Tom: Welcome to Apostasy Update. I’m T. A. McMahon, and in this program we are concluding our series addressing the content of three books: Christianity and Anti-Christianity in Their Final Conflict, written 120 years ago by Samuel Andrews; America, the Sorcerer’s New Apprentice: The Rise of New Age Shamanism, written by Dave Hunt and T. A. McMahon 32 years ago; and Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-enchantment, written by Carl Teichrib, with a publishing date of 2018. My partner throughout this series has been Carl Teichrib, and he joins me now to recap some of the main insights presented in those books.
And, as we’ve said at the beginning of each program, there is a fourth book that we look to to judge the trustworthiness of the other three, and, of course, that’s the Word of God, the Bible, which is God’s direct communication to mankind. And what we’ve been talking about throughout these programs has to do with spirituality—objective spirituality vs. subjective spirituality. What our infinite God has communicated objectively—His instructions, commandments, doctrines, ordinances; His ways and means. All that in comparison to finite man’s subjective ideas about God, which are simply opinions, conjecture, speculations, and so forth, based primarily on feelings.
So, Carl, are you ready to give us your thoughts regarding what we’ve been discussing for months?
Carl: I think so, Tom. There’s a lot of stuff to unpack, isn’t there?
Tom: Right. Well, let’s start with Samuel Andrews’s book. What ministers to you—or ministered to you—from this 120-year-old book?
Carl: What struck me immediately was how it sounded like today! It sounded like today, and yet at the same time, you recognize that he’s talking about events, about movements, about spiritual changes taking place in the culture 120 years ago! And you and I, Tom, had this conversation about the idea of the curve. You can’t necessarily see what’s on the other end of the curve, but Samuel Andrews is at the beginning of the curve. He was already seeing what was taking shape. He was positioned at a point in time when that world was beginning to change—to shed off the Judeo-Christian worldview, and search for something else. And he recognized it! Tom, he recognized that absolutely without question, as a conflict—and I appreciate how he titled the book—it’s a conflict between Christianity and Anti-Christianity; between the way of the world and the way of the Creator of the universe, Jesus Christ. And so, in reading it, it sounds like it’s…today! It sounds like it’s now. And it helped me to appreciate just how deeply entrenched the thinking already was 120 years ago, bringing us into the curve to this point where we are today.
And it’s a remarkable read because of how it’s written—the subject, the context. But I’m also thinking, How did the Christian world respond to his book back then? I think for the most part, I think most Christians back then would have read his book and gone, “Ehhh…I don’t see it. I don’t see it happening the way you’re presenting it. I don’t think it’s as dire, or as entrenched, as you’re making it out to be,” without recognizing that it was probably even more entrenched than what Samuel Andrews was presenting.
Tom: Right. Right. You know, we can go back and forth on this. I want to start out with the title: Christianity and Anti-Christianity in Their Final Conflict. That’s exactly what the book is about. It’s a stunningly straightforward approach. His book is about biblical prophecy—what will take place as world history draws to a close? Now, where did he get these ideas? Again, he goes to, in a sense, the end of the book. The Book of Revelation. He looks at what makes up the kingdom as the scriptures present—at the kingdom and the religion and the person of the Antichrist. Then he sees those characteristics supported by information given in the Epistles of Paul, John, Jude, First and Second Peter, and, of course, he goes to the Old Testament with regard to the Book of Daniel. Then he—as you said, Carl—then he simply looks to his own day to see if those antichrist features have emerged, and he finds them in spades. They’re there.
You know, as I mentioned in one of the programs, I took one course in philosophy, so I really wasn’t into Spinoza, or Comte, or all of those things, and so on. Even Emerson, Thoreau—Americans, okay? They were antichrist! Now, folks, I’m not just throwing these on them. This was their perspective! They were pantheists.
Carl: And yet, they shaped the culture of the times, didn’t they?
Carl: And that’s what Samuel Andrews is bringing out—those antichrist features are shaping the course of civilization, and he recognized that, Tom! He was aware of it! I can see where his book wouldn’t have been popular.
