Tom: Welcome to Apostasy Update. I’m T. A. McMahon, and in this program we are addressing biblical eschatology—what the Bible has to say prophetically about the last days prior to the return of Jesus Christ. My partner in this discussion is Carl Teichrib. He’s the author of Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-enchantment.
Carl, welcome back, and thanks for joining me in our ongoing discussions of where the world and Christendom are headed according to the Scriptures as history draws to a close.
Carl: Good to see you again, Tom. Looking forward to our conversation.
Tom: You know, much of the information that we’ve been presenting in this series is taken from four books: your book, Carl, Game of Gods; America, the Sorcerer’s New Apprentice; Christianity and Anti-Christianity in Their Final Conflict; and most importantly, the Bible, which is God’s direct communication to mankind.
We’re now focusing on Carl’s book Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-enchantment, yet the other two books—the two other books that we’ve discussed along with your book, Carl—all of them underscore the issue of humanity replacing the God of the Bible with itself. There seems to be no end of the related terms: oneness, the divine within, the higher self, the collective unconscious, pantheism, higher consciousness, self-deification, godhood, a utopia of “we,” self-realization, panentheism, collective divinity, all is God and God is all, and all in nature, energy is God, God is a force, everything is divine, Gaia, Mother Earth, God-mind, mindfulness, and on and on.
So, Carl, lest we give them too much press, let’s look to the biblical response, much of which you presented in chapter 8 of your book.
But first, let’s have God speak for Himself. As I read, you know, a couple of weeks ago from the Book of Isaiah… Folks, this is just chapter 45, one chapter. Verse 5 says, “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me.”
Isaiah:45:12: “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.”
Isaiah:45:18: “For thus sayeth the Lord that created the heavens; God himself did form the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord, and there is none else.”
Isaiah:45:21: “Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient times? who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.”
And finally, in chapter 45 it says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”
And that is so appropriate. That’s what…well, what are we doing here, Carl? I mean, isn’t that what it’s about, trying to encourage people to receive the free gift of eternal life that only God can provide, that Jesus paid the full penalty?
So, Carl, when you’re talking with pantheists and others who have a related view of God, do you bring any of those verses into the conversation?
Carl: Not upfront, not upfront. Upfront we take a little different approach, though it speaks directly to what you’re talking about, Tom. Instead what we do is we ask the question, “Is reality oneness, or is it otherness?” And then when we have that conversation, then we can jump into those passages. Then we can jump into Isaiah 40, which demonstrates that God is not the same as the creation. God is not the same as human wisdom, God is not the same as the power of nations, God is not the same as any created thing. He is distinct and He is different.
You’re right, we use those passages, but in doing so, we want to set the stage. We want them to think it through. What is ultimate reality? Is everything really oneness as I believe it is (which is the worldview they’re coming from)? Or are separating points, values, and distinctions? Is otherness the reality, and is oneness the illusion? I contend oneness is the illusion.
This is important. We have to learn to create an apologetics of answering the oneness question—answering the question of the age, the claim of the age, which says God, man, and nature are all fundamentally the same. Whereas the biblical worldview that you just related, Tom, just using Scripture itself—and Isaiah 40 is a passage I go back to, which does the same thing: it demonstrates God is different, God is distinct, God is unique! He is holy. And then when you have those conversations and you look into the Word of God and show that, “Look, God is indeed different. His revelation declares that He is not the same, that He is different.”
Sometimes the only way to properly describe an apologetic towards reaching those who hold a oneist or a pantheistic or a pagan worldview is to describe some of the actions we’ve taken. Myself and a handful of others go to different events. I go primarily for research, but there is always that opportunity of sharing and outreach. And the approach that we’re taking is the approach that Paul took in Acts 18—pardon me, Acts 17—when he goes to Mars Hill, when he goes to Athens and sees all these different monuments and statues of various deities, including a monument to the “Unknown God.”
