The Common Man’s heart

By jreighley - Last updated: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - Save & Share - 5 Comments

My friend Kylan expressed a reasonable doubt of my post from the last few days regarding the errors of the American Evangelical church. “You assume too much in the common mans heart”

My contention in a nutshell is that we ought to preach the Truth that God has revealed as a call for self judgement, not a call to judge God, as is the common practice. We ought not sell God, we ought to sell repentance. as making God into an entity to be judged makes God into something less than God.

The Post-Modern mantra of “There is more than one truth” is true to a certain degree. The caveat however is that all of the truths except for the real one are sinful self-justifying counterfeits. Man steps into the role reserved for God and shapes his own reality. He creates a reality that justifies the actions that he wants to take. He creates a reality that allows him to do what he wants to do and not feel badly about it. We write our own “knowledge of good and evil”

I believe that every man knows that he does this. My friend disagrees.

I base my theory on Romans 1:18-23

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
(Romans 1:18-23 ESV)

Based on this passage, I do believe that reality is plain to all people, because God has shown it to them. Yes, we do suppress the truth. That is what Sin is. And if we continue doing it long enough we will become fools who think we are wise. The passage continues to tell us that God will give us over to our lusts.

As we walk further and further down the path of unrighteousness, it becomes harder and harder to go back. We invest everything into our worldview and our perspective. Repentance means throwing away most everything we know and starting over from scratch. Most choose to continue in their self-deception and layer lies upon lies to protect themselves from the truth. So to a degree Kylan is right. Somebody may be so entrenched in the layers of lies that they don’t really recognize that they are deceiving themselves. But they are still deceiving themselves. Every time the plain truth pops up and contradicts their reality, They are faced with a choice — They can either deny the truth, or recognize that their reality is based on an illusion. Denying the truth changes nothing, so there really is only one hope. The road to destruction will lead where it leads no matter where you convince yourself it is taking you.

My contention is that we need to celebrate what God has made plain to every human heart. We need to call people back to their reality, and ask them to repent of their suppression of the Truth. When people are futile in their thinking it is not terribly effective to ask them to think more.

It is that “Claiming to be wise” part that the evangelical church is refusing to ask people to repent from. We encourage people to submit God to the test of their wisdom. When we do such things, Wisdom becomes the ultimate authority, not God. We have exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal man, Human wisdom.

What we do when we use such a method is that we ask people to work God into their reality. The sinful self-created, self-justifying false reality. To add him as a layer in their web of lies that define their reality.

God, on the other hand, is asking us to repent of our false-godhood, shed our false reality and instead work ourselves into His authentic reality.

In the Sermon on the Mount, we saw Christ use a more proper teaching method. He would say “You have heard it said” insert human wisdom here , “but I say to you” insert God’s wisdom here . He put human wisdom on trial, and authoritatively diminished it. As Christians can follow Christ’s teaching model, but we also have the advantage of extending it using Him as an example. We can say “You have heard it said” insert human wisdom here, “but God says to you” insert God’s wisdom here “And Christ demonstrated this by” insert example from the Gospels here.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Prov 14:15

When we sell what is right as what seems right we are to a certain degree encouraging man to pursue what seems right, which may or may not be what is right.

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  • Kylan

    “What is truth?” – Pontius Pilate spoke to the face of

    “And how will you inquire into a thing when you are
    wholly ignorant of what it is? Even if you happen to bump right into it, how
    will you know it is the thing you didn’t know?” – Meno

    My statement about you assuming the heart of the common man
    may be better stated as; you tend to be light on the side of human
    experience.  The heart of man is largely
    an enigma to us, though we know from human experience that the heart is an
    enigma to us.

    You, my friend, take for granted the solution to epistemology.
    Yes even Socrates said that knowledge (or in the case presented in Meno,
    virtue) must be a gift from god. But you are assuming the truth is presented as
    truth to the unbeliever when it is just another opinion and truth to them is
    fleeting? All the cans of truth lined up on the shelf are presented to them as delicious
    and healthy by the shop owner.

    Calling one to repentance begins with convincing them to
    question their assumptions. That generally is the hope when presenting the existence
    of God from an apologetic stance.  Granted apologetics often does not tread into Gods
    holiness and can present the opposing ideas as foolish. I understand this issue
    with making wisdom the authority over God does not present God at all.  It is the new kid walking on to neighborhood baseball
    field as an alien and trying to hit it out of the park. But in the mind of the
    estranged child their father has no authority over them, even though their
    father has silently paid alimony above and beyond their imagination.

    The holiness of God cannot be appreciated until one believes
    God exists.

    What we have done has humans, “exchanged the glory of the
    immortal God for an image resembling mortal man”, is not easily overturned. One
    cannot point to the elephant in the room because that elephant isn’t in the
    room. The elephant is ethereal and slandered. We have to present to them that
    there is more than the room they are standing in.

    Your thinking is accurate coming from Christology, but there
    is a chasm between Gods wisdom and the atheist. Our discussion is how do we
    span the chasm? By quoting the Bible, which is on the far side or by pointing
    out that there is a far side and that may begin with discovering there is a

    The failure in the evangelical church is not that the methodology
    places wisdom above God, but that we do not invest in the difficult relationship
    with sacrificial love as He did.

  • Josh Reighley

    I still stick to Romans 1.   All have the truth, and suppress it in unrighteousness. 

    Lies are self revealing in the end.  If our percieved self generated reality doesn’t line up with real reality a collision occurs periodically.   When that collision occurs, there is an opportunity for repentance.

    God is real.  All of the other options are illusions.  We don’t need to
    reconcile God to the illusion.  Chasing the mirage will eventually lead
    to the realization that there is no lake.  Trying to paint the image of God on the mirage is impossible, because the mirage is fake and God is real.  Yet that is what we are trying to do when we use human wisdom as the canvas.  God isn’t the image at all, he is actually the light that illuminates everything.

    I say that the way you get an atheist to see God isn’t to weave him into their belief structure, but to make His truth known so that when their imagined truth collapses under it’s own weight, they will recognize the plain truth that they have had from the beginning. 

    Saying “God is not real to the atheist” is kinda the root of the problem.  He is real enough that most of them hate him..  And in the end He is real to everybody.  The key is to speak of him in a way that he is a truth and not a proposition, because when we make him a proposition we place him below human wisdom, and thus distort the reality of who He is. 

  • Kylan

    Everyone who comes to God come by a unique path. It is the seeking of truth that drew me to Him, and the holiness of God that drew another. Imago Dei; there is a shadow of Gods wisdom in mans knowledge.  The curiosity of man in itself is questioning the falsity of this world.
    But ultimately it is relationship that is the proof. Whether it began with apologetics or began with your testimony of Gods glory, it is the honesty and love of a real relationship that reflects God most of all.

  • Josh Reighley

    Yes, Like I said in previous posts, God seems to get his work done in spite of our crazy methods.   Apologetics are good, so long as they don’t subvert their cause for the sake of their process. 

  • Sarah Cunningham

    Thought the line “a call to self judgment rather than a call to judge God” was worth the price of the post. :) Thanks for the thought.