Identifying Worldly Thinking in Our Own Souls and Where it Came From. Jude 3
We want to look at how we can develop a framework, a grid, a tool for evaluating how we think. We all grow up in a culture, in a worldview. There are broad cultures, e.g. an American culture vs. a European culture vs. a Chinese or Asian culture, and even within those broader cultural spectrums there are sub-cultures. Even within those sub-cultures there will be distinctions depending on whether or not groups are Christian or not. So there are all these different views and we might think of them as somebody putting on a set of glasses. Where do we get those glasses? Those glasses were formed in our thinking through the influence of a variety of things: the influence of our parents, peers, teachers, and media.
Today, even in Christian homes, there is a huge impact upon our children through media and there is a lot of debate among different groups as to how that should be handled. There are those who want to completely shelter their children from the inputs of the world so that they don't have very much television. They home school or put them in Christian schools where they attempt to try to isolate the children, and on the positive side they are not just isolating them from the world, they are trying to build that biblical worldview of Christian character so that as they get older when they are introduced more and more to the culture around them they have the skills and maturity to be able to deal with and interact with that culture. Ideally when parents are doing this well what they are doing is not completely isolating their children from the cultural stream but they are picking and choosing when their children are exposed to certain trends in the culture and then they help set the framework mentally ahead of time, use the opportunity to teach children how they should think and interact with what they are hearing so that there is an intellectual and spiritual protection and defence built up so that when children hear the message of the world system they will be able to put up a wall, a barrier, and filter it.
We have to always remember in the Bible that there are two ways of looking at life. There is God's viewpoint and then there is the creature's viewpoint—sometimes referred to as human viewpoint or with the biblical term "worldly thinking," or "cosmic thinking." Sometimes we may refer to it as satanic or demonic thinking. It all refers to the same thing. There are numerous different aspects to this kind of thinking. At the very core there are two aspects. One is autonomy, that the creature can define or understand reality independently of God the creator and how He has revealed that creation operates, and also antagonism. There is an antagonism, a hostility to God's Word. Those elements run through things, whether we are talking about various religious systems, non-Christian religious systems, philosophical systems such as secularism, humanism, existentialism, modernism, postmodernism, Darwinism, Freudianism, etc. These are all different manifestations of the basic fundamental principles of autonomy and antagonism and they manifest differently in different cultures.
We need to understand that because all of us have picked up ideas, it is if it is in the water that we drink. Our children have them. This is why we see children today, young people today, young people under the age of thirty, often react to different events very differently from their parents. Some of that is because of the trends of the day, and those trends are determined by intellectual influences. One example is that often today those who have come up through school, come up through college, university, constantly hear something like the free market has failed, that capitalism has failed, that government is the solution to the problem, and when they are in high school and university and taking economics classes, political science classes, they constantly hear this drum-beat over and over again. And if that is never countered and there is no alternative view then they just pick it up. They don't know any other way to think. So there really needs to be a preparation.
Same thing with Darwinism. Again and again they hear, not just in the science classroom but in sociology, in social studies that the earth is billions of years old. They hear this over and over and over again, and unless there is something there that is going to say no, your wrong, I'm not buying into this, then there is no defence. There has to be that grid that goes up there.
James 3:15 NASB "This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural [soulish], demonic." It is classified as demonic because it is a reflection of Satan's system of thought. So this is what lies behind the infiltration of any kind of false ideas, any kind of false teaching. Always remember that ideas are important because ideas have consequences. Even if we don't fully comprehend or understand all of the consequences when we have wrong ideas they will always lead to bad consequences. By bad consequences we don't necessarily say something immediate that is going to be catastrophic or drastically negative. In fact for many years it may appear to work but in the end it produces a life that is empty and without God, a life that has no spiritual value or significance, and a life that is for unbelievers destined to the lake of fire, and for the believer an evaluation judgment at the judgment seat of Christ where there is nothing left.
