Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Seeing the Future in the Past: Chapter 2

Chapter Two – The Church Ministry in the United States -The Conditions at the Turn of the 20th Century

How did the relationship of the church to the world become so injurious to the Christian? What brought about this adversarial role of the world to the church? The answer to this is both theological and practical. The church was always been afforded wide latitude because of its role in the world, but even this tolerance by the predominantly secular world is stretched to breaking.
Theological Answer
There has always been an adversarial role for the people of God to the world system. Jesus made this relationship very apparent.

John 15:17-19
17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (KJV)

Only the unwise view the world in any other clear role. However, we do not need to excite this opposition either. Also the believers must divorce the non-believer in Christ from the world system which Jesus describes. The non-believer may not hate us except he is compelled to do so by the world system or our foolishness. The wise Christian knows the difference between the general unbeliever and the world system.

In order to live in this world we must realize that two things brought about the animosity of which our Lord spoke. The first reason given by our Lord was his words, which brought knowledge of personal and corporate sin; thus crushing the unbeliever’s sense of well-being before God. As long as the people of God insist on exposing men to God the Father through their words or preaching as we call it, there will always be an adversarial role.

John 15:22
22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. (KJV)

The second explanation that Jesus gives for this adversarial role is our works.

John 15:24
24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. (KJV)

The Christian must recognize that there is a two fold ministry which the people of God or the church must employee. We must always do the works of God and preach the message of God. Our works exposes man to his sinful condition, and the gospel is directly complemented. Knowledge of sin through the righteous works of God or His people is an overwhelming power, exposing man’s sinfulness by comparing his works to the true works of God.

These works must be accompanied by our words also. It is not enough to live right or do good works in front men; there must be the confrontation of the unbeliever by a verbal presentation of the Gospel.

The works verify who we are and expose the world for their unjustified hatred because our works are good. It is completely improper to hate people for being good. It is also improper not to listen to our words if our works are good. If our works are good, our word ought to be heeded.

John 15:25
25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. (KJV)

Thus, although unjustified, the world-entrenched un-believers do resent the church. The world longs to throw-off the yoke of the church’s presentation of God’s word and works. This continuing catharsis is founded in the conviction of God’s presence and the world’s sin through the preaching and works of the church.

In order to understand this animosity we must know the enemy that we are fighting. It is a system that has grown more powerful with each phase of man’s earthly development. This system was well and alive at the time of the flood and after. It has grown back after being arrested by the flood because of its corrupting influence on mankind – the more corrupt the system is; the more man patronizes it. It has gone from the agrarian, city-state age to the industrial age – burgeoning city, and now we are in the age of technology – great metropolis. As the world has changed it has become more sophisticated in its sin, its deception, its arrogance, its headlong-dash to destruction, and its hatred of the people of God.

Practical Answer
The world has accelerated greatly the change over the last 200 years. As a hostile world developed technology, theology, communications, science, education, economics, morals and social values have exploded into a convoluted conundrum. This developed world of the last 100 years is reminiscent of the world, which existed at the turn of the last century, a world which the inventions of man are creative mind challenge the very concept of God.

At the turn of the 20th Century, the automobile was hurdling across the country at a speed of 40 miles per hour. The locomotive was spanning the great continents of the world. The airplane was gradually reaching higher heights with longer fights. The steamships were crossing the Atlantic in record time, and shortly, the largest ship in the world would be plying the waters of the Atlantic, the Titanic.

World’s Fairs were telling people of a wonderful, new world of unbelievable wealth, technology, and health. This new world would be liberated from the specter of sin; or strictly speaking, it would be a utopia, without sickness, poverty, suffering, or man’s vices. History is replete with the examples of these utopia feelings at the turn of the century.

The Paris Universal Exposition captured the attention of the entire modern world in 1900. Over 57 million visitors from all over the globe came to see thousands of exhibits displayed by nearly every nation on earth. Three regiments of French infantry and 11 companies of engineers had transformed the Champs de Mars from a littered, muddy wasteland into an array of manicured lawns and colorful flower beds. While the wonders of the present were displayed and praised, much of the Exposition was devoted to extolling those marvels that awaited mankind in the future. As a tribute to technology and progress, the Paris Exposition was like nothing that had come before it. Visitors marveled at moving sidewalks, wireless telegraphy, the most powerful telescope ever built, and the first escalator ever seen. American innovation and boosterism was evident everywhere. One English writer described the Exposition as "the Americanization of the world." (From 1999 PBS online/WBGH)

The scientific community of the late 1800s developed new and startling discoveries in health care, communications, and research. Vaccines, medical equipment, and new treatment techniques were rapidly changing the way man viewed dependence upon God for health and daily strength. The telegraph and telephone were shrinking the world projecting the impact of communications on the future. Companies were on the verge of uniting the world by a strand of wire, and some were even introducing wireless communications.

