Self-Made Religion

Posted on May 19th, by Ken in Revelation 2:18-29. No Comments

Our passage for today may seem a bit remote from everyday life and Christian experience. While the Church to Thyatira is commended for their love, faith, service, and patience, Jesus has a major problem with this church. It appears that they were blending pagan worship and religious practices with their Christian faith. This is symbolized in this passage by the figure of Jezebel. As NT Wright notes, Jezebel in the OT (2 Ki 9) seduced the Israelite men away from the one true God of Israel to worship foreign gods, which included unethical practices. The God of Israel is a jealous God and no more wants half devoted lovers than any spouse would. By worshiping other gods and goddesses, the Israelites were in effect saying to the God of Israel that He was not enough for them. The Church of Thyatira was committing spiritual adultery.
In researching New Age movements in America, I discovered that about 1/3 of those involved in New Age practices maintained their church affiliation. There are lots of New Age practices and movements. Essentially the New Age is characterized by self-made religion. They view the self as Ultimate Reality or Divine. The Theosophist version declares that: “We are gods in the becoming … to dare, to do, to know.” Shirley MacLaine once said, “I am God. I am God. I am God.” Another group explains that: “We are all gods and goddesses in exile.” In short, many New Age movements are a religion of ‘the Self.’ Truth is to be found within one’s SELF. Ethics and morality are autonomous and situational. Each person says, “I am my own authority.” This kind of designer religion thrives on American soil, where we think of ourselves as our own bosses and fit religious beliefs and practices into what works for us.
Obviously, you do not have to belong to some New Age religious group to possess some of this kind of thinking and practice. The problem with this should be self-evident. The Bible strongly warns against such mixing and matching of beliefs to suit our own selfish practices. The OT & NT acknowledge the existence of a spirit-realm of gods/goddesses and spirit-beings (Satan, principalities, powers, demons, spirits, etc.). Moreover, the OT & NT acknowledge that the spirit world may be accessed with some success (Ex. 7:22; 1 Sam. 28; Acts 16:16-18). This worship is regarded as idolatry. Idols and Idol worship are seen as worship of demonic powers behind the idol (Dt. 32:17; 12:31; Ps. 106:34). God’s people are commanded: (1) to have no other gods or idols (Ex.20:3-6); and (2) not to dabble in or access the spirit-realm (Deut. 18:10-12; Ex. 22:18: 1 Chron. 10:31; Lev. 19:31; 2 Ki. 21). This is serious business. The most offensive part to the one true God, however, is that we have turned away from His love to find other lovers. Jesus promises to give those who are faithful to him ‘the morning star,’ which NT Wright explains is nothing other than true intimacy with God. Is that what we are all searching for?

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