Idolatry Produces Soul Bondage – Judges 3:8
We continue our study with the first cycle of disobedience, discipline and deliverance under the first deliverer, which is a pretty good translation of the word "judge." The term "judge" doesn't nave the connotation in Hebrew of a judicial or a judiciary official as it does in the English language, although that was one aspect of their responsibility, more often than not they are portrayed as a military leader and a leader of at least a portion of the nation. So we get into this first cycle with the first judge, Othniel, and last week we began to look at the issues involved starting in Judges 3:7, "and the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God, and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth."
As we began to look at that we made several points in order to orient ourselves to the time. Remember Scripture must always be interpreted in the time in which it was written and one of the things that we saw here is that the purpose, one of the purposes for writing the book of Judges was to show the Israelites why they had failed under a theocracy when they had maximum freedom, operating under the Mosaic Law, under a concept of government known as a theocracy where they did not have a physical human king who would operate in authority over the nation and in 1 Samuel 8 there is the warning that now that you have failed as a theocracy and you want a king like every other nation, then you are going to have your taxes raised and you are going to thereby lose and limit your freedoms.
We see tremendous application politically for that today; I think that we see in our culture today, especially in this political season and election year, we've seen this over the last decade, we want to be like all the other nations, like the European nations and other nations who succumb to socialism, we want to have a health care policy like they have, we want to have cradle to grave security, and the more you look to a central government to provide security for your life the more you give up freedom. And you can never have freedom and security at the same time; they are mutually exclusive because true freedom means that you have not only freedom to succeed but the freedom to make bad decisions and fail and absolutely ruin your life and end up destitute and living under a bridge somewhere. But if you want somebody to come along and guarantee that you can never suffer the consequences of your bad decisions, then that is also going to limit your ability to succeed. And when that is imposed upon a nation then the result is a loss of freedom.
But what destroys that is not a political problem, it is not an economic problem, it is not an education problem, it is a spiritual problem and what we see over and over in Judges is that the reason that they have military failure, the reason that they have a loss of freedom, the reason they have political failure and the reason they have moral failure…moral failure isn't even the cause. That's one of the problems with so much of the so-called Christian right is they're out there wanting to impose a morality on people who have at the core a negative volition toward God and then it becomes nothing more than a Pharisaism and it's a pseudo freedom and a pseudo morality because it's not grounded in positive volition.
The only source of freedom is the positive volition of a nation towards God and when a nation goes negative toward God then there is a loss of freedom. That is the issue. So since the issue is spiritual the solution is spiritual; it's not political, it's not economic, it is not caused by mandating some sort of moral code on everybody, it's not caused by going in and renovating the education system, all of those things may be necessary and I'm not saying that it's not a good thing to pursue those particular tracks but they are not the solution and they never will be the solution because what we see in this chapter is that the real causative force in human history is volition; volition towards God, that determines everything.
And that concept of volition has been destroyed in our culture and people are doing everything, because that's part of paganism, is to reject the divine institutions and to systematically attack them and when you attack the core divine institution which is volition, then everything else begins to fall. And when you attack volition what you are attacking is human responsibility and you basically say that people are no longer responsible for their lives and decisions and somebody else is going to come in clean up the mess, it's not really their fault, it's their parents fault or it's the system's fault, it's education's fault, or they were born in this place instead of that place, and what the Bible says is all of that is purely secondary; the real issue is how they have responded to whatever environment they are in and if they do not respond positively toward God and toward doctrine then the result is always going to be failure and bondage and servitude.
There are also tremendous lessons built by analogy from this for the spiritual life. Last time I said this is going to take a while to go through this because we have to keep our eye on the ball and keep focused on where we are going which is tying this into the spiritual life. But in the meantime as I keep digging into the text I keep thinking about all sorts of applications for our present time.
Now I keep thinking about this passage or this phrase in verse 7, that "the sons of Israel forgot Yahweh, their God," and the emphasis there is on the sacred Tetragrammaton, translated with small uppercase letters which indicates that it translates Yahweh in the Hebrew, which refers to the covenant God of Israel who is the One who entered into a covenant with them, the Mosaic Covenant, in which He promised certain blessings for obedience and divine discipline for disobedience. But when it says that "they forgot the LORD," it seems kind of a weak statement there and we must parallel it with a verse back in Judges 2:11-12 where it says, "And the sons of Israel," so it's basically the same thing, that "the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals,  And they" and there the verb shifts and it's a different verb, I pointed this out last time, there the verb is 'azav which means to forsake, to reject, to abandon. So when we look at the word "forget" in Judges 3:7 it doesn't mean to just have temporary amnesia or some sort of momentarily overlooking God and you woke up that morning and you were just too busy, oops I forgot to have my devotions this morning, forgot to read my Bible or got too busy and my, look how fast the time went.
