By Brad Ward
There are only 2 religions in the world:
1. Divine accomplishment – God is autonomous
2. Human achievement – man is autonomous
You’re worshipping one or the other whether you know it or not, whether you admit it or not. No one is neutral. No one can be neutral. The illusion of neutrality quickly dissolves the moment anyone perceives his or her conscience, person, or liberty to be violated. The modern man, with the U.N., opportunistic politicians, and New Agers leading the way, boasts of his ability to be fair, loving, and humane. However, the further they push toward the false goal of unity, oneness, or Teilhard’s “Omega Point,” the more evident it becomes that the Triune God’s special revelation in Scripture was right all along. Whenever leaders seek autonomy, forsake Grace, and clothe themselves in their own righteousness, we all become ever more susceptible to tyrannies. Vaccine passports and the division of society into a neo-feudal system of special access for the citizens who are willing to say, Kaiser Kurios, Ceasar is Lord, The State is the absolute authority are the just the logical progression of a nation who has embraced human achievement as their Ultimate.
I recently began reading and researching the work of theologian, church historian, and professor of Biblical and Religious Studies Carl Trueman. I’ll be sharing some of his thoughts on this matter including concepts from his latest book, “The Rise and Triumph of The Modern Self,” The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. 24 November 2020. ISBN 978-1-4335-5633-3.
The Autonomous Self
We (modern western society) have been completely removed from history. We have removed ourselves from reality and exchanged eternal truth of substance for a hyperreal. We have lost our referent and ventured into the realm of human autonomy where truth is subjective. We have forgotten what is real and good. We now live not so much in “the world” as we live in “a world;” a false reality of our own finite conjuring. Not all that long ago in the big picture of time 15-year-old men studied classic literature and led other men into battle. Today the only thing our young men can think about is saving up money for the next pair of $150 sneakers or the next X-Box One release or perhaps if their feelings were hurt by some otherwise innocuous exchange at school. When we forget where we came from, forsake our traditions, and lose our connection to reality we have no way of knowing, no way to measure how far we have fallen. We compare ourselves to other characters in the hyperreal: celebrities, sports stars, other characters in the game. We can’t see beyond the false world that has been constructed for us by our handlers, our adversary. There’s constant noise, constant scrolling, tapping, seeking of the next endorphin hit: the next affirmation of our oh-so-important digital status. We’re lost inside the map. The map is not the territory. It’s not real.
In case you haven’t noticed (and who could with our eyes glued to screens all day – and all night) something is very wrong. We are lost in brands. Most of all we are lost in our own brand. Constantly cultivating our digital image and organizing our next opportunity to be the most clever avatar in all the internet. We have come under the influence of our adversary, the one who promises to satisfy all our desires and convinces us that it is a virtue to love thy self; that mountain top experiences are the highest virtue. God has been rejected and man is now the measure of all things. Man is now god. The self is now god. The most pernicious form of idolatry known; we idolize ourselves. This makes us extremely vulnerable to manipulation. Autonomy is not an asset, it’s a liability (try preaching that sermon to the neo anarchist or libertarian movement).
This is no coincidence. Western culture has been transformed by movements of the self. Inner thoughts and feelings are now how the self is defined. If I feel uncomfortable then I must be in the wrong body. Self-consciousness is what defines personhood now (according to secular thought and sadly, some Christians). This is why abortion has become a morally debatable topic. Unborn babies in the womb are viewed as not having rights and not possessing personhood and thus can be exterminated, mutilated without much thought. Follow this to its logical conclusion and your family member with dementia, or your child with autism will soon also be seen as a non-person.
This is what happens when man thinks he is autonomous. Because we have fallen asleep on the job we have allowed atheistic materialism, secular humanism to crown and enshrine human achievement as the new god of the nation. For this, we have lost our agreed-upon notion of the meaning and purpose of human beings. We no longer have a coherent, transcendent view of why we are here and where we are going. Thus, ethics are now a matter of personal choice. Good and evil are now determined based on whatever the current cultural tastes happen to be. If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad… Progress is a virtue regardless of direction.
Because sexuality is such a strong human instinct, it’s no surprise that transgender ideology has become such a conspicuous issue. Anthropology now informs religion rather than theology informing all disciplines. Good and evil are indistinguishable. The world exists to serve the needs of the individual. Being an “authentic” person is acting according to one’s core feelings and intuition. Live your best life now! (say the likes of Joel Osteen and almost any worldwide megachurch). This places the self in an exalted position of idolatry – to be filled with experiences and stimulated with feelings. Mountain top experiences.
If the world is here to serve our happiness inevitably other people will become threats to that happiness. The world is overpopulated. You’re destroying the planet. You are all carrying horrible diseases. Mask up! Vax up! Get out of my coffee shop! Similarly, according to transgender ideology, even one’s own body can become an obstacle to personal happiness if it contradicts one’s inner feelings. Don’t misunderstand. Expressing ourselves according to our inner feelings is an important part of who we are. We identify with that which makes us happy and allows us to express ourselves according to how we feel inwardly. This is true. But have you perceived the danger here?
Not all expressions of self can exist. If the rapist gathers happiness from raping, well then that outward expression of an inner desire is not ok. If the child molester is allowed to continue because that’s his identity and what makes him feel good, are we really prepared to say that is not evil? Have we devolved that far? Who decides which identities are approved? Who determines which desires should be tolerated? By what standard?
In a recent interview with Tabletalk magazine, Carl Trueman said, “Given that traditional Christian morality outlaws certain sexual acts such as homosexuality (and expressions of transgenderism) that are now considered central to certain identities (and championed by the government) it is inevitable that as the LGBTQ+ movement becomes increasingly powerful as a social and cultural force, Christianity will be increasingly marginalized and perhaps even outlawed.”
The Ideology of Autonomy
The following is a paraphrasing of a conversation between R.C. Sproul and Carl Sagan recounted several times in lectures and writings by Sproul:
In 1980 Carl Sagan famously made the assertion, “The cosmos as we examine it now, is all that there is, all that there ever was, and all that there ever will be.” This is a symptom of a secularized culture; a secularized America. Sagan further defined his idea of secularization as the liberation of the culture from the dominance of metaphysical and religious principles.
In the Latin language, there were two distinct words, both of which can be, and have been, translated into the English language by the word “world.” The first Latin word for “world” was the word “Mundus.” The root there refers to this world in spatial categories. Meaning this place; the here of this world, or this universe, as differentiated from the out there, or up there, of the heavenly world. But the other word for world besides the word “Mundus,” is the word “seculum.” The term “seculum” is also translated by the English word “world,” but it refers not so much to this world (this locality), but rather to this world from a time perspective. Meaning this time. The here and the now, as distinguished from the eternal. Here we encounter a collision of worldviews. Secularism interprets all of reality in terms of the now. The world in this time.
And before Sagan said “The cosmos is all there is, all there was, ever will be,” the secularist was saying, this time is all there is. There is no eternity.
Do you see the conflict?
Because all of Biblical truth is given from the perspective of the eternal, when you get the question, “what is the destiny of the world in the future?” you’re going to get two radically different answers. [R.C. Sproul said], “I was in conversation with Carl Sagan several years ago… and we were talking about the opening seconds and his appreciation of Big Bang cosmology. He said that science can now take us back to a nanosecond after the Big Bang, and I asked him a simple question, ‘If all of matter and energy were compressed into this infinitesimal point of singularity that was in a state of organization and inertia for eternity, then why was it that, on one Thursday afternoon at three o’ clock, the whole thing blew up and exploded into our present universe?’ The most fundamental definition of inertia is bodies that are at rest, tend to remain at rest, unless they’re acted on by an outside force, and those things that are in motion tend to remain in motion until they are acted on by an outside force. So, I said to Sagan, ‘What’s the outside force, here, that created this enormous change in all of reality that had been inert for eternity?’ And his simple and profound answer was, ‘I don’t want to go there.’ I said, ‘how can you be a scientist and stop because you want to stop, instead of pushing for truth?'”
Indeed. How can you be a scientist, how can you fulfill your destiny as a human being, how can you look at yourself in the mirror and stop the search for truth because you want to stop, instead of pushing for ULTIMATE, ABSOLUTE truth? Yet, this is what we see occurring in the technocratic movement with scientism as its primary tool.
You see, they need an alpha point, a beginning point that would make sense of the whole process. Now, here’s the problem with macroevolution that assumes movement, a dynamic, always from the simple to the complex. From the single cell to the most complex designed organisms that would come later, the idea of social Darwinism… was that there was this movement of history, and of time, from an alpha point to an omega point. Even clergymen have fallen into this humanistic seduction. The Omega Point is a supposed future when everything in the universe spirals toward a final point of unification. The term was invented by the French Jesuit Catholic priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955). One of the other problems that we face today once we embrace secularism is there’s no possibility of an omega point. There’s no possibility of an alpha point. We start with nothing, and we end with nothing, and we say, “All there is, is this time now between those two poles of nothing and nothing.” I’ve been screaming for decades that if we start with nothing, and if we end with nothing, then WE ARE NOTHING! If so, you might as well sleep in tomorrow. Because if nihilism is true, then French philosopher Albert Camus had it right when he said, “The only philosophical question left to ask, is the question of suicide.”
Thank God that nonsense isn’t true and cannot possibly be true! We know very well today from divine general revelation of the created order and more assuredly from divine special revelation of God’s inspired text that there is a worldview that that has an alpha, and has an omega – in fact, not only an alpha, and an omega, but THE ALPHA and THE OMEGA!
In the days following His resurrection, Jesus taught His disciples about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). Forty days after the resurrection, Jesus and His disciples went to Mount Olivet, near Jerusalem. There, Jesus promised His followers that they would soon receive the Holy Spirit, and He instructed them to remain in Jerusalem until the Spirit had come. Then Jesus blessed them, and as He gave the blessing, He began to ascend into heaven.
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”Acts 1:9-11
It is plain from Scripture that Jesus’ ascension was a literal, bodily return to heaven. He rose from the ground gradually and visibly, observed by many intent onlookers. As the disciples strained to catch a last glimpse of Jesus, a cloud hid Him from their view, and two angels appeared and promised Christ’s return “in just the same way that you have watched Him go” (Acts 1:11).
The Ascension of Jesus Christ is meaningful for several reasons:
- It signaled the end of His earthly ministry. The period of human limitation was at an end.
- It symbolized His exaltation by the Father. The One who was received up in honor and given a name above all names.
- It allowed Him to prepare a place for us.
- It set the pattern for His return. When Jesus comes to set up the Kingdom, He will return just as He left – literally, bodily, and visibly.
- Currently, the Lord Jesus is in heaven at the right hand of the Father – a position of honor and authority. Christ is the Head of the Church, the giver of spiritual gifts, and the One who fills all in all.
Jesus is the King. He has authority over all earthly governments. When earthly governments are derelict of their duty and assume the position of absolute authority we are to honor our King. Jesus is my King, He is Your King. Honor your King!
You can put your faith in men if you want to. I’d fight for your right to make that silly mistake if it were your choice to do so. But, DON’T DO IT! It is the most pitiful slavery available. We’re all serving a master whether you know it or not, whether you admit it or not. Don’t serve mankind! Don’t fall for the trap of autonomy, or the notions of those who assert that we can live in harmony without leaders. get involved in your local community, town, or city. You might be the very change your area needs. We need God-fearing, Bible-based Christians speaking up and serving God by serving one another.
Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. “Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? “Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”Matthew 22: 15-21
Serve God! Worship the Creator – not the creature! and live according to the Greatest Commandment:
‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’Matthew 22: 37-39