There is something very weird happening with Christians lately. Maybe this has always been a thing, but it has only come to my attention in the last few months or maybe the last year. Many Christians are compromising on the gospel in a huge way. I don’t mean that they just have different views on some doctrines. Many believers are actually adopting New Age beliefs and becoming Universalists, yet still calling themselves Christians. It seems to be happening more and more, and even with people who you wouldn’t necessarily expect to go down this road.
I usually don’t call out certain Christian leaders because I don’t think it’s very helpful most of the time, but I’m going to use some examples that I’ve become aware of recently. Know that I still wish the best for these people and I don’t necessarily believe that this is the end of their story. To be considerate, I will describe them without mentioning their names.
The first example is a couple who used to be popular worship leaders (I was never very into their music so I wasn’t too crushed) and have been receiving a fair amount of attention lately. The wife has just written a book, and it’s pretty evident that she has strayed away from biblical Christianity, as she calls God the “Divine Mother” and denies fundamental aspects of the gospel. Her husband apparently delved into Buddhist and Hindu teachings and adopted the name “Vishnu Dass.” It’s fair to say things got pretty weird, and they now sound kind of like the type of people who would try ayahuasca or join a hippie commune.
Another example is a singer who used to be a worship leader at Bethel Church (which is a pretty out there mega church that I’m not a big fan of, so this doesn’t come as a great surprise). The picture on his most recent album cover is literally of him levitating above a bed in a meditation position, with the objects around him also floating in the air. It’s pretty creepy to say the least, and is more evocative of paranormal activity or some eastern religious spiritual activity than it is of the God of the Bible. He subscribes to the teachings of Catholic friar Richard Rohr, who has a book out called The Universal Christ and claims that Jesus Himself is not the only Christ, but that Christ is rather some universal essence that has always been present in the world. Go figure.
The most recent example that I actually found pretty heartbreaking was one of my favorite singers. This one surprised me, because his lyrics seemed so peaceful and normal and biblical. He didn’t seem like the type to get into weird stuff. But I just read a blog post in which he talked about how he went to a Buddhist retreat and had out-of-body spiritual experiences while “emptying his mind” during Buddhist meditation, and in which he said that he doesn’t necessarily believe in heaven or hell anymore or that Jesus is the only Truth, and that none of us can know what happens after we die.
Maybe it’s kind of sad, but I actually cried when I read that blog post. Not only because this artist seems like a great guy and I’ve been a huge fan of his music, but because it’s genuinely heartbreaking to see so many Christians getting led astray by all these weird beliefs and walking away from Jesus (even if they would say they haven’t).
There are definitely other examples of Christians who have adopted these sorts of beliefs, but these are just some of the first examples that came to mind.
Recently I even went to a Buddhist-Christian interfaith dialogue for my Buddhism class at my small liberal arts school. I thought it was going to be Christians talking with Buddhists, but it turned out to be people who claimed to be both Christians and Buddhists. Yes, you read that correctly. They seemed to view world religions as some sort of a spiritual buffet that you can help yourself to freely, completely ignoring any blatant contradictions. I was genuinely confused as to how people could claim to be Christians and also followers of Buddha. Yet this mindset is becoming increasingly popular, particularly in scholarly secular environments like my liberal arts school.
Universalism is a pretty widely accepted view nowadays. The Catholic Church in particular claims that God is present in all religions and that “we’re all children of God.” Just watch recent videos of the current pope. I personally don’t consider Catholicism to be biblical Christianity, but it still has a significant influence on culture, and many Christians are becoming involved in the Ecumenical movement and getting behind the Catholic Church.
Oprah is also an example of someone who claims to believe in Jesus yet promotes these New Age and Universalist beliefs. She’s openly said that she believes in the concept of Christ consciousness (i.e. the belief that we all have “Christ” inside of us and can all become “Christs”), and she is certainly one of the most influential leaders to push this kind of ideology.
It’s kind of crazy that we’re in a place where we even need to explain that Christianity is a religion which makes exclusive truth claims. A while ago people would have sounded silly if they tried to call themselves Christians and also claim that there are many ways to God, but now it’s considered perfectly normal.
It seems crazy to even have to make arguments for why Christianity cannot be a universalist religion, for why you cannot follow Jesus and Buddha.
It’s now frowned upon to say that you believe people will go to hell if they don’t accept Christ. It’s become crazy to even believe in hell.
People choose the words of Jesus they find most appealing and throw out the rest. People have created a false Christ that appeals to their subjective desires and preferences, one that’s all about our culture’s idea of “love” and acceptance, one that puts social justice and political action before personal relationship and heart change. This Jesus says nothing of sin or righteousness and asks nothing of us other than a vague admiration for the Sermon on the Mount.
How utterly foolish to think we can fashion a Christ in our own image, that we can claim to follow Jesus yet fail to listen to His words or believe He is who He says He is.
It is unsettling that people put their feelings and preferences before a desire to know the truth. We can want a lot of things to be true, but things don’t become true simply because we speak them into being.
