Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Secular Views vs. Christian Truth

I feel very fortunate to have been saved from death.  I very much feel that way.  I can never be as grateful as I ought to be, but by only a shadow do I understand the truth of how very sacred and important a single human life is.

In 1977 Elvis Presley died of drug overdose, with what was believed to be 14 different drugs devastating his internal organs.  Elvis Presley, one of the greatest musicians humanity has to offer, was found dead with a Bible in his hand.  He had studied it consistently, and had extensive notes and thoughts scribbled in the margins.  It was later auctioned off for around $75,000.  My point is this, if Elvis was taken from this world, found dead with a Bible, why then did I not receive a similar fate?  I too clutched at a Bible, walking the streets with a laptop in an old brown bag. The Bible, a gift from my grandfather, was my only companion as I stumbled about miserable and lost.  I was also drug addicted, and yet somehow in that overpowering delirium I was drawn to the Bible.  I carried it wherever I went.  It pierces all disguises, including those within the mind.

I witnessed, and more than witnessed, I felt and endured the kind of depravity of the mind Satan can inflict on a member of a culture obsessed with pleasure.  I was addicted to cough medicine, and I won't even go into exactly why, just that a chemical in cough medicine taps one of the areas of the brain that lights up during worship and spiritual pursuits.  I could probably equate that to the new age movement, a vain attempt of man to make himself the God and creator of the universe.  Shockingly now, despite warnings in the early 80s about this bizarre spirituality, it has taken on mainstream acceptance.  Scary.  If the Anti-christ that is spoken of in the book of Revelation is to come and live among the people of the Earth, I imagine he would fit right into that sort of framework. An all-inclusive spirituality that claims to bring in all religions under a single banner, by carefully modifying interpretations of the various sacred documents of those faiths. 

Given its inherent danger, this is certainly something to keep an eye out for.  It all starts to add up when you see universities, and philosophical thinkers always searching for a framework to allow for diversity and at the same time unity.  New age provides that possibility, unfortunately, it also makes man his own god and his own architect.

This is the depraved mind at work, and I speak from experience.  I was a new-ager at the same time consuming a drug that hit the worship button, without me having to actually connect with the true and only God.  Let me say that as that drug use progressed to it's most extreme level, I was very much engulfed in the immoral.  There was a sort of tunnel vision in my thinking, that I could not think my way out of.  That is the essence of addiction, a mindset manipulated by chemicals and desires, to the point of being an inescapable and ever-present twist on reality.

This is in the same vain as the thoughts and actions of atheists and scientists, as well as new agers, who are unable to present arguments for their own irrational doctrines and then attempt to rewrite the rules of logic and coherence to allow for wide spread acceptance.  This is where post-modernism, the idea that all things are relative comes in.

There is a public sort of mindset, or at least a heavy input onto the minds of Americans.  There is a realm of debate and inquiry that takes on certain methods of thought, and when those methods are adjusted to allow for fallacious ideas, it can become hazardous.  It's similar to the political climate during a presidential election year.  The mainstream media will ignore certain key facts, and focus on other areas of debate that have more widespread acceptance.  The truth never gets out, and insanity and false notions prevail on a mass level in thought.

My point here is that drug use, for me, was a short cut to a sense of spiritual connection.  I initiated the spiritual process by downing pills that did immense damage to my body, all in seeking a way of feeling comfortable in my own skin.  The Truth was not present in this situation.  I had faced incredible pain while growing up, pain from people I had entrusted to care for me, and pain from the people of the world, young and foolish and all too cruel.  Is my experience so different from most experiences?  Probably not.

More often than not when I am speaking to non-believers about Jesus Christ, especially in my area, they arrive with many preconceived notions about what God ought to be. They arrive with memories of painful encounters with individuals who failed to carry the Christian message in a correct and loving way.  When people open themselves up to spiritual principles, namely Christianity, they allow themselves to be vulnerable and to place their lives trustingly in the hands of God and the church.  When a church or institution damages that trust with improper teaching or condemnation, we then are left trying to offer love to someone who has turned off that part of themselves. These people shut down because it is just too painful to attempt such a possibly damaging connection.  They see themselves as rejected by the body of that connection because of their sins, some happening, or some issue that came up.

