Strange New Thoughts

The place where I slam down gauntlets and pick up the pieces.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

How I Joined a Cult (Well, Not Quite, But...)

Ever since I committed my life to Christ, I've wondered how so many people in my own culture could commit equally, with equal fervor and certainty, to false religions. (By false I mean belief systems that don't stand up to the test of biblical truth, and that contradict the central doctrines of the Christian faith.) Any Mormon or Jehovah's Witness could easily read and analyze the many scholarly exposés of their particular sect if they so choose. Of course, human nature habitually denies uncomfortable truth, or allows itself to sincerely believe the unbelievable.

Not me, of course. Didn't I have a critical mind with a scientific bent? Hadn't I, after four years of resistance, embraced Christ? I pored over books like Dr. Walter Martin's The Kingdom of the Cults, preparing myself for the weekly visits from the Mormon missionaries I had allowed through my door. And, for my intellectual duals with the irreligious, I had happily discovered the works of men like Dr. Duane T. Gish, whose Evolution: The Fossils Say No! and other books convinced me at once that not only was Darwinism wrong, but that the age of the Earth could not possibly be greater than 10,000 years.

En garde! Everyone I met now had to listen to me rabbit on about how the theory of evolution was nothing more than a huge conspiracy, designed to keep people from accepting biblical truth. There were, after all, enormous difficulties with Darwinism. (To this day, I am patiently waiting to see fossil evidence of the evolution of bats. I've dubbed the yet-to-be unearthed, half-evolved version Semichiroptera.) But to me, evolutionary thought was the chief obstacle to global evangelization, since everybody except for fundamentalists believed in it, didn't they? After all, I'd been an evolutionist ever since the book my grandmother gave me when I was seven posed the rhetorical question, "Which came first, the bird or the egg? Answer: The reptile came first." A quick description of evolution followed, moving me to accept it immediately and uncritically. I knew nothing of the genetic, biomechanical and logical difficulties that Darwinism faced, and when I finally became aware of them as a young adult, I took them as immediate proof that I'd been had. Now armed with Young Earth Creationism, I set forth to lead people to Christ, convinced that the theory of evolution was all that stood in their way.

And guess what? NOBODY got saved! Some couldn't argue with my "science", but not even those people were convinced that they therefore needed Jesus. And those I did manage to lead to faith in Christ came to Him on His own merit, without my dogmatic assertions that a literal interpretation of Genesis was necessary for one to be in right relationship with God. And for years I continued, although I managed to shift my emphasis more toward our need for salvation, instead of some intellectual barrier to faith. But I persisted in my doctrinaire belief in a young earth creation model, which I just knew could be easily proved and accepted by any honest scientist.

Enter Dr. Paul Simms (http://www.iblministry.org/nbod.htm), then-Professor of Nuclear Physics at Purdue University. His daughter and my wife had been friends for many years, and he was quick to note my interest in his field of expertise. One day, as he took me on a private tour of the Purdue particle accelerator, Dr. Simms, a passionate believer in Jesus, gently began to bring to my attention recent scientific data that affirm the hot Big Bang model, accepted almost universally by scientists. He also introduced me to the works of astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross, whose analysis of the ongoing findings about the cosmos overwhelmingly support the declaration of Genesis 1:1 - "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Rather than feel threatened by any scientific discovery that might be supposed to contradict scripture, I began to rest easy in the certainty that all truth is God's truth, including scientific data. The light arriving here from stars billions of light years away might in fact have taken billions of years to get here. (Those who assert that God just made it look that way could theoretically be right, but I've never yet been able to believe in such a deceitful, puerile Creator.)

I'm not here to slam those whose Christianity clings to a young earth model, or even those who claim to believe one on purely scientific grounds. I do disapprove of those Christians who tactlessly mock anybody whose beliefs on the subject do not mirror their own. Such people place treacherous stumbling blocks in the paths of many an honest seeker. (Conversely, the irreligious people who mock creationists have no moral basis for respecting others' beliefs, but sometimes they're right about us anyway.) In case anybody had forgotten, Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, is the center of our faith. He will judge us according to His grace and justice, not according to our take on the age of the universe.

