The Anchor of Hope
An e-publication of Living Hope Presbyterian Church
May 1, 2014
Deu 12:28-32 “Be careful to listen to all these words which I command you, in order that it may be well with you and your sons after you forever, for you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God. (29) “When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, (30) beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?’ (31) “You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. (32) “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.
Recently, I read an account of a young man in his early to mid-twenties who wanted to get rich. So he went to his religious leader, a witch doctor (this incident took place in an African country), and asked him what he must do to obtain great wealth. The witch doctor told him that he must allow a hyena to eat his genitals. (Yes, you read that correctly.) So one night the young man went out naked into the wild and allowed a hyena to have a snack which also included three toes. The news account included a picture of the man laying on a hospital bed with a big smile on his face, presumably in anticipation of his promised imminent wealth.
There is a clamour today that no culture is any better than another culture. All cultures are essentially equal and legitimate. Therefore every culture is worth being preserved within the overall society. This view is called multiculturalism.
God rejects that view in the passage above. He tells His people not to mix with the inhabitants of the land they were about to possess. He warned them not to serve their gods, and contrasted that warning with a command to follow His own words to them. A culture not fundamentally influenced by the Word and acknowledgment of the Lord God is immoral at its very foundation. And so, God condemned the Canaanite culture and every other culture which is built around the worship of false deities.
The West started down the path to Christendom with Constantine’s acclamation of the Cross. That event began to fundamentally alter the culture which grew from the primarily European West. And because the Bible became the source of authority and Christianity the only legitimate religion, the attendant blessings naturally flowed from God’s hand as His Word was followed. While North Africa, the Middle East, and Turkey were Christian early on, they were gradually consumed by Islam. Asia still followed the Eastern pantheon of Hinduism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. And much of Africa, with the lone exception of Ethiopia (Acts 8.27-39), remained in the darkness of animism (worship of nature) and ancestor worship. Europe was chosen, in God’s Providence, for almost 2000 years to be the keeper of biblical religion and its primary evangelist.
Of course, no one would argue that Christendom, as it developed in Europe and the lands settled by their progeny, was perfect. Far from it. In fact, the church within that general culture required a major course correction called “the Reformation” in the 1500s. And course corrections, big and small, have occurred throughout history. But it is an undeniable fact that the European culture itself was built upon the assumption of Christianity, regardless of whether each individual making up that culture was a believer or not.
So why do I bring up culture in connection with the story above? We easily understand the obvious, but tragic, deception that young African man sincerely followed. No one had to explain that Satanic lie to you. Even unbelievers in Western nations would understand the fraud perpetuated on that man. Our culture was not founded upon the same belief system as his was. His culture’s undergirding on the whole is primitive animism. And so, we see that beliefs, be they true or false, have real life consequences. Beliefs guide our actions. The view that religion is or should be merely personal is itself an impossible hoax.
The culture that continues to undergird such a superstitious false religion is not a culture that we, as believers, can allow to influence our own. As Israel was commanded by God, we too must openly reject such a culture. Thus, we must combat any form of multiculturalism which requires an inherent moral equality, or even implies one, between differing religious worldviews.
But it is this false view of multiculturalism, a moral neutrality existing between cultures, that has sped the moral decay within our own culture. By making Christianity merely one individual choice among many, we have torn truth from the wider culture because the concept of culture has been divorced from its foundational religious commitment. Truth is made relative and personal. And thus, the cultural hyenas, who reject God and truth, are currently being triumphant within our own culture – the fading “Christian” West.
As Christians, we must speak up more. I realize there may be times when honest, open expression is not appropriate, however we must cultivate boldness with wisdom, and firmness with gentleness. The door of opportunity is closing, our failure to make our voices heard may soon ensure that we will all find ourselves in a culture unable to speak without severe cultural, financial, and legal repercussions.
P.S. – And regarding that young man, where do riches come from?
1Ch 29:12 “Both riches and honor come from Thee, and Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone.