Why Is Christianity True?
By Dave Breese
The most dynamic, provocative and disturbing religion in the world today, and in some ways the most unbelievable, is Christianity.
Christianity has been a major force in the most sophisticated and prosperous culture that mankind knows, namely Western Civilization. It has changed more families, built more hospitals and schools, transformed more individuals than any of the world's ideologies. Its accomplishments cannot be ignored nor argued away; so great is its impact upon our culture. The very dating of history is counted from the birth of its founder, Jesus Christ. The wheels of commerce cease on the seventh day because of the word of the book behind it all, the Bible. The Western World is called by many, “Christian civilization.”
Despite this glorious record, the question remains in the minds of many, “Is Christianity true?” There is little sense in pursuing it further, in spite of the happiness it has brought to millions, unless Christianity is, in fact, the truth. No thinking person seriously believes that the size or success of any movement is directly related to its truth content. The major religions of the world are all the object of large and devoted followings but not all of them can be true. Most of us, therefore, continue to ask, “Why should I believe in Christianity? Is it true? Why?”
TRUTH — WHAT IS IT?
Because of the mind-set of our times, the first concern that we must face in order to answer the question of the truth of Christianity is “What is truth?” The definition of the word “truth” has itself been altered by our generation (which is our era's most dangerous development) so that its meaning has almost become lost to the English language. Truth used to mean “that which is consistent with an objective eternal standard which standard is known to all reasonable people. All civilized people were assumed to agree that “truth” meant something that was the same for all times and places.
This of course is no longer the case. The modern mind has been infected by the poison of subjectivism. Subjectivism is the view that one's own personal outlook is the end of every matter. Therefore, every person is as qualified as any other individual to call something true. If it is true to him, then, no matter how inconsistent it may be with other facts, it is true indeed.
Some modern education has fostered this infantilism by denying the existence of any objective standard by which a statement or a proposition can be judged. “Truth” has become “your personal opinion” and no one can take this away from you, it is argued.
By this subjective standard, Christianity is, of course, true, but so is atheism, communism, sexism, and the notion that the moon is made of green cheese. All things are true to someone, the modern mind would declare. Nothing is therefore false or true by any of the old definitions. To the modern outlook, that ends the argument. But also that ends all arguments. The result is that communication is being lost between people and nations, for no standards of straight-thinking carry over from one to the other. The mind of any one person therefore becomes a remote island, separated from any other mind by the trackless seas of indefinability.
Whom the gods would destroy, they first corrupt their language. When words no longer have known, universal meanings, when nothing is any longer true or false, then civilization is not long for this world.
This insanity, this meaninglessness is the growing religion of our time. But to believe such a thing is death. Christianity teaches that truth is eternal and that variants are less true or untrue. No one therefore can consider the truth of Christianity or of anything else without agreeing to an important Christian proposition, namely that truth is, truth can be known. Christianity even makes the claim that truth can set free. All that is false is deceiving and finally damning. No one can really know anything unless he first is sure that there is such a thing as objective knowledge, a thing to be known. No one can contemplate even his own face in a mirror unless he admits to the difference between light and darkness and examines himself with the help of the light.
It is interesting in this regard that the Bible says that light is something like truth, an illustration in the material world of the nature of truth in the realm of thought and knowledge. So it is that virtually all thinkers of all time, until our generation, held to the existence of truth that was changeless and eternal. They took the position that one cannot even use the word “truth” unless he is talking about something that is the same at all times and in all places. So sure was this that they used words like a priori and “self-evident” without the slightest doubt that all would know what they were talking about.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” said our American Constitution writers. They assumed that all sane people would know what they meant and agree with their meaning. They meant that the existence of certain truths, called “natural law” by them, was apparent and was also the basis of civilization.
