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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
Psychology has been permeated with mysticism since its inception in the 19th century.
Carl Jung (1875-1961), the founder of analytical psychology, has been called “the psychologist of the 21st century” (Merill Berger, The Wisdom of the Dreams, front cover.) Jung (pronounced Young) has been influential, not only in society at large, but also in the New Age movement and within almost all aspects of Christianity. Jung has influenced both modernists and evangelicals. His writings are influential within the contemplative movement. He has been promoted by Paul Tillich, Morton Kelsey, John Sanford, Thomas Moore, Joseph Campbell, John Spong, Richard Foster, Agnes Sanford, and Gary Thomas, to name a few. Jung’s psychological typing provides the underpinning for the Personality Profiling part of Rick Warren’s SHAPE program, which is used by countless churches and institutions.
Jeffrey Satinover says:
“Jung’s direct and indirect impact on mainstream Christianity--and thus on Western culture--has been incalculable. It is no exaggeration to say that the theological positions of most mainstream denominations in their approach to pastoral care, as well as in their doctrines and liturgy--have become more or less identical with Jung’s psychological/symbolic theology” (Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, p. 240, quoted from Ed Hird, “Carl Jung, Neo-Gnosticism,” March 18, 1998).
At the same time, Jung was deeply involved in pagan mysticism. He has been called the “Father of the New Age Movement” (Ed Hird).
Jung explored Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, I Ching, astrology, Spiritualism, Gnosticism, alchemy, dream interpretation, mandala symbolism, theosophy, Greek mythology, and more. Even as a boy, he was drawn to Hindu gods because he “had an obscure feeling of their affinity with my ‘original revelation’” (Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Vintage Books, 1989, p. 17). He spent time in India studying eastern religion and folk lore. He wrote the first introduction to Zen Buddhism. He amassed one of the largest collections of spiritualistic writings found on the European continent (Jeffrey Santinover, The Empty Self, p. 28).
In the pursuit of communion with spirits and a pantheistic “all-pervading power,” Jung used a wide variety of mystical practices, including the divination methods of I Ching, idolatry, astrological horoscopic calculations, meditation, communion with spirits, clairvoyance, séances, dream interpretation, and channeling. Jung’s book Septem Sermones (The Seven Sermons to the Dead) was dictated from spirits.
Jung believed that the secret of life is found “at the mystical heart of all religions” and that it consists of a “journey of transformation” to find the true self and bring it into harmony with the Divine. The god that Jung encountered through mystical practices was not the God of the Bible. He was the pantheistic, universalistic, syncretistic, non-judgmental god of Self.
Jung said that Jesus, Mani, Buddha, and Lao-Tse are all “pillars of the spirit” (John Dourley, C.G. Jung and Paul Tillich, p. 65).
Jung believed in pantheism. “Nothing could persuade me that ‘in the image of God’ applied only to man. In fact it seemed to me that the high mountains, the rivers, lakes, trees, flowers, and animals far better exemplified the essence of God than men...” (Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 45). He carried a little stone and secretly adored it. He says, “What I dimly felt to be my kinship with stone was the divine nature in both, in the dead and the living matter” (p. 68).
Jung believed that “nothing separated man from God” (p. 45). This, of course, is the non-judgmental god who is not a holy lawgiver and judge.
Maslow (1908-90) predicted a “fourth force” in psychology, which “has become known as transpersonal psychology with a strong New Age element” (E.S. Williams, The Dark Side of Christian Counselling, p. 57).
Maslow promoted mystical “peak experiences” as the means of connecting with “god” and achieving self-actualization. By such experiences the individual feels “a part of the infinite and the eternal” (Williams, p. 63).
His mysticism led him to the god of end-times apostasy. Maslow rejected the God of the Bible and hated Bible Christianity, considering it a major enemy of true spirituality. He denied divine revelation and absolute truth. He wanted to lead men to a new god. He saw himself “as a secular prophet who will deliver modern man from the tyranny of traditional religion and lead us to the promised land of human self-actualisation” (Williams, p. 59).
