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The Gods of Liberalism Revisited


The lie hasn't changed, and we still fall for it as easily as ever.  But how can we escape the snare?



Saturday, December 27, 2008

Gods of Liberalism Revisited

Painting from the Cistine Chapel, by Michelangelo.

A recent Dakota Voice post, The Gods of Liberalism, generated a lengthy discussion in the comments section that some readers may find interesting. But, unfortunately, the conversation strayed far from the subject of the original article.

In the original, the main points were the similarity of some socio-religious beliefs today that are strikingly similar to the ancient beliefs of Baalism: "The principal pillars of Baalism were child sacrifice, sexual immorality (both heterosexual and homosexual) and pantheism (reverence of creation over the Creator)." (Recommended reading for those who haven't read it.)

In Genesis 3:4,5 Eve is tempted by Satan in the form of a serpent, saying to the woman "You surely shall not die [for disobeying God]!" And then Satan promises the woman that by disobeying she will become "like God." Satan's promises were that 1) God will not actually do what He said, that is, God's Word is unreliable and 2) you can be a god, i.e., save yourself from death, through your own actions or works.

Readers of these posts may have read my story about coming to some kind of vague theism after studying anatomy, physiology and microbiology in medical school. Prior to that I was a committed atheist. My theistic beliefs allowed for some intelligent being behind the incredible design that is manifest in nature, but I was still a long way from accepting Jesus as Lord. It wasn't until almost 30 years later that I surrendered to His will and became a Christian. That conversion is quite a story that perhaps someday I'll tell in this forum.

Between theism and Christ I explored many different religions and theologies. I learned a little about Buddhism, Shinto, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, shamanism, and Celtic Druids to name a few. I found all of them interesting and all seemed to possess some truth that I easily accepted. Notice that I devoutly stayed clear of the three great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I was raised a Roman Catholic and attended Mass daily through the eight years of my parochial education and less frequently for another five or six years. I thought I knew all about God and Jesus and there was no point in pursuing that any further. Besides, these exotic ancient religions were so much more esoteric and satisfying to my arrogant mind.

One day, out of boredom more than curiosity, I picked up the dusty Bible that occupied a space on my bookshelf beside the Bhagavad Gita. I began reading in Genesis with a mind to find inconsistencies and outlandish tales that would confirm my decision to reject the Bible as a source of spiritual wisdom.

In reading the passages mentioned above something struck me as novel and interesting. What Satan was saying is basically the same thing that all religions hold true, save Christianity and Judaism. In some fashion or another every other religion denies God and His Word, alleging that the Bible is just a collection of occasionally wise sayings written by men of the ancient past; implicitly claiming that God, Yahweh, is not true to His Word. Secondly, all the other religions promise eternal life (or nirvana, filial piety, or whatever) as a reward for deeds done in this life. From human sacrifice to one’s Easter Duty, they all depend upon self actualization and the reward is to become “like gods.”

Satan’s lie in the garden had taken root in man once man willingly disobeyed God, and lives with us even today. Even atheism embraces this paradigm. By denying any Supreme Being (and, of course, God’s Word), that makes man the Supreme Being; all gods within the cosmic consciousness. Humanism and New Age theology state this explicitly.

Satan continues to deceive man with the same lie that he told in the Garden. And most of the world continues to believe it.


Bob Ellis said...

This is very true.

Most religions I have encountered or studied do contain at least a few elements of truth in them. If they contained nothing good or truthful, it would be easy to identify them for what they are and reject them.

But even going all the way back to the original Lie in the Garden of Eden, they all incorporate some truth...but twisted. Notice that in Genesis Satan didn't deny the existence of God, or even deny that God had told Adam and Eve not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. He just told them God had put this off limits in order to keep them under his thumb.

Many religious heresies make that claim today, as does atheism. How many times have you heard atheists deride Christianity for wanting to "keep people ignorant" or "keep people in the dark ages" or "keep people enslaved"?

