Western Society has opened itself up to all sorts of ancient beliefs and mysticisms. However, such mystic beliefs of the Hindu, Buddhist, and spiritistic persuasions tend to emphasize POWER, such as contact with the spirit world, visions, dreams, drug induced rites and behaviors. They tend not to be really concerned with “how shall we then live?” Such faiths do not build civilization or its institutions with a desire for refinement and a recognition that “good” can always become better (progress). Indeed they tend to recoil in horror from the very thought. The result there is also a tendency toward the ascetic practices of meditation, individual “revelations”, asceticisms of all kinds, and isolationism.
The churches appear to lack the intellectual muscle necessary to defend the faith in a modern world. The Church of Christ does have at its disposal, many powerful arguments concerning the truthfulness of its claims:
- The historical witness of Christ’s ministry, miracles and Resurrection.
- The testimony of history and archaeology in support of Scripture.
- The witness and impact of the Church throughout in the annals of society.
- The unique witness of missionary outreach…
- The argument for the historical integrity of the text of the Bible…
- The argument from the Uniformity of Nature and the very existence of the Laws of Logic…
- The arguments similar to those advanced by Edward Gibbon in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, in which he postulates the reasons for the triumphant “conquest’ of the churches over the bloody sword of the Roman Empire.
- And – most importantly – the inspired integrity, purity, veracity, perspicuity and presuppositional cogency of the Word of God.
However, there is a terrible gap in the presentation of the truth of faith and that gap is perceived to be problematic…severely so. That gap should be simple to explain but yet often goes unexplained. Put simply, if the Bible is as true as we Christians say it is and is to be regarded as “God’s very Word”, how then can anyone know objectively that such a position is true? After all, “How do we know when anything is “the Word of God?” Many Christians hold any one or more of the following positions, which if true, can not and do not help (but rather hinder) the way anyone can tell us if any single thing is “from God”…
- It is alleged that “There are prophets and apostles today”…So, if true, that cannot uniquely account for the canon of the Word of God…Additionally, how do we know when God is really speaking if, as they do so often, differ in opinion, markedly from one another.
- Many believe that God continues to directly speak to people today. So, when such “voices” differ with the tenets of the Bible, “How do we know if such is really from God or our own imaginations…or worse?”
- How much of what is NOW believed in the churches, can be substantiated from Divine origin?
How has the Christian Church…and Israel before her…discerned the character of a true revelation from God and ones which are, to put it lightly, “questionable?” All sorts of methods and answers are put forth to answer that one question. Everything from snake handling, to holy laughter, to speaking in tongues, to apostolic succession have been offered as an explanation. Everything, that is, except one thing. The one thing that is most often associated with a true prophet (or Apostle of the Lord)…the signs which accompany the calling of a prophet of the One True God.