What is Lacking

What is Lacking in Organized Christianity to Cause the Flourishing of all the Bizarre Groups?

In the last century we have seen the proliferation of bizarre cults which caused negative reaction toward the organized religion.

There are three major characteristics that distinguish authentic historical Christianity from the cults:

A. The acceptance of the centrality and deity of Christ.

B. Reliance on the authority of the scriptures and the Church

C. Motivation by love rather than force.

In this article, we will discuss just one major doctrine of Christianity that makes the Church a bulwark of strength and stability when believed and taught. The issue is the existence of evil and the companion questions of evolutionism versus creationism.

Current liberal thinking, based on the inevitable results of belief in evolution, is that there is no such thing as sin and certainly no father of sin, or devil: just leave man alone and let him revert to natural goodness and everything will be alright, we've been told.  But at different part of the world it is not working that way—the evil and the devil are coming through in a tragic demonstration of what is wrong with some philosophies of life which displace the Creator as the originator and sustainer of man's existence.

Until the past hundred years or so, Christianity was virtually in complete agreement on man’s origin. Almost without exception, they held that the opening chapter of Genesis presented a literal account of God, through divine feat, creating our world and man. Human beings, made in the image of God, were seen as the noblest example of His creative power.

However, by the mid-nineteenth century, emerging science and new age religion dazzled the human mind and began playing an increasingly important role in influencing society.  As the evolutionary theory, for example, developed Christianity's desire to maintain intellectual respectability gradually led to a patchwork of varying accommodations between scripture and evolutionary theory. Many felt that the Biblical doctrine of Creation could not stand against the impressive array of charts, diagrams, fossils, and reasonings that seemed to teach otherwise.

Today, not only the cults, but major segments of Christianity are diluting and compromising the Creation doctrine by believing that man owes his existence, not to the spoken word of a divine Creator, but to a God-inspired and/or God-directed random act of cosmic chance. Theistic evolution, deistic evolution, and progressive creationism are examples of the various creation models that are believed and promoted by some Christian thinkers and groups.

Since a person's philosophy and belief regarding the origin of the earth and man directly influences his value system and lifestyle, the doctrine of Creation, as taught by the Scriptures, is of ultimate importance. The moment a person gives up the concept of a supernatural being who brought man into existence by supernatural means, he is robbed of a personal sense of belonging and security, and is left to drift blindly along the pathway of doubt and confusion. Martin Marty attributed the growth of cults to the frustrations of rootless people. This age truly is a rootless age – desperately searching for its "roots". People seem to be without a sense of direction or responsibility, and are turning to authoritarian and senseless dogmas and cultism in a desperate attempt to find some security and release from fear.

God at least must have thought the scriptural doctrine of origins basic to man’s security and stability, for He started the Bible with the words "In the beginning God created …." The first two chapters of Genesis are not where they are by accident. The Designer placed them there for a purpose. Destroy this concept, this majestic truth of creation, and multitudes are led to believe that desire is the highest law, license in liberty, and man's accountability is only to himself.

The Bible opens with the proclamation of God's creative power: at the beginning God created heaven and earth. The predictive words of Revelation 14:7 give evidence likewise that in the final days of earth’s history a sweeping announcement will go "to every nation and kindred, and tongue, and people" (verse 6) to "Fear God, and give glory to Him…. And worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea ..." This command is designed to counteract the prevailing conditions on earth so vividly described by Paul in Romans 1:12-28 "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened ……..(They) changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator……. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind".

The Cult Craze and the Nature of Man

Unless one understands the background of the existence of evil, he surely will be unable to understand the nature of man and those things so intimately connected with him in this world: trials, perplexities, mishaps and finally, death. Furthermore, if one explains the occult and all that goes with it in terms of the fraudulent, or with traditional physical or psychological explanations, he will, when confronted with manifestations that cannot be explained by science, logic, or reason, be led to acknowledge and support the claims and premises of the evil one. Thus, will be fulfilled the prediction of Revelation 13:14: "And (he) deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which He had power to do."

The traditional view of historic Christianity has been that man, originally created in the perfect image of God, fell into sin through the temptation of a literal devil. And because of that moral fall, man's nature became such that without God’s direct intervention, he could only continue the descent into evil. But the clear teaching of the Church has also consistently been that man has not been abandoned to this all-engulfing sea of evil. God's invitation to all is, "Come now, and let us reason together…. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow" (Isa. 1:18). This can be possible only because of the one who "was wounded for our transgressions" and "bruised for our iniquities" (Chap. 53:5).

Nowhere do the Scriptures make light of evil or sin. In fact, they graphically detail what sin is and clearly outline its tragic consequences and consequences so all pervasive and terrible that they can only be remedied by God Himself. It is that awful payment that Christ paid for us on Calvary. Consequently, the Cross itself is a testimony to the fallen nature of man and the all encompassing defilement of sin.

But the Cross is also a glorious testimony that man, though fallen and sinful, has in Christ been lifted up to sit in heavenly places with the Majesty of the universe. Men and women, victorious over sinful human nature, through Christ their Saviour may look to a restoration of all that has been lost by sin. The Apostle Paul declares, "But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power which enables Him even to subject all things to Himself." John adds, "Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2, R.S.V.)

In our article we pointed out one of the major doctrines of historical Christianity that makes the Church a bulwark of strength and stability its teaching of divine creation. We pointed out also how this rock of faith has been eroded in much of the Christian world today by prevailing concepts of the evolutionary hypothesis. In this article we want to explore the implications of this situation for the nature of man.

What is man? What kind of nature does he have? How it is that he alone, among all living creatures, is self-conscious? How it is that man alone can swing from rashness to refinement, from faith to presumption, from the noble to ignoble? Modern man is not the first to puzzle over himself. In an exquisite lyric (composed perhaps during one of those star-studded nights while he watched his sheeps on the Judean hillside) David formulated the question, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?" (PS 8:4).

The answers to such questions, in our opinion, have manifold and far reaching ramifications for our relationship to God and to one another.

Dr Dan Gilbert used to tell audiences about the atheist club he joined in college whose motto was, "Sons of apes don’t need a Saviour". That’s true. There is no basic compatibility between evolution, which assumes that we are pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps and getting better and better and the Bible assertion that man, created in the image of God, is now engaged in a senseless rebellion against his Maker. The view of the Scriptures is that as this rebellion has continued, the effects of sin have become more and more apparent in all of creation. In Our opinion, there is no way of harmonizing this Bible view-point with the evolutionary assumption that men are making continued upward progress.

Not only does rejection of the Biblical creation story undermine the central fact of the necessity of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ but it also pulls the rug from under the concept of the dignity and worth of man, who was created in God's image because his Creator both wanted and needed him. Needless to add, it also does away with the Biblical teaching of the fall of man and his consequent sinful nature. From a Biblical viewpoint, one must understand the doctrine of the origin of sin before he can understand the nature of man.

In describing sin the Scriptures take us behind the scenes to the one who originated evil. The ultimate responsibility for the origin of sin and its effects, according to traditional theologians, rests squarely, not on man, but on Satan. We recognize that some are not willing to think of evil or sin in terms of a real personal devil or in terms of an inherently sinful propensity in man. Rather, such individuals see sin in terms of institutional evil, social injustice, and psychological dysfunction. According to this way of thinking, evil can be eradicated, not by the omnipotent power of a Holy God who works in man by His Spirit to overcome sin through the merits of a Saviour, but by the destruction of institutional and societal wrongs through education, positive action, and an increasingly wholesome environment. If the environment can be made free from evil, then man will be able to realize his innate potential for goodness.

It is interesting, however, that it is precisely in such a perfect environment that the Bible depicts sin arising. Genesis describes evil as occurring as an immaculate Eden with a man and a woman who were created flawless and in the image of God Himself. Furthermore, prior to Eden, sin arose originally, according to the Scriptures, in the faultless atmosphere of heaven itself, with one of God’s most exalted created beings ---Lucifer, who was without blemish until through sin he became Satan, the adversary.  It was he who introduced sin into Eden and through Jesus, the Son of God, new eternal life was introduced back to humanity.

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