Mysticism is being mainstreamed. I’m not talking the fantasy-world fiction of Narnia or the imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m referring to those things that the Bible clearly warns us about that have been flowing anew into mainstream culture with barely a peep from the evangelical community.
Of course the easiest place to spot this is in the entertainment media: books, graphic novels, radio, music, television programs, film. But, when it comes to agrarianism, the mystical practices of some are happening in the tangible world and not the fantastic imaginings of fiction. Here, the dangers are both real and often less apparent.
Gaia or Earth worship is obvious in its idolatry. But, what of biodynamic farming? Where do believers draw the line? With the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, Western people began to apprehend a perceived connection between the spiritual world and the physical world and subsequently leverage that connection in agriculture. According to the Biodynamic Association, Steiner “brought forth a unique and comprehensive approach to soil, plant, animal and human health that recognizes the importance of the healthy interplay of cosmic and earthly influences.”
That doesn’t sound bad does it? After all, some of Steiner’s thinking lead to the development of community supported agriculture. But, is it biblical to move beyond metaphorical anthropomorphism of the Earth to seeing it as a living entity with cosmic forces that can be channeled and manipulated? It’s not biblical, but that’s not my point. I’m bring up biodynamic farming and its logical conclusion of Earth/Gaia worship as an example of how prevalent mysticism is in our post-modern era; even in agriculture.
So, what’s the problem? The problem is the Bible prohibits such activities. One can start out by an examination of Deuteronomy 18 and gain a clear picture. God outright forbids worshiping other deities, divination, interpreting omens and signs, consulting mediums and practicing witchcraft and shamanism. And lest someone claim those were Old Testament laws that no longer apply, Revelation 21:8 helps us see the future of those who practice these.
But, could these growing practices be viewed as an opportunity? If the people of Occidental mindset are loosening their thoughts and now are more open to concepts that are Oriental, this could be a Mars Hill opportunity.
If we examine Acts 17 we read about the Apostle Paul reasoning with those in the streets of Athens. Paul was in this great and ancient city where pantheism and other belief systems were common and idols and temples abounded. Paul used this proclivity in the people of Athens during a message he delivered on Mars Hill and pointed many to the one true God.
I claim we have this same opportunity among those who are open to mysticism in agriculture. People who see the Earth and plants and animals and the entire cosmos as forces have already made a leap of faith in things unseen. They simply are not clear on the source.
So, when Luke quotes Paul as saying “Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it …He is Lord of heaven and earth,” we should be able to see the exact same thing in these people as Paul saw in the Athenians centuries ago.
Any effective communicator considers their audience. I claim this particular audience can be responsive if only we proclaim the gospel to them with the thought that they already are open to the idea of an unseen God who loves them and cares for them in many ways. The design of the Earth and all of creation are intentional by God to provide a loving and healthful place for humans to live. That’s an idea that they can identify with because of their understanding of the intricacies of creation.
Paul taught that God “gave to all people life and breath and all things.” This is very similar thinking that some might call “tree huggers” or Earth worshippers except they are confused on the God part. We can help these people move past their ignorance and see God “declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness.”
In summary, people who lean toward mystical ecological ideas, especially as practiced in agriculture, are primed for hearing and receiving the gospel if only we put away our preconceived notion of who these people are and approach them with love and understanding. From there, it’s a work of the Holy Spirit anyway. Let’s take advantage of their openness to the unseen world and point them to the Creator of all that is seen and unseen.