The United Methodist Church: Weeping for Tammuz
Paganism in the Church
I’m going to bring up articles from the archives that most of you never had the opportunity to see.
For the next three days it’ll be articles on “Paganism in the Church,” which were part of a series published by The Chalcedon Foundation in 2006. This was a journalistic project for me, chosen by my editors to be the first items posted on this blog when it was created in 2010.
To the objection that “Those articles are ten years old–so what good are they now?”, I can only say that I doubt the the problems have gone away and things have gotten better over the intervening seven years. “Feminist theology,” anyone? You’ll find it at your nearest seminary. God save us.
[God] said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here [in the Temple], that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.
And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall …
And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.
So I went in, and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about …
Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz [a pagan deity] …
Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here?…
Therefore will I also deal in fury.
Ezekiel 8:6–18[T]here be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Today Paul Woodall is the pastor of the fastest-growing church in the town of Gove, Kansas.
Three years ago, Pastor Woodall and his flock seceded from the United Methodist Church, lost their building, and had to transfer their worship services to a small, struggling Baptist church nearby. The UMC dismissed Woodall from its ministry, and he soon dropped out of a legal battle over possession of the church building.
Why did Woodall and his people leave the UMC?
Because, he said, the denomination was rife with paganism and anti-Biblical practices — “same-sex unions, homosexual ordination, Sophia worship, goddess worship, Wicca worship, pagan practices, anti-trinitarianism, opposition to the virgin birth and the deity of Christ,” as reported on the UMC’s own website.
And why did he make that accusation?
“Because I saw it with my own eyes,” he told Chalcedon. “As a pastor, I encountered these things. So did members of this congregation. It was going on in a UMC church right down the road from us.
“We went there one night and saw what was supposed to be a ‘Christian healing service’ — with Tibetan prayer bells, a Baha’i prayer, and a chant. The chant went, ‘Come, Lord Jesus … Ommmm.’” [ “Om” is a Buddhist incantation.]
“We researched the matter and found a great deal of information on the Internet. We were shocked to find out this was going on in most of the mainline denominations today; and it was really bad in the UMC.
“So we left the UMC. That was the stand we took. And today our church [the Gove Community Bible Church] is exploding with new members.”
“Radical Stuff” Woodall called the healing service “pretty radical stuff, for Kansas.” But if he were to visit the Highland Park UMC in Dallas, Texas, he would see “stuff” considerably more radical.
Consider the curriculum for the Highland Park UMC’s “Academy of Christian and Life Enrichment Studies,” Spring 2006.
*The Feminine Face of God, led by Rosalind de Rolon: “Her quest for the Christian Feminine spans a decade, worldwide travel and research with teachers ranging from Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh to Siberian healer Valentina Iourtchenko.”
Buddhist monks and Siberian shamans? We’re not in Kansas anymore, Pastor Woodall. Thich teaches that there is no absolute truth. Siberian healers — the most famous (or infamous) of whom was Rasputin — claim supernatural powers lent to them by nature spirits.
*Expanding Our Images of the Divine, an exercise in Liberation Theology [linked to Marxism]. Rev. Jann Aldredge-Clanton (Baptist), Ph.D., is the author of Praying with Christ-Sophia. For ultra-feminist clergy, “Sophia” is either “the feminine side of Christ” or even a replacement for Christ.
*The Embodied Divine: Sacred Sexuality & Holy Wisdom. “Sacred Sexuality” usually comes with earth-goddess worship and worship of ancient pagan fertility goddesses like Ishtar of Babylon [see “In Praise of Ishtar,” http://www.ishtartemple.org].
*Saint Mary Magdalene: The Sacred Bride. We are familiar with this as the mythological basis of The Da Vinci Code. Here in Dallas the class will be taught by Jungian analyst Dr. Donna Cozort and will make use of “Gnostic texts, and Carl Jung’s Collected Works.”
As explained by self-identified “Christian theologian” Margaret Starbird, Mary Magdalene is the “Lost Bride” of Christ — taken literally in The Da Vinci Code — and “a ‘carrier’ of the Sacred Feminine, (in fact, a composite [not a real person] of Aphrodite, Athene, and Demeter, not to mention similarities with Isis, Innana and Astarte — and the Holy Sophia!) … She was to have been the Lady of the Age of Pisces as Christ was its Lord, forming together the sacred mandala of ‘hieros gamos’ [‘sacred marriage’] for the Age of the Fishes.”
