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Altars Against God

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on August 5, 2017

Excerpted from Jesus Among Secular Gods by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale (Nashville: FaithWords, 2017). Used by permission of the Hachette Publishing Group.

It was years ago when I was speaking at an openly and avowedly atheistic institution that I was fascinated by a questioner who asked what on earth I meant by the term God. The city was Moscow; the setting was the Lenin Military Academy. The atmosphere was tense. Never had I been asked before to define the term in a public gathering. And because I was in a country so historically entrenched in atheism, I suspected the question was both hostile and intentional. I asked the questioner if he was an atheist, to which he replied that he was. I asked him what he was denying. That conversation didn’t go very far. So I tried to explain to him what we meant when we spoke of God.

It is fascinating to talk to a strident atheist and try to get beneath the anger or hostility. God is a trigger word for some that concentrates all his or her stored animosity into a projectile of words. But as the layers of their thinking and experience are unpacked, the meaning of atheism to each one becomes narrower and narrower, each term dying the death of a thousand qualifications. Oftentimes, the description is more visceral and is discussed with pent-up anger rather than in a sensible, respectful discussion. More than once I have been amazed at the anger expressed by members of the atheist groups at one or other of the Ivy League schools in the United States to which I have been invited to speak, anger that I was even invited and that I had the temerity to address them.

In theory, the academy has always been a place where dissent serves a valuable purpose in helping thinking students to weigh out ideas and make intelligent choices. And, dare I say, had I been a Muslim speaker, there would have been no such dissent as I faced. Evidently, being able to instill fear in people has a lot to do with how much freedom of speech you are granted. But alas! For some, at least, civil discourse is impossible. To her credit, at the end of a lecture, one senior officer in one club stood up and thanked me, a veiled apology for the resistance vented before the event. I did appre­ciate that courtesy.

This unfettered anger on the part of some is quite puzzling to me. I was raised in India where I was not a Hindu and, in fact, never once gave it any serious consideration. For that matter, I’m not sure if I even really believed in God. I was a nominal Christian but never gave that much thought, either. Most of my friends were either Hindu or Muslim or Sikh, with a few others of different faiths. I never recall feeling any anger or hostility toward those who believed differently than me, no matter how ludicrous their beliefs may have seemed to me. Nor do I remember ever being on the receiving end of such anger and hostility because I did not have the same belief.

But the likes of Richard Dawkins are renowned for their bully­ing and mocking approach toward opposing views, an attitude from an academic that makes one wonder what is really driving such an intense temperament. A questioner at a gathering in Washington, DC, once asked Richard Dawkins how one should respond to a per­son who believed in God. “Mock them,” he actually replied. “Ridicule them.” When someone at an event asked me what I thought of that response, I reflected that, were Dawkins to practice that same method in Saudi Arabia, chances are he would not need his return ticket. One thing is for sure—he would at least find out that not all beliefs in God are similar and not all imperatives, equal.

But his “ridicule them” posture remains unchanged. In an inter­view in The Independent with Maya Oppenheim (May 23, 2016), he said, “I’m all for offending people’s religion. It should be offended at every opportunity.”1 Really? Is this how one arrives at whether or not a belief is valid? He went on to add, “In the case of immigrants from Syria and Iraq, I would like to see special preference given to apostates, people who have given up Islam.”2 If Donald Trump had said the same, there would have been a session in the British Houses of Parliament to decide whether or not he should be allowed into the country anymore. But Dawkins says it and it’s acceptable, because atheists who love him and his style of atheism have their own absolutes and their own legitimized prejudices.

Intolerance, prejudice, disrespect, hatred, and offense are all within the fruit of Dawkins’ philosophy. In creedal form, his philos­ophy is hate, discriminate, judge, mock, castigate, eliminate, stop…do whatever you need to do to put an end to belief in God. Ironi­cally, he condemns God for being prejudiced, hate-filled, egotistical, judgmental, and demeaning to those who don’t agree with Him. He derides the attributes of God by making a caricature of Him, but justifies the same attributes in himself without caricature. I would rather trust the judgments of a good and gracious person than one who spends his time and energy in mocking people and their sacred beliefs. And he is not alone. The hallmark of the so-called “new athe­ists” is the anger and ridicule that is hurled toward anyone’s belief in the sacred.

Need I add, not all atheists have the same disposition. In fact, many find the hostility of the new atheists an embarrassment. I have met many a cordial conversationalist who is atheistic in his or her belief, and we’ve had the best of conversations. Many have remarked that they have been able to take only so much of Dawkins and his followers and then stopped even reading them. Whatever worldview we espouse, dialogue and debate should take place with civility and courteous listening. But our times make that ideal so elusive. Hold­ing a supposedly noble belief and reducing it to ignoble means of propagation makes the one who holds that belief suspect.

To be sure, many in the so-called “religious” category have pro­voked strident responses. The pulpit can sadly be a place of bullying people into guilt and remorse and other emotions that make them want to escape from the voice hammering away at them, to say noth­ing of the anti-intellectualism among Christian ranks that brands even a hint of philosophy or science heretical.

History has taught us to beware of extremists in any camp that sacrifice cordial conversation at the altar of demagogic enforcement. Views and opinions are aplenty in our world of tweeting and Insta­gram, but civil discourse is rare. And rarer still is the ability to defend one’s beliefs with reason and experience. I sincerely hope that as my colleague Vince and I examine the differences among secular belief systems (that are, in fact, also religions), we will be able to effec­tively demonstrate where these differences really lie, and that the Judeo-Christian worldview has the most coherent answers to the inescapable questions of life that we all have, regardless of our beliefs.

Questioning the Question

The story is told of an Indian sitting in a plane next to Albert Einstein. To pass the time, Einstein proposed that they play a game. “I will ask you a question, and if you can’t answer it, you pay me fifty dollars. Then you ask me a question, and if I can’t answer it, I will pay you five hundred dollars.” The Indian knew he was no match for Einstein but figured he had enough philosophical and cultural knowledge to be able to stump Einstein sometimes, and with a ratio of ten to one, he could manage to stay in the game.

Einstein went first and asked the Indian how far the earth was from the moon. The Indian was not sure of the exact number and put his hand into his pocket to give Einstein fifty dollars. Now came the Indian’s turn, and he asked, “What goes up the mountain with three legs and comes down with four legs?” Einstein paused, pon­dered, finally dipped his hand into his pocket and gave the man five hundred dollars. Now it was Einstein’s turn again. He said, “Before I ask you my next question, what does go up the mountain with three legs and comes down with four legs?” The Indian paused, dipped into his pocket, and gave Einstein fifty dollars.

Like that Indian, we often ask questions that are manufactured to trip up the other person, while having no answers to the question ourselves. In his book The New Atheism and the Erosion of Freedom, Robert Morey points out the seven leaps atheists have to explain: How…

Everything ultimately came from Nothing

Order came from Chaos

Harmony came from Discord

Life came from Nonlife

Reason came from Irrationality

Personality came from Non-personality

Morality came from Amorality3

But more than that needs to be asserted. The questions in life are not just in the sciences. They are not just of mathematical or empir­ical measurement. Two people sitting next to each other in a plane may both be going to the same destination. They may know how many hours the journey takes and how many miles they may cover. One may be going to give a talk on science and the other may be going to bury his grandson. But think about this. The scientist may have his subject well in hand, but still have unanswered questions on the meaning of life, while the person next to him may have unan­swered questions on the value of the constants in the early formation of the universe, yet have the knowledge of what life really means. He may have in his heart the deep conviction that this present sorrow is only a punctuation mark because eternity awaits. One discipline may answer “how” in a material explanation, but the most import­ant question answers the “why.” Why is it that we are here in the first place, and who will see us through the anxieties and pains of life itself? These questions are different yet equally relevant, but for dif­ferent reasons. Life requires some understanding, and the struggles we face need explanatory power. It is when we get the two subjects and their reasons for existence mixed up that we end up with verbal attacks and needless hostility.

Many an atheist asks questions for which he or she admittedly has no answers or believes the answers to be “on hold,” but we are expected to give credence to the whole worldview for merely raising the question. I understand. As a young man I was like that, think­ing that putting another person down automatically justified what I had said in response to his position. This book is about examining the “gods” secular thinkers “worship” and how repeatedly they leave their own questions unanswered.

The points of tension within secular worldviews are not merely peripheral. They are systemic. Indeed, they are foundational. I have dealt with the philosophical debate on these matters in other writ­ings. Here, I wish to examine their answers to questions about life and its meaning in distinction to the answers Jesus gives to the same questions. That’s where our philosophical rubber meets the road of life. But hopefully, more than that, we will state why the answers of Jesus have stood the test of time, truth, and coherence.

Remember the insight of G. K. Chesterton in his book Orthodoxy that, for the atheist, sorrow is central and joy peripheral, while for the follower of Jesus, joy is central and sorrow peripheral. The reason that statement is true is that for the atheist, the foundational questions remain unanswered while they have answers for the peripheral ques­tions; hence, sorrow is central and joy peripheral. For the Christian, it is reversed: The foundational questions have been answered and only the peripheral ones remain in doubt.4 Hopefully, as the content of this book unfolds, Vince and I can sustain that claim.

Life Seeks a Balance

My favorite essayist, F. W. Boreham, has written an essay enti­tled, “A Baby’s Funeral.” Anyone who has read Boreham knows the beauty of his language and the depth of his writing. He has authored over fifty volumes of essays. In this particular essay, which I have references in two of my previous books but in this new context per­fectly illustrates how all of life must be grounded in truth, Boreham begins by describing the scene of a distraught woman he saw one day walking back and forth outside his home, pausing as though wanting to enter his garden and then backing off.

Finally, Boreham stepped out of his home and wished her a good morning. She asked if he was the pastor of the church nearby and he admitted that he was. She entered the house at his invitation and struggled to pour out her story. She had had a baby, born terribly deformed, who had died shortly after birth. She desired for the baby to have a proper burial and wondered if he would do that for her.

Boreham promptly responded that he would. He took out a pad to get the information. Did the child have a name? Who was the father? So went the questions. She answered them and the date for the funeral was set. The woman left and Boreham and his wife con­tinued with their plans for a picnic that morning. Throughout the day the woman was on his mind and he told his wife that there was something that didn’t quite sound right about her narrative. He did not know what it was but hoped he would have more clarity before the day of the burial.

When they returned home, the woman was standing outside their home and asked if she could come in. She sat down, rubbing her hands nervously, and said, “I have not been honest with you. The baby was born illegitimately, and I have given you a made-up name for the father.” The story unfolded and Boreham comforted her as best as he could.

The day of the burial came. It was pouring rain, and to add to the desolate reality, the cemetery was a new one and this was to be the first body interred. Boreham remarks on the total feeling of alone­ness for this poor woman. An illegitimate, deformed baby. Pouring rain as the three stood under their umbrellas, the grave digger stand­ing by ready to lower the casket into the soggy ground. A tiny body about to be buried in a place where no other had ever been laid to rest. No one else, just the minister and his wife and the bereaved mother present for this tragedy, and they too were strangers.

Boreham suddenly switches the scene and begins to write about being on a train journey years later with a superintendent in his denomination. It was a whistle-stop trip where, at every station the superintendent would step out, meet with a group of his ministers, listen to them, pray for them, and then would leave these parting words with them, “Just be there for your people. Be with them in their needs, in their hurts, in their pains. They will never forget your presence and your kindness.”

Boreham continues that as he listened to this advice being given to the younger pastors, his mind flew back over the years to the day a young woman walked distractedly back and forth in front of his home, a woman whose child he had buried in a lonely cemetery. He realized that through the years, rain or shine, every Sunday since then that same woman had been in his church and lived a life in a quiet relationship with her Savior.

This very type of story was reinforced just two days ago. I had just finished speaking to a full church in Jakarta, Indonesia, and there was a silence as the music played softly for the closing moments. I was near the platform, having stepped away from the lectern, and my eyes caught sight of a young mother with two little children. Her arms were gently bent at the elbows, palms open, reaching outward while the two little ones, one on each side of her, held on to her skirt. As soon as the benediction was over, the two of them ran up the stairs to give me a hug, though I had never met them before. And as they left, my interpreter said to me, “Almost exactly to the day, a year ago their father was murdered. The little boy looks just like his dad.”