The kind of talks I have with people who are hurt like that are much less talks and much more, simple listening on my part.  Many have never vented this dark anger they have for their previous encounters with Christianity. 

If I can allow them to express their feelings, their opinions, lovingly listen, and look for ways to agree with and validate their confusion and sadness, then I can begin to show a loving Christianity that is the actual truth of God.  So I listen, divert direct insults and attacks, continue to listen, and offer encouragement and identification.  I provide them with compliments and love, and I quite carefully share my experience, from my perspective. "This is what I did," not "you need to do this."  I share directly from my experience about how I reconnected with Christ after having a poor experience in organized religion.  And through that, they start to see another path to Christ, through the wilderness, not through the mainstream, where they may directly connect to Christ, by testing the message against the words in the Bible, not on the actions or words of imperfect representatives of God.

Knowing the kind of pain I used to be in daily, I can hardly imagine the kind of pain, immense, that people are going through as I see them day to day. I can only imagine how terrible it must really be for some. When every movement is agonizing and you don't know why, and you don't know how to get through tomorrow, and everything lacks meaning. That is a tough place, it's a very agonizing place.  These people need to see the love of God working in our lives, and they need to be given small tastes of that love in our interactions with them.  

Most people I talk to instantly (and I mean instantly!) get defensive, go into debate mode, argument mode, when I mention my faith.  What is the standard reaction for most?  To debate back with them by using scriptural references, and demanding Jesus Christ is all powerful Lord and Savior.  And of course he is our all powerful Lord and Savior.  We toss Bible verses at them because we see the Bible as the ultimate authority.  Guess what? They don't see it that.  We can't pelt them with Bible verses and demand they believe there is a God because we say there is one.  People's egos do not respond to that in this day and age.  But what they do respond to is love, friendship, and encouragement.  They want to be heard, to be identified with, and we can most certainly listen, and listen, and then listen more. 

Again and again our Lord allows the world to crumble to the breaking point, so that people may feel the pain and learn to understand their place in the universe under a sovereign and loving Creator.  I was so very stubborn before I called out to Jesus Christ for help.  I had a bad experience with Christianity early on in my life, and rejected the possibility, quite defiantly, in the progression of my spiritual journey.  

I wanted a spiritual connection outside of Christianity, so I made my own headway into the vague spiritualism of New Age.  When that did not satisfy my inner ache for eternity, my hunger once again lead me into drug use.  And when withered to the core physically, often found in beds of mental hospitals and beds of emergency rooms, having done incredible damage to this temple, my body, my stubborn defiance began to melt away.  Couple my physical deterioration with the more important factor, my mental agony: the hatred, sadness, depravity, the great depression, the longing desire for a gun to be placed to my head... my defiant ego was crushed to no known recognition of what was, what was not, who I was, who I was not, what was meaning, what was not meaning. 

It is an awful process, painful, yet worthwhile. I was made capable by God to fall to my knees weary, beaten, and battered to the very breaking point of insanity to call on my Lord Jesus Christ "please Lord Jesus save me from a life lived on the philosophy of not needing you."

If Malcolm Muggeridge sees modern man as a weary and battered old brontosauraus soon to declare himself extinct, I would suggest that it is at just such moments throughout the history of mankind where we, as a body of humanity, are brought so low so beaten and weary to the very breaking point economically, socially, and spiritually that at that desperate last endgame moment God is able to touch our hearts so our mouths may cry out to the Savior Jesus Christ "please Lord Jesus save us from our own desire to rise above you and live without you as that attempt has left us utterly ruined."

