The seventh man who rules the world from the grave is a very interesting person whose influence has been absolutely devastating, almost fantastic, and hardly believable. His name is Søren Kierkegaard. Søren Kierkegaard was born in 1813, and died in 1855. He was a religious man, and a thinker. But Kierkegaard had a couple of problems. One of his problems was the problem of unrequited love. He said, “Wilt thou,” and she didn't; therefore, he had a problem as far as his emotional fulfillment was concerned.
Secondly, He had the problem of involvement in dead religion. He went to the Danish Church in Denmark, a cold brownstone place, but he wasn't satisfied. So he began to think—“Reality is not something outside ourselves. Truth is not something objective. Reality is within ourselves. Reality is encounter, reality is involvement, reality is what happens to you, and if it doesn't happen to you, forget it. It's not true.” He is what we call a subjectivist, actually a super-objectivist.
The ideas of Kierkegaard, which may sound very innocent to you, have produced two things in our present society. In the world of philosophy, we call the ideas of Kierkegaard “existentialism.” What is that? A young person goes off to college, and he is told by his professor, “Look, you go to a little church back home, and that little church talked about truth. You're here at school now, and you want to discover something more—let me tell you something. Truth is what happens to you, not those sweet truisms that your parents gave you. Truth is involvement. There is no influence that the past should have on your life at this moment. This moment, well it has no causes, also has no consequences. There is no final Judge. ‘Now’ is the key word. Do it now; enjoy it now; feel it now. The only good is pleasure; the only evil is pain. This is it, now.” Young people listen with bewilderment, and then they begin to act on this philosophy.
They are singing songs on campus as such as;
Good isn't good anymore,
Bad isn't bad anymore,
Up is down any more,
That is not just a little ditty; that is a philosophy set to music. They sing, “Help me make it through the night / Let the devil take tomorrow.” The only thing that counts as now. Do you think that's just another song? Don't be fooled—this is the disease, the insanity that has destroyed a generation of people. Every secular institution of higher learning in America, practically without exception, is existential in its view. It denies objective truth; it denies the doctrine of objective reality. It believes in experience as the ultimate reality of life. Every one of those institutions has adopted that philosophy, and a high percentage of our Christian schools as well. This probably includes the one that you trust, the one your son or daughter now attends. What you do now, at this moment, is all that matters in life.
You may say, “It's never touched me; I'm a housewife. What do I know about existentialism?” Well, when was the last time you went out to an art gallery? Remember, you used to look at a picture of General Grant on his horse, or a mountain, a landscape. Go to an art gallery now. You may stand next to the picture, and the guide asks, “Well, how do you like it? We purchased it just last week and it only cost us four hundred fifty thousand dollars. What do you think?” You look at it, and maybe it's a beautiful sunset—no, on second thought, it's a direct hit by an overripe tomato. Then you see a stairway, upside down, coming out of somebody's ear, and there are three tomato cans off to the side, filled with tuna fish salad. You ask, “What is that?” The guide indignantly replies, “What do you mean, what is it? Nothing is anything anymore. It's ‘What does it do for you?’ Does it thrill you? Does it move you? Does it reconcile your id with your libido? That's what counts, not ‘What is it?’”
Next, you decide to look at the sculpture, and the guide stands next to you and asks, “Well, how do you like that?” It looks like twenty-seven dozen coat hangers welded together, corset stays sticking out all over the sides, and those same tomato cans, with the labels off, of course. Your reply, “Well, what is it?” And he says, “What is that? Please, you hurt me by talking like that. It's what happens to you when you see it. Does it make you want to go ‘Oooooooooh!’? That's what counts.” You say, ”Well, that's all fine, but I don't understand.” He says, ”Good, good. If you don't understand, then you're beginning to understand. Understand?” You say, ”No.” You retreat and say to yourself, ”Something's happened in this realm of art, and somehow it's happened when I wasn't looking.” It's kind of fun sometimes to hang up a picture and wonder if it's upside down or right side up. The point I'm trying to make is that the expressions, “What is it?” and “Nothing is anything any more”—it's happened to science, it's happened to morality, and it's happened to religion. Nothing is anything any more. The ontological problem is passé.
As a result, young people are going out of their minds by the millions, looking for the answer to the questions, “Who can I trust? What can I believe in? Is there any foundation that does not change, that I can securely plant my feet on?” The existentialists say, “No, there isn't. This moment is all that counts.”
Søren Kierkegaard has also given us, in the realm of religion, an idea called ”neo-orthodoxy.” The insanities of our generation have not just happened. They've come to pass as a result of a hundred years of spiritual neglect. They come to pass because people have never asked, ”What's happening in our educational institutions? What's happening in our government? What's happening with our religious leadership?” In the name of tolerance, in the name of peace at any price, we have letter academic institutions and our pulpits be filled with liars and cheats at charlatans and pseudo-intellectuals and pretenders to reality. These men have corrupt minds. They are reprobate concerning the faith, and the world today has reached a point where it is practically unredeemable. The situation is nearly hopeless. This has all come about because of the dread philosophies that now rule and control the minds of men.
Romans 1:28 says concerning the world, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” I pray that none of us will be corrupted through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, and not after Christ. But I also pray that we will so understand the Bible and the gospel that we will realize that the ultimate ruler of our world is none of these. He is Jesus Christ, and He rules not from a grave, but from a throne. One day, at His glorious return, He will show that truth and righteousness and facts and reality were always available to us because they were in His hand all the time. I plead with you, believe the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I pray you will be able to say with the poet:
Mid sinking sands of doubt and fear,
There is one foundation stone.
My soul has cast her anchor here;
I rest upon Thy Word alone.
Let your life be ruled, not by the diseased philosophies of time, but by Jesus Christ and His wonderful Word.