What a statement that suddenly changed the context and my emotions from witnessing a young family at worship, absent the father, to realizing a young single mother reaching out to her heav­enly father and raising her two children without bitterness or anger. I spoke to her afterward and my heart still recalls her words. “Yes, I’m alone now, but my God is with me.”

You see, there is an intellectual side to life but also a side to life where deep needs are experienced. We falsely think that one side deals with truth and the other with fantasy. Both need the truth, and the elimination of one by the other is not the world in which God intends for us to live. A mockery of the sacred reveals an animosity that staggers not just the mind but shows the character flaw in one such as that. The words of Blake are appropriate here:

Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau;

Mock on, mock on, ’tis all in vain!

You throw the sand against the wind,

And the wind blows it back again.5

It is my hope that the reader will stay the course with an open mind to judge fairly how unique and splendid is the message of Jesus Christ, reaching to the deepest hungers and questions of the heart and mind. To be truthful, I wouldn’t waste a solitary moment in this task if I didn’t truly believe that as the world is skidding out of con­trol—politically, socially, economically, and racially—Jesus’ answers are unique and true and provide the only coherent worldview, combining truth with relevance to bring hope and meaning.

Every day, the news carries stories of tragedy and atrocity. News is thrust into our consciousness whether we want the information or not. Behind many an act and behind all responses is a worldview that filters reality. The follower of Jesus sees what is happening through the lens of how Jesus describes the human condition and the answer He gives. The contrast with the secular gods of this age is huge. A fair-minded person must at least give a hearing as to why that is so and, if indeed the answers of Jesus open up vistas for one’s own individual life, see the world through a different set of eyes. With that goal in mind, I enter into this journey of thought.

Your Worldview Matters

The Great Books of the Western World, published in the 1950s, gave the longest space to the theme of “God,” addressed by the most notable Western thinkers of the day. When Mortimer Adler, the edi­tor, was asked why that theme occupied such length when many other notable themes were given less space, he answered without hesita­tion, “Because more consequences for life and action follow from the affirmation or denial of God than from any other basic question.”6

The questioner was silent and nodded.

Yes, indeed, more consequences, on every matter of value and relationship, follow from one’s genuine belief or disbelief in God than from any other issue. This alone ought to remind us just how critical is the foundation to every life when it comes to God. The follower of Jesus Christ must take serious note of this. That belief has meaning and must make a difference.

I will never forget talking to a former Muslim who had com­mitted his life to Jesus Christ and who gave me a fascinating word picture. He drew two circles and put a small dot in each of them. Pointing to the first, he said, “As a Muslim, I believed the circle to be my faith and the little dot to be my life.” Then he pointed to the next circle and said, “Now, as a follower of Jesus, I have seen the differ­ence in the cultural tension. To many Westerners, the circle is his life and the dot is his faith.”

In other words, a Muslim believed that life was expendable, his faith paramount. The Westerner, he charged, regards his life more important than what he believes. “That is why,” he added, “the West will ultimately be overrun. Faith, in the West, is sort of an extracur­ricular interest and a mere aspect of life for the sake of inner peace. But faith seldom enters the conscience as a conviction.”

That was truly a sobering revelation of just how faith is viewed by most in the West, let alone the plurality of faiths that exist. In fact, the very word faith is now used in less than flattering terms. The real world is considered intellectually rigorous, and the world of ulti­mate reality—faith—fanciful, not to be entertained in factual terms. How fascinating that is. So the values by which we live are parked on the shifting mix of quicksand the skeptic calls “faith,” while the world of pragmatic and real understandings is supposedly built on the bedrock of the sciences called “reason.”

Is my friend right?

If he is right, I will go so far as to say that the West is on the verge of collapse at the hands of its own secular intellectuals. It is only a matter of time. The Christian faith brings with it convictions by which to stand and build a moral framework. The secular thinker, with his implicitly amoral assumptions, imagines that knowledge without a moral base has enough sustaining power. It simply doesn’t.

Watch Europe cower under the heel of Islamists who have not forgotten that they were stopped from overtaking Europe and beaten back by Charles Martel thirteen centuries ago. Now, with patience and the clever control of demographics and a gullible media, they stand by, ready to one day take over the structures and edifices built by a different ethic and a different belief system. It is only a matter of time, and they are in no hurry. Thirteen centuries ago, Europe was able to stop the theocratic Islamic tidal wave because it had a faith to defend. The value-less culture of today will not be able to withstand the attack.

Years ago, while Hitler was making plans to overrun the world and some were attempting to placate him in order to save themselves from having to make a moral justification for war, Winston Chur­chill made a telling speech in the House of Commons on October 5, 1938. (“The Munich Agreement” is also known by the title “A Total and ‘Unmitigated Defeat,’” referring to the mollifying treaty brought back by Neville Chamberlain.) Quoting from Scripture, Churchill declared, “You have been weighed in the balances and found want­ing” (Daniel 5:27). Then he ended his speech saying, “And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recov­ery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.”7

After Hitler visited Paris in 1940, André Boulloche, a courageous member of the French Resistance, penned a letter to his father, say­ing: “The country can only be saved by a complete moral resurrec­tion, something that will require the work of all men of good will.… I think I can contribute a great deal. And if more troubles lie ahead, isn’t my duty present?”8

Indeed, the preservation of a nation’s ethos is at stake at all times. This is especially true of a nation such as America whose values of trying to balance liberty with law were clear from the beginning. That balance is easier stated than done. John Adams said it well: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”9

So I ask: Should one’s belief in God and destiny be more import­ant than life itself?

The answer truly depends on what that belief is and whether it is true. The irony is that for the atheist, the answer can only and ultimately be found in one’s political theory or, by default, in one’s cultural cradle, and cannot be mandated by a supervening world­view that pursues truth as an objective fact over and above all else. Every other discipline is dismissed as being outside truth, reflecting merely cultural and career desires. That’s all life is about. The natu­ralists control truth and then give license to other disciplines to live without absolutes. That is the deadly fallout.

In a commercial I saw recently, a couple of bandits are hold­ing the tellers at a bank at gunpoint and demanding money. All the customers are ordered to the floor. One man whispers to a security guard, “Do something, you’re armed!” The security guard replies, “I am on duty not to do anything but only to determine if a robbery is underway.” Then he pauses and reassures the customer, “Yes, indeed, this is a robbery.”

The naturalist is somewhat like that. Unable to respond to where the truth leads, he is useless to a person hungering for rescue and safety for life itself. He just states what is and does nothing about what should be.

Why do I make the connection between a nation, a people, and a culture? In the current climate, the political arena is fraught with language and views that are scary and disorienting. In one instance, a trail of lies makes no difference to the electorate, proving that the most valuable thing in human discourse, truth, is an expendable value if power is obtained. In another instance, even extreme and sometimes pejorative statements on people and views don’t seem to matter, and the dignity of office is replaced, once again, by the quest for power.

Candidates coming to the fore propound ideas that are creat­ing anger and protests that make the future very fearsome. For one, “dishonest” sums it up. For the other, “disrespectful” or worse, “prej­udice” is the charge. Whether these are legitimate assertions or not is secondary to the assumption that morality matters.

Ironically, the protestors protesting the candidates themselves resort to injurious means. But what is obvious is that statecraft has become soulcraft, and a nation that formally wishes to deny God finds its imperatives in a deadly mix of conflicting worldviews and hate-laden words on a path to power. What has happened? The answer is clear. The discussion in the public square is now reduced to right or left, forgetting there is an up and down.

These matters alone remind us that we had better understand this philosophy called atheism and why it leads where it does. Strange, isn’t it, that atheists in the West want the term marriageredefined while their counterparts in Russia and China will have nothing of that redefinition? Both have their own reasons, and there is no common point of reference. That’s precisely the edifice built on the bedrock of naturalism. Each person is a law unto himself.

Remember in the Old Testament when people wanted a king and God said that He wanted to be their ruler? The people fought back and said they wanted to be like every other nation and, in fact, have somebody else to fight their wars while they could go about their lives. They got what they wanted and found out that the greatest battles were ultimately for the rule of one’s heart. Once that becomes autonomous, culture and politics become lawless. And when those battles are lost, the war that looms is of huge proportions. This is, at best, the unintended consequence of atheism.

As Old as the Hills

We think atheism is some kind of newfangled thinking, that sci­ence and its bequest gave way to autonomy and our solitude in the universe. That is simply not so. The formalization of it and giving it intellectual respect may have taken time, but the question goes back to the beginning of time. Right from the start the question was not the origin of species but the autonomy of the species. We are more prone to quote from the Wilberforce/Huxley debate or the Galileo/Church conflict than to look back and see where such real tensions began.

We think Darwin buried God, but in fact, in Genesis 3, the very first in the created order wished to bury Him too. All the way to Calvary, the first attempt at death was the death of God. The kill­ing of God was followed by the killing by Cain of his brother, Abel. The Bible addresses this conflict from the pre-Mosaic era. After all, the battle in Genesis was really based on two questions. The battle between theism and atheism is the oldest philosophical debate. It didn’t take the French philosophes or the British empiricists to get it all going.

What are the two questions that existed for humanity from the beginning of creation? The first salvo hurled against God in the Gar­den was “Did God really say?” In the gospel story, the temptation of Jesus resurrects the same question, either by questioning a text or by wrenching it free from its context. The test brought to Jesus in the desert, the same test brought in the Garden, was “Has God said?” and “Is it true?” Those questions implicitly asked whether there was an up and a down. Is there a prescriptive backdrop to life? Can I not be my own definer of good and evil? Am I subject to some higher non-tangible authority?

In his article on “Religion,” Thomas Paine picks up this tension as if it is something new and makes some incredible statements questioning whether one should actually believe that God reveals and speaks. Here’s what he says:

As to the bible (sic.), whether true or fabulous, it is a history, and history is not revelation. If Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, and if Samson slept in Delilah’s lap, and she cut his hair off, the relation of those things is mere history, that needed no revelation from heaven to tell it; neither does it need any revelation to tell us that Samson was a fool for his pains, and Solomon too.

As to the expressions so often used in the bible, that the word of the Lord came to such an one (sic.)…it was the fash­ion of speaking in those times…. But if we admit the suppo­sition that God would condescend to reveal himself in words, we ought not to believe it would be in such idle and profligate stories as are in the bible.… Deists deny that the book called the bible is the word of God, or that it is revealed religion.10

That is a fascinating mix of prejudice and perversion. One feels he must ask if Paine was present in the Garden right from the begin­ning. He takes the stories of Solomon and Samson and puts them in a “history” category. Would he do the same with the crucifixion and the resurrection or does a different kind of narrative now take place?

The key here is that he simply does not believe God would reveal Himself in propositional truth. Paine didn’t invent that predica­ment. It existed from the beginning. Revelation was not in a vacuum of belief. Revelation was sustained by evidence and propelled by a reality check, time and again. The very means by which we ascertain truth is not merely an inner voice but the rationale of why we are here in the first place.

The question should really be why we even think of a supreme being. Why do we ask if there is a sovereign power over the universe?

Is it because we are deluded into thinking there should be, or is it because reason demands a cause and a purpose? Is it possible that deep within our hungers is this quest to know why we are here in the first place, and the naturalist’s cavalier dismissal of that question falls upon questing souls that search for a reason as much as the body yearns for water?

There were no professors of science in the original created order to question revelation. From deep within the human soul arose the challenge for autonomy over against a boundary within which to live. So let’s get over two blunders—the one that thinks this is mod­ern man in revolt, and the other that thinks intellectuals disbelieve in God and only the naïve or stupid continue to believe in God. I have met intellectuals on both sides of the issue, and it is not merely an intellectual struggle. It is a struggle of bridge building, of trying to tie theoretical structures to heartfelt and heart-hungering realities. 

As Real as Now

The second question that originated in Genesis came in the form of a challenge: “You will not surely die! You will be as God, defining good and evil.” For Darwin, as for our polite modern thinkers, hell is anathema. Why would any self-respecting human being think up hell? Interestingly, these who challenge the existence of God are the very ones who are willing to punish others for their beliefs. “Destroy the livelihood of those who believe in the sanctity of marriage!” “Don’t give them a place in academia if they really believe God exists!” Such is the retribution of self-worship, imposed by those who call God vengeful, a “joy-killing monster,” and “a freedom-re­stricting tyrant,” if you don’t give Him His due place. Fascinating how we wield power when we own it and then mock others with power for giving in to the same expression.

