Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Is Contemplative “Christianity” Preschool Christianity?

Peter Haas, who identifies as a contemplative, recently made the comment that evangelicalism, with its focus on Scripture and doctrine, might be an immature form of Christianity. He stated this by asking the more rhetorical question, “Is Evangelicalism Sixth Grade Christianity?” He said this because, as most contemplatives, he views a Christianity focused on doctrine as basic and a mere stepping stone to a greater spirituality that is experienced directly in the presence of God (i.e., a spirituality without or surpassing external mediation).

As I have argued in a couple previous posts, immature Christianity is that which seeks a direct encounter with God apart from the mediation of Scripture and the Church’s/orthodox teaching thereof that He has provided. It wishes to experience the divine for the self rather than submit to the sufficiency of the Divine revealing Himself through human language. There is a Gnostic/Marcionite skeptical assumption toward the physical world and knowledge obtained through non-experience, as well as a desire to bypass what one considers unsightly in Scripture. And so, contemplatives end up ignoring what the Scripture tells us about itself—namely, that the path to maturity is not through contemplation and direct experiences with God that transcend the Scripture, but rather through Scripture itself. It is through the teaching of Scripture and its doctrines by which the man of God is equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:15-17), the body as a whole is grown up and fitted together, no longer tossed around by false teaching, made perfect/mature (Eph 4:11–16), and sanctified in the truth (John 17:17).

In fact, in Ephesians 4, Paul argues that no one should ask how we can receive a maturity in Christ, as though we have to wonder whether we have to go up to God to get it, or He still needs to descend to us to receive it. This is Sinai imagery, where Moses had to ascend to the heights of the mountain to receive God’s revelation and then descend in order to give it to the people. Paul’s point is that the truth has been received already. Christ has given the Church revelation through its apostles and prophets and a guidance to the church through its evangelists, pastors, and teachers that it might be used and interpreted correctly to equip and mature the saints. Hence, contemplatives are rejecting the Pauline testimony by continuing to seek further access to God in order to receive a “mature” spirituality that He does not give to anyone beside the church through the Word.

In fact, even though I ask whether contemplative Christianity is preschool Christianity, what I really mean to ask is whether it is Christianity at all. I’ve argued that it, in fact, is not. It is an immature spirituality that seeks direct experience of the divine. That is why it is the vehicle by which paganism seeks to know God. It is the path of the animist, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Egyptian and Babylonian religions, etc. It seeks to know God directly rather than by analogy through language, because it is not in submission to the Word. That is why contemplatives come back to Scripture and start dissecting what they think is of God and what they think is not. Gregory did this and everyone affected by such a concept within Christianity has since. 

Now, I am not saying that contemplatives are not Christians. That’s not my call. But they are undermining the means through which Christians are matured, and therefore, their sanctification/salvation. One who does this ought to seriously think of the severity of God toward such a crime as to seek to hinder the growth, and perhaps birth, of His children. As I have said before, knowing God through what God has spoken requires us to submit to Him in faith. I cannot experience God for myself. I must trust what He has revealed of Himself and His church for getting Him right. 

That all requires submission to God’s revelation and the means He has provided to interpret that revelation. This is where the rubber meets the road and the Christian claim of a contemplative will manifest itself to be either an immature Christianity that has not rid itself of pagan assumptions or a false Christianity that is still in rebellion against the Spirit of Truth.

In any case, the Reformed/orthodox view has articulated the Scripture’s teaching concerning itself quite well, so I’ll let Muller sum it up for me.

As we have already recognized in the Reformed prolegomena, and their focus on ectypal theology after the fall, Reformed theology emphasizes the accommodation of the divine will to human need and of divine revelation to the modes of human knowing. Here Turretin quite pointedly directs attention away from the absolute power of God toward the power of God exercised according to the divine wisdom concerning the needs of beings in this life. Thus, comments Turretin, in the natural pattern (oeconomia naturali) of human life, parents teach their children—first, with a living voice, when children are infants and are being given their initial formation, and then, later, with the voice of a teacher, through the use of books and reading, in order to inculcate as with a strong rod, the teaching (doctrina) in those books. God has followed the same pattern in teaching his children. Thus, in the infancy of the people of God, God spoke directly and in a living voice. This unwritten word could be properly conserved at the time because of the longevity of the patriarchs, the small number of people in the covenant, and the frequency of revelations. In later times, however, the church was no longer confined to a few families and human life was shortened considerably. Oracles were fewer and, moreover, the establishment of the nation of Israel demanded not so much a living voice as written laws.

