This is a follow-up to last month's discussion of the Reformation. It is staggering to see that in the so-called Protestant church of today there are many parallels to what the Reformers complained about in the Catholic Church of Luther's day. Moreover, many of those who promote these false teachings have been elevated to pedestals of Protestant infallibility as lofty as the pope's and the Catholic priesthood. To be a simple Berean and check the doctrines of Christian leaders against the Bible is not only unthinkable today, but is condemned as strongly as daring to question the pope and Catholic dogma was in Calvin's day.
It is the pope's great authority, the huge Church he heads, its antiquity, and, as some insist, "the great good (in spite of the evil) it has accomplished," that are used to brush aside any questions of doctrinal purity that are raised. In this manner any actual discussion of the issues and the merits of the arguments for or against biblical accuracy are avoided. The same is now true among evangelicals and charismatics. The popularity of a certain leader, the size of his church or ministry, how long it has been established, and the great good he or she may have done become the basis for deciding issues rather than the Bible.
Two major foundation stones of the Reformation were the sole authority of the Bible and the priesthood of all believers. The Bible teaches that neither man nor organization can add to or take from Scripture or interpret it for others. The response of the Council of Trent in 1545 was to reject the Reformers' cry of sola scriptura! and to declare that the Bible was not enough for life and doctrine; that in addition there were the pronouncements of the pope, of the Councils and the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. Clearly, the situation is very similar among Protestants today.
There are, of course, the Earl Paulks and other "prophets" who claim to have "new revelations" that must not be judged and who even deny the right and the responsibility of each believer to check what he has been taught against the Bible. Paulk says, "When we take our Bibles home, get on our knees and make our own decisions concerning the preacher's sermon, we decide the truth of God's anointing [upon a preacher or ministry] according to our own private interpretations" (That The World May Know, p 144). He condemns this Berean activity, although the Bible calls it "noble" (Acts:17:10-11).
Similarly, today's "Christian psychologists," a new infallible priesthood unknown at the Reformation but now accepted among both Protestants and Catholics for several decades, also reject the cry of sola scriptura! with their own slogan, "All truth is God's truth!" One can no longer be a simple Berean and "search the scriptures daily" to see whether what is being taught is biblical. No longer is all of "God's truth" pertaining to "life and godliness" (2 Pt 1:3) to be found alone where the Bereans looked but also in a new source unknown not only to the early church but all down through history until this century. New "revelations" have been given through the godless, antichristian apostles and prophets of psychology (Freud, Jung, et al.) and accepted by the church as of equal authority with the Bible. (Please see Beyond Seduction, Chapters 6-9 for a more detailed discussion.)
The Reformers objected to the images of the Catholic Church, which they considered to be a form of idolatry. In its rejection of the reforms that were so desperately needed, the Council of Trent justified the retention of images, which remain an important part of Catholicism today. The fact that so many of the "saints" had used this method and that so many had found images helpful for prayer and worship was sufficient justification to override biblical prohibition. That was bad enough. But now, largely through the influence of Jungian psychology, both Protestants and Catholics have lately embraced an even deadlier form of idolatry: visualized images that come alive and even speak! Contact has clearly been made with the spirit world, but not with God or Christ.
Christian psychologists justify visualizing "Jesus" as a necessary "inner healing" therapeutic technique for dealing with "traumas" allegedly buried deep in the unconscious and which biblical methods such as prayer, repentance, obedience, faith, and the filling of the Spirit, etc. supposedly cannot reach. Thus we have diagnoses and cures which cannot be found in Scripture and which the church did not need for 1,900 years, but which we are now told are essential. This is all justified because it "works" so well for so many, and because it is taught as a part of "God's truth" that somehow was left out of the Bible, although that Holy Book claims to have given all that is needed for the man or woman of God to be "throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim:3:16-17).
It is astonishing enough that the secular world has embraced shamanism (witchcraft) in modern form and is training itself to be demonized through visualizing "inner guides" as part of the new transpersonal psychological, medical and self-improvement techniques which have recently become so popular. It is more than astonishing, however, that the evangelical church (not just the liberals and modernists) has accepted and is promoting the same techniques among the unsuspecting sheep of our Lord's flock. And again today's Protestants and Catholics have joined together in the same unbiblical practice, which is far more dangerous than the images of wood and stone that the Reformers criticized. Those Protestant "inner healers" who justify their practice because the visualized "Jesus" performs so well must explain how it is that the "Mary" being visualized by the Catholics has no less power to heal. And of course both must explain how it is that all manner of "guides" visualized by occultists (from "space brothers" and Ascended Masters to coyotes) perform just as well as "Jesus" or "Mary."
We have to agree with A.W. Tozer that a revival of today's Christianity would set the cause of Christ back at least 100 years. What we need is a new Reformation. TBC