- Three primary prophetic agents
- France revolution atheism
- Germany 1844 Marx & basics communism
- Frankfurt school and critical theory
- Cultural Marxism
- Our work for this time
If you are expecting a velvety-warm Christmas sermon this won't be it. We are at the end of a year of epic strangeness. Twenty-eighteen will not be less strange. We expect that "The agencies of evil are combining their forces, and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements would be rapid ones" (Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 11).
In the same pages, Ellen White warns us of these features
- Unsettled state of society
- Alarms of war
- A culture infatuated with vice
- Every species of evil will prevail
Although Testimonies, vol 9 was written in the first decade of the 1900s, it sounds as though it was written for God's people today. Hear this from Joseph Boot, Cornerstones, vol. 2, Gospel Witness: Defending and Extending the Kingdom of God, loc 159:
A generation ago, people's questions and objections tended to focus on things like the historicity of the resurrection, the authenticity of the New Testament text, or the plausibility of miraculous claims in Scripture. Now, younger people especially are typically unconcerned with denying miracles, but will often object that Christianity is too exclusive, oppressive and intolerant, or that it has an imperialist history with blood on its hands. Christianity is deemed irrelevant, outmoded and untrue, not because there is a lack of evidence for the resurrection, but because Christians don't appear to advance 'equality' or 'saving the planet,' reducing carbon footprints by any means--including abortion. This generation, indoctrinated from elementary school in the thought forms of radical progressives from Herbert Marcuse to Judith Butler (all rooted in neo-Marxist philosophical assumptions), wants to know why anyone would believe in a God that discriminates against women, denies her the right to choose, and excludes practicing homosexuals and other members of the queer community from the kingdom of God--a God who doesn't advance 'social justice' in the world just isn't worth believing in.
That is our world; that is where some of our relatives visiting us this holiday season, are. In today's message I want to help us navigate this, to better understand where we are in the prophetic flow, and offer suggestions for an updated sharing with others of the Christian hope.
In the Bible we are given prophetic foreknowledge that three agents in particular will be working in the last days. In Revelation 16:13-14 John tells what he was shown:
I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Three agents: the beast (the Roman Catholic Church in Revelation 13:1-10), the false prophet (The United states under the control of an apostate Protestantism in Revelation 13:11-18), and the dragon (a more direct manifestation of Satan as identified in Revelation 12:9).
Notice what these agents do. From out of them come demonic spirits. The extreme multiplication of these satanic influences is indicated by the symbol of the frog in the prophecy. Historically, creatures worshiped by the Egyptians included the frog. It was Heqet, the Egyptian goddess of fertility. Every spring in the flood of the Nile new life was seen, and the Egyptian associated it with Heqet. When Pharaoh manifest his atheistic spirit, his haughty unbelief and disrespect, treating God as though He did not exist, God in the plagues responded in judgment turning the very animals the Egyptians worshiped into plagues. In Exodus eight God multiplies the frogs until the Egyptians cannot stand them and asks Moses to remove them.
When we see the multiplication of frogs coming out of the mouth of each of the three agents (beast, false prophet, and dragon), we understand that the prophecy is that there will be a multiplication of false works gathering the governments of the earth against the people of God. God has shown us beforehand.
Even more, you may recall a striking passage in Ellen White' book, The Great Controversy, p. 588 which goes into detail about their work:
Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation of spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome. The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of spiritualism; they will reach over the abyss to clasp hands with the Roman power; and under the influence of this threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience.
Here are our three agents again: "the Protestants of the United States," "Rome/the Roman power" and "spiritualism," meaning the dragon. White continues in another paragraph:
As spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity of the day, it has greater power to deceive and ensnare. Satan himself is converted, after the modern order of things. He will appear in the character of an angel of light. Through the agency of spiritualism, miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and many undeniable wonders will be performed. And as the spirits will profess faith in the Bible, and manifest respect for the institutions of the church, their work will be accepted as a manifestation of divine power.
