The "Wisdom" of this Age -- a.k.a. The Folly of this Age -- by James A. Johnson, October 13-23, 1999; revised for on-line use December 9, 1999. Presented at IV/CSU at Shenandoah University on Tuesday, October 26, 1999.

1. Opening:

"If I Were The Devil"-by Paul Harvey

"I would gain control of the most powerful nation in the world;

I would delude their minds into thinking that they had come from man's efforts, instead of God's blessings;

I would promote an attitude of loving things and using people, instead of the other way around;

I would dupe entire states into relying on gambling for their state revenue;

I would convince people that character is not an issue when it comes to leadership;

I would make it legal to take the life of unborn babies;

I would make it socially acceptable to take one's own life, and invent machines to make it convenient;

I would cheapen human life as much as possible so that the life of animals is valued more than human beings;

I would take God out of the schools, where even the mention of His name was grounds for a lawsuit;

I would get control of the media, so that every night I could pollute the mind of every family member for my agenda;

I would attack the family, the backbone of any nation.

I would make divorce acceptable and easy, even fashionable.

If the family crumbles, so does the nation;

I would compel people to express their most depraved fantasies on canvas and movie screens, and I would call it art;

I would convince the world that people are born homosexuals, and that their lifestyles should be accepted and marveled at;

I would convince the people that right and wrong are determined be a few who call themselves authorities and refer to their agenda as politically correct;

I would persuade people that the church is irrelevant and out of date, and the Bible is for the naive;

I would dull the minds of Christians, and make them believe that prayer is not important, and that faithfulness and obedience are optional;

I guess I would leave things pretty much the way they are."

2. My Introduction

People want to believe in everything except truth. The President tries to justify sexual immorality by asking for a definition of "is." Right and left, mainstream churches are claiming homosexuality to be an appropriate lifestyle. Children are killing one another in school, but are not supposed to pray. In a place where children have little hope, I am a therapist who is told that the policy is "No proselytizing." They say it's OK to have a picture of the Virgin Mary covered with feces, but that a town cannot have a Christian symbol on its emblem. What's going on? Scripture has told us that these times would come.

*"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron" (1 Timothy 4:1-2, NIV, emphasis mine).

*"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, encourage -- with great patience and careful instruction -- For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry" (2 Timothy 4:2-4, NIV).

"The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason, God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness" (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, NIV).

*"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them -- bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. . . ." (2 Peter 2:1-3a, NIV).

Tonight, we are going to get deep. Yet, I do not want to communicate that the way to Christ is by rational thinking. Nor do I want to communicate that rational thinking is the basis of faith. Rather, out of the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ comes sound thinking. May this time be one of encouragement, challenge, and insight to defend your faith.

These times offer "wisdoms" that are indeed follies. What are some of the philosophies of this age?

3. Atheism -- There is no God.

Predeterministic Behaviorism and Evolution fit here, too.

Roger Sorbo, Ph.D., a nuclear chemist of North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, asked the question, "What observations have drawn me closer to God? Here are a few. One observation that has increased my faith in God is that the sun is approximately 400 times farther from Earth than the moon is, and the sun's diameter is about 400 times bigger than the moon's diameter is. Yet the full moon appears to be as large as the sun is. This allows solar eclipses to occur wherein the moon masks the sun. When that occurs, we experience twilight at midday -- this eclipse is one of the most beautiful and awesome spectacles in the sky. Is this eclipse just a coincidence?

Another observation that has enhanced my faith is that the water molecule is polar. The water molecule is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom: H2O. The water molecule is not linear but shaped like a `V,' and the polarity means that it has a `positive' end a (hydrogen atoms) and a `negative' end (oxygen atom). These polarized ends cause the positive end of one molecule to be attracted to the negative end of its neighbor, and form a weak bond. Thus water molecules are tightly compacted, and the compacting makes water fairly dense, and therefore in liquid form. If the molecule were not polar, there would be no compacting, and at room temperature water would be a gas. Imagine this planet with no rain, lakes, rivers or oceans! Is it a coincidence that the water molecule is polar?