THE FAITH OF OUR FATHERS
One of the truths, which our fathers held to be self-evident, was the existence of a Creator who “endows” with fundamental rights the creatures of His creation. They were sure that rationality demanded that the universe was a created thing and was therefore governed by the Creator. All things, including nations, they were sure, were built on a spiritual base, true propositions which lay behind the material world. As a result, they could publish a constitution, demand human responsibility and forge a nation on the anvil of truth which lay behind the thoughts and activities of men. Behind the variables of human conduct was the absolute of divine truth. Their understanding of civil authority was that it was instituted under divine authority, framed as an outgrowth and instrument of that absolute standard that was above and beyond all worlds.
If one therefore would pursue the question of the truth of Christianity, he must begin by agreeing to the existence of eternal truth which stands outside of himself. If he does not consent to eternal truth, he vainly pursues any other proposition in life. He also risks insanity. We must therefore agree that there is such a thing as truth, eternal and changeless.
[If we do not, there is no purpose in continuing this reading. In fact, there is no purpose in anything. Life, death, love, all things become indefinable. Existence itself is... That sentence cannot be completed except against the background of meaning. Nothing is or is not without truth. Life is a tale told by an idiot and all purposes disappear without meanings. If there are no realities, then we are not and life is not. But it is self-evident that we are. We know that we do exist. Hence there is knowledge, objective, apart from the thing known. Things, events, people are consistent With or at variance with that objective knowledge. They are “true” or “false.” So truth is that objective knowledge, the reality against which all other things are always and ever measured.]
In pursuit of the consideration of the truth of Christianity, we must also face the question, “What is Christianity?”
The question is vital to our discussion because of the vast misunderstanding of the people of our time concerning the faith of Christ. Millions have heard the name of Christ and consider themselves knowledgeable as to the nature of Christianity. The fact is, however, that many of the people who know of Christianity and even some who are professing Christians could not correctly answer the question, “What is the Gospel of Christ? What is Christianity?”
WHAT IS CHRISTIANITY?
Christianity is that faith revealed in the Bible and established by Jesus Christ which promises eternal life to all who trust in His death and resurrection as their hope for forgiveness of sins. Because most definitions are accused of being too simple, let us expand our definition of the Christian faith in the form of a series of statements or propositions. No faith may call itself Christian in any true sense which does not generally hold to the truth of the following propositions.
[The fact is that many do usurp the name “Christian” while denying the very essence of the Christian faith. The reader must be warned of strange religions and false cults which, seeing the value of the Christian name and reputation, have established counterfeit versions of the Christian faith. For a basic idea of Christianity, read Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. Also see “The Marks of a Cult” by Dave Breese.]
These are the things all Christians believe.
1. The Existence of God
God, according to the Holy Scriptures, is that eternal spiritual being who exists in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He possesses all power, all knowledge, and is everywhere present at the same time. He is characterized by holiness, goodness, love, and is perfect in all of His ways. He is the essence of righteousness and truth.
2. The Inspiration of the Bible
The Bible, the sacred Scriptures of Christianity, is the very Word of the living God, both Old and New Testaments. Being the infallible Word of the living God, the Bible is the sole rule for the faith and practice of Christians. God has revealed His nature and His will for man in His Word. For the Christian, the Bible therefore is authoritative in all matters of which it speaks. Being inerrant, it has that divine authority which is shared by no other writings, however erudite or spiritual.
3. The Deity and Humanity of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God, very God and truly man in His essence. The words and the works of Christ testify to His deity, He is God in the flesh. This qualifies Him to become the author of eternal salvation to all who believe. In the person of Christ, God became man and partook of the nature of humanity. He came to reveal God the Father and to represent humanity before the Godhead. Christ is the Creator of the universe and the present sustainer of all things.
4. The Redemption Purchased on Calvary
The essence of the Christian faith is centered not in the good life and works of the Christian but in the “finished work” of Christ on the cross. Christ literally “became sin for us” and by His sacrifice, made it possible for the believer to receive divine righteousness as a free gift. Jesus Christ is more than our leader or our example. He is the author of life itself, the Savior of all who believe in Him, His person, His death and resurrection.
