly unchristian documentary, that discussed this idea that we’re going through a sort of re-enchantment. That the Enlightenment that was supposedly this great awakening to knowledge actually put us to sleep to the fact that the world is an enchanted place, full of magic and shared with otherworldly beings — the stuff of both fairytales and nightmares (and if you’ve read the Brother’s Grimm and the older versions of those stories, then you know that fairytales pretty much are nightmares). And now as things are getting darker, many are waking up to that sense of that which is other, and they’re hungry for it. They want answers. And they want to feel safe and in control.
I believe this is why we’re seeing such an increase, not only in attendance at the kinds of churches that emphasize spiritual experience over doctrine or that teach inner divinity and paths to enlightenment, but also growing interest in witchcraft and the occult. It’s why these things are going mainstream. It’s why satanists, who used to stick to the shadows and fringes of society, now feel comfortable taking out billboards to advertise their sick rituals as services.
And I think it’s why so many celebrities are coming out as witches and occult practitioners, and why, more and more, we’re seeing televised concerts and performances that look like pagan and occult rituals. And now we have former child Disney stars turned pop superstars singing about meeting the devil and inviting him to spend the night.
Which brings me to a question I’ve been asking myself for a while now, which I think in some way is related to all of this: is the world literally under a spell?
The Bible warned us that there would be strong delusion in the last days. Of course, the hardening of hearts of those who love the world and the culture more than Jesus has a lot to do with that. And we also know from certain passages that God has been known to send lying spirits to deceive the disobedient.
But is there something darker and more sinister at work, taking and holding so much of the world captive? Are these ritualistic performances that engage millions of viewers part of that?
Maybe. Or maybe those are just a symptom.
But one thing I’m sure about: social distancing, separation and isolation, masking and the dehumanization that comes with it, forced and coerced submission and compliance — these are all hallmarks of cult initiation rituals. And the true believers who have drunk the Kool-aid behave like nothing less than members of a cult.
I feel in my gut that there is something very, very strange and sinister about this whole virus and how the world has responded to it. That there is something happening on a metaphysical level that is fundamentally transforming not just society, but humanity, and not for the better or the good. And that somehow all of this ties together.
Of course, I know that all of this is God-ordained, that it’s setting the stage for the end times and the Tribulation, the rise of the Antichrist and the one-world government, religion and currency that he’ll control.
So how do we, as Christians, respond to all of this?
My sincere wish is that the Church at large would wake up, stop mythologizing and allegorizing everything the Bible tells us about the supernatural, and start equipping the saints with this knowledge and with the proper context and perspective to prevent us from falling prey to these beings and their deceptive practices. Equipping us for spiritual warfare. I know there are some small churches here and there who are doing this, but they are woefully few and far between. The Church has fallen down in their duty in this regard, and they need to step up and lead the charge.
But unless and until that happens–and I won’t hold my breath for it to happen–those of us who are aware need to connect however we can and support each other. We, the believing Church remnant, and the Holy Spirit who indwells us, are the Restrainer of 2 Thessalonians 2. We hold back these spiritual forces of darkness through prayer and through worship. We can do these things individually, but I believe they’re more effective when done corporately, as a body. Jesus said where two or more are gathered together, there He is in our midst. And I think that’s why churches have become such a target, why the Powers that Be are so dead set against the saints assembling together.
But we need to gather where we can, when we can, to worship together, and to pray. And we need to be willing to be true lights in the world, shining the light of Christ and of Biblical truth into this darkness, proclaiming Christ, proclaiming truth, refusing to kowtow to lies and deception. And we need to be willing to teach, to patiently, graciously and lovingly reach out to those who are curious and hungry for a world full of enchantment and magic and explain the source and powers behind these things and what the Bible has to say about it all.
We’re here to hold back the darkness, Christians, not to cower before it. We’re at war against an already defeated foe. Our greatest weapon is the Word of God. And we step onto the battlefield by getting on our knees.