American Religion, Did Christianity Fall Out of Heaven into America?

American Religion

Did Christianity Fall Out of Heaven into America?

Much of American Christianity is totally disconnected from its roots in a very similar way that many Americans are ignorant of their roots. It seems that Americans in general are illiterate of history. In politics, it means that Americans can easily be moved away from their founding principles without even knowing it. In American Christianity, the same thing is true. Because of their ignorance of church history, American Christians have and are moving away from the historical faith very easily. Many of them think that their faith originated with Jesus and was just transferred to America. In this, they jump over 2000 years of history, which has shaped their faith. Now hear the shocker. Many of their beliefs did originate in America and reflect its values more than the values of Jesus and His apostles. There are a number of American religions that would find it hard to trace many of their beliefs or practices to the church in Jerusalem. However, how would you know this if you know nothing about church history?

The church that Jesus built did not have its beginning in America. Its beginnings were in Jerusalem where its leader laid the foundation by appointing twelve men to take His faith to the world. These men were called apostles and took the words of their Master to the world. They planted churches everywhere and taught them everything Jesus told them to teach His disciples.[i] The apostles of Jesus gave the early church the whole counsel of God.[ii] In this, the apostles were aided by the Holy Spirit who helped them to remember the teachings of Jesus.[iii]

Through this process of revelation, the Christian faith was delivered to the first-century church in its completeness. It was delivered once and for all to the church.[iv] The apostle Peter told the first-century church that they had everything they needed to know for life and godliness.[v] The apostle Paul said he preached the whole counsel of God to the church.

We can gather from this that anything that is taught which is newer than the New Testament Scriptures could not possibly be a part of the faith which was once for all delivered to the church by Jesus and His apostles. This should raise questions about any teaching that is newer than the New Testament teachings. If it did not come from Jesus or the apostles, where did it originate? The obvious answer is that it had to come from some other source. It was predicted by the apostle Paul that men would arise in the church and lead gullible and ignorant disciples away from the true teachings of the apostles, for the purpose of making themselves important in the eyes of men.[vi] Moreover, he talks of a time when a large number of Christians would gather around these false teachers. These false teachers would be men who would preach what people wanted to hear to make them feel good, and their preaching would amount to nothing but myths.[vii]

Much of Western religion can trace its roots back to men other than Jesus Christ and His apostles. Even the Roman Church is an assortment of innovators, e.g., Augustine. At best, you could say that Catholicism was made up of three roots, which grew up together to form one institution, those three roots being Judaism, paganism, and Christianity. It takes a keen mind and a discerning spirit to be able to filter out of the Roman system that which is truly Christian. Of course, Catholicism is one of the systems that justifies itself by claiming that it is Christianity perfected. Its main justification for this progressive belief is its doctrine of the infallibility of the church and a continuous revelation that perfects it. The same doctrine is used by a number of Protestant groups to justify their innovations to the faith. Of course, if you know the Bible and early church history there is no authority for the doctrine of the perfecting of the church or for its infallibility.

Now the question arises, does modern Christianity have to model the church we read about in the Bible? Some might raise the question as to whether or not there is a model of the church in the Scripture. My reply to this question is that it depends on your concept of the church. If you think of the church as an institution, the answer is no. However, if you think of the church as a living organism, the answer is yes. The church in the Bible is like a family that is alive to each of its members and is especially alive to its Head, who is Jesus Christ. It looks to its Head in all things and from its Head to receive all things. Its purpose is to glorify God through its Head, Jesus Christ. Through the power of the Spirit, it points all men to Christ and only to Christ. There is no room in the church for men who are trying to make themselves central by exalting themselves or their teaching. The chief characteristic of the church in Scripture is that it is Christ-centered. And close behind that is its members love for one another.