Christ can become the reconciler of man to God because of His unique nature. He is both truly divine and truly human, the God man. Because of His human nature, which He took to Himself out of infinite love for fallen man, He is able to understand and sympathize with our needs. The union of the divine and the human in the person of Jesus Christ is an illustration of the new nature which comes to all of those who receive Him.
5. Salvation by Faith Alone
Christianity, despite all of its marvelous cultural accomplishments, is not a religion of good works. The Christian is saved “not by works of righteousness” but by faith alone. He holds no confidence in his own personal activity to gain eternal life, but places his confidence solely in the Savior. As a result of this faith, he receives imputed righteousness, righteousness put to his account, forever assuring his perfect standing before God.
Salvation, for the Christian, depends not on religious activity before or after salvation but alone on the shed blood of Christ. The good news of Christ is that He saves the lost sinner by grace, through faith alone in the sacrifice on the cross.
The Christian, however, who properly understands the nature of his new life, becomes zealous of good works. Of all the points of view in all the world, the faith that has been most productive of personal development and social improvement is Christianity, It is the faith that brings new life to the believing heart engendered by the Gospel of the grace of God.
6. Life Everlasting and Eternal Hope
The Christian sees his life in this world as the prelude to the great reality, the heaven that is before him. The Bible describes all of the vicissitudes of this life as “our light affliction which is but for a moment, “and it tells us that it works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. The Christian life in this world is in a sense a probationary period, a time of education for the life to come. The world system as such cannot be saved, but has already been given up, written off by God. The center, therefore, of the affection of the Christian is “in heaven” and not on this earth. The world is the thoroughfare through which the Christian passes. In no sense is it his eternal home. Consequently, Christians are called in the Bible “pilgrims and strangers.” They look ahead to a better land, a celestial city whose builder and maker is God.
There are scores of other doctrinal and theological statements which may also be used to describe the faith called Christianity. The preceding propositions however would represent, to most Christians, the essentials of the Christian faith as taught in the Bible.
As taught in the Bible The Bible is Christian's vital source.
The question, “Is Christianity True?” depends for its answer on the truth of the Bible. If the Bible is truly the Word of God, then Christianity is true. At this point, we will doubtless agree that “true” things are “true” in various kinds of ways. Individuals of diverse dispositions and interests will appreciate the marvel of the Bible from their own point of view. These points of appreciation of the truth of the Bible may be suggested in the following.
A. The Bible Is True Historically.
Every known fact of history which has been demonstrated or strongly implied by the findings of the anthropologists or the archaeologists is precisely consistent with the historical accounts which are given to us in the Bible. During the days of the emergence of historical studies, the details of the Bible were many times the object of criticism and outright denial. The advance of archaeology and anthropology has however tended to confirm the earlier details that are presented to us in the Word of God, particularly the Old Testament. It once was insisted by the thinkers of another day that the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) could not have been written by Moses at the time suggested because writing itself was not in existence at that time. Tell el 'Amarna ended all of that. Here archaeologists in this ancient excavation uncovered evidence of common business correspondence between the people of the land of Canaan and those of Egypt before the time of Moses. They thereby demonstrated that writing was not only possible, but was a regular and reliable activity on the part of the people in Moses' day.
Time, December 30, 1974, said, “In 100 licensed sites in Israel, archaeological digging continues to turn up new evidence that the Bible is often surprisingly accurate in historical particulars, more So than earlier generations of scholars ever suspected. By establishing physical settings of scriptural accounts and certain details of corroboration (finding horned altars like those mentioned in 1 Kings 1:50, for example), recent archaeology has enhanced the credibility of the Bible.”
