Christianity Oasis Ministry
A Spiritual Island in a Sea of Secularism
Chapter 18 - Decisions
It is clear that America, and indeed the world, is polarizing. As the polarization strengthens, the conviction on each side also strengthens. It will become more difficult to remain neutral. As we discussed throughout the book, the differences are not just about the size of government, political parties, social entitlements, or lifestyle. The differences go deep into the soul of the Nation and the soul of the individual. At the core is the conflict between Humanism and Christianity, God and Atheism, collectivism and individualism. The differences cannot be resolved; there cannot be a "politically correct XE "politically correct" " compromise. The time is coming for each person to make the decision.
Decisions are strange things. We make decisions in several different ways. Humanists claim their reasoned logic is the only true way to come to a decision and fault Christians for their lack of reasoning in spiritual matters. The root of the Humanism-Christianity conflict is essentially how each side makes the decisions that form their position. The decisions each make are a cosmic coin toss with one side "reason" and the other side "faith," but it is not that simple because each side does not make its decisions as advertised. Actually, there are many different factors in making a decision besides reason and we, even the Humanists, use all of them.
Consider rote tradition. A few years ago my project required visits to remote Indonesian villages. The way of life in those villages was essentially the same as it had been for centuries. The daily. weekly, monthly, and annual routines we fixed by tradition. Decisions were automatic, no reasoning required. Even in our modern world we find ourselves in fixed routines, such as driving to work each day, that are mere rote reactions. However, rote tradition is prevalent in the Christian community as well. A person born into a family with a tradition associated with a particular denomination is labeled a "Christian" or "that denomination" and grows up in that tradition. A decision to be either a Christian or that particular denomination is never made. The person may attend church services or not, believe in Jesus or not, but will wear the label Christian often without giving it much thought. The Political Church was full of these nominal Christians.
A common decision that does not use reason is marriage. Initial attractions are hormone-driven urges and emotion, infatuation, puppy love. In time, the love matures and eventually a decision is made to bond with the loved one on a permanent basis. Not much logic involved in that decision.
A common decision factor is experience. Consider a person hiking on a new trail that has many unmarked branches to dead end vistas. The first time on the trail, the hiker will probably look for signs that indicate the main trail, such as width, wear, and maintenance. But sometimes the fork in the trail gives no clear clues and the hiker makes his best guess, sometimes he picks the correct trail, sometimes not, and he has to retrace his steps. The next time the hiker takes the trail, he make the decisions about which trail to take based on his experience. The first time on the trail, the hiker used reason to make decisions, the second time on the trail; reason was only a minor factor.
Perhaps the most common factor in making a decision is peer pressure. Peer pressure: the need to be accepted by the herd. The more insecure the individual, the more likely to need approval of the herd–social peers. This is most obvious in teenagers who follow the latest fad like lemmings over the cliff. But as we mature, the need for peer approval doe not appear to diminish. Exhibit 1, the closet full of unused clothes that were the "must have" style until the next peer-approved models arrived. Humanists are no exception. Insecure person make their decisions based on what the herd considers acceptable. It takes a very secure person to make decisions without regard to peer pressure. Ask Galileo. Or Lister. Or any of those individuals that broke with the herd mentality and went against the consensus opinion of the experts. It take courage to make decisions without regard to the herd consensus.
Many decisions are made with faith. Consider The hiker discussed above. If he come to the fork in the trail and meets a child who tells him to take the right branch, the hiker may dismiss the advice because he cannot trust a small child to have sufficient information. However, should he meet a park guide and the guide advises to take the right branch, the hiker will follow the advice without question because he has faith in the knowledge of the guide.
Decisions made with logic are considered the most reliable and this type of decision-making forms the basis of the scientific method. It is the reasoning the Humanist claim to support their philosophical position. But how "pure" is the logic we use in our reasoned decisions? The problem is with the data used in making a reasoned decision. Too often, we do not have sufficient data or the data we have is incorrect. No matter how good the logic, if it is based on poor assumptions the decision will be incorrect. Sometimes the data is inconsistent and this makes logic almost impossible to use. If the data is incomplete and a logical decision is made on that data, the decision my be found to be incorrect later when new and contradictory data is discovered. For this reason, much of the scientific community deals with statistics. When a decision is made under these conditions, the decision is based on a certain percent logic but without 100 percent certainty. The question is, what factor makes up the difference?