But if you take a look at what Paul does in Acts 17, he first of all focuses on demonstrating their own worldview, and then he juxtaposes the fact that God is different, that He is the Creator of the universe; He is the Lord of heaven and earth. He is not the same as the creation around us. And that’s the approach then that we end up taking.
So, for example…and I can share a few different examples. One that I think is especially pertinent took place at Burning Man in 2017 when a young Russian esoteric artist—he was an occultist, but he was in the artworld—came by our tent, saw our sign, which said, “Camp of the Unknown God” (taken out of Acts 17), that model…
Tom: That’s great.
Carl: Yeah, it was fantastic! And he literally blurted out—he was one of those guys that blurted it out, “Who is the unknown God?”
Fantastic! “Come in under the shade! Here’s some Gatorade, here’s some water!” It’s like 100 degrees or 105 degrees; it’s hot. “Tell us a little bit…” Here’s the approach we took, Tom: “Tell us a little bit about yourself,” because it’s important. We want to know who these people are. We want to see them as our neighbors. We want to be able to have that relationship with them, so it’s very important. We’ll spend time letting them talk first, and then we bring it back around to that question that he asked. And by the time he’s done his part of the conversation, we already know he’s a oneist; we already know he’s a pantheist; we already know he takes a pagan worldview.
Now see, the approach is this: by that point, we already are demonstrating that the God of the Bible talks about how He is different, He is distinct. And with this one gentleman in particular, we said, “Look, you’re an artist. Are you telling me that you as an artist have the same value as your artwork? If you’re a oneist, there is no fundamental difference between your art and you. You are the same.”
And he goes, “Of course not! I’m the artist. I have more value than what I create.” Hmm! So, I mean, we hold out our hands and, you know, the expanse of the sky above us which, in the Black Rock Desert in the evening is amazing. The mountains—it’s a harsh environment, but there’s also a stark beauty to it, and we said, “Look, God is the ultimate artist, and you’re telling me that the Artist is the same as His artwork? In fact, you just admitted He can’t be.” And a smile crept across his face, and he got it! And that allowed us to launch into Jesus Christ and the message of who He is.
It was good, but the important part of this conversation is for people to recognize that opening up the doors for those conversations isn’t even difficult. It’s certainly not impossible. Number one, you have to understand that the God that you just read about in Isaiah, the God that we read about in Isaiah 40, is not the same as creation. And that becomes a starting point to be able to talk to somebody who believes that everything is created—that God, man, and nature are all fundamentally the same. So it sounds almost more like a philosophical apologetic approach, but it is directly linked to the biblical message—in fact, the fundamental of the biblical message, that God is different.
Tom: Carl, let me just share my annoyances, okay, here. Now, folks, we’ve been doing this 16, 18 discussions that we’ve had together, and we do get some response, and the response that annoys me—maybe I should be more gracious in this—but, you know, many Christians, they want you to get right to the punchline. They want you to get right there, okay? You know, just give them the gospel and so on. But I’ve learned over the years not just, Carl, your approach, which I see…your book, by the way, is so gracious! It’s just—it convicts me when I get, as some people said, “Well, Tom, you get a little snarky,” okay? I’m not even sure what that word means, but I get the gist of what they’re saying to me!
But here’s what upsets me: 32 years ago, when Dave and I—you know, I just had the privilege of helping Dave—did America, the Sorcerer’s New Apprentice, well, our goal was to start off… And we wrote this for Christians to give to their New Age friends, the people who were into that and so on, and we didn’t want to start off with something that would turn them off right away!
You know, and then I’ve learned from others, whether it be Carl Kerby, or Jay Seegert, and others—Mark Cahill, for example—it’s about conversation. If you don’t have a conversation, and you can’t exchange thoughts and ideas (as you pointed out), well, number one, you’re not going to learn about the person you’re dealing with, okay? So that’s important. But once you have a conversation going, one of my favorite questions is, “Well, how’s that work?”
