What Can We Do to Fix the Human Dilemma

April 18, 2009 Proverbs 14:12

 

Review

  1. The first and most fundamental element of any worldview is the way it answers the questions of ORIGINS. Where the universe came from and how human life began.

We would say that design is the most empirical of the arguments for God based on observational premises about the kind of order we discover in nature.(Frederick Ferre)

This is important because as Augustine offered

“You made us for yourself, and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you.”

Only when we find God can we halt this restless search, because the very essence of our nature is in theimago Dei the image of God – implanted in us by the creator

  1. The second element key to world view is the way it explains the HUMAN DILEMMA.
  2. The real problem of this world is deformity in the soul.
  3. In a word it’s sin.
  4. Anyone who harbors an idealistic urge to improve the human race ought to look for a healing to the sinful heart.

Good Intentions

Yet the notion of sin is unpalatable to the modern mind. As a result, many of the brightestWestern thinkers have constructed a great myth to avoid facing the truth about sin guilt.

 

People everywhere are searching for the cure for man’s brokenness.

People mean well but chase after the wrong things.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Man is driven to despair in his search for deliverance.

Search for Redemption

  • Many try to suppress the longing, to rationalize sin away, to mute it with lesser answers.
  • But ultimately, it is impossible to evade,
  • This is the great human predicament:
    Sooner or later, even the most decent among us know that there is a rottenness at our core. We all long to find freedom from out guilt and failures, to find some greater meaning and purpose in life, to know that there is a hope.
  • This need for salvation has been imprinted on the human soul since the first couple went astray in the Garden.
  • The desire is universal, and every religion and worldview offers some form of redemption.
  • For the Buddhist, it is nirvana (Nirvana is the state of being free from both suffering and the cycle of rebirth.)
  • For the Jew, it is the atonement of good works
  • For the Muslim, it may be heaven after the perilous walk across the sword of judgment.
  • But the religions and philosophies are not the only ones offering redemption.
  • Any belief system in the marketplace of ideas, any movement that attracts followers, anything that has the power to grab people’s hearts and win their allegiance does so because it taps into their deepest longings.
  • Those longings are, ultimately, religious.
  • Every worldview offers answers to the question of how we got here (creation), and an analysis of the basic human dilemma (redemption).
  • But which offers or redemption is true?
  • Which gives a genuine answer to the human dilemma?
  • Which ones are crass counterfeits?

Counterfeit Acts of Redemption

  1. Does it Liberate?

One of the most dangerous errors instilled into us by the nineteenth – century progressive optimism is the idea that civilization is automatically bound to increase spread.
The lesson of history is the opposite.  C. S. Lewis

  • Along with the denial of sin, the idea of inevitable progress has fueled the great utopian movement.
  • The idea first took hold through the work of the nineteenth – century German philosopher Georg Hegel.
  • Until that time, the work had been pictured as a static ladder of life.
  • Everything had its niche on a rung on this great ladder
  • From rocks to pants to animals and humans to angels to God himself.
  • Hegel did something entirely new, something really breathtaking.
  • He tilted the ladders on its side, so that instead of being a list of all the things that exist in the world at any one time, it became a series of stages through which the world passes during the course of history.
  • Thus the ladder was transformed into a dynamic series of steps
  • Everything moves from one rung to the next in a endless progress toward perfection
  • As a result of Hegel’s influence, everything was seen as a subject to evolution.
  • Not just living things but also customs, cultures, concept.
  • The universe was thought to be in a process of constant change, caught up in a great transformation from primitive beginnings to some exalted future.
  • In every field, from biology to anthropology, from law to sociology, there was a fevered search for “laws of development” that would reveal the pattern of history and the direction of eveolution, proviging people with guidance on how to live in accord with that great movement toward a beter world.
  • There was great optimism that the best human minds could uncover the laws of progress and lead us forward into utopia, a substitute vision of heaven.
  • Salvation Through Sex

Medieval mystics used medication and self-denial to achieve transcendence and to commune with the sacred; modernists use sex.