By the turn of the 20th Century (1900’s), the world was ready to explode with its own self-worth. This change was documented by history as evidenced by this article.

As the 19th century came to a close, prominent figures and institutions offered up their assessments as to how it would best be remembered and predicted what the 20th century held in store.

Comparing 1900 to 1800, Americans were reminded that at the beginning of the 19th century there were no railroads, telegraphs, steamboats, electricity, kerosene, telephones, reapers, plumbing, or photography. The world had changed more over those 100 years than ever before. And change was happening at such a rate as to make many people uneasy. Historians speak of people being made to feel small in the face of systems that confounded their intelligence. Opinion varied as to what the most beneficial legacy of the 19th century would be. The Reverend Newell Dwight Hillis delighted in observing that "for the first time government, invention, art, industry, and religion have served all the people rather than the patrician classes." Elihu Root was certain the finest achievement of the century had been the discovery of the process for making Bessemer steel. The Indianapolis Journal opined, "No single feature of 19th century progress has been more remarkable or more significant of advancing civilization than the improvement in the condition of the working classes." (From 1999 PBS online/WBGH)

The attitude of the world at that time was one of complete self-satisfaction of having discovered all that science would ever discover. They thought themselves to be completely exhaustive in their knowledge. This attitude developed the arrogance of the new world which the church would face. We see this in Bill Bryson’s book, A Short History of Nearly Everything. On page 115 Bryson wrote the following.

As the Nineteenth Century drew to a close, scientists could reflect with satisfaction that they had pinned down most of the mysteries of the physical world: electricity, magnetism, gases, optics, acoustics, kinetics, and statistical mechanics, to name just a few, all had fallen into order before them. They had discovered the X ray, the cathode ray, the electron, and radioactivity , invented the ohm, the watt, the Kelvin, the joule, the amp, and the little erg.

If a thing could be oscillated, accelerated, perturbed, distilled, combined, weighed, or made gaseous they had done it, and in the process produced a body of universal laws so weighty and majestic that we still tend to write them out in capital letters: the Electromagnetic Field Theory of Light, Richter’s Law of Reciprocal Proportions, Charles’s Law of Gases, the Law Combining Volumes, the Zeroth Law, the Valence Concept, the Laws of Mass Actions, and others beyond counting. The whole world clanged and chuffed with the machinery and instruments that their ingenuity had produced. Many wise people believed that there was nothing much left for science to do.

The most striking new scientific theory ever proposed by man, Darwinian Evolution, was being discussed and debated, and the scientific world was eager to break the shackles of religion. Darwin in 1859 produced such an opportunity. His book, Origin of the Species, based upon the concept of comparative anatomy, natural selection, and acquired characteristics offered a theory of science apart from a need for special creation. His observations, which were totally unscientific and unprovable, would become the cornerstone of all science within 100 years from the publishing of his book. This would unleash the nature of man freed from his creator. But what had Darwin unleash?

The Washington Post at the turn of the 20th century lamented that the sin of man still existed in spite of the great inventions and developing scientific advancements. Obviously, they knew what we refuse to acknowledge; man with all his potential for greatness is predisposed to sin.

The Washington Post cautioned that despite "all our progress of luxury and knowledge...we have not been lifted by so much as a fraction of an inch above the level of the darkest ages... The last 100 years have wrought no change in the passions, the cruelties, and the barbarous impulses from the savagery of the Middle Ages. We enter a new century equipped with every wonderful device of science and art...(but) the pirate, the savage, and the tyrant still survives." (From 1999 PBS online/WBGH)

It would be easy to read these words and to think that they were written for the turn of the 21st Century and not the 20th Century. Paul the Apostle wrote a similar opine with this damning message of man’s arrogance toward the Creator God.

Rom 1:18-32
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21 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.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (KJV)

The origin of the world was being examined not in the light of faith, but through the eyes of skepticism fueled by a sense of euphoria over man’s new found knowledge and proposed abilities. The colleges of the world were beginning to develop a socialistic and humanistic bent that would soon reach the schools of America producing new progressive methods of education.

