A few months ago, a friend recommended a book to me that truly rocked my world. I believe this should be read by every pastor in America. I gave a quick review in the following blog post: Year End Review (Part
I was amazed to be granted an interview with the author, Carl Teichrib. The following is that interview. My questions are in bold. I did not edit any of his answers, I felt this would compromise or manipulate the interview process. I hope you enjoy, You may find his book, Game of Gods on Amazon. I have received no compensation for this interview, or for recommending his book; not even a signed copy of the book.
Carl, thank you for joining us here on Proof of Your Faith. For the readers who don’t know, what is Game of Gods about?
There’s a line in the book’s Introduction that reads: “Humanity has three Great Desires: To be as God, to be Masters of Meaning and Destiny, to build Heaven on Earth – this is that story.”
Game of Gods is a sweeping survey unpacking those three interlocking subjects, the underlying worldviews tying each together – especially the spiritual-religious paradigms central to the discussion – and the implications, outcomes, and consequences. Along the way we explore the history of ideas and movements, investigating how and why the West has changed in terms of faith, purpose, and social understanding. We tackle heavy topics in the process, including the quest for global order, transhuman aspirations, the spiritual politics ofinterfaithism, and the transforming nature of cultural transgression.
Numerous concepts and subthemes are encountered: The switchfrom Postmodernism to Re-enchantment, the role of myth in producing social vision and meaning, the shift from secularism to spirituality, the development of alternative salvation claims through political and cultural engineering, the tension between group dynamics and individual values, and the global-to-local challenges faced by the Christian community in an era of transformation. A key concern is the issue of Oneness and Otherness.
For our readers, How do you define “Oneness and Otherness?
Both are ultimate views of reality.
Oneness – that God, Man, and Nature all share the same essence; that each of the three domains are fundamentally one. Interconnection, interdependence, and continuity are therefore expressed at the most meaningful level. Final distinctions are illusionary.
Otherness – that God is utterly unique, being fundamentallyseparate (Holy and Exalted) from Man and Nature. Humanity is of a higher order than the animal and plant kingdoms, keeping in mind that the natural world has intrinsic value because of who created it.
Dr. Peter Jones from TruthXChange was helpful in fleshing out this understanding. He uses the terms One-ism and Two-ism. Consider this explanation from Dr. Jones: “Oneism is a form of spiritual holism where everything is considered good because it is an aspect of the whole – including God and Satan, virtue and vice. Twoism in its very essence contains holiness, where things are not confused but have their special, God-ordained places.”
What inspired you to write about this?
It was simply time to do so. Allow me to explain. Since the early 1990s I’ve been wrestling with many of the core subjects found in Game of Gods. By the mid-1990s I was writing articles on those same topics, and in 1997 this hobby-of-sorts became a full-time endeavor as I was hired by a Christian author to be the lead researcher for a major project. After 2001 I took-up freelancing, providing research assistance for lecturers, media hosts, and other authors. Then, in 2007, I produced and edited a monthly publication titled Forcing Change, a technical magazine devoted to unpacking and understanding the spiritual, social, and political forces of change. Along the way I amassed a significant library of pertinent materials, and a repertoire of fieldwork experiences to draw from – first source information, personal interviews, and direct observations.
With this back-story in mind, and with the advent of social media and the easy dissemination of misinformation, hype and sensationalism, I was compelled to write a book that did two things: First, rise above the noise and present an offering of practical and deep analysis – compelling us as Christians to seriously consider the subject. Second, to hopefully raise the bar in terms of Christian research and readership – to move away from memes and clickbait thinking.
The following section of text is taken from the Scope/Structure page of my book,
“Keep the cookies on the lower shelf,” I have heard it said, for reader’s attention spans have shortened in our age of information overload. Implied is a lower expectation, a sense that we are incapable of nuanced thought. Game of Gods, on the other hand, is written with the belief that we – author and reader – must reach for higher treasures of knowledge and understanding, that we are capable of wrestling with big ideas. With that in mind, Game of Gods is written as a robust work, treating topics with a serious tone and analytical style. Much of it is survey oriented, having a reference quality – a text you can return to in your our own studies. But it is more: Interspersed are excerpts of my own personal story, a journey of exploring and weighing world views, observing the interplay of global agendas, and being a witness to the tides of visionary ideas and grand movements. Game of Gods is meant to be a bulwark, an island fortress in a sea of chaotic information.