Maslow’s god was “not a person, but a force, a principle, a gestalt-quality of the whole of Being, an integrating power that expresses the unity and therefore the meaningfulness of the cosmos” (Maslow, Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences, chapter 8).
His god was a non-judgmental god who does not give laws and judge disobedience. He denied the doctrine of original sin and taught that man is basically good and has the potential within himself for perfection or “actualization.” This is called “human potential” psychology.
It is mysticism, and the mystical practice is psychological counseling. Man can realize his potential through non-directive psychological counseling. Observing that the mysticism of all religions leads to the same type of god, Maslow concluded that “all religions are the same in their essence and have always been the same” (Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences, p. 20).
Rogers (1902-98) was ranked the number one most influential psychotherapist in 1982 by the American Psychologist journal. William Kilpatrick said, “I don’t think any other psychologist has had as much influence on our culture and ways of thinking” (Experiments in Moral Education, 1997, cited from E.S. Williams, The Dark Side of Christian Counselling, p. 71).
Rogers had a massive influence on public education. “In the 50s and 70s these counselling techniques which Rogers had developed were introduced into schools with the result that teachers began to take a non-directive, non-judgmental attitude toward values. Each person would have to discover his own values, and no one could say that one value was superior to another” (William Kirkpatrick, cited from Williams, p. 71).
Rogers also had a huge influence on the abortion counseling movement. “Virtually all abortion counseling services, both Christian and secular, follow Rogers’ non-directive approach. The aim is to provide a pregnant woman with the facts about her options (abortion, adoption, keeping the pregnancy) in an impartial way that helps her to make up her mind as to what she wants to do with the unwanted pregnancy. Whatever choice she makes is the right choice for her” (Williams, p. 71).
After attending the liberal Union Theological Seminary and participating in the liberal World Student Christian Federation Conference, Rogers rejected his parents’ Christian faith. He rejected the God of the Bible and pursued the god of end-times apostasy. He became his own authority, his own god, and “experience” was the channel to truth. Rogers wrote:
“Experience is, for me, the highest authority. The touchstone of validity is my own experience. No other person’s ideas and none of my own ideas, are as authoritative as my experience. It is to experience that I must return again and again, to discover a closer approximation to truth as it is in the process of becoming in me. Neither the Bible nor the prophets--neither Freud nor research--neither the revelations of God nor man--can take precedence over my own direct experience” (Rogers, On Becoming a Person).
He became an enemy of the God of Bible Christianity. He wrote, “Religion, especially the Protestant Christian tradition, has permeated our culture with the concept that man is basically sinful, and only by something approaching a miracle can his sinful nature be negated” (Rogers, On Becoming a Person, 1961, p. 91).
Rogers was one of the movers and shakers in the Humanist movement and in 1964 was elected Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association.
His god was a “life-force” that is present in all forms of life and that individuals can tap for “self-actualization” (Williams, p. 66).
He rejected the fallenness of man and the necessity of the new birth, believing that man has the ability to perfect himself through trusting his experiences and following his feelings. The means to this is “non-directive” counseling which is non-judgmental and morally relativistic.
This is another mystical path to the end-times apostasy god. By pursuing the “light within” and trusting his own feelings and experiences, Rogers was drawn farther and farther into spiritual darkness. Toward the end of his life, he became entangled with the occult, dabbling in such things as thought transference, clairvoyance, human auras, out-of-body experiences, and séances.
Psychology’s God of Self-esteem and Unconditional Love
Two of the fundamental principles of modern psychology are self-esteem and unconditional love. These are blatant denials of Bible Christianity and are a rejection of the God of the Bible and are thus a pursuit of a false god -- the very god of end-times apostasy. The doctrine of self-esteem was developed by the fathers of the psychological counseling movement and has spread throughout that field and beyond to every level of modern society.