I can want God to be a lot of things, but if I create a god that is based on my own preferences and delusions then I would have merely created an idol.
If there really is a Being who created the universe, then how I would like Him to be really makes little difference to how He truly is. I can call Him a woman, I can say that He doesn’t care about holiness, I can pretend that He is okay with me worshiping idols. But all I would be is delusional, attempting to fashion a makeshift, custom-made religion that proves to be empty and worthless.
In 1 Timothy 4:1-2, Paul said that,
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
In 2 Timothy 4:3-4, Paul said,
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
These things have always been happening, of course. There has been absolute hypocrisy and false teachings for centuries, often from the people who claimed to be the most religious and to have biblical beliefs. But we’re seeing a new kind of false doctrine now.
We’re living in a weird time. I’ve even seen a significant change in the last few years since I first became a Christian. I’ve watched Christians on social media platforms gradually fall away. People who seemed so secure in their beliefs and their relationship with God. The truth is that it’s all too easy to fall away, and that’s why we have to be aware of this stuff.
New Age and Universalist teachings are literally everywhere, and so many Christians think they sound like a good idea and eventually abandon the gospel in favor of these more “loving” and “open-minded” and “inclusive” beliefs.
Lately I’ve genuinely felt compelled to pray for other Christians. Whenever I watch a Christian YouTuber or leader or listen to a Christian artist who still seems to be standing on biblical truth and following the real Jesus, I pray for that person. I pray that God will strengthen them and give them discernment so that they won’t be influenced by every shiny new belief or ideology that comes along.
The more prevalent New Age and Universalist beliefs become, the more difficult it will be to stand on biblical truth and proclaim that Jesus is exactly who He said He is, and that He is the only Way.
When people are claiming that we’re all correct and that there is no such thing as absolute truth, it sounds pretty darn arrogant to say that there is only one God and that life and salvation are only found in Him. And it sounds even more offensive to say that He died to set us free from our sins so that we can be holy like Him. No one really wants to hear that anymore. It’s not positive or inclusive enough.
Trust me, I get that it’s incredibly difficult to follow Jesus. Jesus warned us that we would be hated because of Him, and a lot of people can’t take the hate and rejection. It’s easier to compromise a little so that you don’t come off as “extreme” or “bigoted.”
Lately I’ve been at a very low point in my life. I’ve been in what many would call a desert season. I’ve often felt abandoned by God, and certainly abandoned by people. I’ve felt such intense despair, and I’ve even found myself asking if all this Christianity stuff is really worth it. I’ve often felt as if I’ve had to give up so much yet haven’t reaped the benefits of my obedience. But no matter how low I get, I cannot change my mind when it comes to Jesus.
No matter how angry or forgotten or confused or frustrated I feel, I cannot deny the fact that Jesus is exactly who He said He is. That He was and is the Son of God and God Himself. That He is the only Way and Truth and Life. That He died on the cross and rose again after three days. That without Him we are spiritually dead. That the cross means everything.
Once you adopt this weird universalist version of Christianity, the cross becomes null and void. Sin doesn’t matter anymore, and repentance doesn’t matter. The gospel just becomes a bunch of advice on how to live a good life and make the world a better place. But anyone can try to be a “good person” and live a good life. Anyone can be into social justice. That’s all stuff we can do in our own power.
Being transformed from the inside out is a whole other story. Seeing the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives. Dying to ourselves. Repenting. Living holy lives in every way. Caring about all the things God cares about, not just the things we find most appealing. Those are things you can’t find outside of Jesus.
It may seem really judgmental and arrogant to insist that the gospel is the only truth, but we should know that that’s exactly what we signed up for when we gave our lives to Christ. And we have to fight to stay on the narrow road.
It may sound extreme, but I’ve even deleted songs off of my Christian playlists that are by artists who I know have completely unbiblical beliefs, no matter how much I may like their music. When I listen to secular music I know that’s what I’m going to get and I’m fine with it, but when I’m listening to / watching / reading any art created by Christians, I want it to be biblical and edifying. I don’t want to gradually become indoctrinated into these ideas because I was careless about what I put into my mind.
Now disagreeing with people who believe these things does not mean that I don’t love them or wish the best for them. Because I really do. I’m honestly saying these things out of love and writing this from a place of sadness rather than anger. I hope that many of the people who have fallen into these sorts of beliefs will eventually realize their emptiness and return to the truth.
We also need to make sure that we don’t get too smug and comfortable just because we believe the right things. You can believe and proclaim all the right things, but if you’re not living them out then it’s not worth too much. It’s good to see things, but we also have to constantly be looking into our own hearts and acknowledging all the things wrong with ourselves that we need God to change. There are many different kinds of hypocrisy and false teaching, so we need to constantly be checking ourselves.
Most of all, we should never lose hope just because this kind of ideology is becoming widespread. At the same time that Christians are being led astray by New Age and Universalist beliefs, more and more people are being saved and being used by God in amazing ways. The darkness can never overcome the light. We always need to remember that.