Far too many Christians are becoming desensitized to the blatant paganism that's being promoted in culture, as evidenced by Beyoncé's display at the Grammys Sunday where she dressed and performed as Roman, Hindu, and African goddesses.
Beyoncé's performance received high praise from many on social media and entertainment commentators who hailed the 10-minute performance as a visual delight while others found it strange, particularly given the overt fertility rituals she reenacted. The Washington Post called Beyoncé's time on stage "stunning" and suggested that what "those unfamiliar with her Grammy-nominated album Lemonade may have missed was that the gold and glitz on display were serving a greater purpose. ... Beyoncé was teaching."
But according to Charlie Self, a professor at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, Beyoncé's performance represents a "triumph of visual captivity over the hearing of the Word of the Lord," he said in an interview with The Christian Post on Wednesday.
"This was the great struggle for a thousand years of Israel's history," Self explained.
"The great command was 'Hear, O Israel.' Fundamentally, the LORD God was to be heard, believed and obeyed, and in contrast to the pagan nations around Israel who were captive to visual images as well as nature deities."
Sunday's Grammys, he said, were but a snapshot of an ongoing three-fold cosmological struggle: idolatry, immorality, and injustice.
"A problem emerges the moment you change your deity," Self said. This was a problem of the [Old Testament] prophets and a problem seen in Romans 1 nature replaces the God who created nature."
"And the minute you change your deity you change your morality. Now what you have is a set of activities focused on fertility, focused on the forces of nature. But what makes today's paganism worse is that at least in ancient times they were for good crops and babies. Now, we kill the babies and have replaced intimacy with God with personal and sexual pleasure."
Such an observation was not lost on Christian pro-life leaders like Obianuju Ekeocha, founder of Culture of Life Africa, who tweeted Sunday: "So the #beyonceperformance had Beyoncé 'channeling' a goddess, trying to look like BVM & reenacting Last Supper. This was a Pagan performance."
After embracing idolatry through swapping out the deity and substituting another morality, injustice results.
Self added: "You begin to change in your relationship toward others. And this is what we are watching in the polarization of our society. What we are watching are people willing to violate universal standards of conscience in their own interests, for the collective, for nature, for their idols."
Speaking on his daily worldview analysis program called "The Briefing," on Tuesday, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler, said that a "certain syncretism" has been occurring in society, and when examined from a Christian worldview, "nature abhors a vacuum, and where you have the secularization of a society the spiritual does not disappear."
"We also come to understand that Americans sat there by the millions and watched this as a spectacle without understanding what just about anyone who would have any knowledge of these ancient religions would understand."
Another lesson to be learned, Mohler continued, is that "Americans will commercialize just about anything," including pagan fertility cults in which they would normally never participate.
Such is the power and influence of entertainment on the whole person, he notes.
"What delights the eyes, the Scripture makes very clear, eventually also has an effect upon the heart and upon the soul," Mohler said. "The interesting thing here in conclusion on this topic is that it's clear that Beyoncé understands that even if her viewers and those who watch her products and listen to her music do not. You would think that perhaps middle America wouldn't tune in if they were told that the entertainment was going to be a sci-fi fertility ritual."
"But then again, maybe this is the people we're becoming," he said.
The great deception operating here, Self told CP, is that in attempt to celebrate culture to honor them she is in fact tapping into something spiritual.
"Culture is not neutral," he said.
"The fact that the Beyoncé is celebrating her pregnancy is good, but she is celebrating her pregnancy, either consciously or unconsciously, at the cost of higher truth. And that's a cost of both self-deception and deceiving others."
Christians, however, take it too far when they are quick to condemn art or music as bad or extreme, forgetting that the devil cannot create but only distort what God made, he added.
"Music is pre-verbal, music touches us at the deepest place because it reflects the very vibrations of God's own voice that created the cosmos," Self said.
"Satan can only pervert the good, so what we have is brilliance, consciously and unconsciously, subjected to principalities and powers. ... We are watching verbal and visual brilliance perverted for pagan and occultic ends."