Monday, February 12, 2018

Does Man Need God in Western Civilization?

Malcom Muggeridge said, "It would be difficult for anyone looking around the world today to resist the conclusion that something has gone very badly indeed with what we continue to call “Western Civilization.” This awareness tends to be distorted and muffled – if not obliterated – by the media, which manage to induce us to take for granted the continuingly explosive situations that confront us on every hand, and to see as an enlargement of our freedom and an enhancement of the quality of our living the steady and ominous erosion of the moral standards on which our traditional way of life has been based." - The True Crisis of our Time

In our day and age it seems that for the most part, mankind has slipped from any cognition of morals, values, and God forbid, a loving creator. But when we're angry, or upset, or something terrible has happened, or we've slammed our fingers in a door, what do we exclaim? "God!" "Jesus Christ!"

Why? Perhaps we know deep down there is an ontic referent regarding how things ought to be, and when they don't go rightly, we exclaim in intensity, the name of our creator. How often do you hear someone exclaim "Oh Buddha!?" Or Krishna, or Zoroaster?

In the news lately we hear of super blood moons, terrorist attacks, and deep seeded divisions in culture.

When God is evicted from the public square, from the scientific institutions, from the public schools, from the colleges, what happens? We've seen a growing depravity in the culture epitomized by perhaps a certain Miley Cyrus, once an idol for millions of young female children on the Disney channel, later seen on MTV naked mounted on a wrecking ball swinging back and forth. Which may be an accurate picture of what the television media is doing to the minds of our young people: wrecking them. Wrecking them with sexuality, drug culture, greed, and materialism. 

We've seen the ugly truth behind Hollywood and the media lately.  We've seen the truth come out about sexual abuse, and pedophilia in Hollywood.  We've seen Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and so many others outed.  We've heard about the depraved sex parties of silicon valley tech companies.  We're learning about the truth behind the facade put up by the media.  It begs many questions.

"The greatest question of our time will be this: Can man live without God?" -Ravi Zacharias - The Death of Truth and the Decline of Culture

As I've browsed through the channels and viewed the "programming" I'm even more convinced of my previous conviction: The mainstream media through television, radio, internet, and product advertising are at the forefront of the decline of culture in the United States and Europe. And the process of globalization has made that depraved declining media available to the entire world. Then what comes to mind is a piece of scripture from Revelation that says "For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries."(Revelation 18:3)

Does man need God? To me it seems that he does. There was always the village atheist in the old times. But now it has become a popular mainstream belief. The belief seems to be that science explains reality, and that's all we need. But is that true? Does science adequately explain the origins of mankind? It explains some things, yes.  But not everything.

Science is based on observation. There is no theory regarding how the universe got here. Evolution is discussed, but where did the material and energy come from? A big bang is theorized, but who caused this big bang? Thankfully there are excellent arguments, like the Kalam Cosmological argument which explain how the universe needs an uncaused designer. Intelligent design is a reasonably view.  It's been attacked relentlessly of course.  But the facts are the facts, it's a reasonable view.  I would say in fact, it is much more reasonable than a universe that "creates itself from the law of gravity" as Professor Stephen Hawking has suggested. But that is an illogical statement, as Professor John Lennox has pointed out. Indeed, quite illogical!  A law like gravity?  Let me ask you this: Does the fact that two plus two equals four ever put four dollars in your bank account? A law like math or gravity can't create.  A third grader knows that.

Never-the-less the question remains, does man need God? To me, it seems that man desperately needs God. I grew up without God. My parents took my sister and I to Catholic church, but to me it was so antiquated and detached from reality that I never made even a meek connection to it. But I needed God. I needed God when the commercials and consumerism had convinced me I needed so many products and subscriptions and new toys. 

 I needed God when I was so obsessed with NFL football that I collected volumes full of football cards. I needed God when I spent endless hours playing Nintento, Super Nintendo, Playstation, Playstation 2, Xbox, PC, and Xbox 360 games. I needed God when my parents divorced and my world was shattered. I needed God when I turned to drugs and drinking to blot out the terrible emotions I felt.  I needed God when I dated numerous girls, slept with them, hurt them, broke their hearts, and found myself more and more empty after each conquest.  

And I needed God when I kept asking: "Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? What should I do with this life?" 

 And in the same way as I need God, so all humanity needs God. Because God shows us the truth. He shows us the way. He shows us how to overcome death. He shows us Jesus Christ, and invites us to believe in him and live a completely different life as a result. But not to believe in some story or book or legend, but to believe in a Living Jesus Christ, and a Christianity that is not just talk or myth, but extends into all reality around us, across the cities, the forests, the rivers and oceans; and is lived out in the physical world, not just in talk, but in true devotion to follow a living God named Jesus Christ.