In chapter 3 of your book, you quote Francis A. Schaffer; “The church was under the teachings of the Bible – not above it and not equal to it.” Today this seems to be the opposite. Why is this dangerous for the church and Christians.
It assumes we take a position of revelator; we become the masters and dispensers of spiritual knowledge and meaning. Our focal point is no longer on God’s word and His position, but upon the power invested in ourselves.
How does this impact the otherness view?
It risks blurring the distinction between God’s authority and our own.
How does the “Temple of Man” differ from the biblical view that our body is a temple?
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
In this passage we recognize that, for believers in Jesus Christ, our very bodies are His own possession.
The Temple of Man as found in Game of Gods has an entirely different context. Here, the meaning is closer to that found in Romans 1:25, “who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” It is Man’s vision of Heaven-on-Earth, a remake of Babel, humanity venerating itself; in other words, the desire to transform into something grander, a coalescence that elevates ourselves as the object of worship.
Vladimir Lenin, the Soviet visionary who believed in the Marxist engineering of a New Man, offers this chilling depiction: “Yes, we are going to destroy everything, and on the ruins we will build our temple!”
How has the religion of “good works” infiltrated the church?
Normally we think of this question from a personal perspective, that if I do the right things, then saving merit will be bestowed. In Game of Gods I push us to consider “good works” from another angle, the collective position, and give the example of the early Social Gospel movement with its version of Heaven-on-Earth. Their method of “good works” was “righteous internationalism,” world patriotism as a faith, reflected in political and economic restructuring.
Grand ideas of collective salvation remain in play. Going beyond the book, I witnessed this concept of collective “good works” and salvation during the fall of 2018 when attending the Parliament of the World’s Religions. The implied notion of salvation and works was evident in many of the talks and discussions, but the final remarks from the Executive Director of the Parliament hit this home: We are engaging in the salvation of the Earth, and therefore in the salvation of each other.
In the above examples, “good deeds” equals collective action to save humanity by transforming political, economic, and social structures. Similar thinking can be found in the teachings of contemporary Progressive Christians. Brian McLaren makes such a case in his book, Everything Must Change, downplaying traditional views of individual salvation while calling for collective restructuring to save humanity.
But let’s quickly return to the personal aspect, that of doing good as individuals. Yes, our faith is to be active, and good works are important in that such acts are a practical demonstration of our faith. The Book of James lays this outbeautifully and succinctly. At the same time, we need to guard ourselves against elevating good deeds as a method of redemption. Ephesians 2:8-10 is a necessary reminder of salvation by grace alone and the subsequent response of good works,
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Why is free will pivotal to Christian theology?
Can there be love without free will? How about rebellion? What about forgiveness? The very notion of disobedience signals the fact that we exist with free will, as does the ability to change one’s actions and heart attitudes. Can repentance exist without free will?
Without going into a discourse on theology, I think the above questions and their implications are important reminders of free will. Without the freedom to choose, sin and forgives, hate and compassion, love and repentance are but illusions; human relationships can be but nothing more than pre-set mechanical responses.
The alternative is a deterministic monism, which philosophically degrades God to an impersonal force of nature, and we are no longer responsible for our actions.
Aren’t the arguments for the feelings of “Oneness” the same as the unity the body of Christ is supposed to have? The joy we have in Serving Christ?
No. The feelings of Oneness explained in the book are quite different, being experienced through a form of alternative spiritual practice (often connected to neurochemicalstimulation). This sense of Oneness is grounded in the mystical and/or ecstatic, and may be stimulated through psychedelic or entheogen substances. It is a feeling of boundary dissolving wholeness, timelessness and flow, blurring the lines between Divinity, Humanity, and Nature. Because of these features, it has immense influence upon the construction of worldviews related to the perceived “new reality.”