You enter this family like you enter your physical family by being born into it. You are born into it by a new birth, which is made up of two elements: one of the outward signs of baptism in water and the other the receiving of the Spirit of Christ.[viii] Baptism is an immersion into Christ and identification with Christ and His death and resurrection.[ix] One of the unique things about this family is that it gathers weekly to celebrate the great feast, which will take place when its resurrected Lord returns from heaven. The feast proclaims His death, resurrection, and His second coming. All true believers love to be there for this feast because Jesus promises to meet them when they come together to celebrate the supper. The tradition of coming together on the first day of the week goes all the way back to the apostles[x] and is confirmed by the early Christian fathers.[xi] The ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are two of the fundamental marks of the New Testament church.

Like any family, there are family characteristics that all of its members share. In the family of Christ these are very plain. Each member of His family looks a lot like Jesus.  Now, I am not talking about physical appearance, but the character of a person. One other rule of the family is the older you are in the faith, the more you should look like Christ.  Still another rule of the family is that it is committed to knowing the apostles’ doctrine, which is the doctrine of Christ.[xii]

I have been told that every essay should end with a call to action. Well, my call to action is for Christians to learn more about their historical roots. The church has 2000 years of history. That history starts in the New Testament and continues up to the present day. It is filled with glorious, exciting things along with many shameful things that have been done by those claiming to be Christians. However, history is history, and we are to study and learn from it. It has been said that the one thing we learn from history is that we do not learn from history. Now, there may be some truth in that for many.  However, I believe that the wise do learn from history and that history can make one wise.

For those interested in a further study of the New Testament Church, start with the New Testament book of Acts which is a short history of the first-century church. Then find a short history of the church on Amazon. If you are interested in checking a particular doctrine as to whether or not it was taught by the early church (100 A.D.-300 A.D.) you can read the early Christian fathers. However, reading all of the source documents of the early fathers is a horrendous job that few are up to. I would recommend that you try some abbreviated versions, which trace various doctrines that have been taught in the history of the church. There is David W. Bercot, Dictionary of Early Christian Belief  that references 700 topics discussed by the early church fathers. Another is Early Christians Speak  by Everett Ferguson. For those looking for a scholarly and in-depth study I would suggest, The Church  by Hans Kung. Kung is a Catholic theologian, which makes his book most impressive, since he sticks extremely close to what the New Testament teaches about the church in spite of the fact that it contradicts his own church.

Enjoy your study.  LD


[i] Matt 28:18-20

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

[ii] Acts 20:27-28

For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. NKJV

[iii] John 16:12-15

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.  He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.  All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” NIV

[iv] Jude 3

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. NIV

[v] 2 Peter 1:3

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. NIV

[vi] Acts 20:29-31

29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.


[vii] 2 Tim 4:3-4

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.NIV

[viii] John 3:3-5

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”  Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” NIV

[ix] Rom 6:1-4

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. NIV

[x] Acts 20:7-8

On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. NIV

[xi] The reference in the early Fathers to Christian coming together on Sunday or what they called the eighth day are so numerous that I do not have room to quote them. You can find them in the book, Early Christians Speak by Everett Ferguson.

[xii] Acts 2:42-43

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.


Personal Knowledge

Personal Knowledge

“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life”.

In mans search for the truth he has journeyed down many streets. All of which have turned out to be dead ends.  In antiquity, men  sought after truth through the study of theology; then came the age of philosophy followed by  modern science.  Though  some still believe that through the pursuit of science, they will find some certitude of truth, yet the light seems to be dimming. The foundation of scientific knowledge is beginning to be shaken by the very principle that has shaped it, that is philosophical doubting. When doubters begin to doubt their doubts they are nearing the end of a dead end street.

So what are we to do?  Some have come to the conclusion that there is no truth. The majority of these individuals have embraced relativism and abandoned any search for the truth.  Others have turned to diverse cultures hoping to find certitude in eastern philosophy or religions.  I believe they will be sorely disappointed.

For over 2000 years people have been finding meaning, purpose and certitude in life through Jesus Christ.  I’m not talking about religion, but rather faith in the teachings and person of Jesus Christ.  The Bible refers to faith in Jesus not as a religion but rather as the way.  Believing in Jesus is a way[1] of living, a way of thinking and most important it’s a way of relating to God and your fellow man.  But for our study it’s more important to know that it’s a way to certitude.

