Mega Religious Trend in the 21st Century

Guest Post: Ed Walker is a dear friend, an alumnus of CIU, and a long time trend and global watcher who’s heart beats for world evangelization. Be stirred to think in new ways as this senior statesman shares his perspective. He sent this to my attention after reading my recent post on Are We At A KAIROS Moment?

Two streams have come together to produce a rapidly growing global religious movement that intersects in someway with all the other global trends. It is the convergence of postmodernism with the worship of the creation and the creature in place of the Creator in a new way. The trend outlined by Paul in Romans 1: 18 – 32 has been a reality since the fall in the Garden of Eden but has been manifested in different ways in different ages. Postmodernism denies any metanarrative based on propositional truth. Instead, the postmodern views the unity of all life forms as the foundation of belief. Therefore, there is not any distinction between the Creator and the creation. They have largely adopted a pantheist worldview.

Mark C. Taylor, a postmodern deconstructionist professor at Williams College, foresees the twenty-first century as dominated by religion in ways that were inconceivable just a few years ago. Part of the reason for rebirth of religion is that Postmodernism has shown atheism to be irrational and ignorant. Atheism is in decline worldwide, whereas forms of spirituality are rising to take its place. You see this in the political realm; Marxist regimes have disappeared, leaving a void that is being filled by spirituality.[i]

How does this religious trend manifest itself? Dr. Peter Jones, professor at Westminster Seminary, points out that:

If all is one, the Goddess Nature (often called Mother Nature) should be worshiped.
If all is one, animals are “divine” just like mankind and all else that exist both visible and invisible, which leads to the radical position taken by animal rights groups like Peta.
If all is one, the earth, its resources and all vegetation is to be worshiped, which to a large degree contributes to hysteria and extremes related to the “Green” movement.
If all is one, then all is god, which leads to the rapidly growing neo-paganism and the global growth of Eastern religions.
If all is one, there is not any distinction of gender; therefore, homosexuality, same sex marriage, etc. are not only normal relationships but also a superior way of life. The practice of homosexuality is a high form of spirituality. Also there cannot be any distinction in gender roles leading to radical feminism.
This list could continue but this is enough to illustrate this strong religious trend.

Peter Jones continues “Belief in nature as God is evident in ‘hard core’ paganism, but polytheism and animism share belief in a primary animating force, in which even Albert Einstein placed his faith. It is astonishing to see how strongly classic Eastern religion and modern liberal ‘Christian’ thinking are inspired by the same basic belief. ‘Christian-Feminist’ theologian, Rosemary Radford Ruether recommends the worship of pagan goddesses as more beneficial to women than Christianity. She prefers ‘the nature and fertility religions’ of paganism, including the worship of Baal. ‘Christian’ bishop’, John Shelby Spong, describes God not as an external, supernatural being who rules humanity, but as the power of love flowing through everything.”[ii]

This new trend of spirituality resulting from the confluence of postmodernism and the rejection of the distinction between the creator and the creation has a worldview that embraces one or more of the following points:

The earth is sacred, and so is everything which lives in or upon it,
Everything is alive and has spirit,
Everything is related,
It is vital to connect with others through group ritual,
You can experience Spirit directly and with joy.[iii]
Some of the common practices in this new spirituality trend are:

Breathing techniques (that produce “non-ordinary states of consciousness…to unleash the inner healer within the psyche”);
Sound technologies (drumming, rattling, use of sticks, bells and gongs, music, chanting, mantras);
Dancing (Sufi whirling dervishes, or Bushmen trance dancing)’
Social isolation and sensory deprivation (vision quest, desert or cave isolation);
Sensory overload (super physical stimuli, extreme pain);
Physiological means (sleep or food deprivation, purgatives, laxatives, blood-letting);
Meditation, prayer (Hatha, Kundalini or Tantric yoga, “Christian” mysticism, exercises of Ignatius Loyola);
Psychedelic stimulation (hashish, pleyote, LSD).[iv]
Irving Hexham, professor of religious studies, and Karala Poewe, professor of anthropology, both at the University of Calgary in Canada present in their book the same basic thesis as stated above showing its impact on cultures throughout the world.[v]

This new spirituality is very syncretistic as illustrated by a the teachings of McLaren, leader of the extreme wing of the Emergent Church movement, that the missional goal of the church is not to make Christians out of Buddhists but to make Buddhist followers of Jesus.[vi]

The core moral value of those in this new religious trend generally speaking is tolerance. They are tolerant of all spiritual movements except the belief in the distinction between the Creator and the creation.

Ed Walker
Retired World Team Missionary and CIU Alumnus (1951)

Do you see this mega-trend as Ed describes it? How can a follower of Christ engage people with these post-modern beliefs? Share you thoughts below…

[i] Peter Jones, One or Two, 2010, p 134
[ii] Ibid, p 107
[iii] Ibid, p 137
[iv] Ibid p 139
[v] Irving Hexham & Karala Poewe, New Religions as Global Cultures: Making the Human Sacred (1997)
[vi] Brian D. McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, 2004, p 264

Tagged Ed Walker Peter Jones Post-Modernism Spirituality