Tom: But nevertheless—and, you know, I’ve given you quotes (well, not just…for our audience—I’ve given you quotes from Thoreau, Emerson, and so on). This is “New Thought.” This is really a kind of an American version of Eastern Mysticism, okay? Well, as I mentioned, pantheists. These guys, you look at those who were…Thoreau and Emerson, they were their heroes, but they were critiquing it, and they were saying this is what they were about, and so on, which supports what we’ve been saying—just pointing it out—and what he did, in an amazing way.
You know, the other thing that I think about him, his approach was hardly unique, but it’s something that all born-again believers who love God’s Word can do! What did he do? He just went to the back, and said, “Oh, this is what it says. Let’s look around here and see if I can find any evidence of it,” and so on. And, as you said—I mean, I remember when we were talking about that. I went down a list: “Well, you know, certainly it went down from…or it started with the philosophers, and then it went to academics, or to those who were into their philosophy. Then it went down to the man on the street, to the newspapers, and so on….it went down to the man on the street…” And you said, “Tom, you left something out there.” Do you remember what it was?
It was the church! It was seminaries. These ideas came into the church that way because, “Hey, we don’t want to be left out in this. We want to be, you know, right up and going with what’s going on,” and so on.
Carl: You know, that was the “social gospel movement,” and that was formatting itself right as Samuel Andrews was writing his book. That was the era—the opening era—of the early social gospel movement, which was all about taking the ideas of the world, Christianizing them somehow, and thinking that we were going to usher in the kingdom of heaven. No!
But Andrews was…he was pointing his finger at that! He was pointing his finger at that, and saying, “Look, this is really an antichristian system; this is an antichristian sentiment. It is an Antichrist shadowing, and we’ve been living under that shadow.
Tom: The other thing is, as we were going through this, it just hit me—you know, there are some simple things. I tell people, “See these bumps on my forehead?” There are no bumps there… but I go, “That’s from doing this [smacking his head]. Why didn’t I think of that?” You know, there are some things that you just get.
One of the things that I do, now you have finite man trying to explain or do away with an infinite God. How does that work? It doesn’t!
And then, as we’ve been saying, so this points out—and I want you to talk about this, because, you know, you’ve got some insight. So…we’re gods? Everyone is god? All is god? And not just the term pantheism, or panentheism, whatever one you want to use. But, no! We’re gods. If you reject (and take it from there), if you reject the God of the Bible, the God who is “Other,” okay? You’ve rejected…you know, you’ve got to replace it with another god.
Carl: That’s right. That’s right. You create your Temple of Man, don’t you? You create the Temple of Nature—everything becomes the temple. Everything becomes god, which is an oxymoron, because nothing is god, then! [Laughing]
Tom: That’s right! We talked about that, I think, last week.
Tom: If everything is God, then there is no….you know, what’s the point?
Carl: Exactly, but if you reject the God of Christianity, who is “other,” and that is the unique claim that comes through with biblical revelation—that the God of the Bible is Other. He is not the same as creation. He is not the same as man. He is not the same as the processes of nature. He stands apart and is unique from all of that. He is unique. He has an excellence, an exaltation higher than anything else, including even higher than the angelic realm. He is beyond all that, because it is His creation. But if you reject that, well, then where do you go? What’s left, except to, now, somehow spiritualize nature, spiritualize your experiences, whatever they may look or feel like, with the changing tides of how culture ebbs and flows, and how society shifts and moves. You know? All of a sudden, it’s “God can be found in a pill,” as Timothy Leary would have said. “Take the sacrament of LSD,” or “God can be found in your namaste experience,” doing yoga. Or it can be found in the oak tree that you know look at and marvel and lean your veneration towards.
No! It’s either God or it’s creation; it’s Creator or nature.