The apostle John tells us that we can have an assurance or a certainty that we have the eternal life.2 This certitude does not come as a result of being good enough to earn eternal life but rather it comes through faith in Jesus Christ.  In essence, Jesus has become for us  our certitude and our assurance.  Christians believe that somehow Jesus Christ has satisfied all the demands of the moral law in our stead.  Because of this, Christian certitude and assurance is not based on their moral performance but rather on faith in the performance of Jesus.  Unless you are perfect this is the only way that you could ever possibly have assurance of a relationship with God.  If your standard for having a relationship with God is your own goodness, how good is good enough?

Christians also have the certitude of their relationship with God because of their faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  God has given us an objective fact of history in raising Jesus from the dead. Therefore, we have the assurance that Jesus Christ is alive and has the power and authority to save to the upmost, those that believe in him.  How could you ever possibly have certitude and assurance through faith, if  your faith was based on the teachings and life of a dead man?  The resurrection is proof that Jesus and his teachings are superior to every other man’s, for only he has overcome death, through faith.  After his resurrection Jesus said “all power has been given to me in heaven and on earth”.  Belief in the resurrection of Christ is an absolute necessity for anyone to have certitude about eternity.  Those that claim certitude about the life to come, without faith in Jesus Christ, are just expressing wishful thinking.

Listen to the ring of certainty and assurance in the words of the apostle Paul in Romans chapter ten verses nine and ten “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.  As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Someone might object by saying; how do you know that the resurrection of Christ is true?  Well we know certain things to be facts that are beyond dispute.  Number one; we know that they were literally hundreds of thousands of people that believed in the resurrection shortly after it took place.  Some of these people claim to be witnesses to the resurrection.  In other words they claimed to have seen Christ after his death, raised from the dead3.  Were all these people suffering from delusions?  If so why did the faith so quickly spread throughout the area of Judea after the resurrection?

Number two: Then there is the witness of the empty tomb.  If Jesus was not resurrected the question must be answered what happened to the body?  In the story recorded in the four Gospels about the resurrection of Christ it is stated that the Romans placed a guard at the tomb to ensure that no one would steal the body.  Yet the body disappeared.  The only explanation for the missing body then and now, other than the resurrection, is that the disciples stole the body. But how could a group of rag-tag disciples overcome the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb?  If the body could have been produced why wasn’t it?  All of the commotion caused by the Christian movement could have had been put to rest by simply producing a body.

Number three: we know for certainty that the disciples, that is the twelve disciples, also bore witness to the resurrection and spread the Christian gospel throughout the known world at the time.  They all were persecuted and the majority of them died for their faith but not one of them ever recanted their faith in the resurrection of Christ.

Besides the objective fact of the resurrection, Christians also have an inner witness of the Holy Spirit which God has put in their hearts to give us a conviction and a certitude of our salvation.  The apostle John speaks of this inward witness in his first letter to the church.4 “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.”  Now there are some who claim to be Christians that have never experienced this inner witness of the Spirit, so they have never had a certitude about their salvation and their relationship with God.  This lack of  an inner witness may be explained in various ways, one thing can be certain; they lack the crucial element of real faith. They may have had intellectual faith in God, thinking that to be true faith.  However, intellectual faith will never bring assurance or certitude to anyone.  Intellectual faith is only a part of the equation of real faith.  There also must be trust in God and an earnest seeking of his being and will.5

Without the certitude of a real faith a person can be easily be swept away into the vortex of relativism, which is like a black hole that is swallowing up every belief in its vicinity.

What must you do to have this certitude and assurance of salvation?  As the apostle Paul said in the above quote you must confess Christ as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead6 and you must be baptized into his name.7

[1] Acts 19:23 “About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way.”  John 14:6-7″ Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

2 1 John 5:13-14 “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

3 1 Cor 15:3-8 “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”

4 1 John 5:10-12 “10 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life”

5 Heb 11:6 “You can never please God without faith, without depending on him. Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely look for him.”

6 Rom 10:9-10 “9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

7  Rom 6:3-4 “3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life”.


How to Have Faith?

How to Have Faith?

