Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator …
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections.
If you’re in Oakland, California, this spring, you can walk into the Lake Merritt United Methodist Church and enroll in “Wisdom University.”
The current menu of courses includes “Creation Spirituality,” with defrocked Roman Catholic priest Matthew Fox; “Journeying with the Chakras: Evolutionary Energy and Consciousness”; “Sacred Theater: Enacting the Myth of the Goddess”; and many others, including “Voices of the Dark Goddess.” (See http://wisdomuniversity.org/off-sitecourses.html.)
In a full description of this last course, we read: “Participants will explore the antinomian, relational, embodied, cyclical, and chthonic elements of the Divine Female force … By evoking and invoking the power of the Dark Goddess through embodied practice, theory and method, we will together help catalyze the motion of personal and planetary healing.”
A search of the Internet will show that events featuring goddess worship, witchcraft, and non-Christian worship practices may be found in churches representing every mainline Protestant denomination in America. This is in addition to splinter-group churches, unitarian and universalist sects, and overtly pagan groups.
Is it all just silliness to be dismissed with a laugh? Or is it something that all Christians should take seriously?
What Harm Does It Do?
Dr. Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has been scrutinizing goddess worship for several years.
“Goddess worship is part of the downward spiral of idolatry warned against in Romans 1,” he told Chalcedon. “It is the worship of the creature rather than the Creator. Whether the idol is Baal, Asherah, Mammon, or Sophia, the rebellion is the same.
“As Elijah understood well and many mainline Protestant churches do not, Christianity cannot be mixed with idol worship, regardless of the setting. It is deadly serious.”
Rev. Karen Booth, an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church’s Peninsula-Delaware Conference, has had experience confronting clergy and church officers who practice Wicca (supposedly a benign form of witchcraft).
“This does real harm to the women involved in it,” she said. “They don’t recognize a spiritual reality behind it. Women I’ve talked to believe they’re dealing with forces of nature, earth spirits, etc. — and I think that’s very dangerous.”
Whether one believes that false gods, idols, are either nothing at all or devils, to worship them violates the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
Dr. Morton Smith of the Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary said false teaching — especially feminist theology — is destroying the mainline churches in America.
“If you look at Germany, for instance,” he said, “you see that literally the feminist movement has taken over the whole country. There’s virtually no gospel at all being taught in Germany’s churches. And we see this all over Europe now.
“What’s happened in Europe will happen here as well. This false teaching will alter the Christian landscape of America. Look at the statistics on the Presbyterian Church USA. They’ve been losing 40,000 members a year for 20 years. At that rate, by 2040 they’ll have to close the church down.”
Rev. Booth agreed. “The mainline is going to fracture,” she said. “These churches are falling apart. But I’m not convinced that’s not God’s will.”
Why Goddess Worship?
The mainline churches — Episcopalian, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Evangelical Lutheran — have played a major role in America’s history and cultural development. Most of our country’s founders belonged to one of the above denominations — not to mention business leaders, reformers, and even today, presidents, senators, congressmen, and judges.
Ordinary members, however, are leaving in droves, while those who remain must grapple with controversies over homosexuality, politics — and pagan practices.
What has caused these churches to lose their way?
“It comes from Satan,” Dr. Smith said. “All of this evil is abroad in the culture today, and these churches have soaked it up. I have warned about this for years in my preaching. It’s the abandonment of the true gospel and the postmodern denigration of truth in general.”
Rev. Sterling Durgy, a Methodist minister who writes for The American Night Watch (www.amnightwatch.com), has left the United Methodist Church. He discussed with Chalcedon his view that the neo-pagan movement in the mainline churches is part of a historical process.
By the end of the 20th century, he said, mainline Protestantism had “split into two camps: one traditional, orthodox and evangelical, and the other radically liberal.” He traced this back to the rise of “liberal theology” in the 19th century. Its proponents, he said, “used traditional Christian vocabulary to speak of their liberal faith. This dodge enabled them to find acceptance as pastors and leaders in their denominations, and as teachers and professors. They then used their positions of leadership to steer their denominations away from traditional Christianity.”