Here then are false miracles. Via this manifestation, most Protestants and Catholics are deceived. Then, the third paragraph in this sequence:
The line of distinction between professed Christians and the ungodly is now hardly distinguishable. Church members love what the world loves and are ready to join with them, and Satan determines to unite them in one body and thus strengthen his cause by sweeping all into the ranks of spiritualism. Papists, who boast of miracles as a certain sign of the true church, will be readily deceived by this wonder-working power; and Protestants, having cast away the shield of truth, will also be deluded. Papists, Protestants, and worldlings will alike accept the form of godliness without the power, and they will see in this union a grand movement for the conversion of the world and the ushering in of the long-expected millennium.
Here is the Satanic plan: to sweep all into the ranks of spiritualism. Now, beside Protestants and Catholics, worldlings are added--that is, the unconverted, the secularist, the non-Christian who does not believe in the supernatural. He experiences the supernatural.
This is the scenario in Revelation 16. The human population of earth, through the kings or rulers of the earth, are to be brought into unity to attack the end-time believers in Jesus. The book The Great Controversy gives special insight into how that will develop.
The Two-pronged Attack by the Dragon
But we look out on the world and what do we see? Not much about Protestants and Catholics, or even spiritualism. Rather, we see dominant secularism. Where does that fit?
The secular, the non-religious heading, doesn't fit under Protestantism or Roman Catholicism insofar as they are avowed, openly religious faiths. It fits under the third power, the dragon. The dragon encompasses both the spiritualism aspect and the secular. The secularists are going to be confronted with miracles which they don't expect and which they cannot explain. The supernatural has no place in their worldview. These satanic miracles will be persuasive for them. The "frogs" bring them under deception.
Secularism and Atheism: The French Revolution
But, someone asks, do we have more detail about that? Yes, we do. Where do we see many of the ideas sprout that have become so common today? In the French Revolution. Revelation chapter 11 records an important prophecy about this. Ellen White comments at length upon it in The Great Controversy:
Another power--the beast from the bottomless pit--was to arise to make open, avowed war upon the word of God.
'The great city' in whose streets the witnesses are slain, and where their dead bodies lie, is 'spiritually' Egypt. Of all nations presented in Bible history, Egypt most boldly denied the existence of the living God and resisted His commands. No monarch ever ventured upon more open and highhanded rebellion against the authority of Heaven than did the king of Egypt. When the message was brought him by Moses, in the name of the Lord, Pharaoh proudly answered: 'Who is Jehovah, that I should hearken unto His voice to let Israel go? I know not Jehovah, and moreover I will not let Israel go.' Exodus 5:2, A.R.V. This is atheism, and the nation represented by Egypt would give voice to a similar denial of the claims of the living God and would manifest a like spirit of unbelief and defiance. 'The great city' is also compared, 'spiritually,' to Sodom. The corruption of Sodom in breaking the law of God was especially manifested in licentiousness. And this sin was also to be a pre-eminent characteristic of the nation that should fulfill the specifications of this scripture (The Great Controversy, p. 269).
In the murderous events of the French Revolution this is what we see. White continues on 273-274:
In all this, supreme homage was paid to Satan; while Christ, in His characteristics of truth, purity, and unselfish love, was crucified.
'The beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.' The atheistical power that ruled in France during the Revolution and the Reign of Terror, did wage such a war against God and His holy word as the world had never witnessed. The worship of the Deity was abolished by the National Assembly. Bibles were collected and publicly burned with every possible manifestation of scorn. The law of God was trampled underfoot. The institutions of the Bible were abolished. The weekly rest day was set aside, and in its stead every tenth day was devoted to reveling and blasphemy. Baptism and the Communion were prohibited. And announcements posted conspicuously over the burial places declared death to be an eternal sleep.
The fear of God was said to be so far from the beginning of wisdom that it was the beginning of folly. All religious worship was prohibited, except that of liberty and the country.