It doesn't mean that, it's a much stronger word and it really reflects what Paul talks about in Romans 1 where he says that they rejected the truth, suppressed the truth in unrighteousness and then exchanged the worship of the creature for the worship of the Creator. And then "professing themselves," which indicates at the same time they're claiming to be wise and intelligent and academic which refers to academic and intellectual arrogance, "professing themselves to be wise they became fools, by exchanging the worship of the creature for the Creator" so it is an intentional removal of God from the thinking. Now that can be done in several different ways. It can be done either in a sophisticated well-thought out systematic way or it can be done in an unsophisticated way. Now most of us do it in more of an unsophisticated way, we just decide that God's not going to play a major role in our life right now and somehow it'll work out anyway and we just sort of rationalize God out of the picture at this particular moment.
But there is a systematic attempt to remove God from the picture that is much more heinous and is usually involved at a larger level called the cosmic level. And the Scripture, in the New Testament you have Satan's system of thinking referred to as cosmic thinking, from the Greek word kosmos which means an orderly systematic cohesive plan and purpose, and what that means is that Satan has an agenda and his agenda is to blind the minds of men. Notice it does not say their emotions, it does not say to physically blind them, but it's to blind their thinking, to put blinders on their thinking so that they cannot think accurately and the way to do that is with false concepts, and these false concepts sound good and look good and they're thrown at us left and right, so much so that they basically make up the cultural air that we breathe. And of course Scripture says that Satan is the prince and power of the air, so there is just a little analogy there and we imbibe worldly thinking on a day to day basis and if our radar is not on then we're not aware of how these things are influencing us because 9 times out of 10 the subtlety is the result not of what is said, but what is not said. See, most of us have a very difficult time focusing on what's not present and when things are left out and we don't really know what's not there, it's very important to pay attention to what is not said sometimes.
Back in the 70s and since then there's been a tremendous debate among evangelicals about the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. And one of the catch phrases of the so-called Neo-evangelicals who were defining away the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture is that they would write a doctrinal statement that would just say we believe that the Bible is the Word of God and is infallible in all areas of faith and practice. Well what's not said? "All" areas, see they've limited it, that the authority of God was only to "all areas of faith and practice," but if it has to do with history or science, or meteorology or ancient history or civilizations then it may not be authoritative, it's only in areas of faith and practice. So it's what's not seen that's there and yet many people, because they're not taught to think critically and how to operate on their spiritual radar and exercise discernment, they just get sucked into this kind of false thinking and you don't even know it. It's extremely subtle and that is why Satan was called, when he indwelt the serpent in the Garden, the most subtle of all creatures.
Now when I looked at this last time I began to emphasize the fact that this entails something more than simply dismissing God or rejecting God or putting your emphasis on the cultural values of the Canaanites that surrounded them, but it would also involve an intentional and definite act of rewriting history. Remember, this generation is the generation just following Joshua. We are told that Joshua has died and all of the elders have died so this is the first generation that comes up after the death of Joshua and the elders, so they are not eyewitnesses as a generation. I want you to notice that the Scripture clearly comes along characterizing and entire generation. So that gives us the authority to characterize generations by spiritual characteristics. It doesn't mean it's true of every single individual in that generation but the preponderance of the people, the majority of the people do fit the profile.
So just like with the Exodus generation the majority of them were believers, that doesn't mean that every single of them was a believer but they were all characterized by two things; they had all trusted in the gospel as it was known in the Old Testament but they had all rejected any desire to live the spiritual life as it was known in the Old Testament, so they were spiritual life failures and that's why they ended up wondering through discipline in the wilderness for forty years. Now that occurred, as far as the timing of the events in Judges 3:6, the Exodus was approximately 808 to 90 years earlier. For us that would be something comparable to the events of World War I. I know that for those of you who are under 30 World War I is ancient history; for some of you Vietnam is ancient history. But that just shows how you have already succumbed to a degree to historical revisionism. It was Henry Ford who said history is bunk. But people who forget history, as Hegel said, are doomed to repeat history. And the one thing that we have learned from history is that we learn nothing from history, yet history is crucial to understanding who we are, what God has done and where we are going.