Now think about all the stuff that you’ve been dealing with, and it isn’t just with regard to what we’ve been dealing with, this whole pantheistic idea and how it’s developing and growing, expanding, and so on, but it could be Mormons at your door. It could be…30 years a Roman Catholic. “Purgatory—well, that’s an interesting concept; how does that work?” You know, and then let them get into discussion about it. So I’m blessed by what you do and your approach, and I’ve learned a lot just in our conversations that we’ve had.
But I get upset, and maybe I’ve just got, you know, my Irish…I got to back off a little bit! But when people, you know, say, “No, it’s got to be done this way, and it has to be done this way, and you have to do it this way,” look, the Holy Spirit is going to lead and guide, even with what you’re saying! And the way I go about it, maybe that’s not the approach that the Holy Spirit would have us take. But I think in general, especially dealing with people, we have no clue as to where their heads are and what they’re bringing into their own mindset. And how are we going to know and how can we have an exchange when we’re clueless about what they see?
Tom: It’s not that you have to become an expert, but if you know the Word of God… Look, we do know—all the verses I read from Isaiah 45, that’s important to have an understanding of that. But to bring somebody to that discussion is huge, okay?
Tom: Because what does the Scripture say? “One man plants, another waters, but God gives the increase. Neither he that plants nor he that waters is…” What? “Nothing.” Okay? But it’s all about the Lord, and we need His guidance and direction, bringing ideas to mind, thoughts, questions that we might have. You know, once again, that’s what this is all about.
So if I get a little snarky…someone send me the definition of that word! I just—I want everybody to be successful in witnessing and ministering and so on. And yes, there are many different ways, and sometimes you’ve got to cut right to the chase. I know that. But there are other approaches, and as I said, that’s the approach that Dave and I used in America, the Sorcerer’s New Apprentice. Because—let me just add this…
Carl: Oh, yes, yes!
Tom: …folks, if you read the book, we’re trying to get these people involved in the New Age that these entities that they’re communing with, whether they call themselves channelers or mediums or whatever it might be, they’re demons! But if we started out in chapter 1 and said, “Well, folks, you’re dealing with demons here,” I mean, end of message! They’re gone, they’re history. But if we can develop the idea of why we think they are, and then let them come to the conclusion with all the evidence that we brought forth, hopefully it’s going to be effective by God’s grace.
Carl: And I tried to do that with Game of Gods in that chapter 8 is where I really begin to wrestle through the biblical difference and distinction between the gospel message (the message of divine revelation from Yahweh) versus all the previous chapters before that, which builds up an understanding of oneness and how we arrived at this point in history—the oneist, paganist, pantheistic perspective—because I want people who hold that worldview to read all the way through it as I want Christians who understand the difference to read through it so they have a better grasp of the situation. And then, when we arrive at chapter 8, then we see that there is a distinction, that there are differences, and begin to go from that point now appealing to Scripture.
The direct approach is important, especially when you’re dealing with those who hold already some, let’s say, scriptural authority. So when you’re dealing with, say, Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, they hold to some scriptural authority. We disagree with their position, absolutely, but we still make the appeal now to scriptural authority in our discussion with them. This is the example that Jesus gives to the religious rulers of His day. “Have you not read?” He goes back and has a direct confrontation, a direct discussion, because now we have a common point that we can work with.
There’s another model, and that’s Jesus when He’s dealing with sinners, those who have been mistrusted, those who have been shunned, those who have been pushed aside. The woman at the well is a prime example, and He doesn’t come to her with being in her face; rather He engages in a conversation and He meets her at a personal relationship level, where truth and grace are both exemplified. And then at the end of His conversation, He points to Himself as the one who calls righteousness and calls the sinners to be righteous.
And then the third model that I see in Scripture in how we deal with outreach in a lost world is the approach that Paul uses in being an ambassador for Christ, going into a pagan culture such as what happened when he and Barnabus went to Lystra in Acts 14. And the reference point, the starting point, is recognizing that God is different than the created order, that God is the one who actually is the maker of the heavens and the earth. He is the Creator, as distinct from the creation.
