Previous: Revelation 3:15-17- Continued

15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'-and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked- Revelation 3:15-16

Now we are ready to consider some of the major reasons that our present phase of history is producing a "worldly" church, and this impaired organization is not stemming the tide of corruption and immorality.

However, as we look at these negative trends, we should also be mindful that there have also been some amazing spiritual advances during this time as well. There is always a spiritual war in progress in the Church (Ephesians 6:10-20; 1 Peter 5:8-9.). Yet Jesus Himself said that this war will be won ("The gates of Hades will not prevail against it." - Matthew 16:18 - See the notes on chapter 2, verse 10). The pendulum is always swinging, and there have been many cycles during the past 2000 years where the church lost ground to spiritual attacks, and later experienced revival and returned to the Lord.

As the night gets darker, the light shines brighter. In spite of the worldliness of this age, we are expecting an end times revival!

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: "There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, 'Get justice for me from my adversary.' 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, 'Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.'"
6 Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"- Luke 18:1-6

The answer is "yes!" When Jesus returns He will find a godly remnant. Evidently the majority of people will not be true believers (The wide vs. the narrow way - Matthew 7:13-14), but there are still multiplied millions of faithful born-again people among the 2.2 billion who call themselves Christians.

The Bible tells us that God does not want any to perish (2 Peter 3:9). For that reason, He always gave opportunity to sinners to repent before allowing judgment to fall on their city or nation. If He could have found 10 righteous He would have spared Sodom (Genesis 18:23-33). In the case of Nineveh (Book of Jonah), there was a great revival when the people realized that they deserved judgment.

Toward the end of the book of Daniel, the prophet recorded a prediction about the end times that he himself did not understand.

"But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." - Daniel 12:4
8 Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, "My lord, what shall be the end of these things?"
9 And he said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. - Daniel `12:8-9

It was a prediction of the increase of knowledge, but not necessarily an increase of wisdom. This may have been partially fulfilled by the phenomenal resurgence of knowledge during the Renaissance that started in the 15th Century and continued in the Enlightenment or Age of Reason in the 17th and 18th Centuries. It will help us to take a look at these historical roots, and then we will see an even more striking fulfillment in our own generation during this "Information Age."

Science, Philosophy, Industrialism, and Liberal Theology

The Renaissance (French "rebirth") was a period of revived interest in learning and art. It was fueled by the increased exploration of the world with better ships and navigation methods, and by the invention of Gutenberg's movable type printing press, which made it possible to produce inexpensive books.

The Enlightenment, or "Age of Reason" followed the Renaissance. Beginning in the 1600's, it elevated science and philosophy, and cast doubt on many existing traditions, including religious beliefs. Brilliant philosophers and scientists like Rene Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, John Locke, Voltaire, Immanuel Kant, and Sir Isaac Newton published their thoughts during this age. Many of them were especially disdainful of the Catholic Church because of the mistakes that had been made during the former millennium. For instance, the church had condemned the findings of astronomers Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo who had demonstrated that the Earth revolves around the Sun. The Reformation had also brought to light many of the theological and practical errors of the church.

Through Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, the Enlightenment influenced the writing of the Declaration of Independence in America and the Revolution that followed it. During this time Harvard was founded in Massachusetts. It was the first institution of higher learning in the New World, and was established primarily to train clergy.

Coincidentally, but of great importance to church historians, Christian forces defeated Islamic troops in Vienna in 1683. This was the last effort by Islamic military forces to impose their rule on Western European or North American nations until the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington in 2001. However, they maintained their hold on the Arab world and the rest of the Middle East, Indonesia, parts of India now known as Pakistan, and large sections of Eastern Europe. And following their concept of emigration, which has been part of the "DNA" of Islam ever since Muhammad first moved to Medina, they have successfully infiltrated many other countries, including most of Western Europe. Christian evangelization was quenched in all these vital portions of the world. Churches were turned into mosques, and while "Christian countries" offered tolerance to them, most Islamic countries did not allow freedom of religion.

Of even greater significance, European skeptics from the Enlightenment began a new field of study called "Biblical Criticism." Its proponents suggested that biblical texts had human rather than supernatural origins. Richard Simon's controversial "Critical History," published in 1685 denied that Moses wrote the Pentateuch (The first five books of the Bible). His books were destroyed, but his theory took root among the rationalists of the era.

Biblical Criticism grew in popularity among liberal theologians. In 1701 Yale College was founded by Congregationalists to combat the theological liberalism that had infiltrated Harvard. Princeton was begun in 1746 to educate Ministers of the Gospel.

In 1878 German scholar Julius Wellhausen published his Prolegomena to the History of Israel. It analyzed the first six books of the Bible and proposed the so-called "documentary hypothesis" - a theory that the Pentateuch was actually written by several authors, and pieces of their writings were put together by later editors or redactors.

Another influential German writer was Albert Schweitzer. In 1906 he wrote The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Since then it has been fashionable for "liberal Christians" to imagine their own versions of who Jesus really was - usually a messiah figure who didn't consider Himself to be the Son of God, and who was unfortunately put to death by people who didn't understand Him. To these people Jesus was a great teacher and a worthy example, but not a savior from sin. They downplayed the miraculous elements of the Bible.

Another important development in the second half of the 1800's was the growth of the socio-economic concepts of Socialism and the emergence of Communism on the political scene. In 1848 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published the Communist Manifesto. The Communist revolutions in Russia (1917), China (1949), and other countries would be a major step backward for Christianity. Atheism became the norm for Communists. Missionaries in these nations were driven out or killed.

In addition to all of these movements that had a negative influence on Christianity, another controversial development in the scientific world shook the faith of many Christians. Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species explaining his Theory of Evolution by gradual mutations and natural selection. This notion was rapidly adopted by the European academic community, many of whom were already "post-Christian" thinkers, and others who were looking for an excuse to jettison the moral restraints prescribed by the Bible. Evolution has not been proven by true scientific methodology, but it was accepted as the foundation of the philosophy of Humanism. Those who accept the theory generally doubt the Creation story of Adam and Eve, leading to disbelief in a literal interpretation of the rest of the Bible as well.

Some Christians try to harmonize evolution and creation by belief in "theistic evolution," but it has the same result of undermining the authority of God's Word. During the past century many brilliant scientists who disagree with evolution have pushed back by showing that the Bible's narrative, including the Genesis flood in Noah's day, provides a better explanation of the existing fossil record. And more recently, a new discipline called "Intelligent Design" has given convincing evidence that this amazing fine-tuned universe was not an unexplainable accident, but the result of a most-intelligent creation.

Nevertheless, modern higher education embraces evolution, socialism, and a denial of biblical values. By the 1870's it was fashionable for American scholars to attend German universities. Graduating with a non-Christian worldview, these people became the leaders of the educational movement in the United States.

Meanwhile, Psychology, which had its origins in Greek philosophy, began employing scientific experimentation to gain new insight. In 1879 the first psychology laboratory was launched by Wilhelm Wundt at the University of Leipzig in Germany. As the field of psychology grew, Christian counselors found that it could be used to analyze spiritual needs, but it took the place of religion for many people. It began to provide good tools to determine why people were unstable, but was reluctant to give moral advice where it was needed, preferring for the patient to discover his or her own solutions. Therefore, psychologists were not only unwilling to suggest biblical solutions, but in some cases they began to validate immoral behaviors. This problem came to a head during the eventual "sexual revolution" in the 1960's.

Next: Revelation 3:15-17 Continued 3


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