Five Bad ...isms
To Which Do You Swerve?
|1. RELATIVISM||Truth is relative |
May set own standard
|2. REDUCTIONISM||God is impersonal |
Makes power to be God
|3. INCLUSIVISM||All is one |
Makes everything equally God or effectively nothing God
|4. RATIONALISM||There is no death |
Death just changes things - reincarnation
|5. SPIRITISM||Cosmic consciousness, Satanism, Spiritism |
Anything psychic/pseudo-spiritual to replace God
Let's examine these philosophies...
Truth is relative
The drug addict says he can "fly" and jumps off the balcony. Does his "relative truth" have any effect whatsover? However much his fired-up brain cells may contrive or believe in unaided human flight neither he or anyone else can accomplish the defiance of gravity, even inside of an airplane or space shuttle. The concept of relative truth is derived from the wishes or desires of the person holding this claim to be free from the consequences of his or her own actions. It is built upon the idea of personal power over others so that what is asserted is held to be dominant over another's assertion. This is childish bullying.
That truth is real and extant from ourselves is held universally.1 Let me explain. Whenever a young child uses the expression "That's not fair!" the child asserts that there is a truth or standard that universally exists by which to rebuke the behavior of the one spoken against. When an adult receives a bill to pay in the mail and it charges him with the expenses for a similarly named individual and he says, "That's not right!" he is doing the same thing. He is claiming that there is evidence for and existence of a truth, a standard, by which to evaluate and determine the rightness or wrongness of the situtation.
For fairness or rightness to have meaning, it must have a clearly discernable and uniform basis about which others can be expected to be knowledgeable. Therefore, Apostle Paul says in Romans 2:14-15, "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law (of Moses given to Israel), do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another." Only upon this universality of morality can someone honestly say, "That's not fair!" without directly addressing their own 'personal standard' by which to judge the situation (which will be promptly disputed by another's conflicting 'personal standard').2
Everyone lives their daily lives as if truth exists.3 It is the only manner by which they may operate. Personal relationships are built upon truth, so are the use of measurements for purchase of food or fuel, settling bills of debt, identifications for travel, claims of ownership, privileges of citizenship, et cetera. In conducting one's daily affairs certain truth is used in contracts, agreements, barter and commerce with others, relationships between people, in jurisprudence, government records and so on.3 Since we operate by the certainty of truth in the course of living, how then can it be rational to assert truth is relative? This claim is simply and clearly irrational while the veracity of truth stands unassailed.
God is impersonal
"I was thinking ..." begins the individual. Then upon what basis does he do that? From where does he derive thinking. Impersonal objects do not think, no rock or gem, no crystal or chemical, no wind or storm, not even the misnomer "Mother Nature" can or ever does "think." Thinking is a highly personal affair of sentient beings, the thoughts of one person do not impinge upon the thoughts of another. They must be released from the individual by actions or words. The idea that God is impersonal, i.e. does not think, is denied by the evidence.4
The same way that we believe one person thinksfrom the evidence of actions and words, is the same way we believe another person thinks. The same is true with God. He declares His thoughts to us through His actions and words whether by creating or maintaining the cosmos, or directly spoken or indirectly expressed through a prophet. God, just like every other person, declares these things: self-awareness; exertion of the will; decision making; creative actions; expression by his own voice and through various mediums including the written word; moral choices and judgments; feeling and displaying emotions; planning for the future; making and keeping promises; caring for and helping others; and perhaps more.4
To declare that God is impersonal, i.e. unthinking, is to deny one's own capacity to think. For the thinking of a person is revealed in the same way for both man and God. The evidence in the design, function and order of the created order5 as well as that in the testimony of scripture6 asserts for the personal nature of God7. And God's claim is that we were made in His imageso we, like Him, could think, and that He, in turn, understands our thoughts and hears our prayers.8
All is one
Individualism is the hallmark of personalities with each unique from the other. Patents are granted, copyrights claimed, trademarks are made all in the name of being distinct from the works of others. Fingerprints, iris scans and DNA samples reveal the incredible differentiation of people. The classification of a myriad of diverse plant9a and animal organisms9b supports the same in the biosphere. Such variety flies in the face of "all is one" and shows its patent absurdity.
Perhaps there is confusion about the support and cohesion of the family unit brought about by both parents that give it a sense of oneness distinct from that of another family. Cooperation among peoples in charitable, civil, civic and other political groups may provide some form of oneness but these, as with the family, do not translate into all is one. Neither do the symbiotic relationships among numerous animals and plants.10
The idea that all things together make one thing that has the attributes of God is unsupported. The attributes of God go far beyond the declaration of existence, the recognition of thinking and the qualities of personhood reaching unto the function and order of this universe. Godhood is about effulgence, majesty, holiness, unity, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, absolute sovereignty, unlimited purview, righteousness, truthfulness, the throne of judgment, changelessness (outside of time), legislation, administration, communication (the giving of scriptures), untempted, not tempting, loving, forgiving, justice, redeeming unto salvation, and more.
"The imperative task of the dogmatician [proper theologian] is to think God's thoughts after him and to trace their unity. His work is not finished until he has mentally absorbed this unity and set it forth in a dogmatics [teaching of God's truths]. Accordingly, he does not come to God's revelation with a ready-made system in order, as best he can, to force its contents into it. On the contrary, even in his system a theologian's sole responsibility is to think God's thoughts after him and to reproduce the unity that is objectively present in the thoughts of God and has been recorded for the eye of faith in Scripture. That such a unity [internal consistency] exists in the knowledge of God contained in revelation is not open to doubt; to refuse to acknowledge it would be to fall into skepticism, into a denial of the unity of God." Bavinck, (RD v. 1, 44-45)
There is no death Death is insignificant Death is just a change into another thing.