And so those are models that we have to work with and allow the Holy Spirit to give us the wisdom to know how to approach those around us.
I have a friend—he’s passed away now, but his name was Dr. Robert Adair. Really interesting individual—completely the stereotypical 1950s, 1960s professor: glasses down to here, a pilled sweater that was old already. And he approached me in a used bookstore, in the New Age section of the used bookstore, okay? And he approached me, and he comes up alongside, and I’d never met this man before. And he asked a very simple question, Tom: “Do you believe what you’re reading?”
And I looked down at him, because he was shorter than myself, and I… “No!” And so we ended up having this conversation. But he would go every Saturday to this used bookstore, hanging around the occult, the New Age, the section on philosophy, the sections on religion, and just watch as people read through the book. And if they spent any amount of time looking at that book, he would very carefully, casually approach them and say, “Do you believe what you’re reading?” And that would open up his conversations every Saturday morning to share the gospel.
Tom: Yeah. And, you know, much of it is really simple, and there are diverse ways, as we’ve been saying, that you can go about it. And… “Well, Tom, then who gets in your way?” I do! Self-conscious. “I’d like to go out and do that, but I’m having a bad hair day, you know. I’m worried about this or that,” and so on. Folks…
Carl: Fear, our own personal fear.
Tom: …I know for many people who are viewing this that, you know, we’re probably preaching to the choir. But nevertheless, that’s what biblical Christianity is all about: The Lord saved us, and He wants to use us as instruments for His glory and for the benefit, the blessing of those who, by His grace, will come to Him. But we’re His instruments, as, you know, as problematic (speaking for myself) as I am and can be. Nevertheless, it’s a royal privilege, it’s a fantastic privilege. And, you know…
Carl: It…I was just going to say, Tom, you’re right! You don’t have to know everything about their worldview.
Tom: Absolutely not.
Carl: I had a conversation at the Parliament of World Religions, and I know wicca and witchcraft quite well, but we didn’t even have to go down that road. I ended up spending a lunch hour with a wiccan priest, and he saw my nametag, asked what religion I was with—I said Christianity. He said, “What version of Christianity?”
Tom: Good question!
Carl: Yep, very good question! And so I spelled it out exactly where I stood. And it turns out that he had “Reverend” on his nametag, and I said, “Well, what are you?”
“I’m a wiccan, and I’m a wiccan priest.” And so for our lunchtime, we had a very respectful, very enjoyable conversation. We could probably have become friends as we now compared and contrast his view of oneness with the biblical view of otherness. I didn’t have to go into all the fine points of their rituals, I didn’t have to go into the fine points of what they believe, we just went right to the heart of it. And that was where we had our separating point, yet at the same time that’s where we had our discussion.
Tom: And, you know, as I mentioned before, the thing that concerns me—well, you pointed out you don’t have to be an expert at that. You’re trying to find out where the person is. Hopefully, if you’re a believer, if you’re a biblical Christian, you’re getting to know the Bible really well, and you’re getting to know the Person of Jesus Christ really well. That’s key to all of it.
But to explain things to people as the conversation comes up, some of them… You know, when we talked about Samuel Andrews and his book Christianity and Anti-Christianity in Their Final Conflict, he began with the philosophers. This is—talk about an exercise in futility beyond our belief! A finite being is going to figure out the infinite God, you know, through his reasoning and his intellect and so on and so forth? Can’t happen, can’t happen.
But what we deal with today—I’ve got a quote from your book, just to show you the diversity of this. So somebody could take the philosophical approach and line up with Thoreau or Emerson or somebody like that, but some of them are getting their information from entities. Now, in your book, you mention Neale Donald Walsch, who has conversations with “God,” okay? The God whom I just quoted from Isaiah 45 is clearly not on the same page with the “God” from Walsch, the “God” who Walsch is communicating with—definitely not on the biblical page!