It is only as a Christian, as a believer that you have a frame of reference for understanding the value of history because history is the outworking of God's plan and we have history only because of divine revelation that has given us the criterion to be able to interpret history. You do not have any culture in the ancient world develop history until the Jews come along and under Moses and the Pentateuch and Joshua and the writer of Judges and Samuel do you have the first true writing of history in God's plan, in human history and in the ancient world. And by history I don't mean simply recording past events. That's what is known, more technically as a chronicle, you're just listing events but you're not trying to assign any meaning to it, you're not trying to gain any lessons from them, you are not trying to decide, well what are the ultimate causative factors in history, you are simply stating what happened. Well, that's technically not history, that is being a chronicler, and there were some examples of that. But then when you look at the ancient world, you look at what we have in the remains from the Assyrians, from the Babylonians, from the Egyptians, they never had history; they had myth and legend because they had no absolute framework from which to understand objective reality. We're going to have to look at why because they not only did that in the ancient world but we have a much more modern sophisticated form of it going on in the world around us today.
So forgetting God not only involves a personal act of negative volition in rejecting God and actively substituting one thing for something else, but in order to justify that in our own minds you must somehow rewrite the past. It has been only 40 years since the tribes of Israel have entered into the land, and if you remember when Joshua led the nation, the tribes across the Jordan River and God parted the Jordan River, just like they did the Red Sea and they walked across on dry land, when they got to the other side and they first entered the land, God said take one stone for each tribe and build a rock cairn that will be a monument and testimony for all subsequent generations so that when they see that, and the children come along and say daddy, what's that, he's going to say well that tells us that in history God operated. You see, that is the importance of history; history is the realm in which God operates and if you destroy historic objectivity then what you do is destroy the objectivity of Christianity. It is an attack on our beliefs. So that is why history is a very important issue.
Now the liberals have understood this, and of course Satan has understood this, and liberal theology began to attack the historicity of the Scripture and the gospel and the historical reliability of Genesis 1-11 as early as the early 17th century. Now there may have been some isolated attacks earlier than that but that's when it really become more systematic and enters into the mainstream of academic thought in western culture, and it begins to build from that point on and they understood…see the attack, if you notice, while it developed a scientific aspect later it's not till the 1850s that Darwin published his Origin of Species, you have really the attack on Christian begins in the realm of history. That's why I've always said history is the most important subject for Christians. It's the most important thing for you to understand and if you have kids who are studying history in school probably the place that they're getting the most fiendish, subtle destructive attacks against establishment thinking and doctrinal thinking is not in biology and geology, it is in the classroom in social sciences and in history, and as parents you need to really be aware of what's going on there because that's where a lot of history is being reshaped to teach all of this modern social political agenda.
There is an American history textbook that's been written a conservative Christian by the name of Marvin Olasky, who is down at the University of Texas, he is also I believe, an advisor in George W. Bush's campaign but he is a believer and I've head him on some various talk shows, he's quite articulate but he has written an American history from a Christian framework. And that's important as parents, you ought to put your kids on a summer curriculum and teach them these things because they're not going to get… for those of you who are over 40 your kids are not going to get what you got when you were in school and you probably didn't get what your parents got in school and you don't even know what you don't know. So you ought to make that a priority.
In Judges 3 we see one of the first generations that engages in historical revisionism and they forget God because they are fundamentally anti-history and what we learn from this is a principle is paganism always seeks to reshape and mold history to its own agenda and plan. So let's get into a new doctrine here, the historical revisionism and post-modernism.
Point number one: history is the outworking of the plan and purposes of God for human history. That's our basic definition; history is the outworking of the plan and purposes of God for human history therefore history is objective and the events of history and the meaning of history are rationally and cogently discernable. It's not merely subjectivity, you'll hear many people say well, that's your opinion, and that's their opinion and every historian has a different opinion. That is because they are coming from a frame or reference. Historical facts don't change but people may invent historical facts, they may look at a thousand pieces of data and choose five and then use those five as the basis for interpretation. That's what historians do; they look at everything but they'll pick five or six representative things and then use that to interpret history. But if you don't have God's divine viewpoint framework then you will be distorting history and it is only when you come at history from God's divine viewpoint framework that you're able to accurately interpret history.
There are lots of different philosophies of history, from Hindu philosophies and ancient Greek philosophies which were basically cyclical which went along with their paganism, that history really isn't going anywhere, to modern views of history which are all distortions of Christianity. Augustine had the greatest impact on our understanding of history when he wrote his famous book, The City of God, because he showed there that history was directional, it was going somewhere, it was God's plan and it had a destiny. But what happened over the years, because of the residual effect of Christianity in western culture, people like Marx and Hegel still held onto this directional idea but then they changed everything else in terms of its underlying meaning and causation and man was no longer, volition was no longer the major issue.
