The Roots of Error
In order to witness to hard cases it is necessary to under stand their most basic philosophical problems. To do that we must possess a rudimentary understanding of the development of philosophical truth and error. If we understand where secularists, cultists and occultists depart from the Bible's rev elation of God, man and salvation, we can better understand how to help them back to truth. The historical overviews you will read in this and the next chapter are a distillation of two years of research with as many as a hundred books on the development of the great philosophies and ideas of humanity. My goal was to untangle the roots of these philosophies from the historical belief in God and His Son.
Genesis is the book of beginnings. It paints the history of man in broad strokes: the creation, the Fall, the flood and the dispersion of humankind from the Tower of Babel. Genesis introduces us to the first great civilizations: the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Egyptians.
Although anthropologists like to speculate about origins of human history in terms of hundreds of thousands or even millions of years, concrete evidence for human history, as we shall see, reaches barely past 4000 B.C. The solid historical! archaeological record begins then, in the Middle East (what we referred to in elementary school as the Fertile Crescent). The earliest civilizations developed along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Mesopotamia (Babylon) and along the Nile in Egypt. (Genesis 2:14 identifies the Tigris as one of the four tributaries of the river in the Garden of Eden.)
For the Christian, it is not really important to know when God created the earth. The secularist, however, must have an earth that is billions of years old. To account for the presence of mankind and culture through evolution, the secularist must have man developing from lower primates for hundreds of thousands or millions of years. In other words, a Christian could live with a human history of more than 6,000 years, but a secularist cannot live with a human history of fewer than hundreds of thousands of years. If the historical record indicates very ancient human history, the Christian is not threatened. If, however, archaeological evidence supports the abrupt appearance of humankind on the face of the earth rather recently, the secularist is in deep philosophical trouble.
The Bible teaches that man was scattered abroad over the face of the earth after the building of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:8). When the Bible records Jewish history beginning with Abraham at about 2500—2000 B.C., it coincides with the best archaeological evidence.
Jews and Christians mark the building of the tower at Babylon as the first event of significance following God's destruction of mankind by the flood. The construction of the tower was a religious event. The Bible quotes the builders of the tower as saying: "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves" (Genesis 11:4).Archaeology confirms that the Babylonian towers (ziggurats) were religious temples designed to allow man to access heaven. According to the NIV Study Bible (referencing Genesis 11:4):
The people's plans were egotistical and proud. . . .The typical Mesopotamian temple-tower, known as a ziggurat, was square at the base and had sloping, stepped sides that led upward to a small shrine at the top. . . .Ziggurats were given names demonstrating that they, too, were meant to serve as staircases from earth to heaven: "The House of the Link between Heaven and Earth" (at Larsa), "The House of the Seven Guides of Heaven and Earth" (at Borsippa), "The House of the Foundation-Platform of Heaven and Earth" (at Babylon), "The House of the Mountain of the Universe" (at Asshur).
Babylon, in the Bible, is symbolic not only of the enemies of God, but of witchcraft and evil, as we have already seen. In the Old Testament, Babylon is Israel's bane and oppressor, mentioned more than 150 times. In the New Testament, the book of Revelation speaks of the final judgments of God upon evil in the earth: "Babylon is fallen. . . because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication" (Revelation 14:8). The name of the scarlet woman on the scarlet beast in Revelation 17 is:
BABYLON THE GREAT,
THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS
OF THE EARTH.
I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And. . . . I marveled with great amazement. Revelation 17:5—6
God identifies the spirit of the building of the Tower of Babel as religious rebellion. As such, it symbolizes rebellion against God's redemptive plan for mankind. It is man striving to do what only God can do—bridge the gap between sinful man and sinless God.
The self-righteous religious impulse is basic to the battle between the devil and God. Man, seeing his separation from God, does not humbly seek peace, but rebelliously storms heaven. This concept reveals man's basic fallen, prideful nature, a reiteration of the same rebellion Satan initiated in the Garden of Eden.
