Sunday, November 30, 2008

Worldview Class – Part 12 –Christian Ethics

This is a continuation of highlighted topics discussed in a worldview class I am teaching on Sunday morning. The main text for the study is The Battle for Truth by David Noebel. A good deal of this class is also based on personal research.

Ethics are defined as “the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc." Specifically, the study of ethics attempts to answer the question “Who makes the rules – God or man?”

Christian ethics differ from those of other worldviews in at least two significant areas. First, they are rooted in the revealed nature of a supernatural source – God. Second, they are universally applied and unchanging over time. God’s ethics are used to delineate true right from true wrong. And these rules, properly applied by the Christian, should be argued without apology. Waffling on God’s stated principles only gives rise to doubts about His supremacy. “Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels” (2 Timothy 2:23).

The Christian has a distinct advantage in the ethical realm, because rather than rely on man’s ever-changing mood, and noting that no two people are created alike, the Christian’s ethical definition is derived from a single question – what conforms to God’s character? The answer is not random, nor is it open to man’s interpretation. God left three sources to assist man in understanding His moral compass. The first is general revelation – the revealed nature of God displayed in His creation around us. Because this revelation is often interpreted differently by different individuals, God also left additional help in special revelation – the Bible. No other worldview can claim such a solid, unified historical source as the Bible – thousands of years old and corroborated by multiple archaeological discoveries.

For the Christian, the guiding moral code given by God is a real, non-changing entity – like the law of gravity or the speed of light. It is a proven, solid moral direction, and is not to be ultimately challenged. Violation of God’s ethic entails very real consequences – sin which is left unresolved carries a death penalty. And this brings into play the third source of assistance from God – the life of Jesus Christ. His crucifixion provided the fulfillment of God’s promise that sin must be followed by death (Romans 6:23), but for the benefit of mankind the punishment was not given to those who deserved it. We sinned – but Christ was the one who died to make atonement – so we can enjoy the benefits of an eternity spent with God. It’s a wondrous plan, and speaks volumes about God’s character and how much He wants to be involved with us, His creation, for all eternity. But beware – the person who leaves their sin unresolved and refuses God’s gift of atonement must pay the ultimate price, which is eternal separation from God.

What is the purpose of God’s plan? Why doesn’t He simply “wind up” the universe and let it play out on its own, like some sort of cosmic video game? Because Christian ethics, unlike other worldviews, have one grand purpose – to glorify God. The whole plan and its fulfillment serve to show how loving our God is. Those that would argue that ‘a truly loving God would never send people away to eternal damnation’ are not seeing the simplicity of God’s plan. He offers a free gift – Jesus’ sacrifice to atone for our sins - followed by the promise of eternal life with Him. How much more generous must He be? Would you insist that not only the gift be free, but it should also be enjoyed by those who refuse to accept it? God is the Creator and He sets the rules. People may question Him and try to impose their rules on Him, but that will not change the fact that His plan will reign. A humble acceptance of this point is what He demands. The Christian is broken before Him, and bows to God’s wishes, His moral code, and His eternal plan. In the words of D. James Kennedy, “When a person makes up his own ethical code, he always makes up an ethical system which he thinks he has kept. In the law of God, we find a law which smashes our self-righteousness, eliminates all trust in our own goodness, and convinces us that we are sinners. The law of God leaves us with our hands over our mouths and our faces in the dust. We are humbled before God and convinced that we are guilty transgressors of His law.”

Christian ethics (and indeed truth) are unique in five ways: 1) they are whole (no additives needed), 2) they are never-changing (not situational), 3) they are revealed (given by God through nature, the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ), 4) they are required (ignoring them entails consequences), and 5) they are one (well-defined and universal).

Go back to the main index for all twelve Parts.

If you are interested in portions, or all of this twelve part series taught in an engaging, educational fashion, please contact Alan at Banyan Concepts.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In A Place That I No Longer Belong

Our family recently spent a week on vacation Palm Desert, California. It didn’t take me long to discover that I didn’t belong there.

The cars on the streets were incredible. We saw expensive cars that we have never even heard of. When we went home, my son and I would look them up on the Internet, only to find that many of them cost well over $100,000. The opulence and showy demonstration of wealth was amazing to behold.

