The Future of New Paganism

Dr. Peter Jones | Sunday, May 10, 1998
Copyright © 1998, Dr. Peter Jones

Edited transcript from a lecture given at Grace Valley Christian Center Saturday evening (7 p.m.), May 9, 1998

Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. "Let us break their chains," they say, "and throw off their fetters." The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill." I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery." Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2)

In this series of lectures I have been trying to describe what I think is happening in our time by comparing it to what happened in the time of the New Testament, where the East and the West came together. I gave a little history lecture and spoke about how Alexander the Great brought together the East and the West. In our time I think that has happened once more. It's been the great goal of many people in our time, people like Madame Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical Society, and others, to see the West and the East finally brought together. Ex oriente lux-from the East comes light-was really a notion that was behind much of the hippie revolution in the Sixties.

The "New Age Football"

Earlier I drew two converging circles to represent the East coming West and the West going East. I believe that much of our culture is lost in this middle section, which I will call sort of a "New Age football," which is being kicked around all over the place and in which there is total confusion, because these two worldviews-of Judeo-Christian thinking on the one hand, that's been developed in the West, and Eastern spirituality of a pagan character from the East-have now come together. The "football" in the middle represents the amalgam of these two worldviews.

At one end of this football you have the Christians, now considered bigoted, marginalized weirdos on the edges of society that really don't have a place where they can open their mouths and speak. We'll put up with Christians so long as they close their mouths. A woman who has a significant role in educational counseling once told me how she is really unable to speak wisdom, because it's disallowed, whereas her colleague, who is a lesbian and into this monistic thinking, has total freedom to lead anybody she wants to into this other religious option.

This particular lecture will be answering the questions: How far will this football go? How big will it get? How marginalized will Christianity become? Now I say that not to be alarmist; I've always wanted to avoid that approach of getting Christians fearful. But I have to in all honesty state what I think the conditions will be like for Christians to speak the gospel, for Christians to enunciate theism, in the years to come. So that's the subject for this lecture: What is the Christian stance? What should the Christian be saying in this world of the growing football of neo-paganism? I have taken time to consider as realistically as I can what will be the situation in which you and your children will be called upon to speak the gospel of Christian theism in this particular time.

Queer Nation

I find San Francisco most fascinating. I've never been to the Presidio; apparently it's about 1500 square acres. It was established by Spain as a military outpost, and since 1850 has functioned as a very important military base for the United States Army. Well, things have been happening recently in the Presidio, as of course they have in all of San Francisco.

Dr. Chuck McIlhenny, a reformed pastor in San Francisco, wrote a fascinating book, When the Wicked Seize a City, in which he documents how the homosexuals have taken power in San Francisco. He says a coup d'etat of decadence has descended on San Francisco. There is a new rainbow flag that flies over city hall announcing "Queer Nation." McIlhenny's own home was firebombed by the homosexuals, and he almost lost himself and his family in a major fire. No one has ever been brought to justice. He observes that "straight society in San Francisco is without power and without influence, living on the fringes of that society." But what I find interesting is not just his statement that San Francisco is run by a gay political machine, but his ponderings regarding to what extent San Francisco is a picture of America in the future-with straight and in particular Christian society on the very edges, but the mainstream world of society run by the pagans.

Invaders From Within

In 1993 the Presidio was demilitarized, and a number of organizations have found themselves thriving at the Presidio. You remember it was often thought that the great threat to America was the "Commies," the materialistic, atheistic Marxists, and there was a great fear at one point that America would be invaded. But it's very interesting that eventually America has been changed from the inside. There was no need for external invasion. I think it is extremely ironic that the Presidio, which was one of the great jewels of American military might, is now the place where the once-leader of the evil empire, Mikhail Gorbachev, has his State of the World Forum.

There are a couple of organizations there, actually. There's the State of the World Forum, the Gorbachev Foundation, which is a green movement to save the planet, and then also in the Presidio right now is a movement by the name of The United Religions, lead by Bishop Swing, not to be confused with Bishop Spong. So we're "swung" and "spong'd" from the east and the west coast by two Episcopal bishops who want to lead the church into radical paganism. I'd like to take a closer look with you at some of these movements, simply for this reason: I think it's important that we get some sense of what paganism is planning, what kind of organizations are out there who intend to make the kind of worldview that we've been describing into not simply a nice idea, but something that will actually be realized in our time.

