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Traits Of The Present Era. Introduction. The Christian now has to live in a society which is very different from the society of Bible times. But human nature is, as ever, fallen and lost.

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Introduction l.jpg
Introduction

  • The Christian now has to live in a society which is very different from the society of Bible times.

  • But human nature is, as ever, fallen and lost.

  • We will look briefly at some of the classifications of present day life and how they affect the Christian.

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Post Christian

  • Western nations are said to be in a Post Christian era, but what does this mean?    

  • Perhaps the  term "Post Christian" says most about the attitude of those who use it.    

  • But perhaps it is a fair description of the state of the church in our nations.  

  • To understand what I mean by this; let us look at some "isms" which have influenced the times we live in.

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Post Christian

  • Materialism: Living for the physical world, shopping around, (including shopping around for a church or style of worship)

  • Hedonism: The pursuit of pleasure, happiness and comfort

  • Secularism: Religion is a private, leisure interest

  • These three may, more or less, have rubbed off on Christians.

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Post Christian

  • Our world-view: 500 years ago there was no dispute - Truth was from God

  • Rationalism (The Enlightenment): Truth is discovered by man by the use of the mind - Only the scientifically provable is true

  • Romanticism: Truth is discovered by man through the heart, intuitively, by feelings

  • Relativism: Truth is discovered by man by the use of the will, choice, preference.   

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Post Christian

  • There is no absolute truth or error - only shades of grey.   

  • What is true for you is not true for me, but we can "dialogue" while respecting each other's beliefs.   

  • This carried over into morality and behavior;  right and wrong.

  • Anybody claiming to have "truth" is regarded as a extremist

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Post Christian

  • And in religion

  • Pluralism: We live in a multi-cultural,  multi-faith society (fact)

  • This has been extended from a fact into a virtue or an imperative.

  • All religions are equally valid

  • The most desirable qualities are Tact and Tolerance   -  Political Correctness is built on these,  but neither is Biblical.

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Post Christian

  • Syncretism: The coming together of all religions for a common purpose. Not for God, but for man to achieve the common benefit for mankind (or the earth - the environment)

  • We must talk of "the faith community" so we must work together to spread "faith" (not our faith)

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Post Christian

  • Humanism:Humanism encompasses atheists and agnostics, but prefers not to be defined by negative beliefs but by the belief that people can build a society in which the human being, with his needs, is central.  

  • Secular humanism emphasizes reason , individual freedom, tolerance, and the rejection of supernatural and authoritarian beliefs. 

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Democracy

  • We are led to assume that Democracy is an essential product of our "Christian" Western civilization.   Why should this be true?

  • In practice it seems that democracy is better than the available alternatives but it actually means government by appeal to the preferences of the majority.  

  • We see the results in the decay of moral standards in the West as legislation follows the desires of the vocal forces of immorality and greed.  

  • The golden rule for the government of the Lord Jesus Christ will not be a democracy but Theocracy “the reign of a just and righteous king; God”.

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Tolerance

  • Tolerance is a very positive word but is it commendable or desirable?

  • We should not be critical but should be accepting, multi-cultural and multi-faith we are told.

  • The Bible does indeed teach that we should love others and the Lord Jesus Christ is the best possible example in his compassion for us lost sinners.

  • But the Lord Jesus Christ did not accept sin, rebellion, and error and call it good. 

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Tolerance

  • Christianity and Judaism teach us that there is only one God and that He will not accept us giving allegiance to another.

  • The Bible sets out the moral code by which we should live and allows for no do-it-yourself moral codes.

  • The Christian should follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ and be more than just tolerant of the individual but should not be tolerant of sin and error.

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Relative Morality

  • Relative Morality is a characteristic of our society today.  

  • It is old fashioned to accept a higher authority laying down absolute standards.  

  • Man has always justified himself by making comparisons with those worse than himself.   

  • He does not compare himself with God’s standard.   

  • "There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death"   (Proverbs 14:12)

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Relative Morality

  • We should not be expecting to be nice and tolerant to everybody and have them like us; not if we wish to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.  

  • St. Paul mentioned in Hebrew 13: 11-14,  "For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.”

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Political Correctness

  • Political Correctness has become a humanistic constraint which forbids the holding of absolute values, which some people find challenging to their chosen lifestyle.  

  • Political Correctness may (arguably) have been commendable in overcoming racial intolerance but it has been taken over.    

  • Do not be seduced into assuming that it is a "Christian" value.

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Post Modernism

  • Post Modernism is a term used to categorize of the way society functions in the period after the "Modern" Art and Architecture period.

  • This is what we live in today – you may recognize it.

  • Post modern life is Fragmented, Frivolous, Consumer driven, Fun, Throw-away, and Now (instant gratification).

  • The best illustration of this is an advertisement break on TV.  