Tom: Yeah, and the way I’ve been saying it, and we’ll get to it when we talk about America, The Sorcerer’s New Apprentice, but—simple. It’s either God, who is “other,” or it is “Self.” And when you reject the one, you’ve got to make the other work. You’re going to deify it, which we’re seeing over and over again.
The other thing, you know, I want to move on to the next book, because we don’t have too much time here, but there are some things that kind of shocked me at first, because I wasn’t thinking it through, but he gets on democracy. Democracy is a problem, according to him. But it makes sense, because…especially it was interesting because we were talking about this during the election, you know, part of the election year, and so on. But what’s the problem? Well, voting in leaders by the will of the people translates into politics of voter appeasement.
“Aww, just give them what they want.”
Carl: It’s “mobocracy.”
Tom: Yeah, that’s exactly right. You know, the other part I absolutely love, involved in the ministry that I’ve been blessed to be a part of, The Berean Call—well, the name of the series is Apostasy Update, but he tells us what apostasy is. And he points out how it begins with Revelation 2, Jesus speaking to the church at Ephesus: “You’re doing all these great things, but you have left your first love.” Apostasy begins with a drifting away, and so on.
Yes, it can go to the point where—I mean, I could give you names of people I believe (I don’t know their hearts), but in terms of what they’re doing, they are apostate. Well, let’s put one out there: Brian MacLaren. You talked about him. Why would I say that? Check out what he says! It is antichrist to the max! That, to me, would be an example of an apostate.
But there are those who are just stumbling. You know, missing the mark here and there. They can repent. They can…he can repent and turn back. But at least based on what his teaching is about, it’s antichrist.
Well, you know…I’ll finish with this one, and then we’ll move on to America: The Sorcerer’s New Apprentice. We’ve been seeing over and over again man trying to fix the problem—the mess we’re in. Carl, simply, have they ever done it? Has it ever worked?
Carl: No. No. The utopias that we’ve built end up becoming bloody utopian nightmares. It doesn’t work.
Tom: No, and it hasn’t. Give me an example. And, as we mentioned, Timothy Leary and his drug issues and so on, he says, “This is Hinduism.” He’s a Hindu. Where has that ever worked? What has that done for that country? Their belief system and so on.
Well, how about America, The Sorcerer’s New Apprentice: The Rise of New Age Shamanism? You know, Dave and I wrote that primarily for Christians whose loved ones and friends were caught up in the New Age Movement. We didn’t see it in the church then—not that there weren’t seeds of it throughout, but it was written over 30 years ago. It was a description and explanation of New Age beliefs and practices. It documented the West, with its traditional Christianity being overtaken by Hinduism and Eastern Mysticism.
Carl, what points struck you as you went through that book?
Carl: Well, first of all, it was like returning to some old friends, because I had perused it many, many years ago. I’d read other books by Dave. I’ve had the opportunity, as you know, of spending some time with Dave. And so, returning to it was a blessing.
The other thing that…how do I say this? It was like Warning Flags! Warning Flags! Warning Flags! going, “WAKE UP! WAKE UP!” This was the 1980s, Tom. You and Dave in the 1980s were saying to the church, “Wake up! It is right on your doorstep. It’s already crossing the threshold. It’s in your home! You can’t ignore this.
I look at the work that you and Dave did, and I still am boggled by how the Christian church couldn’t see—or would refuse to see—the warnings that were being presented in the 1980s. Samuel Andrews saw it in his day. You folks saw it at that point, and still…Berean Call still sees it. And at the same time, I find it—personally, I find it frustrating, because I’ve looked at the 1980s now as a writer looking back, as a researcher looking back at a point in time when the church could have got it, if they could have grasped the seriousness of this, we may have been able to, at least within the church, put up some defenses—some spiritual truth defenses. Build up the body of Christ with a biblical worldview, to at least push this out or back away from the thresholds of our home and our churches.
I’m disappointed that we didn’t take advantage of that, or that we weren’t willing to see it. We weren’t willing to see it in the late 1960s either, Tom, when you take a look at how the church was responding to the times at that point. We’re still…I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed with myself because if I’m honest, hey, I’ve lived my life in such a way that there’s been times I should have taken a more defensive position.