You won’t find any of that in the Bible.
*The Earth as a Sacred Realm, led by de Rolon again: this time focusing on “the myth of Holy Sophia — Holy Wisdom imprisoned in matter until freed by humanity.”
You won’t find that in the Scriptures, either.
At the Presidents’ Church Foundry United Methodist Church, in Washington, D.C., was famous in the 1990s as the church attended by President Bill Clinton and his family. Abraham Lincoln was the first president to attend services there. Presidents Hayes and Cleveland, senators, generals, and other American leaders have worshiped there.
Foundry was in the news again last fall, when two UMC bishops, speaking from the pulpit, invoked the goddess “Sophia” and rejected the authority of Scripture.
Bishop Susan Morrison of Albany, NY [who has recently announced her retirement, two years’ short of the expiration of her term, citing health and family issues], called for the ordination of practicing homosexuals as UMC clergy, in defiance of UMC teaching and policy. She reveled in her role as a leader of that summer’s “Hearts on Fire” convocation, an assembly of “gay-affirming clergy” within the UMC, held at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. Although the UMC General Assembly in 2004 had reaffirmed the church’s adherence to Biblical teachings against homosexual behavior, the denomination took no disciplinary action against the clerical insurgents.
Nor did it take action against Morrison when she dismissed complaints against Methodist pastors who celebrated “Sophia” in their writings. In her speech from the pulpit, Morrison defended the 1993 “Re-Imagining” Conference — where 2,000 feminist clergy and church officers denied the atoning work of Christ, prayed and sang to assorted pagan goddesses, and gave a firm impetus to the “Sophia movement.” [More on this in the next article in the series.] Morrison described the Re-Imagining Conference as “one of the greatest events I ever went to.”
The other speaker, Bishop John Schol of Baltimore-Washington, praised Morrison for her “prophetic voice.”
In 1993 Nancy Webb, Foundry’s minister of education and children’s education, assisted by another pastor, Mary Kraus, conducted a “croning ritual” — a Wicca rite celebrating a woman’s 50th birthday. No disciplinary action was taken; Webb is still there.
“I brought official charges against Webb and Kraus,” Rev. Karen Booth, of the UMC Confessing Movement, told Chalcedon. “At the investigatory meetings, Webb acknowledged she personally practiced a form of benign Wicca in addition to the published event.
“An account of the ritual was published in the Fall 1994 clergywomen’s magazine Wellsprings [now defunct], though the issue itself wasn’t released until the Spring of 1995. Many of us believe that was done to get beyond probable participant Bishop Susan Morrison’s two-year statute of limitations for charges.” [For Rev. Booth’s account of the charges, see http://www.ucmpage.org/news/wicca_story6.html.]
Rev. Booth recalled her conversation with Bishop Morrison “about her probable involvement as the second woman croned.
“In our conversation, Morrison would neither confirm nor deny her participation in this particular ritual. She said it was ‘None of our business.’ She said she had ‘observed’ many croning rituals, did not have a problem if they came from pagan or Wiccan roots as they could be ‘Christianized,’ and that she expected them to be included in the next Book of Worship.”
In an article written by Webb [see http://www.ucmpage.org/articles/wicca_story7.html, “A Croning Ritual”], she described the ritual in detail, including this closing chant:
“And now, by the earth that is Her body and the air that is Her breath and by the bright fire of Her spirit and the water of Her womb [earth, water, fire, and air are the four traditional “elements” of Wicca], may Her spirit go with you. The circle is open, but unbroken. Merry meet and merry part, and merry meet again. Blessed be.”
This is all Wicca language, despite Webb’s disclaimer that “[t]here is nothing magic about this croning ritual.”
More to Come With more than 8 million members, the UMC is America’s second-largest Protestant denomination. Its infection with paganism must be of concern to the entire Body of Christ — especially because it has spread to other denominations.
How did this happen?
In the next article in this series, we’ll trace the origins of the neo-pagan movement within mainline Protestantism, examine the failure of these churches to stamp it out, and list the warning signs that should alert Christians to the possibility of neo-pagan incursion into their own churches.
As we see from the Bible quotes given above, God takes heresy and apostasy very seriously indeed.
So should we.
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