Many turn hard against the idea of God. Many have had very negative experiences with Christianity. The word "religion" or "religious" has come to be a virtual curse word. It is a taboo in modern society. Spirituality is good, and religion is always bad. People openly mock the Christian worldview citing it as the view of the uneducated rubes of the past. They suggest: Have you ever seen God?  No, then God must not exist.  But this is overly simplistic.  Have you ever seen an atom?  Or have you seen the oxygen you breath?  Have you seen love?  Yet we know these things exist.  There is more to life than sight. 

The rage against God is quite interesting.  There are many militant God-hating atheists out there.  But why?

"Atheists don't hate fairies, leprechauns, or unicorns because they don't exist. It's impossible to hate something that doesn't exist. Atheists hate God because he does exist." -Ray Comfort

Still there is so much clamor against "organized religion" and the many evils of it.  But have we forgotten that Christianity has produced great institutions like orphanages, hospitals, universities, and the like?  Have we forgot that the freest and most prosperous nations on this Earth have been grounded in the Christian faith?  Yet the blanket assumption is laid out that "all religion is created by man and therefore false."  But is there evidence for such a conclusion?  Or is it just a slogan of our day and age?  Yes, this is simply a slogan, and it falters when faced with the facts.  We don't get out of ethical living that easily.  But it certainly is a useful slogan to toss aside ethical living and live a debauched "me-centered" life.

However, as Dr. Norm Geisler said, “The unexamined life is not worth living by insisting that the unexamined faith is not worth believing." 

One is not suddenly free to live a life of empty debauchery and depravity simply by pointing out the failings of "organized religion." That is not an acceptable remedy to the soul. Christianity has certainly been practiced poorly by many. So how about instead of judging, condemning, and then discarding the very excellent teaching of Christ in the gospels, why not instead step forward and live it as correctly as possible, to show the "organized religious types" how it is done? That is, in fact, exactly what Jesus Christ did when he confronted the religious hypocrites of his day and age, the pharisees.

It's been a question on my mind in the past few weeks. How did we get here? How did things get this way in the United States? This nation was founded on Christian principles. This is in fact a Christian nation as evidenced by statements made by the Supreme court. So then how did this happen? And I think several factors play into it. But the biggest factor has to be the minds of young people. The young people are future society. The current professional class right now are the young people of yesterday.

I saw it most clearly myself as I was growing up. What were the influences on my mind? Primarily? My parents. My friends. The television. The public school. I was a middle class, middle middle class kid growing up into the culture of the 1990s. Dad was a teacher, mom was a nurse. As middle class as they come. As I grew up into junior high and high school I became increasingly confused as to why all the people around me seemed so interested in nothing more than the latest products, the latest television shows, (South Park was very popular when I was in junior high) and the latest sporting events. Why is that? Because it's the primary focus of the culture. The television, music, news, movies, it's all geared toward selling things, and triggering temptation.

Have you ever noticed how rare it is for a truly intellectual television show to air on TV? It's all dumbed down. It's like it's specifically designed to keep people consuming and not asking questions. Thank the Lord of Heaven and Earth for the Internet. Because there I could search, I could participate and inquire. I read about all kinds of ideas that I simply didn't know about. They were not allowed within the orthodoxy of television media, public school curriculum, videogames, news, and sports.

Therefore my conclusion must be that the mind of the child in western society is held hostage by the media of today. Think about it, really think about it. Malcom Muggeridge knew it. Noam Chomsky knows it. G.K. Chesterton could see it years ago. Francis Schaeffer saw it in the 1970s. Dr. Zacharias sees it today. I can see it too.

The vast majority go to public school, they are taught materialism, scientism, and modernity.

The vast majority watch television, and are sucked into a culture of sexuality, sports, materialism, technology, and purchasing. Selfishness is king.

The vast majority are not given a Christian message. Many are given a dead Christian message or a prosperity gospel message (think Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes.)  Others are given a straw-man description of Christianity as a "backwards religious" cult of simpletons. If the Christian message is in there at all, it must compete with an incredible noise and temptation and past programming within the mind. No wonder it's so difficult for Christians in the west to live truly holy lives. There is far too much noise. And no wonder young people reject faith: They've been programmed with slogans from society blasted at them constantly like "religion is man-made" and "all the evil caused by religion" and "religion is for stupid people."  None of those things are true of course.

