Saturday, July 30, 2011

Proof by Theft

It's well known that aberrant religious groups (for example, Mormonism and various "New Age" movements) like to take Christian terminology and redefine it for their own use. For example, Ron Rhodes argues that for the Theosophy school of New Age thought, "the Christ" is actually a "Supreme World Teacher" who "enters the body of a disciple in order to assist and guide the spiritual evolution of man." Thus the "the Christ" entered into the man Jesus his baptism. Jesus was but the fifth inacarnation of "the Christ," the first four being Buddha, Hermes, Zoroaster, and Orpheus.1 (New Age religion is nothing, if not syncretistic!)

Obviously, this concept of "the Christ" is a far cry from the Jewish doctrine of Yahweh's anointed one, the Messiah ("Christ" is simply the Greek synonym for "Messiah"), or the Christian doctrine of Jesus Christ as Yahweh himself clothed in human flesh from his conception. New Ageism is full of "stolen" Christian jargon, repurposed to present Eastern pantheism to a Western audience.

This raises a question: Once the New Agers have "stolen" a word or phrase from Christians, are the Christians allowed to have it back? The unspoken assumption of this "goofy proof" is no: Christian terminology co-opted by New Agers is now off-limits. This is, of course, absurd. Nonetheless, it is used as a serious argument by more than one KJV-onlyist.

This forum of argumentation is used frequently by Gail Riplinger who, in the original edition of New Age Bible Versions, wrote: "Liberty University's Dean Norman Geisler adds: 'We should be particularly wary when someone refers to Jesus Christ as "the Christ . . ."'"2 She then excoriates several modern versions for using the title "the Christ" of Jesus. Of course, as is typical with Riplinger, she is guilty of quote mining: what Geisler actually wrote was, "We should be particularly wary when someone refers to Jesus Christ as 'the Christ spirit' or 'Christ-consciousness.'"3 Riplinger has done more than merely identify Christian language co-opted by the modern pagans: she has manufactured it (so as to make modern Bible translations look worse).

Following in Gail Riplinger's dishonest footsteps is author Lisa Ruby. Her biggest claim to fame so far is God's Wrath on Left Behind, a critique of LaHaye and Jenkins so appallingly inane that she spends most of the time scolding the novels' fictional characters for what she feels is inappropriate speech or behaviour. Her "discernment ministry" (basically herself) branches out somewhat into other territory, including the Bible version debate.

She writes: "The ecumenical, one world church serves another Jesus and another spirit that is preparing them to serve the World Teacher (the One). It is no coincidence moern versions refer to their Jesus as 'the One' and 'the Coming One'" (Source, emphasis in original). As evidence, she quotes one of those ever-reliable, tertiary source, KJV-only Web sites:

The New Age Movement and the occult are longing for one called the Maitreya . . . In the [sic] "The Great Invocation," a "prayer" highly reverenced among New Agers and chanted to "invoke" the Maitreya, says, [sic] "Let Light and Love and Power and Death, Fulfil the purpose of the Coming One." (Source)

This is in reference to the wording of the NKJV at Luke 17:19-20, which reads:

And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?" When the men had come to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, 'Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?'"

The King James Version originally used the phrase, "he that should come" - which is a perfectly adequate rendering of the Greek word erchomai, which means "a person who is coming." Of course, "the Coming One" is also a perfectly adequate rendering.

Jesus replies by citing Isaiah, showing that his coming is the one fortold by the Scriptures themselves. In context - again, happily ignored by KJV-onlyists - it is obvious that this "Coming One" is the Jewish Messiah himself, not some fruity, revered New Age guru. But forget context. It's not important, right? And never mind the everyday meanings of words; we know better than to believe the Bible was written in ordinary language instead of secret code-words known only to KJV-only and "discernment ministry" Gnostics. The NKJV speaks the magic word "Coming One," and so it is a New Age Bible.

Here is another example to show how over-the-top Ruby's arguments become:

[T]he ESV equates Jesus Christ with Antichrist via another TITLE. They do this by using a title of the New Age Christ - the Righteous One" in reference to Jesus Christ. This is no accident. This is a marking - an occult marking. (Source)

She follows this up immediately with:

What's wrong with the term, the Righteous One?

This title is not in the real Bible. It is, however, in this Interfaith (One World Church) poem that I have pasted below. . . .

Know that all the Great spiritual redeemers

of bygone ages were all by the self same cosmic spirit informed,

from Moses to Osiris, from Hermes to Zoroaster

Jesus and Mohammed, all by the One divine, omniscient spirit led.

Known through the ages as the Righteous One,

the nameless and limitless radiance,

the Christ and the Iman Madi,

His influence and light is all of life's reality.

Through the millenia, in many guises has he walked

teaching and healing in perpetual serenity. (Source)

SYNCRETISM is "the attempt to reconcile contrary beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought." That is the goal of the new Bibles. The new Bibles like to use TITLES of the New Age Christ in reference to Jesus Christ. This is necessary conditioning to bring about a One World Church - a "church" that is inclusive of every one's [sic] idea of "Christ." (Source)

Once again, this is a simple matter of accurate translation. "Righteous One" is a valid translation of the Greek word dikaios, an adjective that describes one who is morally upright and obedient to God's laws. The KJV translates this term as "the Just One" frequently when referring to Jesus; it (like the ESV) adds the pronoun "One," rendering the adjective as a noun, for the sake of good English. "Just" and "righteous" are synonymous, so if the KJV can refer to Jesus as the "Just One," then certainly the ESV may call him the "Righteous One."