On p 276:
It was popery that had begun the work which atheism was completing. The policy of Rome had wrought out those conditions, social, political, and religious, that were hurrying France on to ruin.
And on p 281:
A thousandfold more terrible than the physical suffering which resulted from her policy, was the moral degradation. Deprived of the Bible, and abandoned to the teachings of bigotry and selfishness, the people were shrouded in ignorance and superstition, and sunken in vice, so that they were wholly unfitted for self-government.
And finally, this statement:
When France publicly rejected God and set aside the Bible, wicked men and spirits of darkness exulted in their attainment of the object so long desired--a kingdom free from the restraints of the law of God (Ibid., p. 286).
Those of us who received our "education" in the public schools heard little if anything about the French Revolution, and if we did, nothing about the religious aspects. But those who are interested can easily learn a great deal more. Wikipedia can get you started with its several pages-long entry.
We can't expand further here. Let me just tell what I anticipate: namely, the French Revolution was the end-time in miniature. It marked a decided shift from the religious to the secular. It was atheism and licentiousness exemplified. The dragon plan is to deceive the already religious with false miracles. But the other angle is how the dragon works through atheism and secularism. He is working to influence as many as possible to adopt the secular position, and then, when the time is ripe, he will confront them with undeniable miracles. They will undergo a radical conversion based on the authority not of reason but their experience. Where are we today? Under today's shift to postmodernism, it is not human reason but human experience that is the basis for forming beliefs. As it has been said, "the fix is in."
Where are we today? New York City recognizes 31 Gender expressions. Toronto has more than 60.
"Its not correct that there is such a thing as biological sex" (Prof. Nicholas Matte, University of Toronto, "Genders, Rights and Freedom of Speech," https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kasiov0ytEc, October 26, 2016, accessed 2017-12-22).
This year there there was a riot when Berkeley which prevented a guest speaker from presenting.
Of course, there was the riot at Charlottesville in which someone was killed.
Not to mention a variety of awful shootings and terrorist attacks.
A month ago was the Lindsey Shepherd affair, in which she was rebuked and threatened with possible loss of her teaching position for showing a video that gave two sides of the gender pronoun controversy. It came out that no complaint had actually been filed against her, and it was simply an attack of free speech by facuty members. Where are these strange developments coming from?
Karl Marx and Marxism
Karl Marx was born in Prussia in 1818. In 1844 He began a collaboration with Friedrich Engels that developed more fully his political thought. In 1848 He wrote The Communist Manifesto. In a nutshell, here is Marx' view:
The Capitalist mode of production enables the bourgeoisie (or owners of capital) to exploit the proletariat (or workers) and that class struggle by the proletariat must be the central element in social and historical change. According to Marx, a socialist revolution must occur, in order to establish a 'dictatorship of the proletariat' with the ulimate goal of public ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange (http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_marxism.html, accessed 2017-12-22).
In his Utopian plan, Marx taught that all is to be viewed in terms of power relations.
Marxist thought predicted that there should be a communist revolution in Germany. But it didn't happen. Instead, capitalism seemed to do better and better. Why didn't the working class rise up against the oppressor class?
The Frankfurt School, Critical Theory, and Cultural Marxism
A group of Marxists in Germany set out to discover why the revolution had not happened. They came to be known as the Frankfurt School. They developed a complicated system of thought they called "critical theory." Names associated with the Frankfurt School include Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, and Herbert Marcuse. During the 1960s critical theory gained traction in some circles of leftist thought in both America and Europe. Today, its influence is felt throughout Western academia, and dominates the sciences and humanities. Women's Studies, Gender Studies, and Whiteness Studies are some examples.
Stuart Jeffries in his epic 2016 400 page history of the Frankfurt school titled Grand Hotel Abyss: the Lives of the Frankfurt School, is positive about their work. Hear these quotes from his book:
They [the Frankfurt School] re-conceptualized Marxism... They engaged with the rise of the culture industry and thereby explored a new relationship between culture and politics... they reflected on how everyday life could become the theatre of revolution (Grand Hotel Abyss, pp. 9-10).