Thus, too, the written word was necessary “that the church might have a certain and true rule and canon, whereby it might judge all questions, doubts and controversies of religion,” and “that the faith of men in Christ which was to come, might better be confirmed by the Messias, and see all things that were foretold of him verified in the event,” and further, “that the purity of God’s worship might be preserved from corruption and the truth propagated among all nations.” Scripture is also given to take away excuse from those who would ignore the precepts of God . . . Thus, the orthodox will speak of Scripture as the medium conversionis on the basis of James 1:18; the medium fidei et consolationis, on the basis of Romans 10:17; and the fundamentum ecclesiae, et omnis cultis eius, on the basis of Ephesians 2:20. Scripture is the “Lydian stone” by which all things are measured (Isa. 8:20; Gal 1:9) and the lux splendens in obscuro (2 Pet. 1:19) to be employed as a remedy against all errors.

Against the “Enthusiasts and the Libertines,” who claim that Scripture is necessary only for children and beginners in faith, whereas the more perfect and mature Christian can rest on the teaching of the Spirit, the Reformed pose the testimony of Scripture itself. Thus, Paul asks the Corinthians to come to a decision on the basis of what he writes to them (1 Cor. 10:15)—while the apostles John first states that he writes to Christians as “children” and then, subsequently, addresses instructions to Christian “fathers” (1 John 2:1, 12–14). Similarly, Paul addresses the perfect or mature—adulti—with advice (Phil. 3:15). The Enthusiasts and Libertines draw on 1 John 2:27 in order to argue that the special anointing of the Spirit renders them superior to all human teachings. These words, RĂ¼ssen argues, ought not be understood “absolutely,” as if the New Testament writings were no longer necessary, inasmuch as John’s own epistle in which these words appear would then be quite unnecessary (!), but rather “relatively” insofar as the Spirit working through the New Testament has provided a fuller teaching than had been available under the previous dispensation. Similarly, the words of Paul that “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” cannot be used to refute the orthodox claim of the necessity of Scripture inasmuch as “the letter” is not the letter of Scripture but the letter of the law that condemns sin . . .Neither does the fact that the faithful are theodidaktoi, taught by the inward working of the Spirit, render Scripture unnecessary. Word and Spirit cannot be separated (Isa. 59:21). The former is objective and extrinsic, the latter efficient and inward in the heart: “the Spirit is the teacher, Scripture the doctrine that he teaches us”—“Spiritus est Doctor, Scriptura est doctrina quam nos docet.” The Spirit does not work through new revelations, but by impressing the written Word on the heart.[1]

[1] Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, 2:179–81.

Why Contemplative Christianity Is Neither Contemplative Nor Christianity: Part Deux

In this second installment, I want to argue what Scripture argues for itself--namely, that it is the knowledge and application of Scripture that suggests Christian maturity, as it is the exclusive medium by which we must know God and His will. God cannot be known through direct experience. Hence, it is only through God's revealing of Himself that one can come to a mature knowledge and life in Him.

Hence, the Scripture teaches what I call "Sinai Theology" that serves as a foundation to understanding God and His will for our lives.

Although many focus on the great miracles in Exodus, the core of Exodus is actually what is often assumed to be that much more boring section concerning the law and tabernacle. The law is set down by God and then instruction for a tabernacle are given. The narrative is interrupted by the Israelite rebellion in making the golden calf. After judgment, the text describes the execution of the instructions God gave concerning the tabernacle, along with the building of a chest to hold the tablets upon which the covenant is written.

Now, you may be asking, "What does all of that have to do with Scripture?" Well, here it is. The law through Scripture, represents all of God's written revelation (Second Temple Judaism even considered unwritten revelation given via tradition as law). It is God and His will revealed.
The interesting thing about that is that God instructs the Israelites to build a tabernacle, which is a moveable temple representing Mt. Sinai, the place where God gave His Word to the people and met with them.