While watching a poolside showing of “Finding Nemo” one evening at our condo, two men walked by and were comparing the pool’s projection video quality to the units they have at home. One guy couldn’t get enough of saying, “You have to come see the one that I bought…”

Driving through a nearby neighborhood, a realtor tracked us down twice. He tried to convince us that it was a great time to buy – the house we were standing in front of was selling for only $1.2 million. But he assured us that there were many to be had in that neighborhood for “as little as $800,000 to $900,000”. My kid’s jaws were on the floor. I just laughed.

While walking into a restaurant one night with my family, a couple was walking out and she actually turned to the man and said, “Now, I want to talk about the red Ferrari…” Our family exchanged surprised glances with each other. To be fair, our mini-van is a racy metallic red, so I can understand the lady’s color choice…

At one time, I think I would have liked being among these people. When I first started my career, I could have been caught up in the pursuit for more and more possessions. Now, I’m not so much turned off as I am saddened by the vapidity I see in a life spent pursuing nothing more than material gain. I think it’s a good sign that I don’t harbor even a tinge of jealousy. I am sad for these people because they are spending the currency of this life on things that break and which fade away, with no thought for what eternity holds.

But perhaps the saddest thing we saw on our vacation was a twelve-year old boy playing by himself in the kid’s playroom at the resort. It’s a room filled with video games, ping-pong, air hockey and other activities that the average child might enjoy for a time. He was entertaining himself with a ping-pong paddle and ball, and was clearly all alone. When we visited the room several hours later, he was still there – and still by himself. It was all too clear that he had been dropped off by his parents to spend the day while they were out vacationing on their own. It’s enough to make me want to cry. I could never leave my kids by themselves to endure a whole day of loneliness while I went off seeking my own entertainment. My spirit weeps for the boy and his parents, who are missing out on the wonders of togetherness and the joy of just being a family. All too soon, those days will be behind us.

Lord, I commit these few years you have given me to pursuing good, honest, and worthy pursuits. I pledge not to be distracted by wealth and the temporary comfort that it brings. Instead, I ask that You lead me to a life that is productive for You first, and which trusts that You will provide only what I need. And finally, I give my covenant to my children that I will treasure these few years that I have with them – to spend it together pursuing God’s will and the wonders of His creation. Nothing can ever take the place of this time we have together, and I promise to give all I have to them, so that they will grow up knowing the awesome power, glory and wonder of God’s promises.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Worldview Class – Part 11 –Cosmic Humanist (New Age) Ethics

This is a continuation of highlighted topics discussed in a worldview class I am teaching on Sunday morning. The main text for the study is The Battle for Truth by David Noebel. A good deal of this class is also based on personal research.

Ethics are defined as “the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc." Specifically, the study of ethics attempts to answer the question “Who makes the rules – God or man?”

In previous posts, we have seen that some supporters of Secular Humanist ethics have defined a set of absolute truths, to exclude acts such as murder and rape from accepted morality. Marxist ethics are well-defined, and are pointed at a specific goal of class elimination. In contrast, New Age ethics are the very definition of personal free-for-all. True New Agers are held to no standard, but live under whatever truth they define for themselves at any given point in time. Added to this is the fact that they are free to change their own ethics at any time, to suit their changing needs. This lifestyle is a form of boundless ethical relativism, and is the foundation of the New Age ethical premise.

While truth cannot be pinpointed in this worldview, even more disturbing is the fact that no individual is ever allowed to judge another’s ethics. Judgment of another person’s beliefs and values would imply that there is an absolute truth to be applied to all individuals. Paradoxically, this belief opens the door for one case in which this rule does not apply: tolerance of all viewpoints is allowed except for the one that insists on an absolute truth. Put another way, anyone who judges the ethics of another person is immediately judged as being intolerant and wrong. This is the only instance where a New Age follower is allowed to judge another individual. The circular logic is a bit mind-boggling. It’s enough to make your head spin.

According to New Age proponents, setting limitations on ethical beliefs is equivalent to denying a person their quest for godhood. The moral implications are limitless under this lack of authority. How does the New Age movement view the Ten Commmandments? They see them as a list of boundaries which hinder the “evolutionary growth” of the individual. Each person’s growth is dependent on the ability to change and adapt in an ever-changing system of design-your-own ethics. For this reason, there are no New Age books which tell a person how to live a moral life – only books which encourage you to break free and follow your heart.