Our immersion, under capitalism, in a fantasy world of material well-being, ensure[s] that we lose sight of the class struggle... the consumerist faithful endlessly buy and sell.... The Marxist article of faith, then, is that the horror story must end (pp. 87, 88).
The Frankfurt school... diagnosed what had gone wrong with modern society, and why the revolution had not happened.... [they shifted] in focus from production to consumption (pp. 121, 128).
Capitalism had become not just a mode of production but a system that, through mass culture and communication, technology and various forms of social control, masked the intensity of the exploitation of the proletariat (p. 138).
In 1965 in "Repressive Tolerance," p 110, Herbert Marcuse wrote
The small and powerless minorities which struggle against the false consciousness and its beneficiaries must be helped. Their continued existence is more important than the preservation of abused rights and liberties which grant constitutional powers to those who oppress these minorities.
Social justice, second-wave feminism, queer theology, identity politics, intersectionality, and other current movements are inspired at least in part, by critical theory, the Frankfort School, or, if you will, Cultural Marxism. I don't accept that Cultural Marxism is a deeply laid plot to undermine the values of the West, but I see it as an important ideological catalyst, a part of the intellectual flow linking back to French and then German philosophical thought, and which ripens into the current deeply developed form.
The shift is from the moneyed class oppressing the workers in Marxist thought 1.0, to what you could call Marxist though 2.0:
Postmodernists now pit the oppressed against the oppressor. Now they have several possible groups and could continue the same narrative under a different name. No longer restricted to economics, but now about power. For several decades now
We've been publicly funding extremely radical postmodern thinkers who are hell-bent on demolishing the substructure of Western Civilization (Jordan B. Peterson, "Postmodernism and Cultural Marxism," https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLoG9zBvvLQ, accessed 2017-12-22).
Our Work For this Time
So there are some bits on how the pieces fit together. Let's close with a word of hope at Colossians 1:15-18. Speaking of Jesus:
He is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. and He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
Man is not the measure. Our Creator, God, specifically the divine person Jesus, He is the measure. When we try to create a world in which man is the measure, in which man is god, we will inevitably get everything wrong.
But Jesus is God. Everything that was created including you and I, we find our completeness in Him. There are principalitie and powers that stand in rebellion toward Him, but He is still God. And who are we?
We are Christ's new humanity and represent him as priests to an unbelieving world (1 Peter 2: 9). (Joseph Boot, Location 831).
You and I are God's army. We represent Him but not just to each other, but to an unbelieving world. Do we understand the mission He has assigned us?
We have been given light, not just for ourselves but to share with those who do not yet know Him. Hear this:
The gospel drives people out of the shelters they have built to shield themselves from God's claims upon them and calls them to throw down their arms and surrender to the Christ against whom, in their ignorance, they daily make war (Ibid.).
Where do we stand? think back to the first part today. We are a prophetic movement. There are three end-time agents shaping to finally drive all persons to receive the mark of the beast and to be swept up together in spiritualism. We are living in the moment in time when the dragon is ripening secularism hard and Christianity is being pushed into the margins. But here will be a reversal in which Protestants, Catholics, New Age/Emergent folk, and even the secular, atheistic folk, if Satan can pull the wool over lots of eyes, will siphon them all off into spiritualism.
Its not that all the weird things you see fit into some unforetold gap. Rather, we all live in a time akin to the French Revolution, in which a Bible faith will be laughed at. We may have but little time to be vigilant Christians.
When you find yourself in a conversation with a friend, a relative, or a guest at our community meal, go out of your way to connect with them. They see these strange things too. We will never find hope and life apart from Jesus. We should renew our boldness and our gentleness and seek more decidedly to find the pathways to the heart.
The good news is that the world around us has become so bizarre, that we should find more eyes open and more hearts ready to consider a different path than the very empty one so many have been traveling.
Chewelah WA SDA Church, 2017-12-23