(Editor’s Note: The following is an adaptation from chapter 15 of Carl Teichrib’s book, Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment.)
Professing Christians have three primary options in considering a response to our shifting world.
First, we can ignore the worldview changes around us, thinking we are somehow unaffected. The fact you are reading this, however, demonstrates that this is not your position; with knowledge comes responsibility. Nevertheless, there is a tendency to close our eyes to the challenges, even ignoring the very forces of change that are reshaping our immediate settings – our communities, our churches, and for many, even our families.
To be fair, there are many Christians who simply have not considered the unfolding worldview revolution. Sometimes it is hard to see what is in front of us, especially when day-to-day struggles consume so much energy and attention. God grant us the wisdom we need.
But an indifferent approach will only last so long. As manifestations of this worldview shift become more evident and culturally rooted, we will inevitably find ourselves in a situation hostile to the Christian message of absolutes, of sin and salvation, and of the need for an exclusive Redeemer. We will become increasingly marginalized and even demonized as the dangerous other.
The second option is more problematic and seriously troubling: To accept tenants and modifications from the paganized world – the paradigm of Oneness, wherein God, Man and Nature are deemed to be one in essence. This is grounded in the fall of Genesis 3 and is central to the lie of Romans 1; the denial of the true God while bowing to what is made. Unfortunately, the modern story of Western Christianity abounds with illustrations, pulling from both secular and mystical visions, and thus merging the Romans 1 transgression with Christian terminology. We either worship the Creator, or the creation, but not both.
Consider some brief examples.
Blending faith messages with dreams of world order, the Social Gospel movement arising during the horrors of World War I promised Heaven-on-Earth through collective efforts – a religious endorsement of socialist world federalism, a “righteous internationalism.” Many churches and ministers subsequently drank from this fountain of collective salvation, believing we could find redemption in our political and social action. Corresponding is the popular social justice movement, its roots in the dual history of Catholic common-good teachings and Marxist-based class warfare.1On the history of social justice, see Carl Teichrib, “The Fallacy of Social Justice: All for One, and Theft to All,” Forcing Change, September 2010, Volume 4, Issue 9. When stripped of its platitudes, social justice – today, an immersion in identity politics – has a flavor akin to the Marxist-centric idea of oppression and oppressors. The individualistic nature of the gospel, that individual persons are afforded salvation, is overshadowed with a message of social redemption through values modification and political struggle.
Or we follow mystical inclinations, like the universal flow-state sold by ecumenical teacher Richard Rohr and contemplative Christian transhumanist, Mike Morrell – that everything is holy in the divine flow.2Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House, 2016), see pp.186-191. All you need to do is see it that way, and participate, embracing a spiritual path of wholeness. Individual salvation is replaced with the feeling of cosmic flow, and the Holy Spirit becomes a mythic force we tap into.
Another example bridging into the second option was the Emergent Church movement. Originally touted as a conversation about how to live the gospel within a Postmodern setting, the movement itself adopted the Postmodern attitude, leading to theological revisionism. Social justice was confused for missions. Christians needed to be more inclusive – that is, to declare Biblical truth claims as exclusive was a mark of arrogance. The road to redemption was broader, the story more open, or so we were told.
Brian McLaren, a leading voice in the Emergent community, cast a negative shadow on personal salvation,
Sadly, in too many quarters we continue to reduce the scope of the gospel to the individual soul and the nuclear family, framing it in a comfortable, personalized format – it’s all about personal devotions, personal holiness, and a personal Savior. This domesticated gospel will neither rock any boats nor step out of them into stormy waters. We have in many ways responded to the big global crisis of our day with an incredible, shrinking gospel. The world has said, ‘No thanks.’3Brian D. McLaren, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crisis, and a Revolution of Hope (Thomas Nelson, 2007), p.244.
McLaren was wrong. For two millennium the gospel message has been changing souls, because God Himself rocked eternity by defeating the tomb.