Like other deities in the ancient Near East, God can be met at the tabernacle. His presence is mediated there. But through what is it mediated? Temples are for idols. There is no idol. Or is there?

The very reason why God has the Israelites construct a temple is because He does have an idol. It is the medium through which the divine must be known. But it is not an idol that one can merely approach and experience physically. It is not an idol that leaves one to contemplate his own views of God and the divine will. It is, instead, a written idol, an idol of words, to which one must incline his ear rather than his eye, and to which one must bow his mind rather than his knee. He must submit his own opinions, gained from finite experience, to that which is externally told to him.

This is why the giving of the Word and the tabernacle are juxtaposed to the Israelite sin of making the golden calf. Notice that Aaron does not say that they are worshiping another god, but rather that, once the idol is made, there will be a feast to YHWH. The sin here, therefore, is not a sin of explicitly worshiping another god, but of implicitly worshiping another god by attempting to worship YHWH through a medium by which neither He nor His will can be known.

Hence, by the time we get to Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History (something the Exodus narrative, having been written later, assumes), God warns the Israelites with the strongest language possible to listen to what He has spoken rather than seek to experience Him through some other means. This is why the high places are condemned and the temple is central in Deuteronmistic theology. It is only through the Word, and therefore, in the temple where the Word is housed, that God can be worshiped. This was not meant to be something in terms of a Jewish Mecca, but rather yet another physical picture to teach the Israelites, and the Church to follow, the centrality and necessity of Scripture in having a relationship with God.

Hence, the Psalms lift up the Word of God as the pure light by which God can be known, as opposed to the generic revelation of creation by which only a display of His glory is seen in light of His Word. This is why Proverbs tells us that a path seems right to a man but the end thereof are the ways of death. This is why the prophets decry the use of idols. And this is why John then applies this theology to Jesus, who is the Logos "Word" who reveals the Father through His teaching, sends the Spirit of Truth to sanctify His people in God's Word, and alone has words of eternal life. This is why God must be worshiped in Spirit and truth, and that the words Jesus speaks are bread and life. And this is why He calls His body the temple.

This is why Christians, who have the Spirit of God dwell in them once they have the Word placed in their minds, and why the community is also a temple being fitted together in which the Spirit dwells, i.e., because the revelation of God is revealed and interpreted therein.

You see, therefore, that what is often falsely called "bibliolatry" is nothing more than faithful Christianity. It is biblical religion as opposed to idolatry that seeks to experience God apart from His own revealed, spoken truth. Actual bibliolatry is practiced when one venerates the Bible in theory but does not contemplate its truths, but rather ignores them for what is deemed more valuable pursuits (whether worldly or "spiritual"). It is when one kisses the physical Bible but ignores its message. It is when one speaks of it as God's Word but treats it as secondary to his own experience. True mature worship of God trembles at His Word (Isa 66:2). And it is within that individual that God comes to dwell and commune.

Hence, the Scripture tells us to meditate upon it day and night, that a young man can keep his mind pure in proceeding to maturity by focusing his thoughts on what God has said, and that it stabilizes one's walk in life and light as opposed to children who are at play in the dark.

It is through Scripture that God's people come to know Him in the first place (faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God), the middle place (sanctify them in truth, Thy Word is truth), and the last place (until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God – a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature. So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes. But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head). 

Some sought God through idols. Some sought Him through conjuring up the dead. Some sought Him through omens. But we seek Him through His Word, because hearing requires trust in the One who is heard, and this is our primary submissive act toward God.

Christianity without this understanding isn't Christianity. The Word is always central in our relationship with God, and it is only the paganism of the old self that leads the immature in the faith to consider other pathways to know and worship Him. 

The hidden things belong to the LORD our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law." (Deut 29:29) 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

It's a Superficial World After All

I recently read an article that gave some statistic that the number one reason people are "defriended" in social media outlets, such as facebook or twitter, is due to offensive comments. The article, and many others I heard comment upon the phenomenon, chalked it up to people thinking that they had immunity behind a computer screen, and thus, could write anything offensive that they liked. If put in front of those they were offending, they would be much less likely to do so.

But I want to take a different trajectory in why I think people are offended and why people offend over social media outlets, but perhaps, not in person.