What we have to do is be able to understand where this came from. Part of this is just being more cognisant of the ideas that are out there and how it has impacted our culture. In the United States and western Europe there has been a huge culture shift. A term that scholars and philosophers use a lot is a paradigm shift (paradigm = a model) that actually occurred in the early part of the twentieth century but it didn't filter down from the intellectual elite in terms of their impact on college and university classrooms, etc. until after World War II. These ideas were there before but it was in a small spectrum of the culture. But as those ideas were promoted more and more through various media means and educational means it began to filter down and to reach a critical mass in terms of the education leaders by the time of the 1960s and especially the 1970s. Then when that generation had taught those students—the students from the baby boom generation had all imbibed this kind of thinking and they carried it to the next level—it just really reached explosive proportions by the late 70s and on up to the present day. We need to identify that.
The principle in Jude is that we are to "contend earnestly for the faith," a term which has to do with fighting. It is an athletic term and it means that we are to strive for something, to make it a priority; it means to be something that we intensely struggle against on a day-today basis. There is the assumption in Scripture that there is a set body of truth that is true, not just for you and me and the next person, Americans and Europeans, but it true for all people at all times. And we have to know that and defend it so that it is part of our makeup, our culture and our understanding. That is the word pistis [pistij] for faith, and it is the content of what we believe.
What we believe goes into our thinking. First of all we evaluate our own thinking. Then we have the thinking that is in the sub, sub sub-culture, the micro sub-culture of our family unit. In a home where there is only one parent that is going to be a different kind of sub-culture than a home where there are two parents. In a home where parents are truly committed to the truth of God's Word and are training children that culture is going to be different from another culture. And so we have that culture where we have to root out these worldly, demonic ideas. Then the next area is the church and the next is outside of that but we usually don't get too much opportunity to get too involved in the broader cultural level.
We have also talked about the fact that 2 Corinthians 10:5, 6 emphasises that we are to be engaged in casting down arguments. That means we have to know what the arguments are. We have to know what the other guy's position is; we have to know what the views are out there. You can't cast down an argument if you don't know what it is. "… casting down arguments in every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God." Why? In order to bring "every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." Not most thoughts, not some thoughts but every thought. This applies to every one of those thoughts that you have, every opinion, every belief, every value, has to be taken out and exposed to the light of God's Word and then you have tom either remove it or reinforce it from the truth.
We start with inside of ourselves. Jesus lays down this principle in Matthew 7:3-5 NASB "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." We look at people and say they just don't get it in terms of the importance of doctrine. But the question to us is: do we get it in terms of the importance of doctrine? Is it just the academic understanding or end result of just taking in doctrine which teaches us not just what to believe but how to apply it and how it changes us from the inside out? Are we paying attention to doctrine and changing? We are not to go around meddling out in everybody else's life until first you have done the in depth house cleaning necessary in our own thinking and in our own soul. That is why we are starting with the influence of the world on our own thinking.
There are four ways that people come to know truth, four ways that humans have articulated that we come to know truth. The first three are limited because they are all based on human thought systems, on the human mind, and they are all putting their faith completely and totally in human ability to decipher and interpret things intellectually or experientially. And yet many times we know less than one one-millionth of one per cent, and yet we think that because we know that we can project everything else. These views are rationalism, empiricism, and mysticism. The first two are grounded on an independent use of logic and reason. There is nothing wrong with logic and reason but we have to determine whether it is reason and logic operating independently of God's Word or dependently upon God's Word. Then in mysticism logic is rejected. Mysticism just goes with inner impressions, inner ideas. Everybody has these and it is very easy for a lot of Christians who somehow want to identify some thought that comes into their mind as directly from the Holy Spirit. But unbelievers have those kinds of things too.
We have so much that happens inside of our thinking. The human mind is such an incredible computer that is processing billions and billions of pieces of data all the time, whether we are a believer or an unbeliever. And every now and then it just spits this stuff out and it rises to our consciousness. It is believed that many times the Holy Spirit is behind that but not always. Sometimes it is just the process of our own thought mechanisms and sometimes we can't really identify the difference between the normal thought processes and the time when God the Holy Spirit has just slipped that out there for us to pay attention to. Some people go way too far and every time something like this happens it was God the Holy Spirit who did it. How do we know? That is the question. What are the clear, objective, discerning criteria for determining whether a thought or an idea that came into our mind is from God the Holy Spirit or not? We have to be very careful with that and that we don't cross a line there into some sort of new revelation.
