January 16, 2008

Right Reason

I was inspired this morning after reading a friends blog to make the following post. Lately, our home church has been studying moral obligation and how this might help in one's efforts to evangelize to the lost. Much has been written about this subject by various authors some good (Charles Finney, CS Lewis) some not so good (Kant, Nietzsche) . But here lately I have thought of why is this really of importance.

For one I feel this subject is the very reason man is guilty of sin before God. If we deny freewill and moral obligation (natural law) then man is neither responsible or accountable for his sins. Sin is then neither a choice or done under volition, but rather it is a condition or is instinctive much like an animal has for food or survival. If indeed this is true, then we need not debate the evolutionist who tell us we are nothing more than animals living from our ancestral "instincts". Moral obligation is what separates us from the animals - it is that God has endowed us to know right from wrong.

Every human being whether they want to admit it or not knows the difference between moral right and wrong, they know when their sense of fairness has been violated (just go to a football or baseball game and watch what happens when a blatant bad call is made by an umpire). Watch what happens when judge sets free a known criminal back into society. I recall several years ago a video camera at a mall parking lot caught a woman severely beating her 4 or 5 year old daughter. The outcry was so great that the law tracked this woman down and brought her to justice. But why?

As CS Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity that we as humans make common observations such as how one culture judges another cultures level of morality. He uses the Nazi's as an example:

“..........do you think that the morality of one people is ever better or worse than that of another? Have any of the changes been improvements? If not, then of course there could never be any moral progress. Progress means not just changing, but changing for the better. If no set of moral ideas were truer or better than any other, there would be no sense in preferring civilised morality to savage morality, or Christian morality to Nazi morality. In fact, of course, we all do believe that some moralities are better than others. We do believe that some of the people who tried to change the moral ideas of their own age were what we would call Reformers or Pioneers—people who understood morality better than their neighbours did."

For me this is the issue we have with most of theology being preached today. It horribly denies these evident truths of reason. Every person understands the common concepts of Love, Mercy, Compassion, and Justice (sense of fairness). However, most of the doctrines that are widely adhered to these days deny that any of these self-evident truths really exist. Take for example Total Depravity. We hear from churches that mankind is totally wicked and incapable of knowing right from wrong. They are unable to do any right before God because they are born sinful. I have seen first hand how this theology will allow people to claim they are unable to stop sinning in “word, thought and deed daily” as they claim to have this fallen nature. It is no surprise then we have a concept in most of our churches of a “Sinning Christian” or “Carnal Christian”. This is a Christian who claims to love God, but because of his fallen nature he is holy, yet still able to sin daily. Again, any doctrine that makes it easier to sin can not be the truth.

Let me show you an example of bad theology and common sense working against one another. Last week results from a nationwide study were released asking Non-Christians what they thought of Christians. The study presented some alarming figures, but at the same time not at all surprising given recent events surrounding the church. The study was conducted by LifeWay Research said:

"In a portrait of the "unchurched" in America, a new study found that most are willing to hear what people have to say about Christianity but a majority also sees the church as a place full of hypocrites…….."A full 72 percent of the people interviewed said they think the church ‘is full ofhypocrites,’" said LifeWay Research director Ed Stetzer."

A lot can be said how the unsaved view Christians. The unsaved know in their heart of hearts Christians are to be markedly different than the rest of the world. That Christians are to be upright and holy people. But how so!? According to most doctrines being preached today, sinners shouldn’t even be able to make such observations as they are “totally depraved”. But yet, it seems the Unsaved are observing Christians on a daily basis that are not at all living up to that expectation of righteousness. As a matter of fact the “unsaved” see this as a real problem as they see a real contradiction in what a Christian should be and the Christians they are observing in reality.

Leonard Ravenhill says in his book Why Revival Tarries, he states; "we are told that, despite our sin and carnality, we are seated with Him. Alas what a lie! I agree! From the unsaved perspective why would they ever see a need to become a Christian? Why spend all that time going to religious services or giving of their time and money when they can continue to be a sinner in their own home, without all the fuss!

I say all this to show that what we have sadly lost within most of our churches is sound doctrine. Jesus speaks to the Pharisees in the book of Luke about this very issue:

Luk 11:52 Woe unto you lawyers! for ye took away thekey of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

The key of knowledge is reason. One can not obtain knowledge without using reason. Just as with the Pharisees, we see doctrines such as Calvinism that violates every sense of right reason and moral obligation. They have a theology that provides not life, but death - as it is incapable of stopping men from sin as they are told they are unable. A theology that tells people they are predetermined, a God who arbitrarily and picks some and condemns others on no other basis – but yet they seem to tell the world this is OK that God is yet fair and holy. All the while peoples sense of reason and justice is screaming at them that this can not be right! They have a gospel that tells people the cross is only for some and not for all. A gospel that allows Christians to live hypocritical – because its OK to “sin in word, thought and deed everyday”. This is why we are seeing an ineffective gospel – because it transcends the bounds of reason and does not produce a change of heart.

Please do not misunderstand me, by no means do I wish to let the unsaved off the hook either. If anything their sense of reason and their conscience is what condemns them of rejecting truth and denying Christ. God will not send one person to hell against their will, but He will send them because they chose to go there. The fact they had the ability to choose rightly and did not do so is what makes them stand accused.

1 comment:

Dean Lusk said...

This is not really on the subject (my apologies), but do you happen to have a link for the source of the survey data? I would love to have a look. I own a book called "unChristian" (that I still have not read) that expounds upon the fact that "people like Jesus, but they can't stand the 'church.'"

This kind of data should resound with the Church quite a bit more than it apparently does.