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New Age College Professor Radically Changed by Christ

Professor Mary Poplin from Claremont Graduate School says she met Jesus in a dream. At the time, she was teaching radical feminism, multiculturalism, and postmodernism. As a devotee of New Age spirituality, she claims she was the poster child for "spiritual but not religious." She writes:

A central image in my life was the [New Age] actress Shirley MacLaine, dancing on the beach in free-spirited fashion. I was seeking happiness, self-fulfillment, and freedom from restraint, all the while deluding myself about my own "goodness." We were children of the 60s, products of the "I'm okay, you're okay" culture.

And yet in certain moments, she said, "I could see glimpses of who I really was. I was not growing freer. My heart was growing harder, my emotions darker, and my mind more confused." Then in 1992, she had an unshakable dream in which she saw Jesus at the Last Supper. "When I got to Jesus," she wrote, "and looked into his eyes, I grasped immediately that every cell in my body was filled with filth. Weeping, I fell at his feet. But when he reached over and touched my shoulders, I suddenly felt perfect peace!"

She reached out to a friend who suggested that she needed to read the Bible. Then in January 1993, she was sitting in a small church and received an invitation to come forward. She prayed, "If you are real, please come and get me. Suddenly I felt the same peace I had known in the dream."

"To clean up my soul," she said, "God taught me what a good friend of mine calls the 'bar of soap' passage—1 John 1:9 … But forgiveness wasn't always easy to accept. I had undergone two abortions, and over three long years of prayer, I doubted whether God had truly forgiven me. Some counselors and fellow Christians had encouraged me to 'forgive myself,' but the more I searched Scripture the more confident I was that forgiveness could only come as God's gift. Like Paul, I had to learn to '[forget] what is behind and [strain] toward what is ahead' (Phil. 3:13-14)."

Editorial Comment: Here's more on Poplin's story in her words: "Coming to Christ changed not only my personal life but my intellectual life as well. My scholarly work has always focused on the best ways to educate the poor. So in 1996 … I spent two months [in Kolkata with Mother Teresa] tending to sick infants, performing some cleaning tasks, and running supplies to the mother house … One day, as I was sitting on a bench ... Mother Teresa herself walked straight up to me. She shook her finger and instructed, 'God does not call everyone to serve the poor like he calls us, but God does call everyone to a Calcutta—you have to find yours!'

"When I resumed teaching later that year, I experienced a profound intellectual crisis—my Kolkata, then and now. I would weep before entering class. Midway through the semester, I realized I was still teaching the same things I had always taught, even though I knew they were untrue. I was allowing secularism to define my intellectual boundaries. But the more I read the Bible, the more I could see how Christ's wisdom reaches beyond secular thinking, even where it poses no contradiction … [I began to see that] there is physical water, and there is spiritual living water. In Christ, there is always a higher rationality."

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