The science world was beginning to flex its ability to hypothesize and go from scientific fact to scientific theory. Now, our pride would push to believe that our theories were just as true as our proven facts.

The world of psychology was explaining man apart from sin in new terms such as psychosis and jealousy. The result of such humanistic triumphs on the fragile vanity of man was a strong skepticism and raw unbelief displayed in the education arenas of the United States, England, and developed European nations.

So strong was this vanity that many in fundamentalism, shortly after the turn of the century, thought it necessary to hold conferences and conventions to offer opposition and answers. They defined the tenets of Biblical truth that became the fundamentals or core beliefs. The hope of the councils was to unify true Bible believing people, to counter the threats of the modern day unbelief, which was real, powerful, and gaining in organization and momentum. Unfortunately, words on paper and pronouncements by councils, although good, would not be enough to answer the soon to be seen giants of unbelief. We are in great danger of doing the same thing again at the beginning of the Twenty-first Century.

Standing in the way of greater developments of strategy to fight these giants was the church’s vanity. The church’s vanity was almost equal to that of the world as the church thought that its control of the developed world would always remain strong because the world would always be intimidated. The church did not foresee the drastic change in thinking which the world would embrace because of the happenings at the turn of the 20th Century.

The preachers at the turn of the 20th Century and down through the century saw the slumbering giant of man’s vanity and unbelief rise to life as a Goliath. They witnessed the giants of man’s unbelief, agnosticism, and vanities at the beginning of the 1900’s in developed nations begin to push Christianity into a small cubical existence. The Church in the developed nations experienced the first vocal, vituperate, intellectual opposition causing the silent Church. And all this began at the beginning of the 20th Century.

The 21st Century is not different, except that possibly the world is even more convinced of its own prowess and exultant over its discoveries and developments. The Christian must realize that scientists believe that their ability to explain and harness the elements of the universe and develop technology will be the hope of mankind for the future. The psychologist believes that his assessments of man’s psyche will lead man from the dark ages of dependence upon God to an era of enlightened freedom from the repression of religious guilt for his aberrations, or simply put his deviations from what is noble, righteous, or good. All these self-appointed justifiers of man’s condition believe themselves to be intellectual Messiahs ready to usher-in a millennia of genetically enhanced, socially correct, psychologically-whole, designed humans.

Their command of technologies and drug therapy will be the tools of this creation. This view of their abilities is made very clear by an article on the internet concerning the importance of science at the turn of the 21st Century.

''LONDON (Sept. 1, 2000) - Scientists will probe the mysteries of the mind and explain the wonders of biotechnology next week during what is billed as Britain's biggest science and arts festival since the Great Exhibition of 1851.
The annual British Association for the Advancement of Science conference will kick off the 24-day event, which will include scientific research, mass participation experiments, debates, concerts and workshops.

To mark the millennium, the BA's yearly conference is being held in London for only the second time in its 164-year history. It will be fused with the arts to show how scientists and artists will shape the future.

Lord Oxborough, the rector of Imperial College London, described the Creating SPARKS festival from September 6-30 as the largest since millions of visitors flocked to the British capital for the Great Exhibition 150 years ago.

The message of this festival is that at no time in civilization has civilization been more dependent on science than it is today,'' he told a news conference.

About 400 scientists will present research on topics from how volcanoes work and the science of aging to how the worldwide web was born, organizers said.

''Shaping the future is the key theme (of the festival),'' British geneticist Sir Walter Bodner said.

Britain's Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth and president of the association, will open the festival on Wednesday.

During the event, the public will be asked to take part in large-scale experiments looking at short-term memory, right- and left-hand preferences and the 37 species of woodlouse in Britain.

Dr. Richard Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire, hopes to test the memory of 3,000 people with a touch-sensitive machine about the size of a phone booth that will record how well people remember patterns and pairs.

Technophobes need not worry.

''It's extremely simple,'' he said.”

Reut12:43 09-01-00
The arrogance of the developed world demonstrated in this article is very revealing as to the attitude of this new century. To the Christian it is an alarming arrogance. The article clearly demonstrates a satirical elitism by the reference to “Technophobes”. It is very obvious that all who oppose their efforts are “Technophobes.” The statement is a gross misrepresentation of the Christian who is in favor of technology but opposed to the philosophical interpretations that have no true scientific evidence. None-the-less, those who seek simplification rather than diversification for the well-being of man will always be labeled with labels such as “Technophobes”.

