Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Misled Youth: "Deeply Craving Answers"

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Deep in the North Carolina forest, a group of young adults are conducting a worship/therapy service.

Their agony is stunning and heartbreaking. Having been a youth pastor for a number of years, I have walked with kids through this kind of darkness and despair---confusion and loss of identity.

I have linked a video of their religious service. It is 1:48 minutes. Please watch it.

You will note the wailing and the sense of hopelessness. You will also note their leader, Syndee L'ome Grace, telling those gathered with her that they are, "deeply craving answers," and "deeply hurting in America" and "we have lost our identity."

"Bring me to this rock," she says pointing to a stone in the forest, suggesting the rock gives her a sense of being alive, but the ethos of the moment suggests something far different.

They are looking to the wrong rock.

"Deeply craving answers."

"For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities---His eternal power and divine nature---have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened...they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator---who is forever praised." Romans 1: 18-25.

When people begin to worship the creation rather than the Creator, societies begin to turn from the truth of the Creator and worship the created---"Mother Earth." And in their relativism, creating new truth that justifies their beliefs.

And with their new religion comes an evil deception and cultural decline.

Romans 1: 18-25 explains that downward decline.
  • People embrace shameful lusts.
  • Women exchange natural relations for unnatural ones.
  • Men abandon natural relations with women and are inflamed with lust for one another.
  • People become driven by wickedness, evil, greed, depravity, envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.
  • People become gossips, slanders, God haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful.
  • People create new ways of doing evil.
  • They disobey parents.
  • They are senseless, faithless, heartless and ruthless.
Paul writes in Colossians 2, "Continue to live in Christ, rooted and built up in Him."

And, "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

The young adults in the video are victims of a hollow and deceptive philosophy passed off as religion.

Barbara Brown Taylor symbolizes the "exchange of truth" and "hollow philosophy" of a new age religion in her, "Green Bible," as she carefully redefines the biblical account of creation in Genesis 1 and God's directive for mankind to take dominion over His creation, reducing man to nothing more than another animal.

She challenges the fact that God exclusively created man in His image and likeness on the sixth day, teaching rather that day 6, "Starts two verses earlier, with the creation of land animals along with man."

Her conclusion? "We were made on the same day as cows"--- "we are not made of any more special stuff than the rest of creation."

This kind of belief, distorts everything we know about God. It diminishes the sanctity of human life, removes the exceptionalism God attaches to mankind, and pollutes man's understanding of God's purposes and promises for each of us.

If Christ died for the sins of people, did He then also die for the sins of land animals? What about rocks, trees, the ocean, the air and the Earth?

This kind of false teaching leads to despair, loss of identity and too many unanswered questions. It also ultimately leads people into the forest, wailing and asking, "Why?"

Mike Schut, a spokesman for the national Episcopal Churches said in their national statement regarding Good Friday ---"Might we suggest that when Earth is degraded, when species go extinct, that another part of God's body experiences yet another sort of crucifixion."

All Episcopalians do not agree. Fr. Orthohippo, a South African traditional Anglican priest says after reading the statement, "This seeming almost equation, this linking, of Good Friday with Earth Day is a clear example of how theology can be shaped to meet one's expectations."

He says, "Seriously? So littering is like a crucifixion? I think its about time someone took away the fax machine from the Episcopal Church's office of Economic and Environmental Affairs."

He suggested they all might want to spend Good Friday journaling about how "the Risen Lord is just really a great step in recycling."

So, back to the kids in the forest. Yes, they are part of Earth First and this meeting may be extreme. However, there are people walking urban sidewalks and driving through suburban streets asking the same questions, with the same sense of lost identity. "Who am I and where am I going?"---Feeling violated, confused and in need.

The ancient prophet Isaiah said, "Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold---your harvest will be a heap of ruins." Is. 17:10,11.

Who is the "Rock" of your stronghold?

That Rock is Jesus Christ. (1 Corth. 10:4)

Hundreds of millions of Christians will attend services around the world this Friday and Sunday. Most will hopefully hear that Christ died for their sins and was resurrected on the third day. Believe it.

You will hopefully hear that the stone was rolled back from the opening of the tomb where they laid His body. Believe that also.

But don't just focus on the stone by the tomb, allow yourself to know that He is the Truth, the Way and the Life. Look past the stone. If you do not fear the truth, consider that Jesus Christ loves you, died for you and will bring forgiveness, redemption, purpose and hope to your life, even if it is in ruin.

Consider that while many have cast away this stone of truth, many have allowed Him to become the Rock in their life.

May God Bless you.