According to the doctrine of self-esteem, man must pursue his own self-love or self-confidence for the sake of psychological wholeness, and anything that damages self-esteem is wrong. The mystical path to the development of self-esteem is psychological counseling. Since absolute rules produce guilt in those who don’t live up to them, the pursuit of self-esteem emphasizes the need for “new rules which will allow us more freedom of movement and encourage us to accept ourselves just as we are” (E.S. Williams, The Dark Side of Christian Counselling, p. 116).
Atheist Abraham Maslow emphasized the need for self-esteem in books such as A Theory of Human Motivation (1943), Motivation and Personality (1954), and Toward a Psychology of Being (1955). He taught that a lack of self-esteem can lead to “neurotic trends.” Rejecting the doctrine of the Fall, he believed that man is basically good and there is “a positive, self-actualising force within each person that is struggling to assert itself” (Williams, The Dark Side, p. 114). If it is “permitted to guide our life, we grow healthy, fruitful, and happy” (Motivation and Personality, 1970, p. 122).
Dr. Nathaniel Branden has had a massive influence in the promotion of self-esteem through books such as Psychology of Self-Esteem (1969), How to Raise Your Self-Esteem (1987), and the Six Pillars of Self-Esteem (1995). He treats self-esteem as a basic human need that is essential for mental health. He says, “The first love affair we must consummate successfully in this world is with ourselves; only then are we ready for a relationship.”
Douglas Groothuis identifies the self-esteem doctrine as New Age in character.
“Maslow’s path-breaking efforts cleared the way for an exodus from the old psychological view of humanity toward a new human that is essentially good and has within himself unlimited potential for growth. A whole host of thinkers--Erich Fromm, Rollo May, Carl Rogers and others--sound this call. In humanistic psychology the self is seen as the radiant heart of health, and psychotherapy must strive to get the person in touch with that source of goodness. ... This is the message at the core of New Age teaching” (Unmasking the New Age, 1986, p. 78).
The pursuit of self-esteem puts one into contact with the god of end-times apostasy.
The doctrine of self-esteem is at the heart of the “Christian” homosexual movement which claims that God accepts homosexuals as they are without the necessity of repentance. At the founding of the Metropolitan Community Churches in 1968, Troy Perry preached a message entitled “Be True to You,” from a line in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, “This above all: To thine own self be true.”
The self-esteem doctrine was borrowed from humanistic God-haters like Maslow and Rogers and has been promoted far and wide in Christian circles by a slew of Christian psychologists, with James Dobson leading the way.
Dobson claims that “lack of self-esteem produces more symptoms of psychiatric disorders than any other factor yet identified” (Confident Healthy Families, 1987, pp. 73-74). His 1974 book Hide and Seek was designed “to formulate a well-defined philosophy--and approach to child rearing -- that will contribute to self-esteem from infancy onwards.”
He says, “If I could write a prescription for the women of the world, I would provide each one of them with a healthy dose of self-esteem and personal worth (taken three times a day until the symptoms disappear). I have no doubt that this is their greatest need” (What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew about Women, p. 35).
He says, “... lack of self-esteem is a threat to the entire human family, affecting children, adolescents, the elderly, all socioeconomic levels of society, and each race and ethic culture” (What Wives Wish, p. 24).
Dobson believes that lack of self-esteem is the cause of every social ill.
“Thus, whenever the keys to self-esteem are seemingly out of reach for a large percentage of the people, as in twentieth-century America, then widespread mental illness, neuroticism, hatred, alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, and social disorder will certainly occur. Personal worth is not something humans are free to take or leave. We must have it, and when it is unattainable, everybody suffers” (Confident, Healthy Families, p. 67).
To the contrary, the Bible lays the ills of society at the feet of fallen man and his rebellion against God. Jesus taught that murder, adultery, fornication, covetousness, deceit, theft, and such come from man’s wicked heart (Mark 7:21-23).
David Seamands is another pioneer of the Christian self-esteem movement. His hugely popular books Healing for Damaged Emotions and Healing of Memories seek to heal the believer of “Satan’s most powerful psychological weapon” which is “low self-esteem.” He aims to take the client back into the past to recover and heal memories of events that injured one’s self-esteem.