There is something that chills my bones, to the very core of my being and my spirit.  In the Old Testament there was always a repeating problem that would cycle over and over, over hundreds of years.  It was that one generation would witness God's miracles and be loyal to him, but then their children would turn against him.  This repeats to this very day.  And even when Jesus Christ returns and reigns over the millennial kingdom, we are told that those living then will have children, and those children will once again turn against God.  Seeing the pattern of obedience and rebellion, echoing into the millennial kingdom all the way from the beginning of time terrifies me.

It's easy for people to get tunnel vision historically about where we are and what's going on.  Since I was born, I have seen a stable and technologically advanced culture.  I've seen science and technology as well as information take off in leaps and bounds.  I can easily start to think that this is the only world that has ever existed, a marvelous world of human creation.  But if I look back just one hundred years, or two hundred years in the vast scope of human history; religion has always been key to human culture in all areas and on all levels.  Yet in the last thirty years we have finally discovered that we can toss out religion and let the human heart reign supreme?  

That's what we see in the ideas of scientists who seek to remove intelligent-design, atheists who seek to remove the mere possibility of a loving God, post-modernists who seek to remove moral law and meaning, intellectuals who deny evil in the heart of man despite such overpowering empirical evidence, and new spiritualists who seek to remove the need for a savior, declaring all religions as basically the same and man as his own divine creator and lord of the universe.   

This is where the law of non-contradiction makes such philosophies and ideas utterly impossible.  So the eastern idea of all inclusive ideas, denying apparent contradictions begins to invade the western debates on these topics, to allow for the broken and flawed ideologies to began to hold weight as tangible world views. 

I am telling you the truth, these new and trendy ideas that invade college campuses are not logical or defensible world views.  They can and do attack Christianity, but once you question their world view they are silent. As Ravi Zacharias stated, many hands go down when he asks those who would question him, during his apologetic college campus tours, that if they should ask a question they must be prepared to defend that question from their own worldview. So their worldview becomes difficult to defend when it espouses such bizarre doctrines.  Questions help those we speak to consider their own questions and what they tend to believe and hold true deep down.

A world of irrational and destructive ideologies is then perpetrated from many key angles, where the worldview is then mass-produced in the minds of men from youth to old age.  Our young people are taught science with no morality, much less even the possibility of a loving God.  Consumerism and pleasure gratification is taught through the television.  Self-worship is taught through the internet and social media.  On the college campuses students read Marx, Sartre, Russell, Darwin, and get pounded with Liberalism and the latest fad Eastern mystical philosophies and religious ideas from Professors and staff.  After college there is the grab lifestyle of more wealth, more sex, more power, and more pleasure.  Chasing those self wants recklessly, having been taught nothing else by media, society, and education such people live empty, meaningless lives and crumble under the weight of the pain of such pointless endeavors.  Christianity, at the same time, is mocked as backwards and old, manned by judgmental hypocrites, intolerant bigots, and child molesting pedophiles who have caused such evil with their organized religious ideals.  People at the same time defeated by a deranged lifestyle of pleasure pursuit and wealth acquisition continue to need a spiritual connection, so it is sought in the perfect all inclusive religion for the selfish post-modernist evolutionist consumerist; New Age, all religions to the same summit as long as when we get there we are all gods, the unknown makers of all reality, waking up from a good nap of depravity to take the reins of omnipotence for our further pleasure, as the earthly pleasure was just not enough.  Does that about sum it up? 

Seen from the angle of the truth, which is a hard point to reach in our convoluted information age, we can start to see just how irrational this mindset is.  It is not logical or coherent, and the only way it can be sustained as a worldview is by tunnel vision, ignoring of key facts, ignoring the law of non-contradiction, and accepting a unity of diversity that is fundamentally flawed in it's reasoning.

Tell me, is it mathematically possible for the universe to have occurred by chance?  Or is 10 to the 36,000th power mathematically impossible?  Then why not teach at least the possibility of intelligent design in our schools? 

