Incremental Changes in Worldview

Another way that people can change their worldview is incrementally—gradually—one small step at a time. Little by little, so that they don’t notice the change. It requires constant vigilance and prayer to avoid being incrementally moved away from a Christian worldview. The Bible warns us to be “sober” and “vigilant” (watchful, on guard).

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Peter 5:8)

Drunks act impulsively, based on emotion. Sober people are capable of reflective thinking, discernment, self-control, and basing their actions on Scriptural principles rather than on fleeting feelings. Of course, it takes time and practice to learn to do that. But if we are sober and vigilant, then we are able to do it, even though we may not always be consistent about it.

The best way to learn to recognize counterfeit money is to study good money. And the best way to learn to recognize false teachings is to study Scripture. There have been times in my life when a teaching sounded reasonable, but I felt that there was something wrong with it, so I didn’t take it in and apply it. And then later (perhaps many days later), all at once a Scripture passage jumped out at me, and suddenly I realized what was wrong with that teaching.

That illustrates a combination of the value of knowing Scripture, and the nudging of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit to them (John 16:7-15). In this passage, Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as being “the Comforter” (verse 7) and “the Spirit of truth” (verse 13). And one of the things that He does for followers of Jesus Christ is to guide them into truth—in other words, to enable them to discern truth from error. Jesus said,

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…” (John 16:13a, emphasis added)

In the epistle of Jude, we are told that God is able to keep us from falling away from Him.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25, emphasis added)

Now this is not a reason to act as if vigilance is not needed. These two Scripture passages balance each other. The first tells us what we need to do. The second assures us that God will give us the grace to do it.

Here is an example of incremental change, from the world of popular music. In January 1971, George Harrison (of the Beatles) released the song “My Sweet Lord.” It was his first solo record, and it was immensely popular.

The music is beautiful. The melody and instrumentation, and the soothing quality of George Harrison’s voice, draw you into the song. It sounds so devout, so full of loving worship. The words seem to epitomize the goal of contemplative prayer—to really know God, to be with Him, to see Him. As George Harrison sings about longing to know God, the background vocals sing “hallelujah.” It sounds so Christian.

But then the song changes. At first the change isn’t obvious, because it is in the words of the background vocals.

George Harrison keeps singing about the same longing to know God. In addition, the instrumentals are so beautiful that when the “halle” of “hallelujah” changes to “hare,” you barely notice it. After a while, you realize that the background vocals are singing “Hare Krishna” instead of “hallelujah.” But then you hear some more “hallelujahs,” so it seems as if it must have been “hallelujah” all along, a song honoring the God of the Bible.

Then the background lyrics become stronger and more noticeable, and it sounds as if they are singing in a foreign language. In reality, they are singing the names of the Hindu gods Krishna, Brahma, Vishnu and Sakshaat (Shiva). They are also singing phrases from the “Hare Krishna” mantra.

The song has morphed from seemingly Christian devotion to Hindu devotion. But it still sounds so sweet and beautiful that it is difficult to believe that the change has occurred.

That is a picture of what can happen when Christians become involved in contemplative prayer, mysticism, and things that come from Eastern religions or modern New Age practices. People can start out longing to know the God of the Bible, and wind up being drawn to Hindus and Buddhists and New Agers, and to the gods and goddesses that they worship. (In the next chapter, you will read about some Roman Catholic priests and monks who did just that.)

Protestants are not immune to this kind of transformation. Evangelical Christians were introduced to contemplative prayer and mysticism by Catholic mystics such as Thomas Merton. Seeing the genuine devotion of such men, some Evangelicals assumed that they were Biblical Christians, and followed their example. Unfortunately, those Catholic mystics were not Biblical Christians at all. For example, near the end of his life, Thomas Merton practiced Buddhism and Suffism (Muslim mysticism), and he saw no conflict between what he was doing and Catholicism.

The Roman Catholic Church gives the traditions of men priority over the Bible. In addition, it promotes some beliefs and practices that are clearly contrary to Scripture. You will see some practical results of this in the next two chapters.

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