By the end of the 20th century, Rev. Durgy said, “many pastors and lay people were so guided by feelings and so ignorant of Scripture, they no longer had the discernment to resist the entrance of pagan ideas.”
But why goddess worship?
In a 2004 essay “Does Father God Have Too Much Testosterone? Open Theism, Evangelical Feminism and the Doctrine of God” (http://www.gender-news.com/other.php?id=29), Russell Moore described how feminists in the church came to reject the God of Scripture as “just ‘too male.’”
In orthodox theology, he wrote, the fatherhood of God “is integrally related to God’s rule over creation. This is why feminist theology … carries with it such hostility to language of God as ‘king’ or ‘Lord ’ … [T]he hostility is about more than masculine language. The very concept that God creates, oversees, and guides his creation toward a consummated Kingdom is rejected in feminist revisionism as ‘too masculine.’ Instead … feminist theology prefers to think of God as dependent upon the creation [emphasis added], cooperating with it, and nurturing it toward what it can become.”
Liberalism and Magic
In this series of articles, we have seen that goddess worship, as carried on under the roofs of mainline churches, is always found accompanied by: (1) radical feminist clergy; (2) a push to legitimize homosexuality and lesbianism, usually including support for the ordination of practicing, unrepentant gays and lesbians; and (3) a hard-left, activist political agenda.
“They have made a general departure from the gospel,” Dr. Smith said. “They just want to do social and political works.”
This strong emphasis on works — “planetary healing” through worship of the Dark Goddess, for example — is actually a form of magic. R.J. Rushdoony explained it in The Biblical Philosophy of History (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1969, 2000):
“The purpose of magic is to gain autonomous control over man, nature, and the supernatural, control over the totality of whatever really exists” (p. 78). “Another consequence haunts every philosophy which abandons creation and predestination, magic.” But the Protestant doctrine of double election “represents the virtual liberation of the religion from the anthropocentric perspective, and the delusion, magic, and idolatry it generates” (p. 25).
“What is magic and why the fear of magic?” Rushdoony asked. “Magic is the attempt to control and govern the supernatural by means of the natural … [I]t holds that the individual’s decision governs eternity” (ibid.).
Perpetually disappointed in their quest for “social justice,” some of the radicals in the church are forced to choose between God’s authority and their own agenda. Unable to abandon the concept of God, they turn from the true God and raise up false gods — like “Sophia” — which are only projections of their own desires. In worshiping goddesses, the feminists are worshiping themselves.
No End in Sight
The great majority of the laity in the mainline churches, Rev. Booth said, have no involvement in goddess worship.
“This heresy is not widespread in the UMC,” she said, “but it has touched some of the hierarchy and the female leadership in the church who are die-hard committed to it.”
Goddess worship, she said, “will not go away. It’s taken firm root at many of the seminaries. It harms the women who get involved in it, and then they mislead others. It impacts their ministries in a very destructive way and confuses many seekers.
“In our conference we have many people who are trying to come out of Wicca. What are they supposed to think when they attend an event at one of our churches that is overtly ‘goddess’?”
“People are going to these churches and not being fed spiritually,” Dr. Smith said.
The male leadership in the mainline has shown itself unable or unwilling to confront the feminist pagans.
“What these churches need,” Rev. Booth said, “is orthodox, scholarly, faithful women to confront the feminists: women who are willing to speak out. Our leaders, so far, have been hiding their heads in the sand. They have to get informed about this. They have to be up on the housetops shouting.”
Meanwhile, said Dr. Smith, “It’s just growing and growing.
“Is it America’s destiny to turn away from God? It certainly could be. We’re like the people Paul wrote about in Romans 1. God turned them over to ‘vile affections’ as a punishment for their sins. That may be why this is happening to our churches. Our country is under God’s judgment.”
- Lee Duigon
Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.
Lee has his own blog at www.leeduigon.com.