The enemy of our souls basically counters the claims of God, not merely by questioning them, but then by asserting that by dis­obeying God’s commands one will actually be promoted to taking God’s place. Once again at the heart of all temptation is the desire for autonomy and power. The human scene was steeped in the battle for autonomy and power right from the beginning. Did God speak? Is it true what He says about good and evil? Are we going to believe the truth, or are we comfortable with the lie because of the power it promises to give us?

It seems as though the ultimate destination point, then and now, is the power to control culture and destiny. Very recently, a Russian business tycoon gave Stephen Hawking one hundred million dollars toward his endeavor to find extraterrestrial intelligence. Hawking has opined that it is critical for us to find them before they find us, saying that if we don’t find them before they find us, they could wipe us out of existence. After the slaughters in San Bernardino, Belgium, Paris, the Boston Marathon, Turkey, Baghdad, Orlando, Dallas, and the list goes on endlessly, we want to get to other planets without fixing our own and destroy them also?

I found his comment fascinating. My first reaction was cynical. Yes, I thought, since we don’t see much intelligence on this planet any more, let’s go looking for it elsewhere. Then another thought kicked in. It is fascinating that the “world’s brightest mind” thinks an intel­ligence possibly exists out there that could destroy us, but no intelli­gence exists as Creator.

Then yet another thought. Professor Hawking himself, had he been left at the mercy of a pragmatic “life is not human in the womb,” or not worth saving by virtue of a degenerative disease, would have been destroyed and we would never have seen the likes of his genius. It would have been our loss. You see how intrinsic value decisions are in the choices we make? The scientific single vision does not give us values; it gives us only what is and cannot give us what ought. Is it any wonder that in this scenario where science is our single vision, existence is the circle and what we believe—our values—are merely a dot, as described by my friend?

Another personal note, from having lived in Cambridge in the early nineties: Hawking’s first wife, Jane, was and is a devout Chris­tian, an intellectual in her own right. Hawking himself has paid her the finest compliments. Living side-by-side with one of the brightest minds in the world did not take away her deep belief in Jesus Christ and in the created order. That alone should tell us that what is at issue is not as simplistic as an intellectually determined faith. Much more goes into this.

So then, right from the beginning, in the face of choices, two questions determined the future: 1) Did God say? 2) Do you really think you’re going to die or can you become like God, determining good and evil? 

The Theoretical Backdrop

What does it mean to be an atheist? What does the “ism” of the atheist hold? Is it monolithic? Are all atheistic systems the same in political theory? How did that philosophy become a formal system, and how does one respond to its claims?

Let’s go back to the philosophical and categorical roots of this so-called belief, to its philosophical and cultural viewpoint. The very Greek word from which we get atheism is really a simple conjoining of the negative with the divine. The alpha is the negative and theos is the word for God. At its starting point, from the very structure of the word itself, the philosophy of atheism means no personal, self-existent, autonomous, intelligent first cause of reality.

Ironically, in particular cultural milieus the word gets watered down so that in the days of the early Church, Christians were called atheists because they denied the existence of the gods of Greece and Rome. By the seventh century, Muslims branded Christians polytheists because of their cardinal doctrine of the Trinity. One can readily see how important it is to understand, from the orthodox point of view, what the beliefs really are rather than attributing cultural nuances to a system.

In two of my previous works, I have quoted the standard texts and definitions that provide the starting point for this discussion. I would like to refer back to that before I move forward and bring the positions up to date. Frankly, in a subject such as this, there really is ultimately nothing new under the sun. People such as Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Krauss, and others who promote the aggressive side of this belief muster not a single new argument to defend their position. That is why even other prominent atheists or agnostics con­sider them an embarrassment and say so. In fact, Dawkins’ remark on Harris’s explanation in The Moral Maze—that he provided the last strand against theism—is embarrassing to other atheists, to say the least. I doubt he truly believed that.

The well-respected Encyclopedia of Philosophy edited by Paul Edwards defines atheism as follows: “An atheist is a person who maintains that there is no God, that is, that the sentence ‘God exists’ expresses a false proposition…a person who rejects belief in God.”11 In his book on atheism, Étienne Borne says, “Atheism: the deliber­ate, definite, dogmatic denial of the existence of God.”12So while the bottom line of the view is a denial of God’s existence, in fairness it is really within the spectrum of agnosticism that ranges from a soft-boiled agnosticism where one claims not to know whether God exists to a hard-boiled agnosticism that postulates that one simply cannot know. The next stage is a rigorous denial of the existence of this Being we call God. That is the hard-nosed idea that God is not in the realm of meaningful statements, and that if He/She/It does indeed exist, it is up to the theist to prove it.

Now this latter assumption is terribly prejudiced by culture and, one might dare say, flies in the face of how philosopher Alvin Plantinga, a longtime member of the faculty at Notre Dame, would describe belief in God—a “Properly Basic Belief” so common and so self-evident to the masses of humanity that, to them, no defense is needed. Of course, other philosophers take issue with that and say that in any debate this description would not stand the test of argu­ment. Plantinga contends that the masses of people are not in the arena of debate; they intuitively believe that there is a power greater than themselves, and they seek ways in which to connect with that supreme being. Raised in India, I have seen this firsthand. Though it was not my personal belief, it was indisputably intrinsic to the main­stream of life, both for the unsophisticated and the highly educated.

It is important to recognize that the Greeks, who really are the forerunners in systematic philosophical thought in classical philos­ophy (and as an extension of that came democratic government), attempted to define ultimate reality in abstract terms. Their musings and ponderings on ultimate reality cause some to even argue that Plato was probably moving toward a high monotheism. Whether one accepts that or not, what is important is that in their view, ulti­mate reality was inseparable from virtue and ethical norms.

For many in Greek thought, the power of reason was supreme, and the freeing of philosophy and science from the mystical was a deliberate and purposeful discipline. But, I repeat, for the Greek thinkers, though they did not posit a God, one thing was certain—virtue and harmony were the emergent implications for life.

There is a striking similarity between our so-called doctrine of tolerance and the early Greeks. For example, the oration at the funeral of Pericles gives fascinating insight into the hub and spokes of their reflections on life and destiny. We owe to Thucydides the reconstruction of that eulogy. Here it is:

[J]ust as our political life is free and open, so is our day-to-day life in our relations with each other. We do not get into a state with our next door neighbor if he enjoys himself in his own way…. We are free and tolerant in our private lives; but in public affairs we keep to the law….

When our work is over, we are in a position to enjoy all kinds of recreation for our spirits…in our own homes we find a beauty and good taste which delight us every day and which drives away our cares….

Our love of what is beautiful does not lead to extrava­gance; our love of the things of the mind does not make us soft…. As for poverty, no one need be ashamed to admit it: The real shame is in not taking practical measures to escape from it.

We make friends by doing good to others, not by receiv­ing good from them. This makes our friendships all the more reliable…. [E]ach single one of our citizens, in all the manifold aspects of life, is able to show himself the rightful lord and owner of his own person, and to do this, moreover, with exceptional grace and exceptional versatility.13

Tolerance the New Virtue

Actually, that philosophizing would fit into Buddhism, Hindu­ism, Jainism, and the new tolerance of Western Secularism. That is the new god of this age. One look at this and you can see how a politi­cal framework addresses the soul of a people when God is not known or sought. We can readily see how critical it is that values be upheld for the public good. In reality, this is possibly the basis of a noble humanistic credo, but we shall deal with that later.

For now, we see how the early Greek philosophers and early non­theistic spirituality or mystery religions believed in a structure of vir­tue for one’s individual life and destiny. There were, however, very important differences in terms of why they thought this way and what they believed the purpose of life to be. That, to me, is key. As I have travelled for some four decades and have literally met with thousands of individuals, either one-on-one or in small groups after the public forums, there are really a handful of questions that emerge.

The first question is of life’s purpose and meaning: What does life and living really mean? Then there comes the question of plea­sure and enjoyment: How do I fulfill my desires? The pursuit of pleasure is at the core of our existence. We work, we earn a living, we return to our homes, but then we make decisions for our enjoy­ment: Are there any boundaries for pleasure? Then there is the third question: What does one make of all the suffering and pain we see in this world?

There you have it. Meaning, pleasure, pain. And all of these hang on the hinge of the fourth major question, a very defining one: How and why am I here in the first place? This was the very bedrock of questioning that Solomon pursued. He was not raised a Greek. He was raised in David’s family, a Jewish family with a definite belief in a personal God. There had to be a father-son disjunction here for Sol­omon to live as a hedonist but be regarded as a moralist, renowned for his wisdom.

That defining question is answered confidently by the atheist that we are here by accident. Turn back the clock and try the same thing again and it will never happen once more. Our presence is a cosmic accident for which there is no script for life or preassigned purpose. But let us be absolutely clear: The atheist has placed all other definitions of life’s imperatives on this one hinge, that we exist on this earth and struggle with human personality, morality, and reality without a personal, moral, or real first cause. That’s the leap of faith—to believe that ultimately life is matter and that it therefore doesn’t really matter. If you submit to the first conclusion, you are inextricably bound to the rest that follow.

Take for example Stephen Jay Gould:

We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial crea­tures; because comets struck the earth and wiped out dino­saurs, thereby giving mammals a chance not otherwise avail­able (so thank your lucky stars in a literal sense); because the earth never literally froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa, a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a higher answer—but none exists. This answer though superficially troubling, if not terrifying, is ultimately liberating and exhilarating. We cannot read the meaning of life passively in the facts of nature. We must con­struct these answers ourselves—from our own wisdom and ethical sense. There is no other way.14

Gould states unequivocally that meaning is not decipherable by us. No higher answer exists, he says, and we have to find the answers on our own terms. This incredibly answerless answer is what sends Western values on the slippery slope of nihilism. But there is more. If meaning is not within the purpose of our existence, the second struggle is whether to seek a boundary for pleasure or eliminate all boundaries.

The difference between a nontheistic religion and an atheistic worldview is literally worlds apart. The difference comes from the explanation for theistic thinking. Both the realities of pleasure and of pain demand answers and explanation, whether life has meaning and whether there is a solution to the problem of pain. To arrive at a formal and creedal denial of a supreme being opens the door to all kinds of debates and arguments on the entailments of such a hope­less foundation.

From that starting point the remaining three answers are liter­ally up for grabs, so let’s see how the religious nontheist and the sec­ular atheist deal with the entailments of their starting points. When you start off with “no god,” you end up with the strangest of mental manipulations to keep you from the logical arc of reasoning. And the first mistake for the atheist is to position science into doing what it was never supposed to do.

Scientists themselves question their fellow authorities in this field. The agnostic physicist David Berlinski has written a trenchant critique of Dawkins in his book The Devil’s Delusion, a challenge to Dawkins’ The God Delusion. On the inside flap of the book, intro­ducing his subject, he writes,

Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence?

Not even close.

Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe and why it is here?

Not even close.

Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life?

Not even close.

Are physicists and biologists willing to believe anything so long as it is not religious thought?

Close enough.

Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral?

Not close enough.

Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good?

Not even close to being close.

Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences?

Close enough.

Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational?

Not even ballpark.

Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual con­tempt?

Dead on.15

One has to commend Berlinski and others like him for call­ing the bluff of those hiding behind science and making sweeping assertions against belief in God. In fact, there is so much contradic­tion even within the exact sciences that anyone who speaks for all obviously does not respect the different disciplines within science. I know scholarly thinkers in the field of chemistry who have issued challenges to others, asking them to show evidence from chemistry that the move from primordial slime to Homo sapiens is even theo­retically possible. Professor James Tour of Rice University is one such scholar. In fact, cosmologist John Barrow said to Dawkins, “You have a problem with these ideas, Richard, because you’re not really a sci­entist. You’re a biologist.”16

Interesting, isn’t it, how the methodology and implications vary between the disciplines? It was this very challenge that caused Chan­dra Wickramasinghe and Fred Hoyle to postulate that an earth­bound theory explaining origins is mathematically impossible. But that is the foundation on which all the debunking of religious belief takes place. My colleague in this book will be dealing more exten­sively with the hazards of a scientific single vision. For my purposes here, let us agree that the extension of the discipline takes it outside its range.

That, then, brings the implications of the existential struggle into the no-man’s-land of meaninglessness.

A Rootless Culture

In Western cultural speak, we have basically gone from being a rootless society to a ruthless society. In America, we say that we are a nation of laws. That sounds fascinating. Are we implying that other nations are nations without laws? No culture on earth has more laws than the Islamic world. Their laws extend to what you eat and when you eat, how you marry and whom you marry, how you bank and with whom you bank, when you fast and how much you give, which way you face when you pray and how many times…laws ad nau­seam. They pride themselves on it.

