OriginalChristianity

Not Traditional, Original

Indoctrination, Brainwashing and Deception in Everything from Santa Clause to Christianity Part 1

For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12 WEB)

In these articles as well as others all over this website we are going to be talking a lot about problems in the Catholic denomination as well as others and how some of us are affected mentally. We are going to talk from a scriptural perspective about how not only unbelievers but believers (all of us) are indoctrinated and can be deceived, and led to believe false doctrine. We are going to talk about the controversial topic of brainwashing.

It’s important to acknowledge that doesn’t mean that there aren’t wonderful people in any denomination who love God. I’ve met some wonderful Catholics as well as a lot of very nice believers in other denominations and church groups who may believe and even promote doctrines in error. After all, despite the popular but unscriptural In Essentials Unity Doctrine (See T 19.1 Modern Christian Traditions – The In Essentials Unity Doctrine.), all the contrasting doctrines on so many topics cannot be all righteous.  But it is critical to remember that discussing these differences in no way says that there aren’t committed people who love God and are teaching what they believe is the truth in those groups.  On the other hand, just because there are committed, loving people in these groups doesn’t mean that everything they (or all of us, really) believe should be automatically accepted. Again, the focus of this website is to look at what original Christianity was, and how it changed over thousands of years to become the innumerable number of denominations and churches that teach different things today, and hopefully help some of us know and live the true Christian experience more fully.

We will be comparing theories with a lot of worldly underpinnings in these areas with what Scripture says.

We’ll be looking at the adversary, the god of this world, and how he interferes with the church and the church’s teachings. First of all, most Christians will agree that the devil blinds the minds of unbelievers so that they can’t see the truth. It says so in Scripture.

in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the Good News of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn on them. (2Co 4:4 WEB)

So it appears to be commonly accepted by Christians that the devil is able to deceive, at least unbelievers, to the point where people are blind to the truth. That is what that verse above says, that the God of this world, Satan, the devil, has blinded the minds of the unbelieving. And that is more than just the unlearned and the ignorant among us.

Now the natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can’t know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1Co 2:14 WEB)

There is no amount of experience or education, no number of educational degrees that will enable the natural man to understand the true God, that’s what the verse is saying.  No philosopher, no analyst, not even a theologian will really understand the true God and the things in the spiritual realm without the holy spirit.  That is what that verse is saying.  The most brilliant humans will probably understand the natural world in depths beyond most of us, but they will not understand the things of God’s Spirit unless they have that God connection, holy spirit.

On the other side, just because a theologian or philosopher is supposedly a believer does not mean that what they are presenting is true. The devil aims to deceive everyone from the least to the greatest.  Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world is true, but we all know that just because supposedly it is a Christian message doesn’t mean that it is accurate according to the word of God.

The Scriptures use light vs darkness to represent the knowledge and righteousness of God versus the evil and deception of Satan.  Here’s an example:

seeing it is God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2Co 4:6 WEB)

God has been shining his light on earth since Adam and Eve. But it hasn’t always been understood. I like reading Young’s literal translation sometimes because I think it really highlights the meaning better than others even if it is a little awkward to read sometimes.

and the light in the darkness did shine, and the darkness did not perceive it. (Joh 1:5 YLT)

This verse is similar to second Corinthians 4:4 because it talks about how people can’t see the light of God’s word even though he’s been presenting it all along.

There are numerous warnings to believers to not be deceived.  These verses wouldn’t be there if we couldn’t be deceived.  Look at all these deceptions that we are warned about and actions to take to avoid them; watching out for empty words (words that may sound good but don’t really teach the truth), that it’s not okay to keep sinning in all kinds of ways, that those not born again will not inherit the kingdom, that we reap what we sow, that the philosophies and traditions of the world will rob us spiritually, or that someone that is walking in sin is not walking in fellowship with God not matter what they might be deceived to think.

Let no one deceive you with empty words. For because of these things, the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience. (Eph 5:6 WEB)

Or don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s Kingdom? Don’t be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortionists, will inherit God’s Kingdom. (1Co 6:9-10 WEB)

Now I say this, brothers, that flesh and blood can’t inherit God’s Kingdom; neither does the perishable inherit imperishable. (1Co 15:50 WEB)

Don’t be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Gal 6:7-8 WEB)

Be careful that you don’t let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ. (Col 2:8 WEB)

No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. (1Jn 3:6-7 ESV)

We can be deceived, and are whenever we are convinced to give in to some sin.  Paul told the Corinthians:

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2Co 11:3 ESV)

And Paul told Timothy.  Watch out, this is really heavy stuff coming:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, (1Ti 4:1-2 ESV)

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So, it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2Co 11:13-15 ESV)

Oh, that it would be so simple that the good guys and the bad guys were clearly marked.  But, according to scripture, the bad guys can look as good as the good guys to the poorly prepared.  False prophets bring messages that they say are from God but they are not.  False teachers teach things as scripture that are not in scripture, and they teach twisted meanings for scripture that are not part of the word of God. The origins of these false teachings are from devils under the banner of the Adversary himself, but they advertise themselves as God’s prophets, teachers, and apostles.  The person needs to understand the scriptures correctly so that the spirit has something to work with in the mind of the believer. And that believer needs to be listening for the guidance from holy spirit so as to recognize the truth when it is communicated to him.

If you think that false prophets and teachers just refer to proponents of other faiths that is not what the scriptures say.  In Jesus’ day, it was the Pharisees, the leaders of his faith, that Jesus confronted about teaching false doctrines and traditions.