We all are guilty of that. But I took a look—again, going back to your book, and it just struck me of how crucial that book was for it’s time! And I’m not saying this lightly! It’s a crucial, crucial book, because it basically blew open the floodgates to say to the church, “Look, this is the train about to run you over! Get out of the way! Take a defensive position.”
Sadly, now the train hasn’t just run us over, we’ve all hopped on the train!
Tom: You know, Carl, when I think about the book, I’m one of the most blessed guys you will ever know, because I had 40 years with Dave Hunt, a man who—the reason it was easy for me to hang out with him for that long was he was a godly man, first and foremost. Yes, he was brilliant and all that, but… Just prior to America was another book that “honked off” the “church,” and that was The Seduction of Christianity, and so on, where we were pointing things out, trying to say, “Hey, we’re not trying to finger these people or that people, or so on.” We had to name names because we had to document what we were saying. This wasn’t stuff we were making up.
But then, as the New Age Movement tried to…began to sweep into this country bigtime and so on, and I think about the difference between Christianity and Anti-Christianity today and Samuel Andrews—well, take what he has done, what he presented, and it exploded exponentially, especially during the ’60s. As I mentioned before, there’s little doubt the pantheistic religions of the east have overrun traditional Christianity in the West.
But the thing I just wanted to point out here, because we don’t have a lot of time to spend on [America, the Sorcerer’s New Apprentice] was the subtitle: The Rise of New Age Shamanism. When we introduced that book, we were talking about, “This has to do with shamanism; it has to do with contacting spirit entities,” and we gave the whole background and history of shamanism. But what about these entities? We didn’t start out by saying “these are demons.” We talked about, “Hey, here’s what they’re saying, here’s what they’re doing. This is the cosmic gospel, this is another gospel, it’s a false gospel.” And then we got into the use of drugs—pharmakeia—as a…pharmakeia is fulfilling a prophecy. The last couple of programs we talked about the state of Oregon opening up all drugs, okay? Cocaine…everything…not being criminalized, and so on. Unbelievable.
But I think the main thing I would like people to understand from the book is how psychology has played a major part in this. We could go back to the ’70s—we had the introduction of “Christian” psychology, and that overtook the church. So now, we’ve turned the Bible upside down in terms of self. “Self needs to be loved.” “It needs to be esteemed.” “Self-worth,” all of the selfisms, and so on. “Self-idolatry,” really. “Self-deification,” and so on. But now it was supported by a pseudo-science—psychotherapy, psychological counseling. Folks, this is not science! These are the ideas and the feelings of what men say, and it all has to do with experiential stuff: feelings, and all of that.
It is not science. But the church moved into it in a big way. And that was one of the toughest things to deal with. Even today. You say, “Well, this person has low self-esteem.” Hold on a minute! I remember at a conference, I was talking about these women in the church who were saying, “Well, the problem with men is that they have a low self-image, low self-esteem.” And the pastor who was in the church, he was wondering where I was going to go with this, because I said, “That’s one of my problems. I suffer from low self-esteem.” And I let it hang there. And I said, “My problem is, it’s not low enough!”
Carl: Tom, that reminds me, and I shared it, I believe, on a prior conversation that we had. Many years ago when I was at a research event—it wasn’t a Christian event; it was a secular event—but I had an opportunity to speak with one of the presenters for a few brief minutes. And I’m not sure we got on the subject, but he piped up (remember, a non-Christian. I’ll never forget). He said, “My problem is that I think too highly of myself. My problem isn’t I think too lowly of myself. My problem is the only person I think about is myself.”