. . .

A third observation that has reinforced my faith in God is that the universe is subject to the law of entropy. Entropy is a thermodynamic term that measures the `degree to which energy deteriorates into less useful forms with the passage of time.'3 If the universe were created from atoms that had always existed, or as some believe, from nothing, this would imply that nature went from `random' (or nothing) to `ordered' (amino acids, proteins and cells), and that is a contradiction of the law of entropy." (3) From "Origins and Destiny," by Robert Gange, ©1986 Robert A. Gange, Word Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee. The article by Dr. Roger Sorbo whose excerpts are included here was taken from DECISION magazine, October, 1999; ©1999 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, used by permission, all rights reserved.

*"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" (Romans 1:20, NIV).

"The fool says in his heart, `There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1, NIV).

Even to be an atheist, one has to have a concept of God. Where is that concept from?

"There are all sorts of different reasons for believing in God, and here I'll mention only one. It is this. Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. IN that case nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen for physical or chemical reasons to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a bye-product, the sensation I call thought. But if so, how can I just trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk-jug hoping that the way the splash arranges itself will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an atheist or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I can't believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God" (Lewis, p. 32).

"My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man doesn't call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the who, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man isn't a water animal: a fish wouldn't feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that then my argument against God collapsed too -- for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not that it just didn't happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God didn't exist -- in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless -- I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality -- namely my idea of justice was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning" (Lewis, pp. 34-35).

4. Hell no philosophy -- The idea of no hell.

"Very well, then, atheism is too simple. And I'll tell you another view that is also too simple. It's the view I call Christianity-and-water, the view that just says there's a good God in Heaven and everything is all right -- leaving out all the difficult and terrible doctrines about sin and hell and the devil, and the redemption. Both of these are boys' philosophies" (Lewis, p. 35).

My parents' minister says there is no hell. "While 90 percent of Americans said they believe in heaven, only 25 percent indicated that they believe in hell" (Egner, devotion for October 19, 1999).

The Bible shows that there is a place of eternal torment and death. Words used for it are sheol, Tartarus, Hades, hell, the pit, the abyss. Jesus Himself makes at least 9 direct references to hell/Hades and 6 indirect references to hell in referring to weeping and gnashing of teeth or fire. These are just the references where Jesus Himself speaks of hell. They do not include the many other references in the Bible.

*References of Jesus: Matthew 5:22 (hell); 8:12 (weeping and gnashing of teeth), 10:28 (hell), 16:18 (Hades), 18:8-9 (eternal fire/hell), 23:15, 25:41 (eternal fire). Mark 9:43-48 (hell used 3 times, fire twice). Luke 12:5 (hell), 16:23 (hell/fire). (Verses referenced are from the New International Version).

The Jehovah's Witnesses visited me on October 16, and they were saying there was no place called hell, that annihilation would be worse. Well, what about accountability? If one simply ceases to exist, why not live it up if there is no eternal consequence. Annihilation is final, it is not continuous and ongoing as an eternal existence is. Further, Revelation 20:10 refers to "the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and false prophet had been thrown [where they] will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (NIV). This is more than a condition. It is a place.

Not here to preach fire and brimstone, but I am here to say that there is a misbalance of understanding. God is certainly a God of Love, but He is also a God of Righteousness for Love and Righteousness are NOT mutually exclusive.

5. Post-Modernism

"This era of skepticism and reexamination has been called postmodernism. . . . You gave up the security of a world where there is a truth . . . for the exhilaration of a world where there is no absolute truth . . . " (Nichols & Schwartz, p. 317).

Hence, they say, "All is relative." Yet, that is a ridiculous statement. It cannot stand. So, the statement "All is relative" is deemed true or false. If "All is relative" is deemed true, then the statement "All is relative" is relative and therefore it is false (since the statement is not always true and therefore all cannot be relative). So, "All is relative" is a false statement just as "No absolutes" is false based simply on logical reasoning alone.