You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, ‘These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. And in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine rules made by men.’”(Mat 15:7-9 WEB)

But they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ “For you set aside the commandment of God, and hold tightly to the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and you do many other such things.” He said to them, “Full well do you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. (Mar 7:7-9 WEB)

As a modern example, there are two basic doctrines regarding the consumption of alcohol in the church.  There is the blessing of moderate drinking in one corner, and in the other, the complete ban on all alcoholic consumption.  They are opposites. One of them is a “doctrine of devils”, the scripture says.  I’m sorry if that offends you, but it’s true.

What does the word of God teach on this sensitive subject?  If alcohol was so abhorrent, Jesus would never have miraculously made wine at Cana. Remember the comment on how Jesus’ wine was so superior!  That is because the best wine was usually provided first because as the partiers got a little inebriated they were less choosy about the later wine. Our Lord Jesus made wine! Yes, there are abundant warnings against overdrinking, but the bible advocates for the benefits of some drinking, within moderation.

Now, we are still to love people, whether they preach a ban on alcohol or not.  We don’t launch a military campaign, a crusade, against them to wipe them off the face of the earth. (see T 18.1 The Prohibition Tradition in Some Modern Churches for more on this topic of alcohol in the Scriptures.)

We are called to take a stand on the truth of God’s word in all areas.  Especially with people that we see in our lives all the time we preach the truth a couple of times to someone and if they reject us on that we don’t keep bringing it up. We look for the Father to send someone else to bring that to that believer’s attention. We pray.

Part of the apostles’ tradition is that we are supposed to be ready to always give an answer from the Scriptures as to why we believe what we believe.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, with humility and fear: (1Pe 3:15 WEB)

Being ready to give an answer helps spread the full gospel message. (The full gospel goes way beyond just being saved, it’s learning the full counsel of God.) Being ready to give an answer also helps us to be prepared against deception. This is the battle that every believer is caught up in. And, clearly, believers can be deceived in all kinds of ways. Deception is a very real risk for all of us.

Deception is a risk, but one thing that I want to talk first about in the area of deception is what is termed brainwashing which is a very scary term. I think it is important to get a grasp on what this word actually means when seen because it has such a powerful negative connotation. But, in actuality, it is not even considered a truly scientific term. The American Psychology Association has made the statement:

“coercive persuasion theory (brainwashing)… is not a meaningful scientific concept.” [1] (emphasis added)

The same referenced article adds:

“Popular speech continues to use the word “brainwashed” informally and pejoratively to describe persons subjected to intensive influence resulting in the rejection of old beliefs and in the acceptance of new ones; or to account for someone who holds strong ideas considered to be implausible and that seem resistant to evidence, common sense, experience, and logic.”

“The term “brainwashing” is not widely used in psychology and other sciences, because of its vagueness and history of being used in propaganda.”

Brainwashing is not a word in scripture. On the other hand, there are, however, cases where people are controlled in what is described as devil possession.  But it is not other people controlling them, in scripture, it is a devil spirit to whom the person has relinquished control. Here are some examples of possessed people in scripture.

One of the multitude answered, “Teacher, I brought to you my son, who has a mute spirit; and wherever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth, and wastes away… (Mar 9:17-18 WEB)

As we were going to prayer, a certain girl having a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much gain by fortune telling. Following Paul and us, she cried out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us a way of salvation!” She was doing this for many days. But Paul, becoming greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” It came out that very hour. (Act 16:16-18 WEB)

You want to talk about people being controlled, these are examples of people being controlled, and especially in the first case, it wasn’t just the boy’s mind, the whole body of the boy was controlled.  Please notice that these people were delivered by the power of God in these examples. The power of Christ in us is that powerful.

Also, there are evil people in the world. They are people that are so deceived by the devil that they like what happens with their power or wealth or whatever they get from the devil that they commit themselves to him.  Of course, to these people, he can appear as an apostle of Christ and as righteous as all get out. That’s what 2 Corinthians 11:14 says.  They might not realize that they are following the devil because the scriptures say that the devil is the father of all liars and presents himself as an apostle of Christ.

The Pharisees were mainstream Jewish religious leaders in Jesus’ day.  These guys looked like great outstanding people, and the people to trust for the right spiritual wisdom.  But Jesus calls some of these Pharisees children of the devil.

You are of your father, the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and doesn’t stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks on his own; for he is a liar, and the father of lies. (Joh 8:44 WEB)

There are people that are committed to the works of Satan; they have given themselves over to the devil, and again, the devil may have deceived them into believing that he is the righteous one.  And they may be religious leaders and look great, even mainstream. But they teach things contrary to the true word of God. Either these gospel verses are true or not.  I believe that they are and I hope you do too.

That’s why it’s important not to believe that every new movement of Christianity in the world is righteous.  Two thousand years ago, right after the passing of the apostles, it was that bishops were the ultimate authority in the church as they were the apostles’ replacement (in truth, bishops are overseers but they are not apostles nor apostle replacements), and not long after that that philosophy (including worldly philosophical methods) was a necessary tool to gain acceptance with the intellectuals in the world.

I am not promoting a new movement.  I am promoting a return to the original one.