Attend a funeral, observe a family gathered around a dear one as life ebbs away, talk to those with signifacnt health issues or impairments and these will display how life really works. Those who suffer loss of family (parents, siblings or children, et cetera), friendship, comraderie in the workplace or even a familiar face in the neighborhood all reflect the innate desire to live and have others live too. The newspapers around the world are filled with the testimony of the behaviors of those in bondage, unable to escape slavery to sin and death. These daily report the way that one person treats another by theft, rape, murder, abuse, neglect, lying, destructive actions and so much more. (Romans 3:23; Galatians 5:19-21) Then the same newspapers report the final result in the obituary, for none escape death. (Romans 6:23)
We are designed to live and live abundantly (John 10:10), exploring, learning, creatively applying knowledge and skills to the world around us. (Genesis 1:26-28; Galatians 5:22-23) We are to live because God designed us to live. He alone is able to sustain us in life as Paul says to the Athenians in Acts 17:28 "For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring." And in Matthew 4:4 Jesus affirmed, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Life is prepared for and sustained by the processes God established to provide for living things. It is obvious that life, ongoing life, is intended.
In the text of Genesis chapters 1 and 2 there is no hint of death processes, just more and more life coming forth by God's design. And to supervise and oversee as stewards this vast domain, God makes man in His image. The biblical message is clear. God created a perfect world (Genesis 1-2). Death is not designed into the system, but introduced into the system11 as shown in Genesis chapter three. Eternal life is sought because:
- Mankind conceives of lasting life.
- Mankind longs after enduring life.
- Mankind resists the limiting of their life.
- Mankind clings to life even in the distress of pain and suffering.
Evil and death are a result of Satan's deception (Genesis 3:1, 4-5, 13; John 8:44; 1 Timothy 2:14; Revelation 20:8-10) and man's sin (Genesis 3:6, 11-13; John 15:22-24; 16:8-11; Romans 3:9-18, 23). Dying, decay, death came from the rebellion of man and God initiating the forewarned punishment for sin (Genesis 3:16-19; Romans 6:23). Death is an intruder into God's perfect creation and will be conquered by Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:16; Romans 6:23; Revelation 21:4-5). The actions of rebellion by Adam and Eve brought havoc: banishment from the garden, one son rising up to slay another, and on to even more hatred and harm. In a short time Genesis 6:5 states, "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." To Adam and Eve God had spoken saying, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." (Genesis 3:19) They and their progeny each came to experience this: "His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." (Psalm 146:4) Speaking through Solomon God added, "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
Why do people cling to life even in the face of adversity? Why medical care for the ill, ambulances and CPR to rescue the dying, safety programs for travelers, guardrails for industrial workplaces, seatbelts and childseats in vehicles, and innumerable other measures, even in wartime, to protect and prolong human life? Why the hype about weather change, population growth, adequate food production or natural resource preservation? All of this and much more is about keeping alive! Death is fearful. It is approached with apprehension and uncertainty. Humanity worldwide lives out their lives contrary to the conjecture there is "no death" or "death is insignificant" or "death is just a change into another thing." Such thought processes are based upon an ideology and not the reality of how things are. There is no real evidence of death and re-birth in cycles of reincarnation. But there is awe and astonishment when Jesus Christ raised some from the dead in Luke 7:11-17; Mark 5:35-42 and John chapter 11.
Cosmic consciousness Anything psychic/pseudo-spiritual to replace God
Have you heard this saying "What the mind can conceive, it can achieve?" You can conceive of passing your body though the inside of the sun, submerging it to the lowest depths of the ocean, walking though the insides of mountains and other fantastical ideas. You can also imagine many other thoughts such as: lust, murder, theft, lying, rape, pillage, larceny, hatred, incest, war and innumerable other atrocities. Does that mean that since these concepts are conceived they are to be achieved? This is sheer nonsense for none, not anyone, wants these devices directed against themselves. All thoughts and ideas, to be of value, are to be proscribed (limited within a framework) to reality and circumscribed (through love, care and concern for others) by morality.
Cosmic consciousness is the idea that the universe exists as an interconnected network of consciousness, with each conscious being linked to every other. [See rebuttal above in: All is one] Sometimes this is conceived as forming a collective consciousness which spans the cosmos, at other times it is conceived of as an Absolute or Godhead from which all conscious beings emanate.12 Satanism is referring to diverse ideological and philosophical beliefs which feature symbolic association with, or admiration for the character of Satan or similar rebellious figures.13 Spiritism (spiritualism) is the pursuit of the supernatural or spiritual (versus corporeal) as the seat of moral, sacred or religious matters especially in regard to conscious thoughts and emotions. It contains the underlying belief that the spirits of the dead communicate with the living and/or that the ultimate reality is only that which can be conceived in the mind.14
He alone declared "In the Beginning God created ..." (Genesis 1:1), "I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God." (Isaiah 44:6), "I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me." (Isaiah 45:5), "There is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." (Isaiah 45:21-22), and "I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." (Isaiah 46:9-10) "Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name." (Deuteronomy 6:13, Matthew 4:10)
Each of these ideas (cosmic consciousness, satanism, spiritism and the like) is a conjecture intending to value man's substitution for God's authority, to establish man's concept or word above God's word. However, God addresses these very things saying, "Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God." (Leviticus 19:31), "There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination to the Lord." (Deuteronomy 18:10-12a)
Either we acknowledge and submit to the Lordship of the Creator of the heavens and the earth to live or we pursue rebellion to perish for "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4).15 How about you? To which do you swerve?
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. Hebrews 4:2
10. Examples: Symbiotic relationships between multicellular plant and animal organisms. See a lengthy list at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_symbiotic_relationships