   I once had a young man tell me that he wished he could believe in God.  As I listened to him, I felt he was looking for a formula or method to create faith. Well, I wish I had a method, but I do not believe there is any scheme for creating faith. If you know of one please let me know.  Faith is a mystery. However, it is not a total mystery.

One thing I do know is that hope is the beginning of faith and without it, faith does not stand a chance. In essence, you must want to believe that there is a God along with all of the implications that come with such a faith, i.e. you must have a will to believe.

If I am right the place to begin for the atheist, or for that matter anyone who is seeking faith, would be to ask oneself “do I really hope that there is a God?” Now, if ones hope is real, it would seem that it would lead to an earnest and diligent search for the true God.  Anything less than this kind of search will never lead to the true God. One of the spiritual laws of the universe is that a half-hearted search will never find the real God.  Unfortunately, this means that most religious folks do not know the true God, for the majority has never searched out God with their whole heart.  The majority have inherited faith from their family or their culture. Now, in itself there is nothing wrong with inheriting your faith. One of the purposes of family is to pass along to the next generation the wisdom of their elders. However, second hand faith may not be good enough to whether the storms of life.

As said above, the true God only reveals himself to those that seek him intensely. A vital part of this seeking is an openness to obey him no matter what the cost. Many who seek him do not find him because they have something in their heart, or in their life that they are not willing to give up. They are like the very religious young man who asked Jesus about God; he was  content until he was told that he had to give up his wealth and follow Jesus. When Jesus told this man that he must sell everything and follow him, Jesus was simply trying to raise the young man’s self-awareness and help him to see the real problem with his faith; he loved his riches more than God.

I believe the truth is that the majority of people actually hope there is no God, at least, not the God, which Jesus spoke about.  However, to justify their ineptness toward this force, they reduce it to something that they can manage, like the God of the Deist or a God that resembles Santa Claus, thus we have religion. In this, religion is unbelief in the form of belief.  Others simply ignore this force and suppress their awareness of it into the recesses of their minds. There it remains until they are forced to think about it because of some unpleasant experience like sickness, death or by the prodding of some babbling seer, which they quickly dismiss as a fanatic.

Then there are the so-called atheists, who are somewhat more honest than the above. These folks cannot play the game of the religious man or the indifferent man; they must justify their rebellion and unbelief by denying the very existence of God. They then can claim reason itself, for their unbelief. Some actually believe that reason alone forces them not to believe in God. In this clever move, they deny any personal responsibility for their unbelief, which is a new twist to the “devil made me do it” excuse. Right, it is no longer the devil; it is now reason. However, in reality, they are like the others, in that they seldom understand the real reason for their indifference and in their case, unbelief. They fail to see that their reason is the handmaiden of their will and it is their will, which hinders faith. Every counselor who works with addicts knows that the will controls reason. It is a myth of the Enlightenment that men can know something by reason alone. I guess they could if they wanted to but the truth is they don’t want to and they do not want to know, that they do not want to know. In this, we see the truth of what the seer says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

All of this would suggest that honesty along with hope would be a key ingredient in one’s search for God, not so much honesty about the existence of God, but honest about oneself and your own search and journey. In this, you must face your authentic self before you can face the true God. The real question is not, does God exist, but rather the question is; why do you not want to do God’s will?

It would seem that the way to faith is to start hoping that there is a God and start living as if there is one. Stop arguing with God and start listening. Ask God to change your will, not your mind, for it not your mind that is hindering faith. The reason you cannot wrap your head around God is because He is either too big or your head is too small.  If it were purely a mind problem, there would be no intelligent believers and there would be no smart addicts.  Therefore, the beginning place of faith is not to question God, but to question yourself. God is not on trial nor is his existence.  No, it is you who is on trial and the question is, “will you find your authentic self”? This is not an easy task for creatures who are prone to believe lies and illusions. Good luck on your journey, it is not easy or comfortable.


What, Why or How? On the Limits of Science

What, Why or How?