First, I want to go back to discussions during the 50's, 60's, and 70's. I find the candor in debates, discussions, talk shows, etc. to be most illuminating. People spoke very bluntly to other people. They didn't sugar coat anything, and just said it like they saw it. And the amazing result of that was that many of the people to whom they spoke weren't actually offended by it. They were used to that sort of interaction, precisely, because families often spoke that way to one another, and the larger community was seen as an extension of the family.

Fast forward to our time. People are offended at the drop of a hat. Hence, they don't speak candidly to one another. But suddenly there arose a different form of media that was not bound by these social shackles, and because of this, people began to say what they really thought, regardless of who was offended.

The problem with that? Our society has become ever increasingly narcissistic; and when you offend a narcissist, whose whole life is spent on seeking approval and praise from his or her followers, oh I mean "friends," then he or she can no longer stomach even a hint of criticism. It becomes offensive and rude to the narcissist. Hence, having dared act in such a way, the offender is defriended in typical fashion.

Now, I don't care for stupid comments that center on just abusive language. However, I do think that people saying what they really think is a good thing when it comes to articulating beliefs and criticisms, not a bad thing. I also don't care how they say it all that much, as long as they express their ideas to let me know where they are coming from, and it's not done in some foul manner.

I do care whether people are going to set down an argument rather than pure assertion of opinion, but at least I am getting what they really think.

Chalk it up to the postmodern in me. I just think people should be real and that you should hang with them until they give you evidence that they have no intention to be real with you, or continue any sort of conversation that makes up a worthwhile relationship.

The younger generation is even worse than mine. You can't criticize a single thing about them or their arguments without them thinking you are the devil. It will only get worse as we let our kids think that they are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

What this really tells me is that, in our face to face lives, we have lost all sense of community and family, and are simply existing side by side as individuals who have very little meaningful interaction with one another. What may actually save us, despite the protests from the cult of the nice, is being forthcoming and direct on the internet.

It exposes the darkness within. It allows for the sword of the Spirit to swing at the right target. You cannot slay a lie you cannot see within another. People pretend in day to day life because they, as narcissists, want to save the image of themselves that they wish to project to others. They are likely online because it gives them an even greater ability to project false images. Yet, it also allows the critic to knock down that image and expose the narcissism of the individual being critiqued.

In essence, I don't think people should just be rude to be rude; but I do think that people should be real. And if it's rude to be real, I say the rude path is the only one worth taking. Faithful are the wounds of a friend. If your friends don't wound you, then they are not your friends. I suggest you defriend all of them and keep all of your offensive friends instead.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Neo-Errantists in Hell

There was a prestigious university professor who dressed in a fine suit and trendy sweater every day. But on the street outside the college where the prestigious professor taught preached a layman named Lazarus whose religious views were unsightly, and who longed to be considered even half as valuable as the professor so as to be heard. In addition, snarky college students would come and mock his orthodox religious ideas

Now the lay-preacher died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The prestigious scholar also died and was buried. And in hell, as he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far off with Lazarus at his side. So he called out, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in this fire.’ 

 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that in your lifetime you received praise and Lazarus likewise ridicule, but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish. Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us, so that those who want to cross over from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’

So the professor said, ‘Then I beg you, father – send Lazarus to my university (for I have five colleagues) to warn them so that they don’t come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have the Old Testament; they must adhere to it.’

Then the professor said, ‘No, father Abraham, the Old Testament is just a crude religious document compiled by a barbaric people with outdated views of God and humanity. Frankly, I'm shocked that you actually exist. But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will empirically verify it and repent.’ He replied to him, ‘If they do not adhere to the Old Testament, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Great Expectations: The Vehicle through which Faith Is Lost

One of the things I want to really instill in my sons is that tragedy, pain, difficulty, frustration, failure, and disappointment are what life here is really about, as opposed to happiness, success, easy living, peaceful tranquility, etc. being the true purpose of life here.

The reason why I think this is important is because we are told that God judges His own household first, and that means that this life is one of trial via tragedy for the believer. In 1 Peter, we are told:

Dear friends, do not be taken by surprise that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as an instigator of crime. But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name. For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God? And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the ungodly and sinners? So then let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator as they do good. (4:12-19)

 It is "through much affliction/trouble/suffering that we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). And we are told that "in this world" we "will have trouble/suffering" (John 16:33).

In short, the norm for this life is thorns and thistles as yield for your labor and pain in childbirth. And the bonus to this life is death. It is filled with tragedy and ends therein. But we are told that God wants it this way. This is what God has promised us. His purpose is to save us, to melt the dross from the gold, and fire is painful if you are living gold.

In short, this world is hell for the believer. His hell is now. His time to suffer is now. His judgment is now. All of the tragedy of life is now, because his heaven is later.

To be sure, God gives mercy and we have glimpses of heaven here that push us along our way. We are told to find hope and comfort while undergoing this constant barrage of tragedy in Christ's victory over the world and looking to His return and restoration of all things.

But what I want to say to you today is that suffering tragedy is normal life. We, especially as Americans, have distorted that picture, as the rich often can distort their realities by creating fantasy worlds. We emphasize success in this world. We entertain ourselves to death, precisely, because entertainment provides vicarious experiences for us to escape our real world and imagine our lives as better than they really are. 

But the boy, stolen from his family and held at gunpoint, drenched in mud, while he looks for diamonds to support the fantasies of the rich, knows that life is tragedy and toil. He has no illusions. 

I say this to you, because many lose the faith over false expectations of what God promised us in this life. When God delivers hell instead of heaven here, faith is lost. But God never promised heaven here. Quite the opposite indeed. He promised salvation in the world to come, and that means going through the fire here, suffering loss here, undergoing painful trials that remove the dross of a self worshiping life. 

Now, of course, hell starts early for many people, believer or unbeliever. God makes no bargains with unbelievers. They may get a little heaven and then hell, or they may get nothing but hell. The only pact God makes with us, as believers, is that he will use our hell here to bring us to heaven. He will save us by conforming us to the image of His Son in this world, His Son who went through pain and tragedy to bring us this road of deliverance and sanctify us in Him with many crosses.

That is all God offers. That is all we should expect. Hence, as Peter said, "Let no one be taken by surprise that you are undergoing trials by fire, as though some strange thing were happening to you." If your life is tragic, you aren't experiencing a bad life, you're just experiencing life. The question is whether you will submit to God and praise Him for using it for your salvation and His glory, or whether you will become embittered against Him for not giving you a life He never promised to give you in the first place--indeed, being embittered against Him for saving you.

Instead, be surprised by success and happiness that God gives to you here as something abnormal. See the heaven that God shines into a dark world as God's gracious mercy that seeks to motivate you toward the goal, but not as something that can stay for very long without interruption from the necessary pain and suffering that salvation from self worship requires. Then your expectations will be in line with reality, and you will end life in praise, rather than in disillusionment, about God and His love for you. 

God, Deception, and Reality

Quick question.

The Bible tells us that people can be deceived. In fact, it argues that the whole world, apart from Christ (remember that part), is deceived and under the control of the devil.

Now, here is my question for you.

Do you believe that the whole world is capable of essentially getting reality right, but getting Christ wrong? In other words, do you believe that if one's view of God the Father and His Christ is distorted that reality can still be understood?


Do you believe that if one is deceived about God the Father and His Son that reality is impossible to understand?

 In essence, to sum up the question, is truth concerning God necessary to understand all of reality, or can reality, for the most part, be understood apart from Him?

How you answer this question will say a lot of what you think about God. If God is the center and foundation of all knowledge and understanding of reality, and one is deceived about the truths concerning Him, then it is not possible for one's view of reality to escape complete distortion.

But if God is ad hoc to your view of reality, if He is not really essential and foundational to it, as is the case in the mind of so many people today, then one can be merely deceived about the truths concerning Him, but have an essentially correct view of reality.

I think this is a huge dilemma for people who argue for a view of reality based on what unbelievers/apostates/heretics say, especially in arguing from consensus.

Now, obviously, this refers to non-empirically verifiable elements of reality (although one might be able to make the case for all things, I'm not going to press it that far today). One might argue that the unbeliever's view of the reality of empirically experienced phenomena is verified by the believer and the unbeliever's adoption of certain assumptions that really only belong to the believer.