Marianne Williamson says, “Adam and Eve were happy until she ‘ate of the knowledge of good and evil.’ What that means is that everything was perfect until they began to judge – to keep their hearts open sometimes, but closed at others….Closing our hearts destroys our peace. It’s alien to our real nature.” Indeed, she may be right in saying that our nature is to open our hearts to everything. But the Bible tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things…” (Jeremiah 17:9). It is precisely this realization that separates New Age from Christian ethics. One relies on and actually encourages the reference to a misleading source (the heart); the other denies that fallible internal source and points to a perfect, supernatural source outside of the individual.

Of all New Age positions, the concept of unity of good and evil may be the most disturbing. Because right and wrong are defined differently for each individual, it becomes impossible to distinguish between good and evil. David Spangler takes this premise to the extreme when he says, “Christ is the same force as Lucifer…..Lucifer prepares man for the experience of Christhood…..Lucifer works within each of us to bring us to wholeness as we move into the New Age.” This idea is the acute result of the progression of a philosophy that starts with desirable and simple ideas such as “unity”, “harmony”, and “world peace”. When held forth as a final goal, these ideas appear to be virtuous and are embraced by impressionable people seeking a higher purpose in life. But they get twisted when seen through the New Age lens, and end up in ridiculous statements such as Spangler’s.

One of the best ways to approach a New Age believer is to appeal to the innate sense of right and wrong that God instilled in each of us (Romans 1:18-20). Ask them, “Do you believe that murder of a child is wrong?” When they hesitate or even agree, follow up by asking them “Where does this internal sense of wrong come from?” While they may get creative in their answer, the fact is that God placed the idea in the hearts of men. If the New Ager does not recognize the act of murder as having absolute moral implications, it could be that they are too far removed from truth to be brought back easily, if at all. God promised that men would be misled and would “exchange the truth of God for a lie”. It is not an easy thing for a person to admit this possibility in their own life. The Christian should continue to boldly point it out, in the hopes of making the New Age believer meditate on it the next time they have a flash of internal moral truth. God may be speaking to them in that moment.

To Worldview - Part 12 - Christian Ethics

Or go back to the main index for all twelve Parts.

If you are interested in portions, or all of this twelve part series taught in an engaging, educational fashion, please contact Alan at Banyan Concepts.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Best Theme Park Vacation

During a recent family vacation to a theme park in California, I was shocked at how many fathers were conducting business while standing in line with their children. It seemed in every line where we stood, fathers were on their cell phones talking about business deals, or on their Blackberry’s doing e-mail. Sadly, there were many times where I looked at the children standing next to their father, and saw sad eyes searching desperately for attention, but which received nothing back. Children asked questions or made comments and were answered with nothing but silence or a sharp shush.

I’ll admit that I find it hard to “turn off” work at times, and more than once I have checked my Blackberry at the wrong time while on vacation. I’m trying to do better. My family tells me that I am. But I wonder sometimes if our nation has lost touch with what vacation is really about. Can we truly not get away from work and enjoy our families for a few days without interruption? Does Dad think he’s done enough by simply buying his child an entry ticket to the amusement park? Does his responsibility to his family end there? Perhaps no father would answer a straight “Yes” to those questions, but his actions may say otherwise.

Interestingly, I observed another phenomenon while at the park. Nearly everywhere we looked, kids were complaining to their parents that they weren’t getting enough. “Daddy, when are you going to buy me something?” was asked more than once. My own kids saw this and were saddened by both the selfishness we saw in the children and the permissiveness we saw in the parents. Parents were buying toys and theme park paraphernalia just to quiet their children for a short time. One little girl appeared to be out of control, and my daughter observed the father telling his wife, “Let’s just buy her something, so she’ll stop acting this way.” And they did.

Our family returned to the hotel afterwards, and we talked about these things during our daily family devotional (yes, we conduct devotionals even when we’re on vacation). I was so pleased that all three of my children were able to talk about what they saw around them at the park, and they did it in such a way that they didn’t denigrate the other people, but expressed sorrow in what they saw. I shared with them how proud I was that they would not behave in the manner they had observed, but also how important it was that they could notice the permissive behavior in other children (and parents). I was able to tell them about the qualities that I admire in each of them, overcoming these childish tendencies, and progressing onto maturity. Finally, I told them how important it will be to share these views with their own children. It’s all part of the multi-generational vision that my wife and I have for our children. If we can teach our children about godly behavior and also teach them to teach it to their own children, then the behavior perpetuates for more than just a single generation. The idea comes from Proverbs 13:22 – “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children.”