Tom: Yeah! So, that’s psychology. That’s the church buying into a pseudoscience, a false science. But they did more than that, because psychologists—again, I’m speaking experientially, to a certain degree, because I grew up in the mental health community; my father was a psychiatrist. I know not only the practitioners, what they were about, but also those who were subjected to their belief. But psychologists don’t believe in the spirit realm! Even though you can get a degree in shamanism, but “it’s not really about real entities out there,” you know, spiritual beings. It has to do with the collective unconscious. It has to do with so-called putting the reality of demons, the reality of spirit beings, into this vein of, “This is within you. These are your thoughts, your ideas, and so on, because there is no reality with regard to spirit beings.”
Yes, there is. But, I mean, you say, “Tom, how can you say that?” Why don’t you…again, folks, sorry, but I get a little excited about this—but why don’t you check out Carl Jung, Carl Gustav Jung’s ideas. He had a spirit guide. He called him Philemon. And in the process, toward the end of his life, he said, “No, Philemon was a reality. It wasn’t something that came out of the collective unconscious, and so on.”
So, again, we have science—not science, but we have psychology, particularly psychological counseling. That’s the huge part of psychology. We have them ushering in eastern mysticism, Hinduism, and so on. In fact, we gave quotes what one guy in the know said: “This is how eastern mysticism is being brought into the church under the guise of psychology.” So, to me, that was an important part of the book.
Carl: A reminder for myself is that the world of psychology is a constantly changing world. There’s always a new theory, a new expression of it. It’s constantly shifting from Freud to Carl Rogers to whatever the fad is of this point in time. But the Word of God doesn’t. It’s solid. It doesn’t change.
Tom: That’s why I say it is objective.
Tom: You may not like it; people may not like it and reject it, and so on. But it is the objective truth, whereas what they’re going to is subjective beliefs, ideas, just as you’re pointing out here.
So, Carl, there’s another book I would like to talk about. It’s called Game of Gods: Temple of God in the Age of Re-enchantment. That fills in, as I said, America, the Sorcerer’s New Apprentice 32 years ago, and you bring us right up to speed. So summarize what you’d like your readers to come away with that’s on your heart.
Carl: Wow. Well, first of all, it’s really a documentary. That’s what the book is. It’s a documentary of our times and, Tom, I appreciate how it fits with the book you wrote in 1986 and then what Samuel Andrews wrote. There’s a continuity of thought and a context that just builds on each other, which is really important.
But Game of Gods really is that documentary of how Western civilization has changed from a Christian worldview to the point where we’re at today. And I really want my readers to take away a few things. First of all, to understand that our world is changing, and it can only be described in the way that we would consider to be revolutionary—that there is a transgression that is taking shape; a transgression against the revelation of the Bible, and in the hope of that transgression, civilization—or, let’s put it this way, man wants to transform into a utopian heaven on earth. Let’s call that the temple of man.
And then, when we understand that, when we’re aware of that. When we understand and grasp the context—and some of that history, the nuance of it—then we can bring the light of Jesus Christ into that darkness. Because, let’s face it, the world is asking questions. Our family, our friends, they’re seeking. They’re looking. They’re asking that question: How did we get here? I can’t tell you, Tom, how many times I’ve heard people ask that! “Well, how did we arrive at this point? How did we get here?”
Well, it’s observable. It’s documentable. And that’s what Game of Gods does: it works to document that. Why? So that we can answer honestly and with grace those questions that are being asked. And, ultimately, ultimately, it points to the question: What, or in whom, does our hope come from? What, or in whom, are we placing our trust?
The book has a theme sentence, that the theme sentence goes like this—Humanity has three great desires: To be as God, to be masters of meaning and destiny, to build heaven on earth, and this is that story! And so, as the reader goes through the book—and it’s not a hard read, though it is a book that is dense with information. It is very packed with examples and wrestling through a lot of that context. It’s my hope that at the end of the book you realize that, “Look, I can’t react to the world.” That’s all we’ve been doing. We’ve been reacting. I can’t say that’s all we’ve been doing, but we do that so often. We react—we react emotionally, we react subjectively. It’s time now for us to do something different. It’s time for us to respond. That is, to know and understand the context of how and why our world is changing, and then to offer a reasoned argument—a reasoned position, a leveled conversation with our family, our friends, with those who are seeking and searching.
