Saturday, February 19, 2011

What God Do You Love? - The God Who Created You or The God That YOU Created?!



The rise of "multiculturalism" in the West, now morphing into "multi-individualism," is essentially the latest of rebellious events against the Creator God that every so often shakes civilization to the core. The devilish theory behind all of this is the lie that all cultures / individuals are equally valid and valuable and that we should all oppose any kind of singular cultural identity. In other words, there is no right or wrong, only more and "better" evolutionary choices. Not only that, dominating cultures such as that which is found in the United States, are inherintly evil and must be deconstructed in an existential attempt to form a "brave new world" where there will be mandated "equal results" for all people instead of "equal opportunities" where some people fail.(1) This "one world utopian" view of things is immortalized in John Lennon's infamous song; "Imagine." In Lennon's vision, there is "no heaven and no religion too." This theological vacuum creates "paradise" on earth where man becomes god.

The Chinese proverb; "may you live in interesting times," is indeed descriptive of 2011 when chaos is the order of the day both at home and abroad. This puts us, adherents to the "one Lord, one fatih and one baptism," in an ever increasing hostile environment. This environment embraces "all truths" while intolerently rejecting THE truth. This places us inside a monumental and historical paradigm shift away from "fearing the one true God" and towards the proclomation and adherance to a multitude of "self created gods" who look all too similar to "the man in the mirror."

"Multiculturalism / multi-individaulism" is just the latest among man centered rebellions in the unfolding of history. The first and most momentous of these rebellions was The Fall of Man as recorded in Genesis 3:5 where Satan promised Eve and Adam that they "would be as gods, knowing good and evil." After The Fall, man grew increasingly self directed and wicked prompting God to destroy that entire civilization save for Noah, his wife, their 3 sons and there wives in the Worldwide Flood. In fact man was so wicked that "every intention and thought was only evil continually" according Genesis 6:5. After the flood, man took a direction that is prototypical of every other rebellion against God since - he sought to establish his own utopia based on his own self-worth and merit. Man decided upon total world wide unity outside of the Will of God. Man gathered in one city, developed one language and had a singular purpose - to reach equality with God on man's terms, not God's. We know this event as the Tower of Babel. In Genesis 11:8 God dispersed man throughout the world by confusing the language - each people group instantly had a different language making unity no longer possible.

Every societal rebellion since has attempted this "utopian unity" model - and has always failed, as it always will. "Multiculturalism / multi-individualism" will soon implode despite the best efforts of the U.N., the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Imperial Rome, Papal Rome, Revolutionary France, Imperial Britian, Fascist Germany / Japan / Italy, Communist Russia / China have all attempted world wide domination based on the Babel model. In years to come, we will have to face not only "Multiculturalism / multi-individaulism," but the threat of a new monolitic Caliphate threat from Islam. These, too, will ultimately fall as did Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. America will fall as well unless the Lord returns prior to that event.

Until the judgement of God comes down on the head of any civilization, God pauses for a time to allow repentance. Where are we in America? Have we tipped the scale to the point of no return or is there still time for repentance and renewal? Has the "glory of the Lord departed from the temple?" Our prayers and our efforts must always assume that there IS time for repentance and renewal for God has not yet acted! We must be busy "sowing and watering," being "salt and light" in society and "redeeming the time for the days are evil." In order to best accomplish this we must be accutely aware of where people are spiritually. Nearly any poll will show that upwards to 90% of Americans believe in "God." On the surface this seems like good news, but is it?
What "God" do people in America love, the God who created them or the god whom THEY created? Sadly, the latter is far more prominent than the former.