And just as the ancient pagans sacrificed their children in the hopes of prosperity, so many sacrifice their children today for hope of job/career/education/bigger house/nicer car/keeping my husband/boyfriend happy, et al.

It's a seductive lie; if it weren't so attractive, it wouldn't sell nearly as well as it does.

No wonder Christ said, "small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

Grace Explosion said...

I think you're sinful and that's why you are behaving in a bigoted and hypocritical manner. You think you are so "right"... but you didn't know years ago what you know today. But, now you pretend that today is different - today it is "okay" to refuse to have open discussions. After all, you are so "right".

What you don't know...hurts you.

That universal atonement was effectual... in God's Sovereign time. His objections... some I could have answered. He's intelligent and he wasn't narrowminded. He would have studied the original language.

But you are as arrogant as you were when you were an atheist... and you don't allow other's opinions.

Bob Ellis said...

As moderator I rejected your misleading comments Hell and eternal punishment.

If you want to endanger people's immoral souls on your own web space by telling them they can get a "really good deal" on the eternal torment of Hell, then you can answer to God for that. But my conscience does not allow me to perpetuate such a lie here. The Bible is quite clear that if someone dies without being renewed by Christ, they will spend eternity in Hell, which means "forever, without end."

The lie that some people will only have to hang out there for a little while until God "forgets" his righteous and holy nature is a lie from the pit of Hell itself.

And this denunciation of that lie is the closest Dakota Voice is going to get to repeating that lie.

Grace Explosion said...

There, that's better. I appreciate that. God said in the Garden of Eden that the result of eating the fruit would be death. If you would be so kind as to study the rabbi's of the OT, they did not as a rule believe in any eternal punishment.

Death is the result of eating that fruit. Why do we add to God's Word??

That man who you were debating with was absolutely correct. A Loving God would not eternally torment anyone... for the wages of sin is death. When the Bible speaks of punishment - it does not say "eternal" in the original language. Furthermore, the "punishment" in the original language is a word used for remedial... not punitive or vindictive.

The concept of unceasing punishment in a vindictive manner is outside of the meaning of the original language.

God, he was correct in saying, would not be loving if God planned "eternal punishment" in response to the refusal of His Love. Death is the punishment for sin.

Jesus said the final punishment was the destruction of body and soul for those who do not believe. The destruction of body and soul... destroys death.

God recreates all who are destroyed in the lake of fire.

Everyone is saved in the end. The atonement is universal and effectual. God recreates all.

God never planned for anyone to spend eternity in hell - as the writer rightly stated that no Loving God could do.

He didn't. It's a misunderstanding a thorough study of the original language refutes. There is a translation error in our Bibles in relation to time length durations - brought about by human error. It's not in the original language.

That man's objections were valid.

Thank you for not shutting down the discussion.

With humility, comes wisdom.

His objections, some of them, can be answered by God's Word - and the Truth of God's character revealed in Holy Scripture - in original language untainted by human error in translation.



Grace Explosion said...

No Bob, that is a translation error. The original language does not state "eternal". That is how the words were translated. It's an error in translation.

He was correct in saying that fear of punishment saves. Faith in God saves... and that by grace.

The cross of Jesus Christ is what saves. Grace by faith saves.

No threat of eternal punishment saves.

This matter is not essential to salvation - but rather drives people away from Jesus... because they rightly question the character of God were that true.

It's not true. It's a wrong translation of words. A person who studies it out... will see that... with an open heart.


Grace Explosion said...

I think if the truth was with you, you would not fear an open discussion. I don't believe it is of God to refuse to discuss His Word. I think it's of Satan - who lied in the Garden of Eden... who lies to say hell is eternal when it's not.

I think you fear the Truth. I think you should have faith in God - if you think the Truth is with you. But your refusal to open the discussion... proves you are in error and afraid to be refuted by God's Holy Word... in the original language... not the false doctrines of the traditions of man.