Dr. Wiseman is demonstrating the condescending spirit of a world that is proud of its complex developments and its disdain for the simple explanation. The simplicity of the solutions in the Christian’s world is centered on God in Jesus Christ. For the Christian the solution to man’s ills are found in the simplicity of the gospel which changes the heart and eventually the life. The elite educated of this developed world find their value in complexity. In order to be needed, they must create a complex world that will not allow simple explanations. They devise schemes which grow in complexity impacting all disciplines. This matter of the simple and the complex is the crux of the on-going conflict.

The church, instead of simplifying, is embracing complexity of belief. The church by it schemes to win people – very elaborate or time oriented – engages culture rather than need, or attempts to understand people rather than helping people understand God and themselves as God made them. We get answers for the blade when the root is the problem. The church is attempting to change culture or work through culture when we must use the simple formula of preaching the gospel to change people. Culture is misleading and complicated. The church is searching to change the culture before changing the heart. We now preach the Bible as a psychology book, a financial planner, or a domestic bliss manual.

Man’s solutions are great and complicated as well. When Look at the ineffectiveness, unfairness, and complexity of human government. God’s plans are simple because he knows men’s hearts. The need is salvation not homogenization of culture. We are becoming Christian-hyphens (Christian-Buddhists, Christian-Hinduist, etc). We are forsaking preaching and embracing unbelievable substitutes which are intended to change men through knowledge rather than through the transformation of the soul. We have the cart before the horse. We want to win them through the discipleship of the Bible teachings appealing to their reason and understanding. We have forgotten is darkened and cannot receive the things of the Spirit.

In previous days, magicians fooled the people by allusion and the demand for respect for their person and powers. Today, we have the same magicians, but their bag of tricks has changed. They now overwhelm us with discoveries of natural phenomena, biological discoveries, origin theories, and psychological developments. However, the results are the same. They demand that we hold them in special consideration, and believe their words because they multiply information regardless of truth. With this comes complexity and confusion.

If the snake-oil salesman says his product produces results that are felonious, we call him a charlatan. When a scientist explains a natural element of science and uses this to convince us of a fairy tale which is not even based upon their scientific fact, he is a charlatan. This is true of the preacher who uses the Bible to entice and disciple the unregenerate mind. The worldly side of this misrepresentation is illustrated by an article written by Philip Bell a writer with Answers in Genesis in the United Kingdom on May 19, 2003. Phil Bell writes concerning the following.

A correspondent to the UK’s leading newspaper for teachers at all levels—the Times Educational Supplement (TES)—recently pointed out the dangers of presenting evolution as fact, drawing a fascinating response from James Williams, the PGCE programme leader at the University of Sussex, Brighton.

In his letter, Mr Williams rues what he sees as a failing of the current National Curriculum for science in England and Wales, namely that it ‘marginalizes this central tenet of biology [evolution] to such an extent that success in achieving the highest grades [in high school exams] can come with little or no study of this important scientific principle.’ He goes on to make some very telling admissions:

Examples of evolution used in textbooks are flawed and in need of radical updating. Our teaching of evolution is poor ….

The solution, he says, is not to teach students belief in evolution but rather to get them to accept it. Apparently there is a fundamental difference here: ‘There needs to be acceptance of, not belief in, evolution taught in school science.’ Confused? He goes on to explain that teachers should ‘Teach acceptance of evolution in school science and belief in creation in religious studies’ (emphasis added)….

The science teachers and scientists are bolder than ever to admit the inherent weaknesses of pseudo-science, but they still insist that it be accepted because it is more believable than the Biblical world model.

Recently, the originator of the seeker sensitive view of reaching people with the message of God, admitted that his method had failed, but many still plow along as though it is very effective. Even in the ministry it is easy to say believe me because I conceive and preach it; not because it is truth.

The science world mixes philosophy and imagination constantly. Although it is not wrong to use imagination; it is wrong to hoodwink a culture by mixing science and imagination. To the scientist, Harry Potter’s creator is the source of encouragement, truth, and prophecy, in fact, the more far-reaching the more believable, such as invisibility.

Invisibility Cloak May Be Possible
WASHINGTON (May 25, 2006) - Imagine an invisibility cloak that works just like the one Harry Potter inherited from his father.

Researchers in England and the United States think they know how to do that. They are laying out the blueprint and calling for help in developing the exotic materials needed to build a cloak.

The keys are special manmade materials, unlike any in nature or the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. These materials are intended to steer light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation around an object, rendering it as invisible as something tucked into a hole in space.