So we are a nation of laws. Let’s move further. To use a meta­phor, law forms the roots from which our culture is built. The trunk then becomes the political system; the branches and the leaves or the fruit of the tree become the expression of the culture. That’s the figurative description of how we build a culture. When you think about it, it is actually circular. We act as if law just came into being and is self-evident. The question should really be, what holds the law in place?

The laws that legitimized slavery were railed against by a moral intuition that this exploitation and dominance of a people was morally wrong. Ironically, in their songs both the slave and the slave owner called upon God to rescue them or validate them. They weren’t calling upon nature to do so. Even in the context of the dominance of the Indian people by the British, Bertrand Russell, of all people, said that it was doubtful the plea from reason would have succeeded against the British except that it appealed to the con­science of a Christianized people.

This is where worldviews come into play. What holds the laws of a nation? It is the moral soil that must hold the roots. As G. K. Chesterton put it, lawful and legal do not mean the same thing and the moral soil is indispensable to aesthetic flourishing:

We are always near the breaking point, when we care only for what is legal, and nothing for what is lawful. Unless we have a moral principle about such delicate matters as mar­riage and murder, the whole world will become a welter of exceptions with no rules. There will be so many hard cases that everything will go soft.17

Nothing sublimely artistic has ever arisen out of mere art, any more than anything essentially reasonable has ever arisen out of pure reason. There must always be a rich moral soil for any great aesthetic growth.18

Recently I saw a movie titled Irrational Man. The well-known actor Joaquin Phoenix plays the role of an esteemed and atten­tion-drawing professor of philosophy. Before he arrives at the school at which he will be teaching, he already has a reputation as a bit of a loner and an eccentric. As the story line builds, we become aware that his goal is to influence his students toward the ethical system he subscribes to, built on the existentialists.

One day he overhears the story of a woman who was wrongly victimized by a judge’s ruling and becomes irate over that injustice. He ponders how to set this right and decides to kill the judge. That accomplished, one of his students discovers that he is the killer and, aghast, gradually pins him down with the truth. He has one option left, to kill her as well, even though he was romantically involved with her. In the end, in a struggle near an open elevator shaft, she gets the better of him and instead of her, as he had intended, he is crushed under the weight of the elevator.

It is interesting that though reason was his discipline, he was crushed by the weight of the immoral reasoning he had justified in his own heart as the right thing to do…until he was found out and had to explain it.

Law, philosophy, love, education, justice…all are built not on reason alone but on moral reasoning. This is the discipline under which atheism fails, and the ideas of atheism will be crushed under the very system constructed to make the one who points the guilty finger ineffectual.

The hunger of the human heart is for meaning, reason, purpose, and value, and atheism simply does not have either the answers or the explanatory power to make it possible to build a life on the foundation it offers. That is why some of the best of them discover at life’s termination point that their philosophy was reasoned into irrationality and their temporary victory, pyrrhic—it cost the victor more than it cost the vanquished.

To wit, Antony Flew and A. N. Wilson, two prominent thinkers who climbed the tree of atheism to great renown, only to concede that its trunk is hollow and its branches, deadly. The unanswered questions made Flew question the philosophy. An Easter Sunday walk to church with his family where he observed the followers of Jesus and heard the truth claims of their resurrected Lord made the difference for Wilson, the difference between life and death, sub­stance and hollowness, purpose and meaninglessness, love and hate, living a lie or living by the truth.

The chapters to come show the difference between Jesus and secular “isms” in the why of life itself. Our first comparison will be a deeper exploration of atheism—the general “ism” underlying all other secular worldviews. Then we proceed chapter by chapter to confront the secular gods that guide our neighbors and our nation. So far we have glimpsed only the tip of the iceberg. Let’s see where the differences really take us.

 

__________

Ravi Zacharias is Founder and President of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

 

Maya Oppenheim, “Richard Dawkins: Atheist academic calls for religion ‘to be offended at every opportunity,’” The Independent (23 May 2016), http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/richard-dawkins-atheist-academic-calls-for-religion-to-be-of­fended-at-every-opportunity-a7043226.html. Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

2 Ibid.

Robert A. Morey, The New Atheism and the Erosion of Freedom (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1986), 98.

4 G. K. Chesterton observes, “It is said that Paganism is a religion of joy and Chris­tianity of sorrow; it would be just as easy to prove that Paganism is pure sorrow and Christianity pure joy…. Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsa­tion of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labor by which all things live. Yet, according to the apparent estate of man as seen by the pagan or the agnostic, this primary need of human nature can never be fulfilled. Joy ought to be expansive; but for the agnostic it must be contracted, it must cling to one corner of the world. Grief ought to be a concentration; but for the agnostic its desolation is spread through an unthinkable eternity.” G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2009), 236–237, 105. Also available online at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16769/16769-h/16769-h.htm. Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

William Blake, “Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau” in The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Third Edition, general editor M. H. Abrams (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1975), 1338.

6 Mortimer Adler, The Synopticon: An Index to the Great Ideas, Vol. 1 (Chicago: Britan­nica, 1952), 543.

7 Winston Churchill, “The Munich Agreement,” http://www.winstonchurchill.org/resources/speeches/1930-1938-the-wilderness/101-the-munich-agreement. Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

Charles Kaiser, The Cost of Courage (New York: Other Press, 2015), 51.

9 “Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798,” in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1848), 266.

10 Thomas Paine, The Theological Works of Thomas Paine (London: R. Carlile, 1824), 317.

11 Paul Edwards, ed., Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol. 1 (New York: Macmillan, 1967), 175.

12 Étienne Borne, Atheism (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1961), 61.

13 Thucydides, “The Funeral Oration of Pericles,” History of the Peloponnesian War, M. I. Finley, editor, translated by Rex Warner (New York: Penguin Classics, 1972), excerpt online at http://teacher.sduhsd.net/tpsocialsciences/world_history/dem_ideals/peri­cles.htm. Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

14 Stephen Jay Gould, quoted by David Friend and the editors of Life magazine, The Meaning of Life(Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1991), 33.

15 Citation from book jacket, http://www.davidberlinski.org/devils-delusion/about.php. Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

16 John Barrow quoted in Julia Vitullo-Martin’s “A Scientist’s Scientist,” http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/barrow-to-dawkins-youre-not-really-a-scientist/. Accessed 10 Sept. 2016.

17 G. K. Chesterton, As I Was Saying, ed. Robert Knille (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1984), 267.

18 G. K. Chesterton, “A Defence of Nonsense” in A Defence of Nonsense and Other Essays (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1911), 8.

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The Truth Of God

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on October 31, 2016

truthJust before giving in to the pressure of the crowd and ordering the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, Pilate asked one of the most tragic questions of the Bible:

37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him” (John 18:37-38).

Because Pilate’s question is a response to the words of our Lord, it is even more disturbing. When Pilate asked Jesus if He were a king, Jesus said He was. He could not answer otherwise because of His nature. Jesus was “the truth” (see John 14:6), and He could not answer Pilate’s question untruthfully. But Jesus went on to indicate that His claims, while true, would not be accepted by those who were not “of the truth.” Those who were “of the truth” would hear His voice and receive Him as their King.

Pilate’s response is distressing. He was serving as the judge who was to pass judgment on our Lord. Was Jesus a dangerous revolutionary who intended to overthrow Roman rule and establish His own kingdom? Judgment must be according to truth:

16 “‘These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates’” (Zechariah 8:16).

How sad to hear the judge himself disdain the truth. Worse yet, although he discerned Jesus’ innocence as the truth, he allowed the mob to crucify our Lord. His judgment was most surely not according to truth.

Pilate’s words show that he was not “of the truth.” Notice he does not ask, “What is thetruth?” Asking this question would have indicated a desire to know the truth and to act accordingly. Instead, his question, “What is truth?” indicates his cynicism. Pilate seems to doubt that one can know the truth or even that truth exists. Truth for Pilate was whatever one wished to believe is true. Jesus believed He was a King; the scribes and Pharisees claimed He was a fraud and a traitor, a menace both to Judaism and to Rome. Pilate doubted that the truth could be known or that it really matters.

One wishes Pilate’s view of “truth” was only his own, or at least limited to the people of his day and culture. Sadly, we must acknowledge that it is also the viewpoint of our own age. Recently I have been reading on the subject of “truth,” and my findings are far from encouraging. David Wells has authored an excellent book, No Place For Truth subtitled,Whatever Happened To Evangelical Theology. Another excellent work is Michael Scott Horton’s Made In America: The Shaping of Modern American Evangelicalism,97 from which I have cited several distressing quotations. Horton reminds us that the secular world has come to trust more in science than in the Scriptures when discerning truth, but that science can never fulfill the task of answering the deepest questions for which men need to learn the truth:

Sir John Eccles, a Nobel Prize-winning pioneer in brain research, observes that science, in trying to answer questions beyond its competence, becomes reduced to superstition. ‘Science,’ he says, ‘cannot explain the existence of each of us as a unique self, nor can it answer such fundamental questions as: Who am I? Why am I here? How did I come to be at a certain place and time? What happens after death? These are all mysteries beyond science.’ With the Enlightenment, science displaced Christianity as the intellectual authority, but when science failed to provide ultimate answers itself, relativism replaced science.98

Relativism has now replaced the absolutism which was rooted in confidence concerning our ability to know the truth from the Scriptures. This relativism is especially evident in the realm of education:

‘The purpose of education’ nowadays, says Bloom, ‘is not to make scholars, but to provide them with a moral virtue: openness. There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of,’ according to Bloom: ‘almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.’ Students ‘have causes without content. Reason has been replaced by mindless commitment, consciousness-raising and trashy sentimentality.’ Can we not say the same of contemporary evangelical subculture?99

‘On the portal of the university,’ writes Bloom, ‘is written in many ways, and in many tongues, “There is no truth—at least here.’” In a culture of narcissism, ‘truth has given way to credibility, fact to statements that sound authoritative without conveying any authoritative information.’100

E. D. Hirsch, Jr. refers to current public education as ‘cafeteria-style education.’ There is no longer a generally accepted core of knowledge or belief. In skimming current catalogues for evangelical seminaries and colleges, one discovers a striking similarity to ‘cafeteria-style education.’ If evangelicals cannot come up with a common core of convictions, and defend them, how can we criticize the world for the same? Remember Marty’s remark about evangelicals who ‘pick and choose truths as if on a cafeteria line.’101

It is not surprising that the secular world has reached a point of despair in knowing the truth, or even whether there is such a thing as universal, unchanging truth. But Horton points out the tragic truth that even evangelicalism has succumbed to cultural pressures and now views truth in the same relativistic way as the secular world:

Francis A. Schaeffer noted, ‘T. H. Huxley spoke as a prophet . . . when he said there would come a day when faith would be separated from all fact, and faith would go on triumphant forever.’ After all, this is what Immanuel Kant proposed and Soren Kierkegaard acted out—the famous leap of faith. ‘This is where,’ Schaeffer cautioned, ‘not only the liberal theologians are, but also the evangelical, orthodox theologians who begin to tone down on the truth, the propositional truth of Scripture, which God has given us.’102

The majority of evangelical college and seminary students—more than half, according to James Davison Hunter—believe that ‘the Bible is the inspired Word of God, not mistaken in its teachings, but is not always to be taken literally in its statements concerning matters of science, historical reporting, etc.’ Furthermore, ‘One cannot speak of ultimate truth per se, only ultimate truth for each believer. In other words, most of the students at evangelical institutions have already accepted the relativism of their culture, and with that, the liberal and neo-orthodox concession that faith in Christ is a spiritual matter, not dependent on external, objective facts of history.103

The Reformation occurred because a few good men were firmly convicted that the Word of God is the truth, and that the views of individuals, of cultures, and even the church cannot and must not profess or practice any “truth” other than that which can be defended from the Scriptures. The weak-kneed, emasculated preaching so typical of our own time was also the norm in the days just before the Reformation. Horton’s paraphrasing of Luther and Calvin, and his reference to Calvin’s assessment of the preaching of his day, are amusing:

Martin Luther and John Calvin, paraphrased, put it in these words: ‘The Bible itself isn’t ambiguous about these subjects we’re addressing—the church is!’ Reluctant to be vulnerable to the dangerous teaching of Scripture, the church refused to take theological stands—until the Reformation left it with no option. In fact, on the eve of the Reformation, there were twelve theological schools of thought competing for control at the University of Paris. Calvin said, ‘Seldom did a minister mount the pulpit to teach.… Nay, what one sermon was there from which old wives might not carry off more whimsies than they could devise at their own fireside in a month?’104

We need another Reformation. We need a renewed commitment to the truth as found in the Scriptures and as summarized in theological and doctrinal propositions. Truth finds its origin in God, its incarnation in Jesus Christ, and its present manifestation in the written Word of God, the Bible. Our lesson will consider the fact that truth comes only from God, because God is truth and the source of all truth.

