It’s the same old idiotic question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? If you believe in God, the answer is simple, but mankind has trouble in accepting God’s existence. Human philosophers of every stripe have argued that God is not real but that He is a creation of mere man. A product of man’s imagination. It is argued that primitive man had a “need” for some supernatural force and therefore “created” the idea of a controlling spirit which somehow governed the unexplainable events of nature. This new concept, it is said, tranquilized man’s fears and thus led some to say, “religion is the opium of the masses.” Believers have long denied that man predated Deity and insist, as the facts themselves indicate, that Deity existed prior to man’s entrance into history. Nevertheless, we shall in the course of this article insist that the nonbeliever is in a measure correct in his assertion that men have created god.
The very orderliness of the Heavens “declare the glory of God and the firmaments His handiwork” (Ps 19:1). It is truly the fool who says “there is no God” or that “God is dead” (Ps 14:1). At the same time mankind insist that man has created god and/or gods to satisfy his own whims and to alleviate his own fears. Let us examine the evidence.
What Man Has Done With God
In His benevolence, God has never left man to his own devices. Man is incapable of ordering his life without Divine guidance (Jer. 10:25). Even in the Garden, the Lord prepared the way of Adam and gave him instruction. Needless to say, as Adam did, all men do. Adam “did away with” God. For a moment, in the life of the first man, God was dead; God did not exist. It has been that way from that day to this – man has rejected the Creator.
Stephen insisted that the conduct of the Jews of his day was typical of them as a people. They, and their fathers before them, “resisted the Holy Spirit” and dismissed the prophets who had been sent by the Righteous Judge to warn them of their wicked ways (Acts 7:51-53). Jesus told the Jews that the Father had been denied and that their “father was the Devil” (Jn 8:42-47). The Paternity of the Holy One had been displaced by the paternalism of the wicked one. Upon their realization of their hypocrisy and their rejection of God, they were forced to either repent or destroy this, the “Son of God.” They chose the latter course (Acts 2:36). The pattern of history had been repeated.
Having put away God, mankind was left with a void. The philosopher says a “need” existed for a deity. Thus, understandably, man began to worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator who had formed him (Rom. 1:25). In his zeal, or perhaps in his competitiveness with others, he began to fashion a replacement god for every situation that might arise. Paul referred to the Athenians’ “very religious” nature and called attention to their prolific deities (Acts 17:22-23). Men had “progressed” to the point where their idols were everything, in spite of the fact that they were nothing at all (1 Cor. 8:5-7).
Why did the primitive feel that they had to supplant God when they already had Him? Because with the knowledge of the true God, man stood condemned. Men do not well receive the rebuke or the chastening of others. Having denied the Lord of Heaven, men replaced Him with gods that pleased their carnal nature and gave themselves to licentious worship (1 Pet. 4:3-5). The evidence suggests that even the Jews gave themselves to phallic worship and embraced with fervor the debaucheries of the Gentile world. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes” (Prov. 16:2). The gods of the people approved of the people. Or, to phrase it more accurately, the people approved of their gods. Thus, when men seek to remake God and form gods of their own, they always fashion a concept which pleases them and one which panders to their appetites.
Modern Man and the Creation of Gods
Modern man is not immune to the practice of the ancients. As our forefathers did, so do we. As they rejected the truth of the Word, so do mortals today. As they fashioned comfortable views of the Eternal One, so does the twentieth century man.
The “Jesus freaks” have developed an image of the “horn of salvation” which the Lord raised up, not at all in harmony with the revelation of scripture. “Christ was a casual wanderer who did not concern himself with the amenities of life such as working and washing.” The scripture says that Christ labored with his bands to provide the necessities of life (Mark 6:3). Some suggest that Christ did not condemn sin but rather condoned it. These call forth the example of the woman taken in adultery as proof (John 8:1-11). It matters little that Jesus told her to “sin no more.” Such is lost among those who have preconceived notions and who insist that Jesus is to agree with them.
Others suggest that the Lord was not interested in the form our worship takes. Do they so soon forget that the money changers were driven from the temple with scourges (Matt. 21:13)? Some say that the “long hairs” of today resemble the Savior who most assuredly had long hair. Not so. By revelation it was said that “long hair is a shame to a man” (1 Cor. 11:14). The Prince of Peace knew that.
Sectarian Concepts of God
Sectarians regularly state that the church of God is an unnecessary institution and that one can be saved out of it. Do they really believe that Jesus shed His blood for that which is unneeded (Acts 20:28)? The truth of the matter is that sectarians have rewritten the gospel to conform to their already held notion concerning what God will or will not do. What they need to do now is to adopt the lustful practices of the heathen worshipers, and they will be in every respect like their barbaric ancestors.
The Practice in the Church
Even the community of the saved is not free from the practice of the ancients. There are those who for the sake of popularity are restructuring the facts of the gospel to conform to their concepts of what Jesus should be. It is said that Christ was a “radical” who went around “having special influence among the young people.” It is further stated that He is not concerned with the “letter” but rather with the “spirit” of our service. Such heathenism in the church should disgust but not shock anyone.
Modernism is as old as man. As for the character of Jesus, let us examine the facts. Is it radicalism to call for repentance (Luke 13:3)? Was it disrespect for authority, which led the son of David to insist that men keep the commandments of God (Matt. 7:21)? And other than the instance of Jesus speaking to the very little ones (Matt. 18:1-4), where does it say He had any special influence among young people? He warned of those who would subvert the souls of others and it is obvious that such is most easily done among the young whose “senses are (not) exercised to discern good from evil” (2 Tim. 2:14 f; Heb. 5:14). Thus, the heathens among us find youthful minds to be fertile fields for their nefarious plantings.
Some have said that the church is not an organized entity but rather a loose coalition of the children of God. Does it matter that God in His infinite wisdom organized and ordered it according to the dictates of His desires (Eph. 4:11,12)? It seems that it does not. Such is par for the course for those whose task in life is to fashion for themselves a Jesus who approves of their works of iniquity.
Conclusion: It would behoove every informed child of God to recognize that the spirit of compromise which has invaded the church is not just a little liberalism gone to seed, but that it is the ancient heathenism revived and restored to respectability. The revealed Godhead is sufficient for all who love it. The faithful will not rend the fabric of Deity and try to force it to cover the distorted shape of a restructured Jesus. Rather, they will obediently and humbly transform themselves into such as who respect the will of the Most High (Rom. 12:1, 2). It should be our fervent hope that all who professes to believe will also willingly submit themselves to His care who died for us. In so doing, unity will result, souls will be saved, and none will run off preaching “a different gospel, which is not another except some would trouble you and pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:6-9). Let us all learn not to go beyond the things which were written (1 Cor 4:6). Let us speak the oracle of God, not adding to it or subtracting from it (1 Pet 4:11 f; Rev 22:18,19). Let us “Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves” (Ps 100:3).