Tell me, if there is no morality and no meaning, and all things are relative and open to every individual's experience, why in the thousands of years of human existence has every human being born wanted to know 'why'?  But I think the strongest argument against the post-modern argument (if there is such a thing as the post-modern argument, for it tends to contradict it's own declaration of a non-coherent universe by attempting to explain itself in coherent means) is that of a history.  All the worlds people as long back as we have written history have yearned to understand a higher being or force.  That stabilizing force, found predominantly through the Christian message is that of a moral law, of accountability for ones actions, and of meaning.  Imagine a history of humanity devoid of spirituality, but instead empowered by the post-modern view of no moral law and no meaning.  Imagine that all of humanity, from the beginning of written history, had adopted that philosophy completely.  Can you honestly say that there would be like modern humanity at all?  Or would humanity have utterly annihilated itself without a moral law, an inner inclination to seek God, and a love for fellow man?  I imagine a man in this post-modern society who is upset with his neighbor because his neighbor slept with his wife.  Being upset, and making up in his own mind what is moral and what is just, he proceeds to go to his neighbors house and stab the man repeatedly to death with a butcher knife.  Police arrive on the scene and ask the man what had he done!  And the man replies, hands bloodied after the brutal slaughter, "No, it's fine Officer, I determined in my mind that this was morally right and just."  And what could the officer do?  Study the man's face to make sure this was truly what the man considered himself to be right and just, and then having done so, nod his head and leave?  So, if post-modernism in the hearts and minds of the people in the past would have lead to our own utter destruction, it is an utterly unsustainable worldview for a humanity that wants to move into the future in continued harmony and healthy coexistence.  Nietzsche admitted the same when he said that without God, lights would have to be lit, false gods invented to guide humanity to desire for the greater principles in life, so humanity itself would survive.  And naturally as post-modernism grows in popularity and eastern religious ideas are deified; Christianity is demonized and marginalized along with western ways of thinking given less value.  My last point is, with these new ideas invading hearts and minds we've seen a corresponding empirical increase of depravity, consumerism, depression, and meaninglessness in Western culture.  It is easily visible and measurable. 

Tell me now also, if we are to intellectually resist the idea of men being evil and declare all men as basically good then why is there so much diabolical evil in the world?  Do you see what they've done?  The question they've always attacked apologists with, the question of evil in the world and how God could exist in spite of that, is the same question they utterly ignore when considering the heart of man.  I don't know that I even need to spell out all the bizarre evil and corruption in the world, but let's just look at a few of the keys that are fairly blatant out there.  The starvation in Africa?  Over 20 million babies aborted worldwide every year?  The constant conflicts between countries?  The need in every area of the known world for complicated laws, police, standing armies, convoluted political systems just to keep common everyday men and women from annihilating each other?  The incredible amount of damage done to the climate and atmosphere of the Earth, exemplified in the floating island of garbage in the Atlantic Ocean about as large as the state of Texas?  Most recently the nuclear reactors overloading in Japan, still spewing radiated water into the Pacific Ocean to this very day?  Or the BP oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico?  The United States bombing of Libya in 2012, Libya whom was attempting to join Africa together in a common wealth of nations to bring about finally some peace and prosperity to that continent?  I could go on and on, and just barely scratch the surface.  The heart of man is desperately wicked.  My heart personally was desperately wicked, and is only now undergoing a slow transformation with Jesus Christ living within.  I think the most important factor when considering the desperately evil heart of man is that it helps us to understand why exactly we need the indwelling of a savior, not from the world or others, but from ourselves on an individual basis. 