The Truth of
God and the Fall of Man

I have always thought the fundamental issue underlying the fall of man in the Garden of Eden was authority. Authority does play a significant role in the fall, and both creation (1 Corinthians 11:7-10) and the fall (1 Timothy 2:9-15) do serve as the basis for God’s principles of authority in the New Testament. God’s “chain of command” was clearly reversed in the fall, for the creature (the serpent) led the woman, and the woman led the man. Nevertheless, I now see that the foundational issue in the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (for Eve at least)105was the issue of truth. Who spoke the truth, God or Satan? Who was to be believed? Who was to be obeyed? The answers to these questions depend upon who was thought to be speaking the truth.

How incredible that Eve would believe a serpent and not God! In the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, the account of creation is given with the repeated expressions, “And God said, . . .”followed by, “and it was so” (or similar words):

9 Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so (Genesis 1:9).

Satan took the form of a serpent, a created being. He began by questioning God’s command regarding the eating of the fruit of the trees of the garden. He distorted the command, and in so doing implied that God was withholding much that was desirable. By inference, He raised a question concerning the goodness of God. “How could God be good and withhold so much that is good?” Finally, he virtually calls God a liar by assuring Eve, “You shall surely not die!”(Genesis 3:4). And so Eve must choose who to believe—who is telling the truth. Eve made the wrong choice. God is the source of truth; Satan is the source of lies and deception.

We find at the very beginning of the Bible a lesson to be learned. God is true, and He always speaks the truth. Satan is a liar, who can be relied upon to lie. Satan is the great deceiver, who from the Garden of Eden onward has been seeking to lead men and women astray, turning them away from the truth, and deceiving them into believing his lies.

The Old Testament
Law and the Truth of God

In the Old Testament, God seldom spoke to men audibly and personally. When He did speak, time proved that His promises were true and reliable. Abraham and Sarah did have a child in their old age, just as God had said (Genesis 12:1-3; 13:16; 15:1-6; 17:1-8; 18:9-15; 21:1-5). Israel did spend 400 years in Egyptian bondage, just as God had indicated to Abram (Genesis 15:13-14; Exodus 12:40-41).

Shortly after their passing through the Red Sea, God gave the nation Israel the Law. This Law was revealed to men as God’s truth. Man’s response to this truth was a matter of life and death (see Deuteronomy 30:15, 19). When God revealed His glory to Moses, He proclaimed that He was the abundant source of truth:

6 Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth” (Exodus 34:6).

Thus, when the Law was given through Moses, it was given as truth from God, and this is the way godly Jews viewed it:

142 Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Thy law is truth. 151 Thou art near, O Lord, And all Thy commandments are truth. 160 The sum of Thy word is truth, And every one of Thy righteous ordinances is everlasting (Psalm 119:142, 151,160).

13 “As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Thy truth” (Daniel 9:13).

God’s Law is His truth, revealed to His people. The prophets were sent from God, not just to give further revelation concerning future events, but to interpret the Law and to show men how the Law was to be applied. Satan, the great deceiver, also had his spokesmen, the false prophets, who sought to turn God’s people away from the truth by perverting God’s Word. Moses warned the Israelites about such false prophets. Indeed, he indicated that the response of the Israelites to false prophets was a test of their love for God:

1 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you” (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).

It was assumed that some false prophets would have the ability to perform false signs and wonders. One might conclude from this that the prophet must be a spokesman sent from God, but Moses indicates this is not necessarily so. Not only must a prophet be able to fulfill the things which he promises, his revelation must conform to the Law which God had already revealed. Prophets may indeed give new revelation, but it must always conform to the old, that which God had already revealed. In fact, the Law provides the broad outline for God’s program in history, and the later prophets simply filled in further details. If a prophet’s word contradicted the Law, he was a false prophet and must be put to death. No prophet who turns men from loving and serving God is a true prophet, and no true Israelite dare fail to see that a false prophet be put to death. Those who truly love God with all their heart and soul will hate falsehood, and all those who proclaim it in an effort to lead the people of God astray from Him. Love for God means a hatred of evil (see Romans 12:9).

A little later in the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses has more to say about prophets. God had revealed truth through Moses, the great prophet through whom the Law was given, but God was to reveal even greater things though the Messiah, a prophet like Moses, who was yet to come:

14 “For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so. 15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. 16 This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well. 18 I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And it shall come about thatwhoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who shall speak a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he shall speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 And you may say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ 22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:14-22).

Listen is a key word in this passage. The pagans listen to their false prophets, and they are led astray. The people of God are not to listen to false messengers. And how are God’s people to know the difference between the false and the true? In verses 21-22, Moses says the test of a prophet is whether his words come true. Those whose prophecies do not come true are false prophets. If a prophet’s words come true, this does not prove he is a true prophet, for his words must also prove consistent with the revelation of God’s truth in the Law (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).

The central person of this passage is our Lord Jesus Christ. His coming is foretold by likening Him to Moses, His predecessor. Just as Moses was the one through whom God revealed His Law and through whom He established His (Mosaic) Covenant, God will speak through the Messiah, who will introduce and implement the New Covenant. He is the One who is even greater than Moses. When He appears, raised up by God, people are to listen to Him.

This Deuteronomy 18 passage is fascinating. Moses reminds the Israelites of what their father had requested at the base of Mount Sinai. They were not only afraid to see the glory of God (as manifested in the great fire, 18:16), they were even afraid to hear God, lest they die. God’s words were indeed powerful and awesome to this people! They requested that they not hear God speak and that Moses be their intercessor. Let Moses speak to God face to face and then tell them what he had heard. I am amazed that God commended the people for making this request (see 18:17) and then proceeds to tell of the coming of one like Moses, who will speak in His name and to whom men are to listen (Deuteronomy 18:15, 19).

The broader context of Deuteronomy helps explain the prophecy of verses 15-19. InDeuteronomy 18:15-19, Moses is referring back to the events described in Exodus 20:18-19, the things in Israel’s history of which Moses reminded the second generation of Israelites inDeuteronomy 5:23-27. But in both of these earlier texts, nothing is said of a “prophet like Moses,” whom God will raise up. And yet Moses indicates that God had spoken of Him at that time (Deuteronomy 18:16-19). Here is yet another example of progressive revelation, even within the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible). Moses’ words in chapter 18 shed much light on what we read in Deuteronomy 5:29, and later, in chapter 30, verses 1-6. It is the Lord Jesus Christ, the “prophet like Moses,” who will “circumcise the hearts” of God’s people, and who will give them a heart to fear Him and obey His commandments. This we shall now see fulfilled as we pass over the rest of the Old Testament and focus our attention on the coming of Jesus as the promised Messiah in the New Testament.

Jesus Christ,
The Truth of God Incarnate

As we approach the formal presentation of the Lord Jesus in the Gospels, let us bear in mind several specifics concerning Messiah, which Moses and other Old Testament prophets indicated would describe the One whom God was to raise up as a “prophet like Moses.”

(1) He was to be a prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15).

(2) He was to be a prophet like Moses (18:15)

(3) Raised up by God from among you (Deuteronomy 18:15).

(4) He would be a mediator between men and God, speaking to men of God of what he heard when in the presence of God (18:16-18).

(5) He would give the people of God a new heart, to love and obey God (Deuteronomy 5:29; 29:4; 30:1-6).

(6) He would not abolish the Law, but rather would write the Law on men’s hearts (5:29; 29:4; 30:1-6; Jeremiah 31:31-34).

(7) He would introduce and implement a covenant with God (Exodus 34:10ff.; Jeremiah 31:31-34).

(8) Men would recognize Him by the fact that what He said would come true—by signs and wonders accomplished by His hand (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)

(9) He was One to whom men must listen (18:15, 19).

The Lord Jesus perfectly fulfilled all of these prophetic requirements. Consider some of the parallels which the New Testament draws between the Lord Jesus Christ and Moses:

(1) Moses was divinely delivered from death in his infancy, as was the Lord Jesus (Exodus 2:1-10; Matthew 2:1-15).

(2) Both were brought forth from Egypt (Exodus 12-14; Matthew 2:13-15).

(3) Moses also went up on a mountain and received the Law and then taught the people its meaning (Exodus 18:19-20); Jesus also went up on a mountain and taught the meaning of the Law (Matthew 5-7).

(4) Through Moses, God gave the Israelites bread to eat; Jesus spoke of both bread and water, which would give eternal life, and performed the sign of feeding the 5,000 (Exodus 15-17; John 4:1-14; 6:1-14).106 When Moses came down from the mountain, his face glowed with the glory of God (Exodus 34:29-35); when Jesus was on the mount of transfiguration, His entire body was glowing with the glory of God (Matthew 17:2). On the mount of transfiguration, who should appear there, with Jesus, but Moses and Elijah? (Matthew 17:3).

Consider in somewhat greater detail other ways in which the Lord Jesus clearly fulfilled the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18. Moses told the people that when the prophet like him appeared, He would be raised up by God. The accounts of the miraculous virgin birth of our Lord make it clear that Jesus was raised up by God. The apostle John wants us to know that Jesus is the truth, who was sent from God:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 6 There came a man, sent from God, whose name wasJohn. 7 He came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. 9 There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of Him, and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ “ 16 For of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18 No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him (John 1:1-18).

Jesus is the Word of God, the Word who existed with God from eternity past, and who then was sent to men by God. He is the Creator of all things. He is the source of life. He is the “light.” I take it that “light” is a symbol for truth. John the Baptist was not the “light,” but a witness to the fact that Jesus Christ was the “light” of the world. Men did not receive Jesus as the truth because His “light” (His truth) revealed their character. Sinners love the darkness (error, falsehood), because they suppose it conceals their sin. Though He made the world, the world does not recognize Him because men are evil and despise the light of the truth, which reveals our sin. It was the Lord Jesus, John testifies, who personified “grace and truth.”Though no man has seen God at any time, God appeared in human flesh, in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is He who explains or reveals the Father to men.

When Jesus went out of His way to pass through Samaria (John 4:3-4), He met a Samaritan woman at the well where He stopped to rest and refresh Himself. He spoke to her about “living water,” but she really did not understand nor grasp who He was. And then Jesus spoke these words:

16 He said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” 19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet” (John 4:16-19).

What made this woman look differently at Jesus? Why did she now perceive that He was a prophet? It was because Jesus had told her something which He, as a stranger, could not possibly know. He knew the truth about her, the whole ugly, sordid truth. Prophets spoke the truth, and Jesus spoke the truth about her. Jesus, she rightly reasoned, was a prophet. And so He was, the Prophet.

A little later in His conversation with this “woman at the well” Jesus spoke about truth:

23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).

Jesus told this woman that God was seeking “true worshipers.” True worshipers must worship the Father “in spirit and in truth.” God is Spirit, and He is truth. God requires that men’s worship be compatible with His nature. Thus, men must worship God in the Holy Spirit and in accordance with truth. And since Jesus is the Son of God, since He is divine, He, as God, is also the truth:

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6).

No one can come to the Father—for salvation or for worship—except through Jesus Christ, who is the Truth of God Incarnate.

As Moses spoke to the Israelites, communicating to them what he had heard from God while in His presence, our Lord Jesus is the only One who has been with God, in His presence, and He speaks to men for God of what He has heard from the Father:

25 And so they were saying to Him, “Who are You?” Jesus said to them, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning? 26 I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.” 27 They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 Jesus therefore said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. 29 And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” 30 As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. 31 Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s offspring, and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You shall become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 And the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s offspring; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.” 39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. 40 But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. 41 You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies. 45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God” (John 8:25-47).