B. The Bible Is True Scientifically.
Few divisions of learning have presented a more changing scene than that which we have seen in the realm of science. The years since the enlightenment have greatly expanded the area of scientific research, knowledge, and theory. In the process of its recent development, science seemed to promise the answers to all the questions and consequently the eclipse of the age of faith. Many of the eager cynics quickly took the view that modern science has supplanted Christianity, making the Bible an outmoded book and relegating Christianity to the status of a medieval faith. Some even claimed that the findings of modern science contradict the teachings of the Bible but no one pointed to any specific instance where this is true. The fact is that science has been rather late in discovering some of the things which the biblical writers knew all the time. This included the fact that the world is round, water evaporates and becomes rain, blood is the indispensible life of the body, all species reproduce after their kind and in no other way, and that the material we see is made up of much smaller particles than can be viewed with the eye, that matter is essentially energy. These late findings of science and others were well known to the writers of the Bible but only relatively modern times have produced the empirical proof that they are so.
We need to be careful to understand, however, that by the word “science” we merely mean human knowledge of technical things. It is gradually dawning upon those who were great believers in science that the one final thing science teaches us is that we know relatively little about anything. The essential nature of things is still unknown to the world of science. The researchers tend to prove the humorous couplet which says,
“The fleas we see have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em;
The ultimate nature of things is still unknown and seemingly impervious to scientific research. Increasingly smaller bits of energy composing matter are now being discovered by nuclear physicists. The distant spaces of the universe continue to expand in size before the eye of the astronomer. There seems to be no length which our perception can penetrate into the microcosm or the macrocosm which will enable us to find the end of things. The Scripture teaches in this regard that mere human wisdom will be ultimately frustrated by the God who made all knowledge. “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Cor. 1:19, 20).
C. The Bible Is True Morally.
Many readers of the Holy Scriptures are astonished and sometimes scandalized at the candid accounts of the moral lapses of its people. Both the Old and New Testaments faithfully record shameful activities of individuals. They were involved in lies, thievery, rape, murder, adultery, assassination and hypocrisy. Most of the categories in any list of human sins and shortcomings are accounted in Scripture. Make no mistake about it, the Bible is not a goody-goody book that simply gives us stories of sweet, pristine spirituality. One of the aspects of the Scripture which gives to it the ring of truth is that it faithfully records the same kinds of activities in the lives of men and nations that we know to be the case in our present world. When the Bible is recording the humanity of man, that record absolutely conforms to our knowledge of the activities of people and nations in our contemporary society.
In this sense, the Bible is very different from what some unrealists expect a “religious book” to be. It is worth noting that the Bible is not really a religious book in that sense. It is rather a faithful record of the historical occurrences and moral characteristics of humanity. In presenting this record, once we take the time to face it, we find it is perfectly consistent with our experience. The Bible sees man as he is, a sinner in need of redemption.
The glory of the message of Holy Scripture is its presentation of the marvelous fact that redemption has been provided to morally fallen man in the saving work of Jesus Christ. We have in the Bible a record of what humanity is and what it can be, indeed must be if it is to survive. The moral nature of man described in the Bible is the same nature revealed in our neighbors, our friends ... in ourselves.
D. The Bible Is True Prophetically.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the Word of God is the prophetic element in Scripture. The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ are predicted in detail in the Old Testament Scriptures. Other events were described, mentioning exact names and places hundreds of years before these events actually transpired. Fulfilled prophecy would alone be sufficient evidence to convince the honest skeptic concerning the truth of Scripture.
We may well also be warned that many of the events of the “latter days” are also predicted in the pages of the Bible. These include the rebirth of Israel, the dramatic rise of human knowledge, economic distress, perilous times, and much else. We should be warned that the New Testament and the Old Testament also speak of the wrath to come in which the world will be destroyed. This warning is coupled with a promise that all who know Christ will be delivered. Prophecy which has already been fulfilled should cause all thinking people to prepare for those events which are before us. These events will culminate in a final judgment in which all men will stand before God. The Bible sums up its advice in saying, “Prepare to meet thy God.”
