an article from the Interview column of the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 5: Number 4, 1992.
The Editor of the Christian Research Newsletter is Ron Rhodes.
Concern for the environment has joined with mysticism to spark a return to ancient forms of nature worship. Paganism is on the rise, and the "Earth Goddess" is beckoning. Indeed, pagan beliefs are subtly entering peoples' lives through media, schools, and even the church. In this issue of the Newsletter, Berit Kjos -- author of Under the Spell of Mother Earth -- gives us her insights on this important issue.
Newsletter: Why did you write the book, Under the Spell of Mother Earth?
Kjos: Primarily because America was changing. Occult practices were increasingly being accepted as normal in our society, even in some churches. Exposure to New Age values during the eighties made many people more tolerant of evil. And suddenly, at the beginning of the nineties, we faced a "new," more noble disguise for ancient occultism: paganism revised, or neopaganism. Promising personal power and harmony with nature, this modern version of the world's pagan religions is every bit as seductive as Pinnochio's Pleasure Island -- and just as dangerous.
But our Lord reigns! He has wonderful answers for times like this, and I wanted to share them and encourage His people. This is why I wrote the book.
Newsletter: What are some of the ways neopaganism influences people today?
Kjos: Our schools are the most obvious battlefield. For instance, Iowa third-graders chant prayers to Mother Earth and practice Medicine Wheel Astrology. Connecticut fourth-graders use guided imagery to "experience" Indian tribal life and meet "wise" spirit helpers. Oregon students celebrate Winter Solstice by acting the roles of the Sun God, Moon Goddess, drummers, and animal spirits.
The "politically correct" atmosphere of our universities fuels this pagan revival. A student in elementary education at Sacramento State University was required to read books such as Return of the Goddess, When God Was a Woman, The Once and Future Goddess, and Myths to Live By in order to teach social studies.
None of our institutions is exempt. A Girl Scout Camporee director -- dressed as a Native American shaman -- organized a pagan "Initiation into Womanhood." Using guided imagery, she led the young teens into an imaginary meadow to meet a beautiful spirit "woman" who would be their "helper" for life.
Newsletter: Is America's new interest in environmental education and multicultural unity incompatible with Christianity?
Kjos: Many influential leaders accuse Christianity of separating us from nature and teaching intolerance. They don't realize that only God can produce genuine harmony. God Himself told us to care for His creation (Gen. 2:5) and share His love everywhere (1 Cor. 13:1-13), and He promised to enable all who follow Him (Phil. 4:13).
Yet, young Americans are flocking to Mother Earth rather than God our Father for wisdom and empowerment. In his bestseller, Earth in the Balance, Senator Al Gore diagnosed America's root problem: "We have lost our feeling of connectedness to the rest of nature." To stop environmental abuses, he recommends earth-centered oneness. He writes: "A modern prayer of the Onadanga tribe...offers another beautiful expression of our essential connection to the earth: 'O Great Spirit, whose breath gives life to the world and whose voice is heard in the soft breeze...make us wise so that we may understand what you have taught us.'" Then Gore -- who says he is a Baptist -- points to the world's Mother Earth religions (ancient Goddess worship, Hinduism, European witchcraft, and so forth) as models for living in harmony with nature.
Newsletter: How did people in America become so gullible?
Kjos: First, our nation opened the door to a sequence of social problems -- greed, disillusionment, violence, broken families, unteachable children -- by replacing God's guidelines with self-made values.
Second (and related to the above), people traded time-tested tools for discerning reality -- absolute truth and objective facts -- for cultural myths and wishful speculation. Lacking factual and historical reference points, the door was opened for people to believe anything. So, when well-meaning educators heard that ancient formulas for contacting "spirit helpers" and manipulating psychic forces would produce self-esteem and empower students, they began to teach it in schools nationwide.
Third, neopaganism fits human nature. Its unwary followers learn to manipulate spiritual power according to their will rather than God's. Using simple formulas such as witch Starhawk's blend of "relaxation, visualization, concentration, and projection," they assume control. They don't realize that the occult force actually controls them (1 John 5:19).
Newsletter: How do you relate this pagan revival to the New Age movement?
Kjos: They are similar in many ways. Both are basically pantheistic (the belief that God is all and all is God), monistic (the belief that all is one), and even polytheistic (the belief that there are many gods). Both are modern masks of ancient occultism, tailored to match the culture of the day. The impersonal force of New Agers fits the self-focused, power-hungry eighties. By the nineties, America was biblically illiterate, tragically ignorant of occult dangers, and ripe for Satan's next ploy: the return of all his old pagan myths, tools, and rituals.
Newsletter: Do you think America's root problem is that she has lost her connection to the true God of Scripture?
Kjos: Yes. The original lie (Gen. 3:5), designed to separate us from our Shepherd, matches the mind of the nineties: Just follow your feelings and you will be like God. Even some so-called Christians blend truths with lies, creating twisted beliefs totally incompatible with the teachings of our Shepherd. "I believe the Bible is true," said a young boy, "but not the resurrection." When his Christian mother asked him not to trespass across neighborhood lawns, he answered: "They belong to Mother Earth, not people."
A woman teaching the occultic, self-focused Course in Miracles expressed similar confusion. She told me she was a Christian -- and yet believed in reincarnation. Sensing my response, she added, "Doesn't the Bible say, 'You must be born again'?"
The heart of neopaganism is self-realization, not saving the earth. Its power is demonic -- even when it sounds Christian. Though it promises to satisfy our demands, it only increases our cravings. Look what it's doing to America today. Sexual perversion and promiscuity, pornographic "art," even disposal of unwanted babies -- all of these are timeless manifestations of earth-centered cultures like ancient Babylon and Canaan (cf. Rom. 1:21-32). As they corrupted ancient Israel, so they are now corrupting America.
Newslette: How can Christians resist this deception?
Kjos: "My people perish for lack of knowledge," God announced long ago (Ho. 4:6). God's people had distorted His character, forgotten His truths, and ignored His warnings. Today as then, we need at least two kinds of knowledge. First, we need to know God as He really is -- not the way people tend to imagine Him. "I am God..." He reminds us, "[but] you thought I was altogether like you" (Ps. 50:7, 21). We need to know God's Word and understand His character, plan, and promises.
Second, we need to understand the nature of deception. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand" (Eph. 6:12-13). God's "armor" (described in verses 14-17, which every Christian should memorize) outlines the strategic truths needed to counter the main lies of the enemy.
Remember, our God is far greater than Satan (1 John 4:4). By ourselves we cannot overcome his schemes, but in Christ we are "more than conquerors." Thanks be to God who leads us in His triumph!
1 Teaching Social Studies: Portraits from the Classroom (National Council for the Social Studies Bulletin, No. 82), 20.
2 Al Gore, The Earth in the Balance (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1992), 2.
3 Ibid., 259.
4 Ibid., 258-60.
5 Starhawk, The Spiral Dance (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979), 124.
End of document, CRN0044A.TXT (original CRI file name), "Paganism on the Rise. An Interview with Berit Kjos" release A, June 30, 1994 R. Poll, CRI
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