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Post Modernism

  • Enormous technical expertise is put into the generation of glossy entertainment, which is a substitute for life in the real world.  

  • Even News and Current Affairs programmers now use the same techniques.  

  • By inference, Post Modern life is selfish and has no room for commitment, long term objectives, facing unpleasant realities and the pursuit of things that will be costly but that will last.  

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Post Modernism

  • In contrast, the Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew 6: 19-21 “do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also"

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The New Age

  • New Age ideas flow smoothly from relative morality and draw together an eclectic mixture of old pagan beliefs from all around the world, with a modern pseudo-scientific spin.  

  • There is a spectrum of belief and practice from watered down Christianity right through the occult to Wicca, Witchcraft, and Satanism.  

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The New Age

  • An Internet search on "wicca"  will find sites ranging from traditional herbal remedies and FAQ pages explaining how Wicca is a benign belief system in tune with the Earth, practiced by all sorts of ordinary people - through to sinister witchcraft and black magic sites.

  • Witchcraft is the darker end of the whole "green" eco-friendly modern awareness of the earth movement, as well as the feminist movement.  (Much occult belief is about feminine deities)

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The New Age

  • The New Age   Mother Earth  Earth Spirits    Paganism    Magic.

  • “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).

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The New Age

  • As the prophecy of Zechariah draws to its climax we read, in (Zech 13:2-6)   "It shall be in that day, says the Lord of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land. It shall come to pass that if anyone still prophesies, then his father and mother who begot him will say to him, `You shall not live, because you have spoken lies in the name of the Lord.' And his father and mother who begot him shall thrust him through when he prophesies. And it shall be in that day that every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies; they will not wear a robe of coarse hair to deceive. But he will say, `I am no prophet, I am a farmer; for a man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.‘ And one will say to him, `What are these wounds between your arms?' Then he will answer, `Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.‘”

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The New Age

  • This refers to the prophets / ministers of pagan cults and their practices (self inflicted wounds of idol worshippers – Deut 14:1 - 1 Kings 18:28), and how those involved will finally be dealt with. 

  • The End Times will be full of New Age Religion, mediums and occult practice.

  • The New Age is presented as very tolerant of any faith.  

  • In fact this tolerance becomes the rejection of any exclusive faith  (Christianity which say there is only one way to salvation through only one God).   

  • The long term aim of the New Age movement is the replacement  of all other religions with one "world-state religion".

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The New Age

  • The Green and Ecology movement is supported by many concerned people, but it also has many adherents who lean towards "Mother Earth" worship and paganism. 

  • "Green"  thinking can undermine sound Christian life if allowed to go beyond concepts of common sense, good stewardship and challenges to extensive consumerism.

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The New Age

  • The Spirituality if the New Age: Have you noticed the desire for so called "spiritual" lifestyles, divorced from faith in God but part of a "chilled out" lifestyle of gentle music, candles, soft colors, and all that sort of stuff?

  • In the USA it is forbidden to teach religion in public schools - including Christianity - but  Wicca and the occult gets a good exposure through the reading of Harry Potter stories.  

  • Those who question this practice are labeled as hysterical book-burners like those of the Dark Ages who burned women they did not like as witches. 

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The New Age

  • In the USA, Wicca is not just the interest of a few eccentrics but a recognized religion with tax exempt status and chaplains in the armed services.

  • The Harry Potter phenomenon is very much a product of our present society but God is just as concerned as He ever was that we avoid occult suggestions;  "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them"   (Ephesians 5:11)

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The New Age

  • Nobody disputes the amount of witchcraft and occult material in the Harry Potter stories, even if the spells are not authentic.  

  • One noticeable difference from the witches in traditional children's tales is that some  witches are good guys and not just bad guys.  

  • We must points out six suggestions implicit in Harry Potter, in addition to the obvious danger of getting children fascinated by the occult.

  • A vision of a better world:  link main characters to pagan practices.

  • Rebellion against Biblical authority:  link traditional authority figures to intolerant "muggles"   (non magicians)

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The New Age

  • An idealized view of Paganism:  link occult images to "good wizards".

  • A pagan alternative to Christian values:   link courage and loyalty to a common quest for occult empowerment.

  • Mystical experiences that excite the emotions:  link "good" spells to victory in the timeless battle between good and evil.

  • Relative Morality: The good and evil, right and wrong are very relative in Harry Potter's world;  he is rewarded for rebelling and lying when it produces a positive outcome.

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Conclusion

  • The Christian should be aware that he is living in a war zone just as much as, or more than the Bible saints. 

  • Ephesians 6:10 -13  says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”    

  • Perhaps we in the Church have largely forgotten that we should be living and fighting in Spiritual Power through the Holy Spirit and concentrated too much on adopting Post Modernist methods to appeal to contemporary society.

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