"Is it science fiction? Well, it's theory and that already is not science fiction. It's theoretically possible to do all these Harry Potter things, but what's standing in the way is our engineering capabilities," said John Pendry, a physicist at the Imperial College London.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

This writing leaves open the possibility of invisibility as though it is imminent in scientific possibilities.

Likewise, imagination is touted as essential for future understanding of the Bible. In a popular book on heaven, we are told that we must use our imaginations along with scripture to get the full impact of scriptural teaching. Our unashamed admission of this is beyond acceptance. The truth of God’s word is never enhanced by our imagination. It is the truth of God settled forever in heaven apart from our imaginations.

Scientific development can not be science for the sake of finding truth, but it must prove something new about the unknown such as the origin of man, economic status, social status, educational status, or moral status of man. Although the scientific discovery does not prove the truthfulness of their philosophical views, they insist on proposing it. This type of complexity sometimes does not even need scientific discovery as illustrated in the following.

Are Humans Furless to Thwart Parasites?

(John Pickrell in England for National Geographic News June 17, 2003)

Humans are unique among primates for our near-total bodily hairlessness. In fact, only a handful of the 5,000 or so mammals—mostly semi-aquatic species such as whales, walruses, and hippopotamuses—are not covered in dense fur.

Now, a controversial new theory suggests that human hairlessness evolved as a strategy to shed the ticks, lice, fleas, and other parasites that nestle deep in fur.

Unique human cultural adaptations such as the use of fire, shelter, and clothing allowed ancient humans the luxury of ditching their insulating hairy layer, says the study soon to appear in print in the journal Biology Letters.

"One of the most unusual things about humans is that we don't have fur," said study co-author Mark Pagel, evolutionary biologist at Reading University in England. Though humans are not literally hairless, much of our hair has become so small and fine as to render it virtually invisible. (National Geographic Website)

This diversity and complexity causing confusion is touted by the ideological world as good, healthy, even essential; yet the practical world is being destroyed by the confusion of absurdity. The total absurdity of believing that the human body is not covered by hair due to its aversion to parasites would be a thing of humor, if it were not presented by intelligent people as reality.

This is also true in the Biblical thinking of people today. In the book on heaven mentioned earlier. The author in a seeker sensitive moment admits that sitting on a cloud in heaven would be boring. He said that if I cannot appreciate heaven in my present state, then God would be wrong to create a place, I could not appreciate. He even stated that many people would not want to go to such a place. I am appalled by such a selfish, seeker sensitive attitude toward God’s plans. Maybe God should consult us as to what we desire, because obviously our generation knows best. Maybe the writer needs to examine the alternative of heaven with God forever. Such a statement is ludicrous; except we remember that today we read the Bible to improve it, so people can accept it through the seeker being pleased with what he hears.

The theory of evolution causes great diversity which becomes an invitation for every belief conception possible; thus, producing complexity confusing the truth so perfectly as to exalt folly. We are seeing the same in our Biblical approach to this new culture. We are becoming more complicated in our efforts to persuade men of God through contrived means exalting folly. The theories that accompany evolution are so myriad that they become purely fictional and absurd. This is true of our present Christianity.

We must understand that the future of our faith is dependent upon our own ability to send forth David’s to refute this complexity and go directly to the simplicity of the truth. The new ministers must be able to explain man’s purpose and existence apart from the explanations of pseudo science, secular psychological theories, and politically and religiously correct education.

We must have academically prepared David’s equipped with a Biblical model of man and capable of authoritatively and accurately propounding man’s propensities with credibility. Isolationism and insistence that the world hear us because we speak for God only energizes the developed world’s position and philosophy. Embracing elaborate schemes of invading cultures will not work either. It only obscures and halts the simple power of preaching the gospel.

We must recognize the enemy and direct the campaign to him. The enemy is a developed world system that believes Christians may speak of theology but not of anthropology. A world that believes pluralism, embracing and assimilating all culture, is the future It is a world that demands, even longs, that we limit our expression strictly to the world of theology within our limited groups, and the self-appointed guru’s of scientific or hybrid-cultural-“ization” salvation will define what that theological expression is.

This confusion is overwhelming today, but it’s roots reach back to the world of one hundred years ago. The world at the turn of the 20th Century laid the foundation for all that we see today. It was the beginning of the transition from the simple to the complex, thus the confusing. Now man is so overwhelmed with this confusion of absurdity that he can not accept the simple answer of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.