A hundred years ago it was the temperance movement promoting the banning of all alcohol. Fifty years ago, it was the free love movement.  A popular movement today is the LBGTQ+ movement.  They are captivating movements; they capture peoples’ hearts and motivate them to act. Participants actively pursue legislation to incorporate government safeguards for their cause. They find intellectuals sympathetic to their cause to provide philosophical bases for their cause.  Then they can use those persuasive arguments that appear so very reasonable and entice people to join the cause, even in the churches.

I read recently that only 46% or so of Protestants really believe that their faith is solely rooted in Scripture. The greater half (52%) believe that the philosophies and writings of their particular church are also necessary besides scripture for their Christian faith[2]. In fact, the same article says that most Christians profess that “Protestants and Catholics are more religiously similar than different”.

I am here to tell you that scripture alone is the revealed basis for the Christian faith.  The running joke about how a group of philosophers can’t agree on a thing shows the reason there are so many disagreeing denominations. The philosophical basis of so many denominations precludes them from ever agreeing.

We saw the warning against human traditions and philosophies in the list of things that deceive believers above.

But I digress so let’s return to the subject of brainwashing. Brainwashing is not even recognized as a scientifically legitimate concept.  It is used in propaganda to discredit people and ideas.  But it is also a word used in spiritual warfare against believers and it needs to be understood.

The term brainwashing is used, especially in reference to when it is believed that coercive techniques are used to force people in prisons or highly controlled religious groups to think a certain way to modify their behavior.

But brainwashing can be used to describe any type of persuasion accomplished with or without any kind of force or if there is force it may be mild like public pressure.

An easy way today to discredit someone or a group is to claim they are brainwashed or that their techniques are brainwashing. The New World Encyclopedia article makes the point that the charge of brainwashing started in the 1950s when prisoners of war decided not to return to their home countries.  It was used to describe techniques by communist countries to break down the resistance of non-compliant individuals in camps and detention centers. It was a rallying cry, that those dirty communists were brainwashing our boys, they were applying mind control techniques. It rallied popular sentiment to their cause.

Upon reflection, we see now that studies show that a lot of the people who were “brainwashed” did so only out of survival instinct, they did not really change their thinking, they only acted like they did to survive and reverted to their previous belief when able to rejoin their previous alliances.

Also, the term was used to promote communism as something abhorrent to citizens of democratic countries, i.e., citizens of communist countries are “brainwashed”!  Later, brainwashing was used to describe the mass education of communist societies in general:

“In societies where the government maintains tight control of both the mass media and education system and uses this control to disseminate propaganda on a particularly intensive scale, the overall effect can be to “brainwash” large sections of the population.”[3]

Merriam-Webster actually gives two definitions for this modern term. Brainwash:

1 : a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas

2 : persuasion by propaganda or salesmanship

So, some argue that when this person or that is presenting something radically different than they were taught that they have been brainwashed.  And the truth is that each side of the argument may have been acquired by definition two of the word brainwash, persuasion by propaganda, or argument.  There may not have been torture involved, or any force more serious than public pressure.

Compounding the problem is that a whole industry sprang up, the business of deprogramming, in response to this theory of brainwashing.  Deprogramming has always been very controversial using techniques such as kidnapping people, coercing them to submit, and sequestering them until they are reprogrammed.[4] Deprogrammers sometimes treated individuals far worse than the group the subject was “rescued” (really kidnapped) from.

Next, we need to consider that, at times in history, what was considered normal, i.e., not “brainwashed” might be considered brainwashed by today’s standards.

For example, the overwhelming majority of Christians in the Christian world in the year 1000 were Roman Catholics.  There wasn’t even Eastern Orthodox then because the Schism had not yet occurred. Of course, initially, the church way back in the 1st century was not focused on worldly affairs (“Set your affection on things above, not on the earth”) as the promotion of Israel as a world power was revealed to be a later development.  However, the Catholic Church was by now a powerful political entity mixing church and state completely. There were challenges by some to this but in some places, noblemen were installed as bishops by kings (as opposed to another bishop) in some places making Church law the law of the land.

Initially, way back,  Clement, Ignatius, and others promoted that bishops held the authority spiritually as part of apostolic succession.  This developed in the Middle Ages to where bishops held the power both politically and spiritually everywhere the Church was. About the same time, the church made moves to retain all property as its own, so while the practice of celibacy was historically ignored somewhat, bishops and priests were eventually made to at least superficially practice celibacy in large part to stop inheritance claims of the clergy’s children because the church did not want to give up any of its extensive properties.

Bishops could be part of the wealthy class as “Bishops collected revenues from estates attached to their bishopric.”[5] Bishops left the word of God to serve tables, so to speak, as they were overseers of large estates as well as people. Some bishops were never really totally interested in the word of God in the first place as being a bishop of a large estate was an extremely profitable job that nobles vied for as positions for their sons.

The middle class then was small; doctors, university professors, bishops, and merchants had more wealth, but most people were peasants, poor, uneducated, and even unable to read. People, at least outwardly, complied and professed to believe what the church taught and rulers decreed because their lives and livelihoods depended on it. There were few bibles, and Church doctrine in the Church Magisterium, that compendium of infallible decisions of popes and church councils was taught and professed.

There was no real freedom of speech.  Heresy, anything that challenged church doctrine, was subject to progressive penalties up to the extreme penalty of death.  That doesn’t mean that people agreed, but they kept quiet if they didn’t, and it required bravery to practice anything other than pure Catholicism.

I suggest that these normal (for 1000AD) people were “brainwashed” in a similar pattern to the claims of how Communist countries brainwash their citizens in recent times. Would you want to be a Christian in those times? Does anything about that look “normal” to you?