Further, thinking about the folly of atheism, we know God must exist. Further, God is holy and we are not. Jesus Christ is the ONLY one that addresses this gap between man and God. It is absolutely true that He is the Way for we cannot work our way.

*Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6, NIV, emphasis mine).

*John 8:32: "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (NIV).

6. Constructivism -- We construct our own realities. Rose out of post-modernism. Secular Humanism is a close relative of this philosophy.

What Dreams May Come -- This movie starring Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding, Jr., illustrates that Heaven is what you make it. That is constructivism and how sad my heaven would be compared to the true Heaven God promises His people.

What about self-deception? We already established that God is real and that there are absolute truths. With this in mind and the reality -- yes REALITY -- of self-deception, then constructivism is another folly.

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (BOTH Proverbs 14:12 AND 16:25, NIV).

7. Impulsivity -- If it feels good, do it. Nike aired the ad "Just Do It." I like Reebok's response better: "Don't just do it. Do it right."

In an article I wrote about excuses for lust and sexual sin, I wrote the following: "Excuse #5: I've got to get it out of my system. TRUTH: Does that mean when you feel like killing someone, you should just do it? Does that mean when you are mad at someone, then you are not to manage your anger? Are we to act just on our impulses and our own wills instead of submitting our wills to the way of God? There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads only to death. Refer to Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 (Twice within a couple of chapters of one another! That calls for emphasis!). Galatians 6:22-23 lists the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit, one of which is self-control" (Lust, Excuse Me, James Johnson, September 28-29, 1999).

AGAIN: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (BOTH Proverbs 14:12 AND 16:25, NIV).

Impulsivity feeds many sins including sexual sins such as homosexuality, bisexuality, lust, and pornography.

*Romans 1:18-32: "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them because God has made it plain to them. 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. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator -- who is forever praised. Amen" (NIV).

The above verse sounds applicable to all the philosophies of folly considered tonight.

8. Political Correctness

How much water can you pour into a glass of juice before it loses its original purpose?

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10, NIV).

9. New Age Philosophies -- Reincarnation and Pantheism

A young man I know is a Wiccan; that is, a new age witch. He believes in reincarnation. I asked him about it. He said there is a constant of spiritual energy that recycles through life forms. Does this make sense? The quantity of life forms has increased since the beginning. Yet, if the spiritual energy is constant, that means that there is less spiritual energy per life form. Does that mean we, as humans, have less of a spirit than our ancestors did? "[W]e are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27, NIV).

Reincarnation is hand-in-hand with pantheism. Pantheism -- "The first of these views -- the one that thinks God is beyond good and evil -- is called Pantheism. . . . Pantheists usually believe that God, so to speak, animates the universe as you animate your body: that the universe almost is God, so that if it didn't exist He wouldn't exist either, and anything you find in the universe is a part of God" (Lewis, p. 33). Reincarnation's goal is going through the cycle and cycle again until all pieces of "god" or Brahma unite in nirvana. Can a fragmented god be the intelligence behind creation we described earlier? The pantheist view tries to say God is above good and bad, but that gives into both the "all is relative" fallacy and ignores the sound arguments against atheism (Lewis, p. 34). Further, we know we sin. Can a piece of God sin? No! If one piece of a being sins, then that being is sinful. Hence, this ties into another idea -- that of the Shadow/Non-Shadow or Yin-Yang.