Think it through. Was Jesus Christ righteous? Of course - perfectly so. Has anyone else been perfectly righteous? Of course not - of all men, Jesus is the only one ever to have been sinless. Therefore, he is quite accurately called "Righteous One." New Age nuts have not "stolen" titles of the Lord Jesus from Christians, except in the imaginations of the more superstitious kind of KJV-onlyist.

What kind of twisted thinking could turn orthodox Christology on its head and argue that Jesus Christ cannot be called the "Righteous One," because that title is reserved for the Antichrist?

Ruby's superstitious attacks on the Bible take an even worse turn, however, one that would undermine traditional Christian terminology, even that used in the KJV itself:

Cyrus I. Scofield, editor of the Scofield Reference Bible (1909, 1917), associated the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ with "at-one-ment," which is an occult term straight out of the New Age Movement. . . .

At-one-ment is New Age/occult "salvation":

At-one-ment, or absorption into the One energy that is God, is a prominently held view of most New Agers' understanding of salvation. It is the unfolding of one's consciousness to the point that the "True Self," the divine nature, is realized. As a flower unfolds petal by petal, so too does spiritual evolution unfold, revealing the deeper realms of God-consciousness. . . .

Cyrus Scofield did not provide the correct meaning of the word, "at-one-ment" nor did he warn his reader that this word has a specific occult connotation. Instead, he set the stage for the insertion of the word, "at-one-ment," in place of the proper word, atonement in a doctrinal statement about the Cross of Jesus Christ. . . . C. I. Scofield's switch to New Age terminology linked the work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross with the work of the New Age "Christ," who purposes to bring the planet into what New Agers call at-one-ment: "absorption into the One energy that is God."4

Oooh, spooky!

Here's the problem, though. Scofield - and, for that matter, the New Agers - get the etymology of the word atonement right. It comes from at-one-ment and has been a part of English since at least the early Middle Ages, well before there was any New Age movement to worry about. As some more mainstream theological helps explain:

The meaning of the word is simply at-one-ment, i.e., the state of being at one or being reconciled, so that atonement is reconciliation. Thus it is used to denote the effect which flows from the death of Christ.5

The English word is derived from the phrase "at one," and signifies, etymologically, harmony of relationship or unity of life, etc. It is a rare instance of an [Anglo-Saxon] theological term; and, like all purely English terms employed in theology, takes its meaning, not from its origin, but from theological content of the thinking of the Continental and Latin-speaking Schoolmen who employed such English terms as seemed most nearly to convey to the hearers and readers their ideas. . . .

The basal conception for the Bible doctrine of atonement is the assumption that God and man are ideally one in life and interests, so far as man's true life and interest may be conceived as corresponding with those of God. Hence, it is everywhere assumed that God and man should be in all respects in harmonious relations, "at-one." Such is the ideal picture of Adam and Eve in Eden. Such is the assumption in the parable of the Prodigal Son; man ought to be at home with God, at peace in the Father's house (Luke 15). . . .6

The derivation of atonement is indubitably at-one-ment. Understood in its orthodox Christian context, it is synonymous with reconciliation. Christian theologians have always understood the term to mean men are "at-one" with God in the sense that sin had broken the relationship between them, and it was the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross that healed the breach. However, pagans and unbelievers of all kinds have always "stolen" Christian terminology and redefined it for their own purposes. For certain New Age proponents, "at-one" means not a unity of relationship, but a pantheistic oneness of being with the Divine.

If Ruby were merely warning Christians that unbelievers sometimes co-opted Christian jargon for their own use, there would be no argument. Unfortunately she goes way too far in her reaction. She not merely criticizes New Age abuse of Christian terminology, but she essentially claims it has been completely stolen from the Christian vocabulary. In doing so, she undermines traditional theology and Christology. We need zeal for Christ. We don't need Lisa Ruby's brand of zeal.


1 Ron Rhodes, "The Christ of the New Age Movement," (accessed Jul. 29, 2011).

2 G. A. Riplinger, New Age Bible Versions, 650. (As always, page numbers for NABV refer to screen numbers of a hypertext version that a Pensacola-based KJV-onlyist made available from his BBS for a time in the early 1990s. Anyone wishing to see a more authoritative edition cited is welcome to donate one.)

3 J. Yutaka Amano and Norman L. Geisler, The Infiltration of the New Age (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1989), 142.

4 Lisa Ruby, "Cyrus I. Scofield: 'The Cross . . . Made At-One-Ment," (accessed Jul. 29, 2011).

5 M. G. Easton, "Atonement," Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 3rd ed. (Thomas Nelson, 1897), (accessed Jul. 29, 2011).

6 William Owen Carver, "Atonement," International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Eerdmans, 1915), (accessed Jul. 29, 2011).

1 comment:

  1. Lol, it is good to have gotten there first. ...or at least early enough that folks will have forgotten how much your own faith has redefined.