United Religions

First we'll look at the movement known as the UR - United Religions. In June 1993 in preparation for an interfaith service to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the United Nations charter, there was a group in San Francisco led by Bishop Swing who proposed the creation of a United Religions. You can see how the UN and the UR fit nicely together, and that was the intention. The meeting took place at Stanford University. There were two hundred delegates-Christian ecumenical leaders, black Muslims, American Jews, Australian Aborigines, Californian pagans, South African Hindus, Thais, Buddhists-the whole shebang, as we say, who came to San Francisco "to begin working on a charter for an international interfaith organization" called the United Religions, and that was established to write up a charter to be presented to the United Nations in the year 2000.

According to Bishop Swing, we're "on the threshold of the first global civilization," and therefore he feels that, just as we need a United Nations to deal with global political issues, we need a United Religions to deal with religious issues. "As we become one global unit, we have to find out where religion is in regard to our global tribe." And so he went on a year-long voyage, I understand, visiting all the leaders of various religious groups. His intention, of course, is to create the same kind of structure, with a General Assembly and a Security Council, but this time organizing religion.

The Temple of Understanding

As this group has developed in recent years, they have worked with a group called the Temple of Understanding. Together they have conducted spiritual summit conferences in conjunction with United Nations political summits. The Temple of Understanding is one arm of the Theosophical Society. And a little later I want to show you how Mikhail Gorbachev is related to the Theosophical Society. The first Theosophical Society was founded in Chicago in 1870 by a Russian princess, Madame Blavatsky, who communicated with "ascended masters," namely the occult.

The Temple of Understanding is affiliated with the Gaia Institute and with the United Nations Global Committee of Parliamentarians on Population Development. In that group there is a very well known New Age leader, a Canadian billionaire by the name of Maurice Strong, who also proposes a one-world government. Maurice Strong, who has recently been asked by Kofi Annan to reorganize the United Nations, has a ranch in Colorado, where he has built a Babylonian sun god temple which serves as a center of New Age religious activities. He was the organizer of the first U.N. Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

You see, these people are not simply playing around. They are not simply "spiritual people" who are concerned about religion. They have significant places of power in our world today. I really want to make that point. We can try to laugh off these organizations as if they didn't have much punch or influence, but I am beginning to wonder if that is the case.

It's interesting to ask oneself: Why would a bishop involve himself with institutions like this Temple of Understanding and other movements of that kind which are clearly occult in their origin? But of course, Bishop Swing has been touring the world and meeting leaders of different faiths, and this is what he said: "I've spent a lot of time praying with Brahmans, meditating with Hindus, or being silent or chanting with Buddhists. I feel I've been enormously enriched inwardly by exposure to these people." He is in the vanguard of a new kind of ecumenism, one of not simply dialogue but of actual communion with other faiths. The apostle Paul would call that "fellowship at the table of demons." But now in our world we call it "openness," we call it "religious tolerance," and we actually call it "a positive spiritual experience."

A New Global Ethic

The United Religions adopted the global ethic that was worked out at the Parliament of the World's Religions in 1993, which I attended. "Worked out" is perhaps saying too much. It was a document that had been prepared long before the Parliament. We never got to vote on it. It was actually written by Hans Küng, who is a liberal Roman Catholic with a brilliant mind, and it was adopted by the Parliament of the World's Religions.

Küng speaks about his global ethic as "an irrevocable, unconditional norm for all areas of life, for families and communities, for races, nations and religions," and insists that the acceptance of this global ethic is a requirement for being recognized as authentically human in the new global society. Isn't that interesting? In order to be truly human you'd better be in line with this global ethic! Now, in as much as Bishop Swing has adopted this global ethic, you know it is not going to be an evangelical document.

Of course, while you can find in this global ethic some humanistic principles that we could all adopt, such as self-determination, self-realization, and all those kind of wonderful things, two things are not mentioned. One is God; God's name is absent. The other is an ethic of sexuality. Therefore this global ethic can be adopted by radical feminists, homosexuals, and everybody else. And of course if you don't adopt this global ethic, then you are not authentically human.

Well, there's just a peek at that particular organization, the United Religions. It is very well financed and connected, and it is actually just one of many organizations that envisage this coming together of the religions of the world. I could give a lecture on the World Council of Churches, which similarly has that goal. The movement of the Parliament of the World's Religions would be another massive organization. When I was there, they were building up a computer network of people who would support this movement. I continue to get their documentation. They plan on doing an enormous celebration of the unity of all religions in the year 2000.