Going one step further, perhaps you can start to see that just like Christianity in 1600AD when the Reformation was moving powerfully was different from Christianity in 1000AD that Christianity today is different than those times. And it is even different from when I was a boy.   What Christianity will look like centuries from now, if the Lord tarries, could be radically different than today.

But, the tradition that we all are charged to follow is the apostles’ tradition, the beliefs, and practices that they started:

So then, brothers, stand firm, and hold the traditions which you were taught by us, whether by word, or by letter. (2Th 2:15 WEB)

The only way that we are all going to stop making more and more contrasting doctrines is if we all listen to the holy spirit while adhering to the above verse in the truest sense, abandoning all human traditions and philosophies that have crept into our faith since the apostles, and return to scripture as literally our sole source for revelation knowledge of our faith.

The Santa Clause Example

So, this article is about learning, and the topic of learning does include indoctrination, deception, and brainwashing.  That is because everything we learn is not always the truth. Anybody who has ever believed in Santa Clause (I’m one) knows that’s true. Now being with family and giving and receiving gifts at Christmas is one of the most wonderful times of the year despite the fact that Santa Clause is a deception. This discussion is not going to change that. The predominant opinion appears to be that there is a lot of good in the myth. There are even psychologists who argue for its benefit.[6]  But we will see there is brainwashing involved according to the second definition of Merriam-Webster.

Like so many, I was taught that there was a Santa Clause when I was young, I went along with the ruse that there was a Santa Claus with my kids and others, but I have some doubts about the wisdom of this teaching.  For one thing, it results in about a third of kids being upset when learning they had been misled (I was), with some of those even feeling angry or betrayed.[7] This is deception, of course, but the logic is that it is a very pleasant one that can even be beneficial to a child’s psyche in that among other things they learn critical thinking to challenge fantastic claims when presented.[8]

On the other side is the reason some give for not participating in the popular ruse; that it undermines trust.[9]  Not every kid thinks it was great that he was lied to in the Santa Clause experience with the eventual awakening from the deception. And this deception reinforces the idea that parents lie and deceive no matter how good the reason appears to be.  It adds fuel to the child’s thinking to not believe the parent/authority figure when they want something and aren’t getting the answer that they want.

So, ignoring the argument that “brainwashing” is not legitimately a scientific term, teaching kids to believe in Santa Clause does meet one of the definitions of brainwashing above, and shows how it just doesn’t refer to crazy people in death cults.  It’s actually a regularly occurring event as some of us who were “brainwashed” into believing in Santa Clause will attest.

Santa Clause is part of this discussion because Santa Clause has the elements of indoctrination, deception, and even brainwashing, however fun it might be. Do an internet search on “Santa Clause as brainwashed” and you will find substantial arguments for it.  While a lot of kids aren’t affected, over half of the kids are manipulated into better behavior with the falsehood that they will get less or no presents if they are not good.

Finally, there is a basic societal unit that works to use persuasion and even force (limiting rights and privileges as well as physical punishment in some times and places) to bend people to believe and act a certain way.  These people often require children to attend spiritual lessons in a church or religious place they choose, at least up to a certain age, in order to affect their minds.  That unit, of course, is the family.  The family uses discipline as well as persuasion and enticement to get their children to achieve a certain mental framework.  Do you see how the vaguely worded definitions of brainwashing make it hard to be definitive as to what is really brainwashing? I think a lot of people are going to find it hard to believe that all parents are just programmers who brainwash their kids but they do loosely fit the criteria.

On the other side, there is a brainwashing case made for when one parent alienates the kids from the other parent which evidently happens on a regular basis. Consistent negativity, even subtly, from one parent about the other parent to the child works to ruin the relationship between the child and the other parent. Parent alienation syndrome is actually a form of child abuse.  This is from an attorney’s site

“The circumstances of parental alienation may vary in severity from putting the other parent down in the child’s presence to relocating without reason to making false accusations of child sexual abuse with the intent to intentionally destroy the children’s relationship with the other parent.”[10]

Brainwashing shows up in the discussion in a lot of areas of life.

We are looking at 2 Corinthians 4:4 above that talks about the adversary’s ability to deceive, to hide the light of God’s word so that people live in darkness. That verse just talks about unbelievers, we’ve also listed a number of verses that talked about how easy it is for anyone to be deceived including believers.  Deception is a very real threat.

And we are discussing the term, brainwashing.  It is a vague term used more in propaganda to persuade people against other people and ideas.  While it has been used to warn people against suicide cults, and other extremist groups, it is also used to describe lesser evils such as deceiving kids that there is a Santa Clause.  Often, it is used by one group as a slur to discredit a group that disagrees extensively with it.

Remember television depictions of “brainwashed” groups are fictionalized accounts for dramatic effect. People may be persuaded to do some things radically different from their previous experience but that doesn’t require them to be mind-controlled, a phrase used by some in describing brainwashed individuals. On the other hand, it’s not that there aren’t churches that exert a powerful controlling influence.  I felt pretty controlled while in the Catholic Church. And, it’s not that there aren’t manipulative people.  Or even that people cannot be seriously deluded or conned. There are people who kidnap others and restrict their rights but that is kidnapping, not necessarily deception or brainwashing.  Yes, there are charming people that trick you in any field including church, so you can be deceived.  But be wary of “brainwashing” charges because it is a very vague term that can mean too many things.

