By Webb Harris, Jr.
The glory of God is ultimately unfathomable to our minds. The songs of praise which echo throughout the heavenly chambers, fresh from the lips of angels and cherubim, magnify his eternal being, unblemished holiness, and sovereign rule. They exalt him as Creator and Redeemer (Rev. 4:8,11; 5:13). His glory is his own. It cannot be rivaled or compromised. Through his prophet Isaiah, Jehovah announced that he would not give his glory to another; his praise would not be given to “gods” of stone (Isa. 42:8).
The plotted theft of God’s glory is perhaps the most ancient form of covetousness. Do not think only in terms of angelic beings and Satanic powers envying God’s supreme station, but see man as longing for the Divine right of Deity, as well. Isaiah’s kinsmen would steal God’s scepter to place it in the lifeless hands of their graven idols, while an enemy king dreamed of pilfering the same only to keep it for himself (Isa. 14:13,14). His desire was nothing novel.
When temptation came to Paradise it was garbed accordingly. At its heart was a slandering of God and his word. The serpent hissed misrepresentations, but the woman manifested her awareness of truth by defining the parameters of God’s instruction quite precisely (Gen. 3:2,3). But the serpent paints a sordid picture. With blasphemous strokes, he depicts the Almighty as one threatened by his human creation, as defensive of his position and afraid of man’s challenge.
This strikes at the heart of sin’s nature. Sin is, in a sense, man’s feeble declaration of independence from God. He vows that he is free of moral constraints, at liberty to create his own values and standards. He attempts to sever his history from God, arrogantly asserting that he owes nothing to anyone. He redefines his purpose and rewrites his destiny. Such is the appeal of evolutionary theories.
God teaches us otherwise. Man is unable to redeem himself; this is the lesson of the Old Testament. Man has proven himself to be incompetent and impotent when severed from God’s graces. In the prophets and in Romans we are shown the downward spiral of the society which has been “turned loose” by the Almighty.
We do not learn and we do not pay heed. The spirit of our age is one which seeks to repeat the conceited mistakes of the past, to take God’s glory for ourselves. No one stops to consider the impossibility of the task. Our contemporaries march on into the “New Age” where visions of “man as God” are but 20th-Century remnants of ancient lies.
Most of us are at least somewhat aware of the threats of secular humanism. Good literature is abundant and among us are men who are to be commended for their roles in publicizing the sinister onslaught of this bane. Our attention has been turned to the organized societies and prestigious publications which propagate the humanists’ doctrines. We have been shown the vulnerable nature of public education and hopefully we will respond with vocal concern. We thank those who have made us more aware of the subtle ways in which we are being re-educated to see ourselves as the highest intellect in the cosmos. We will cling to Jeremiah’s confession that man needs God’s direction (Jer. 10:23) and believe James’ avowal of the source of true wisdom (Jas. 1:5).
But while continuing our battle against “orthodox” humanism, we must recognize that there are many other “Man as God” philosophies that are taking firm root in our culture. They seem disconnected, as if they are unrelated entities that appear to disjointed sectors of the population according to various tastes and whims. It is not so. The common denominator is the underlying desire to remove God from the throne and replace him with ourselves. The common appeal is human pride.
Spiritualism, Sorcery and Witchcraft
Occult practices are as old as the hills and God’s warnings against them are ancient. In the book of Leviticus, God warns the children of Israel as they enter Canaan that the land is polluted with conjurers and wizards. His declaration is that mediums, sorcerers and their ilk are strictly off-limits (see passages such as Leviticus 19:31; 20:6,27).
The careful reader will note that the immediate danger posed to Israel is not that they will become spiritualists. Rather, it is that they will seek them out for advice. God says that in doing this they will be “playing the harlot.” Indeed, God asks, “Should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? ” (Isa. 8:19) This defines the practice as that of seeking advice from the departed.
Do not relegate this practice to the superstitious ancients of ages past. It is as modern as it is old. I can hop in my car and be in Cassadega, Florida in 30 minutes. This small, quiet town is home to numerous mediums and spiritualists. Witches from around the nation convene there, as they do every year, for Halloween activities. Orlando’s businessmen and secretaries often drive there for advice on their lunch-breaks.
For the more affluent among us, we can purchase an hour with “Ramtha” or other ghosts who speak through their living hosts. These ducts are called ” channellers. ” The sinfulness of these acts is revealed very clearly in Ramtha’s message. He wants you to know that “you are your own God.” The message of the dead is that peace and bliss await us all in the great beyond.