I wrote the following for a paper in graduate school after studying Carl Gustav Jung who believed in this new age philosophy:

Unlike Jung, I do not accept the idea that there is an equal and opposite Shadow to all things. Good and evil -- spirit and flesh -- co-exist in me, although good will overcome evil via salvation or justice. I do believe I have a darker side that may (but not necessarily) result in sin, but I do not believe it is equal and opposite to my Spirit-filled soul. Spiritually, I am pure and holy by the saving grace of Jesus Christ. I am a new creation according to 2 Corinthians 5:17. I am a saint, although I do not always live like one. . . . [I do] not make the claim that the Jungian Shadow makes -- a Yin-Yang approach where all things have equal and opposite shadows with an element of "good" in the "bad" and an element of "bad" in the "good." . . . Human beings have dubbed "darker" aspects which are neither equal nor opposite to good, and human beings have truly darker aspects which are not good at all -- evil -- and are overcome by good through Jesus Christ. For some, the darkness is small where it may exist in the flesh, but not in the spirit. For others, the darkness is great. [My] perspective rejects the Yin-Yang approach [putting] forth that there is never balance between good and evil and never will be, that such a balance between good and evil should not be a goal for which to strive, that human beings always have at least some darkness in being sinful creatures, that all human beings have an element of self-deception as part of true darkness, that human beings have redeemable souls that can be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and that good overcomes evil. Spiritually, in the Child of God, the person has received the gift where Christ’s blood has washed away evil and sealed the soul with the Holy Spirit (while the darkness remains in the fallen flesh nature of persons) (Johnson, July 19, 1998, pp. 4-5, emphasis mine).

Again, if there is a bit of black on the white half, then that half is no longer fully white. A speck of sin makes one sinful. A speck of evil removes holiness. Yet, GOD IS HOLY.

10. Final Thoughts

These philosophies -- even those of the "new" age -- draw from the oldest lie in the book, that self is God. In atheism, man declares there is no God. In evolution, man sees himself as having evolved into the supreme being or on his way (maybe after a few trillion years). In constructivism and secular humanism, man is the boss in determining his own reality and what he thinks is best. And in the New Age ideas, there is nothing new. These go back to the Garden where the serpent spoke the LIE: You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:4, NIV). And did Adam and Eve die? Yes they did. The serpent lied. And the lies continue today in the form of these "wisdoms" which are actually folly.

*"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world -- the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does -- comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever" (1 John 2:15-17, NIV).

*"My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, In order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments" (Colossians 2:2-4, NIV).

*"[T]he reality, however, is found in Christ" (Colossians 2:17b, NIV).

YET, eloquence and logic won't save you. For what is here to disprove the secular philosophies comes out of FAITH in Jesus Christ. May the words shared tonight encourage you in your faith. If you do not know God, I pray that the truth can point you to the realization that God is real. Despite what the world says, there is absolute truth. The Holy Spirit offers self-control. At times, we have been atheistic and denied God, impulsive and thus self-centered; constructivist, post-modern, or believing the new age thus not being accountable; or we have been politically correct because we are more concerned with pleasing people than pleasing God.

We are sinful and we need God and Jesus is the Way to God. In pondering tonight's ponderings and considering those who believe in the secular ideas, don't forget about planks in our own eyes. Yet, be not deceived.



Egner, David C. (1999). "Don't Go There!" (devotion for October 19, 1999). Our Daily Bread. Grand Rapids: RBC Ministries.

Harvey, Paul. "If I were the devil…"

Johnson, James A. (July 19, 1998). "Shadow." Archetype. Author.

Johnson, James A. (September 28-29, 1999). Lust, Excuse Me. Author.

Lewis, Clive Staples. (1996 Touchstone Edition. Previously published by Macmillan, 1943). The Case For Christianity. New York: Touchstone.

New International Version (NIV) (1988). The Holy Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Nichols, Michael P. & Schwartz, Richard C. (1998). Family Therapy: Concepts and Methods, 4th. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

*Note: This book is a secular source that shows some of the deceptive teachings clearly.

Sorbo, Roger, Ph.D. (October 1999). "The More I study Science, The Stronger My Faith in God." DECISION. Minneapolis: Billy Graham Evangelist Association. This article was taken from DECISION magazine, October, 1999; ©1999 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, used by permission, all rights reserved.