E. The Bible Is True Personally.
There are millions of people alive in today's world who have recognized the accuracy of Scripture in the realms of thought of which they are aware outside of themselves. They have been fascinated by its history, instructed by its laws, inspired by its poetry. Many have been wisely responsive to its loving invitation to hear and heed the Gospel of Christ. When they have done this, they have discovered personal verification of the truth which they had hitherto believed objectively. In believing, the Christian is justified by faith. This is a legal change outside of himself, but there is also a wonderful “subjective” event that takes place within him. God Himself comes to live within his life, and according to the Scripture, He does this in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. So we have the promise of the Bible, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). The result is that there are millions of people in today's world who have an unshakable personal assurance that they have come to know the only true God in that they have received Jesus Christ into their lives. They have been born again.
Nevertheless, the question remains before us as to whether Christianity is or is not true. There are many to whom the only question concerning truth is the question of proof. “Where is the proof?” they say. Some, in so speaking, seem to demand proof for the propositions which they believe in the same sense that a ten-degree rise in temperature is “proved” by the indication on the thermometer. They forget to recognize that none of the truly useful facts or beliefs in life are proved in this sense. Life inevitably is lived in the center of endless mysteries which reach out in every direction. The fact is that no one knows what life itself is. Similarly, no one knows the essential nature of matter, electricity, light, energy, magnetism, gravity. We do not finally know how air sustains or food nourishes. Nor do we know how the mind influences the body. The definitions of even common things seem to be eluding us more and more with the advance of knowledge. Under the new strictures, we find ourselves unable even to define physical death, human life, and a dozen other things. The exactness of science has disappeared and with it the assurance that we are possessed of final knowledge, final proof of anything. Foreseeing exactly this situation, the Bible says, “The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17). This is not only one of the first propositions of the Christian religion, it has now become a first and necessary proposition of life. Faith, while supported by knowledge, is superior to knowledge. So it is that C. S. Lewis says in “Religion and Rocketry” about the Christian faith,
What then shall we say about the question of the truth of Christianity? All of our proven knowledge and the confidence called “faith” which grows out of that knowledge gives us the resounding answer, “Yes, Christianity is true. It may be well to remember, however, that the sense in which Christianity is true is not merely that it is consistent with an objective truth above and beyond it. Christianity is true because the God of the Christians is truth itself. There is nothing before, nothing prior to the reality of the God of the Bible. When He came to live in the world, He said, “I am truth.”
CHRISTIANITY — NOT A RELIGION
The message of the Gospel and the glorious presentation of the Word of God is not merely consistent with truth, it is truth itself. We must all be fairly warned, therefore, that the faith of Jesus Christ does not merely confess to be “one of the great religions of the world.” Christianity is not a religion in the sense that it is the philosophical attempt of man to find God. The message of the Gospel tells the glorious story that Christ came into the world to reveal God and then through His death and resurrection, made it possible for us to be united with the Lord of the universe. By comparison to this, the so-called “great religions of the world” are human inventions at best and soul-destroying insanities at worst. There is no doubt that even pagan religions contain some nuggets of truth, but only in the same sense that a deadly poison may contain a few valuable proteins.
There is another sense in which the examiner of religion must be warned. When he comes to the place where he opens the pages of the Word of God and sets himself up to examine its precepts, he soon experiences a turnabout. He realizes that, as against examining the Bible, the Bible is examining him. Man is not finally the judge of God, but God is the ultimate judge. The revelation of God in Holy Scripture was not given to man so that the human creature might be involved in another intellectual exercise. The revelation of God is more in the nature of a life preserver thrown to a drowning man who is about to go down for the third time.
The detached intellectual who believes that he is the final arbiter of reality may live his life in this delusion but he will die a lost soul because of it. Cynical, dispassionate examination may be good at the beginning. No one, however, can become a Christian unless the moment transpires in his soul whereby he comes down from the paper mache throne of his own personal judgments and falls on his knees before Jesus Christ. One cynic in the Scriptures by the name of Thomas did exactly this. He started out by saying, “I will not believe,” but he finally knelt before Jesus Christ, exclaiming, “My Lord, and my God!” Until intellectual examination turns to earnest faith, there is no salvation.