Seamands has been widely recommended by evangelicals, including James Dobson and George Verwer (Youth With A Mission), who wrote the foreword to Healing for Damaged Emotions.
Seamands’ mystical path toward self-esteem is “healing of memories” through psychological counseling and New Age techniques. He promotes things as positive visualization, guided imagery, dream analysis, and venting of emotions. Through visualization, the individual is taught to imagine painful past events in perfect detail and to imagine Jesus entering the scenes to bring healing. This is not only vain fantasy; it is occultic and it is a recipe for communing with deceiving spirits masquerading as angels of light.
The Self-esteem Doctrine Downplays and Redefines Sin
The very popular and influential Robert Schuller, who was a pioneer in the “Christian” self-esteem movement, defines sin as “any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem” (Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, p. 14). He defined the new birth as “being changed from a negative to a positive self-image--from inferiority to self-esteem” (p. 68). He even said that Christ was “self-esteem incarnate” (p. 135).
Schuller has been praised and promoted by a who’s-who of evangelicalism, including Billy Graham, W.A. Criswell, R.C. Sproul, Christianity Today, National Association of Evangelicals, World Vision, Promise Keepers, James Dobson, Tony Campolo, Bill Bright, Paul Yonggi Cho, Jack Hayford, Ralph Reed, Bill Hybels, Paul Crouch, John Wimber, Ravi Zacharias, Lee Strobel, Chuck Colson, and Rick Warren, to name a few. (See “Evangelicals and Heretic Robert Schuller” at the Way of Life web site.)
The self-esteem doctrine promotes an unscriptural view of the conscience. While acknowledging that the conscience (an “inner voice”) produces guilt and negative thoughts, the proposed solution is not the biblical path of regeneration through repentance and faith followed by a Christian walk of obedience and confession. The proposed solution, instead, is to lower the standards of morality.
The atheist founders of the self-esteem doctrine hated the holy God of the Bible and His holy Law and sought to destroy His authority over men by denying His existence and teaching moral relativism and the pursuit of Self. Christian counsellors who have borrowed the self-esteem doctrine also tend to downplay the absoluteness of God’s Law, the necessity of strict obedience, and they replace the biblical means of soothing the conscience with psychological mumbo-jumbo.
Crusade for World Revival (CWR), founded by Selwyn Hughes, says, “If our standards are so high as to be almost unobtainable we will put ourselves forward for failure.”
Chris Leger and Wendy Bray say that “Bible verses which remind us of God’s command to be obedient may cause guilt to arise...We continually strive to please God, yet never feel that we have pleased him--our self-esteem tumbles down the ladder” (Insight into Self-Esteem, p. 57). Leger and Bray claim that God always accepts our best because His voice is always one of “grace, love and acceptance” (pp. 43, 44).
Dr. E.S. Williams warns:
“In all that has been written and taught about self-esteem, both Christian and secular, there is never any suggestion that the root cause of man’s low self-esteem is God’s moral law which condemns sinful behaviour” (The Dark Side of Christian Counselling, p. 140).
The self-esteem movement twists Scripture out of context. A major prooftext is Matthew 22:39, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” This is interpreted to mean that man needs to love himself just as he needs to love his neighbor, but Christ was not saying there is a need for self-love and He was not encouraging any sort of self-esteem program. He was saying that men already love themselves!
Paul said the same thing in Ephesians 5:29, “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh...” The fallen man’s problem is not a lack of self-esteem but far too much of it and a gross lack of God-esteem! Fallen man is an idolater who worships himself in the place of the Almighty Creator. The very essence of sin is that we’ve “turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).
The modern self-esteem doctrine is heresy and apostasy. The very first characteristic of end-times apostasy is that “men shall be lovers of their own selves” (2 Timothy 3:1-2).