Colossians 3:20 sums up with “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” It is written directly to children, which means that children should be reading the Bible and seeking understanding from God. This may seem extreme to some in our society, as many have purged the expectation that children could possibly be expected to understand the wisdom of God’s nature or spend time with Him pursuing a deeper relationship. And yet the Bible gives us the example of Samuel, who “was ministering before the LORD - a boy wearing a linen ephod” (I Samuel 2:18). Thousands of years ago, this little boy was learning to be a priest, in piety and obedience, at a very early age. Was he special in some way that cannot be duplicated in today’s world? I doubt it. It is more likely that he was simply expected to behave this way, since he was dedicated to the Lord at an early age (1Samuel 1:24-28), and so he simply fulfilled the expectation.

This is the point – our children will mature at the rate that we expect. If we raise the bar for them at an early age, work patiently with them, and show them piety in our own lives as parents, there is no reason to believe that we can’t raise our own little Samuel before God. Give them a godly goal and a parental example, and they will follow it into maturity. Young parents – now is the time to set this family goal and begin the journey for your children. And for parents who have already started raising their children and wish to make a course correction, please realize that it’s not too late. My wife and I made a change while raising our first child, and we could not be more proud about how her heart has turned to the Lord. It will require a life change of your own to show them that you are serious and intent on following God’s purpose for your family. It may require that you start doing things differently than you have in the past, but you should understand that it’s all worth it. Satisfying theme park vacations (and special blessings every day) are the reward for godly parents who wish to raise godly children.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Worldview Class – Part 10 –Marxist/Leninist Ethics

This is a continuation of highlighted topics discussed in a worldview class I am teaching on Sunday morning. The main text for the study is The Battle for Truth by David Noebel. A good deal of this class is also based on personal research.

Ethics are defined as “the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc." Specifically, the study of ethics attempts to answer the question “Who makes the rules – God or man?”

It is a frequent accusation by many that Marxists have no ethics. This is likely an extension of the premise that Marxists do not believe in God. But make no mistake – Marxist ethics are well-defined, far more than those of the Secular Humanist and New Age camps. They are rooted in two principles. The first is dialectical materialism, the theory that the universe is ever-changing, and everything changes with it, including society and the ethics that govern it. The second is class struggle, the idea that the working man’s class (the proletariat) must eventually overthrow the oppressive ruling class (the bourgeoisie). Marxists believe that the next phase of societal evolution is for this overthrow to occur, thus moving the world from a capitalist society to a socialist one (Hmmm….I think I’ve heard something about this recently…).

The current goal of the Marxist is to create a classless society. To do this, they propose a system where equality trumps individuality. The Communist Manifesto calls for the abolition of individual freedoms such as ownership of property, child-rearing by parents, and home education. Under a Marxist rule, it is assumed that the state knows best, and so they dictate the rules of society, even to the point of encroaching on parent-child interactions and who owns property. Marxists hate the Bible and its commands such as “Thou shall not steal” precisely because it implies that someone owns property and someone does not. Their aim is to eliminate this inequity and return to a world where no one has more possessions than any other. This equality will eliminate jealousy and envy and the crimes that go along with these feelings. Nikita Krushchev summed it up when he said, “So long as classes exist on the earth, there will be no such thing in life as something good in the absolute sense. What is good for the bourgeoisie, for the imperialists, is disastrous for the working class, and, on the contrary, what is good for the working people is not admitted by the imperialists.”

Under a Marxist plan, the world will move toward such a society, but this move will necessitate a shift in morality, that is, the line between right and wrong will change. Karl Marx wrote these words in The Communist Manifesto“Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that man’s ideas, views and conceptions, in one word, man’s consciousness, changes with every change in the conditions of his material existence, in his social relations and in his social life?” This is the very nature of dialectical materialism – the world, society, and ethics are in constant flux. There is no possibility of a single truth for all time.

An excellent question to ask an average Marxist is this – “If we achieve a classless society in our lifetime, what is the next step in the Marxist plan?” I have done much research to ascertain this answer, but cannot find the next step in their plan. Were Marxism to take root globally, there would surely be a new initiative, and the ends and means would change with it. Curiously, it is a worldview without a clear final goal, other than world domination by Marxism.

