Our age is an age when the very idea of transcendent truth is attacked and scorned, even within seminaries and the church where clergy who ought to revere truth most highly instead boast of thinking outside the box, of not being restricted by rules, and in the spirit of postmodern contemporary church leader Brian McLaren of having,
“….captured, stuffed, and mounted truth on the wall.” (The Truth War, John MacArthur, p. x)
In 1973, secular psychologist Karl Menninger took aim at the attack on truth when he pointed out in a book entitled, Whatever Became of Sin? the fact that American churches were in the process of suppressing the reality of guilt in accord with the concept of a divine standard of right and wrong.
Menninger’s definition of sin was distinctly Biblical, thus entailed the idea of willful rebellion against and negation of the transcendent truth and moral laws of the Triune God. It was this unique concept of sin that was disappearing from the American consciousness and by extension, from public discourse.
More than forty years later, nearly half of all Christians are subjectivists who either wittingly or unwittingly elevate science and evolution above the God of Revelation and likewise accept Robert Sculler’s postmodern arguments in “Self-Esteem: The New Reformation.” Today’s church said Schuller, can no longer afford to think in a God-centered fashion but must put humans and their needs first. It was appropriate for Calvin and Luther to think theocentrically but now,
“the scales must tip the other way” towards a “human needs approach.” In fact, “classical theology has erred in its insistence that theology be ‘God-centered,’ not ‘man-centered.” In this context, the new definition of sin is, “any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem…And what is ‘hell’? It is the loss of pride that naturally follows separation from God—the ultimate and unfailing source of our soul’s sense of self-respect…A person is in hell when he has lost his self-esteem.” (Schuller, from “Christless Christianity, Michael Horton, p. 33)
For America’s postmodern 'scientifically enlightened' Church, the Cross merely sanctifies narcissism (self-esteem) while Paul’s admonition to Timothy, “But understand this…in the last days…people will be lovers of self…” is a statement of backwardness and hate that must not be preached lest it “hurt a lot of beautiful people,” said Schuller.
For over forty years both Christian and secular have been told how special and unique they are, that as they have a right not to be offended they should not submit to rules, authority, processes or other moral restrictions that might make them feel bad and above all, they should trust their feelings to guide them. Reliance upon absolute principles and immutable truth places unrealistic limitations on one’s authentic self, thus damages self-esteem. So esteem ‘self,’ have lots of fun, actualize dreams, impulses, compulsions, and emerging sexual orientations, realize that your ‘God’ is not the Biblical God of Love and Judgment but of only love who helps those who esteem and help themselves, therefore always revel in the moment.
In this light it comes as no surprise that to increasing millions of Americans God exists as a personal idol, a mouthpiece through which both narcissistic clergy and Christian masses self-righteously affirm ‘self’ and the great things that ‘self’ thinks and does.
Today’s subjectivist Church is not interested in the authoritative Word of God but in feeling good about self and being accepted and validated by the world. George Barna agrees. Based on numerous studies Barna concludes,
“….if we even believe in a supernatural deity (he) exists for the pleasure of humankind. He resides in the heavenly realm solely for our utility and benefit. Although we are too clever to voice it, we live by the notion that true power is accessed not by looking upward but by turning inward.” (ibid, p. 31)
From 2001 to 2005 University of North Carolina sociologist Christian Smith investigated teen spirituality in contemporary America. From his extensive research he concluded that the dominant form of spirituality among teens is “moralistic, therapeutic desism” in which God is restricted to the inner sphere’s of one’s private world.
Smith defines moralistic, therapeutic deism in the following five points:
1. God created the world
2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other
3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself
4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when needed to resolve a problem
5. Good people go to heaven when they die
(ibid, Christless Christianity, pp. 40-41)
While there are as yet many churches, pastors, evangelists, distinguished Christian laypeople and missionaries here in America and around the world faithfully affirming and teaching that God called creation into existence ex nihilo in six days, that He made man in His spiritual image and also proclaiming the Good News---Christ crucified for the sins of all men--- Michael Horton sees that the postmodern Church is well on its way to becoming what he calls Christless Christianity.
Already we have arrived at a point where the message of the contemporary Church has simply become trivial, irreverent, sentimental, self-affirming, and irrelevant.
We do not realize the extent of our schizophrenia said Horton. While we annually decry the commercialization of Christmas we enthusiastically embrace the consumer-product-sales-approach formulated by ‘church growth’ experts like Hybels, Warren, and other transformational gurus. While calling our capitulation to self-affirming narcissism “mission and relevance” we charge secularists,
“..with emptying public discourse of beliefs and values that transcend our instant gratification.” And as we lament “the growing secularization of American society…we ensure that the generations currently under our care will know even less than their parents…” (pp. 22-23)
In agreement, Collin Garbarino, author of "Moral Relativists In The University: They Aren’t Who You Think They Are," observes that many conservatives blame left-leaning professors for the rise in moral relativism. While a liberal faculty certainly promotes the idea that “good” is a relative term defined by the individual and the only “bad” is to infringe on another person’s ability to express their own version of “good,” the battle for conservatism was lost long before students ever met their first college professor. In my experience, said Garbarino, freshmen arrive on campus as moral relativists. (The Aquila Report, August 24, 2014)
After citing a series of reports, Barna concluded that the spirituality of America is Christian in name only:
“We desire experience more than knowledge. We prefer choices to absolutes. We embrace preferences rather than truths….Faith must come on our terms or we reject it. We have enthroned ourselves as the final arbiters of righteousness, the ultimate rulers of our own experiences and destiny. We are the Pharisees of the new millennium.” (Horton, p. 31)
Unless something changes said Barna,
“It will be every man for himself, with no second thoughts or regrets about the personal or societal implications of this incredibly selfish, nihilistic, narcissistic way of life…” (ibid)
A spirit of pride and rebellion flows throughout America’s contemporary Church. The sin of pride begets the vice known as hatred of truth. In “Against the Heathen,” early Church Father Athanasius reveals that pride and a haughty spirit preceded the fall of pre-flood men into idolatry (love of self), superstition (hatred of truth) and violence. Violence always accompanies man’s fall into worship of self, selfish ambition, status, pleasures and acquisition of things.
Violence is the effect of a human will not in submission to the will of our Heavenly Father. Violence is the outworking of a will turned toward evil through the use of force, which may be psychological (i.e., shunning, ignoring, belittling, slandering), physical, or both in order to dominate, control, outrage and transgress the dignity and integrity of a righteous man.
In his book, “The Truth War,” John MacArthur writes that one of the distinguishing qualities of every true believer is love for the truth:
“…a genuine love for the truth is built into saving faith…In Jesus’ words, they have known the truth, and the truth has set them free. John 8:32″ (p. xi)
The reverse is true of those who will not enter the kingdom of God. The beginning of subjectivism is pride (love of self), the perfect anti-God, anti-truth, anti-higher knowledge state of mind---the primary characteristic of those who perish (2 Thessalonians 2:10):
“…where there is true faith in the Gospel of Christ, and in Christ the substance of it, there is salvation; the reason therefore of these men’s perishing is not the decree of God, nor (for) want of the means of grace, (or) the revelation of the Gospel, but their rejection and contempt of it.” (Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible)
Subjectivists are nihilists who believe in nothing higher than self. They are liars who lack honor, courage of conviction, frankness, honesty, and uprightness. They cannot be trusted as they are self-centered, double-minded dissimulators who cunningly manipulate other people for their own evil purposes.
Jesus Christ tells us, "The truth will make you free." Truth is an objective social good meant to be shared by all mankind, but subjectivists hate truth and work to suppress it, and herein lies the psychological violence which is the evil fruit of subjectivism:
"The clue to the mentality of the liar, in his hatred of truth, is his hatred of God. And this hatred of God floods over into hatred of those whom God loves, the innumerable millions for whom his divine Son died." (The Roots of Violence, Vincent P. Miceli, S.J., p. 29)
In "The Poison of Subjectivism," C.S. Lewis says that subjectivism "will certainly end our species and damn our souls." Because Lewis was a Christian he did not disagree with the fundamental teachings of his Lord and savior Jesus Christ (John 1:1) and the Old Testament prophets that salvation presupposes repentance, and repentance presupposes an objectively real moral law. In this light we can see that subjectivism will surely damn our souls because just as it suppresses objective truth and reality, so it eliminates moral law, thereby trivializing repentance, imperiling salvation and ending the human race, not by flood as before, but by fire.
Lewis sees farther than most, thus he argues that our species will be ended because the entire human race is becoming increasingly Westernized, thereby relativized. The tragic irony here is that America, which at one time was a fortress of Christian theism, is now the primary source of subjectivism in the world today. This is because America's collapsing Christian denominations no longer defend objective truth and moral law.
According to Christian philosopher Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., the most recent polls show that Catholics are as relativistic, both in behavior and in belief, as non-Catholics. Sixty-two percent of Evangelicals say they disbelieve in any absolute or unchanging truths, and American Jews are significantly more relativistic and more secular than Gentiles. (A Refutation of Moral Relativism, Peter Kreeft)
The proud, self-centered 'Christian' subjectivist, be he theologian or otherwise, holds truth in contempt and is therefore aligned with the will of Satan, the teacher of dehumanizing evolutionary worldviews; the father of lies, narcissism, nihilism, and violence (John 8:44). Thus it is to proud 'Christian' subjectivists that Jesus said,
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21
Barbarism prevailed from the days of Adam down through ten generations to the time of Noah (Matthew 24:37):
" It is called barbarism because of the fact that in those times men had no ruling authority or mutual accord, but every man was independent and a law unto himself after the dictates of his own will." (John of Damascus, "The Fount of Knowledge," cited in Political Apocalypse, Ellis Sandoz, p. 131)
Barbarism is the outworking of spiritually dead subjectivists, and the truth as to the evils of Noah's time said Athanasius, is that it originated and resided,
".... in the perverted choice of the darkened soul" which, "materialized by forgetting God" and engrossed in lower things, "makes them into gods," and thereby "descends into a hopeless depth of delusion and superstition," whereby "they ceased to think that anything existed beyond what is seen, or that anything was good save things temporal and bodily; so turning away and forgetting that she was in the image of the good God, she no longer... sees God the Word after whose likeness she is made; but having departed from herself, imagines and feigns what is not (and then) advancing further in evil, they came to celebrate as gods the elements and the principles of which bodies are composed...." (Against the Heathen, New Advent)
In other words, because man is a living soul embodied in flesh he cannot live by earthly bread alone. His living soul/spirit requires the living waters, or heavenly manna that comes from our Heavenly Father. In turning away from the Holy Trinity man's soul shrivels up and suffers a kind of death resulting in the reversal of conversion in which the soul ceases to live from the spirit and begins to live with the life of the body. The intellect becomes disordered and the disordered passions thereby revived absorb the life of the person who spiritually dies resulting in a walking dead body, a zombie that nevertheless moves and speaks. This is the natural man of 2 Tim. 3:3. (St. Tikhon, Works II, as quoted in Political Apocalypse: A Study of Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor, Ellis Sandoz, p. 120)
Natural man is a citizen of the earthly City of Man, one of the two cities formed by two opposing kinds of love. According to St. Augustine the City of Man is formed by the love of self, even to the contempt of God. The other, though entangled at present with the City of Man is the City of God formed by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. “The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord.” (St. Augustine, The City of God, Book 14, Section 28)
In the mythology created by J.R.R. Tolkien, specifically, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Silmarillion, it's all important Genesis account, Tolkien posited three cities: the City of God (represented by the Fellowship of the Ring); the City of Man (Orthanc under Saruman, a Maia, or second-order angel); and that of the devil (Barad-Dur under Sauron). (St. Augustine and J.R.R. Tolkien, Bradley J. Birzer, The Imaginative Conservative)
Like all of Iluvatars' created creatures, Sauron started well. “For nothing is evil in the beginning,” Elrond stated at his Council. But in his pride and lust for domination he fell, and in his evil he surpassed human tyrants. Being an immortal (angelic) spirit, Sauron, originally a Maia, followed the lead of the rebel Devil Morgoth and became the greatest of all evils, serving as Morgoth’s lieutenant.
The “citizens” of Orthanc, under the strict command of Saruman, are the Orcs. Meaning “demon” in Anglo-Saxon, the Orcs are corrupted, spiritually dead Elves, the rational creatures of Iluvatar, the Divine God who sang creation into existence. Orcs are cruel, wicked, bad-hearted zombies:
" They make no beautiful things, but they make many clever ones. They can tunnel and mine as well as any but the most skilled dwarves, when they take the trouble, though they are usually untidy and dirty. Hammers, axes, swords, daggers, pickaxes, tongs, and also instruments of torture, they make very well, or get other people to make to their design, prisoners and slaves that have to work till they die for want of air and light. It is not unlikely that they invented some of the machines that have since troubled the world, especially the ingenious devices for killing large numbers at once, for wheels and engines and explosions always delighted them." (Tolkien, The Hobbit, p. 60)
Today our truth-hating society's morbid fascination with Walking Dead, Vampires, ghouls, ugliness and the bizarre ensuing in growing fear of Zombie Apocalypse can be rolled into a celluloid representation of the enigmatic expression that appeared as an inscription written by a detached hand on the wall of the palace where Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was giving a banquet (Dan 5:25). In his interpretation of the inscription (Dan 5:25-28) Daniel said God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end. You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting and your kingdom (this world) will be taken from you.
Whereas apostasy, spiritual death, and barbarism 'prevailed from the days of Adam down through ten generations to the time of Noah,' so they are coming to fullness throughout the West and America during our own time. And when they finally prevail throughout the world, then the resulting Zombie Apocalypse under direction of Sauron will be the end of the human race in this present world and in the twinkling of an eye, the first moment of everlasting darkness.
Before it's too late
The Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Word become Flesh, Jesus Christ the Physician came to heal the spiritually sick. But whoever rejects the Physician, whether through indifference or outright denial, rejects His prescription, hence destroys him or herself:
"..... I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life..." Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Destruction does not mean annihilation of the soul. The soul though immortal, said St. Augustine, nevertheless suffers a kind of death when the living God forsakes it:
"...in that penal and everlasting punishment....the soul is...said to die because it does not live in connection with God (meaning that) though man does not cease to feel, yet because this feeling is neither sweet... nor wholesome (but) painfully penal, it is (called) death rather than life." (St. Augustine's City of God, Chapter 2, Of that Death Which Can Affect an Immortal Soul, and of that to Which the Body is Subject)