The Face of God

Even though most of the CTF research time and effort concerns the rebuttal of atheistic/humanistic philosophy, we also feel we must identify the inroads of this same philosophy into current Biblical theology. Below are a few examples of this terrible infiltration of compromised Biblical theology.

The mention of these examples is not meant as indictments against those who are involved; rather, it is to show the incredible confusion caused by this anti-Christ philosophy and the unconscious alluring effect it has had on modern day Christianity. Truly, the modern church finds itself in the unenviable role of the children of Israel after God delivered them from Egypt.

Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt.”  Exodus 32:1-4; NKJV

The inference here is that Israel, while having had firsthand experience with the personal Creator, reverted quickly back to the predominate philosophy of their recently removed Egyptian environment. Oh, how fickle and deceptive is the mind of fallen man, for even before the memory of their miraculous delivery from Egypt had faded from their immediate recollection, they had abandoned Him in their hearts. This led to the disastrous and torturous conclusion that their God was a golden calf, along with all of its attendant sacrileges. God grant that we might manifest the embodiment of the Paul’s admonition found in Romans 12:1&2.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. NKJV

To explore this trend in our culture, let’s examine some present day examples in these excerpts from the following articles.

  1. “A new generation spreads the word” Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA Today (USA Today.com, June 24, 2004). Cameron Strang, 28, is a well-disguised evangelist. Three silver hoops in his ears. Stubble-haze beard. Casually hip duds that the Fab Five from Queer Eye wouldn’t change.

No plans to preach. Yet, he’s hot-wired to a generation of young adult Christians he says are “on fire with faith” – a generation that eludes many churches, retailers, and publishers.

These are the 18 to 34 year olds who ignore denomination, who erase the lines between secular and religious realms, who insist, as Strang says, “God is God, truth is truth, and they’re everywhere, so you have to look everywhere.”

“Sight, sound, experience – that’s what my generation is about,” says Strang.

Then he added Relevant Books. Its first hit, “Walk on: The Spiritual Journey of U2,” about rocker Bono, has sold more than 40,000 copies. Relevantmagazine.com came next.

Relevant mixes a Bible-based perspective on social issues with an of-the-minute cultural sensibility. The first issue’s consumer guide to Jesus action figures got the magazine banned from the bookstore at Strangs’ alma mater, Oral Roberts University…

Every issue features reviews of pop, rock, hip-hop and rap artists, some Christian, most not. (Emphasis added) “Twentysomethings are old enough to know what they like in secular music or books,” says Kyle Chowning, 30, director of sales and marketing. “We won’t listen to the segregationists who say you can’t be in both worlds.” (Emphasis added)

“We don’t get hung up on the trappings, the legalisms, the stuff that worries fundamentalists,” Strang says.

While evangelical leaders, including his father, call for a ban on gay marriage, Strang says Relevant “upholds the same moral standard but questions whether we need the government to enforce our beliefs, our religion, on people who don’t adhere to the same faith.”

Consider the tumultuous tenure of Matthew Paul Turner, former editor of CCM magazine, which covers contemporary Christian music. When he mixed in secular language and subjects – even hinted that a singer was sexy – “all hell broke loose,” Turner recalls. He soon decamped to Relevant…

There are several Biblical worldview issues that catch my attention here:

  • The quote “God is God, truth is truth, and they’re everywhere, so you have to look everywhere” sounds hauntingly like pantheism. But I thought the ultimate standard for truth was the Bible! (Pantheism is a religious belief that “broadly defined it is the view that ‘God is everything and everything is God…the world is either identical with God or in some way of his nature’” [Owen 1971:74]. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pantheism/)
  • “Sight, sound, experience – that’s what my generation is about…” Two things bother me: 1) the reliance on the five senses and their sensations for truth is distinctly Aristotelian; and is the basis of naturalism, and 2) the focus of Biblical salvation is (should be) Godward, not manward – its not what we’re about, it is what He’s about.
  • “…Its first book, Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2, about rocker Bono…” Here and several other places, honor is given to professedly worldly individuals; not only is honor given to these individuals, but their lifestyles, and therefore their philosophies of life, are given honor – all in the name of Christianity.
  • “Twentysomethings are old enough to know what they like in secular music or books…We won’t listen to the segregationists who say you can’t be in both worlds.” But Jesus, the Creator, said, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world…” (John 17:14-16a). Moreover, so did Paul, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?” (II Corinthians 6:14.)