The twisting of Scripture in the self-esteem movement reaches frightful heights because of the simple fact that the doctrine of self-esteem is not taught in Scripture but is derived from modern psychology and is then forced upon Scripture.
David Seamands claims that in the Parable of the Talents, the man with one talent was paralyzed by fear and lack of self-esteem! And the reason the Israelites didn’t enter the Promised Land was low self-esteem! Seamands applies this as follows: “Where is the vision God put before you? What wrecked it? Your sins and transgressions and bad habits? I doubt it. Probably your dream has been delayed or destroyed because Satan tricked you into thinking of yourself as a grasshopper or a worm” (Healing for Damaged Emotions, p. 50).
So man’s problem is not sin but lack of self-esteem. Man is not a sinner; he is a victim. He doesn’t need salvation and sanctification; he needs psychological counseling.
The doctrine of self-esteem is intimately associated with that of unconditional love. To have the highest self-esteem we must know that we are loved unconditionally, no strings attached.
We must see God as a merciful Father who “accepts us totally, exactly as we are” (Chris Leger and Wendy Bray, Insight into Self-Esteem, 2006, p. 12).
As Larry Crabb says, “I am completely acceptable to him regardless of my behavior” (Effective Biblical Counseling, 1977, p. 70).
Like the doctrine of self-esteem, unconditional love is promoted both by secular counselors and Christian. It is taught by Rick Warren, James Dobson, Philip Yancy, Joyce Meyer, Larry Crabb, Gary Smalley, Selwyn Hughes, David Seamands, Gary Chapman, Charles Stanley, and a host of other popular Christian leaders and authors.
James Dobson said that his book Love for a Lifetime is designed to “sum up the importance of selfless, unconditional love” (“Loving Focus: Dr. James and Shirley Dobson,” Christianitytoday.com, Sept. 12, 2008).
Dr. E.S. Williams observes: “While self-esteem attempts to make man feel good about his sin, unconditional love attempts to make sinful man feel that he will not face judgment or punishment” (Christ or Therapy? p. 71).
Like the doctrine of self-esteem, the doctrine of unconditional love was developed by the fathers of the psychological counseling movement and New Agers. Erik Fromm was the first to use the phrase “unconditional love,” while Carl Rogers coined the term “unconditional positive regard,” by which “he meant the granting of love and approval regardless of an individual’s behaviour” (E.S. Williams, Christ or Therapy? pp. 65, 66).
The doctrine of unconditional love is a major theme of New Age thought. The god of unconditional love puts no obligations on people and does not punish sin. Harold Becker says the human race is “becoming consciously aware of unconditional love” (Unconditional Love--An Unlimited Way of Being, 2007, p. 7). It is “an energy and power” that is “transforming the course of all humanity.” Roy Klienwachter says, “Unconditional love means unconditional freedom. ... Retribution is a lie, it was all made...Anyone who tells you different, is not coming from unconditional love” (Unconditional Love, 2008).
Unconditional love is a theme of the occult. Consider Aleister Crowley, who has had a massive influence on the rock & roll culture and whose photo appeared on the cover of the Beatles’ Sargent Pepper’s album. His system was based on two principles: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” and “Love is the law, love under will.” Crowley’s “love” was unconditional love with no obligations. The Voice of Lucifer website proclaims that “unconditional love is an unlimited way of being” and “as a way of changing our world for the better” and “the sole vehicle for our salvation.”
Unconditional love is a theme of the “Christian” homosexual movement. God accepts them as they are. Unconditional love is also a fundamental principle of the emerging church. In An Emerging Church Primer Justin Taylor says we must proclaim “God’s message of unconditional love.”
The God of unconditional love is not the God of Scripture. The love of the sovereign Creator God is unfathomable and unmerited, but not unconditional. God’s love is demonstrated in Christ and the Cross and to benefit from God’s love one must repent and receive Christ as Lord and Saviour. Consider the following statements by Jesus Christ himself:
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
“I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
Repent or perish is not the message of unconditional love!