On the Limits of Science

 It seems that when you ask a naturalist a ‘what’ or ‘why’ question they usually respond  with a ‘how’ answer in return. Then they assume that they have answered your question.  An example of this practice is to propose the question; what is reason and why is there a concept we call reason? Now, the truth is that the naturalist cannot answer either of these questions. Therefore, they will respond with a lengthy and complex argument of how reason evolved through a process of natural selection[1], which they seem to think is a satisfactory answer.

Evolution in the form of a narrative seems to be the catchall explanation for all of the ‘what’ and ‘why’ questions. This seems to have replaced the ‘God of the gaps’ explanation used by some theist’s. In other words, if you cannot explain the ‘what’ or ‘why’ of something, the answer will be spun as an evolutionary tale; that will be the total explanation and nothing more needs to be said. Spin the tail and the gaps are filled.

However,  is answering any of the ‘what’ and ‘why’ questions with a ‘how’ explanation (or a narrative of its evolution), really an answer? Or is it simply begging the question by explaining how a thing developed. The truth is that evolution created nothing and therefore, it cannot ultimately explain the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of anything.

Some might  appeal to natural selection, however, for natural selection to work, something had to exist to be selected from. You say random mutations created the selections. But do mutations really create anything or do they simply change things. Did not something have to exist first, in order to be changed?  So we have entered the black hole of infinite regression where life came from nonlife and nonlife came from nothing. The theories of natural selection and random mutations is an attempt to answer a how question of how living things change and again it has nothing to do with the ‘what’ and ‘why’ questions.

This way of skirting or begging the questions of what and why is even true of some of the most basic questions of existence. What is man and why does he exist?  The Naturalist will answer invariably by answering the question with a narrative of the evolution of man, which is equal to changing the question from a ‘what’ and ‘why’ question to a ‘how’ question. By Using this method, everything is explained by the process of evolution. The story in itself becomes the evidence.  The truth is that science cannot give us a sufficient answer as to ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of man[2]. They can tell us how our bodies are formed and even what they are formed out of, but this does not answer the questions of what is man or why does he exist. The only way for the naturalist to answer these questions with science is to embrace total reductionism, which of course naturalists and atheists must do to stay consistent with their belief that there is nothing but matter.  Everything must be reduced to lifeless unconscious matter. The only alternative is for the naturalist is to quit asking the why and what question altogether, which is exactly what many of them have done.

The truth is that when it comes to ontological questions[3] science is mute and cannot speak. If its members speak, they must speak from another discipline than science.  Ontological questions are questions of philosophy and religion.

[1] If man needs reason to survive, how did he survive long enough to acquire it?

[2] Science is the study of nature as a closed system. It does not have the tools or language to study things outside of nature.     Therefore, it cannot ultimately answer the why questions without morphing into philosophy.

[3] Ontological questions are questions that deal with the origin and meaning of existence, the study of which belong to the discipline of metaphysics, which is made up of philosophers and theologians.

Angels of darkness or Angels of Light?

Angels of darkness or Angels of Light?

The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.                                                                                                                                            H.L. Mencken

There was a time in our past when liberalism was the champion of individual rights and liberty.  Therefore, the question arises, how could a movement that championed the rights of the individual become one of the most coercive forces in the world today, imposing its political ideology and world view on everyone?

To answer this question, all we need to do is look at the roots of liberalism.  It is rooted in the desire to save and liberate the individual, by ensuring and protecting their rights.[1]  Who could question that motive and goal?  However, as the concept of saving the individual evolved, liberals attempted to take in more and more people under their protective wing.  This evolution continued until the concept of saving the individual evolved into saving the world, whether it wanted to be saved or not.  Liberalism is now evolved into the self-appointed savior of the world.  In fact, if individual rights get in the way of its mission, the individual must lose.  Mix this attitude with the hubris attitude of the enlightenment, which many liberals have inherited, you have a world view which is dangerous and a threat to individual liberty.

Because many liberals are blinded by their ideology of world saving, they fail to see that other men may choose a different good, and pursue the good life in a different fashion than the liberal way[2].  They also fail to see that many men do not feel that they need to be saved and reject the liberal definition of salvation and their definition of oppression.