Central to the message of these verses is the concept of truth. Jesus is a child of His Father. He is, by nature, truth, and thus He speaks only truth. His opponents have the devil as their father. The devil is a liar, and no truth abides in him, so they are predisposed to lies and not the truth. They oppose Jesus because He speaks the truth, and they disdain the truth. Jesus’ works accredit His words, which are the words of His Father and words completely consistent with the Law. He did not come to set the Law aside or to annul the Law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).

As Moses gave men commands from God, so the Lord Jesus gives commandments as well:

34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (John 15:12; compareMatthew 28:20).

Jesus told His disciples that after He departed from them He would come to them through His Spirit, the Spirit whom He identified as the “Spirit of truth” (see John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). By means of His Word and His Spirit, men will be converted and brought to maturity in Christ.

The New Testament writers, without hesitation, declare Jesus to be the source of truth; thus the gospel is the truth, the truth to which men must listen or neglect, to their eternal peril:

25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I utter words of sober truth (Acts 26:25).

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).

25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen (Romans 1:25).

7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation (Romans 2:7-8).

11 I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit (Romans 9:1).

8 For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers (Romans 15:8).

10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia (2 Corinthians 11:10).

5 But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you (Galatians 2:5).

13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13).

21 If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus (Ephesians 4:21).

5 Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth (Colossians 1:5-6).

12 In order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. 13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:12-13).

Conclusion

God is the source of all truth. His Son, Jesus Christ, Personified the truth. What does this have to do with us? Moses told us long ago:

15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. 16 This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well. 18 I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him” (Deuteronomy 18:15-19).

God did raise up a prophet, like Moses. This “prophet” is the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. The implications of this are clear and simple: we are to listen to him. And if we do not listen, we shall reap the consequences which God will require of us.

When the Lord Jesus was transfigured, God clearly stated to the three disciples who witnessed this event what it meant for them:

2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:1-5, emphasis mine).

When Jesus was preparing His disciples for His absence, He gave them a commandment concerning His Word:

31 Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31).

15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).

21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him” (John 14:21).

23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. (John 14:23).

10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. (John 15:10).

The writer to the Hebrews stresses the importance of heeding the Word of God, along with Peter and John:

1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:1-3a).

1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will (Hebrews 2:1-4, emphasis mine).

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”—18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts (2 Peter 1:16-19, emphasis mine).

6 We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (1 John 4:6).

We are to listen to God as He has spoken through His Son and continues to speak through His Word, the Bible. We are to listen because God has instructed us to listen. But we should also listen because we realize that God’s Word, His truth, is vitally important to every aspect of our daily Christian walk. Consider some of the ways the truth of God’s Word impacts our daily lives.

(1) The truth of God’s Word is the message which we must believe to be saved (See Psalm 31:5; 57:3; 61:7; 69:13; Proverbs 16:6;107 Colossians 1:5-6; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 10:26; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:22).

(2) The truth of God’s Word is the basis for our faith (see Romans 10:8; Hebrews 11).

(3) The truth of God’s Word (of the gospel) is the message we proclaim to lost sinners in order that they might be saved (Romans 1:16; Galatians 2:5; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Peter 1:22-25).

(4) The truth of God’s Word is also the basis for the condemnation of those unbelievers who reject the truth of the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:12-13).

(5) The truth of God’s Word is essential to our sanctification (John 17:17; Ephesians 4:14-24; 2 Peter 1:4).

Abiding in God’s Word

Abiding in God’s Word is essential to discipleship, and it results in knowing the truth, which sets us free. We must elaborate on this vitally important principle. Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). The truth will make us free; it tells us how we may be free from the power of sin and the penalty of death. But how do we“know the truth”? Allow me to point out a rather obvious but often neglected fact: John 8:32begins with the word “and,” which indicates to us that John 8:32 is a continuation and conclusion to John 8:31. Let us look at these verses together:

31 Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

How do we know the truth? By abiding in the Word of our Lord, by abiding in the words of Scripture. In so doing, we are truly His disciples, and we are free. Peter says virtually the same thing:

4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust (2 Peter 1:4).

And Paul says virtually the same thing:

17 This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Ephesians 4:17-24, emphasis mine).

(1) The truth of God’s Word describes life as it really is (see Proverbs 20:14).

(2) The truth of God’s Word is the content which edifies the saints (Zechariah 8:16; Ephesians 4:15, 24-25).

(3) The truth of God’s Word is the basis for worship and praise (John 4:23-24; 1 Corinthians 5:8).

(4) The truth of God’s Word is the source of wisdom (Psalm 119:98-100, 130).

(5) The truth of God’s Word is the primary means by which God guides us (Psalm 25:5, 10; 26:3; 43:3; 86:11; 119:105).

(6) The truth of God’s Word is a primary weapon in the spiritual warfare (Psalm 40:10-11; 2 Corinthians 6:7; Ephesians 6:14).

(7) Truth is what God desires to find in us (Psalm 51:6).

(8) The Christian life is called “the way of truth” (2 Peter 2:2). We are to “walk in the truth” (2 John 1:4; 3 John 1:3-4).

(9) We are not to lie; we are to speak the truth (Ephesians 4:15).

(10) The Holy Spirit, who indwells us, is the “Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13), and lying or deceiving the saints is “lying to the Holy Spirit”—a most serious offense (Acts 5:1-11).

(11) Arrogance is called “lying against the truth”—it is not living according to reality (James 3:14).

(12) Godliness is closely associated with a knowledge of the truth (Titus 1:1-2).

(13) The truth is the one basis for the unity of all believers—”one faith” (Ephesians 4:5).

(14) Knowing the truth frees us from legalistic prohibitions and enables us to enjoy life more fully (1 Timothy 4:3).

(15) The church is the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:5).

With this, we can see that the truth of God’s Word is our lifeline; it is vital to our salvation and to our daily walk. It is the bread of life to those who will eat of it.

Finally, let us consider several important characteristics of the truth and their implications for us.

TRUTH IS ETERNAL

2 For His lovingkindness is great toward us, And the truth of the Lord is everlasting. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 117:2).

35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

Truth does not go out of fashion, it does not change with time. Dispensationalists in particular must be careful not to think of the Old Testament, including the Law, as something obsolete, no longer applicable. The New Testament writers make a great deal of use of the Old Testament, including the Law (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 9:8-11; 10:1-13; 14:34; Romans 15:4). It was Paul who told Timothy that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable . . .”(2 Timothy 3:16). God’s truth is never out of date. It is as applicable to us in the twentieth century as it was to men centuries ago.

TRUTH IS UNIVERSAL

17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church (1 Corinthians 4:17).

Some would have us think that when Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the role of women in the church, he was speaking only to those saints in that culture at that time and place. This is not what Paul indicates in chapter 4, verse 17. He tells the Corinthians his teaching conforms to his practice, and that this is consistent no matter where he goes.108

Having traveled a bit over the years with the opportunity to observe a few churches in Europe, Asia, and Africa, it was not at all surprising to see New Testament teaching, principles, and practices everywhere I visited. Truth is universal; it is applicable anywhere, at any time, and in any group of people. When I hear teaching or methods which work only in certain places and among certain people, I know I am not dealing with truth, but with a passing fad. A book which will not sell on the streets of India, but only in places like North Dallas, is a book which contains human ideas. The Bible works everywhere, any time, and among any people, because the Bible is truth. We spend too much time and money on books which do not deal enough in truth.109

TRUTH COMES FROM GOD

The only absolute truth comes from God and is conveyed through the Bible, the Word of God.

We are told, “All truth is God’s truth.” There is a sense in which this is true. There is no truth which is contrary to God or for which God is not the author. Having acknowledged this, the only truth I know for certain to be truth is the truth God has revealed in the Bible. All other “truths” are apparent truths, and I must conclude that because they are not found in the Bible, they are not essential to “life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3; see also 2 Timothy 3:16-17). These truths are therefore secondary and subordinate to biblical truths. Why then do so many Christian leaders speak of “integrating certain secular theories with biblical revelation”? Especially popular is the concept of “integrating psychology and theology.” I will have no part of such talk. Who would dare to call psychological theories “truth”? And who would dare to speak of these theories as though they were on a par with Scripture? It is time to subordinate all non-biblical truth to God’s truth, the Word of God.

TRUTH NEEDS TO BE INTEGRATED WITH OUR LIVES

The Bible calls upon us to integrate theology (God’s truth) and morality. There is a very close link between truth and morality. Immorality blinds us to the truth. Truth binds us to morality.Truth and righteousness are closely intertwined. Those truths which do not have practical, moral implications are somewhat suspect, for God did not reveal His truth to fill our notebooks, or even our minds, but to transform our lives (see Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:17-24).

THE TRUTH IS INFINITE

10 For Thy lovingkindness is great to the heavens, And Thy truth to the clouds (Psalm 57:10).

4 For Thy lovingkindness is great above the heavens; And Thy truth reaches to the skies (Psalm 108:4).

This means the pursuit of truth is never ending. It means that we will never know all the truth in this life. We only scratch the surface of the vast ocean of truth, which is yet unknown and unrevealed. But let us know that the truths we need to know have been revealed, and beware of all else. These are the truths we should seek to learn and to implement.

29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law (Deuteronomy 29:29).

We are to seek to learn that which God has clearly, emphatically, and repeatedly revealed in His Word, and not to become side-tracked by speculative and theoretical pursuits:

5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions (1 Timothy 1:5-7).

7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness (1 Timothy 4:7).

4 And will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:4).

14 Not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth (Titus 1:14).

THE TRUTH IS CENTERED IN CHRIST

When we stray from Christ, we stray from the truth.

21 If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus (Ephesians 4:21).

1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf, and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with persuasive argument. 5 For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.

6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ (Colossians 2:1-8).

THE TRUTH IS EXCLUSIVE

Here is one significant difference between Christianity and polytheistic or pluralistic cultures. Other religious systems have no problem with incompatibility of truth. They will often embrace different “gods” and allow the individual to embrace whatever truth system he or she prefers. Biblical truth, God’s truth, is exclusive. It is incompatible with any alleged truth which contradicts Scripture. Christians may be labeled “intolerant” for such a conviction, but there is not more than one truth system.

THE TRUTH IS DOCTRINAL AND PROPOSITIONAL

If God’s Word is truth, then truth can be put into words and should originate from the Word.We dare not learn our truth existentially, apart from the written Word of God. And we dare not disdain doctrine nor theology. Truth is a system; it is not just a compilation of random facts.

Consider this illustration from a contemporary event. Recently, the O.J. Simpson case has been aired daily. People really want to know the truth; they want to know what happened. The police have gathered a great quantity of evidence, some of which will be accepted by the judge and some of which will be rejected. But all of these pieces of evidence do not explain what happened to these two human beings. The prosecution will present its case, which they will represent as the “truth” to the jury. The defense will take the same evidence and give an entirely different explanation, an entirely different attempt to explain the truth of what happened. Ideally, one side or the other conveys the truth. Practically speaking, neither side will have the full truth. The task of the jury is to determine, as best they can, what the truth is.

The Bible is like this. It is not just a listing of facts about God and men. There are a number of propositional statements, but these must be harmonized, put together, so that we gain an overall sense of what the Bible teaches. The truth of Scripture therefore results in some kind of doctrine. There are different doctrinal positions (each of which likes to think it is the closest approximation of the truth), and we may differ with the conclusions of others. But you cannot think or speak of truth apart from doctrine.

We sometimes hear someone say, “We don’t worship doctrine, we worship Jesus.” Which Jesus do you worship? Remember, you must worship God “in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). The discussion between Jesus and the woman at the well was over doctrinal differences, and Jesus made it clear that this woman’s doctrine (the Samaritan’s doctrine) was wrong. Paul says that one may come, preaching “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4). Doctrine describes and defines the “Jesus of the Bible” so that we may worship in Spirit and in truth. You cannot have truth apart from doctrine. To disdain doctrine is not only foolish, it is dangerous.

14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14).

6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following (1 Timothy 4:6).

1 Let all who are under the yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine may not be spoken against (1 Timothy 6:1).

3 If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness (1 Timothy 6:3).

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires (2 Timothy 4:3).

9 Holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict (Titus 1:9).

1 But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine (Titus 2:1).

7 In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified (Titus 2:7).

10 Not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect (Titus 2:10).

The truth of God, revealed in Christ and in the written Word of God, the Bible, should be a priority in our lives. Let us seek, by His grace, to be people of the Word, people who love truth and who search the Scriptures to find it. And let us be those who incarnate the truth, putting it into practice in our daily lives, to His glory.