I gently probe the reader to consider this question: Are we, during our church worship time, encountering the same Oneness sensation? And if so, how do we know it’s of God? Or have we inadvertently bought into the power of group flow – the energy of ecstasies – the gospel of experience?
Why is Gnosticism dangerous to the body of Christ?
Without going into the diverse believes and history of Gnosticism, a spiritual philosophy that challenged the early church, I would like to consider one part of its structure: Thatthrough the process of illumination – the unfolding, inner knowledge of self-realization – we gain access to the Kingdom of God, which is found within. It is essentially a path of self-redemption through personal experience, the discovery of the “divine spark” within the mystical heart of humanity.
This is a break from the moorings of Biblical doctrine, opening up a theology of self-liberation, the gospel of experiential knowledge. Gnosticism offers an alternative salvation, just as it assumes an alternative view of God.
Are some pastors selling positivity and Gnosticism in place of sound Biblical teachings?
Oh yes! The Christian community has long bought into the gospel of human potential. And there is a Gnostic soft sell in much of this: of finding the secret in you, of connecting to your higher self, of contemplative practices to center yourself in the stillness of God’s quite voice. We are being asked, in so many ways, to “go within” and discover our divine union.
Every chapter of your book seems to describe a new front in the war to destroy Christianity, scripture and morality. It seems overwhelming. What are Christians to do?
I discuss a Christian response in chapter 15 – not a reaction, but a response. Basically, we have to learn what it means to be ambassadors for Christ in a pagan culture.
What is an ambassador? Let’s briefly explore this using Christian terminology: Someone who acts as the legal and official representative of a sending government – in our case, the King of Kings. An ambassador represents the values and interests of the King first, and then articulates the King’s message to that land, regardless if the place is hostile or accepting. An ambassador also studies the foreign culture he or she is sent into: Not to be of that world, for an ambassador is set apart, but to better understand the setting and how to effectively communicate within it.
We have an ambassador model to work with. The Apostle Paul, while at Mars Hill (Acts 17), presents a remarkable illustrationof what this looks like. I unpack his approach on pages 533 and 534, followed by a Christian outreach example from Burning Man.
In chapter 10 you describe the U.N. goal of Cosmopolis. How did the Tower of Babel let evil into the world? How does this affect us today?
The Tower of Babel is a model of transgression through unity, a profound example of collective rebellion – and it remains a symbol of Man’s desire to collectively construct Heaven-on-Earth. It is the first recorded Temple of Man, a worship ofpower-in-unity.
Chapter 10: Cosmopolis – the City of Man – demonstrates how this theme of power-in-unity is evident within the human landscape, from Hendrik Andersen’s dream of an International City to Stalin’s Palace of the Soviets, to more recent architectural examples. Babel, in this respect, serves as a model. More than that, it a foreshadowing of even greater expressions of collective unity.
What is Transhumanism? Why should people be concerned?
Transhumanism is an intellectual movement viewing science and technology as the means to overcome human limitations, to intervene in the evolutionary process, and thus self-create a new image of Man.
Here’s an explanation from Game of Gods, “Transhumanism is thus a changeover, a stepping-stone, but not the final stage; it is a transition to a post-human potential, moving beyond what we presently are. This is a future-oriented vision, one fueled by incredible scientific and technical advances, and the possibilities they portend: greatly magnifying cognitive abilities, enhancing sensory input, genetic restructuring to permanently eliminate disease and weakness, finding ways to move our consciousness into a non-corruptible body, the extension of human life – to the point of immortality – and even resurrecting the dead.”
Ethical concerns and questions of social/cultural importance abound, but from a Christian criticism one glaring point needs to be acknowledged: At the core of Transhumanism is an alternative salvation message.
On your chapter “Magical Re-Enchantment,” you describe a diabolical plan that involves drugs, witchcraft, yoga, Satanism and environmentalism worship. Is this really a global initiative?
From the book’s point of view this is less of a diabolical plan and more of an historic movement, a discernable cultural shift from Postmodernism into another epoch. The examples givenreflect how Re-enchantment is structured by changing social values, presenting new myths as carriers of meaning, and how spirituality is re-packaged to fit the desired worldview. And yes, there are organizations and personalities that envision a global transformation – and they are not without influence, nor are they without some measure of success. This, too, is documented.