However, liberals, especially the extreme type feel compelled to save everyone from what they believe is their inferior world view, and they continue their crusade to democratize the world their way even if they have to go to drastic means to accomplish it.  In this, many liberals are very much like some religious folks who believe that it is perfectly ethical and right to force their beliefs on all people because they believe liberalism is the only way to salvation.  When any group reaches this point their motives change from salvation to domination.

Many liberals believe that people must be saved from themselves, whether they like it or not.  Therefore, they feel perfectly justified in using the legal system and even the school systems to manipulate and force their views on people.  This liberal salvation now encompasses every corner of our existence from what we eat, to the environment.  We call this assault on personal freedom political correctness.  However, the thoughtful person can see it for what it is, a “new Inquisition” cultivated by a philosophy, which has evolved into the secular religion of liberalism.

We are now at a crossroad in our culture.  We have the choice of returning to the true liberal view of the past or continue the course of neo-liberalism which we are presently on, if you can call it liberal.  Some call it progressivism.  If we choose the latter, we should be prepared for more political correctness and government intervention into our lives and less individual freedom[3].


[1] Extreme liberals have taken this to the point of believing that the individual should be liberated from all morality and God himself.

[2] Liberals criticize Christianity for its exclusiveness and yet it practices the same exclusiveness in believing that the liberal way to the good life is the only way.

[3] Let me recommend a great book, The Betrayal of Liberalism with the subtitle of “How the Disciples of Freedom and Equality Helped Foster the Illiberal Politics of Coercion and Control” by Hilton Kramer and Roger Kimball.


The Seeing Eye

The Seeing Eye

 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”  Matt 6:22-23

I once had a man compare believing in God to believing in unicorns or a spaghetti monster.  His augment is that he never saw a unicorn, so he does not believe in them, and because he has not seen God he could not believe in Him.

It is not uncommon for people to say they cannot believe in God because they cannot see Him.  However, it seems to me that humans believe in a lot of things they cannot see.  In fact, some of the most important things in life are things we cannot see such as love, joy, and hope. Yet, we believe in them and we believe they are real.  We believe in the wind and the force we call gravity, and yet we do not see them.  All we see and feel are the effects of them.  We believe we see light but do we?  In essence, we believe in these things not because we see them but rather because we experience them.

The truth is that sometimes we must believe in order to see. For example, if scientists did not believe in atoms, they would never have found them. There were natural philosophers (scientists) that believed in atoms 2500 years ago. They had no way to see them, but they had a hunch they existed and they began a long search to prove their hunch.   Even to this day, no one has actually seen an atom, all we can see is a trail of one or a computerized image of one, yet we believe they exist. In like manner, if scientists did not believe that there was life at the bottom of the sea, they would not have found the incredible life forms that they have found recently. They actually found creatures that are more unbelievable than unicorns.

If humans believed in only what they could or have seen they would believe very little.  The truth is we believe as much in what we have experienced as what we have seen.  Things like love, joy, and hope are not seen but most of us have experienced them to some degree. Of course, sadly, there are some who have not experienced these things.  However, their lack of experiencing these things does not prove they do not exist.  We could say that experiencing something is just another way of seeing or knowing. In spiritual matters, we call this the Seeing Eye, “blessed are the poor in spirit for they will see God.”

Spiritually minded people often speak of their experience with God. In the Bible, men speak of having visions, dreams or hearing a quiet voice. I do not think the majority of us will experience God this way or have a burning bush experience like Moses, but I do believe we all experience God to some degree though we often fail to recognize it.  We need the Seeing Eye and the hearing ear of faith.

We all may not hear the voice of God directly, but all can hear the echo of his voice when we sense that we were created for the stars and in our longing to explore.  We hear it in our love for life and our disdain for death.  We hear it in the universal need for meaning and self-esteem.  We hear it in the human cry for justice. We hear it in death as well as life. In death, we hear the voice tell us that we are not God. In life we hear it say that life is moving to completeness.

If you are seeking God, go to a quiet place and drop all your worldly beliefs.  Remember, it is these beliefs that keep you from seeing. Truth is often found through subtraction not addition.  Then think of your life and see if you can see God at work in it and in the lives of those around you.  Ask God to open the eyes of your heart that you might see Him and hear His voice.  Jesus promised that those that keep asking and seeking would find.



