Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Illusions of Modern Society and the Gospel

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"If we as Christians do not speak out as authoritarian governments grow from within or come from outside, eventually we or our children will be the enemy of society and the state. No truly authoritarian government can tolerate those who have a real absolute by which to judge its arbitrary absolutes and who speak out and act upon that absolute." -Francis Schaeffer, How Shall We Then Live?, page 254. Written 1976, Published 1979.


It's amazing how Dr. Francis Schaeffer could see what was coming in the United States with such clarity.  I've included several quotes from his landmark book: How Shall We Then Live? and the accompanying video production.  If you haven't read it, and watched the series, I highly recommend it.  

Let's look at the illusions and presuppositions within the culture around us, and ourselves.  Then we'll look at the cultural progression, media movements, and the gospel's power to transform cultures.

Are people brainwashed?

Do you ever get the feeling that people around you seem brainwashed?  It's a daily occurrence for me.  The television is a powerful influencer.  It came with an unprecidented ability to generate culture.  And oh the immoral culture it has generated.  There are so many other influences though.  There are so many situations that provoke us in different directions.  We like to pretend that we aren't influenced by the television, the ads, or the ideas being perpetrated.  But companies wouldn't pay millions of dollars for TV ads if they didn't have a power to influence the human mind.  Do you know how many ads a person sees in a day?  Probably hundreds.  

A view based on interests of everyday people

People have a lot of focuses, like work, family, art, music, movies, vacations, sports, and so on.  These interests are all fine when kept in moderation.  But it's when they crowd out the center of life, Jesus Christ, that they become problematic.  And are these interests crowding out legitimate yearnings within our heart, for the supernatural?  To be part of something special?  

God must be the center of our worldview, not off in a compartment for Sunday morning.  God must be the center.  God must be of first importance, even above our own families or our own lives.  I think we often lose touch with the radical devotion required by God.  Jesus Christ lifted two commands above all else: Love God with everything you have, and love your neighbors.  That is vital.  We must obey those commands.  We ignore them at our own imminent peril. 

Peeling away the layers of conditioning

Can we wake up to reality?  Can we see past the American lifestyle to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ?  I think we can.  But we have to start peeling away the layers.  We have to start seeing through the lies.  

So many of us are afraid of sharing our faith.  We're afraid of looking stupid.  I spend a lot of my time trying to get people to share their faith on social media, just by posting scripture or sharing Christian social media pictures.  You'd be amazed that almost no one is even willing to do that much.  

Evangelism is the number one concern of the church on Earth, it all hinges on sharing the message.  The Holy Spirit convicts, but God didn't commission the Holy Spirit to float through the air to evangelize.  He commissioned the twelve.  And he commissioned us.  It's our job.  It's of great urgency too.

That is only the beginning.  We also have to look at how we spend money.  And we have to look at the conveniences that we're so adjusted to.  We have to look at the time we spend in front of the television, and the time we spend on the computer.  We should inspect what we eat, and we should look at cutting down the list of conveniences and start directing our income to the needy.  If you're doing that now, great, if your not, pray on it, and start examining the budget.  Do we have wants on our "need" list?  It's a reasonable question.  We're very used to having it easy. 

Waking up from the dream world

There is a dream world and there is a real world.  The dream world is materialism.  The dream world is the mindset that just says keep chugging along, and never give a thought to why you exist.  The dream world cries "make money!"  and "be important!"  Those aren't Christian values, and they are in contradiction with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

A lot of us operate on presuppositions that we haven't really thought about.  Those presuppositions go into all areas of our life.  They affect our spending, sex life, goals, job, mentality, our emotions, and our thinking. They affect everything.

We must examine ourselves candidly: Are we still operating on dead ideologies from the world?  Do we still live like someone who thinks there is no god?  Are we isolating parts of our lives that we don't want to turn over to Christ?  

Are there glaring, obvious problems?  Do we smoke cigarettes?  Do we watch pornography?  Do we drink excessively?  Do we use illegal drugs?  Do we use doctor prescribed drugs improperly?  Do we have sex with whoever we want, whenever we want?  Do we operate from a base system of entertaining and indulging ourselves constantly?  Are we just plain selfish?  