How prevalent is the occult and satanism in our governments and the U.N.?
The United Nations abounds with people who adhere to an esoteric philosophy or mystical conception; of course, this can’t be said of everyone who works for the body – it’s an entity with an enormous range of agencies and personnel. However, many of the UN’s visionaries do lean toward esoteric and Theosophical belief systems. I witnessed this while attending the UN Millennium Forum, and to a lesser extent, the UN World Urban Forum in 2006. I’ve also observed an esoteric worldviewwithin some of the affiliated NGO community, such as LucisTrust. And in Game of Gods I quote UN personalities, like Robert Muller, who promoted a spiritual vision of Oneness within the world organization. Of course, the UN’s meditation room speaks to a level of spiritual interest.
As for the US government, I cannot say, as I have not studied this at a comparable level. There are, however, some indications in my text. That Washington DC does have esoteric symbolism is hinted at in chapter 7, and the ten-page discussion of the New Age exchanges in the late 1980s – a unique interlock between American and Soviet interests – is a peculiar piece of the spiritual back story I unpack in the book.
You made the statement, “Dear Christian, there is a danger in mistaking ecstasies for the Spirit, for in doing so, we risk exchanging Wisdom for feeling. God remains true no matter how I feel.” Why does our world crave feelings over wisdom and truth?
Feelings are compelling, affirming and gratifying, and none of this is inherently the problem. At a more base level, I think wegenerally crave to be the arbitrators of wisdom and truth – the god of our own lives – and we allow our feelings to reinforce this desire. I think we all have succumbed to this at some point in our lives. I have.
Another factor needs to be considered, especially for the Christian. In many cases we genuinely want to have a closer relationship with God, and we mistakenly use our feelings as the gauge to determine notions of intimacy. This is especially evident when it comes to feelings of ecstasies generated through corporate worship; it’s not theologically sound nor spiritually healthy.
Why can’t Transhumanism and Christianity mix? How has it influenced the church already?
If we understand transhumanism in its fullness – to become god-like in our capability and capacity, to deify ourselves through technology and information – then the two are at odds with competing salvations claims.
The weight of transhumanism is subtle in that it’s not the intellectual movement, so much, that exerts influence. Rather, it is the changing nature of technology that has been keenly felt in the church, especially the power of information technologies. The same problems, challenges, and complexities that the world is facing with information technologies are prevalent in the church.
But more is at stake, and big questions loom. Allow me to include a section of text pulled from chapter 13,
Tech-enterprises are likewise wrestling with ethical dilemmas, and governments will soon find themselves debating difficult boundaries. A few Christian ministries and institutions have also been discussing implications, but more review is necessary. Awareness within the Christian community is generally lacking; churches need to be informed and equipped to understand the worldviews behind the movement, bringing sober realism and wisdom to the conversation. Seminaries and apologetics ministries ought to formulate Biblical responses to the hope-in-technology, and search for opportunities to speak into the subject. Moreover, such an approach would be internally helpful as Christians navigate the maze of concerns and changing issues…
As innovation pushes us closer to post-human promises, which way will the moral compass swing? When pragmatism clashes with ethical barriers, will transhumangoals be willingly tabled? How might the self-proclaimed “evolutionary imperative” configure in the post-human worldview? Will transhumanists claim a position of Darwinian authority; that evolution demands the strongest survive, damning those incapable of enhancement? Is the vision of techno-humanity sacrosanct? If so, then Comte’s Positivism and Darwinian pragmatism will be the guiding principles – science is all that matters, and evolutionary succession is the only measure of victory.
If it can be done, or perceived so, will it be – no matter the cost? David Gelernter thinks so: “Everything is up for grabs. Everything will change. The Orwell law of the future: Any new technology that can be tried will be.”
In our attempt to be a new species, will we act less than human?
