[This op-ed was originally published at The Christian Post.]
I was that kid.
You know the one. The one who studied her Bible until it fell apart. The one who got up at the crack of dawn to do devotions and get to school an hour early to walk around her campus and pray for revival. The one who genuinely loved Jesus with all her heart and couldn't wait to tell everyone about him—even passing out gospel tracts to the drug dealers, goths, and drag queens on Hollywood Boulevard. The one who was "on fire for God."
We are coming up on a time of year when the resurrection of a virgin-born child whose followers called the "Good Shepherd" and "Messiah" is celebrated. He had twelve disciples, performed miracles, and sacrificed himself for the peace of the world. He was buried in a tomb only to rise from the dead three days later. His followers went on to celebrate his resurrection every year, and this celebration eventually became what we call "Easter."
Think I'm talking about Jesus?
Nope. I'm talking about Mithras.
Is Substitutionary Atonement Just a Type of "Cosmic Child Abuse" That Christians Came Up With in the Middle Ages?
Did you ever think you'd be living in a day when believing in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus' blood would be controversial among Christians? Welcome to 2018, when saying "Jesus died for my sins" is considered at best a pagan idea (1) and at worst "psychologically damaging" to children.
What did Jesus accomplish on the cross? This is possibly the most important question a Christian can ask. Did He go to the cross in order to take the punishment of our sins upon Himself? To bring us into an adoptive relationship with God the Father? To ransom us to God? To set a moral example for us to follow? To victoriously defeat sin and death?
Think about the phrase "New Age." What comes to mind? Old documentaries of hippies at Woodstock experimenting with LSD and yoga? Shirley MacLaine holding a cluster of crystals on the cover of Time Magazine back in the ‘80s? Deepak Chopra teaching Oprah how to move things with her mind in the ‘90s? As old or out of touch as these images may seem, New Age beliefs are hotter than ever and have permeated our culture—but with a slick new image. The psychic hotline of the ‘80s has been replaced by winsome hipster gurus who have traded robes for skinny jeans—often translating Eastern religious ideas into Christianese.
Many Christians aren't even aware of how New Age beliefs have infiltrated Christendom through the Progressive Church. I've written about Progressive Christianity here, and talked about it here, here, and here. It wasn't until I recently did a study of New Age Spirituality that I realized how much Progressive Christianity has in common with it.