  • Sex is a vital part of God’s created order, a sacred part of the marriage covenant;
  • Our sexual nature is a good gift from God.
  • For many modern thinkers, sexuality has become the basis for the entire worldview, the source of ultimate meaning and healing, a means of redemption.
  • Sex has been exalted to the means of raising ourselves to the next level of evolution, creating a new kind of human nature and advanced civilization.
  • For example, in the early twentieth century Margaret Sanger, who is generally remembered as an early champion of birth control, taught a brand philosophy of sexuality, a philosophy reinforced by science.
  • Sanger contended that sexual restraint suppresses the activity of the sex glands and thus injures health and dulls the intellect. Thus science itself, she argued, support sexual liberation.
  • We all base our lives on some vision of ultimate reality that gives meaning to our individual existence.
  • If we reject God, we will put something in His place.
  • We will absolutize some part of creation.
  • That’s exactly what has happened with those who look to sexual utopia for fulfillment and salvation.
  • Biology takes the place of God as the ultimate reality, and sex becomes the path to the divine
  • Science as Salvation
  • The myth goes something like this:
  • The universe stared out about fifteen billion years ago with a big bang.
  • Our solar system was born about seven billion years ago.
  • Eventually life appeared in the chemical broth of the ancient oceans, evolving first into simple microorganisms, then into higher, more complex forms, and finally into human beings.
  • We are the apex of evolution, with the intelligence to control nature and bend it to serve our purposes.
  • The solution to our social problems therefore lies in our own hands, through the exertion of human intelligence and ingenuity.
  • Through our ever advancing science and technology, we will save ourselves.
  • Many Western people hold this basic worldview without even realizing that they do.
  • Because the worldview has no name, not label, no church, and no rituals, most people don’t identify it as a religion or even as a distinctive belief system.
  • It is nothing less than a vision of redemption, a surrogate salvation, a substitute for the kingdom of God, setting up science as a path to utopia.
  • New Age Religion

Men and women have ultimately come up from amoebas, and they are ultimately on their way towards God. Ken Wilber

  • When the bright image of science and progress began to fade, and optimism gave way to disillusionment and despair.
  • Many people began to search for answers from other cultures.
  • Asian religions especially Hinduism and Buddhism, have always exchanged people from Western cultures to some degree
  • Today these religions have become popular alternatives to the dominant Western worldview
  • The attraction is powerful.
  • Western secularism is materialistic, limiting the reality to what can be tested scientifically.
  • Easter mysticism is spiritual, opening the consciousness to new levels of awareness.
  • The New Age movement is premised on the promise that we are on the threshold of a great leap forward into, literally, a new age of “harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding.
  • Humanity, supposedly, is about to make a quantum leap forward, to emerge as an entirely new creature, to become divine!

In short, spiritual evolutionism is not merely an error, a mistake idea; it is religious rebellion against reality – against the sheer fact that God is the Creator and we are creatures.

It is the empty boast of the pot that claims to make itself without the need of a Potter.

Real Redemption

Modern pluralistic society provides a smorgasbord of worldviews and belief systems, all clamoring for our allegiance.

A careful examination of competing worldviews can allow us to see with astonishing clarity that Christianity offer the only real answers to the most basic questions of life and the best understanding of how we can be saved.

First: Christianity begins with an accurate diagnosis of the human dilemma.

  • The basic problem is a moral one: our guilt before a holy God.
  • God created us and established the moral dimensions for our lives.
  • But we blew it.
  • We have sinned, everyone of us. We have fallen short of God’s perfect standard.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

  • We have defied the moral order of the universe, and as a result, we are alienated from God.

Second: Christianity provides the only answer to the problem of sin.

  • God himself has reached across the moral chasm that separates us from him in order to bring us back.
  • The second person of the Trinity became a human being, lived a perfect life of obedience to the moral order and in His death paid the price of our violation of the moral law.
  • His death satisfies the demands of divine justice.
  • God’s solution reveals a marvelous economy, for the substitutionary atonement permits God to be both “just and the one who justifies”.

Romans 3:26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

  • God remains “just” because he does not merely turn a blind eye to humanity’s violation of the moral law, which flows from His holy character.
  • At the same time He “justifies” those who have violated that law because its demands have been met by Christ’s death on the cross.

All the ideologies we’ve examined  are pale imitations of the Christian gospel.

  • They promise to free people form oppression ( or whatever they define as the problem) and create the New man, build the New Society, usher in the New Age.
  • Clinging to the beauty of the true gospel’s hope but wanting none of the gospel’s requirements.
  • They cast their philosophies as methods to create a new life through politics, sex, science or New Age religion.
  • But all these worldviews are defective, inadequate and substitute for the real need of real people for real redemption.

Jeremiah 21:8“You shall also say to this people, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death.

Joshua 24:15“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”