I have often been sentimentally touched by the love song which says,
Fly the ocean in a silver plane;
In that same emotional sense, the God of the universe tells us that we are certainly free to examine all of the findings of history, archaeology, philosophy, psychology, and the like. We may get into Zen, or take a flier with the Bahais. We may drop into this church, that synagogue, or visit another forum. We may commune with the learned over smoking candles at the wayside stops in our sojourn. We may drop into the quietness of reflection or soar to the heights of ecstasy. It matters not, the God who still presides above all of our destinies whispers, “Just remember, you belong to Me. You'll never be happy until you find Me.
This quiet, but inexorable love of Jesus Christ would reach through the maze of our researches, reminding us always that reality is not an Aristotelian syllogism; it is a divine person. With tender concern, He says to us, “You search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life . and ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (Jn. 5:39, 40). We can only read the pages before us with the help of the Light that shines from above. The time may come, even now, when you may wisely look up from the pages to the Light and realize that Christ is that Light that lights every man that comes into the world.
THAT INCONSOLABLE LONGING
Each person in all of this earth was born with an inconsolable longing for a land which he has never seen. He knows in his heart of hearts, even though he may never have admitted it with his lips, that the dark vale of this world is not final reality. He senses that he is merely humming through the prelude and that the real concert will begin with a fuller orchestra and a larger auditorium than he has ever known. He is now invited by the Master of all music to move from the prelude to the performance. He is invited to step out of the shadows of mere intellectualism into the marvelous light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I extend to every reader of these words my personal invitation to examine every fact available and then come to a conclusion. The conclusion, in that truth bears its own credentials to the honest mind, will surely be that Christianity is truth itself. Jesus Christ is therefore to be believed, trusted, received as personal Savior. Should today be the day of that decision to receive God's wonderful Son within the heart, this day and all subsequent ones will be days of destiny.
HOW DO I BECOME A CHRISTIAN?
Millions of earnest seekers after truth have considered arguments such as those contained in this writing. The result is that they have come to the place where they have asked the important question, “What now, how do I become a Christian?” In response to this we have a wonderful promise in the Bible which says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9). It may be well that the concerned heart follow the suggestions that have been given to many at the point of their concern to enter into faith in Jesus Christ.
1. Recognize That You Are a Sinner
We have the indictment of Scripture before us, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). No person ever becomes a Christian unless he realizes that he is sick and in need of a physician. The realization of sin is the prelude to any step of faith in Jesus Christ.
2. Realize That You Cannot Save Yourself
Sin produces a hopeless condition, making it impossible for the individual to pull himself up to righteousness and heaven on his own. He must therefore come to Christ by receiving the help of another.
3. Rely on the Finished Work of Christ
The message of the Gospel is exactly found in the words “Christ died for our sins.” We are saved then, the Bible says, by “faith in his blood” (Rom. 3:25). Saving faith is your reliance upon the work of another, Jesus Christ. His death at Calvary and your faith in that finished work is the basis for forgiveness from God and justification. You are “declared righteous” when you believe in the death of Christ on the cross as the payment for your sins.
4. Receive Christ into Your Heart
We have the remarkable promise in the Word of God that “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (Jn. 1:12). The person who exercises faith in the Lord Jesus is justified, declared righteous in the sight of God. This is the wonderful gift that is given to all who believe in Him.
When an individual receives Christ as his Savior, he begins the most wonderful life imaginable. The Christian life in this world is really a marvelous adventure, that of walking by faith. There will come a time when faith will turn to sight and the believer will step into the presence of his heavenly Father.
“Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.”
This was the best consolation that Job could get from Eliphaz, his philosopher friend. Here, doubtless originated the quip, “With friends like that, who needs enemies?”
Modern man ironically finds himself in much the same position as did Job. He is presently observing the deterioration of his external circumstances and is having inflicted upon him the advice of philosophers whom he fears are very little smarter than Job's speechmaking friends.