The State of the World Forum

But there's a second organization that I would like to talk to you about, and that is the State of the World Forum, where the erstwhile leader of the "Evil Empire," Mikhail Gorbachev, now reigns over an empire potentially much greater than the Soviet Union, ironically, as I say, in the very place where the U.S. military once held unquestioned sway. Interestingly, Gorbachev named as director of this movement one Jim Garrison, son of Baptist missionaries to China. His parents obviously went to China to preach the gospel, and now this man has a new religious message for the Chinese: "Stay as you are."

Garrison became an important element in the Esalen movement in Monterey, which has been a major New Age center for a number of years since the early seventies. He now runs, from the home of the former Coast Guard commander, this State of the World Forum.

The State of the World Forum began in 1995 and yearly brings together many heads of state. The first one brought together one hundred forty-one heads of state and fifty-nine former heads of state. These are not insignificant people that are brought together in such a meeting. We're talking about former secretaries of state James Baker and George Schultz, both co-chairmen of the Forum, former president George Bush, former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, and many others. I have a whole list of these kinds of people. Add to that other folk from important walks of life-Walter Cronkite, Ted Koppel, Rupert Murdoch, the futurist Alvin Toffler, John Nesbit, Jane Goodall, the researcher into chimpanzees, Carl Sagan, Theodore Hessberg, who was president of Notre Dame, Milton Friedman, and Eli Weisel, the Jewish novelist. Gorbachev has brought these people together on a yearly basis. I believe it costs $5,000 for three or four days to be part of this. So clearly we have the elite that go there. They talk about the world's hunger problems while they eat fabulous meals cooked by French chefs.

They deal with serious, important issues for the global community-nuclear stockpiles, chemical contaminants, the sale and transfer of conventional weapons. Another issue that they deal with is social responsibility for businesses, in particular with regard to the environment. So this State of the World Forum uses the skills of these experienced leaders of the planet to get involved in some very serious issues.

Significant Financiers

This movement is significantly financed. Perhaps "significant" is too weak a word. Among the major contributors who belong to Mikhail Gorbachev's council of the wise are some of the richest men in the world: Microsoft's Bill Gates, Dwayne Andreas of Archer Daniels Midland, David Packard, the computer tycoon, Ted and Jane of CNN Time Warner, as well as George Zimmer of Men's Wearhouse. Some of these people, as you can tell, are extremely wealthy. Bill Gates has recently given 1.7 billion dollars to the United Nations to finance Planned Parenthood and condom distribution. We know about Ted giving a billion dollars to the United Nations. It's interesting how these people are focusing on the United Nations all of a sudden with their big dollars. Something is going on here, I think, that is very international in its scope, and as you can see, it's extremely well financed and backed.

What is interesting is that a number of these people are viscerally opposed to orthodox Christianity. It's not just that they are interested do-gooders who want to use the bounty that the Lord has given them to help benighted countries and people of the world. I met the brother of Dwayne Andreas recently in Naples, Florida; he is a very fine Reformed man. But his brother Dwayne is behind Mikhail Gorbachev. So here is the case of two brothers going in very different directions. Ted Turner, of course, is a classic example of somebody who was raised in the evangelical Christian faith who has turned against it. Turner is convinced that the world's population needs to be reduced by 90 percent, and he and Jane are making a major contribution to that. They have not produced one offspring.

Ted Turner's Ten Commandments

What does Ted Turner think about the religious future of the world? And how is he using CNN and all the other media outlets that he might have to promulgate his spiritual thinking? In April 1989, after he was given an award from the University of Texas as one of its most brilliant graduates, he gave a speech. These are some of the things that Ted Turner said: "Americans foolishly have been acting under a set of rules called the Ten Commandments. And America's problem is that there is no amendment procedure for the Ten Commandments." So according to Turner we're blocked in this old fashioned morality.

Turner continued: "The first new commandment that we should enact is: Love and respect the planet." Well that's not the way the original Ten Commandments begins, is it? This seems like an innocuous sort of commandment, doesn't it, that we should love and respect the planet? And of course we should. But is that the first commandment? The Ten Commandments of the Bible is thoroughly theistic. Our first love is for God who made the heavens and the earth.

He invented a whole series of commandments, ten in number obviously, the third of which is: "Promise to have no more than two children, or no more than one's nation suggests." So this is part of the new commandments. Some of us here would already be behind bars! The eighth and tenth commandments he invented-this was before he gave a billion dollars-back the United Nations' arbitration of international disputes and support the United Nations in its efforts to collectively improve the conditions of the planet.