Seeing the presuppositions of our culture 

The presuppositions of our culture are pretty clear.  We've gone over them before.  It's usually a pretty vacuous existence.  It's generally people trying to find happiness, wealth, and prestige.  Those aren't necessarily bad things, when properly placed.  But when they are the central pursuit, they are empty endeavors, doomed to failure and disappointment.  The mindset is generally people walking around who don't know why they exist and they aren't particularly interested either.  Isn't that insanity?  It seems insane to me.  You don't even know why your here, your just kind of going through the motions?  Maybe you should see a psychiatrist about that.  But the psychiatrist would probably have the same mindset.  It's become endemic to our society.  

Our isolated mindset in the West

One of the hardest parts of waking up to the truth is realizing the state of things.  It's a dire situation.  But at least we can see it truthfully, instead of believing the lie that everything is fine, despite the evidence.  We get to see the truth about our planet.  We see that humanity is crippled, lost, caught up in wars, chaos, and sin.  It's hard to see that in the United States.  We tend to live in this bubble that tells us everything is fine, it's always been this way, and everything is getting better and everyone is basically good.  Have you had that mindset?  I know I have in the past.  

Unfortunately that false reality can't stand up to the raw facts:  The American good life is not eternal, it's only been since the past 40-50 years.  If you go back a bit further than that one can find economic depressions, world wars, genocides of races, corruption, poverty, and violence.  It continues today in many forms.  Think of human trafficking, which occurs widely in the USA.  Think of slum lords.  Think of the conflicts, poverty, diseases, and struggles across our planet.  No, the American good-life false reality does not stand up to history, the current world stage, or today's newspaper. 

The power of the organized Media

"All that is needed is that the world-view of the elite and the worldview of the central news media to coincide. One may discuss if planned collusion exists at times, but to be looking only for the
possibility of a clandestine plot opens the, way for failing to see a much greater danger: that many of those who are in the most prominent places of influence and many of those who decide what is news do have the common, modern, humanist world-view we have described at length in this book." -Francis Schaeffer, How Shall We Then Live?, page 240.

The media has the power to create culture.  Why?  Because the media can impact more people than ever before.  What was one of the main drivers of the American revolution? Pamphlets.  If pamphlets and newspapers could do that in 1775 imagine the power of the television media networks, the radio networks to a lesser extent, and that power extended to the internet super highway.

Yet when the internet boomed it opened two doors, one good and one bad.  The bad door is where a lot of bullying, hatred, vulgar humor, terrorism planning, and other sins flowed in.  These things became much more widespread and accessible from home.  Of course the worst madness of this door was the pornography industry and worse, child pornography flowing through to the minds of millions.  Truly a terrible situation.  

Yet I would say of equal or greater value is the second door, the good door: Coming through this door are dissenting views to the mainstream media narrative, art and cyber culture, humor, the capacity for the spread of good information, alternative political views, and most certainly a growing Christian awakening in the areas of Christian culture, Christian philosophy, Christian apologetics, and Christian social media evangelism.  In effect the internet's diverse voices, through blogs, websites, and social media platforms became a giant check and balance to the planned and pre-programmed media narrative, generated by the associated press and distributed by the major networks: Fox, CNN, NBC, etc.

Imagine if there was no internet.  This election cycle it would be Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton.  Which comes to a key example of this check and balance on information, which was so desperately needed.  This election cycle things have changed substantially.  Establishment candidates are not carrying the support they did 8, 12, or 20 years ago.  The outsiders are beginning to rally real numbers, people like Dr. Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and on the Democrat side, Bernie Sanders.  The establishment still holds sway, but especially in the GOP there has been a seachange.  I believe Dr. Ron Paul inspired much of the shake ups toward true conservative principles.  Dr. Paul took on a stage full of neo-conservatives in 2008 and 2012.  Now today the stage is filled with true conservatives, and the Freedom Caucus is gathering support, led by Rep. Justin Amash who credits his entrance into politics as inspired by Ron Paul.  