These are simple examples of the many ways we make decisions but, in reality, decision making is complex and often involves several of the factors mentioned here. In Chapter 6, we discussed the various factors involved in the probability that humans exists through natural means only, without any divine influence. With all the reasoning used in the Humanist argument, and much of that reasoning is excellent, there remains a very high probability against human existence without divine influence. The most optimistic statistic is given by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion at 50 percent. Yet even with such uncertainty, Humanists assert that evolution by natural selection is a fact. The reasoning, no matter how excellent is not sufficient, something must be added to the decision process to make up the difference between 50 percent and 100 percent certainty.
Freshmen enter the university with awe. The indoctrination begins immediately. The liberal professors have an agenda and what young, inexperienced student is in a position to question the intellectual authority. He is told that Marxism is the solution to poverty. He does not understand that the professor is ignoring the fact that all Socialists countries have a greater percent of the population living in poverty than capitalist countries. He is told that evolution is an undisputable fact, but the major gaps in the hypothesis are ignored. Humanism, he is told, is the only valid, rational, and practical solution to the problems facing humanity today. If he questions the professor's bias, he is ridiculed, his grade is in jeopardy. His peers, wannabe intellectuals, mouth the right words and he is pressured to join the chorus. He makes his decision that Humanism, Progressivism, and Evolutionism are the only valid truths. As he gains experience and broadens his world view, some doubts enter, reason alone cannot cover all the questions. To maintain the decisions of youth, he must add factors to the process. Peer pressure requires that he maintain his position; after all, intellectual wannabes must maintain the socially acceptable philosophy. All his professors and the modern philosophers say Humanism is the only game in town; if he cannot put his faith in them, who can he trust?
Unless our student has sufficient security and courage, he will find it almost impossible to ask the challenging questions and seek alternative answers. He will continue to fill the reason deficit with peer pressure and faith in the expert consensus until one day his decision has become rote tradition. His village of intellectuals have sung the words to the song of Humanism so long they do not even think about their meaning. It is rote tradition. He no longer struggles with the decision about abortion. Yes, biologically, the fetus is fully human, a person, with the unique DNA, separate from the mother, that will never change throughout his life. But, philosophically and legally, the experts and peers sing the traditional song of Humanism and he must join the chorus or be forced out of the village. His doubts are suppressed and pushed deeper within. But they are there nevertheless.
Perhaps there is a better way to make a decision than "reason" formed by an agenda, nurtured by indoctrination, maintained by peer pressure, and secured by faith in the expert consensus. Sometimes, in the drone of the chorus, the solo can make all the difference.
But what about the other side of our cosmic decision-making coin, the Christian side. Actually, becoming a Christian is not so much a decision as a response. It begins by the urging of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus answered, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. Jn 6:44
God draws us to him. There is something deep in our soul that senses that divine harmonic, the presence of God. Gently, the presence shows us the state of the soul. We have known, deep down, that things are not right, something is missing. There is something about that presence, something that is right, complete. By contrast, our soul seems incomplete. This is not emotion and it is not reason; it is an experience never before encountered. The Holy Spirit is calling.
Jesus said, "Many are called but few are chosen." In fact, everyone, at sometime in his or her life is called many times. Too many ignore the call. Distracted by the worldly pleasures, ego, hedonism, or prejudice, the call is lost in the noise. After all, the call is gentle; no one is forced to come to God, response is voluntary. You realize that God is a gentleman. But a few hear the call and yield to the divine presence. They are aware of their spiritual deficit and they are attracted to that presence. That presence! There is something about that presence–love. But not just any love, this is different than human emotion, it is spiritual love. The Greeks have three words for love representing the three kinds of love we experience. Eros is physical love, erotic passion, lust. Philos is love at a higher level, brotherly love, love of country, friendship, love of knowledge (philos + sophia). Then there is agape, spiritual love, unconditional love, the love of parents for a child. The call of God is agape. It is a love experienced in a part of the soul previously unknown; and with it you know changes must be made in your life so that this relationship can continue. It is a spiritual love. Then you realize that the source of the love and the Presence is a Person.