Every society has a dominant religious belief about it. Iran is Muslim, India is Hindu and Bhuddist, Italy is Roman Catholic and so forth. These religious beliefs become merged into the societal norms and become what we would call a "civil religion." What is America's "civil religion?" Is America a "Chistian nation" or not? Not long ago President Obama announced to the world that "America is no longer a Christian nation." While we can surely state with certainty that America is not "Christian" in the New Testament sense of the word, we CAN say that no nation was ever founded on Christian "principles" more solidly than ours. We affirmed in the Declaration that "all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator certain inaliable rights such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." No nations culture is more influenced by Christian principles than is ours. Having said that, this "Christian influence" is eroding quickly due the fact the the "god" that most Americans adhere to is NOT the God of the Bible but, instead, a "god" of their own creation. This "god" is described by researcher Christian Smith of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as a god that is "moralistic, therapeutic and Deist." In 2005, he published his research in a book, Soul Searching - The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers.(2) In other words, America's civil religion is a false hope based upon a false god proclaiming a false message as was the "unknown god" of ancient Athens that Paul spoke of in Acts 17:16 - 34. The Athenians worshipped this "god" in a polytheistic, pluralistic and multicultural way. Paul though, preached to them the truth of the one true God manifested by the Risen Savior in a monotheistic, singular and uni-cultural way!

America's civil religion is strangely similar to the Stoicism that Paul encountered on Mars Hill. In the 3rd century b.c. a man named Zeno formed a philosophy that we know today as Stoicism. Zeno taught that man acheives happiness in life through his own moral virtue, hard work and dedication. Stoicism was polythesistic then as it is now - there is a "god" though this "god" is a "god" of ones own making. (Multiple people - multiple "gods" strangely similar to Origen's "multiple meanings" allegorical interpretive method of the 2nd century a.d.) Zeno's view of "the god's" is essentially the mindset of today's "moralistic, therapeutic Desism." As Albert Mohler commented in a review of Smith's book; "This undemanding diety is more interested in solving our problems and in making people happy."(3) This is the message we hear today from the Oprah Winfrey's, Joel Olstein's, Dr. Phill's and Rush Limbaugh's of the world - "God helps those who help themselves." This is a phrase that many think comes from the Bible but in no way actually does!

"In fact, this quotation has come down to us from GREEK MYTHOLOGY! Specifically it comes to us from one of Aesop’s fables, of the 6th century B.C. Let’s read this fable entitled “Hercules and the Waggoner.” “A Waggoner was once driving a heavy load along a very muddy way. At last he came to a part of the road where the wheels sank half-way into the mire, and the more the horses pulled, the deeper sank the wheels. So the Waggoner threw down his whip, and knelt down and prayed to Hercules the Strong." ‘O Hercules, help me in this my hour of distress,’ quoth he. But Hercules appeared to him, and said: ‘Tut, man, don’t sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel. "The gods help them that help themselves.”(4)


Just what are the tenets of America's civil religion, this "moralist, therapeutic Deism?" Essentially there are five:

1) There is a "god" who created the world, initiated natural laws and oversees over the lives of men and women.
2) This "god's" will, like his "existence," is multiple and pluralistic. This will is made up of competing and conflicting "truths." This "god's" will is that people are to be "nice and fair to one another as taught in the Bible and by most of the world's religions."(5)
3) This "god's" primary directive is for people to be happy and feel better about themselves.
4) This "god" does not necessarily wished to be involved in ones life except when he is needed to bring a solution to a problem, need or desire. He does not need or request worship.
5) "Good" people go to heaven and nearly everyone is "good."(6)

These five tenets of America's civil religion are found in it's three main components: moralism, therapeutics and Deism.

Moralism

Smith bluntly says; "...central to living a good and happy life is being a good moral person."(7) His research found the following components to "moralism:"

1. One must be "nice."
2. One must be "kind."
3. One must be "pleasant."
4. One must be "respectful."
5. One must be "responsible."
6. One must actively work at "self improvement."
7. One must "take care of his / her health."
8. One must "do his / her best in order to succeed."(8)

The adherent's to America's civil religion believe in a "loving" and non-judgmental god who will overlook all faults as long as one is "moral" as defined above. We would add one more component to this false religion - One MUST be "tolerant" of all others - regardless. Though "tolerance" is considered by the "politically correct" to be the most important of virtues - it is NOT EVEN a "virtue" as all! The word does not even appear until the 15th century a.d. according to the Miriam Webster On-Line Dictionary. MW defines the word thusly; "...sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own..."(9) One will not find either the word or the concept in the New Testament. The only word remotely similar is bastazo, which means to "...lift, endure, carry or take up" (10) another's burden. It is a word defining servitude to others as we serve Christ. Today's "definition" is quite different! It is not a word describing service, it is a word describing philosophical and moral surrender! "Tolerance" has a synonym in the New Testament - LUKEWARM. "Tolerating" that which is evil is something that deserves to be "spit out" not swallowed!