After the building of the Tower of Babel, God confused the language of mankind and dispersed the people through out the earth. Sometime later God revealed Himself to Abraham, establishing contact that would remain unbroken through Judeo-Christian history. As we have noted, the devil has never ceased his attempts to thwart, block or hinder the revelation of God. Babylonian thinking spread from the Tower site to Egypt in the south and India in the west. The devil continued to attempt to sell mankind on the idea that he could become God, a god or equal to God. All false religion—all paganism, witchcraft and New Age thinking—is based on this concept.
As we examine the world's great philosophical ideas in the light of the biblical revelation, we see the satanic marks throughout history.
Not long after God revealed Himself to Abraham, paganism was being formulated in Greece. By 1500 B.C. the Mycenaean Greeks succumbed to the invasion of "sea peoples." (Troy fell in 1230.) The sea peoples, the "Philistines," also conquered the east coast of the Mediterranean and threatened Egypt.
By 750 B.C. alphabetic writing was common in Greece; the first Olympic games were being held; philosophy and homosexuality occupied the men at the gymnasiums; and Greek gods were worshiped in glen and temple. (Divination reached a high religious form with the oracles of Delphi.)
By 400 B.C. (Socrates was executed in 399) philosophy reached its zenith in Greece. Philosophers had decided a hundred years earlier that a Creator existed at the foundation of the universe. Plato was a student of Socrates, Aristotle a student of Plato. Platonism became one of the most powerful philosophies ever devised and is still strong today.
Plato promoted the idea of Creator. He reasoned that nothing moves in the universe that has not first been moved by something else. He called that "First Mover" God.
Plato also believed in a human soul that survives death. He extended that belief into transmigration—reincarnation. Basically, for Plato, the material world was a projection of a perfect spiritual world. Flesh was only a poor reflection of reality, which was spirit. Man's task was to move out of the realm of the flesh and into the realm of the spirit by escaping the flesh through asceticism and the pursuit of beauty and philosophical truth. In 200 A.D., Plotinus adapted Plato's ideas and began the school we call Neoplatonism. Neoplatonism became a broad, complex philosophical-theological system of many schools. It describes levels of existence separating man from God and seeks to develop a methodology by which man can return to God—or, rather, ways by which man can ascend from flesh to spirit. Neoplatonism is nothing more than a philosophical Tower of Babel.
The Indus River Valley was settled in 1500 B.C. by nomadic tribes from the north. Like Greek paganism, the religion of these tribes, which came to be known as Hinduism, is poly theistic. Hindu philosophy (again like Platonism) teaches re incarnation, that the human soul returns to earth repeatedly in a cycle of death and rebirth. Hinduism teaches that man makes his way to oneness with God through good works, meditation or other religious acts. Again, it is a religious system whereby the individual can ascend to God.
The Good NewsIn contrast to the religious deception of the devil stands the revelation of God's message—the Good News. The Gospel message declares there is a simple solution to the sin of man kind. It is a solution supplied by a righteous God through the element of simple faith. It stands in opposition to all previous or subsequent philosophical and religious thought. The way to God is not through man's striving, but through God's work. Man's job is to acknowledge his inability to save himself and to submit himself humbly to God's provision of salvation.
All other systems are but the devil's old wine in new bottles. The deception is the same; the answer is the same. The job of hard case witnessing is to identify that facet of the old lie that today, in new dress, most separates our unsaved brothers and sisters from God, then take action against that lie by applying truth to it.
The next chapter, the final in this section on understanding hard cases, looks at the rise of secularism in the Western world. The third section of this book contains six chapters, two each on all three main categories—secularism, occultism and cultism—and will teach strategies for confronting them. Since secularism is by far the broadest, most fundamental and deep-rooted philosophy challenging us in the Western world, we will take it up first.
The secularization of America, in fact, is responsible for the rise of the occult and the cults. In the absence of the light of the Gospel, it is the poverty of secularism that has allowed the cults to take root and grow. It is the emptiness of secularism that has cleared the way for the Eastern mystical movement to sweep over our nation.