So we have to understand that if history is the outworking of the plan and purposes of God then we must, in evaluating history, maintain a Creator/creature distinction when it comes to history. And by that I mean that God is going to be distinct from the creation and it is God who is going to give meaning, purpose and value to the creation. So if God is removed from the equation, then meaning, value and purpose comes from inside the creation, and that is the exchange of the Creator for the creature. So you enter into intellectual idolatry.
Now I know for some of you this sounds like its pure philosophy but it comes home to roost, every time you read an editorial in the newspaper, every time your kids go to a social studied class, some of you are going to college, every time you go to a history classroom because your professors and those teachers have been trained in colleges and universities under professors and historians to teach this way and it is shaping the thinking of people. If you go to museums, the museum curators have gone to Cambridge and Oxford and Harvard and Yale and they have sat under these professors and so it has shaped their thinking and their interpretation. So you read the newspaper, you watch something on the Discovery Channel and that's the perspective from which they're coming and if you don't understand the issues then you don't have your radar up and you just naturally suck in all sorts of human viewpoint that has subtle effects on the way we think so we have to understand this. This is crucial, it's not just a matter of understanding abstract philosophy, it's a matter of shaping and protecting our own thinking. So we have to understand this; if history is the outworking of God's plan, then history is objective, the events of history are objective and rationally discernable.
Point number two, since history is the objective arena within which God operates, to destroy objectivity destroys meaning in history. And when you destroy meaning in history, then you destroy the ability to have an objective knowledge of God. And that's what's happened in the culture around us. Once you lose objectivity, that God is no longer the God who works and operates in history, then the only way to know God is to know your own impressions and subjective feelings, and where are we today in Christianity and in the culture as a whole? There's emphasis on emotion as opposed to objective knowledge, because modern man has given up on the fact that you can know truth and you can know truth objectively that applies to everyone in any culture, in any situation.
This is a chart that we have to understand, I want this grilled into you. Above this thick line, this is an impenetrable line of demarcation between God the Creator of all things, and those of you who come out of liturgical church backgrounds, whether it's Roman Catholic or Episcopal or Presbyterian, where you quoted the old creeds, the Nicene Creed, the Apostle's Creed, it always starts off, "We believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth." They don't start with the gospel, they start with creation. Everything starts with understanding God as the Creator and that means He is radically distinct and different from everything I the creation. So I draw a heavy thick line separating the Creator from everything in creaturely existence. Now everything in creaturely existence not only includes objective concrete things such as animals and plants and trees and man, but it also includes all of the intellectual ideas generated by the creature, such as reason and rationalism, experience and empiricism, our interpretation of experience and empiricism, and what happens is when we take God out of the picture then we have to generate all value and criteria from within this box beneath the heavy line. And that assumes and presumes that we are omniscient, that we have all the data we need in order to formulate any kind of interpretive scheme. That is not only unrealistic; it's the height of arrogance. But what we have below the line is man's intellectual background, reason, experience, empiricism, whatever his intellectual theory might be, intuitivism, mysticism, would be included there. There you also have the events, like historical events as well as scientific data, values, feelings, impressions, intuitions; all of this is in the creaturely realm.
Now what happens is when you take God out of the picture then there is nothing above the line that can give meaning, value and definition to the data in that box. That box can only have meaning, anything in that box can only have meaning in reference to something that is outside of the box. So when man comes along and tries to interpret history, tries to interpret the events of history, since there is no longer any objective criterion, all he is left with is subjective criteria. So how then do you know anything happened? Well, it seems right to me. The Scripture says there is a way that seems right to man but the ends thereof are death. It makes me feel good; it gives me an intuitive sense that this is right. So all of a sudden you're grounded in subjectivism and then that comes over into the religious realm because God is no longer presented as the objective actor in human history.
I covered that last time, the great distortions of the gospel today are along the lines of invite Jesus into your life and He'll solve all your problems. Well, there's an element of truth to that but that's not how the gospel is presented in the Scripture. The gospel is presented in the Scripture as something that God did in human history on a particular afternoon, 14 Nisan according to the Hebrew calendar, 14 Nisan the year 33 AD or perhaps 32, we're not exactly sure but whatever the year on a particular date in time between 12:00 noon and 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon the skies were darkened and God the Father judicially poured out upon Jesus Christ on the cross all the sins of the world, so that Jesus Christ paid the penalty, sin is no longer the issue for the believer. It has been paid for objectively and verifiably in human history, and because He who knew no sin became sin for us, God the Father at the instant of our faith alone in Christ alone imputes to us the righteousness of Jesus Christ. So that because we have received this imputed righteousness we are now justified by faith. That's a historical reality, it is not presented in terms of how you feel, or in order to solve your problems; that's an appeal subjectively and that's a false gospel. It is distorted by the pressure of our external worldly cosmic system. And it shifts the emphases in the gospel and that distorts it.