The doctrine of unconditional love as typically defined denies the absolute holiness of God, the fall of man, the necessity of the atonement of Christ, the requirement of the new birth, God’s call to repentance and faith, the existence of eternal hell for those outside of Christ, and God’s call to holy living in the Christian life.
There are some who preach unconditional love that say that they believe the aforementioned Bible doctrines, but the message of unconditional love is contradictory to these truths and those who try to reconcile them are living in a fantasy world.
The god of self-esteem and unconditional love is not the God of Scripture; he is the god of end-times apostasy. As Dr. E.S. Williams observes:
“The concept of unconditional love only exists in a mythological world in which there is no sin, no evil and no law, in which people are free to live as they like without fear of judgment and punishment. In the real world, unconditional love is no more and no less than licentiousness -- an attitude that denies the accepted rules and morals that govern human behaviour. It is an attitude that allows us to do what we want without sanction or control. It is the essential message of pagan morality and New Age salvation” (Christ or Therapy? p. 69).
“The permissive god of ‘Christian’ self-esteem dogma longs to satisfy the needs and desires of the human heart. He delights in meeting our needs and likes to make us feel good about ourselves, no matter what. He is careful not to set standards too high or too difficult for us to meet. He is satisfied with our behaviour so long as we do our best. He is a god who is ‘mighty to save’ mankind from a lifetime cycle of low self-esteem. And if the truth were known, he does not really hate evil and sin all that much, for he accepts us totally, exactly as we are. He has commanded us to love ourselves and he loves everybody unconditionally no matter how they behave” (Williams, The Dark Side of Christian Counselling, p. 141).
Closely associated with the doctrine of unconditional love is unconditional forgiveness. Over the past two decades this has become a major element of the psychology movement. It is a form of therapy. It is considered a channel to inner healing and self-esteem.
A major force behind the spread of therapeutic forgiveness is the Templeton Foundation, which is New Age to the core. Though a committed Presbyterian, John Templeton is an evolutionist, pantheist, and universalist. He has rejected the Bible as divine revelation, brazenly claiming that the Bible was written by men who “were limited by cosmologies long since discredited” and whose writings were “ignorant and primitive” (The Humble Approach, 1995, p. 135). His biographical sketch says that “Templeton’s goal has been nothing less than to change mindsets about the concept of divinity.” Templeton says, “God is all of you and you are a little part of him,” and, “No one should say that God can be reached by only one path” (The Humble Approach, pp. 38, 55).
Templeton’s books have been recommended by Norman Vincent Peale (he called Templeton “the greatest layman of the Christian church in our time”), Robert Schuller (he put Templeton’s picture on the cover of his Possibilities magazine), and Rick Warren (he was one of the judges of Templeton’s Power of Purpose worldwide essay competition).
Since the 1990s, the Templeton Foundation has funded “scientific studies” on the power of forgiveness, and there has been an associated explosion of teaching on this subject, such as Colin Tipping’s Radical Forgiveness (1997); Robert Enright’s Forgiveness Is a Choice (2001); Fred Luskin’s Forgive for Good (2002); and Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness (2002).
There is the Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance, the International Forgiveness Institute, the Institute for Radical Forgiveness, and the Forgiveness Project. Many of these people and organizations are New Age in perspective. The Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance is “open to all religions, creeds, and beliefs” and uses forgiveness as an instrument of building a New Age of joy and peace. Colin Tipping’s mission is “to raise the consciousness of the planet through forgiveness.”
In light of the wholesale “repudiation of separatism” that characterizes modern evangelicalism and the charismatic movement, it is not surprising that Christian counselors have been quick to jump on the unconditional forgiveness bandwagon. There is The Art of Forgiving (1996) by Lewis Smedes, professor emeritus of theology and ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, and The Importance of Forgiveness (1997) by John Arnot of Toronto Airport Church, and The Choosing to Forgive Workbook by Frank Minirth and Les Carter, and The New Freedom of Forgiveness (2000) by David Augsburger, and Total Forgiveness (2002) by R.T. Kendall, and Choosing Forgiveness (2006) by Hancy Leigh DeMoss.