So it's not an easy time to be a Christian, or to share the Christian message. But this is not a special situation. World Christianity has always faced chaos and trouble. And it's always overcome. And we will overcome also.

When you look at church history, what has Christianity had to face? Let's see, first intense persecution in Israel in the first century AD. Then intense persecution in the ancient Roman empire AD 100-300. The fall of the Roman empire. Evangelizing the barbarian invaders. Then fighting corruption from the papacy, leading to two reformations. The Muslim invasion of Europe and North Africa. Then two world wars, and now today, globalization and mass media. It's no different than the past chaos Christianity has faced. We will overcome the world, because Christ overcame the world.

The first step is to believe that we can. We've been sold the lie in this country that "it's done, you can't change it." Abortion is done. Secularism is done. Media depravity is a reality, accept it. Gay marriage is a reality, accept it. Next they'll be saying you need to take a microchip implant (Iplant 7 series from Apple?), just accept it. It's a new era, just do it. I refuse that. I can change anything. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. This is nothing new for world Christianity, we've faced worse in the past two thousand years and overcome it by leaps and bounds.

Why? Because we've got Christ. He is our King, our Lord, our blessed Comforter. And we have the current ministry of the Holy Spirit, who moves too and fro between the nations, like Gandalf the White between Rohan and Minas Tirith uniting the Christian peoples against the forces of the evil one. All we have to do is believe in him. We petition the Lord God, and he hears us. As the word says:
"Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing. Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”? 

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." -Isaiah 40:26-31(NIV)

Young people are hungry for the truth today. As men like Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, and many others travel to universities to give their presentations on Christianity they are speaking to increasingly massive crowds. Young people are hungry for the truth. At a recent event Ravi Zacharias of RZIM spoke to over 40,000 young people. It reminds me of the 2012 talks given by the presidential candidate Ron Paul, as he traveled to universities like UCLA and spoke regarding liberty and restoring the Constitution to 4,000 and 6,000 and in Wisconsin 3,500; an event that I attended. It reminds me of the campaigns of people like Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders in 2016, with thousands of young people turning out.

People are fed up with the corruption in Congress, in banking, and in big business. They know about the lies. But just like the media ignores candidates they don't like, so also the mainstream media ignores news of any real substance, instead covering celebrity gossip and "this politician said this or that" while the Constitution is shredded and religious liberty is assaulted. And so the mainstream media also conveniently ignores people like Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, Stephen Meyer, and Lee Strobel who share a relevant Christian message. But never-the-less young people just don't buy into post-modernism or this materialistic scientism. They know deep down there is something more. They want answers! Thank God for ministries like the Veritas Forum, Cross Examined, Reasonable Faith, and RZIM that go into university campuses. Because so many churches simply fail to penetrate into people groups, even those right around them.

There is too much noise, depravity, and temptation for young people these days. Young people, teens, twenties, thirties have been thrown to the wolves of addiction, pharmaceuticals, sexuality, fine foods, new technologies, products, and entertainment. I was stuck in it all, wondering what truly mattered, wondering what the ultimate reality was. I sought out the perfect high, the perfect social encounters, the perfect true love sexuality for completion but all of those things fell short and instead left me addicted, confused, depressed, and starving for something I didn't know I needed.

Jesus Christ is the perfection I so deeply required. His internal presence through the Holy Spirit is the final fulfillment of such ancient lusts and longings buried within me. I want everyone to know, especially young people who are suffering in the three ring circus out there in the United States and Europe, that all of those temptations, treats, and triumphs are in the end hollow. The truth is that we need God just like our parents and grandparents needed God. We need God in reality, in relevance, and in truth. We really really do.

The noise is so loud in the culture: "Buy this!" "You need that!" Instead turn to Christ. Join faith communities. Get active in Christ. Support organizations like RZIM, Cross Examined, The Veritas Forum, Cru, the Salvation Army, and others.  Stand out, and swim against the stream.

That way we can work toward a better tomorrow, and shut off a lot of that media noise, replacing it with outlets of biblical truth, important causes, and means of edification for the body of believers in Jesus Christ, the blessed Lord and King of the entire, actual, real Earth. He is our literal leader, our high chancellor, who will soon claim his position and set things right on the Earth. Await that day with hope in the Lord, that you will walk and not grow weary, you will eat hearty of his truth, and stand the test of faith over the test of time and temptation. Until that day of his return, participate in these organizations, share the gospel of grace through faith, and stand strong in the faith. God bless you all, amen.

In conclusion, John 10:7-18 (NIV) says: "Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

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