So what's my point? Sorry if I hadn't made it clear, but it's simply that I personally had to change my position on something I used to rigidly assert just as unyieldingly as does an LDS missionary who knows that the Book of Mormon is true. I see no particular virtue in my having done an about-face once I decided I'd been intellectually dishonest (even though I'd never meant to be.) But I do see that I can fall prey to bad data (and therefore bad doctrine) just as easily as anybody. Whether we believe that we (and Christ) came from mud or from primordial soup (and when you think about it, there isn't much difference), it must be Him that we declare. It's Christ who changes hearts and lives, not "correct" beliefs about things that will one day pass away. And besides, truth will win out in the end anyway.

So, all you evolutionists out there, next time you make an impassioned plea for responsible ecological policies: Remember that, if you're just an evolutionary accident, then everything we do is completely natural. We're just animals, and mere animals can't ruin the ecology. Global warming, deforestation, greenhouse gases - no worse than flatulent buffalo herds! But if we're somehow more than animals, if we really have a moral responsibility to protect the environment, then let's go for it, knowing that no mere animal's moral compass can lead to the words should and shouldn't. Such words inevitably lead either to God or to hopeless contradiction.

And as for you Young Earth Creationists, you're entitled to your beliefs, but please don't leave them where any honest seeker of truth might trip over them. There's too much at stake.

2 Comments:

Blogger Bot said...

Could Mitt Romney be more "Christian" than Evangelicals? Protestants and Catholics subscribe to the Nicene creed, which was initiated by the Emperor Constantine in the Fourth Century to rid Scriptures of the Apocrypha, which made reference to the oral traditions of Jewish and early Christian temple worship.

First Century Christian churches, in fact, continued the Jewish temple worship traditions:
1) Baptism of youth (not infants) by immersion by the father of the family
2) Lay clergy
3) Anointing with holy oil after baptism
4) Then clothing in white clothing

Just check with the Israeli Museum to verify. And read Exodus Ch 29 for Aaron and his sons” ordinances. Jewish Temple practices were continued by Christians prior to Constantine”s corruption (see St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386) Lecture XXI). Early Christians were persecuted for keeping their practices sacred, and not allowing non-Christians to witness them

A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ being separate beings, united in purpose. To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and to whom was he speaking on the Mount of Transfiguration?

The Nicene Creed”s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity, which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: "There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one."
Scribes later added "the Father, the Word and the Spirit," and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) have concern for their ancestors” spiritual welfare, so they practice proxy baptism. (1 Corinthians 15:29 & Malachi 4:5-6).

Only members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continue these practices of First Century Christians. But Mormons don”t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. The dictionary definition of a Christian is “of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ”:. All of the above denominations are followers of Christ, and consider him the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament.

It”s important to understand the difference between Reformation and Restoration when we consider who might be the more authentic Christian. If Mitt Romney is a member of a denomination which embraces early Christian theology, he is likely more “Christian” than his detractors.

* * *
Furthermore, a UCLA study found that observant members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) in their 50s and 60s had one-twentieth the divorce rate, abuse rate, or substance abuse of a demographically similar group in Southern California.

And the National Study of Youth and Religion done by UNC-Chapel Hill in 2005 found that Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) youth (ages 13 to 17) were more likely to exhibit these Christian characteristics than Evangelicals (the next most observant group):
LDS Evangelical
Attend Religious Services weekly 71% 55%
Importance of Religious Faith in shaping daily life –
extremely important 52 28
Believes in life after death 76 62
Believes in psychics or fortune-tellers 0 5
Has taught religious education classes 42 28
Has fasted or denied something as spiritual discipline 68 22
Sabbath Observance 67 40
Shared religious faith with someone not of their faith 72 56
Family talks about God, scriptures, prayer daily 50 19
Supportiveness of church for parent in trying to raise teen
(very supportive) 65 26
Church congregation has done an excellent job in helping
Teens better understand their own sexuality and sexual morality 84 35

6:17 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Be sure to bring the Mormon " atta boy " list to heaven to show that you're good enough, ritualistic enough, and religious enough to get in and start the mini god start up program.

A relationship with Jesus Christ is the only reason He will say come in. Otherwise, He will say " I never knew you ", and so will go the sheep and the goats. Hey Bot, I want to be with you when He says " Well done, good and faithful servant " to us both. No judgements, Peace, Ben out!

10:47 PM  

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