The movement of therapeutic forgiveness is all about Self. It is unconditional forgiveness for my sake, to help me feel good about myself, to have personal peace of mind, to have personal self-esteem and psychological wholeness, even to gain “good karma points” and avoiding “inhibiting our very life-force.”
Not only am I taught to forgive others unconditionally, but also to forgive myself and even to forgive God. R.T. Kendall says that since “God has allowed bad things to happen ... He has allowed us to suffer when we didn’t do anything that we know of to warrant such ill-treatment ... We therefore must forgive him--but not because he is guilty, but for allowing evil to touch our lives” (Total Forgiveness, p. 33).
What blasphemy, what foolish audacity, for a mere man to think that he can forgive Almighty God! This is definitely the worship of a false god. Like unconditional love, unconditional forgiveness is unscriptural. Biblical forgiveness is predicated on confession and repentance.
This is true vertically, between man and God. God’s forgiveness is not unconditional; it required the payment of a great price on God’s part (the giving of His Son on the Cross) and obtaining God’s forgiveness requires repentance. Jesus twice said, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5).
There is a repentance that is necessary for the once-for-all eternal forgiveness of justification, and there is daily confession and repentance necessary for fellowship with God in the Christian life. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Adam and Eve weren’t automatically and unconditionally forgiven when they sinned. They were driven out of the Garden of Eden and required to live in a God-cursed world and then die, death being “the wages of sin” (Romans 6:23). They and their children were required to repent and put their faith in the coming Saviour as prophesied in the promise that the woman’s seed (Christ) would bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15) and signified by Abel’s lamb.
Of the first two sons of Adam, Cain and Abel, one believed and one did not, and one was justified and the other was not (Genesis 4:7; Hebrews 11:4). Ever since then, God’s forgiveness has been predicated upon repentance and faith, and those who reject the witness of God’s Spirit and God’s Word in these matters are destined for eternal punishment.
This is also true with forgiveness at the horizontal level, forgiveness between men. We are to be quick to forgive and we are to love our enemies, but this does not mean that we are to forgive unconditionally. As Jesus said:
“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and IF HE REPENT, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I REPENT; thou shalt forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4).
The apostle Paul did not unconditionally forgive Alexander the Coppersmith (2 Tim. 4:14) or the heretics at Galatia (Gal. 5:7-10). He did not teach the unconditional forgiveness for those who sin against the testimony of Christ in the church (1 Corinthians 5).
Not only is unconditional forgiveness wrong, but it is also hurtful. As Dr. E.S. Williams writes:
“Nowhere in Scripture is the Christian told to unconditionally forgive an unbeliever who sins against him. To do so is only a meaningless gesture; for by what authority does a Christian forgive sin? This only leads to a false view of forgiveness, and the world will gain the idea that Christians practise cheap forgiveness, like New Age adherents. For Christians to offer unconditional forgiveness to all and sundry is to make a mockery of the Cross of Christ. ... The moral wrongness of unconditional forgiveness is that it condones sin and wrongdoing. The wrongdoer is not held accountable for his sin, but actually encouraged to believe that it is a light matter” (Christ or Therapy? pp. 99, 100).
Unconditional love and unconditional forgiveness are attributes of a false god, and not surprisingly, this god is encountered through mysticism.
Emergent leader Nanette Sawyer says that she encountered this god through contemplative prayer. She said that while “sitting in meditation, in a technique similar to what Christians call Centering Prayer, I encountered love that is unconditional, yet it called me to responsible action in my life” (An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, p. 44). This occurred AFTER she had rejected biblical Christianity and the gospel that Jesus died for our sins (p. 43).
She said that she found love and Jesus through meditation, but it is not the Jesus of the Bible nor is it the love of God as described in the Bible. It is another god, another Jesus, another gospel, and another spirit (2 Cor. 11:4). It is the god who is found through mysticism.