Sunday, September 3, 2017

Guest Post: Anti-Christianity Ascending- PT 2

It used to be that if I wanted a confirmation of what Dave Hunt and I were writing regarding the spiritual changes we observed taking place in the US and, more specifically, in Christendom, I’d talk to missionaries who had returned home on furlough after spending a couple of years ministering overseas. Many were quite shaken by what had transpired here in their absence, especially in their local churches. Among the changes they saw were the strong influences of so-called Christian psychology, the Purpose Driven and seeker-sensitive approach to church growth, militant Calvinism, Replacement theology with its tendency toward anti-Semitism, the Contemplative movement, the Hebrew Roots movements, the Emerging Church movement, kingdom dominionism, etc. Some found themselves in situations in which they had to decide whether or not they could continue fellowshipping in the church that had sent them into the mission field and was their primary support. “Heartbreaking” only partially describes their reactions.
It used to be that their responses were clear indicators of changes that we here in the US often miss or don’t immediately realize because they appear slowly and even stealthily. It’s much like the old “frog in the pot” parable, in which a frog was placed in a pot of tepid water, with the water temperature being very gently increased. The frog adapted to the warmer water until it eventually cooked to death. Now it appears that Christendom is being cooked at a fast-food rate. False teachers have abandoned trying to ease in “new teachings” and are now racing headlong into heresy after heresy. One example among a multitude of shockers that could be given: pews are pushed back in the sanctuaries of many evangelical churches to make room for the practice of Jesus Yoga, Yahweh Yoga, Holy Yoga and Kid’s Holy Yoga, Praise Moves, Yogafaith, or Christoga (see “New Age Mysticism Déjà Vu Part 2”)! Forget subtlety. It’s anti-Christianity, full speed ahead!
How could such a thing happen? Samuel Andrews’s book Christianity and Anti-Christianity In Their Final Conflict gives us answers. But how did he acquire his acute awareness? Simply from the same source that he challenges readers of his book to seek out answers regarding such things—the Bible: “It is only through Scriptural light that we can fully know the character and work of the Anti-Christ; and to this light it is of vital importance that we give heed, for we are forewarned that he will present himself to men under an aspect best fitted to deceive.” Andrews claims no special prophetic insights, and although his approach is somewhat unique, it isn’t complex. Reading the Bible and taking it at its word is the first prerequisite. The Scriptures prophetically declare that apostasy will take place in the last days before Jesus returns, and it begins with what Hebrews 2 warns believers against: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (v.1). That slippage has become a landslide today. Jesus is more specific in Revelation 2 as He addresses the church at Ephesus, first acknowledging their good works, and then: “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.”
The departure from one’s love of Jesus, no matter how slight, is still a departure. Good works, regardless of how seemingly good, without the love of Christ included, will result in a slippage. At what cost? Jesus told the “church of many good deeds” that if they didn’t return to their love for Him, He would remove the lampstand (i.e., the light given to them), and they would no longer reflect Jesus, who is that “true Light” (John:1:9). So began the bride of Christ’s slide into apostasy.
Andrews realized that if there is a departure from the faith it will have serious consequences that will escalate to an awful conclusion resulting in devastating spiritual wreckage. He found this stated, in no uncertain terms, in the Book of Revelation. Andrews’s rather unique approach was to ascertain all that Scripture said about the last days prior to Christ’s return and, in particular, about the man who is the embodiment of wickedness, the Antichrist. Using those characteristics of the “man of sin” and what he is enabled by Satan to do, Andrews searches through the chronology of the Bible and church history, looking for traces and traits of the apostasy and its numerous elements that will contribute to the formation of the religion of the Antichrist.
Andrews provides an example based on this statement: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians:2:3-4). Andrews surmises that the reception by the entire world of someone who claims to be God and who will be worshiped as God is not something that humanity will readily accept without great cause and expectancy. He recognizes that the conditioning of the world by Satan is necessary in order to make his “man of sin” credible: “It need not be said that this man and his kingdom are not the accidents of an hour; there is a long preparatory process.” The world’s rejection of Christ, the only true God manifested in the flesh, demonstrates that there must be more to convince people that worshiping the man of sin (rather than the sinless God/Man) is both advantageous and right. Andrews finds in Scripture what has been referred to as “the lie” (Romans:1:25), the belief that finite created beings can be as God, or are a part of God. The lie began in heaven when Lucifer declared, “I will be like the most High” (Isaiah:14:14). The lie came to earth in Satan’s offer to Eve: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis:3:5).
Throughout Scripture and history we find examples of people worshiping mortal men, from the Caesars to the Roman and Greek gods to individuals such as Herod Agrippa (Acts:12:22). Even the Apostle Paul was thought to be a god by the barbarians on the Island of Melita, and the people at Lystra, referring to him, exclaimed: “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men.” Yet those local incidents were a far cry from what will take place regarding the worldwide worship of the Antichrist.
Andrews’s approach to end-times prophecy is not complicated. He read what the Bible declares will take place just prior to the Lord’s return, and then he surveyed his own time (the late 1800s) to see if what was being popularized had any relevance to the fulfillment of latter-day prophecy. Unlike some in our day who turn every news event into a literal prophetic fulfillment, Andrews addressed the big picture conceptually: mankind will universally come to believe in the deification of man and the worship of man. The evidence that this development was well on its way was plentiful in Andrews’s day, primarily due to the belief in pantheism and panentheism. They are the belief that God isn’t personal but a Force, the substance of which everything consists and which is in everything. Thus, man is God or is a part of God.