God the Holy Spirit works way back behind the scenes. He is influencing us, but we don't know and we can't identify when it is directly the Holy Spirit or indirectly the Holy Spirit; we just know that He does that. So people who run around and always have to say Jesus did this or the Holy Spirit told me this; how do they know? This is not to say that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not involved indirectly in some of these things but the issue is: how do you know? Mysticism leads to an autonomy in the human mind that glorifies our inner impressions, ideas, thought flashes, insights, and raises that to the same level of authority as revelation of the Word of God.
In contrast to these three we have revelation. Sometimes writers call this authority, and that is what it is. Authority is in a person outside of our mind. Rationalism, empiricism and mysticism all take place inside the head, but this takes place outside. Some external authority tells us what is true. This operates in a limited way all the time. When we have a young child and start teaching them the alphabet and to read they just listen to us and base their belief on what we say. They aren't using their experience or their reason to go to that; they are just basing it on an external authority. That is what the Christian does when trusting the Bible. We believe God is omniscient and knows all things. He has revealed Himself to us and so we use that authoritative revelation to help us interpret the data, the details, and the experiences of our life. Always remember this. You evaluate your experience by the Word of God. So when you go to the hospital and have an out of body experience and want to assign some spiritual value to it because it just seemed so real to you, and you think you went to heaven and want to come back and tell everybody about it, you have to remember that the apostle Paul went to heaven and God said he couldn't tell anybody about it. So are you raising yourself to a level above the apostle Paul? How do you know? The answers we hear are irrational. But that is where we are in our culture today because reason or rationalism has debunked Scripture; empiricism has debunked Scripture. They are not right but they have debunked Scripture. People say, Oh I just have to have some evidence other than the Bible to know that it is true.
We go back to Luke chapter sixteen where we have the story about Lazarus and the rich man. When the beggar dies he is carried by the angels (v.22) to Abraham's bosom. This is what happens when we die. The angels escort us the Paradise which is now in heaven but at this time, before Jesus died on the cross, it was somewhere it seems in the earth. Not long after that the rich man dies and the difference between the two is that Lazarus (not the Lazarus of Mary and Martha's family) is a believer, and so he goes to heaven. But the rich man is an unbeliever so he goes to Torments, which is another segment of Hades. When the rich man comes to consciousness in his interim body in Torments he looks across this great gulf and he can see (he had visual capability) Lazarus on the other side. He can also tell that the people on the other side are not in fiery torment. So he calls out to Abraham, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame." So that tells us a little bit about what it was like and that there is some sort of interim physical body and interim spiritual body that has physical sensations and Abraham says to the rich man, "Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony."
Then the rich man says, (v. 27) "Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father's house— for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment." Of course, he is thinking that they are going to believe somebody who has been raised from the dead because of the miracle.  "But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'" What could be more authoritative than Moses and the Prophets? Someone's experience? No, the experience of talking to someone raised from the dead is not your authority; the ultimate authority is the Word of God. Everything else is much less, insignificant. If people don't believe the authority of the Word of God then they'll never believe that somebody has actually been raised from the dead.  "But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'"
So what is more important? What is the ultimate authority? It is what the Word of God says. The Word of God judges your experience. No matter how real that experience may be you have to go to the Word of God and let the Word of God tell you what that experience really is, because your mind, your heart is evil and wicked and deceptive above all things, Jeremiah says, who can know it?
Immanuel Kant points out the problem. You can't get to a clear argument for objective knowledge so you come back to subjectivism; all you know is what you see. How many times have we heard people say this: Well that's just your experience. All you can know is what your experience tells you. You can't know things as they are objectively. This is scepticism. People can't live as sceptics. When it gets really tough and somebody is about to murder you or you are in the trench of warfare, you cry out to God. The most committed atheist will. They suppress the truth but it is always wanting to pop out in different ways. In existentialism you have to find meaning somewhere because God created you to have meaning. In existentialism you just validate your meaning by doing something.
All of this basically traces out the history of thought from the early 1700s through the 19th century. Then primarily in the 19th century we have postmodernism. The previous was called modernism. After modernism becomes bankrupt and can't really give answers anymore all it does is produce the horrors of World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II; we have to turn to something else to find hope and meaning.
We have seen some postmodern basics. Truth is created, not discovered. Reason, rationality and science ate cultural biases, those who trust reason and things based on reason—science, western civilisation, education, the US Constitution, etc.—are just biases from European cultural conditioning, and this cultural conditioning is designed to keep power in the hands of the social elite.
In biblical Christianity man is created in the image of God. He is not an accident, there is design and purpose. Man is both a physical and a spiritual being. In modernism human are purely material machine, the universe is purely physical, nothing exists beyond our senses. In postmodernism they really don't address this. They are suspicious of any dogmatic assertion. You can't know truth. That is the basic problem with postmodernism: there is no set universal truth. In terms of free will biblical Christianity says that it is diminished by sin but human beings are still morally responsible. Modernism says that man is completely independent and autonomous and self-governing. They can choose their own direction. In postmodernism we are products of our own culture; we only imagine that we are self-governing. We are basically predetermined by our culture. That is the determinative factor. That is why we have multiculturalism. In biblical Christianity reason is necessary but not sole and ultimate basis for understanding reality. It discovers some truth but revelation is also needed. In modernism rationalism and empiricism become the only basis for discovering truth. It completely rejects the possibility of external revelation. And postmodernism denies objective reason. Reason doesn't get you there, it is impossible; neither does experience. Rationalism for them is just a myth; you just go with something that is irrationalism.
In terms of the view of progress biblical Christianity says mankind isn't progressing toward anything. Technological advances are positive but there is no utopia to be brought in because inherently we live in a fallen world. In modernism there is belief in a utopic possibility. Man is getting better and better every day in every way. Science and reason are the paths to perfection. Science and reason brought us the atomic bomb so maybe it is not so good and maybe it won't get us anywhere, therefore it is bankrupt. And postmodernism comes along and denies the objectivity of reason, rationalism is just a myth, and we can only get to any kind of utopia if we just believe whatever we want to believe.
How did we get this way? It has to do with a mindset. It sort of describes what some have called compartmentalisation in the brain. Compartmentalisation is something we are sort of taught from the worldview. As we have said, worldview is like a set of glasses, and those glasses are put together by the culture around us.
We ought to restrict ourselves from the influence of media, and the Internet has put all this influence of the media on steroids. Kids are out there on Facebook, on many of the other social networking apps and spending a huge amount of time texting and all these things. That is not to say these things are wrong but there is a time and a place for everything, and this is a huge distraction and it takes peer pressure to a quantum leap further than it was when many of us were at that age.
Next, what we want to describe is just basically what happened since 1900 with Immanuel Kant. He had this view of reality that he split. The lower level is the area of the details of life—what we see, what we experience, what we taste, touch feel; the areas of creation, the created order, the physical order. So this is comprised of people and observable phenomena, things, events, language; all of this is what is going on down stairs in this house. Then upstairs there are universals, the moral ideas, ethics, absolutes, the idea of God. And there is a stair case where we can go upstairs and look at the broad universal absolutes, ideas, and those can help us to understand and to organise the details of lief that are downstairs. And there is movement. We can see what is upstairs; we can know it directly. As Christians we believe that. We can know God and that God can speak to us, and that there is communication between the universals and what is down below.
What happens with Immanuel Kant is that he came along and said we can't validate this on the basis of logic and reason alone, we can't validate this philosophically. All we can do is see what we think we see. We don't know what is on the other side because we have no direct experience of it, we have no direct contact with it and so we don't know if it is there. We can't really know if there are universals, we can only guess. So after Immanuel Kant upstairs just becomes inaccessible.