And please tell me finally, how could man possibly be his own god and creator when he cannot even manage to exist peaceably and in harmony on Earth?  How can all religions be paths to the same place when there are such fundamental differences in the ideologies?  And assuming that this is the direction spirituality goes, to New Age beliefs (capital N, capital A) don't you think in a world full of tyrants an all inclusive new age religion of "we are all gods" would be a religion full of people claiming to be gods whom are also tyrants?  And if you're versed on the book of Revelation in the Bible, our guide map to the end times, there will be a one world government, a one world religion, and an anti-Christ whom places himself at the head of this one world religion/government.  World peace will rein, a new age will dawn, then halfway through that reign all out war and destruction will break out.  It's interesting to note the culminations of these predictions from the book of Revelation which are materializing today.  The Jews once again had their own nation after World War II.  Then we saw the rise of nations joining together through the United Nations, the European Union, the alliances in Asia, and most recently in pushes for a North American Union in the West.  Now we see the rise of this all inclusive religion where all men are gods, popularized by huge figures like Oprah, Doreen Virtue, and Chopra.  I think we'll continue to see the rise of the new age all inclusive beliefs, it's perfect for ego driven selfish humans, intellectuals, common folk, philosophers who want unity in diversity, its just perfect for those routes, and it can garner wide spread acceptance because it doesn't exclude, but include all major religions, as long as the followers are willing to deal with modifications to their own belief systems that allow for an all inclusive belief system.  All the major figures of each religion, Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, and so on are all seen as "Christ-like" incarnations of individuals who attain a state of spiritual perfection and then share their message with others.  This contradicts major precepts of all the major religions, not just Christianity, but especially Christianity that says Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, the only way to the Father (God).  Naturally all the other religions of the world do not have a savior, some don't believe in heaven, some don't believe in hell, some believe in obtaining heaven through good works, other through secret knowledge, others like reincarnation are about paying for your wrongs, always paying, and paying toward nirvana when you do good works.

Christianity is fundamentally different and distinct as the one truth, to me, for several key reasons: For one, Christianity is the only religion where salvation is a gift, it is not something that can be obtained or worked for.  It is a free gift that is simply received.  The key figure of Jesus Christ shows divinity more clearly than any other figure in religions about the world, in my view.  Jesus Christ, God himself in human form, came down to Earth to serve humanity, not to get on a throne and rule over, but to walk about as a human does, feeding people, healing people from sickness, encouraging and guiding people to salvation, and teaching about pure truth.  He lived humbly among his people, and he was persecuted for teaching the truth, on the outskirts, as the organized religious body of that day persecuted him (see what I mean about following Jesus Christ and not organized religion) and then they accused him, and then they killed him.

And what always gives me shivers, is when I think about it, and put myself in Jesus' shoes. My hands and feet nailed to a cross, my back whipped to a pulp, the crowd spitting at me, jeering me, mocking me, at that moment what would I say?  "I hate you all" maybe?  Jesus Christ at that moment prays and says to his Father, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."  If a divine being personifying God would come to Earth in human form, and I was trying to imagine what that was like, that statement by Jesus would embody more than I could imagine.  Jesus Christ is unique, true substance, and he is the only way to God, to eternal life, and whether we want to admit it or not, we all need him.

So knowing, that we each personally need a savior to save us from ourselves, knowing that there must be a moral law for society to continue at all, and knowing that science and math support the idea of intelligent design rather than appose it, doesn't Christianity, the Bible, seem like a perfect fit, not in it's followers or institutions, but in it's ideals and the actions of it's one and only savior Jesus Christ?  I think it does.  I know it does.  And I invite those of you out there who do not yet know, to come to know, by asking in earnest, "Jesus Christ, if you be real, please show yourself to me."

I know that if you earnestly seek him he will come close to you, and one day, maybe not right away, but one day you will come to that place where you absolutely know, wow, it's all real.  Because that day came for me.  I took a leap and saw my life transformed.  I had faith that it could happen.  And it did happen.  Experientially I saw the evidence.  Personally I felt the reality of it grow and grow.  Intellectually I studied, read, and listened to some of the greatest men in human history profess their faith and trust in Christ.  I learned from great apologists the coherence and logic of such a worldview.  And I saw in point blank, powerful terms, my life brought about 180 degrees marching from an utter disaster of drug addiction, alcoholism, fear, and depression; to a new life of success, growing inner peace, knowledge, beauty, happiness, and love.  The results have been highly tangible thus far, and I am so very grateful for what has happened in my life.