Finally, it should be understood that the ethical code of Marxism includes hatred as an acceptable expression of the individual. If hatred, or an act of hate furthers the cause of Marxism, then it is perfectly fine. It is, in fact, demanded by their code. Krushchev said it best when he stated, “Our cause is sacred. He whose hand will tremble, who will stop midway, whose knees will shake before he destroys tens and hundreds of enemies, he will lead the revolution into danger. Whoever will spare a few lives of enemies will pay for it with hundreds and thousands of lives of the better sons of our fathers.” The rule of Marxism has left a trail of death, imprisonment, and slavery – all in the name of furthering the Marxist cause. It is estimated that 20 million Soviet citizens died at the hands of Stalin and his Marxist rule between 1924 and 1953. Rather than deny that these murders occurred, a good Marxist would admit to them and claim that they were necessary to win the fight for a classless society. Thus, murder is an acceptable ethic under Marxist rule.

As with other non-Christian worldviews, the Marxist ethic is disturbing in that it does not claim that there is a single moral truth on which we can depend. Living in such a world has disturbing and unpredictable consequences. It is this fact that we should reference to appeal to the Marxist. It is far better to live in a world where the rules are stable, known, fair and created not by man, but by the God of the universe.

To Worldview - Part 11 - Cosmic Humanist (New Age) Ethics

Or go back to the main index for all twelve Parts.

If you are interested in portions, or all of this twelve part series taught in an engaging, educational fashion, please contact Alan at Banyan Concepts.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Maybe There Is a Reason Behind All of the Financial Turmoil?

The recent stock market decline has a lot of people nervous about their future. With multi-hundred-point swings and an overall steady decline, there is genuine fear in people’s eyes about the uncertainty ahead. It is clear that the foundation upon which many people were relying – their financial position – has quickly been eroded.

Our culture in America has certainly gravitated toward one of wealth. But, the history of our nation shows a move from ownership of property towards one of debt and borrowing. As long as debt can be freely extended with a decent chance of being repaid, the whole model hangs together. But when one piece of the puzzle begins to fall apart, the entire system reacts out of fear. The mortgage crisis displays this phenomenon, where consumers were given loans which they were not able to maintain. These high-risk loans were bundled and sold to investment banks, which attracted investors by offering better-than-average returns. But as people gradually reached the point where they could not make their mortgage payments, and balloon payments began to hit, they walked away from their obligations. The whole shell game came tumbling down, and no one went unaffected. Even if you did the right thing and refused to buy that expensive house that your lender assured you that you could afford, you will now find your tax dollars going to fund those who could not resist the temptation.

One might think that this would lead people to step back and re-evaluate what they can truly afford, and make changes to accommodate their financial position. But we continue to be bombarded by advertisements and government officials who tell us we should not give up the American dream – even if we reached out for it much earlier than we were able to pay for it. Giving up our possessions in favor of something more affordable rails against everything that the media and the advertisers tell us.

There is a trend in our culture to sacrifice long-term security for short-term satisfaction. The “investment” in material things is often seen as a kind of competition between individuals. I had the opportunity to work for a fast-paced, high-tech company a few years ago. I was about ten years older than most of the people I worked with, and was one of the few who was married - let alone one of the only ones who had children. I was amazed at the intense competition that was in play among the younger individuals for acquiring new “toys”. At the beginning of each new work-week, there was much sharing of what was purchased on the weekend. I have to admit, I never really connected with my fellow employees when I shared my own account of a successful child potty training moment!

The focus on acquiring wealth has affected America in one very important way. It has taken our eyes off our God and His plan for our lives. I genuinely believe that families in the United States 250 years ago spent more time together in simple ways. They may have sat around the fire at night in conversation with each other, reading books, or furthering their education. The time that we spend shopping, watching television, and worrying about finances was likely spent in more productive pursuits. When viewed from a spiritual perspective, the constant pursuit of financial gain distracts us from godly pursuits. Have we turned into a nation of selfish, godless individuals?