So when you go to church if the emphasis isn't so much on what the Scripture says, even though they may give a lot of attention to Bible study, see, they may look good, they may talk about we have Bible class four times a week, and you can come and they'll talk about the Bible but they're reinterpreting the Bible still within this emotional subjective grid because they haven't challenged their own thinking. I remember coming to understand this 25 years ago when I was in seminary, that one of the reasons the charismatic movement has become so popular in the 20th century is because it essentially an extremely existential form of Christianity. Existentialism says that there is really no meaning in life, the only way I can validate and have meaning and value in life is to engage in some action. According to John Paul Sartre it could be something positive like helping a little old lady across the street, or decapitating her, it didn't matter which you did; there's no external value system to judge right or wrong, it doesn't matter what you do as long as you do something that validates your existence and emphasizes your existence. So it has to do with the subjective assignment of meaning, that there's an experience and that's what is the criterion for whatever it is you believe, it's that experience that you've had. Well, most 20th century Americans, whether they've heard of John Paul Sartre or existentialism or Kierkegaard or Hegel or Kant, it doesn't matter, they're existentialists; they're walking, talking, breathing existentialists because they believe that meaning in life basically comes from their own experience and their own value system and just doing whatever it is, that's what validates their life and if it's boring and dull then let's end it because it's all meaningless. And it's a very depressive and very pessimistic way of thinking. And one of the reasons we have such a high rate of suicide among young people today is because they are basically taught from within this type of framework.
But what happens is somebody comes along and gives you a gospel that Jesus is going to solve all your problems and make you feel better, they have just presented and existential form of the gospel and so now you can go to an existential Christian church and your religious beliefs are validated every week by how exciting it gets, and by stimulating music that appeals to your emotions and by a form of teaching and preaching that is designed more to emphasize the form than the content and to stimulate you so you go home and say my, wasn't it good, I just feel like I was in the presence of God today. That's just existentialism that's been baptized; it is not Biblical Christianity. And it becomes popular and the reason it's so popular is because you don't have to change the way you think. You might accept Christ as your Savior and you might be genuinely a believer in Christ but you don't have to change the way you think; you go right into the church and you keep being an existential person, and you keep operating on the same existential presuppositions as everybody else in the culture and you never really renovate your thinking by doctrine. So it's just is a theology that is based on emotion and experience rather than on the objectivity of the revelation of God, even though there is a lot of talk about the Bible, there is a lot of talk about many good things, ultimately you break it down that's the core problem. So this is what has happened culturally and it has its impact on how we understand history.
Thus we can say in point 3 that with God and objectivity removed the vacuum is filled with subjective impressions and feelings created and imposed by man upon creation. So man looks at the data, looks at the information, looks at the feelings and then he imposes his own meaning upon creation rather than accepting God's meaning and God's definition and that is the essence of idolatry. You have exchanged the worship of the Creator for the worship of the creature; you have taken God out and anything within that bottom square, anything in there, and move into the vacuum created by the absence of God. And you can have all kinds of details of life, whatever it might be, it might be materialism, it might be success, it might be marriage or family, anything within the creation then moves into that vacuum and becomes a substitute idol.
We see this in Christian circles; I was reading a news letter, an excellent editorial, somebody was writing and was talking about how conservative Christians have created an idol out of the family. Oh, but the family is important. Yes, it's important, but he gave examples of a Christian family he had grown up being involved with and for years they had a motto along the lines of where the Word of God is preached or where God is glorified, something objective and Biblical, and they exchanged that to where the family is strengthened. See, all of a sudden now the family has become the idol. So what happens in paganism is there's a very subtle attack on all of the divine institution's and even in some cases some of those divine institutions can be elevated to idol status.
Point number four, by destroying history and objectivity of meaning in history you destroy man and any meaning and value in man. This is where we are culturally. You see this; I think young people are particularly susceptible to this as they are forced to read as required reading in many literature classes modern American writers who are writing from this dark pessimistic hopeless existential perspective. They read this kind of literature that is so negative and then they go out and kill themselves and we wonder, why don't they have any hope? It's because we're drilling them with this sort of pessimistic post-modernism in the classroom. By destroying history and objectivity of meaning in history you destroy man, man no longer is in the image of God, really you no longer have any reason to show why man is different from the rock out there or why it is any better or worse for me to kill a mosquito than to kill my neighbor, because if we're all part of the overall chain of being then you have no criteria for showing that man is unique. He's just another accident in the chain of being.