But the point is that when one considers non-empirically verifiable phenomena, whether one thinks that analysis of unbelievers and those believers who have relied upon their analysis is still valid has much to do with whether one thinks that deception about the truths concerning God can be compartmentalized due to the knowledge of reality having no reliance upon those truths as its center and foundation.

Friday, April 12, 2013

If Only They Were Truly Outraged . . .

Liberals love to be disgusted by the Canaanite conquests, where God tells the Israelites to wipe out the entire population, including the women and children, as a judgment upon the culture's sins, and to create a safe place for Israel's children who would then be slaughtered by Canaanite children once they grew up and carried out their familial vendetta. Of course, I've pointed out many times before that this is likely hyperbolic language, but even so, the Bible presents God as severe enough in His judgment against this culture as to take it as something consistent with who He is as a Holy God.

But in reality, one must wonder if this is all a big dust up because liberals really just want to undermine the ethical purity of the Bible's presentation of God. In other words, I have to wonder if liberals are really all that outraged by the biblical presentation because it is an act against children or because it is a biblical act that they can use for their agenda. Is it the slaughtering of children (something that happens every time a bomb is dropped on most areas in war), or is it simply that such gives fodder to the liberal who wants to see the Bible undermined so that he can be the god who decides right and wrong, true and falsehood for himself? So he or she can have the freedom to take the lives of children him or herself without being condemned by the Bible for it?

The reason why I question this, of course, is in light of the lack of outrage among liberals when it comes to the horrendous house of horrors that is the abortion clinic run by Gosnell found only here and there on conservative blogs and media outlets on the internet lately. Instead of posting about the massacre of children who were born and then executed by stabbing scissors into their necks and severing their spinal chords while they screamed in pain, liberals are just going to let this one go, since abortion rights are oh so much more precious than these children. If the children were worth crying out for, one would think that liberals would have it everywhere (like they did with the Sandyhook children--but then again, that seemed to be a case of liberals using murdered children to support one of their agendas). Here, these murdered children could be used against their agenda. Hence, let's just let this atrocity slide silently by, since it doesn't serve our purpose to bring it to light and condemn it.

Yet, every gun advocate I've read emphasized the Sandyhook massacre, because they were outraged by it. They didn't like it being used toward a political agenda, but they didn't want to cover it up. They were outraged and condemned it, precisely, because they thought the children were worth more than their political agendas.

I guess, to liberals, children really are just conveniences or inconveniences depending on whether one can use them to bolster gun control, gay rights, etc., or not. If only they were truly outraged, maybe I would take them more seriously, or at least see their attack upon the Bible as a sincere and consistent concern for the well-being of children and human life, but it just ain't so.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Good, the Bad, and the Neutral? Why the Secular Academy Is a Handmaid of the Devil

I think one of the biggest problem with our culture is the idea that there is such thing as true religion, false religion, and neutral philosophy.

The Bible tells us that there are only two humanities on the planet, and that each has its allegiance to either God or the devil. All of their concepts, desires, devotion, etc. find their worship to one or the other.

Of course, since Christians live in the "already, not yet" limbo of their sanctification, they can be seen as having both allegiances at times. The world, however, is enslaved to the one. It has no allegiance to God, but only to Self, which is the religion of the devil, as it emulates his self-appointed deification.

But what this means is that no institution based in secularism, our version of the religion of the Self, can be seen as neutral. Yet, this is where most evangelicals get into trouble. Once you believe that secular findings concerning questions that support or undermine God's Word are neutral, you're going to conclude that the Bible must be wrong, since these findings are purely unmotivated by a culture's religious devotion.

Then, one can paint those who do not accept those findings as legitimate as simply being dishonest and anti-intellectual. This attitude, in return, breeds unbelief in the Scripture, as a stance of belief in what undermines the Scripture cannot stand with a belief in the Scripture without radically altering what it means to believe in the Scripture, radically altering the Scripture, and truly being dishonest with the fact that the secular, Satanic religion of the Self is not compatible with biblical Christianity, precisely because it has been designed to be that way.

The academy, from the time of the Enlightenment on, has been little more than an institution bent on undermining orthodox Christianity and the Bible. It is an apologetic factory for the devil who rules it, as he rules all institutions in the world that are not a part of the kingdom of God.

