E-Mail | | Contents | | Predestination | | V&FT
Do you believe in "free will"?
Question: Who exercised their "free will" to bring you into existence?
Here are your choices:
All the basic issues of life are wrapped up in this question. Get this one wrong, and you score a big "zero" -- not just in the next life, but in this life. The wrong answer means a lonely, meaningless failure-of-a-life. The right answer brings hope, vitality, and prosperity.
That's what the Bible says.
Jim Jordan, in his now-out-of-print commentary on Judges, writes about "Baalism" in the following way:
|So, what was Baalism? In essence it was the ascription of power to
Nature: The universe has within itself the force of life. The world as we know it is the
result of the union of the ultimate male and female principles of the universe, which may
be called Baal and Ashteroth (or Astartes). (A similar goddess is Asherah, mistranslated
as "groves" in the King James Version. The difference between the two goddesses
is technical, and both were expressions of the same religious principle.) Canaanite
philosophers believed, of course, that these ultimate forces were impersonal, and that
their union was not sexual; but the common people preferred to think of the matter
mythically. The sun god copulated with the original mud of the world, and the animals and
man resulted. How does such a myth differ from a more sophisticated expression of the same
principle, such as found in any 20th century high school science textbook? Once, we are
told, there was a vast primordial sea. Then one day, sparked by sunlight, an organic
molecule appeared, which evolved to become our present world. A "male"
principle, sunlight, inseminates a "female" principle, ("mother
earth") the primordial sea, and life is born.
Now, of course, the Israelite children did not deny the existence of the Lord altogether. He has His place as well, perhaps as the superintendent of the whole overall process. Israelite thinkers began to look at Genesis 1 with new eyes. What did this passage mean to express, they might ask, in its poetic framework?
So they doubtless thought. Baalism was evolution, the belief that Nature was the author of all life. Israel was sucked into theistic evolution first, and then later on into full Baalism. (By the way, spoiling the Egyptians means taking their fruits, not their philosophical roots.)
The details of the Baal cult are not of much importance to us now. It is the underlying philosophy of Baalism which is regnant in American education and life today, and which is taught in the science departments of almost all Christian colleges today, and not just in science departments either. Scripture teaches that God sustains life directly, not indirectly. There is no such thing as Nature. God has not given any inherent power of development to the universe as such. God created the universe and all life by immediate actions, not by mediate processes. When God withdraws His Breath (which is the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life), death follows immediately (Gen. 7:22). The idea that God wound up the universe and then let it run its course, so that there is such a thing as Nature which has an intrinsic power, is Deism, not Christianity. Theistic evolution is Deism, not Christianity. To the extent to which the processes of Nature replace the acts of God in any system, to that extent the system has become Baalistic.
We at Vine & Fig Tree are striving to purge all "natural processes" from our system.
Let's get our background cleared of some excess Baalism. Take the weather, something we think about every day. Do we ascribe the weather to "Nature" or directly to God (and His personal agents)? Jim Jordan makes some observations concerning the remarks of Deborah, the Godly judge and leader of Israel, when she said "The stars in their courses fought against Sisera (a Baalistic ruler)." (Judges 5:24):
|The concept of the stars fighting in heaven, and of the stars controlling
the weather (bringing rain), was common in Baalism. Here Deborah asserts that the stars
are part of God's heavenly host, and that their (angelic) control of the weather is for
the good of Israel. Baalism is impotent. The notion that those who trust in the Baals have
the stars and the weather on their side is a lie.
Stars in Scripture are associated with angels (Job 38:7; Is. 14:13; Rev. 12:4). Storms, at least special ones, are also associated with angels (Ezek. 1:10; Ps. 18:9-12; 104:2-4; Ex. 19:16 with Heb. 2:2). Because of the influence of neo-Baalism (secular humanism) in our modern culture, we tend to think that God, when He made the world, installed certain "natural laws" or processes that work automatically and impersonally. This is a Deistic, not a Christian, view of the world. What we call natural or physical law is actually a rough approximate generalization about the ordinary activity of God in governing His creation. Matter, space, and time are created by God, and are ruled directly and actively by Him. His rule is called "law."
Of course, we should understand that God almost always causes things to be done the same way. He promised to do so -- "covenanted" -- in such places as Genesis 8:22. We all can see His regularities. So when we say God does everything directly, that everything is done "new" by God, we do not mean that everything is done arbitrarily, haphazardly, or differently each time God does them. We can see order and sameness in the universe. Jordan continues:
|Science and technology are possible because God does not change the rules, so man can confidently explore the world and learn to work it. Such confidence, though, is always a form of faith, faith either in Nature (Baal) and natural law, or faith in God and in the trustworthiness of His commitment to maintain covenant regularities.|
One way to further understand the immediate activity of God in our lives is to see how this works in events we call "miracles." Miracles are not times when God acts, as opposed to all the rest of the time when God does not act but leaves Nature to act; miracles are times when God acts in a way different from the way He usually acts.
This has important implications. Jordan spells out a couple:
|[W]e tend to place too little confidence in the eternally active, loving,
Fatherly God. Our modern philosophy of process makes us hesitant about taking matters of
our daily life to God in prayer. It is as easy for God to keep my car running as it
is for Him to let it run down. When we see that God is active in everything, our
dependence on Him should greatly increase. While we should not look for miracles in the
sense of signs (the Bible is our sign, telling us how to live), we should be
looking all the time to the eternally active God to bring things to pass. There is much
that we should be asking for, except that our Baalistic philosophy of process causes us to
think that it is no use asking for it. We should take everything to God in prayer.
There are things in our lives that we have gotten used to, and we think, "Well, that's just the way things are." In reality, however, these things we have gotten used to are the way God is doing things, and God can do things differently if He wants to. There would probably be a great deal less chronic sickness among us if we would stop treating sickness as a process and start treating it as the action of God, correctable by Him. II Chronicles 16:12 condemns Asa for looking solely to the physicians rather than to God for healing. James 5:14-15 tells us the primary thing we should do in the case of sickness (without despising the ministries of Luke the physician).
Baalism is rampant in America today. . . . We as Christians must keep reminding ourselves that God is a Person, our relationship with Him is personal, He is personally interested in every atom of the universe, He governs all things by His personal actions, we are surrounded by angels, we can ask and He will answer.
Vine & Fig Tree
12314 Palm Dr. #107
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240
[e-mail to V&FT]
[V&FT Home Page]