This, finally, is how he caps it all: "Christianity has been unsuccessful after trying for two thousand years to solve the world's problems, so why don't we start all over again?" No doubt the year 2000 is the year when we actually "start all over again" and we celebrate the end of what some people call the Christian interlude, the 2000 years of Christian history.

Significant Theologians

As a money maker, obviously Turner is a genius, but as a pagan theologian he leaves a lot to be desired. So Mikhail Gorbachev, when he wants to theologize this movement to give it some sort of philosophical, spiritual and theological underpinnings, turns to significant theologians, namely: New Age guru Fritjof Capra, who is the Zen physicist at Berkeley, New Age channelers such as Barbara Max Hubbard and Shirley MacLaine, Hindu guru and TV personality Deepak Chopra, Buddhist poet Thich Nhat Hanh, undersecretary of the United Nations and leading New Age mystic Robert Muller, and of course Maurice Strong, the Canadian I mentioned previously. There's also Michael Murphy, founder of Esalen, Tony Robbins, that great big six-foot-seven gorgeous looking motivational speaker, John Denver, who's no longer with us, Matthew Fox, the Christian pagan theologian, and Desmond Tutu, one more archbishop from the Episcopalians. All these are part of the wise, spiritual people who counsel Gorbachev.

Very interesting. We have experts in the techniques of solving down to earth problems. We have lots of money. But when it comes to giving spiritual direction, Gorbachev is not turning to Billy Graham, he's not turning to Charles Colson, R.C. Sproul or P.G. Mathew. He's turning to a new brand of theologian, committed to this monistic worldview that I've been attempting to describe.

The Conversion of Gorbachev

I want to talk about the conversion experience of Mikhail Gorbachev. Mikhail Gorbachev was raised as a materialistic Marxist, a pure product of the Soviet system. Then in a move that has always surprised me, he single-handedly brings about the end of the Soviet system. Now, there was a little bit of funny stuff going on, but it was amazing how simple that solution was, that all of a sudden the Soviet Union is repealed, and with virtually no reaction. Things carry on almost as they were. What is it that is driving Mikhail Gorbachev? What was it that produced the end of the Soviet system? Was it a religious conversion? Did he become a Christian? What was it?

To get to the heart of Gorbachev, you should realize that he really is using this forum to solve the world's problems, in particular its ecological problems. He believes it is necessary that we give major attention to this issue. "Otherwise," he says, "we have thirty or forty years before the biosphere is beyond repair." I mentioned in a previous lecture the process of revolutionary change where you first of all identify a crisis, and once you get people in a crisis mode, then you can do major things. This is what we have here. We only have thirty or forty years before we all implode.

Gorbachev argues that in order to solve the enormous problems of the world we don't simply need the technical assistance of all these people he's brought to this forum, but we need, he says, "a new paradigm… We need a new synthesis that incorporates capitalism's capacity for initiative but does not include social justice." We need a new synthesis. And here's where there is evidence that Gorbachev has gotten religion, been converted: "We need these following values: we need democratic, Christian and Buddhist values…" and when he says "Christian" he means liberal Christian "… in order that we can affirm such moral principles as a sense of oneness with nature and with each other, a kind of ten commandments…" I wonder where Ted Turner got his notion of the ten commandments "… that provides a guide for human behavior in the next century and beyond."

Gorbachev proposes a new synthesis which is democratic. Well, we all know what the Soviets and their satellites did with that term. Eastern Germany was called the "Democratic People's Republic." So it's not exactly clear what Gorbachev means by "democratic," but let's give him the benefit of the doubt. "Christian" is no doubt the kind of Christianity that his friend Al Gore proposes, who as you know is a Southern Baptist Buddhist. And the Buddhism that he seeks gets expressed in this idea of a syncretistic bringing together of all religions. "First of all," he says, "we must return to the well-known human values that were embodied in the ideals of the world's religions." In particular he underlines the notion of "oneness with nature," an idea that is perfectly at home, of course, in Buddhism.

