Spirit of the Age

THE SECRET PLACE
“He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)

PART 8

SPIRIT OF THE AGE

In today’s world of higher education, it is strange how the word “secular” is frowned upon. I use the word myself from time to time to bring clarity to what I am trying to say. I realize that we live and function in an earthly environment; however, I personally do not see anything wrong with the word because it identifies the difference between the nature or “spirit” of the world and the Spirit of God. For the Christian, it is known that we are more closely bonded to the Spirit realm, because our spirit and conscience are intertwined with God and we live according to His voice. This reality of the saints walking in God’s presence and operating within His Kingdom exposes the spiritual intentions of an “opposite” realm that lives according to the character of carnality. The Oxford Dictionary gives this definition: “Worldly, terrestrial, temporal, non-clerical, non-ecclesiastical, material, concerned with the affairs of this world; NOT spiritual nor sacred, not associated with religion or religious belief”. Therefore, whenever I refer to something secular, I am referring to a “system” that desires to be recognized as NOT being affiliated with God. In addition, this includes any religion or philosophy that does not believe in Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit or God’s Bible as absolute truth.

To know God is to know truth. “Now wait a minute sir – the postmodern intellectual in today’s world knows that all “truth” is subjective and relative. Secular education declares that truth is based on individual interpretation and certain beliefs cannot be declared or imposed on another person as being the only “true” truth. It is widely accepted that there are as many versions of truth as there are personal opinions and each human being must be respected for their own unique worldviews of what they “believe” to be truth.” Relativists believe that all Christians who believe in absolutism are self-righteous. However if one studies fervently, it will be revealed that the denial of absolutes is even more arrogant. Though many in the faith may be infected with pride, it can be said that in genuine holiness, absolutes can be asserted without arrogance. If we discover “truth”, it is not necessarily arrogant to admit it. If we learn how to calculate mathematical equations, it is not necessarily haughtiness to say we know this. Some may think that their knowledge of truth makes them better than others; however, the antidote to this unhealthy arrogance should not involve “denying” these things are true but rather to remain humble in the way we hold to it. It should be noted, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. We can be confident, but we should be neither pompous nor hesitant. What can keep us balanced on the tightrope? The answer is wisdom. Wisdom as defined in scripture is a spiritual gift of knowing how to discern and demonstrates both humility and the anointed power to speak clearly and decisively.

It is also very common in today’s social correctness for relativists to believe that a Christian’s assertion of absolute truth leads to intolerance (and I am sure there are many that have been). Nevertheless, it should be considered that this view is actually making a moral judgment. For relativists to proclaim that something is really right and something is really wrong, is interesting to say the least. Actually, believers in Christ have a solid foundation for “defending” tolerance (a foundation that relativism lacks). In fact, many see cultural relativistic tolerance a “false” tolerance, or in other words, tolerance has become the relativists only absolute. True tolerance can and should be defended by believers because we have good reasons for maintaining that rightly defined tolerance is a virtue – and rightly defined intolerance is an intentional vice. For the believer there is an adequate basis to sustain this virtue and teach it to our children; however, tolerance does not imply religious and moral equivalence. It is in the making of this distinction that false tolerance and true tolerance diverge. Some cultural and social forms of tolerance minimize the differences among views, nevertheless, the problem occurs when a religion is merely true for you and my religion true for me, then what we believe is a matter of arbitrary personal preference that is not based on an eternal standard of truth. Thus the “truth” has become not the issue at all. The virtue of genuine tolerance extends to include a legal tolerance for diverse religious practice as well as social tolerance for people who are different from us. The call of Jesus to love our enemies takes us beyond a passive tolerance to a proactive love that needs to be demonstrated across religious, ethnic, cultural, racial and moral divides.

Consider the following illustration by Francis Beckwith.

Teacher: “Welcome students. Since this is the first day of class, I want to lay down some ground rules. First, since no one has the truth, you should be open-minded to the opinions of your fellow students. Second…..Elizabeth, do you have question?”