For Christians and conservative individuals, other questions need be asked: Will we shun technologies that are medically beneficial or otherwise valuable because of associations with transhumanism? I hope not. Augmentation itself is not wrong; it could be argued that eyeglasses and heart pacemakers are technological enhancements. BCI can be helpful to individuals who are physically immobilized, VR platforms are useful in communication and education, computers and internetconnectivity are important tools for business and personal use. We daily use technologies linked to transhumanvisions. Discernment is required to know the difference between the techno-faith that seeks to fundamentally transform mankind into an unknown quality, and the helpful uses of innovation for present-day humanity. Will we use innovation and technology in ways that are good and advantageous? We have in the past and I trust we will continue doing so, even being trailblazers in scientific discovery and innovative development.
Transhumanism is far more than a zeal for science and technology, a fascination with digital tools and manageable matter; it is a social pressure cooker, a container heated by the intellectual forces of Modernity.
It is also an attitude of religion.
Sci-Fi movies love exploring singularity, is this god like fascination to be taken seriously by Christians?
The idea of the singularity (its meaning and composition) is open to debate, even within the transhumanist community. Nevertheless, the god-fascination of transhumanism is a subject Christians need to be aware of – not because of rapid technological advances that give rise to the notion – but because of the tangible desire for ascension. In other words, it takes on a religious flavor, a saving faith in technology. And so the Christian community is faced with another redemption alternative within the marketplace of beliefs.
On another level, when Man plays God we tend to overstep boundaries and ethical lines, and even destroy others. This reality demands we take notice, and where possible inject a voice of caution and reason.
Obviously the Oneness dogma is here to stay. How can Christianity survive in a world that celebrates it?
Arguably the Oneness dogma has been with us since Genesis 3. The Christian message of God’s truth, however, will survive because of whom it points to: Him who remains the same, yesterday and today and forever. I am reminded that the early church flourished in the midst of a pagan culture. May we, too, kindle a first-love for Jesus Christ in this present age of re-enchantment.
You make it clear persecution will be the norm for Christians. Suffering will come daily, so how do we prepare?
The way all other Christians who have faced persecution have done it, or are now doing so. We become far more serious with our faith; we work to strengthen our families in God’s word and in love for one another; we build each other up, and the church family becomes a network of support and trust; we prepare ourselves spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and even physically if possible (can we provide for our families under the stress of suffering?); we remain active as ambassadors, changing tactics as necessary, but not losing sight of the calling; and we consciously place our hope in Christ and not Man – all easier said than done, but our strength ultimately comes from the Lord.
Psalm 46:1-3 reminds us that,
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling
How do we endure this onslaught without becoming angry, violent or loosing our love? Without compromising or denying Jesus, what methods can we use to influence change?
It’s easy to become angry, and we should be upset when we see the corruption of truth, the establishment of agendas for social control, the erosion of liberty, and the undermining of Biblical values. But there is a difference between righteous and unrighteous anger; moreover, we are to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit such as self-control.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness,faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
Are there ways we can influence change? Absolutely! Without becoming a field manual with specific action points – I know that’s what many people want, but it’s not effective or healthy –my book, instead, encourages what should be self-evident approaches. Nuggets of thought, to that end, are scattered throughout the text, and pages 543 to 550 specifically engages the reader with options and examples and areas of concern.
I’ll end with one general but important consideration taken from page 545,
“We tend to think that large and organized movements are needed to effectively engage in worldview issues, that challenges to liberty and the Christian faith are best handled through agencies and groups dedicated to those causes. There is a place for such, but personal responses are needed. It is the teacher tactfully asking valid questions when the curriculum demands global citizenship; the healthcare worker who raises concerns when One-istspiritual practices are sold as medicine; the pastor challenging denominational leaders on interfaithism; the student offering alternatives to the professor’s leftist ideologies; the landowner standing up to the encroachment of overbearing green policies; the engineer and specialist reigning in technocratic tendencies in their chosen fields; the politician working on behalf of constituents while curbing the tide of statism. It is the parent showing love, and sharing in knowledge and wisdom. It is the friend who cares for a friend, and who extends a hand to the stranger.”
What we need are truth tellers who act in love, men and women who credibly stand in the gap.
Thank you so much Carl, for provoking thought and bringing awareness. It has been a pleasure having you here on Proof of Your Faith.