Up to this point, everything has been an experience, no decision required. But now it is time to make a decision. You can turn from the Presence, ignore the Holy Spirit, and resume life as before. Or, you can respond to the call and change your life forever. It is a rational decision? No. Is it an emotional decision? No. However, it is a profound decision. It requires admitting that, "I have sinned and am far from God." The decision to make that statement is difficult. Having acknowledged a sinful life, what is next? What do we do with sin once we admit to it?
The answer to that question is what separates Christianity from all other religions, philosophies, Humanism, and Progressive agendas. You do not have to DO anything! Everything necessary to restore us to God was accomplished by Jesus. Jesus assumed the responsibility for all the sin committed by humanity, all of them. He paid the price for our sins by his suffering and death so that we do not have to do anything. As proof, God raised him from the dead after he had been in the grave for three days.
However, there is a condition. We must accept his gift of salvation. It is just that easy. In accepting salvation, we must acknowledge our sins and commit to turning away from the old life. Then accept that Jesus paid the price for them. Having committed to a new life, we invite him to become a part of that new life. We commit to a relationship with Jesus. That is the difference between Christianity and Humanism; Christianity is a commitment to a relationship, not a mental exercise.
But there is a decision required to commit to that relationship and that decision is based on faith. It is not a faith in a professor, a theologian, a pastor, or peers. It is a faith based on the Person behind the presence that called us. Approached from a purely rational point of view, this makes no sense. In fact, it should not make sense to the rational mind.
This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment. 1 Cor 2:13-15
When the new Christian makes the commitment to let Jesus come into his life, something happens that cannot be expressed in words. When God first calls, he touches a part of our soul that previously was not a part of our experience. When we accept Jesus, that part of our soul comes alive. There is a new dimension to life. A new life.
Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' Jn 3:5-7
This is where the phrase "born-again" Christian comes from. We are all born of water, the natural birth accompanied by the surge of amniotic fluid from the womb. But we must experience a spiritual birth in order to enter the kingdom of God previously dead must be awakened. The death Adam and Eve experienced was the death of the spirit and, through the Holy Spirit and the sacrifice of Jesus, our spirits are restored. As Paul explains to the congregation a Corinth:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. 2 Cor 5:17-19
The "new-born" Christian has just begun his journey. He must learn to walk God's path. He must learn to listen for the gentle guidance of the Holy Spirit and live in obedience to God's commands. This does not mean following a set of dogmatic rules, many of which are man-made interpretations of what God gives in his Word. That was the mistake of the Political and the Philosophical Churches. God deals with each of us individually. He accepts us as we are, then gently guides us, step-by-step, to a mature spiritual life. That explains the variety of Christian views. God guides one person one way and another person another way, depending on the individual's needs. In addition, each Christian is in a different stage of spiritual growth.
The main source of instruction for the Christian is the Bible. The Bible is an interesting document. If one who has not received Christ, and is not guided by the Spirit, reads the Bible with the mind of reason only, much of it is difficult to accept. Humanist approach the Bible in this way. The Greeks have two word for "word", logos and rema. Logos is the root of our word "logic." It is the understanding we gain from reasoned learning. It is the word understood by the mind. It is the Humanist understanding of the Bible. Rema, literally message, is a spiritual understanding. It is the deeper understanding that come from a good metaphor, a deeper message. A message from God to you, personally. A poem can say much more than the prosaic words and may say something to one person and something else to another. It is a personal message. When a born again Christian reads the Bible he understands with his mind, logos, as does the Humanist, but he also understands with his spirit, rema. It is through rema that the Holy Spirit guides the individual Christian and gives spiritual meaning to his faith.
As the Christian matures spiritually, he becomes aware of something new in his relationship with God – his faith has changed. Paul describes the function of this new faith:
The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming. 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 ... Rom 10:8-10
The "word" used here is rema, a spiritual message. This is not a faith based on a mental exercise, a calculated risk, the faith of the Humanist in his professor. This is a spiritual faith. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit ... 1 Cor 12:7-9
As the Christian matures spiritually, the spiritual faith increases and becomes a certitude, a conviction, deep in the soul. Just as Square's experience in Spaceland could not be cancelled by his fellow Flatlanders through their arguments, the Christians faith is not subject to rational arguments from the Humanists; much to their frustration.