Gary Randall
Faith and Freedom

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  1. Gary,

    Two quick comments, one to applaud you and another to express a frustration. Firstly, thanks for not making fun of these young adults grieving at the plundering of the earth. Unlike many commenters at the video site, you expressed concern and care for them. Of course they have a misguided worldview, but you didn't mock or deride them. Thanks for expressing Christ-like charity and compassion. Francis Schaeffer expressed a similar care for the counter-culture, even suggesting that even if they didn't have the right answers, they were raising some helpful questions about our society.

    I do think though, that you were less fair with Barbara Brown Taylor. In fact, you misquote her. She does not say all that you say she does and while it may be one could draw such a conclusion, I think you are reading way more into it than is warranted. Saying we were made on the "same day" as the cows doesn't necessarily erode a high view of the special dignity of humans, and she doesn't say that it does. She doesn't say we are "just an animal" and she does affirm that God makes humans in some way "special." That we are made of the "same stuff" as other creatures in simply true and doesn't take away from the uniqueness of humans being made in the imago dei. Why would it. To say, as Schaeffer said, that we share much with all creation is not liberal or bad and it certainly doesn't suggest the sanctity of life or "pollute" our understanding of God's promises. The essay in The Green Bible isn't nearly as bad as you report and I'm glad you linked to it so your readers can see for themselves.

    The question of whether Jesus' death includes a healing for the land itself is a good one and while BBT doesn't address it, the Bible surely does. John 3:16 for starters (where the text specifically says "kosmos") and that famous Romans 8 passage, suggesting the land itself is groaning under the weight of (human) sin await its own being set free from the curse of sin. "Far as the curse is found" the old carol says. Did Jesus just die for your soul? Now that is unorthodox teaching! Just read Colossians 1.

    I'm grateful four warning against new age pantheism. But you should affirm a robust Biblical view of creation.

  2. 2:20 I can't speak for Gary, but I do think he is correctly communicating the intent of Barbra Brown Taylor. I have read her book and her point is that humankind is not above or more important than any other aspect of creation. Her positions diminish the value of human life in favor of all life being equal and probably eternal.
    I also applaud Gary for his sensitivity to the young people in the forest. I think he sincerly cares for youth and their challenges.
    While there is an aspect of Christ's redemption that speaks to the earth, most evangelicals believe the earth will be restored after the second coming of Chrtist, while dominion theology believes we are to prepare the earth for His return.
    I really don't think he is missing Taylor's intent though.
    Thanks Gary. Keep up the good work. You are making us think.

  3. This reminds me of the sermons I use to hear from Gary as my pastor. God bless and keep you Gary.

  4. Those who seek God by the things of the creation may do so but they are going to have to do so with sincerity and truth (I Cor 5:9) for the world is full of trickery and hypocrisy.

    The works of God on the first day of creation remind me of Jesus and how he came into this world as well as the conflict between light and darkness.

  5. Anonymous:

    Thanks for your reply.

    I am wanting to be fully evangelical and fully Biblical on this, but I have read Barbara Brown Taylor's whole essay in preface of The Green Bible and she says at least 5 times that humans are made special, that we bear God's image, that we are given the task to keep the garden, that we are God's "spitting image." It is simply inaccurate of Gary to characterize this essay as saying that she doesn't believe humans are called to a special relationship with God or given a unique calling or that we are not made in God's image. I don't know about her intent, I only know what she says, and he is is less than fully honest about what the essay actually says. He may be wise to warn us against some hint in her work that is wrong, but whenever we do that we must to it fairly and honestly.

    Somebody above said this sounded just like his sermons. To the extent that he was inaccurate and misquoted an author with whom he disagees, I hope he did better than that in the pulpit. It is a fearsome thing to play fast and loose with the truth, even if you are mostly right.

  6. Byron- It's interesting that you are quick to imply that Gary may not have been accurate with the facts in sermons and speeches, but claiming to have read Taylor are defending her to this extent.You say you don't know about her intent, but only know what she says.
    Gary quoted what she says-"Still, this new information is a real come down---a reminder that while God may have made humanbeings for special purpose, we were not made of any more special stuff than the rest of creation. We were made on the same day as cows and creeping things and wild animals of every kind. God gave us dominion, it is true, but, God did not pronounce us better than else that God had made."
    Gary quoted her and I am quoting her. Did you not read the links.
    What about the pronouncements in Psalms that God "knew you when you were formed in your mother's womb" and Jerimiah "I have plans for you says the Lord..."
    Did Christ die and rise from the dead for salvation and the eternal life of animals?
    You are quick to judge Gary, whom you do not know, while supporting Taylor whom you also do not know.
    Maybe you just perfer her theology to Gary's biblical positions.


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