Hence, there is no neutral ground. There is no academic freedom as opposed to that which is tied to an apologetic of a religious stance. All academic positions argue for a religion. The academy just covers that up by believing and portraying itself to be neutral. But you don't go to universities to learn raw data. You go there to be brainwashed into confusing data and its secular interpretation cannot be divorced, and therefore, the secular interpretation of that data is fact. Anyone who denies it is merely denying facts. Hence, the secular view of reality is gained via a manipulation of a society that gives it the place of a cult leader in a cult, or perhaps, a cultic organization.

My favorite line, often given by the poor manipulated souls who have been thoroughly indoctrinated, is that there is "overwhelming" evidence for some position that undermines the Bible. The reason why I think this is a joke is because, having studied cults and the way that people are sociologically conditioned, every cult would say the exact same thing. There are overwhelming lines of evidence for Mormonism, as long as you are a Mormon scholar. There is overwhelming evidence for the superiority of one race over another, as long as you are a part of a racist cult. There is overwhelming evidence for Scientology, as long as you are a part of that cult. Everyone takes data and interprets it according to his or her worldview and presuppositional stance. That's the way ultimate/necessary beliefs work. You can't interpret reality without a faith stance, and the Bible tells us that one has a faith stance either in one of the many manifestations of the religion of the devil or in the religion of God.

The world's fallen institutions and intellect are the medium for the devil's religion. The Word of God, as it is impressed upon us by the Holy Spirit, is the medium of God's religion. Hence, Jerusalem can use Athens if it is wary of its purpose, but it cannot submit to Athens without giving up the religion of God, since Athens has been designed by the devil to destroy the religion of God. Whatever other things it does to throw humanity of the scent of its true purpose, that is its primary purpose in the world. Secular academia exists for no other purpose than that.

Now, can God not use what is meant for evil for good? Sure, that's what I mean by Jerusalem using Athens; but it becomes a dangerous game when one is not conscience of its purpose. God could use Mormonism to teach Christians, but how many Christians will come out of such an education without being scathed by it? Without in some way thinking that maybe Mormonism is true, or maybe there is a way to reconcile both Mormonism and Christianity together. Certainly, not in a way that preserves Christian orthodoxy, as the religion of the devil can only be compatible with the religion of God if one or the other is distorted.

Some of this comes from the idea that what is fallen in human nature is the heart, but not the head. And much of that stems from misreading the Bible when it talks about the heart. As I have said many times before, "heart" in the Bible, especially in a Semitic context, most often refers to the mind/thoughts of a person. Hence, it is man's mind, and all that comes from it, that is corrupt, distorted, and deceived above all things. It is, thus, from his mind that all evils flow. His intellect is fallen. His academic thoughts are distorted. He cannot see clearly, and his mind works toward the establishment of his religion. It seeks nothing else beyond ensuring that his religious sentiments and lifestyle are true and good and those that contradict it are false and bad (or less true and less good as falsehoods and evils are often presented in our "pluralistic" society).

But what does this mean for an evangelical institution that was based in becoming more intellectually appealing to the world? Evangelicals want academics that are respected by the secular world. Their Bible colleges and seminaries want professors who are educated by secular institutions more than they want professors educated by Bible colleges and seminaries. After the controversy over Peter Enns at Westminster, Carl Trueman made the statement that what we really need to ensure that such things don't happen is professors who are trained with PhD's from the secular academy. Hugh? Dr. Enns has a PhD from Harvard. I would think that anyone with half a mind would link it to the problem, not the solution. But this is precisely the mentality that has shipwrecked evangelicalism, and any orthodoxy that may have thrived within it.

The truth is, we are now living in a secular society that has worked hard to establish its voice as the dominant one by portraying its primary authority, the academy, as a neutral party. It just happens to be a neutral party that undermines the Bible at every turn, but since it's neutral, that just means that the Bible's errors are factual. See how that works? If the Bible were are primary authority, it would mean that the errors of the academy, and its secular religion, are factual. But we have allowed ourselves to be painted into a corner by letting the academy get away with presenting itself as neutral when it comes to religion and Christianity as a faith stance toward a religion. So the devil doesn't need to transform himself into an angel of light in order to deceive the world anymore. He just needs to transform himself into a university professor.