I admit that part of me thinks it would do us some good to lapse into another period of financial depression. When money is scarce, it makes us turn to things other than the pursuit of wealth. Perhaps God has a plan to revive our nation though a lesson of this nature. Perhaps He wants us to stop focusing on the new cars, the cable television shows, and the emails piling up on our Blackberries. Instead, we would be better served to recapture that time, get down on our knees, and ask for God’s blessing on our nation and families. My favorite book of all time, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, harkens back to a time when families had nothing, where farms and possessions were wiped out, and where families had to bond together to scratch out a simple existence. Yet while reading that book, I can’t help but get a sense that people were closer and more focused on what was truly important. While the Joad family in that book suffered heartache after heartache, it seems that they were closer to God in many respects. And isn’t that the ultimate long-term investment?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Worldview Class – Part 9 –Secular Humanist Ethics

This is a continuation of highlighted topics discussed in a worldview class I am teaching on Sunday morning. The main text for the study is The Battle for Truth by David Noebel. A good deal of this class is also based on personal research.

Ethics are defined as “the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc." Specifically, the study of ethics attempts to answer the question “Who makes the rules – God or man?”

The fundamental foundation of ethics for Secular Humanists rests on their theology – that is, that there is no God. As ethical and moral standards must originate from somewhere, the humanist is left with no choice but to assign the authorship to man. This would end their argument if each of them agreed on the same definition of “right” and “wrong”. However, since there is much disagreement over what is morally acceptable and what is not, the humanist community is saddled with a divisive issue which makes their ethical stance difficult to defend. One of these dilemmas is stated as the “ought problem”, and summed up by Mihailo Markovic – “It remains quite unclear where this ‘ought’ comes from. It is one thing to describe a variety of actual historical patterns of conduct and moral habits. It is a completely different thing to make a choice among them and say that we ‘ought’ to observe some of them. Why some and not others?”

Indeed, even their foremost proponent Paul Kurtz admits, “I can find no ultimate basis for ‘ought’.” Are Secular Humanists living in a worldwide “free-for-all”, much like the New Age philosophers who proclaim that truth is whatever is defined by each individual? While there are some in the community who hold this position, most cannot accept such a vagary and so they claim that reason is the thing that more closely defines right and wrong. The British Humanist Association says, “Humanists believe that man’s conduct should be based on humanity, insight, and reason. He must face his problems with his own moral and intellectual resources, without looking for supernatural aid.” Corliss Lamont is quoted thus, “As long as man pursues activities that are healthy, socially useful, and in accordance with reason, pleasure will generally accompany them; and happiness, the supreme good, will be the eventual result.”

The process of reasoning figures prominently in the humanist’s belief in the theory of evolution. As man evolves, so does his power for reasoning, and thus to determine right from wrong. Unfortunately for them, the purpose of evolution flies in the face of this logical, pragmatic way of thinking. The ultimate goal of evolution is for the species to survive. And if survival is the final instinct, then bloodshed, war, and even murder have some justification under the humanist ethic. Most humanists will have no counter-argument for this flaw. In order for the species to survive, some must perish, and few modern-day humanists want to admit that killing or capital punishment is sometimes necessary.

Under the Secular Humanist system, ethics may change over time as man becomes wiser and more evolved. Experimentation is the best way to achieve this ethics basis, and the practice of this is called ethical relativism. Joseph Fletcher says, “Rights and wrongs are determined by objective facts or circumstances, that is, by the situations in which moral agents have to decide for the most beneficial course open to choice.” And Herbert W. Schneider has stated that morality is “an experimental art...the basic art of living well together. Moral right and wrong must therefore be conceived in terms of moral standards generated in a particular society.” But who determines the results of the experiment, and who defines what is correct? Again, the dilemma hinges on full agreement and there can be none of that in this broken world. Lamont has been quoted as saying, “For the Humanist, stupidity is just as great a sin as selfishness; and ‘the moral obligation to be intelligent’ ranks always among the highest of duties.” Thus, he would leave the arbitration to the smartest people in the race, though this fights with one of the basic humanist tenets of equality for all (see the Humanist Manifesto I, point fourteen or Humanist Manifesto II, point eleven). In addition, history shows that the smartest people are not always victorious, especially if the less intelligent are more determined, braver, or simply possess a bigger weapon.