By Bob Deffinbaugh

Courtesy of https://bible.org/seriespage/16-truth-god

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Real Bullies: The Homosexuality Is Normal Movement

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on March 25, 2013

bullyThink of us as crew members on the starship Enterprise of the Star Trek TV show, boldly going where no one has gone before. Folks, this is what it feels like challenging the Homosexuality Is Normal Movement. It is extremely dangerous.

Homosexual activists attempt to humiliate and politically destroy anyone who dares even criticize their agenda. Meanwhile, the MSM (mainstream media) casts us who believe marriage should remain between one man and one woman as the aggressors, as hate-filled villains.

Have the Homosexuality Is Normal Movement stolen our kids? Despicably, while we were not looking, homosexual activists sneaked their agenda in the back doors of our elementary schools, indoctrinating our kids early. Unquestionably, lack of access to your child for indoctrination contributes to the Left’s hatred for home schools and their relentless attempts to close them down.

Here is another example of homosexual activists’ in-your-face, aggressive indoctrination of our kids. A Massachusetts charter school, grades 7-12, will host a production of the play “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,” a retelling of the biblical story of Genesis with gay characters. Keep in mind, folks, that American schools have a cow when a kid brings a Bible or wears a t-shirt with religious, patriotic, or U.S. Military images. And yet, this school gleefully hosts a play which blasphemes Christianity while promoting homosexuality.

Our forty-year-old son and twenty-year-old granddaughter support homosexual marriage. Their attitude is What’s the big deal? It is only fair that gays be allowed to marry. America’s youths are parroting the liberals’ argument that opposition to same-sex marriage is discriminatory and bigoted. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, support for gay marriage is at 65 percent among those 18 to 29 years old. The gay marriage approval rating is probably even higher among high school kids.

A twenty-something-year-old Christian youth pastor picked me up from the airport in California. Justifying his support of same-sex marriage, he said, “God does not care who we love.” Wow, I could hardly believe my ears. This young man, who claimed to be a minister of God, chose to ignore the Bible and spout the liberal pop-culture spin.

From cooking shows to home improvement and everything in between, it has become difficult to watch TV without the Homosexuality Is Normal agenda being forced down your throat. If you do not believe that these people are outrageously aggressive, listen to this. The Green Street United Methodist Church will not perform heterosexual marriages until gays can marry.

Folks, I have dear friends and beloved relatives who are homosexual. I am loving and kind to their mates. My 85-year-old dad has been a Christian pastor over 50 years. Dad said he loves the homosexuals in his life, but they know where he stands on this topic, which is the biblical view.

Dad’s tolerance is not enough to please the aggressive Homosexuality Is Normal Movement bullying America today. They seek to politically bend Dad’s arm behind his back, forcing him to declare homosexuality normal, against his faith.

My point is, homosexual activists are extremely aggressive while portraying themselves as innocent victims of an intolerant society. In reality, we who believe in traditional values are the ones being bullied. The MSM gang vilifies anyone who dares to stand up for traditional marriage. Come hell or high water, they are going to make us embrace homosexuality as being normal by severely punishing those who refuse to comply.

And will someone please tell me why homosexual activists are so hell-bent on forcing Christian institutions to betray their faith by embracing the homosexual agenda? Homosexual activists have sued the Boy Scouts of America and launched a war on the Catholic Church.

No one is opposing homosexuals doing their own thing. Rather than aggressively trying to infiltrate the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church, why not form their own Fabulous Scouts of America and the Church of If It Feels Good, Do It and leave Christian institutions be?

Christian institutions are simply saying you cannot come into our house and force us to change the rules – especially when those rules come from God. And what is the MSM’s response to Christian institutions defending their religious freedom? The MSM campaigns to brand the Boy Scouts of America and the Catholic Church intolerant haters. We are living in crazy, insidious, evil times, folks.

The Homosexuality Is Normal Movement takes no prisoners – not even new Pope Francis. They have already begun finding fault with him because he is against gay marriage and gay adoption.

Question: will homosexual activists get away with branding the pope a hater?

The Homosexuality Is Normal Movement is not made up of passive, well-meaning victims simply seeking tolerance and their place in the sun. They are relentless, viscious, and hell-bent on forcing all of us, particularly Christians, to say their behavior is normal.
Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/03/real_bullies_the_homosexuality_is_normal_movement.html#ixzz2ObVYHdl4
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Planned Parenthood Launches Pro-Abortion “40 Days of Prayer”

Posted by faithandthelaw on April 12, 2012

Eureka, CA— Six Rivers Planned Parenthood of Eureka, California, has launched a campaign called the 40 Days of Prayer: Supporting Women Everywhere, which lists 40 different prayers for those committing abortions: the mothers, the escorts, the abortionists, and everyone involved except the unborn children.

The prayer event is supported by the so-called Clergy for Choice, “religious leaders who value all human life.” In truth, the purported “clergy” only value life once it reaches a certain age and actively seek to destroy the lives of defenseless preborn children. The concerted effort of this group to dehumanize children based on their age is similar to a tactic once used in Nazi Germany towards the Jews and other non-Arians: first ostracize them from the rest of society, and then annihilate them. Planned Parenthood’s attempts to develop a “spiritual” aspect to the pro-abortion argument can seem comparable to the religious leaders in Germany who supported Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. It was wrong then and it is wrong now.

Planned Parenthood is making another desperate attempt to regain positive attention and funding, as both have been slipping through their fingers. Day 35 of the prayer campaign says, “Today we pray for girls everywhere, that they may have every opportunity for education, sport, health, art, and vocation.” Ironically, this prayer excludes girls who are in utero. It also offensively insinuates that mothers are incapable of becoming educated, enjoying art, being healthy, or holding a job.

Planned Parenthood’s prayer crusade is an attempt to mock and marginalize the highly effective “40 Days for Life,” which has unified half a million voices for the cause and saved at least 5,838 lives. As a direct result of this prayer event, 22 abortion clinics have closed and 69 doctors have stopped performing abortion.  Vision America has another positive prayer and fasting event called “40 Days to Save America,” which encourages pastors, priests, and rabbis to pray for God to intervene and save our nation.

Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, commented: “Planned Parenthood’s ‘prayer’ campaign is offensive. As much as they  might not like the comparison, Planned Parenthood today is no different than the eugenics promoted by its founder Margaret Sanger who advocated the elimination of ‘undesirables,’ just like the most famous eugenicist, Adolf Hitler.”

Editors note: Not a very wise idea to mock God:

Galatians 6:7:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

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America’s Moral Decline

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 18, 2010

by Rit Nosotro

From her earliest days, America existed as a Christian nation. Perhaps this was due to the fact that most of her first settlers came for the purpose of being free to express their Christian beliefs in accordance with their own consciences. Yet it is undeniable that America has changed greatly since that time, forsaking moral values, and grower colder and colder towards Christianity. Throughout the centuries, there have been many events which have been turning points of decline, decline which has occurred in mainly the churches and schools of America.

Perhaps one of the first major turning points of decline occurred in the church. Before 1662, in order to be a full-active member of a Congregational (Puritan) church, one was required to provide a testimony of their salvation before becoming a member who was allowed to take communion, be baptized, and vote. However, as less and less people could do so, the church attempted to boost their numbers by authorizing the Halfway Covenant. This allowed for those whose parents or grandparents could give a testimony to be members and be baptized, while keeping the rule of not allowing these people to take communion or vote. Eventually though, in 1700, as long as one was a good-standing member of the community, they were allowed the full benefits of membership, without any interrogation. Thus, not only did the church fill with people who were not true Christians, but also enabled folks to enjoy these community benefits without the effort previously required, and thus the standard of excellence, even among church-goers, declined rapidly.

Three men that lived and worked in the nineteenth century would have a profoundly detrimental effect on America; Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, and Julius Wellhausen. The publishing of Charles Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species, in 1859, laid the foundation for the an even greater corruption of thought in America through the theory of evolution. No longer was it necessary to believe in a Creator, for things could somehow “create” themselves out of nothing! Sigmund Freud went on to develop his own ideas based on logical conclusions from Darwin’s theory, and building these ideas into the sciences of psychology and psychiatry. From this man came the notion that we can understand ourselves through our feelings, and this still impacts society today, as we are told to do what makes us feel good. Thus, we wouldn’t want to believe in a God who hates sin, because sin can be pleasing to us.

While the aforementioned men affected the areas of science and education, Julius Wellhausen, a German scholar, affected the church. He proposed that Moses did not write the Pentateuch and instead it was compiled years after the events took place, by various men who pieced it together. This was a major step towards a belief in the fallibility of the Bible. Today, many in Christian churches have chosen to reject the Bible’s claims and cling to the “scientifically accurate” claims of evolution. Thus the works of Charles Darwin and Julius Wellhausen brought about a decline in the church as well.

It is no coincidence that the founder of the modern public education system, John Dewey, was also one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto. This public education system took children away from the traditional setting of homeschooling and church schools, and placed them in the daily care of a state who rejects God. There they could be trained in the ideas of humanism, and the country’s youngest citizens could be trained in self-confidence, in direct opposition to scripture which states “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth.”

In 1963, prayer was removed from schools in yet another attempt to rid America of any reference to God. President Ronald Reagan recognized the danger of this act when he said:

“Our Pledge of Allegiance states that we are ‘one nation under God,’ and our currency bears the motto, ‘In God We Trust.’ The morality and values such faith implies are deeply embedded in our national character. Our country embraces those principles by design, and we abandon them at our peril. Yet in recent years . . . Americans . . . [have] for the sake of religious tolerance . . . forbidden religious practice in the classrooms. The law of this land has effectively removed prayer from our classrooms. How can we hope to retain our freedom through the generations if we fail to teach our young that our liberty springs from an abiding faith in our Creator?”

Thus if we look to the words of the early founders, we see that their desire and conviction was to build a nation who would fear and honor the Lord. However, soon the people of America would forget their reasons for coming to the new world. With each passing generation, America’s people became less and less God fearing. Tolerance lead to acceptance of many Christian denominations and sects, and this in turn laid the foundation for tolerance of many non-Christian religions. J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, a late eighteenth century author, described America as a land where “religion demands little of [one]” and as a place where all manner of religions could blend together smoothly. He notes how “Children will therefore grow up less zealous and more indifferent in matters of religion than their parents,” and concludes by proudly acknowledging how “all sects are mixed together as well as all nations; thus religious indifference in imperceptibly disseminated from one end of the continent to the other. . .”.

Thus, another declining step was made as America’s citizens began to accept the beliefs of others as equal truths. Toleration lead to the declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973. Now it is promoted in public education through “celebration of diversity” curriculum. Laws against sodomy are were forced out of state legislation by the ACLU. Sex before marriage became acceptable through implementing standards of “Common Law Marriage” and the convenience of abortion. While Americans cry out against weapons of mass destruction, abortion claims millions of lives. Dullness of heart compounds the dullness of mind as with each generation, the new citizens of America became more unable to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”  How can they defend hope which they no longer have?

In conclusion, it is interesting to note that early Americans were facing a land of emptiness; their future and all their well-being held no security. Therefore, these people recognized their daily need for God, and their circumstances kept them dependent on Him. However, we may note that as America grew more established and economically stable, her people began to forsake God, not recognizing their constant need for Him. The words of Jesus ring true, as he stated that “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” More importantly, they began to disregard their need for a Savior, and turned away from God. Now religion is yet another thing that people may seek to make themselves happy, and thus is may be pursued in any way shape or form. Scripture makes it quite clear what must be done to reverse the tide of evil, yet many Christians wonder why America is in such a dire situation, while at the same time disregarding God’s admonition. “If My people, who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, the I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Courtesy of http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/essays/cot/t4w32usmoraldecline.htm

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Dalai Lama Brings False Peace on USA Tour

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 18, 2010

MADISON, Wisc., May 17 /Christian Newswire/ — Despite thousands flocking to see the Dalai Lama during his current USA tour, the Dalai Lama brings false peace.
 
The Buddhist leader Dalai Lama was in Madison, Wisconsin on Sunday to promote the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s opening of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds.
 
The Center was created to investigate the making of healthy minds in children and adults. The founder of the Center is neuroscientist Richard Davidson.
 
The Dalai Lama is a Buddhist and claims to be the fourteenth reincarnation of his predecessors. He is the first Dalai Lama to travel West to promote Buddhist teachings. His worldwide approval rating is at 75% according to a recent French poll, which placed him right behind President Obama.
 