God is a God of Love... and He fears nothing.

What are you afraid of??

Have faith... and open the discussion... if you dare... if you really think you are "right".

Prove it.

Prove it... not on your false assumptions... not on your reliance on hell... but by the Truth of God's Word.

You can't. You won't even accept a scriptural challenge.

That's fear.

Dr. Theo said...

Grace Explosion, I am not sure what point you were hoping to make in your comment. You start by saying that I am "sinful." Well, you are absolutely correct, but Jesus washes my sins away and claims me for eternal life with Him. That is the nature of His salvation.

Who has "refused to have open discussions?" Good grief, did you see the long exchange after Mr. Ellis' original post? I thrive on open discussion, "always being ready to make a defense to everyone for the hope that is in [me]." (1Peter 3:15)

I honestly have no idea what you are trying to say in your third paragraph.

I don't mean to be contentious, but your comments are truly problematic.

Dr. Theo said...

Grace Explosion, notwithstanding your thorough knowledge of the original Hebrew texts, you have been corrupted by the 1st century heresy of “universalism.” It is a seductive proposition, but not supported in Scripture or in traditions. You claim that OT rabbis denied eternal punishment, yet Josephus wrote the following of the Essenes, a fundamentalist Jewish sect of whom he had first-hand knowledge:
"They believe that wicked spirits are to be kept in an eternal imprisonment (eirgmon aidion). The Pharisees say all souls are incorruptible, but while those of good men are removed into other bodies those of bad men are subject to eternal punishment" (aidios timoria). Elsewhere he says that the Essenes, "allot to bad souls a dark, tempestuous place, full of never-ceasing torment (timoria adialeipton), where they suffer a deathless torment" (athanaton timorion). Aidion and athanaton are his favorite terms for duration, and timoria (torment) for punishment."

There is ample evidence that the early church believed similarly. And why not? Just look at what some of the Apostles have to say on the matter:

Mat 5:22 22But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Mark 9:47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;

In the story of Lazarus, the beggar, the rich man is thrown into hell, a “place of torment” where he begs for relief.
23And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
(Luke 16)

Matthew 23:33
"Snakes! Brood of vipers! How can you escape being condemned to hell?

Mark 9:43
And if your hand causes your downfall, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and go to hell—the unquenchable fire,

Luke 12:5
But I will show you the One to fear: Fear Him who has authority to throw [people] into hell after death. Yes, I say to you, this is the One to fear!

Revelation 20:14
Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

Universalism is a dangerous theology because it offers the rebellious the very salvation that they rejected. This whole concept goes back to the early Gnostics and was roundly rejected by the church fathers of the time. God is all-just. His judgment and sentence on each of us will be perfect and indefensible. Personally, I don’t intend to put my trust in false, unscriptural, hopeful speculation.

Bob Ellis said...

I would add to what Dr. Theo said about the reality of Hell that it is very clearly an eternal (i.e. forever, without end) destination.

Matthew 18:8
If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.

Matthew 25:41
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Matthew 25:46
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Hebrews 6:2
instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

The Bible speaks of eternal punishment as well as eternal life--eternal life through Jesus Christ. If "eternal punishment" is temporary, then apparently "eternal life" is temporary, too. Is God a false advertiser? I don't think so.

What's more, every major translation from the original 1611 King James (including NKJV), NIV, NAS, ESV) all say this punishment is "eternal" or "everlasting." It boggles the mind that all the huge translation teams for all these English translations would somehow get this word wrong.

The truth of the Bible is sometimes unpleasant, especially to proud, arrogant, sinful human beings. The stark reality of that truth can even be a stumblingblock to some...but the truth is what it is.

I won't harbor the furtherance of a heresy that endangers souls at Dakota Voice, even in the comments section.