The teaching that God is an impersonal Force is foundational to Eastern mysticism, especially Hinduism. In the West, Andrews saw that the philosophers who greatly influenced his era (Kant, Hegel, Spinoza, etc.) drew upon Eastern mystical concepts in formulating their views of God. He quotes a well-known historian of the early 1800s who recognized the same: “Among the different systems, by whose aid philosophy endeavours to explain the universe, I believe Pantheism to be one of those most fitted to seduce the human mind in democratic ages….”
The belief in Pantheism was further promoted by well-known literary figures (Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Shelley, Browning, et al.), whose writings advanced their belief in the exaltation of nature and the deification of mankind. Many in the sciences joined their ranks based on the endorsements of Huxley and others promoting evolution, especially in the rejection of a Creator.
As the affinity for the pseudoscience of evolution grew, ideas were added that reinforced the belief in mankind’s evolution to a higher state. Darwin predicted that “in the distant future man will be a far more perfect creature than he now is.” Andrews writes, “In this belief as to the future of man, the leading evolutionists…look chiefly to the gradual evolution of humanity under the law of the survival of the fittest…. Philosophy and science in many eminent representatives agree in affirming that there is no personal God, only a universal, impersonal Spirit or Energy, of which everything that exists is a part. This, viewed on the material side, is atheism; on the spiritual, is pantheism [with its deifying affirmations].”
Andrews wrote extensively of the many things taking place in his time period of 120 years ago that advanced the idea that all humanity is God. The abundant information on that one prophetic point alone brought him to a conclusion that was evident in much of what he observed: worshiping the Antichrist will surely include the recognition of one’s own godhood. He further explains: “It is also to be remembered that in rendering homage to one who appears as the rival of Christ, men will not do homage to one who differs in his nature from themselves, and superior to them; but to their own nature as embodied in him. In exalting him, they exalt themselves” [with the only difference being] “that they recognize in him one in whom is a larger measure of Divinity” (emphasis added).
Christianity and Anti-Christianity In Their Final Conflict reads as though it were written today, with two differences: 1) All the things that Andrews identified in his era are found today albeit in widely diverse, yet connected and expanded, versions, and 2) Their exposition and promotion in our day seems to be taking place worldwide at light speed by comparison.
The following brief summary of just some of his insights leaves one in awe of his biblical and historical discernment:
• As a result of the loss of the bride of Christ’s main focus upon Jesus and her love for Him, her desire to please Him through obedience to His commands will decrease, and apostasy will follow.
• Though a remnant will remain steadfast, the end-time church will supplant the headship of Christ with the rule of men, organizations, and the state. All attempts within Christendom to set up Christ’s Kingdom prior to His return will fail.
• The state will rule over the church very likely through some form of socialism, and Christ will be regarded as little more than a model of social and moral correctness.
• The world will look forward to a more highly evolved human instead of looking back to one in the archaic past, like Jesus.
• Biblical Christianity will be ultimately disparaged and rejected, especially with its doctrine of the sinfulness of man in need of salvation through Jesus Christ alone.
• Neo-Christianity will conform to the ways, means, and beliefs of the world.
• Christ, when He is considered, is said to be simply a revealer of the divinity that exists in all mankind.
• Mankind will look to all of its accomplishments in science as proof of its superior human potential.
• Pantheism, as noted above, will be the primary belief that sets the stage for acknowledging and worshiping the Antichrist, as well as humanity’s own divinity.
• The Antichrist will be the chief human adversary of Christ as well as a counterfeit substitute who will set up a false worldwide kingdom. He and his kingdom will be destroyed when Jesus returns to set up His Millennial Kingdom.
Samuel Andrews is clearly a watchman on the wall who, from the Scriptures and his understanding of the times, has set about warning the body of Christ of the evil that is looming and will take its toll on both professing and true Christians. His book was criticized in his day as being too negative, although “proof” of his so-called negativity was drawn from Paul, Peter, Jude, John, not to mention the words of Jesus to the seven churches in Revelation. Some of his detractors thought he should put humanity in a more positive light, recognizing that man is evolving upward, although such an idea had no scriptural support. Prophecy, of course, was disparaged then as it is today. Nevertheless, Andrews forewarned that “Those despising the prophetic word, and not believing in his appearing, will be attracted and fettered by the power of his person: and those whose conception of him is that of an open blasphemer of God, a bitter enemy of all religion, detestable because of his vices, will not discern him should he appear as a saviour of society and a religious leader.”
We believe the Scriptures teach that the Antichrist will not be revealed until after the church has been removed from the world in the Rapture (2 Thessalonians:2:2-8John:14:1-3), and at Christ’s return His saints will accompany Him (Jude:1:14) as He destroys the Wicked [one] (2 Thessalonians:2:8). Yet the acceptance of the kingdom of the Antichrist and his religion, as Andrews well supports through the Word of God and to which the history of the church testifies, involves “a long preparatory process” that finally seduces the entire world. Our succumbing to the accelerating spiritual deception of our day can be prevented only by God’s grace as we put our love for Jesus first, do diligence in reading and doing what His Word says, praying without ceasing, and maintaining the fellowship of like-minded believers.
One of the endorsers of Christianity and Anti-Christianity In Their Final Conflict, James M. Gray, who followed D. L. Moody and R. A. Torrey as president (1904-1934) of the Moody Bible Institute, wrote, “Pastors, missionaries, Sunday-school teachers and social workers, bear with me if I say, you must read [Samuel J. Andrews’s] book…. Here are no wild fancies, no foolish setting of times and seasons, no crude and sensational interpretations of prophecy, but a calm setting forth of what the Bible says on the most important subject for these times. The Christian leader who does not know these things is no leader, but the blind leading the blind. And, oh, there are so many of such leaders!” To that we can only add our “Amen.”

McMahon, T.A.