There's an ancient Chinese proverb that says that a nation that is absorbed with the present, see that's what existentialism does, you're validated only in the present, that's what post-modernism does, it just emphasizes the present, and a country that is absorbed with the present ignores its past, and therefore it destroys its future. A nation that is absorbed with the present ignores its past and destroys its future. I know that some of you, because of the way history was always taught to you, golly, why does history get so dull? It's because when you don't have a Biblical frame of reference for understanding history it is dull; it is just either a meaningless conglomeration of facts or it's a view of the facts that are so distorted that something in you has rebelled against that.
Point number five: in post-modernism the big evil is western civilization. Now why is that; see there's this emphasis on multi-culturalism, which means all cultures have equal value, there's no what they call meta-value, something large enough, broad enough to serve as a criterion for all cultures because they've taken God out of the top, so therefore everything is of equal value, whether it's African culture, Asian culture, Russian culture, aboriginal culture, whatever it might be, native American Indian culture, whatever it is it has equal value and so you can't say that one is bad, one is good, they are all of equal value. And it's an attack on western civilization; it's not really equal because everything that comes out of western Europe is automatically evil so that's become more and more denigrated and ran down in the classroom and all other cultures become elevated in value, whether there is any real objective evidence to support that or not.
Here you have to remember that western civilization became what it did, not because of Plato and Aristotle, not because of Roman influence, because that was all pagan, and there's ultimately no difference between the Romans, the Greeks, the Africans, the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians, the Chinese, there's no difference, they are just different varieties of paganism. But what made western civilization what it is is the introduction of Christianity and its influence on all of the cultures in Europe. It transformed them. If it hadn't been for Christianity the Celts and the Teutons and all the various tribes, the Vikings, would still be immersed in their old pagan ways. Now they are going back to that, but western civilization became what it did because of the influence of Christianity. Now that doesn't mean that western civilization is wonderful and everything is perfect and they did everything right. There was still a lot of evil there because it was a blend, it was a merger of a lot of Christian ideas and still had a lot of old pagan concepts leftover, which is true of anything. You'll never have a perfectly Christianized society or country this side of the millennium, and that is not to be our goal. But European culture became what it did because of the influence of Christian, so when you start attacking western civilization you never come right out and say we're attacking Christianity, but in essence all this post-modernism is, is an attack on Christianity and the absolutes of Christianity.
What happens under point number six is that modern historians, therefore, have to locate the ultimate cause of history inside of history instead of outside of history. We go back to that picture of the box, all the details in the box. Because they've rejected anything outside the box then all meaning and value has to come from something inside the box, so one guy comes up with this view that what moves history is economics. And so you have an emphasis on trade. Now that's not saying that trade is not an important factor but is that the ultimate causation in history. Or he comes along and says its various social trends such as a Marxist interpretation of history or some say it's simply the age, or it's political theory, or it has to do with meteorology and that's a big emphasis today, it's called geopolitical interpretation of history and it emphasizes the geography, that one reason the Africans never had developed a great civilization is the rivers didn't flow in the right direction, the mountains were in the wrong place and they didn't have the right weather so it never could really take root there. In other words, it has nothing to do with man and volition and his relationship to God, what made all the difference was just a chance happening of nature and it ended up being in the wrong place and they could never develop because there were too many natural barriers. This is emphasized and is accepted by many, many modern historians.
One example of the kind of teaching that goes on today is found in the writings of Oxford Professor Felipe Fernandez-Armesto in a recent history that he published, it came out this last year, in light of the end of the millennium, called Millennium: A History of the Last Thousand Years. And this reveals the degree to which this kind of thinking has permeated society. [tape turns] … if somebody who is an Oxfordan is teaching this and writing about this and writing about this, it's the culmination of years of teaching this in the classroom, which has turned out hundreds of historians and professors and museum curators and influential people who've gone into foreign service, State Department work, they've gone into politics and it is this kind of thinking that is their frame of reference and is influencing things around them. He sees the old version of history reflecting not the truth about the global influence of western civilization…he presuppositionally rejects the possibility that there is truth.
So he doesn't really believe there is truth so that really wasn't true, we've got to come up with a new approach and he thinks that the old influence on western civilization was merely inflated egocentrism of western commentators. And what he suggests is that the real stability in the past thousand years wasn't from Europe, it wasn't the British Empire, it wasn't the influence of Christian missionaries who went out from Victorian England between 1800 and 1900 who established Christian outposts that transformed the cultures of Africa, India, and Asia. Now there were some negative things as well but the core was that it was the missionaries that went in with the military that established those nations and brought them out of the horrible pagan societies that they had. And what he suggests is that the real stability in the past was China, it had nothing to do with Western Europe.