Modern man is in trouble! There is no question about it. He sees war and conflict everywhere and, while looking for a way out, he fears that if one war is terminated, it would simply be banking the coals for the “fire next time.” He sees the deterioration of his boasted, teeming cities and he fears that the best of his social programs have begun to look like pouring water into sand. He views the armed truce between the races, from the Middle East to the middle of Cleveland, and he wonders at the fate that hatred is brewing. He measures the wind, heavy with strontium 90, and he wonders what dictator or “humanitarian” will strike the first blow in the war called peace. He feels the early rays of the new day that science has promised but secretly suspects that this is but the false dawn of the day of darkness and despair. Modern man is in trouble.
Modern man's philosopher friends are gathering to give their advice. The fact is rather that the philosophers have been gathering and have been giving their advice for the last century. The fact further is that in the last generation the philosophers have moved from the outer fringes to the inner ring. They have gravitated to positions of power. They rule! Plato's vision is now being fulfilled. The philosophers have become kings. God help us!
THE FAILURE OF SOCIETY
The reason modern man must indeed cry “God help me” is because his philosopher friends have led him into desperate trouble from which there is now no human way out. Modern man, beguiled by his philosopher friends, has come to the point of accepting several assumptions which are now inexorably and inevitably leading to the failure of society. His achievements of the years are being spoiled because he has foolishly accepted some new and false premises. Modern man now believes the wrong things; he believes a lie. He has neglected to believe the Apostle Paul's warning, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8). A society built on false premises will face predictable collapse in the pursuit of false conclusions.
What are these false assumptions, believed by modern man, which are now leading to the failure of our society? A simple examination by an honest student in Philosophy 101 can easily reveal the existence and the absurdity of the new “fundamental truths” that are going today. Among them are: 1. There is no God who will finally judge His creation. Atheism today is the going thing, of which, of course, there are two kinds—pure and practical. The pure atheists outspokenly declare that there is no God. The practical atheists keep quiet about it but live as if God indeed never was and surely will never be our ultimate judge. Practical atheists are probably the worst kind. The public “smart-aleck atheists” are nothing when compared with the millions of little godless ones who by every word and act are saying, “Forget it; God never was."
Atheism, of course, is not a philosophy; it is a form of insanity. ("The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” Psalm 14:1.) Without God there is no moral standard, no definition of truth, no ultimate reality but relativism, no sanity really. The weird thoughts and things going today began when man stepped off the rock of theism into the turbulent stream of human rationalism around him. It has not always been like this. Thomas Jefferson said. “There is a just God who presides above the destinies of nations.” Until this last century the atheists hid under a rock and kept quiet about it. Now they buy radio time and put their corrupt lyrics to music. They educate our children, write our television shows, represent us in government, publish our pornography. Are their corrupt programs wrong? Who is right? Why? Without God, quien sabe?; who knows?
Bacon well said, “A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy brings men's minds about to religion.
2. The individual is merely the product of heredity and environment. For a generation, students in college philosophy have been daily reminded that they are but the product of the twin determinisms which preceded them—heredity and environment. Modern psychologists have been developing this philosophy inch by inch, putting a bit more of the weight on environment. The sum of the matter is still deterministic, however, and the individual is continually told that he has no choice, no free will, for the world that antedates him has predetermined all of the possibilities of his life.
The stepchild of this philosophy is the view, going strong today, that a change in environment will alter the basic nature of the individual. The cry goes forth in the land, “Clean up the slums, sweep the drunks out of the gutter, build skyscrapers to resettle the tar-paper shack dwellers and you will thereby change the world.” Billions have been spent in this generation in the pursuit of changed environment and billions more will be spent in the near future in this pursuit. The philosophy that says, “Change the environment and you will change the person,” will cost you and me a pretty penny in days to come.
Is this statement true? Sorry, Mr. Modern Man, you're wrong again. That man is influenced by his heredity and environment—even influenced greatly—is not to be doubted. That heredity and environment are the critical components of life is unscholarly, foolish and unchristian. The Bible says that Christ is the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. The critical component then in man is moral judgment, God consciousness. Whatever may be his environment, if he responds to the light of divine awareness, which every man possesses, he moves up to a new environment. He is “in Christ.” If he rejects this light, then his light becomes darkness and the formerly false assumption becomes true; he becomes this world's victim. Man can alone be transformed by renewing of his mind. Refusing this, he is conformed to this world, killed off by the conquest of time.