A shrinking gospel? No, it is a saving gospel, and while some say yes to the Good News, the history of humanity is soaked in the consequences of continually saying, “no thanks.” Indeed, this is the game of gods – to say “no thanks” as we strive to save ourselves, either as individuals or in our communal towers of Babel. Without a personal Savior there is no hope for personal salvation, and ultimately no hope for the world.
To mirror the world and call it “Christian” is our second option.
Option number three is to be in the world but not of the world, and in so doing, to take seriously our Biblical call to be Ambassadors for Christ. But what does this mean?
When the Apostle Paul encouraged his friend, Timothy, to be “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” he used three illustrations: a committed soldier who is willing to endure difficulties, an athlete competing according to the rules, and a hardworking farmer who partakes of his crop.42 Timothy 2:1-6 Even if you have never been a soldier, athlete or farmer, those roles are relatable.
But in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 we read something else – not an illustration of running the race or laboring or soldering – but a declaration of what we are,
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)
Being an ambassador is not a task we normally think about; so what does this entail?
First, an ambassador is the official and legal representative of one’s government to a foreign nation. In the era of monarchies, this would be an emissary of the king. We will use this royal designation, for as Christians we have been commissioned by the King of Kings. So our primary duty as an ambassador, then, is to be the legal and official spokesperson for Jesus Christ. I cannot think of a higher calling.
Second, being an ambassador means we know the power and position of our King. We represent His interests, and have aligned our own priorities with the mission of being in the King’s diplomatic service. We are trained in His ways, and we are cognitive as to how our actions reflect His character, for we are His image bearers in a foreign territory.
Third, an ambassador is studied in his or her posting; we take the time to learn about the culture and characteristics of our placement. Hence, like all other ambassadors, we are set apart from the foreign customs of the land, but we are not uninformed regarding its composition. In fact, like the Apostle Paul in Athens,5See Acts 17 we know the setting and beliefs well enough to engage with a level of competency and discernment.
As a royal diplomat our task is to effectively communicate the King’s message, regardless if the land is hostile or friendly. An emissary is also vigilant to the antagonistic schemes of foreign powers, recognizing challenges to the King’s interest. Then as an ambassador should, we petition for intervention while alerting others in His service to areas of concern.
Being an emissary is a serious undertaking: “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”
Our calling is best summed by Jesus Christ,
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
So how do we respond to our paganized world? By ignoring the radical shifts in culture? By blending with it, or otherwise adopting its tenants?
Rather, we are to respond as Ambassadors, for this is what we are: the legal and official representative of the King of Kings, in tune with the King’s position and message, and versed in the knowledge needed to effectively engage in our posting.
Let us take this calling seriously.Ω
Carl Teichrib is a researcher, writer, and lecturer focusing on the paradigm shift sweeping the Western world, including the challenges and opportunities faced by Christians. Over the years he has attended a range of internationally significant political, religious, and social events in his quest to understand the historical and contemporary forces of transformation – including the Parliament of the Worlds Religions, Burning Man, and the United Nations Millennium Forum.
Since the mid-1990s, Carl’s research has been utilized by numerous authors, media hosts and documentary producers, pastors, professors and students, and interested lay people. From 2007 until the end of 2015, he edited a monthly web-based magazine, Forcing Change, documenting and detailing the worldview revolution underway – points of pressure, forces of change.
He frequently speaks to church groups, in conference settings, and occasionally teaches a modular course on Secular/Pagan Trends at Millar College of the Bible.
Carl’s book, Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment, was released in October 2018.
You can find him online at: Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment
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|↑1||On the history of social justice, see Carl Teichrib, “The Fallacy of Social Justice: All for One, and Theft to All,” Forcing Change, September 2010, Volume 4, Issue 9.|
|↑2||Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House, 2016), see pp.186-191.|
|↑3||Brian D. McLaren, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crisis, and a Revolution of Hope (Thomas Nelson, 2007), p.244.|
|↑4||2 Timothy 2:1-6|
|↑5||See Acts 17|