I wrote the book—how do I say this? I wrote this so that I…let me put it this way: I don’t want it to become a book that bolsters our shouting matches. I’m not telling you how to think. Maybe a better way of saying it is that I’m not telling you what you’re thinking already. Again, the idea of shouting in affirmation: I’m shouting to the choir. I’m affirming, “Look at what I’m saying,” and shouting this to the choir—we live in this Christian bubble. Rather I’m asking that you think, and that hopefully the book helps to show you what we should be thinking about, and then how we bring the grace of Jesus Christ into those conversations that we have with our friends and neighbors.
It’s a history book. It really is a history book. It’s a history book pointing to Christ as our trust and our hope.
Tom: You know, there’s so much about the book that blessed me, that taught me…number one, graciousness. I’ve been doing this for a long time, but your book, the way it was handled, the way you went forth appealing to the people that you’ve had conversations with… And that’s the issue: conversations. We’ve dealt with that.
Folks, I hope you go back and look at some of the earlier programs, but grace in involved; conversation, not confrontation—we talked about that. I love the many historical backgrounds and timelines that you gave from the beginning, whether it be the psychedelic drug scene to Esalen to changes in the arts, music, dance, that reflection. I greatly appreciated this part, and I’m going to give you a scripture to support it: the exhortation to believers to be, according to Ephesians:6:19-20: “…and for me that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly and make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador.”
And I want you to… we’re going to close out with that—“…and I am an ambassador in bonds that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” So, this is…all the programs have been an exhortation to get back—for believers to get back to the Great Commission, but do it in a way that I just read there—that we are ambassadors for Christ.
So, Carl, you can close us out with this.
Carl: Okay! I’d love that, Tom, thank you! Many, many moons ago I had the opportunity of hearing the US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia describe his new position, his posting. And I walked away from that, going, “Wow! I learned a lot! I learned a lot about what it means to be an ambassador,” because we throw this concept around really almost flippantly. “Oh yeah, you’re ambassadors for Christ.” Well, what does an ambassador do? What is it that he does?
First of all, an ambassador is the legal and lawful representative of your government. For us as Christians, that’s the King of kings. That’s Jesus Christ. We are the legal, lawful representatives of Him. Now, we don’t position our own interests before His. In fact, we will pick our interests and we will make sure they align with His interests, because now we’re representing Him.
And then an Ambassador—and the Ambassador to Saudi Arabia explained it this way—he has to understand the culture he’s walking into. He can’t be ignorant of it. He’s not there to become them, to become “as the world,” so to speak. Rather, he is to understand the world so that he can answer and respond to the situations he finds himself in. So he really stressed the importance of: I need to know my history. I need to understand the social cultural context so I can begin to bring forward our position, and do it in a way that is honorable, do it in a way that is gracious. And then in all of this you’re doing it to bring forward the message of your King into a culture, into a land that may even be hostile to the message of our King. But there’s a process that takes place in doing all of this. It begins by doing God’s work, begins by understanding His position by putting your trust in Him. That’s fundamental. And then take the time to try to understand and unpack the culture around us in a way that we now are not afraid of it or afraid of our neighbors or what the world is saying, but rather we can engage, responding with grace and with truth.
Paul writes this in Colossians 4: “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside,” speaking about non-Christians. “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
Ultimately, Tom, that is my hope, that we in the Christian world (because this is mostly Christians watching this or listening to this) will be challenged to walk with grace and with salt as we give an answer to the world around us.
Tom: The only thing I can say to that is amen, and amen! And I just want you to know—so this is pretty much 24 programs we’ve done together. I’m not letting you go! [laughs] Because this is called Apostasy Update, so there’s going to be an Apostasy Update with Carl Teichrib down the line as the Lord places it in. So, brother, thank you so much. It’s been an incredible trip, it’s been a wonderful blessing. So again, God bless you, brother.
Carl: Thank you, Tom.