Progressive movements & successes with guiding culture

Step by step from the post-world war II environment and beyond the culture of the United States has been drastically shifted.  It's been shifted away from traditional Christian values.  That is a serious problem, since moral values hold the framework of the country together.  The Constitution must give way to an authoritarian oligarchy if the people descend into ever increasing depravity, addiction, crime, and corruption.  We're seeing that happen today.  Even the most staunch progressive would, watching MTV or reality television, have to admit that our culture, art, and entertainment have descended into simplistic, depraved garbage.  It's pretty crazy, let's just be real.  One can't even go into too much detail regarding examples, music videos, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, this stuff is so obscene and disturbing it's unacceptable to even describe.  

Media and culture today are the outworking of a process that began in the 1950s.  People like Ravi Zacharias and Francis Schaeffer have written and spoke on the progression from a Christian culture to a secular progressive culture.  The secular movement really springboarded off the 1960s protests and hippie movements.  The movement led to a lot of skepticism being thrown at government, social norms, the family, and religious faith.  Evolution eventually replaced creationism in public schools.  The courts had outlawed the teaching of any religion aside from one: naturalism, an unprovable worldview based on presuppositions stationed for the purpose of circumventing the Christian worldview.  

Gen-exers really embraced the genuine cultural revolution.  Step by step organizations like the ACLU and the Freedom from Religion foundation began targeting and suing Christians who dared to share their faith in the public square, or witness to their faith while holding a public office.  The courts have struck down scores of legal charges raised by these organizations, but with the cultural shifts taking more solid form, the courts are beginning to shift their positions to more secular rulings.  

The Supreme court handed down a nightmare in Roe v. Wade, legalizing the extermination of unborn children in 1973.  The Supreme court has recently handed down a series of increasingly ugly, authoritarian dictates from on high, acting as "philosopher kings" to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

After the world trade center towers were destroyed by radical Islamic terrorists in 2001, the four horsemen of new atheism descended like black doves to explain how the actions of radical Islamic terrorists meant that Christianity had been found false, violent, and wanting.  The logic is a bit fuzzy for me, the connection there, but after 9/11 the mood seemed to be that religion had become bad.  In the past few years a religious persecution has begun, targeting Christian businesses, public servants, and leaders who refuse to endorse homosexuality and cater to the every whim of aggressive LGBT activists.  

Secular humanism seems to have taken charge in all key areas of academia, most notably in the sciences, medicine, and psychology.  Humanism has also made impressive inroads in government, leadership, and the business world.  

Today it has really become the leading worldview being taught.  I make that statement carefully.  I don't believe it to be the prevailing worldview of the general public of the United States.  Instead it is the worldview being forced upon a generally resistance public.  Polls have often indicated that the most common worldview in the USA is the Christian worldview.  Most are more skeptical about evolution than belief in God.  What the secular gen-exers really did was conquer the institutions of the country.  They set up shop in psychology.  They set up show in social work.  They set up shop in government and the legal system.  They quietly took over Christian universities, universities founded by Christians like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown, and many others.  They then shifted those universities to increasingly secular, skeptic, and atheistic positions.  In history, archaeology, and of course the sciences, there is this quiet secularism forcing silence on the topic of religion and Christianity.  The attempt seems to be to evict it from discussion, from all public squares, from academia, and from the culture all together.  

"There is a death wish inherent in humanism–the impulsive drive to beat to death the base which made our freedoms and our culture possible." -Francis Schaeffer, How should we then Live? pg. 226

Christians engaging & guiding culture

Hand in hand with the mainstream media they manage to perpetrate a mood that is actually quite deceiving.  The mainstream media is excellent at making it appear that progressive and liberal views have basically won out in America.  And they are simply trying to root out the last old power points of the GOP, Christianity, and religious institutions.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  That view perpetrated by the media is a myth.  In fact a massive movement of Constitutional, conservative Christians are rising up, organizing on social media and in public organizations to begin to bring the United States back in line with Constitutional government, personal liberty, small government, free exchange of ideas, the end of political correctness, traditional marriage, respect for life, and is energized to drive out a progressive ruling elite entrenched in the mainstream media and political establishment.