Finally, I find the statistics revealed in this article alarming, confirming and somewhat misleading in their presentation.  Alarming in that these statistics show a continuing downward spiral of young people leaving the church; confirming in that we knew there was a problem years ago, and by God’s grace, are taking steps to reverse this trend through our Institute of Biblical Worldview Studies (more about that in the Worldview Tool Box update section); and misleading in that the statistics appear to justify the presentation of this “new Christianity,” when in fact, it is the inculcation of humanism/naturalism into the church that has disenchanted and disenfranchised our youth from the Truth of the Gospel. May God grant His mercy.

  • 9% of 18 to 34 year olds believe the Bible is relevant to their lives
  • 53% of this age group reads the Bible less than once a year, or never.
  • About 8 million people who were active churchgoers in their teens will no longer be active by age 30
  • 31% of 20-29 year olds attend church in a typical week, vs. only 22% of those 25-29
  • 80% say that their faith is very important, but only 34% say they are absolutely committed to Christianity.

Sources: Zondervan/Harris Interactive poll of 2,148 adults May 25-27; Barna Research Group study of 2,660 adults 20 to 29, September, 2003

  1. “On ‘Joan,’ God is in the charming details” Bill Keveney, USA Today (USA Today.com, December 18, 2003).

First, we were given George Burns as a cigar smoking God; now we have “everyman.” This article begins with “What if God were all of us?” Joan of Arcadia has become a very popular prime time television series, which portrays a young “religious” girl who is persistently troubled by the problems of life, both her own and others, and she is constantly meeting God … in the form of other people, and He always has something for her to do that she doesn’t want to do, but is always glad she did.

“’The fact is: God is different every time. It’s one of the first things I thought of when I developed the show,’ says creator (of the series, not the universe) Barbara Hall.”

Often, God’s form is relevant to Joan’s task, such as when the Naval Officer God asked her to build a boat.  “It’s pretty much the most interesting face, the people who are you or me,” Rosenburg [the show’s writer and  director] says. “It’s people that other people can relate to without being afraid.”

Among the more memorable Gods Joan has encountered this season:

  • Cute Boy God – “I don’t look like this. I don’t look like anything you’d recognize. You can’t see me. I don’t sound like anything you’d recognize. You see, I’m beyond your experience. I took this form because it’s something you’re comfortable with. It makes sense to you and if I’m snippy with you, it’s because you understand snippy. You get it?
  • Cafeteria Worker God
  • Sweeper Driver God – After Joan’s dad turns off Anchorman God, Sweeper God says: “He shall spend eternity burning in hell…I’m kidding. There’s no penalty for turning me off. Free will is one of my better innovations.” (Emphasis added)
  • Linesman God
  • Flight Attendant God
  • Little Girl God – After Joan pleads to let her paraplegic brother Kevin … walk, God replies, “People ask me to do things. Big things, little things, millions of times every day. I put a lot of thought into the universe and came up with the rules. It sets a bad example if I break them. It shows favoritism. It’s better when we abide by the rules.”

Biblical Worldview Issues: 

  • The opening statement clues me in: What if God were all of us? This innocent sounding statement is a foundational precept for the multi-faceted “New Age Movement;” specifically, that man can (and perhaps has) evolve into a god. This theme is carried out throughout the article, and thus, portrayed throughout the program(s).
  • I was immediately struck by the subtle imagery of a Naval Officer God asking Joan to build a boat. While I did not see the episode, I think I can say unequivocally that Joan did not present an exact portrayal of Noah, nor did the Naval Officer God in any way factually portray the God of all Creation. Just another “slight” undercutting of Biblical authority and relevancy.
  • The quote by Cute Boy God: “I took this form because it’s something you’re familiar with.” What does this kind of imagery do to the incarnate Messiah?
  • The quote by Sweeper Driver God: “There’s no penalty for turning me off.” To imply that the exercise of one’s free agency is of no consequence is despicable and irresponsible.
  • Finally, the constant appearance of men as gods, slowly but surely desensitizes the unwitting multitudes to the reality and efficacy of the Incarnate Son of God. We become familiar with the “face of God.” But this god is a far cry from the one who shielded Moses when He passed him by. God forgive us.
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