I will leave you with this exegesis from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:

This is a description of the last judgment. It is as an explanation of the former parables. There is a judgment to come, in which every man shall be sentenced to a state of everlasting happiness, or misery. Christ shall come, not only in the glory of his Father, but in his own glory, as Mediator. The wicked and godly here dwell together, in the same cities, churches, families, and are not always to be known the one from the other; such are the weaknesses of saints, such the

hypocrisies of sinners; and death takes both: but in that day they will be parted for ever. Jesus Christ is the great Shepherd; he will shortly distinguish between those that are his, and those that are not. All other distinctions will be done away; but the great one between saints and sinners, holy and unholy, will remain for ever. The happiness the saints shall possess is very great. It is a kingdom; the most valuable possession on earth; yet this is but a faint resemblance of the blessed

state of the saints in heaven. It is a kingdom prepared. The Father provided it for them in the greatness of his wisdom and power; the Son purchased it for them; and the blessed Spirit, in preparing them for the kingdom, is preparing it for them. It is prepared for them: it is in all points adapted to the new nature of a sanctified soul. It is prepared from the foundation of the world. This happiness was for the saints, and they for it, from all eternity. They shall come and inherit it. What we

inherit is not got by ourselves. It is God that makes heirs of heaven. We are not to suppose that acts of bounty will entitle to eternal happiness. Good works done for God's sake, through Jesus Christ, are here noticed as marking the character of believers made holy by the Spirit of Christ, and as the effects of grace bestowed on those who do them. The wicked in this world were often called to come to Christ for life and rest, but they turned from his calls; and justly are those bid to depart

from Christ, that would not come to him. Condemned sinners will in vain offer excuses. The punishment of the wicked will be an everlasting punishment; their state cannot be altered. Thus life and death, good and evil, the blessing and the curse, are set before us, that we may choose our way, and as our way so shall our end be.

cinemaphile85 said...

Dr. Theo,

First of all, I'm happy to have been part of the conversation on your original post :-)

In your search to find inconsistencies in the Genesis story, did you ever find a suitable answer to the question "Where did Cain's wife come from?" My old church didn't seem to have a good answer for that, which I suspect is why the topic never came up in Sunday school.

Dr. Theo said...

Cain's wife; the number one canard of the unbeliever. I was asking Christians this question almost 40 years ago and it was silly then and even more so now. But, considering that William Jennings Bryan was unable to answer the question from Clarence Darrow, the ACLU lawyer, at the Scopes Trial, I suppose I should answer yours.

In Genesis 5:4 we read a statement that sums up the life of Adam and Eve: “After he begot Seth [the third son of Adam and Eve], the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he had sons and daughters.”

Cain's wife could only have been a daughter of Adam and Eve, i.e. Cain's sister. When there was only the first generation, brothers would have had to marry sisters or there wouldn’t have been any more generations!

Wait a minute, you may demand, what about the law prohibiting brothers and sisters marrying? That law wasn't established until the time of Moses (Leviticus 18).

The main reason for prohibiting close relatives from marrying has to do with the increased risk of producing offspring with very damaging recessive genes. This was not a concern in the time Cain, as these recessive genes only came into existence after the fall, slowly accumulating as the result heritable genetic damage over several generations.

I hope that helps, Cinemaphile.

There are things in the Bible that I do not fully understand, but that only means that I am not capable of comprehendinging all of God's ways. I understand enough, however, to have full faith in the accuracy and inerrancy of God's Word.

Dr. Theo said...

Another thing, Cinemaphile. I have been teaching about Cain's wife in Sunday school for several years. The fact that you never learned about this in SS only speaks to the inadequacy of that particular church or teacher. That is unfortunate. I wonder what other basic theology that you missed.

cinemaphile85 said...

Thanks for the response, Dr. Theo. I wish I could say your subtle dig at my skepticism was as appreciated. I'll stop bothering you with my "silly" questions.

Here's a hint for the future: if you're trying to convert someone, it helps if you lose the condescending attitude. You may not know everything about the Bible, but that doesn't mean you should treat skeptics like they know nothing.

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