This experience, as describe above, is not the same for each Christian. However, it is the process of salvation that the Bible describes for both the early Church and Evangelical Christians today. For some Christians, the entire process of salvation can take only a few minutes; others may grow gradually over months or years. As discussed in Chapter 4, some wear the label "Christian" but never make this commitment to Jesus. For example, the Political Church compromises the basic biblical teaching in order to establish and maintain temporal power. It substitutes the "form of Godliness" in elaborate rituals, some borrowed from Gnostic cults, for the actual power of the Holy Spirit. The Philosophical Church also makes compromises by substituting the wisdom of the world for the wisdom and power of God (1Cor 2:13-15). The Social Church compromises the Gospel message to gain popularity and acceptance by adapting the Humanist philosophies of "social gospel" and "collective salvation". Much of what we see in the Political, Philosophical, and Social churches was a danger to the Early Church and the apostles warned against such contamination. The danger is still with us.
It is clear that Humanism is gaining in the American society. It has even worked its way into some churches. Humanism is expanding but authentic Christianity is increasing its influence as well. Conservative Evangelical congregations are the fastest growing segment of Christianity in America. These two dynamics cause the polarization of American society to increase. The uncommitted middle ground is shrinking. It is time for decisions. In this polarized environment, the options are increasingly limited and, in fact, there are only two choices: Man or God. In both cases, the decision requires faith.
The decision is not just about politics or social issues. The decision is not about Socialism or Capitalism. The decision is about your soul–not the collective soul – your soul. God works on a one to one basis and the decision is between you and God. Deciding for the Lord does not required changing political parties or even church congregations. He will lead you in those matters as you mature spiritually.
It is the most important decision you will ever make. Whom will you serve? The gods of liberal academia? The politically correct but morally degenerate social agenda that worships man? Or will you serve the God who created you and loves you with unconditional agape love? The Israelites, after wandering in the desert for forty years, were about to finally enter the Promised Land. However, some had been influenced by the cultures and religions of the people the encountered along the way. Entering the Promised Land meant they must make a commitment to God and reject the sinful ways and idol worship of the surrounding cultures. Their leader, Joshua, summarized the decision before them–and before each of us.
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amonites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Josh 23:13-15
Every decision has consequences. Some consequences are irrelevant some are life changing. As the Humanists press their agenda remaining neutral and not making a decision is becoming more difficult. Eventually we all must decide. What are the consequences of our decision to choose between God and Man? If, as the Humanists claim, there is no spiritual dimension and when we die, we cease to exist in every way, then the consequence of choosing Man has little impact on the Humanist. If the Humanist is correct and the Christian merely experiences an aberration resulting from impaired mental functioning (or as Richard Dawkins says, they need to raise their consciousness), then they have devoted their lives to a life of misguided hope and missed out on a lot of material pleasure for nothing–and took a lot of abuse from the Humanists unnecessarily. Perhaps the joy and peace they experience could have been attained through psychology, recreational drugs, or other "man-made" sources.
However, if the Christian is correct and there is a spiritual dimension with a personal God who demands justice, there are significant consequences for everyone. The Humanist will not just evaporate into cosmic nothingness. His soul must face a just God, One-to-one, to whom he must account for his actions, and most important, his rejection of the salvation offered through Jesus. God is not an activist judge and will meet out punishment and reward without regard to politically correct agendas. All judgment for the Humanists will be how they met their own standards and conscience and whether they have satisfied God's standards. As Paul told the Romans, no man can possibly meet either standard. The result is that an eternity of just punishment is in store for those who would put themselves above the One who created them.
The Christians, on the other hand, are no better off than the Humanists. When they die they face a similar consequence, an eternity of just punishment; except for one thing, Jesus. The Christian can expect that, when facing his God for judgment, his deficiencies, sins, will be covered. That is the message of the Gospel; Jesus paid the price for the sins of those who accept him as the Son of God and commit their life to him. God will look upon the Christian and declare, "Not guilty." We cannot even imagine what eternity will be for these souls. Flatland-Spaceland again. However, we can expect an eternity saturated in divine agape at a minimum. This is the source of the Christian's hope and peace. If the Christian is wrong, at least while on earth there is a contentment and spiritual satisfaction not experienced before salvation. If the Christian is right...
Choosing God is not always comfortable. Choosing the Lord may loose friends. Choosing the "road less traveled" will certainly raise eyebrows. However, choosing Jesus is always an adventure.
 The Road Not Taken, from The Poetry of Robert Frost, Henry Hold and Co., 1979.
Copyright © 2011 by Patrick Vosse
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