Science, Too Early Acceptance, and Pseudoscience

It may or may not surprise you to hear that I have a techie, nerdish side that is fascinated by science. Science has done some great things by my account. The very words that you are reading as well as some of the other parts of this article were put here by me talking into a microphone and a computer typing them out.  Immediately,  spell and grammar checkers started pointing out things to work on to improve the text.  When done, this article is then published into a worldwide network where it can be accessed across the globe.  That is amazing to me.

But I just don’t accept everything that comes my way that’s presented as science. The world has a history of accepting and implementing scientific theories in different sciences that were later proven to be false. For example, phrenology was a scientific concept that was implemented in the 18th century and used by professionals in diagnosis and treatment into the 20th century.  Its basic theory is that mental capabilities and character traits can be determined by looking at the bumps on the skull.[11]  This scientific theory enjoyed acceptance by other sciences for over a century before it was debunked.

Eugenics was an accepted scientific theory that ruled many a person’s thinking from the late 19th century into the first part of the 20th century. Eugenics is the study and practice of improving races on a large scale and human potential on a small scale by selective breeding.  Scientists in this field maintained that you could predict both a person’s good qualities like intelligence and health as well as a person’s negative qualities such as disabilities and even traits of deviant behavior. The United States was a center for research in this area in the early 20th century.

But it is Nazi Germany that is most famous for applying theories of Eugenics to base their master race theory that resulted in the Holocaust and persecution and killing of Blacks, intellectuals, and other people with traits they deemed undesirable.  But before that, there was considerable acceptance of Eugenics.

Another science, The Blank Slate theory, is a “science” that says that humans are blank slates upon birth, and everything must be learned.  Modern science now challenges that theory.

The blank slate, the dominant theory of human nature in modern intellectual life stating that humans are shaped entirely by their experiences and not by any preexisting biological mechanisms, is being challenged and soundly trounced by the cognitive, neural, and genetic sciences, said Steven Pinker, Harvard University, in his Keynote Address.[12]

Astrological scientific theories have been debunked.  If you watch a scientific show on, for example, the Big Bang Theory (the actual theory, not the TV show) they can be pretty impressive and convincing. But you need to remember there have been scientific theories in astrology throughout the ages that have come and gone. The planet Vulcan is a planet that was accepted to be in between Mercury and the sun for a long time, but just didn’t appear.[13]  There have been a number of planets that were projected to be in places that were never found.[14]

Spontaneous generation is the theory that life can spring from inanimate matter. It was a scientific genesis theory. It had its period of acceptance but was later debunked.[15]

These are not the only cases, but they point to the flaw of too early acceptance.  They are examples of pseudoscience.  Pseudoscience is a scientific theory that is accepted as true but later is found to be false.  It was never proven. Or it had faulty premises.  The area of astrology is pseudoscience as it at one time was considered a science and academic discipline as was alchemy.[16]

My point is that history has shown us that science regularly promotes theories that become popular and cause social change while later proving to be false, and possibly harmful or even dangerous. The scientific basis behind brainwashing theory and its treatment by deprogramming is too sketchy to accept. And looking at the Scriptures to understand what does happen in these cases we have genuine scriptural concepts of deception, delusion, possession, and more.

In the next part on this topic, we are going to talk more about both deception and indoctrination. Obviously, deception has so many negatives.  But, as a preview, though, I will say that indoctrination is more neutral than many people realize.  While it is often is perceived as just a negative, it really refers to instruction and training techniques used by families, churches, schools, and businesses on a daily basis.  And it is very prevalent.

[1] Brainwashing, https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/brainwashing

[2] https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2017/08/31/u-s-protestants-are-not-defined-by-reformation-era-controversies-500-years-later/

[3] https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/brainwashing

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deprogramming

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_the_11th_century

[6] The scientific reason why believing in Santa is good for children, https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/the-scientific-reason-why-believing-in-santa-is-good-for-children-20211222-p59jkq.html

[7] Here’s what age most kids stop believing in Santa, https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times/lifestyle/2018-12-19-new-study-reveals-when-kids-stop-believing-in-santa/#:~:text=A%20third%20of%20of%20those,their%20belief%20in%20Father%20Christmas.

[8] Santa Claus and Deception, https://www.humintell.com/2018/12/santa-claus-and-deception/

[9] AGAINST SANTA, https://www.philosophytalk.org/blog/against-santa

[10] https://www.murphyfamilyattorney.com/articles/is-your-ex-brainwashing-your-kid/

[11] https://www.britannica.com/topic/phrenology

[12] Empirical Science for the Spotless Mind, https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/empirical-science-for-the-spotless-mind

[13] https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiecartereurope/2019/05/24/return-of-the-planet-vulcan-how-the-fire-planet-was-destroyed-by-science-and-how-its-been-reborn/?sh=57a4a5671283

[14] https://www.forbes.com/sites/kionasmith/2018/06/08/our-obsession-with-hidden-planets-didnt-start-with-planet-nine/?sh=19c9d1493f16

[15] https://www.britannica.com/science/spontaneous-generation

[16] https://en.unesco.org/silkroad/content/did-you-know-influence-astrology-science-astronomy-along-silk-roads#:~:text=Throughout%20much%20of%20history%2C%20and,%2C%20meteorology%2C%20and%20traditional%20medicine.