Now in one comment by a man named Winshuttle [sp?] who is observing what's going on here in this trend, he states: "The most prominent individuals who bestride his historic stage," that is Armesto's, "turn out to be those people most of us had regarded as the losers and has-beens." For instance, he has several pages about Montezuma, who incidentally was practicing live human sacrifices, I think the numbers are enormous, that every day there were dozens of live human sacrifices conducted by the Aztecs down in Mexico City and it was one of the most paganized, demonized societies that ever existed, and needed to be removed from the face of the earth, and this guy has several pages about Montezuma but no mention of Ferdinand and Isabella. They were the king and queen of Spain who authorized and financed Columbus' voyage to America; they were also the king and queen that removed the Moslems from Spain. But there's no mention of them, they are some of the most important people in all of history, yet they're ignored in favor of Montezuma. He devotes more space to Juan and Eva Peron than to Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt combined. He has more pages on Mao Tse-tung and Joseph Stalin than any other political figures in the book, despite the fact that neither of them built a communist regime that survived more than one generation beyond his own death. Saint Elizabeth of Hungary gets more mention that Elizabeth I of England who gets none. As for western intellectuals, neither Frances Bacon, John Locke, David Hume nor Immanuel Kant are discussed at all; neither is Mozart nor Michelangelo. The index does not even list the category of philosophy but does contain 13 pages of references to Shamans and Shamanism.
Now this is the kind of thing that is influencing our culture and it is this sort of historical revisionism that tells us more about the deterioration and destruction of our own society, a rejection of God, our denial of absolutes and inability to think biblically than it does about what went on during the last thousand years. What happens in history is once you remove God from the picture and the possibility of objective knowledge, then all that you have left is subjective impressions in the bottom circle. And this creates nothing but problems and people end up saying why is history important. Once you remove a people from its historical roots or you revise that then it's easy to ignore God and to deny the fact that there is anything of objective reality in Christianity. Jesus is no longer the Savior who saved in space/time reality; He's simply something else that you can latch onto psychologically to make you feel better.
So what has happened? Point number seven, we have exchanged the historically active objective God of the Bible for the emotionally energizing, exciting god (small "g") of post-modernism. We prefer to feel good than to think accurately; we prefer to be entertained and excited than to perhaps suffer a little stretching boredom on a Sunday morning when we get taught deep concepts about history and historiography. We prefer to blame others or our environment for our problems rather than accept responsibility for our decisions; it's not my fault, it's the government's fault, it is somebody's fault 100 years ago because they established a certain system that made me a victim, it's my parent's fault because they didn't give me the right kind of training, education, in other words, it's not my fault. We prefer to blame others or our environment for our problems rather than accept responsibility for our decisions. We prefer to be taken care of by Uncle Sam rather than to take care of ourselves and assume responsibility because we might fail, so I'll let somebody else do it. We prefer to enslave ourselves to politicians who promise power but are not truly in a position to give power and would never give it up if they had it. We would rather do that than risk failure that's inherent in having true freedom.
By forgetting the God of history we become enslaved to the details and the thinking of the cosmic system which surrounds us and the result is going to be collapse, now own national collapse as well as personal collapse because we have forgotten, as the Jews did, the God of history.
One of the more influential theologians of this day is a French historian by the name of Ferdinand Braudel, Braudel writes in his book, The Identity of France, "men do not make history, rather it is history above all that makes men and absolves them of blame." Now Braudel and others of his camp have influenced a whole generation of historians and thinkers. Now listen to what he's saying. Just a few observations; he's saying causality in history is the structure of history and the non-personal things in history, it's the rivers, it's the geography, it's where the tides are in the ocean, it's the gulf stream and the various currents in the ocean and that has more to do with shaping history than people, who cares about great leaders and the decisions they make; that's nothing, it's all basically the impersonal aspect. It's the components of the world, not the decisions of man that are important; man, therefore, is just a pawn of these impersonal forces.
"Man is just the victim," do you hear that, it's not you, you're just there, it's not your fault, therefore man is a victim. This is where victimology comes from. See, Braudel was in a concentration camp during World War II, he was French and he was taken by the Germans and he wrote most of this between 1945 and 1955, so his writings were influencing the professors I had in college as a history major in the early 70s, because when they had gotten their degrees in the late 50s and 60s his thinking and the thinking of others in his school was very prominent. I remember being taught this sort of geopolitical emphasis in history in an English history class I took as a senior in high school. So you see the influence that this has and now we live in a generation that grew up under that and what are they? They're all victims. And we live in a society of victims; man is not responsible, it's not our fault, so if it's not our fault we have to change it, it's the government, it's somebody else but it's not our responsibility.