3. Man is infinitely perfectible by the application of human sciences. Karl Marx got this philosophy underway and modern educational and political liberalism has carried it to new heights of refinement. This is the age of science and particularly, science applied to the “improvement” of mankind. C. S. Lewis is nearly prophetic in his great book, That Hideous Strength, the gripping story of “scientific socialism,” the attempt to bring to pass a state of perfection. The book carries the frightening subtitle, “They Could Make Man Immortal—But Humanity Itself Would Die."
THE DESTINY MANIPULATORS
In this fashion man, long seen as the product of an impersonal evolutionary process, now predicts that he can control his own evolution and realize the perfection of which he has long dreamed. The scientists, particularly those in the “science” of sociology, have arrogated to themselves the right to assume the leadership and control of man's destiny. They promise to check their computers and refine out of man those negative traits that have limited his progress up until now. They promise to put into man, by breeding or what-not, those qualities which will bring him into perfection and a consequent utopia. They would consider foolish the philosopher who said,
“How small, of all that human hearts endure, that part which laws or kings can cause or cure!”
So we have before us the amazing picture of the most controlled society in all of history becoming the most unmanageable and most out of control. A generation of students, resenting the fact that they represent but a registered number, burn the building that houses the computer which holds the promise of their future. Mr. Average Man cries through his tears, “Look at me. See me; I am here!”
Can self-appointed science create the perfect man and bring him into utopia? The answer is of course, no, a thousand times no, and that for two reasons.
First of all, the only kind of leadership that can do society any good is not intellectual but rather moral leadership. It is far better to be good than it is to be great. The leadership of science or philosophy will bring collapse and anarchy just as fast as the leadership of stupidity if both are equally amoral.
Second, there is the problem of original sin. The simplest Christian knows that man in his natural state is not infinitely perfectible, only profoundly corruptible. Our generation is, according to the Scripture, not the best of all possible worlds but nearly the worst. The first chapter of Romans tells the story of the moral decline of humanity from the beginning of the creation until now. Historical evidence shares the view, for it was this generation that invented genocide, atomic war (and even Keynesian economics). Few other generations have been that evil, much less that stupid.
And, of course, there are other assumptions believed by modern man which are leading to the failure of our society. Modern man believes that humanity is progressing (it is not), that morality is a matter of personal opinion (it is not), that the group is more important than the individual (it is not) and several related forms of foolishness.
This generation's crowning insanity, however, is its belief of the proposition that 4. man has no ultimate destiny; his rewards are here and now. The young person of today is advised to join the “now generation,” to “do his own thing,” and to “get it while you can.” Bertrand Russell advised us that life is but the dark narrow vale between the mountain peaks of two eternities and that, therefore, the only foundation on which life could be built is that of unyielding despair.
THE ROAD TO SLAVERY
These are the key words of this generation. The vaunted achievements of science notwithstanding, the thinking person in today's world is wringing his hands with the dark suspicion that he is on the road to slavery at best, oblivion at worst. The philosophy of despair is carrying the day. The world says, “Despair is the only foundation!”
But the world is wrong. The Apostle Paul said, “Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). So there is hope! There is hope for significance in this life and a hope that goes beyond the grave. Despair is a greater sin than any of the sins that may have led to it. Hope is the philosophy of the Christian. His hope is built, not on the late creations of his clever mind, but on the Word of God which lives and abides forever.
The understanding Christian leaves the ranks of the troubled, for he knows that the world at best passes away and all of the desires of it, but the person who does the will of God abides forever. He believes! This is not wish fulfillment but the faith which God delivered to the saints. His faith embraces his heart in the confidence that Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord of his life, meant what He said in promising, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
Jesus Christ has delivered him from, but commissions him to reach—a troubled age.