There is a fascinating book that's been written on Madame Blavatsky. It was published in 1993. The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky - Founder of the Modern Theosophical Movement, New York, Putman and Sons, 1993, by a certain Sylvia Cranston. This book shows that at the moment where Gorbachev ended the Soviet Union, it was, I believe, 1990 or 1991, the Soviet system declared that year "The International Year of Blavatsky." Now that's very interesting. Here is the leader of the occult Theosophical Movement who was a Russian princess, whose work has extended this study of the occult throughout the world amongst the elite thinkers-this is not a popular movement; this is a very elitist kind of movement-at the very moment when the Soviet Union ends, she is celebrated and the year is called "The International Year of Blavatsky." A whole program was established to republish her books in the Soviet Union. And it turns out, to cut a long story short, that Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa were deep friends with someone who was a promoter of the Theosophical doctrines in the Soviet Union.

Well, these are just a few of the various ideas, various programs that are out there, and of course we could talk about many more. But I do this because I want us to be aware that witnessing for Christ in the 21st century will maybe be a lot more difficult than we might imagine. The church is weak, and the pagans are getting stronger.

What Tolerance for Theists?

Someone asked me the other night, "Well, how do these new absolutists, who are nevertheless in favor of inclusion and tolerance, deal with theists?" Well here are a few examples. The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of TM fame says, "There has not been and there will not be a place for the unfit. The fit will lead. If the unfit are not coming along, there is not place for them. Nonexistence of the unfit has been a law of nature." Ruth Montgomery, a New Age popularizer of A Course in Miracles, who in the LA Times was described as "someone who shows us how to love and how love is a potent force," nevertheless says this: "The souls who have helped bring on the chaos of the present century will have passed into spirit to rethink their attitudes, while the new race will engage in peaceful pursuits and uplifting spirits."

Another New Age channeler, Ken Carey, says, "The great day of purification has begun, a short but essential cycle of division that will gather those who promote fear and violence"-that's you and me-"and separate them from this season of the world as chaff is separated from the wheat at threshing." That's a message from the spirit entities who speak through Ken Carey and are published by Harper San Francisco.

You can also read the very anti-Christian statements of some very violent homosexuals, and I have a whole series of those that I cannot deal with now. But I do want to just mention the radical lesbian feminist Mary Daly, a brilliant woman who has become totally committed to this new worldview. In her various books, like Pure Lust and another one called Outercourse: The Be-Dazzling Voyage, she describes the meeting of radical witch feminists on the other side of the moon. Thousands of liberated women from the past and the present are gathered on the other side of the moon… you understand this is just playful… and in this gathering there is enormous rage against patriarchy.

In her fertile imagination, she describes them as being whipped into frenzy by an old Irish witch, Granuaile, who howls, "Let us summon our rage. Let us summon our elemental powers. It is time to act. It is time to act together. It is time to call forth Nemesis!" Who is Nemesis? Nemesis in Greek mythology was the goddess of retribution and anger, sometimes associated with the goddess Artemis. She is indignant, merciless, an avenger who punishes pride. And so these women howl in unison as a sort of liturgical chant: "For peace and love we ever yearn, but some do wrong and never learn. This time it won't be us that burn. The wrath of Nemesis is here." Well, in this imagined scene Daly says justice is not possible under patriarchy. So, quite naturally, she and her friends on the other side of the moon have a show trial, judge the patriarchs, and behead them with undisguised joy.

It's interesting that the New York Times Book Review lauds this material as "alive with creative energy, impelled by an urgency of vision." And Harvey Cox, a mainline liberal theologian, identifies himself as one of Daly's fans.

Spiritual Warfare

Friends, there is a war, a spiritual war that is in preparation. And I believe that we as Christians need to very seriously look inside ourselves and ask ourselves if we have the courage to face the future, if we have the courage to open our mouths and speak forth the truth. Even Mary Daly, even an eco-feminist lesbian witch, can be reached by the gospel, but not if you close your mouth.

Ephesians 6 speaks about this spiritual battle: "We wrestle not with flesh and blood." Indeed, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. And indeed we can go to "flesh and blood" and announce the gospel and trust that God in his grace will open their eyes. But we're dealing also with principalities and powers. That's who we're wrestling with.

Paul says, "Stand. Put on the armor of the Lord and stand." But you notice the last thing he says? He says, "Pray for me..." Now, he's in a prison; he's chained. I know what I would ask you to pray for me if I was in a prison. I would first of all ask you if you knew anyone in the prison system, anybody well-connected who could get me out of there as quickly as possible. But you know what Paul asks? "Pray for me that I may be given to open my mouth and speak as I know I must speak." That's his prayer. And that is my prayer for you also. Amen.

Copyright © 1998, Dr. Peter Jones

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