In contrast the Bible says that the ultimate cause in history is not where the rivers are, not where the tides go, it has nothing to do with mountain ranges, it has everything to do with human volition. The ultimate cause in history is God who in the divine decrees determined that His sovereignty and human responsibility would coexist in human history. So in terms of causation it is not the laws within creation that move history, it is man's relationship to God; all of those other things, economics, politics, military, all of that is secondary. It is impacted, though, primarily by man's spiritual volition. That is why what happens in Judges is the result of verse 7; it is not the result of bad military policy, it is not the result of a bad energy policy, it is not the result of a crisis in health care, it is not the result of some kind of marginalized group that has been overlooked, it is all the result of the fact that they rejected God and rejected doctrine and the result was that they became enslaved for eight years and they lost their freedom and went into bondage and the only thing that changed the circumstances was when they changed their spiritual attitude. So all of those other things that we focus on in an election year, keep your perspective. Those are merely secondary, ultimately it doesn't matter which party gets into power, it doesn't matter which party gets elected, until the people of this country get back to doctrine we're just on a slide; it may just go a little faster with one group than the other group but we're still on a slide to national destruction.
So in conclusion, as goes volition, the personal volition of the people at God-consciousness, so goes the nation; as goes the volition of the believer toward God in the spiritual life, so goes the nation. And if we, no matter what happens in November, the nation is going to continue to deteriorate because the nation is not positive. We have maybe more religious activity, we certainly have more religious publication today and information available than at any other time in human history; we have more people who claim to believe in God and claim to go to church than any other time in human history. And yet it's having zero if any impact on our culture. Why? Because all these Christians, for the most part, while they have details of Christianity in their thinking, they're truly saved, they're believers, they understand some points of doctrine, the frame of reference within which they are thinking is paganism. And they have transformed the worship of the Creator for the worship of the creature and so they are basically operating in some form of idolatry despite the fact that they show up at church every Sunday morning, because they are worshiping their emotions and not the objective God of the Bible. So what we see from this is that victimology is the result of all of these trends of the philosophical ideas since about the mid 1700s.
Three principles govern post-modern history: (1) since there are so many different opinions and view of history there must not be any real historical truth. That's one of their assumptions. (2) There are so many events that values and judgments are built into every historical viewpoint. There are so many events, so many things going, everybody has a different value system, that the purpose is that we must somehow remove those values and that's called deconstructionism. We have to go in and say oh, the guy who wrote that history was white male conservative so that automatically discounts 99.9% of what he said, so we can just throw that away. This person was marginalized, they come out of some minority whether it's Asian or black or native American and they are homosexual so we have to listen to them because they've been marginalized so long that we'll elevate whatever they say, who cares what they say, we're going to give it value because we haven't valued it in the past. That's what they're saying is, you have to go in and deconstruct values. Of course, the only values that get deconstructed really are the Biblical values. (3) The third assumption is that facts and data are boring and uninteresting. Now they may be, but their assumption is that all facts and data are boring and uninteresting so the issue is not having accurate facts, the issue is being entertained.
And in light of that what you have is a quote from Fernandez Armesto's book Millennium, where he says: "To me the test of a good history book is not so much whether the past is verifiably reconstructed," in other words, that the facts are accurate, that's irrelevant, "or cogently expounded," that means well-written, "but whether it is convincingly imagined and vividly evoked." In other words, who cares about the accuracy of the information as long as I'm entertained and made to feel good. Now folks, that's the same thing that's happening in 98% of the pulpits in this country. Who cares how biblically accurate the pastor is? I would rather be entertained and feel good than to have to deal with somebody who gets in the pulpit and God forbid, exegetes the original languages and makes me think in terms of grammatical principles and teaches me about history and philosophy and makes my brain sweat. I want to go home and I want to feel good about God, I don't want to learn things and have my thinking challenged. And that's exactly what is happening in this country and why we are going downhill so fast, because nobody wants to think any more, don't confuse me with facts, just make me feel good, just uplift me, just entertain me. And so what has happened is that in our modern society we have exchanged God for entertainment and emotional stimulation and we are sacrificing our freedom on the altar of security because we've all become victims of what somebody else did. And we've lost all concept of what is right and true and objective and the only solution is the divine solution which is a return to the objective truth of the Scriptures and positive volition to God, the gospel and growing to maturity in the spiritual life.