The Dalai Lama promotes reincarnation and has been looking for the reincarnation of his deceased brother who died in Indianapolis in 2008. After many reincarnations to eliminate human desire, Buddhists believe they will reach nirvana, a state of bliss in the afterlife.
 
On Sunday, the Dalai Lama talked about ‘oneness,’ a term used to promote pantheism, a belief that says everything is God. The Bible clearly denounces reincarnation and pantheism.
 
ChristianInvestigator.com believes that promoting religions in the disguise of false meditative techniques is a tool used to get people’s focus off of their true problem.
 
The Bible says man’s problem is his sin nature. In order to receive peace, a person has to be forgiven by Jesus Christ. Jesus does not remove the sin nature, but continually gives victory over it as Christians rely on Jesus Christ.
 
The Lord does talk about peace and meditation in the Bible, but not the types of meditation promoted by false religions endorsed by scientists.
 
ChristianInvestigator.com President Steve McConkey says, “Christians need to wake up to the fact that false belief systems are coming at a rapid rate. We should never replace the basics of the Bible with practices that are not backed up in the Bible as Satan comes as an angel of light. Also, Satan duplicates what God has outlined in the Bible.”
 
4 WINDS offers ChristianInvestigator.com and 4WINDS.cc. ChristianInvestigator.com, the voice of 4 WINDS APOLOGETICS, is the first news-apologetics site offered by a sports ministry. The ChristianInvestigator.com site was started for athletes, but the vast number of readers are non-athletes. Steve McConkey is the President/Founder of 4 WINDS. He addresses current issues throughout the world through the media.
 
Editor’s Note: Peace comes from reconcilation to God through the finished work of Jesus Christ and not some reincarnated state of nirvana or through the works of men or women. Jesus Christ is the true prince of peace and only He provides the peace that passeth all understanding and restores a person’s soul. 

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UK:Cops Arrest Preacher Over Christian Beliefs

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 3, 2010

A Christian street preacher in Cumbria has been arrested and charged with a crime after he expressed his religious beliefs about homosexual conduct.

Dale Mcalpine, of Workington in Cumbria, appeared before local magistrates on Friday and pleaded not guilty to breaching section 5 of the Public Order Act.

Mr Mcalpine is being supported by The Christian Institute, a leading national defender of Christian religious liberty.

’Sinful’

He was preaching publicly in the town on 20 April this year but he insists he never spoke about the subject of homosexuality during his public sermon.

He says two Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) approached him and one identified himself as a homosexual.

According to Mr Mcalpine, that PCSO warned him not to say homosexual conduct is “sinful” because it would be a crime.

Arrested

The PCSO also identified himself as a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender liaison officer.

Mr Mcalpine told the PCSO that it is not a crime to describe same-sex practice as a “sin”.

Police officers later arrived on the scene. Mr Mcalpine was then arrested and held in a police cell before being charged with causing “harassment, alarm or distress” contrary to Section 5 of the public order act.

Not a crime

Solicitor-advocate for The Christian Institute, Sam Webster, says it is not a crime to express the belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.

“A Christian who stands in a public place and expresses his religious beliefs in the hope of persuading passers-by of his views – that is freedom of speech.

Respect

“Yes, the police have a duty to maintain public order but they also have a duty to defend the lawful free speech of citizens. It’s not for police to decide whether Mr Mcalpine’s views are right or wrong.

“Case law has ruled that the orthodox Christian belief that homosexual conduct is sinful is a belief worthy of respect in a democratic society.”

In November last year, the Government was defeated in Parliament over its attempt to repeal a free speech safeguard to a law against ‘sexual orientation hatred’.

Safeguard

The safeguard, introduced by former Home Secretary Lord Waddington, makes clear that criticising homosexual conduct, or encouraging someone to refrain from such conduct, is not in itself a crime.

The Labour party has vowed to remove the free speech protection if it wins the next general election.

In 2008 the Lib Dems forced a Commons vote in a failed attempt to repeal the Waddington safeguard, but allowed a free vote in the Lords in 2009.

The Tories allowed a free vote. David Cameron and the shadow cabinet supported the free speech protection and in the most recent Commons vote no Tory MP voted to repeal it.

Courtesy of http://www.christian.org.uk/news/cops-arrest-preacher-over-christian-beliefs/

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The Greatest Threat to Liberty in America is not Radical Islam but Nominal Christianity

Posted by faithandthelaw on April 17, 2010

America is sounding the clarion call-wake up out of your slumber Christians for the lamp of liberty is beginning to dim and  flicker out. The greatest threat to liberty in our country is not radical Islam but nominal Christianity. The Bible boldly declares “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty,” and that Spirit of the Lord was upon Jesus  who preached the gospel to the poor, healed the brokenhearted, set the captive free, restored sight to the blind and set at liberty those who were crushed. He led captive to the cross every bondage, every addiction, every depression, every captivity and everything that holds a person in the chains of slavery. He is the Captain of liberty for every soul that comes to His open arms and is redeemed by his saving blood. This same Jesus can deliver a nation that is broken with sin and full of idols. A nation that has turned its heart from God and worshipped the things, ideas and philosophies of humans. God is not needed or wanted by so many, and the voice of the ungodly has risen up with great boldness to eradicate righteousness and justice from every segment of society.

Where are the Christians? Why are they silent? Where are the mighty works of power that are delivering the crushed in the name of Jesus Christ? Where is the great movement of the Spirit of God in the lives and heart of men, women and children? Our nation and our generation needs an awakening of first century, radical and life-changing Christianity. We have too often let the agnostics, the atheists, the ungodly, the unrighteous, the unpure, and the unholy control our culture, our politics, our courts, our schools and our families. We have let them erode the foundations of this great country which was founded on a deep love and trust in God into a bed of secular humanism and the glory of man.

How did this happen? Because most of us practice a nominal Christianity.  We wind up God for an hour a week in church and forget about Him the rest of the week. We watch hundreds of hours of television that weakens our heart for Him while we barely even crack open the greatest and most powerful book about life ever written, the Bible. We say a quick prayer as we rush out the door as we are just too busy to give God much time during our busy day. We let bitterness, criticism, hatred, pride, envy and anxiety rule in our hearts instead of God’s great love.  The greatest power for change, Christ, resides in us with all His fullness but we never activate it but choose to suffocate it with our own fears, insecurities, doubts and apathy. We have more passion for a football or baseball game then we have for the calling of God Almighty. Our love has far too often waxed cold and we are at best lukewarm for God. We have failed to let God build the character of Christ in our words and actions. We have failed to let Him use our hands, our feet, our mouth and our heart for His glory. 

These are the proving hours, the critical time for liberty and we must restore the power, love, deliverance and holiness to the church of a Christ that is alive and setting the hearts of men and women on fire and freeing them from every bondage that holds us back from giving our utmost for Him. We cannot be silent,  but we must speak the word of God with great love and power, fueling the lamp of liberty. We must become involved in our communities helping people and reaching out to those in need. We must be the voice of truth in our schools and our city halls and our courtrooms. We must walk in great wisdom with all the authority of Christ making a difference in every life we meet. Silence is not an option. For our country, failure is not an option. Wake up Christians and let us really make Christ the Lord of our life. Let him direct our lives on His path and inspire us to do great things for Him. The best history of the Christian church can be written by our lives and our churches. The best can be yet to come.  We can be a city upon a hill that shines the light of Christ to a nation that is desperately in need of healing. 

Deepen your relationship with God. Love Him. Read His instruction book for life and meditate upon its great transforming truths. Pray, pray and then pray some more. Help someone in need. Speak encouraging words that build up rather than tear down. Love like you have never loved before and trust God to develop great fruit in your life. Tell others about how great God is and the great things He has done for you. Speak about the gift of eternal life and salvation that Christ gave his life for. Ask God to use you to heal and strengthen our nation. Trust him to direct every step of your life. Have great compassion and forgiveness in all things and never forget there is a day coming that Christ is coming back so you can live with Him forever. Nothing in life compares to God and the great deliverance and freedom He offers in Christ. Never forget we are in a spirtual battle and that God is our coach, captain, defender, protector and banner. Time is of the essence. We cannot delay. Let’s not be nominal Christians anymore as we refuse to let the lamp of liberty go out in our generation.

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Preview of Letters to God: Send a message to Hollywood and see it this weekend.

Posted by faithandthelaw on April 16, 2010

Send a message to Hollywood this weekend and go see this wonderful Christian film with a message of truth. Hollywood needs to know that these type of movies are popular in America and hit a chord of the heart with the American people. 

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Government calls preaching ‘clear and present danger’

Posted by faithandthelaw on April 15, 2010

By Bob Unruh
© 2010 WorldNetDaily


Liberty Bell engraving that states: “Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

A panel of judges at the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today heard arguments that free speech should be allowed on public property at the site of the famous Liberty Bell, which itself quotes from the Bible in stating, “Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

The arguments came in a case involving Michael Marcavage, a minister whose work includes street preaching. He was fined and put on probation for preaching to the public on a sidewalk outside the Liberty Bell center after a trial in which government prosecutors described his message and actions as a “clear and present danger.”

The case began in October 2007 when Marcavage, director of the Repent America ministry, was arrested by supervising U.S. Park Ranger Alan Saperstein.

Marcavage ultimately was charged with violating a so-called “verbal permit” and “interfering with agency functions.”

A video of the arrest has been posted:

Evangelist Arrested for Preaching Near Liberty Bell from Repent America on Vimeo.

It was Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Goldberg during the June 2008 trial who argued Marcavage’s peaceful preaching presented a “clear and present danger.” Goldberg asked the judge to send a message not only to Marcavage but to anyone who would stand on public property and share their beliefs without government permission.  

According to Marcavage, Independence National Historical Park Law Enforcement Specialist Donald Reed recently reaffirmed that free speech activities are banned on any of the public sidewalks surrounding the park that align city streets without first obtaining government permission. Even with a permit, the activities must be confined to a designated “free speech zone.”

“In Philadelphia, the birthplace of American freedom, at the site of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, freedom is under attack by the very government that was established here to protect it,” Marcavage said.


Liberty Bell in Philadelphia

“The blessings of liberty that God bestowed upon our nation continue to be lost while the Gospel of Jesus Christ is silenced,” he continued. “If the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the ruling and finds that the federal government can ban Americans from speaking to others on matters that are important to them in the public forum or without advanced government permission, then this could very well be the final nail in the coffin of our freedoms.”

Marcavage told WND that based on their questioning, the three appellate judges – Michael Fisher, Thomas Hardiman and Robert Cowen – appeared to wonder about the prohibition of a Gospel message when other protesters with another message were left untouched. He noted commercial speech also was taking place in the same area where he was arrested.

“We obviously hope that what they revealed through the very hard questioning will be favorable toward freedom,” Marcavage told WND.

He said it is “absurd” that Americans have to fight for the right to speak freely on a public sidewalk near Independence Hall, where much of the work writing the U.S. Constitution was done, and adjacent to the exhibit of the Liberty Bell, one of the best-known symbols of freedom in the world.

Repent America is an evangelistic organization based in Philadelphia whose leaders “know that there is a literal hell and a lake of fire where the unsaved will burn for all eternity; therefore, we act upon this truth without reservation and GO OUT into the communities of America declaring the Word of God and proclaiming the Good News.”

WND reported earlier when Marcavage brought, with the help of private practice attorney C. Scott Shields, a complaint against the government over the speech infringement. That case is on hold while the current case is on appeal.

Marcavage was restricted from preaching even though Komen Breast Cancer walkers were “utilizing the same sidewalk as a forum for expressing their opinions and viewpoints,” court records reveal.

“However, Mr. Marcavage was told that he couldn’t stand on the … block and express his viewpoint and was instead given a verbal permit to express his viewpoint in another part of the Independence Mall, far away from where the Breast Cancer walkers were expressing their viewpoint,” court records said.


Michael Marcavage

Marcavage told WND previously of the danger he believes the court precedent poses.

“If they shut down our ability to speak, they shut down the Gospel; they shut down any message. If the government prevails in this case, America’s experiment in liberty has finally reached its demise,” Marcavage said.

On his blog, Marcavage has noted that such government-mandated “free speech zones” are being established across the country in an effort by cities, colleges and other institutions to regulate free speech.

The blog cited a 2007 study by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which found 259 of 346 colleges studied maintained such free speech restrictions.

 

Courtesy of http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=140269

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