© copyright 2022 Mark W Smith, All rights reserved.  Last edited 12/22/2022

December 16th, 2022 Posted by | Biblical Translation And Interpretation, Modern Christianity | no comments

Theology Is As Clear As Mud To Americans in 2020

A recent article in Christianity Today starts with, “Are American Christians really this bad at theology? Are we simply just a band of unwitting heretics? Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research’s recent State of Theology study seems to indicate that, yes, a large percentage of us are at odds at what we believe.”1

The article goes on to explain the statement. A Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research’s State of Theology study asked theological questions of Americans and found that Americans are not consistent in following the Bible and the basic teachings of the church.

I have stated on this website that the wide-ranging differences in the Christian community on a number of doctrines work to decrease faith. Paul’s charge to speak the same thing and to not be divided speaks directly to this problem. After all, when the acceptable state is that one church teaches that the manifestations of the spirit like speaking in tongues, prophecy, miracles, and healings have ceased while another teaches the gifts are possible but won’t teach them while another teaches that they are not only available but people are getting delivered by them, what are people supposed to think about theological matters? Or that it’s okay to drink moderately while others say drinking alcohol is an abomination? Or that only men can lead while others teach that there are examples of great women leaders in the bible? Those are only a few of the disagreements among churches, denominations, and believers with the resultant confusion and decrease in trust in Jesus Christ and the word of God.

The study said they surveyed 3002 Americans but they did not identify how many of these said they were Christians. According to a recent Pew study, approximately 70% of Americans identify themselves as Christians.2 Look at the links in the footnotes to find and read more on this incredibly revealing study

As part of the study, they adopted the National Research Evangelical Beliefs Research Definition which includes, among other things, that the Bible is the highest authority for belief, that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that can remove the penalty of sin, and that only trust in Jesus Christ can enable one to gain eternal salvation.3 In giving the results I am including many of the actual survey statements to be clear as to what people did or not agree with.

Concerning the supremacy of the Bible as the source for truth the study found that most Americans say religious beliefs are a matter of personal opinion, “And that’s made clear by examining the varying, and sometimes contradictory, theological doctrines they hold.””4 Original Christianity as depicted in the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles did not have the bible that we have today but were charged to follow the traditions of the Apostles which includes both the doctrines and practices the Apostles established as evidenced in their writings.

So then, brothers, stand firm, and hold the traditions which you were taught by us, whether by word, or by letter. (2Th 2:15 WEB)

Concerning the exclusivity of accepting the Lordship of Jesus as the source of eternal life the study found that most Americans agree with the statement, “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.” If most people believe that God accepts the worship of all religions then they don’t accept the Lordship of Jesus as the exclusive path to salvation.

that if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom 10:9-10 WEB)

Central to the Lordship of Jesus is the resurrection which is fundamental in Christ’s achieving our salvation. Only 45 percent of respondents strongly agreed with this statement, “Biblical accounts of the physical (bodily) resurrection of Jesus are completely accurate. This event actually occurred.”

Belief in the risen Savior is crucial to salvation but it doesn’t appear to be crucial to everyone calling themselves Christian.

The Bible says in Romans 3:10 that there are none righteous and develops every believer’s battle with sin in later chapters. Most Americans, however, at least somewhat believe the statement that “Everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature.” This is a critical element of good person theology where people are not compared to biblical standards, but to personal or group ideas of what constitutes a good person.

Not included in the National Research Evangelical Beliefs Research Definition but emphasized in the definition of orthodox Christianity is the importance of the Trinity.5

Concerning adherence to a doctrine critical to the Trinity, only 36% of Americans at least partly disagreed with the statement that Jesus was not God. More significantly, 55% at least partly agreed with the statement that Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God. Remember, the definition of the Trinity includes that Jesus is fully God and co-eternal with God. These results were despite the study finding that 72% at least partly did agree with the statement “There is one true God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.” One article explained that this shows that Christians are better at recognizing orthodox statements than ones that Orthodoxy deems heretical, and thus are more compliant than understanding or fully believing the concepts.

A similar conclusion was, “One discouragement was that regular churchgoers were more likely to deny the personhood of the Holy Spirit”. Without believing that Jesus is God or the Holy Spirit is a person you don’t have much of a Trinity. While they have memorized key statements, it doesn’t appear that people really grasp or accept the concept. It appears that despite the ability to spot the orthodox statement in the positive and the willingness to say it is true the actual Trinity concept is beyond the capacity of the populace to really understand, especially in the negative. They either can’t understand it or they don’t believe it or both.

That said, since this website is focused on original Christianity, while the Trinity is a primary doctrine in modern Christian traditions, it was not part of the Apostles’ tradition. The power of the name of Jesus, not the Trinity, was what the Apostles emphasized, taught, and practiced.

Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  (Php 2:9-11 WEB)

The results of the study show a wide range of degrees of Christian faith among the American populace. Only 48% agree that the bible is 100% accurate in what it teaches. Only 51% agree or partly agree that the bible has the authority to tell us what to do. On the negative side, forty percent agree, partly agree, or are not sure (don’t disagree) that the Holy Spirit can tell someone to do something that is not in the Bible. Isn’t that saying a bunch of people believe the Holy Spirit will make sinful things not sinful for them?

But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.  (Mar 10:6 WEB)

Yes, 79% agree that God created male and female.  But, 52% disagree or somewhat disagree that gender is a matter of choice. 51% aren’t sure at least partly agree or aren’t sure about the statement, “Modern science disproves the bible.” It’s also close to 50/50 on issues like abortion as a sin, that sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin, or that the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality doesn’t apply today.