Elizabeth: “Yes, I do. If nobody has the truth, isn’t that the reason for me NOT to listen to my fellow students? After all, if no one has the truth, why should I waste my time listening to other people and their opinions? What would be the point? Only if someone has the truth does it make sense to open-minded. Don’t you agree?

Teacher: “No, I do not agree. Are you claiming to know the truth? Isn’t that a bit arrogant and dogmatic?”

Elizabeth: “Not at all! Rather, I think it is dogmatic as well as arrogant to assert that there is not one person on earth that knows the truth. Have you met every person in the world and quizzed him or her exhaustively? If not, how can you make such a claim? In addition, I believe it is actually the opposite of arrogance to say that I will “alter” my opinions to fit the truth whenever and wherever I find it. I happen to think that I have good reason to believe I do know the truth and would like to share it with you. If you did not believe that you were teaching the truth, you would not be a teacher. If you automatically discredit my view then you have broken your own rule to be open-minded to the opinions of others.”

Teacher: “This should be an interesting semester”

As this dialogue suggests, holding to eternal truth can be done in a way that reveals the glory of God and the Omnipotence of His wisdom. We are should not be afraid to exalt Him as Lord.

We notice the writings of the Apostle Paul in second Corinthians, demonstrating that he is not being arrogant by being confident in God’s power. “It is true that I am an ordinary, weak human being, but I don’t use human plans and methods to win my battles. I use God’s mighty weapons, not those made by men, to knock down the devil’s strongholds. These weapons can break down every proud ARGUMENT against God and every wall that can be built to keep men from finding Him. The trouble with you is that you look at me and I seem weak and powerless, but you do not look beneath the surface. Yet, if anyone can claim the power and authority of Christ, I certainly can.” (II Corinthians 10:3-5, 7 TLB) Again, see find Paul standing before King Agrippa and how the honest “testimony” of his experience on the road to Damascus revealed a beautiful picture of God’s love and forgiveness. It is not our historical knowledge but rather the revelation of “Christ in us” that will enable us to give an account of who He is and what His intentions are. “Now stand up! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and my witness. You are to tell the world about this experience and about the many other occasions when I shall appear to you. And, I will protect you from both your own people and the Gentiles, to open their eyes to their true condition so they may repent and live in the light of God instead of Satan’s darkness, that they may receive forgiveness for their sins and God’s inheritance along with ALL people everywhere whose sins are cleansed away, who are set apart by faith in me.” (Acts 26:16-18 TLB) Without passion for truth – we are salt without flavor – as dead men walking.

There was a time when every parent wanted their child to go to college and receive a wonderful education. The idea was that it would help them become more knowledgeable and to live a better life. Unfortunately, the enemy of our souls was invited to present his curriculum and now his lies have become the socially acceptable way of thinking. Sadly, by allowing the neo-pagans, atheist and new age advocates to control our higher education system, it has given Satan the perfect opportunity to poison the minds of our young people with the attitude that anyone who believes in God – also believes in the tooth fairy. It is clear, the enemy is doing everything he can to tear down the courage, confidence and faith of those who represent God. Whose fault is it? The church has become lazy and bored with Bible study and prayer meetings because they allow their flesh to control them. A desire to know WHY we believe has now been replaced with dinners, comedians and entertainment.

Though it is true, that what we practice, (not only what we preach) is a greater contribution to the conversion of others, it is also crucial to know “what” we are talking about. Having a rational justification for our position is the foundation of our confidence to speak to critics of the faith. As the inability among Christians to defend spiritual truth increases, the strategy of Satan to divide and conquer will continue to attack with the battle cry, “it is difficult for the heart to embrace that which the mind does not understand”. C.S. Lewis said that he believed in Christ as he believed that the sun is risen, not because he saw it clearly, but because by “it” he saw everything else.” Selah.

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