Therapeutics:

Today's American civil religion is therepeutic, it "self medicates" the adherents. It numbs one's mind to both reality and truth. It makes one "feel good about themselves" in the face of facts that would say otherwise. This is why we often witness the guilty to proclaim their "innocence." Take heed again to the words of Christian Smith;

"This is not a religion of repentance from sin...of living as a servant of soveriegn divinity, of steadfastly saying one's prayers....of building character through suffering, of basking in God's love and grace, of spending oneself in gratitude and love for the cause of (justice), etc."
(11)

"If" America's civil religion is NOT these things, just what is it? It is a religion that provides these "blessings" to it's adherents:

1. It allows one to "feel good."
2. It allows one to feel "happy."
3. It allows one to feel "secure."
4. It allows one to be "at peace."
5. It allows one to "attain subjective well being."
6. It allows one to "resolve problems."
7. It allows one to "get along amiably with other people."(12)

In short, these "therapeutics" simply allow one to say; "Don't Worry - Be Happy!"(13)

Deism:

The final main component of America's civil religion is "Deism." We know, through faith, that a "Deist" God does not exist. A very popular philsophy in the late 18th century (a bridge between theism and atheism) Deism taught that there is a god but this god just created the world and then walked off to leave us at our own devises without any consequence or repsonsibility for choices made. What does this "Deist god" look like in America's civil religion?

1. "God" is not personally involved with peoples lives, he's by nature a recluse.
2. If a person perfers "God" to NOT be involved, in no way will he be.
3. "God" keeps a safe distance.
4. "God" is not a judge.
5. "God's" priorities are to "solve problesms" and "make people happy."
6. "God" comes and goes as people dictate.
7. "God" has no qualms with what people "used to call immorality."
8. "God" does not define for us "good and evil" or "right and wrong," all choices are equally valid.(14)
Smith candidly observes as quoted by Mohler; "In short, God is something like a combination Divine Butler and Cosmic Therapist; he is always on call, takes care of any problems that arise, professionally helps his people to feel better about themselves, and does not become too personally involved in the process."(15)

Conclusion:

What does God's Word say about all of this? Paul decried such false religions in Galatians 1:6 - 9:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to another gospel - not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or a an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again; If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed." (ESV)

ENDNOTES:
(1) I have been told that on one occasion boxing great Mohammed Ali visited Soviet Russia during the days of the Cold War. Upon returning, reportedly he was asked; "Is it true that every one in Russia is equal?" Ali is said to have replied; "Yes, they are all equal - equally poor!"
(2) Christian Smith with Melinda Lunquist Denton, (Soul Searching - The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, New York, New York, Oxford University Press, 2005)
(3) R. Alber Mohler - http://www.christianpost.com/news/moralistic-therapeutic-deism-the-new-american-religion-6266/
(4) Gary D. Pifer - http://home.earthlink.net/~gdpifer/God_Helps_Those_Who_Help_Themsleves.html
(5) Mohler, op. cit., [Emphasis mine - RM]
(6) Mohler, op. cit., paraphrased and expanded - RM
(7) Mohler, op. cit.
(8) Mohler, op. cit., paraphrased - RM
(9) http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tolerance
(10) Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries via e-sword.com
(11) Mohler, op. cit.
(12) Mohler, op. cit. paraphrased and expanded - RM
(13) The title of a very popular late 1980's song. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Worry,_Be_Happy
(14) Mohler, op. cit., paraphrased and expanded - RM
(15) Mohler, op. cit. - quoting Christian Smith in Soul Searching
(16) For the most comprehensive review of these matters I have seen, check out:
Benjamin Wiker, (Moral Darwinism - How We Became Hedonists, Downers Grove, Ill., Intervarsity Press, 2002) ISBN 0-8308-2666-1

More Blessed than the Apostles? - In One Way...YES!

Audio and Outline of a Sermon Rendered 3 June 2018, Morning Service, Archdale church of Christ, 2525 Archdale Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210 by...