Finally, one must ask what the true goal is for a Secular Humanist, since peace and agreement seem out of reach. There are clues all around, but one major hint would be the words of Paul Kurtz, when he states that “traditional supernaturalistic moral commandments are especially repressive of our human needs. They are immoral insofar as they foster illusions about human destiny (heaven) and suppress vital inclinations.” It is the use of the term “vital inclinations” that intrigues me. Lamont was earlier quoted about man’s search for “pleasure” and seeking it to fulfill the “supreme good”. It is clear that unrestricted sex is a clear goal of many humanist institutions. The Humanist Manifesto II, item six states that, “short of harming others or compelling them to do likewise, individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their lifestyles as they desire.” Humanists are responsible for funding the studies that “prove” that men can be born as homosexuals. They seek the same ruling on the topics of pedophilia and incest. “Sex without guilt” is one of their mantras. One Planned Parenthood representative was quoted as saying that their goal is to help “young people obtain sex satisfaction before marriage…By sanctioning sex before marriage, we will prevent fear and guilt.” The goal of pleasure without the burden of sin becomes evident.

Secular Humanists endure a problematic viewpoint on ethics. Without agreement from all, it is hard to know what is really right and wrong. Isn’t it easier to accept a moral code given by a God who loves us and wants the best for us? Most of us – humanists included – have an innate sense that certain acts are wrong. Murder is an example of this – most of us know inside that premeditated killing of another human being is immoral. Where does this innate sense of ethics come from? It cannot come from man, because mankind is not always in agreement on the subject. It must, and does come from God.

To Worldview - Part 10 - Marxist/Leninist Ethics

Or go back to the main index for all twelve Parts.

If you are interested in portions, or all of this twelve part series taught in an engaging, educational fashion, please contact Alan at Banyan Concepts.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Our Next Four Years

Today, our nation did something that was once unthinkable. We elected an avowed socialist to the highest government office in our land, a man who admits that killing babies is acceptable, even those who continue to live and breathe outside the womb. He was elected on a thin platform of extending government control to an ever-widening circle of our lives – health care, career, and education. He will be no friend to those of us who treasure schooling our children in our own home. And, he is clearly committed to no god but the false ones that our world has put forth as a lure for men who seek power. There appears to be no true faith in this man, except a faith in his own power and ability.

It seems incredible to me that the majority of people in our land could cast their precious votes for such an individual. When it was clearly demonstrated that he had no significant record of leadership or executive skills, it was ignored. When it was obvious that his speeches were mere platitudes designed to avoid answering any question with specifics, people looked the other way. He broke a promise to campaign with limited public money, as every other candidate has done since the option was created in the 1960’s, and instead chose the path that would allow him to “buy” the election with nearly unlimited funds. And, I must reiterate, unborn babies will continue to die unabated with him in the Oval Office.

Is this a wake-up call for those of us who treasure the words of our founding fathers? It took four years of a weak, near-socialist Jimmy Carter in the late 1970’s to motivate us toward a fresh start and a return to traditional values with Ronald Reagan. Could we be preparing the way for another?

On a positive note, it is during times of oppression and persecution that Christians rise up and proclaim God’s truths most adamantly. We will surely have many opportunities to do so in the next four years. As our individual rights are modified or even taken away, Christians should prepare for battle. We need to harden our resolve against government tyranny (yes, I said tyranny – look up the definition), and insist on God’s direction to be the impetus for our land’s laws once again. More babies will die because of this election, and we need to be on our knees in prayer for the presumptive mothers who still have the choice to keep their children.

We should teach our children what is wrong with this world and what needs to change to make it right, and thus begin to raise up the next generation of leaders and voters. We need to return to the direction of our founding fathers when they said, “God has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” (John Jay, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court)

These next four years should serve to sharpen each and every Christian for the battle that lies ahead. History demonstrates that it is during times of persecution that great movements are defined. This may be why God allows leaders to be elected who seem to possess no godly intent of their own. We are in the middle of battle - not a physical one, but one of spiritual proportions. Our nation has strayed from its godly roots to one of selfish and material worship. We need to change this – both in ourselves and in the next generation. Whenever people talk about their parents or grandparents who survived the Great Depression in the 1930’s, we hear about how those affected remain frugal even to this day – all as a result of the lean times that they endured during that decade. We are now in troubled times from a spiritual point of view. My generation, and the next generation that we are raising, need to remember these coming days. They will define the next moral turn that our nation will make – either to one of more government-led depravity and permissiveness, or to one where we realize our failings and turn back to the God of the universe for our leading. Regardless of who we elected as president today, the Lord God is still our ultimate authority. I will seek to obey Him first, and use His commands as the compass for my every move. In doing this, I hope to influence my family, and my nation to follow His principles.

Our renewed battle starts today.