Now, I want to quote him from your book—here’s what [Neale] Donald Walsch, Walsch’s “God,” said to him: “Stop thinking of yourself as separate, and all the true power that comes from the inner strength of unity is yours to wield as you wish. Separation from God and from each other is the cause of all your dysfunction and suffering.”
Now remember, this is the entity speaking to Walsch who he thinks is God, or is proclaiming that!
“Still, separation continues to masquerade as strength, and your politics, your economics, and even your religions have perpetuated the lie. There is no separation, not from each other, not from God. This is the greatest secret of all time. It is the answer for which man has searched for millennia. It is the solution for which he has worked, the revelation for which he has prayed.”
Well, I’ve got news for Walsch’s “God”: It ain’t no secret, okay?
Tom: Oh, man! The demons have been beating that drum since Satan played it for Eve in Genesis 3! So, Carl, that goes back 6,000 years.
Tom: Now according to their reckoning, when did they forget they were gods?
Carl: Oh, I know, Tom! I know! I know…if we’re divine, we are the most absent-minded divinities there are, or there is! I mean, really, can I…I’d like to read, reread back to you a section of my book dealing with this oneness that Neale Donald Walsch just presents through this demon messenger. And this, again, this is a more philosophical approach, but it fits exactly with what you just talked about: “Peace, harmony, and a brighter future are universally desired.” We’re not going to argue that. We all want that. “We intuitively know things could be better, and the problems of pain and suffering are reminders we live in a broken world. Struggles and trials are part of daily life, and our mortal end is ever before us. Yet in the shadows and light and darkness of the human experience, we still hope. In fact, hope is essential for survival and flourishing. But hope in what? Nature? Humanity? Not in oneness, for events and things and matter in oneness are not separate. Everything and everyone is the same. There is no right or wrong, pain is an illusion, pleasure is fiction, your cancer is nothing and everything, your joys are fruitless, rape and murder are equal to charity and compassion, to live or die does not matter—the list is endlessly depressing. Oneness cannot offer a better tomorrow, because ‘better’ and ‘tomorrow’ are nonexistent! Hope is hopeless, for hope implies being favorably separated from a less desirable condition. The dream of peace is pointless, for war is just the same. In a dimension where distinctions dissolve, any sense of real value is not only lost, it can never be assigned! Relationships disappear and love fades to nothingness.”
And I continue on, and two pages over, I read, “[unintelligible] divisions. Oneness also renders legal rule and law as pointless constructs. Justice is dependent on gauging what is true and false and what is morally measurable. Ethics is based on standards and judgments grounded in value distinctions. Established boundaries separating right from wrong, not frivolous fictions, but real and necessary. No one who espouses oneness actually lives it out. Even the oneist argument for heaven on earth cannot be conceived outside the reality of separateness, for it rests on comparison and judgment. Ironically, while oneness is opposed to exclusivity, in asserting that it is the only way to salvation it finds itself in that very category. Oneness is the illusion.”
Tom: You know, Carl, a verse I love—I think it’s in Isaiah—God says, “Come, let us reason together.” So, folks, there are people, sadly, who are not thinking. I’m talking about even within the church, and that’s why I mentioned earlier there are some people upset with what we do. We’re trying to reason together.
Look, the reason’s not going to turn somebody to Christ, but it may bring conviction, and it may bring some understanding so the Holy Spirit can draw them to the Lord, to Himself. So that’s the deal.
Too many times, and we’ve seen this in…you know, I deal a lot with youth, with 18 to 20-year-olds and so on. That’s youth to me—30, that’s youth to me! But I deal with them, and we want them to think biblically. But I’ve told them time and time again, “We just want you to think!” You know? Take heed! Jesus said it over and over again: “Take heed that no man deceive you.” Discernment is really critical.
Carl: Well, Paul says in Romans 12 it’s a mind change. That takes place first!