Through the aforementioned practices man seeks to become God. He gains his independence through consulting with psychics, watching the stars and reading the lines on his palms. Now he understands his past; now he can control his future. The tea-leaves and the tarot cards reveal all the obstacles that lie ahead so that he can navigate them successfully. Through sorcery and witchcraft man can control the universe. Its ancient appeal has always been its promise to control the lives of others so that they do our bidding. When Vine defines pharmakia, which is rendered “sorcery” in our Bibles, he points out that the charms and amulets serve the actual purpose of impressing the applicant with the sorcerer’s powerful resources.
The real appeal of witchcraft and Satanism is not the over-sensationalized sacrifices of virgins, but the harnessing of occult powers to do one’s bidding and allow him or her to become God. Today’s Christians will respond as did their brethren in Acts 19:17-20.
The UFO Phenomenon
It might be worthwhile to note briefly the place of the UFO craze in the modern embracing of the “Man as God” philosophy. This is dealt with in Gary North’s “Unholy Spirits.” Most readers will not agree with much of what Mr. North suggests, but he must be acknowledged as insightful concerning modern trends and superstitions.
When we analyze the current beliefs concerning UFO’s as alien visitors, we are impressed with the evolution of common extra-terrestrial expectations. At one time they were feared as “space invaders.” “The War of The Worlds” represented the fears of numerous people. However, now we await kind E.T.’s. “Close Encounters” are longed for; StarMan will rescue us from ourselves. The aliens are now perceived as much like ourselves, only higher on the evolutionary scale. They are the gods of the heavens. And they hold the secrets of how we can be the same. They will teach us how to arise above all of our problems, initiating global peace and restoring Paradise to Earth. Then we will be gods.
The Eastern Religions
The growing popularity of Zen, Buddhism, Hindusim and various eastern mystery religions is part and parcel with the onslaught of humanism. These religions will continue to increase in popularity because they jibe well with the “Man as God” philosophy. You see, in many eastern religions, man is God.
The recent appearance of articles on reincarnation in many journals is no accident and is not coincidental. Reincarnation is a necessary tenet of the eastern beliefsystem. The foundation of their faith is that the soul of man is something that “broke off” from God in the beginning and is making its way back to God. Through numerous incarnations it perfects itself until it is God, whole and complete, once again. Rather than accepting the creation account as the revelation of our origin, the eastern religions would rather steal John 1:1 – “In the beginning was man, and man was with God, and man was God.”
Positive Mental Attitude
The Seduction o Christianity by David Hunt and T.A. McMahon is another book which is, in my estimation, biblically unsound on many counts, but is invaluable for its insight into current “religious” trends. It reveals much concerning the PMA philosophies of men such as Peale and Schuller. Those who would embrace the doctrines of these false teachers unintentionally unite with the “Man as God” syndrome.
It is one thing to be confident because “my God is able.” It is another thing altogether to be confident because “I am able” (Phil. 4:13). Peale and Schuller present a body of doctrine that declares that our “unconscious mind[s] ha[ve] a power that turns wishes unto realities when the wishes are strong enough.” Schuller says, “You don’t know what power you have within you!” We are told that through visualization and positive repetitions we can control our circumstances and, often, even the actions of other human beings.
Those who wish to give a little glory to Jesus Christ suggest that we should visualize Jesus. When you get him good and real in your mind (so much so that you can define the color of his eyes, hair, etc.) you can then talk with him in a way far beyond your wildest fantasies. This is nothing new. Man has always found it needful to represent his gods with images. But in Exodus 20:4,5 Jehovah forbade such actions by his children. You cannot do him justice with a chisel or a paint-brush. And it will not be long before you cannot distinguish between the representation and the represented. The Roman Catholic tradition bears this out. The icon is supposedly an “aid” to focusing upon spiritual things, but those of us who have Catholic relatives know the adoration that is given to the stone figures. The point is that it is just as easy to worship an image of imagination as it is to worship an image of stone. Beware! You cannot create God! You cannot manipulate God! The one who attempts to do so might just as well turn to potions and charms.
The growing popularity of Zen Buddhism, Hinduism and various eastern mystery religions is part and parcel with the onslaught of humanism. These religions will Indeed, God’s glory is his own.
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 6, pp. 174-175
March 16, 1989