With all of this confusion over spiritual matters it is no wonder to me that most people, 58%, agree at least somewhat that worshiping alone or with your family is a valid replacement for regularly attending church despite the Bible’s charge to worship together:

not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching. (Heb 10:25 WEB)

As the title of the article says the study shows a population that is not clear about Christianity and holds as much to modern science and public opinion as it does to adherence to biblical principle. The Bible talks about immature believers, children, being tossed back and forth and carried about with the winds of doctrine, and that’s what I see when I read these results:

He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ; (Eph 4:11-15 WEB)

The winds of doctrine are all the different theories, opinions, movements in the different cultures in the world.  The answer to children being tossed back and forth by winds of doctrine is the Spirit guiding apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds (pastors) and teachers in perfecting the saints, helping them mature with sound doctrine, teaching them the way that is Jesus Christ more fully. And consistency is a big key, all Christian leaders need to speak the same thing, and work to have no divisions among them, preaching the word of God in season and out.

1Our Favorite Heresies of 2018: Experts Weigh In, located at https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/october/evangelicals-favorite-heresies-ligonier-theology-survey.html

2Religious Landscape Study, at https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/

3http://lifewayresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/NAE-LifeWay-Research-Evangelical-Beliefs-Research-Definition-Methodology-and-Use.pdf

4Americans Hold Complex, Conflicting Religious Beliefs, According to Latest State of Theology Study, located at https://lifewayresearch.com/2020/09/08/americans-hold-complex-conflicting-religious-beliefs-according-to-latest-state-of-theology-study/

5Dictionary.com defines orthodoxy to include the Trinity, “The form of Christianity maintained by the Eastern Orthodox Church. Orthodox means “correct in teaching”; Orthodox Christians consider the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant churches to be incorrect in some teachings, including the relations between the persons of the Trinity.”

 

October 30th, 2020 Posted by | Modern Christianity | no comments

Global Warming

“The earth is heating up!” “We are at record warming levels.” So the global warming warnings go.
I’m watching Nova on PBS. The episode is Making North America: Origins. As the narrator displays palm frond and coral reef fossils he makes a startling statement. He’s finding these artifacts in Alaska. And he says this, “This palm grew here when the climate in Alaska and the rest of the world was much warmer (emphasis added).”
He’s talking, of course, about a period hundreds of millions of years ago by his dating. But the point still remains: The whole earth has been much warmer than it is today,
So the statement that the earth today is warmer than it has ever been is repudiated by this statement in this Nova presentation.
What this illustrates is that the range of temperatures that the earth has naturally swung from very warm to frigid cold over the eons and millennia.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t be good stewards of out planet. Freon is a good example where it was proven both that something we were doing (using freon) was harmful and stopping it was worth the trouble.
Carbon emissions are certainly something that we should keep an eye on. But alarmist cries that we are heating up the earth to unprecedented levels is clearly untrue. We’re nowhere close to where the earth itself has engineered its own global warming levels.
Nevertheless, we are called to be good stewards of the earth. As Christians we are taught:

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.
(Genesis 1:28-30)

Man was charged with the care of the place in which he was placed.

At the same time, we individually are incapable of impacting more than our individual range of responsibility and we are often fully engrossed in just accomplishing the task at hand:

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
(Matthew 6:34)

So if you follow this instruction while not ignoring the charge given to us in Genesis chapter 1, each of us does the best we can today with what we are in charge of so that collectively the earth is properly tended by all of us together.

But the emphasis is that we have to take care of today.

So as stewards of the earth we need to be responsible in this area today and everyday.

As individuals that means using more energy efficient products. We insulate our houses better, reuse bags, cover our pots while cooking, turn off appliances and lights when not in use, and recycle. There are websites devoted to how we as consumers can help.

On a larger scale, businesses and governments have the same responsibility to be more efficient and steward the earth.

Its one of the first charges God gave to man. God gave us this earth, to keep it in good shape.

June 30th, 2016 Posted by | Modern Christianity, Sermons | no comments

Carbon Dating Accuracy

All old things from fossil bones to caveman artifacts are radioactively dated.  Amazingly, the dates for these artifacts are presented in very definite terms.

Carbon dating has been used by scientists to show that man is older than the dates offered by Bible records.

One dating example is that of the Shroud of Turin.  For anyone that doesn’t know the Shroud of Turin is a piece of very old cloth that has an image on it that some say is the very image of Christ.

How this relates to the title of this article is this.  A few years back a number of scientists said the shroud of Turin has to be a fake because it only dates radioactively to the middle ages.

Well, it seems that there is a little more to the story.  Now Italian scientists say that this cloth could date to the time of Christ because of earthquakes.  In fact, an earthquake could have been the cause of the picture in the first place.

“Alberto Carpinteri of the Politecnico di Torino and his team suggest that an earthquake in Jerusalem in A.D. 33 — the time of the crucifixion — released neutron particles that could have fixed the picture on the shroud.

The Italian hypothesis would concur with a study conducted by geologists investigating seismic activity in the Holy Land, who in 2012 offered a theory on the date of the crucifixion: Friday, April 3, 33.

The Italian scientists say that radiation from the earthquake could have elevated the levels of carbon-14 isotopes in the shroud, which would interfere with radiocarbon dating.”[i]

How about that?  It seems that radioactive dating isn’t so sure after all if something that some scientists say is 700 years old is really three times that old.

