Purpose: The purpose of this session is to acquaint you with the major approaches to the idea of the existence of God or gods. A large block of the world’s population holds views unlike those of Christians. An added purpose of this session is to make clear some of the approaches to the Christian faith that may differ from ours.
1. You will understand the differences among non-Christian world views.
Be careful not to allow anyone to captivate you through an empty, deceitful philosophy that is according to human traditions and the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form, and you have been filled in him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
1. Mutual sharing and prayer.
2. Discuss the topic.
3. Discuss new terms.
4. Mutual review of memory work.
As we begin this session, let’s consider the family structure. As Christians, we are a family, and as a family, there is a _____________ and we are His _______________. Thus these are parallels between the family of God and our earthly families. We have been _______ _______ , John 3:7. This experience of being born from above puts me into a new relationship with God, the __________and we are members of the true ___________, which is a unique organism that is Christ’s ____________, Ephesians 5:30. This is not an organization as some have said, but a living _____________ which causes us to be one. I am uniquely related to all others in the organism. Then one might ask, “why so many other beliefs, and why so many denominations?” After all, doesn’t the Scripture teach that we are all one? 1 Corinthians 12:12,13. If this is true, why then are there so many churches and religions? This section of your manual will attempt to deal with this question.
A major difference between Christianity and other systems of thought is the difference between world views. You have come to a theistic group if you are a Christian. Theism is a major world view. Christian theism holds that there is only one God who is supreme, and He has made all things. He has made man _____ _______ _______ _____________,Genesis 1:26-27. He is desperately _____________about men. This concern has brought Him to a place where He constantly looks after those He has made. So great is His concern that He has revealed Himself to us in two particular ways — The ________________, 2 Timothy 3:16, and His only ________, Jesus Christ, John 3:16. Jesus was virgin born and is the most full revelation we will ever have of God, John 1:18. God is infinite in all of His attributes, the central of which is His holiness. He is pure ____________John 4:24, and His holiness is the source of His love and mercy. The values of Christians spring from the revelation He has given us. It would be helpful to know that Muslims and Jews are theistic as well. Protestants and Catholics hold the same theistic world view, although there are considerable differences in their belief systems.
A second world-view is close to Theism, although it is dreadfully lacking in truth about the Father. This view believes that God is the Creator, but having made man, He is disinterested. The view is known as Deism. Deism basically believes that God made the universe, got it going, and left it to be on its own. No prayers are ever answered, and Jesus was only a man. The Unitarian Church is an example of Deism. This system of belief attracts very few and the world-view is basically dead.
Although not a formal organization, the next group of beliefs are called Atheism. The augment “a” means none. This system teaches that God doesn’t exist. There is no God. There are therefore no values except those developed within a person, and all values are relative and situational. Materialism ( from Darwinism), which teaches that the world came into being by chance, is atheistic. Man is alone in this world.
A good summary of the values of Humanism, which is closely related to atheism, is presented in the Humanistic Manifesto by Kurtz:
1. The universe is self-existent and was never created by anyone.
2. Man, a part of the universe, has emerged as a result of continuous process.
3. Man is totally on his own. There is no superpower to help him. We must do for what we need. There is no other.
4. Situational ethics comprise the teaching regarding values. Human experience is the important thing.
5. Freedom and human dignity are absolute values. Each individual has a right to die with dignity even if it by his own choice through suicide.
What does Scripture say about God’s existence? And about God being dead?
1. Malachi 3:6
2. Hebrews 7:25
Atheists say that the world is eternal and uncreated. Concerning the argument from cause and effect, they ask, “what caused the first cause?”
What arguments are valid with the atheists? Genesis 1:1-2; Hebrews 1:1-3.
Why is it important to always use Scripture when talking with an atheist or those of any other false world view?
A world view that has gained worldwide prominence is Pantheism. This is the approach to God that says He is impersonal. God is simply the sum total of the world and the world is God. He is the trees, the mountains, the ocean and even the storms. God is nature and since man is part of nature, we are gods. Hindus and Buddhists are pantheistic. Churches or religious groups that follow this world-view are Christian Science, the Unity society, the Church of Religious Science and the Theosophical Society, as well as some others. Since God is the universe, one would pray to the universe. What would make this approach to God and His nature erroneous? See Malachi 3:6.
The ethics of the New Age, a popular form of pantheism can be summarized as follows:
1. The development of one’s self.
2. Working with nature’s resources.
3. Being self-reliant but cooperative.
4. Being nonviolent.
New Age philosophy has gone into the public schools and has infiltrated much of our society. Avoiding bad “karma” is a goal of those in the New Age movement. The saying “what goes around comes around” is New Age thinking.
Yet another world view is polytheism. Polytheism is the belief that there are many gods, none of which are supreme. Outstanding examples of polytheism are the early Hawaiians. There is within the early Hawaiian culture the belief in a god of volcanoes (Pele), the god of the sea, and many other gods. In polytheism, the gods wage warfare with each other to determine who is supreme.
A “church” with a polytheistic world view is Mormonism. Mormons believe that every good Mormon male will become a god in his own right. Space is filled with the unborn spirits from celestial marriages waiting for physical bodies to enter and be born. The Polytheistic thinking of each good Mormon is that he can become a god in his own universe. Mormonism is dealt with separately in this manual, so we will not discuss what is unscriptural about it at this point.
This is a world view that teaches there is a God but He is not infinite. He needs man to help Him accomplish what he wants to do. He created the world but He was unable to keep sin from entering His creation. This system does not view God as all powerful. The teachings of finite Godism creep insidiously into the beliefs of many evangelical Christians.
We hope the above discussions have been sufficiently helpful to give you a somewhat broader orientation to the religious world.
As you learn more about the false teachings of this world, make it your habit to thank God often that He has made Himself known to you and called you to the Truth.