The problem is, we live down stairs in a world that now intellectually has no meaning, no God, and we are in existential darkness and despair. This is where Frederick Nietzsche ends up. It is just nihilism, there is no meaning in life, no value, there is just existential darkness, we are all just products of some cosmic accidental spark that hit a protoplasmic pool, and something happened and eventually it ends up being one of us. But we are all just pure matter, there is no immaterial soul, no God, no ultimate accountability, there is nothing. We are just trapped in this physical existence so we just come up with all of our values being pragmatic, just consensus. So one culture may have their consensus, another culture theirs, but who is to say one culture is better than another culture? Who is to say that the culture of New Yorkers is any better than the culture of the Aztecs in the 16th century? Who is to say there is anything wrong with cannibalism? Who is to say there's anything wrong with human sacrifice? Who were those horrible European anyway to think they could come in and in that culture. And so now we see history and politics and law all dumping on groups that have come in an supplanted other groups and said that their ideas were wrong. So the evil ones are now those who have been the conquerors, yet those conquerors were coming in to one degree or another with generally Christian ideas and it was when the Christian ideas came into the pagan barbarian Roman empire that Roman culture was transformed and resulted in the birth of a Christian Europe. Otherwise Europeans would have been no different from the pagan Barbarians everywhere else.
This impacts young people everywhere. The results of certain surveys are that 66 per cent of young believe that no such thing as absolute truth exists. We all know that there is an inherent contradiction there because they say no absolute truth exists. Well that is an absolute truth! But that inherent contradiction doesn't matter because in the very core of their being they bought into this idea that it doesn't have to be logical. In fact, logic hasn't helped us any so who cares of it is logical? This is the way it is. And so there is no such thing as absolute truth. Sixty-six per cent of Americans believe there is no such thing as absolute truth, 72 per cent of those between 18 and 25. This survey came out about ten or twelve years ago so these 18 to 25-year-olds are now 28-35. So we are talking about the under 40 generation here where 72 per cent don't believe that there are any absolutes whatsoever.
But 53 per cent of evangelicals—these are people who think they are Christian and who claim to be Christian and the Bible to be the ultimate authority in their life—believe that there are no absolutes and not even Christ is an absolute. You might say that is contradictory. We postmodernism is all about contradiction, it is irrationalism gone to seed.
This has led to several consequences. For example, it has led to the collapse of the importance of religious belief. And we see that in our secular culture. There has been this drastic divorce of the secular from the spiritual. So we live in a world where many of our intellectual elites, those who are extremely influential in policy—they don't even have elect roles, they in positions of think tanks, they operate behind the scenes in media and control these things—don 't believe that there is anything true about religious ideas.
Where does this have a consequence? It has a consequence when we are dealing with Islam, for example. In Islam they don't have the split between the sacred or the spiritual and the secular, everything is about Allah and everything is about getting the world ready for Allah to come and to cleanse the world and bring about the death of all the Christians and all of the Jews. They take that extremely seriously. But secular atheists in the west say that is just a myth, we don't take that seriously. We are blinded by secularism. We can't honestly understand or appreciate where our Islamic enemy is coming from and so we are going to miss many good decisions, make many bad decisions, and maybe even some self-destructive decisions because we can't really comprehend the way they think. It means nothing to the secular elites in our culture.
That leads to globalism. In globalism everybody is equal, everybody is good. You can't draw distinctions, evaluations, judgments between some cultures being better than other cultures. We are left just saying that the cannibals of one location are just as good and just as beneficial to humanity as the intellectual elites. So this leads us with a fragmentation and a complete polarisation in terms of our culture. We have on the one side those who believe in absolutes and on the other side those who don't. That is not necessarily between Christian and non-Christian because we still have large elements of our culture that may not be biblical, may not be truly justified, but they have still been inculcated with a biblical worldview and they think that way. They think in terms of external universals and absolutes. Then on the other side there are those who don't. And the space between them becomes greater and greater as we go through time, and this has led to why there are so many complaints about the fact that there is little civil discourse in political debates. One of the reasons for that is because the more polarised the culture becomes the more frustrated people become with the other side, and the more hostile they become. So there is this extreme break-up and fragmentation of our culture.