Tom: Right. So again, simple questions with that. Even though I don’t understand maybe a philosophical view or whatever, I can still ask the question, “Well, how does that work?” And, Carl, you just lay it out! Your quote—it doesn’t work, it can’t work! Now, they have to come to that understanding, but it’s only going to be through the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
You know, I love the verse in Acts where it says Lydia—remember Lydia, the seller of purple? She went down to the river, and no doubt that Paul and his disciples—and the disciples—were, you know, they were preaching the gospel. But the verse says, “The Lord opened her understanding.”
Tom: You can’t do that. I can’t do that. But we can be His instruments to give them something to think about, something to ponder. You know, that’s why I say, “One man plants, another waters.” Well, we don’t know where the person is. Have they—is this new to them completely? Have some other believers been encouraging them—maybe not even by their interaction with them, except by their deeds and how they’re loving people and so on?
So I guess that’s my heart’s cry, especially with some of the responses we’ve got.
But, folks, whatever you’re doing—I don’t care if you call it apologetics or if you call it ministering this way or that way—if love is not involved for the person (first of all for Jesus), and out of that, if it’s not promoted by your love of Christ and your love of them because Jesus went to the cross for them, everyone… So I don’t know, maybe—maybe I get a little bit…I’m passionate about this, and so are you. We’re excited about it, folks. And yeah, maybe there are going to be people viewing this, listening to what we’re saying, not on the same page. But that’s okay.
Carl: And, you know, that is okay. Even your approaches… I’ll just give you an example in terms of some of the interactions we’ve had at Burning Man. My friend Bob Worley comes with me to Burning Man. Bob—his approach is he uses the nation of Israel in biblical prophecy, and while I’ll come into that conversation too, my approach has been more the philosophical approach. And our approaches are different typically, and yet they dovetail together, and it’s been great, because we’ve both been able to now address people in different ways where they’re at!
Tom: Well, I think out of James—we’re to be “slow to…” what? “…speak, quick to listen.”
Tom: Sit there. But, you know, people…and I can understand that. If you’re zealous, if you’re excited, if you want to do it, it’s like, “Hey!”
I mean, listen, I’ve been under conviction from, in that particular aspect, by my cousin. I mean, he was a drunk, an alcoholic, I mean, he was just all this stuff. And praying for him and praying for him! These couple of ladies gave him the gospel—not that I didn’t, but the timing was right. They gave him the gospel—you want to talk about zeal for the Lord! Man, I had to take a backseat to this guy! Obviously then he had to, you know, bring it into some, you know, as we’ve been talking about, a way to approach people and so on.
Look, who’s going to say what God cannot use?
Tom: I’m talking about somebody who’s bringing the truth. It’s how they are presenting it, that’s the issue.
Carl: One of my friends has a different approach. He has a Buddhist book in his shop, and when people come by and he talks to them, and they have this exchange going back and forth, and he’ll talk about his own personal spiritual background, which he spent quite a bit of time studying Buddhism—of course they’ll have, like, knowing smiles. “Oh, this is all very spiritual, very spiritual.” And his approach is then he pulls out this Buddhist book, he reads a selection about how oneness means there is no right or wrong, there is no good or evil, and he’ll close the book and he’ll look at them, and he’ll basically say, “Really? Do you believe this?” And they’re kind of in shock, because everybody now is spiritual, but nobody is thinking through what that means.
Carl: And he uses that as his way of being able to open up a conversation.
Carl: Different, but…
Tom: And who’s to know, except for the Holy Spirit, who’s to know what will touch their hearts?
Tom: He will find some ground that they can build on, or at least move them to, in a way…fertile ground. That’s what I’m talking about. The Holy Spirit knows. But we do whatever He puts on our hearts and minds. And, you know, some of the things that may not lead somebody to Christ, nevertheless, that’s a seed that’s going—they’re going to be held accountable for. You know, not that we’re trying to do that, but that’s the way it works.
Carl: Excellent. I hope that this has been an encouraging conversation for people to see that there’s a practical—a practical biblical response, and a practical end goal in terms of the information we’ve been presenting.
Tom: I totally agree. So God bless you, bro, and thanks! Can’t wait for the next go-round!