The Source of Unbelief?

The Source of Unbelief?

 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’  “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’  “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’  “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'” Luke 16:27-31

It seems that a large number of unbelievers feel that God is unjust for not showing himself in an overwhelming way and then judging people for not believing. The truth is that God has given sufficient evident for his existence, so that all men should believe[1]. However, the evidence is only sufficient, it is not overwhelming. God has never given overwhelming evidence of his existence  because that would force men to believe and obey out of fear. If I understand the Bible correctly God wants a love relationship in which man freely enters, not a shotgun wedding brought about by fear.

Therefore, it seems that the real problem is not the lack of evidence which involve the intellect, but rather the lack of a will to believe. Unbelievers could be divided into two different groups of people. Those who to varying degrees are indifferent towards God; we could call this group “practical atheists”. These individuals are everywhere in the world and even in the church. For this group, there is simply no room in their lives for God. This group would include religious  people who have what we might call a lukewarm faith; they have a cognitive recognition of a God but not enough faith (trust) to act on it. Next, there are those who are hostile to God and want to prove that He does not exist in order to justify themselves either intellectually or morally[2].

Both groups of unbelievers will say that if they had more evidence of God’s existence then they would believe and act differently. Of course this would be true of anyone, unless they are mentally ill and why would not anyone act differently in the face of overwhelming evidence that there is a God?  However, the question is, do they believe and act differently because they have a will to believe and want to obey God? Or did their transformation come out of fear? If they changed out of fear, could you say that they were free?  Could they ever be happy living in such a relationship?  This raises the question,  how can an all-powerful God reveal Himself and at the same time protect the free will of his creation? It seems that the only way He can do this is to hide or veil himself in such a way as to give humankind a choice. Then in freedom, a person could will to believe and obey, and at the same time be free and happy in relationship with God.

When we turn to the scripture that is exactly what we find. We are told that God is a God, who hides himself[3]. Hiding himself gives people the opportunity to serve him out of love and freedom; responding in obedience to the sufficient evidence that that God has given. This  response is what the Bible calls faith.  True faith is accepting that there is a God, trusting his promises and obeying him.  This faith begins with a passion to find the hidden God; this passion we might call the ‘will to believe’.

Now, here is the bitter pill. Most unbelief comes from the will, the rebel passions and the hubris of man, rather than the intellect.  In a large percentage of people, the intellect is a much smaller player than they would like to admit. For most, the reason and intellect are called on by the will to justify itself and its rebellion against it creator. This truth is stated in the story of rich man quoted above, that someone coming back from the dead would not convince someone, which does not have a will to believe. They would simply say that it was an illusion. This raise the question, what would God have to do to change a person, which does not have the will to believe?

The atheist says they want more evident under the assumption that the problem is the intellect. However, it is much more likely that their unbelief at least initially was the problem of the will and emotions, i.e. a heart problem. Once unbelief is accepted then ego comes in to support the intellectual unbelief.  This is the worst kind of problem, because a person’s intellectual pride locks them into unbelief.

If we are right about the source of unbelief, the begin place to escaping it, is too humble yourself before the creator of the universe and ask for the gift of faith, while seeking God with all of your heart.

[1] Some might raise the objection, if the existence of God is self evident, why are there so many, which do not see it? Jesus said “some people have eyes but do not see”.  Sometime over exposure deadens are sensitivity to a thing. We are often actually insensitive to our senses until they are impaired in some way. We seldom think about seeing or of our eyes until something threatens our sight. When we look out a window we will not often see the glass unless we focus on it. The reason being we have given our full attention to the things we are watching outside the window. However, if the window is dirty or has a crack in it we see it immediately.  The problem with modern man is that he is too focused on things to see God. Through neglect he has lost his ability to sense God.

[2] Of Course there are others cause for unbelief, which I study in a essay on “The Making of A fundamentalist Atheist”.

[3] Isa 45:15, “Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God and Savior of Israel.