‘Confession—Always Good for the Soul’
This may cost me some readers, but I have a confession to make. I used to love the ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle Show’. Bullwinkle had a recurrent scene where he was on a stage with a table and an inverted top-hat. With excited anticipation he would say, “Wanna see me pull a rabbit out of my hat?” Then, he’d reach in and pull out anything but a rabbit. I thought that was really funny—which probably explains a lot. But even if you didn’t watch Rocky and Bullwinkle, and/or can’t pull a rabbit out of your own hat, you’ve probably been fascinated by a magic trick like that somewhere along the way.
Professional magicians are interesting and entertaining to watch, but the honest ones will admit that there’s no real magic in their ‘magic’. Successful magicians develop exceptional skills in manual dexterity, and master various mechanisms for manipulating an audience’s attention in a way that alters perception and temporarily suspends disbelief. That allows folks who might want to believe in magic anyway, to happily discount truth, ignore reality, and believe that what they think have seen is what actually happened.
Merlin Got a New Job?
The number of professional magicians, or ‘illusionists’, as they have come to be called, seems to be on a decline these days. I don’t know if there’s any research probing why that is, but I have a theory. I think all the magicians decided to go into mainstream journalism. It’s a natural fit. The skill-set and objectives involved are not really all that different. Both need a commanding stage presence that allows them to control all the descriptions of what’s going on. Then, they have to be good at deflecting attention away from the necessary deceptions, and proficient at hiding key components that could ruin the trick if discovered. They must know how to use special equipment that the audience must not be allowed to see, and how to manage props and setups designed to look like something they’re not. They also have to give convincing demonstrations of the reliability of things that are totally phony. Finally, just in case there’s a slip-up in the deceptive process somewhere else, they have to have some attractive female ‘eye candy’, and be able to strategically parade them around for additional distraction. With skills like that on board, it’s no surprise that folks can watch NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and PBS news shows and come away blissfully clueless about what’s really going on.
So, it’s not all that surprising to discover that ‘Merlin the Magnificent’ has taken up residence on your TV screen, is it? You might not have even recognized him since he chucked his cape and top-hat, and donned that expensive suit, but there he is, perched behind a news desk. His seductive assistant is still with him, but she traded her skimpy costume for a designer dress, and looks like a misplaced fashion model, and now she even gets to read stuff out loud. The problem is that they’re still illusionists, just with a different set of tricks.
The Challenge Isn’t New
‘Illusionists’ aren’t a new challenge for followers of Jesus. False teachers were a virus infecting the Church even in the early days. They proclaimed new revelations based on deceptive misrepresentations of Jesus, and sometimes outright denial. They promulgated lies, but presented them in clever and appealing ways, and always promised to make life better and easier for those who would join their ‘new’ and ‘enlightened’ approach. ‘Progressives,’ you see, have been around for a while.
John has a very relevant suggestion about pretentious, deceptive, illusionists.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. (1 John 4:1-3 NKJV).
John didn’t waste time reviewing all their lies and debating all their claims. Instead, he addressed the real danger lurking underneath—the satanic “spirit” that infiltrated everything they said and did. The same seductive toxin infused every ‘brand’ of progressive new thinking they promoted, a common spirit permeating every eloquent speech. John said there was a “test” by which Jesus’ followers could discern who was believable. Asking where they stood in reference to who Jesus Christ really was and what He did would give them all they needed to know. Failing that test would reveal that their guiding force was one that stands in determined opposition to all that Jesus represents. John called that oppositional force “the spirit of the Antichrist”. That spirit is present and active today.
One Final Suggestion
The career change for ‘illusionists’ has included not only news media, but they fill the rosters of entertainment, academia, and government institutions. I have an idea. Let’s stop focusing on whatever they’re pulling out their hats on any given day, and simply apply the test John suggested. If they and/or their employers fail that test, then regardless of which network, channel, group, school, or agency they represent, let’s politely, but firmly, tell them to stuff it back in their hat. We’ve seen that trick before.
© 2016 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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