We can see this right now because of the recent emphasis on homosexual, sodomite marriage and the legalisation of it and the announcement of it by our President that he believes that is the right thing. Notice how he said, "I think it is right as a Christian to treat all these people well, they have been disenfranchised." But wait a minute. What Bible is he reading? Christianity gets it truth and its values from the Bible and the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin and it is not to be legitimised or validated by legal statute.
So we see this fragmentation that occurs in the cultural wars and it is seen in the split still between north and south. Notice that right before he made that announcement there was a vote in North Carolina overwhelmingly affirmed traditional marriage, rejected any kind of same-sex marriage, and also rejected civil union. Then he comes along the next day and makes this announcement that he really thinks that same-sex marriage is the right thing to do. So there is North Carolina, and Virginia has passed a Defence of Marriage Act, Georgia has. Notice the states that have done this are the states that still have a strong biblically conservative evangelical population that is influenced by the Bible. The rest of the country, especially in the north east, have thrown the Bible away years ago. They don't even know what a Bible looks like. Most of the people up there who are influencing things have never met an evangelical Christian, have never read the Bible, have probably never read the Ten Commandments, and don't even know where to find them if they were interested. According to this group human beings make up their own reality, and so who is to say one reality is better than another. Who is to say that a heterosexual reality is better than a homosexual reality? Who is to say that feminism is better than partiarchalism? Who is to say that the American way of life as seen in our Constitution which promotes free enterprise is better than socialism. Just because socialism has never worked historically doesn't means it doesn't work for us. See, it is so arrogant. They are blinded to the truth, so every reality is true.
What we are seeing here is that in postmodernism meaning is created by a social group and its language. This is why language becomes so important—the words that are used. With postmodernism, therefore, it is impossible to know God or to know history or to know reason. You can't get it upstairs; there is a solid wall there so we just make things up. Every culture makes up myths and legends about God, history and reason just to promote their own agenda, just to promote their own ideas. They say you can't trust those people who go back to history and say we need to go back to the Constitution. That was their reality in 1700s, what does that have to do with us today? It's a living document, who cares whether it is Constitutional or not?
So with these people in postmodernism it is impossible to communicate truth because at a core level they can't quite comprehend that. With no absolutes behind language according to them each person is trapped and imprisoned by their own language, culture or group that seeks to marginalise them.
Think about this. If you train your mind as postmodernists have done through the influence of their culture and buying into all of this to believe six impossible things every day, then when 30, 40, 50 years have gone by you can't tell the difference between possibility and impossibility anymore, and you are left thinking in a way that is so foreign to someone who thinks in external absolutes that the two people may as well be talking in completely different languages. They can't understand a thing that the other is saying because the foundation for meaning has been eradicated and annihilated. That is where we are headed as a culture and it will only lead to more hostility and more aggravation.
AS we have said, 53 per cent of evangelicals don't believe in absolute truth. And if the way you live indicates what you believe, academically we may say we believe in absolute truth, but how many of us experience the fact and catch ourselves at times thinking in terms of a relative system simply because that is the heart-beat of our culture and we have to stop ourselves. That is how we have been influenced. So we need to contend for the faith. We need to be constantly be reminded that there is absolute truth and listen to it, over and over and over again. We can't just go through life and think an hour of Bible study and instruction focusing our mind on the truth is enough. We have to have proportion in all things but daily there has to be something. We may not be able to listen to a tape for an hour a day. Maybe there is only fifteen minutes on the way to work and on the way home. Take it; grab it. Don't just say you are going to listen to music because what you are saying is: I am going to let the world influence me instead of the Bible.
These are our options. So are we going to contend for the faith in our own soul or not? That is the question.