Another example of carbon dating inaccuracy recently was brought up on the show Nova on the PBS channel in the USA.  On the episode titled “Lost Viking Army” (May 22, 2019) the archeologists had a problem with a skull carbon dating a century or two older than the other bones in the grave.  Then they made a fascinating statement; Bones would yield different carbon dating results depending on whether the people ate meat or fish!  The age of the carbon-14 in a bone depends on the age of the carbon-14 in the consumed food!

This is a relatively new development.  Scientists have now determined that the carbon 14 in the oceans is far older than that on land.  In fact, the program said that the age of carbon-14 in the oceans is centuries older than that on land!

The scientists said that they have a way to use chemical markers to determine the “fish” sourced carbon-14 in bones and thus make the adjustment.  In this case, they pronounced the older carbon-14 dated skull the same age as the others because of this.  Good for them!  It looks like they were able to discern quite a bit about Viking invasions of Britain circa 873.

But it sure is something to think about.  For example, a Huffington Post article says that the oldest caveman bones are 7000 years old.[ii] With all of the earthquakes that have happened in the history of the world, what is to say that the date is off a little, maybe enough to line up with a biblically based timeline that puts modern man, i.e., Adam and Eve, starting about 6000 years ago?  Or what about what they ate, what if the carbon in the food they ate was older than what was originally thought?

Or what other scientific finds are going to be made to show more variances in carbon-14 dating?  Carbon dating does not look quite as straightforward as we have been told in the past.

February 12th, 2014 Posted by | Modern Christianity | no comments

Be Wary of TV Shows Promoting Rejoicing in Wrongdoing

There once was a serial killer. He had a dark passenger that drove him to terrible depths.  He had overpowering urges to kill.  And he acted on those urges, repeatedly killing ritualistically, stabbing his victims through the heart after binding them to his table, his altar of death.

Like other serial killers, he appeared normal.  He was a dedicated employee, respected in his job. He fit in at work.  He socialized with his co-workers.  He was a loving husband and father.  He had a sister that he cared for deeply

So, knowing all this, certainly people would want to see this man captured, stopped, killed if necessary, right?

No, actually a lot of people were rooting for him.  You see, he was the hero of a TV show. The show was Dexter.

And as odd as it sounds, Dexter was likeable.  Dexter was understandable.  Dexter had a code.  He only killed people that deserved to die.  He was a forensic scientist, and so he could use his skills to investigate. He made sure they were worthy of death before he killed them.  No matter that he thrilled on the act of stalking and killing these people, he was doing a valuable service, ridding the world of vermin.

It also didn’t matter that Dexter slowly involved his sister in the web of deception that was necessary to cover the grim tale that was his life to the point where she killed an authority figure to save him and continue his deceit.  People felt sorry for her but they rooted for her too.

Or that he had a girlfiend that was also a serial killer that he started to kill but couldn’t for reasons of the heart.  But she tried to kill his sister. But she came back.  And his son loved her so much.

They were both good people.  They were just complicated.

And the show was so interesting;  the social interactions of killers amongst themselves and among their mostly unsuspecting social circles.

And therein lies the seduction.  Its okay to root for the killer, the liar, the deceiver.  They are complicated, understandable, lovable.    They have such good reasons for their misdeeds.  And these are no little mistakes, these are big calculated cons, these are murders.

If we rejoice that they get away with  this stuff we are rejoicing in their wrongdoing, their sin, their evil.  Even if it is a TV show.

It’s not like anyone ever imitates this stuff.  O wait, they do.  Mark Andrew Twitchell[i] says was inspired by the show in his murder.  Andrew Conley[ii] likewise cited Dexter as inspiration for his murder of his 10 year old brother!

Some fans were disappointed that Dexter didn’t ride off into the sunset to Argentina with his loving killer wife and his son.

While possibly the most extreme Dexter is not the only show where the hero is performing criminal acts.

Suits is the story of a young genius who is so smart that despite never having gone to Law school he made extra money taking and passing the bar exam for others.  The development of that premise is that he eventually takes a job as a lawyer falsifying an Ivy League education in the process.

House of Lies is a drama where the consultants revel in the lies they tell to pull off consulting jobs with big financial gains.  Leverage is a Robin Hood story of sorts where a team of thieves and con artists pull incredible scams on guilty parties to avenge and restore the victims.   White Collar is the story of a top tier white collar criminal who is allowed out of jail to consult with the FBI while he secretly continues his scamming ways sometimes even in the pursuit of his FBI duties.

I am focusing on just a few shows but this is really just the start of the list.  There are shows today that promote adultery, greed, lying, promiscuity etc, etc, etc.

You might hope that somewhere in any of these dramas would be the concept of rehabilitation and redemption, that these anti-heroes reform their ways and get back on track.  But no, that would ruin the premise of the story.  The crime continues non-stop from Neal Caffrey in White Collar scamming every week to a non-stop parade of murders by Dexter.

So it needs to be said that Dexter is a murderer who should have been stopped and punished.  Likewise it is wrong to con and scam in all the shows from Suits to White Collar.   Adultery, greed, lying, promiscuity etc. are all wrong.

Otherwise we are celebrating misdeeds, rejoicing in wrongdoing.

It (love) does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. (1 Corinthians 13:6 ESV)

 


[i] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Twitchell

[ii] http://abcnews.go.com/2020/teen-kills-brother-loves-dexter-life-imitating-art/story?id=13161191

January 21st, 2014 Posted by | Modern Christianity | no comments