It's a dangerous situation given the insane debt crisis (17 trillion dollars) as well as the curtailing of personal and religious liberties, rising inflation, the Federal reserve endlessly printing money, the oligarchy of the Supreme Court issuing dictates suppressing the rights of the states, and the list goes on and on.  But don't believe the media, don't believe these progressive newspapers that would have you believe that it can't be changed.  It can be changed.  It is being changed.  

Pray, pray hard, and keep believing.  We can retake our country from the special interest groups, big government builders, authoritarian neocons, and mainstream media pc-police. 

Standing up for the truth, without compromise

We need to shake off the programming, the false reality, and wake up to the truth.  What is the truth?  God is real.  Jesus Christ is really the Lord of every man, woman, and child on this Earth.  God does work in our world.  He answers our prayers.  We don't have to let these people scare us into silence.  We can speak out.  It means taking a risk.  It means probably getting called names like "racist" and "bigot" and "homophobe" and "sexist" and "insensitive."  But that's just ad hominem, an attack on the person intended to scare them into silence.  Don't let that slide and don't be afraid when they say those things.  Stick to your beliefs and keep sharing them.  Share them on social media.  Share them with your friends and family.  When trouble comes, when insults come, keep posting, keep sharing, and keep sending emails.  Keep speaking.  When they try to silence you, pray for them and keep speaking.  

"That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said.  As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”  Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
  -John 20:19-23 NLT

If other Christians scold you for sharing the truth from the word of God (and they will) ignore them.  They've been influenced by a secular ideology based on an unqualified view of love that is not biblical.  In short, love warns and they need to read their Bible more often.  Jesus called out sin!  Jesus spoke the truth without compromise!  Jesus was love, he was mercy, but he stood up for the truth.  Don't be afraid when Christians call you judgmental, tell them to read their Bible more often.  Help them to understand that Jesus came full of grace, yes, but he also came full of truth.  And he didn't mince words about sin.  

"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." -Galatians 5:19-21 ESV 

Saving Western Civilization from total collapse

Is it too late for western civilization?  I don't think so.  Many might want to assume that these must be the end times, and America is destined to fall into destruction and be destroyed like Sodom.  I don't adhere to that.  Imagine how many different societies and nations have probably felt just the same.  Some thought Osama Bin Laden was the anti-Christ.  They said Hitler must be the anti-Christ during WWII.  Further back, they said it must be Napoleon.  Still further back, they feared emperor Nero was the awaited anti-christ and the end times were upon them.  But history continued every time.  I can't predict the future.  But I know God is good.  Pray hard, and pray often.  

Yet ultimately it could be said by a honest observer: "Upholding the United States, upholding a Christian culture isn't part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Why focus so much effort and time on this cause of preserving a conservative Christian culture?" 

Well it's quite true that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important thing.  It's about sharing the gospel with one person at a time right?  Well, I would say that is how we view it today.  And I don't think that's a wrong view.  But the last command of Jesus Christ was to go to all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  He mentions baptizing people too.  But even before that he asks us to go to nations.  He wants us to redeem nations, and be salt and light to nations.  The gospel has spread across much of the Earth.  But it still has further to go.  The United States can be a beacon to the world, or it can fall into darkness.  Appeal to heaven brothers and sisters.  Take up this cause.  Peel the scales of the false reality from your eyes, and take up the cause of the gospel; the redemption of cultures in the name of Jesus Christ.  

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus is with you.  Go boldly, don't be afraid.  Christ is with you.  He is real.  And he will call all of us to account for our actions on this Earth.  What you do today will determine what you will say when you are standing before the risen, glorified son of man.  It's real.  It's the truth.  Believe, and plant daily for the day you meet Jesus Christ face to face.  Amen.  

Copyright the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, used with permission
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