A History of the Christian Church
Part Twenty Three
compiled by Denis Jenkins
Title A History of the Christian Church
Part Twenty Three
Theme Natural Theology - A Diversion from the reformation goals
This is Part 23 in the series. Parts 1 to 22 can be found by referring to the index of articles via this link --> Index to Articles
After John Knox's battle for God both personally and publicly, the Reformation lost its way as a global movement in Britain. Individuals did hold true to God's leadership and the excitement of His revelation, but for over 100 years after Knox a great many people were once more misguided and diverted from God's purposes and leadership. During that time a great majority were influenced by the craftiness of Lucifer who replicated the fervour of the Reformation and the excitement of discovering new truths from God, and twisted the fervour and the excitement of progressive revelation into a path of counterfeit human revelation.
The fervour of moving forward and advancing in the knowledge of God's truth was duplicated in a man-driven advancement known as Natural Religion or Natural Theology, led influentially by Paley, Ray and many others. Paley's argument in Natural Theology is that one can logically infer the existence and attributes of God by the empirical study of the natural world (hence the name "natural" theology).
The replacement of Revelation Theology by Natural Theology represents a fundamental shift from the mind-set of surrendering one's mind to the leadership of God through the Holy Spirit, to human minds proving the existence of God through science, logic and human reason. Truth was now seen as a set of logical human arguments, rather than a revelation of God's mind through a connection to the Holy Spirit. Truth became an acceptance of propositions and arguments, as opposed to the truth being worked out in the lives of people being led by the Holy Spirit.
The end result of Spirit-led truth is a practical revelation through action and behaviour, led by the Spirit. The end result of Propositional truth is the setting of rules and boundaries that in our human strength we have no hope of fulfilling. This brings discouragement and despair to believers in God, as in their own strength people try to attain Godliness and Goodness.
Natural Theology refocused man away from the mind of Christ to worshiping the mind and intellect of man. Thus, using the reformation process, Lucifer once more diverted and separated many thousands of minds from a connection with Christ through the Holy Spirit to relying on the self-centred approach of man being able to discover God unaided through his own reason. Thus, Lucifer was once more separating man from God, but within the framework of human enlightenment and counterfeit revelation.
But although there was nothing in natural religion to controvert the religion of the Bible, it did little in itself but establish in the mind of the believer the omnipotence and wisdom of God. It added no new moral force of its own, and relied on the Testaments and the established traditions of the Church and of society to fill out the details of devotion and morality. There was always felt to be a danger that belief in natural religion might become separated from Christian doctrine and Christian morality and become no more than an unprincipled and irresponsible deism - a belief in God, but in nothing else.
Although there were no facts or data in natural religion that overtly contradicted the Bible, it did cause people to believe that they had discovered, defined and explained God and his behaviour. The glory and wonder of the experience was focused on the agility of the human mind, rather than preparing the human mind to surrender to being taught by the Creator Himself, through the Holy Spirit. The operational perspective of how God wanted man to relate to Himself was now totally in the opposite direction.
Satan had now turned man's mind from God's will 180 degrees. Man was now set to discover God himself. Man now expected in his own strength to find God in nature and in God's Word.
All the while God was asking mankind to discover Him through the Holy Spirit not by searching, but by surrendering to the Spirit who is able to lead man into the understanding of God's character through God's leadership in man's life. This is God explaining himself to man. God expected to lead man through His Word, as the scripture says that the spirit was intended to lead mankind into Truth.
Now mankind was busily searching for God, when God was and is so willing to connect with man and explain himself on a personal basis through the Holy Spirit. It then became accepted by modern man that God is that distant God who is not accessible and is impersonal and does not care. The new Testament era for such people is lonely and deserted. For, in the Old Testament times God spoke to his people through prophets and priests. God was real, accessible, and demonstrated his will through the sanctuary system and its services. Now Satan through deceit, in the Concept of Natural Theology, was leading man away from accepting the very gift that Jesus had given through His death and resurrection. This Gift was to reunite mankind to God. This union was to be achieved through the Holy Spirit . The sanctuary system no longer applied as the real Lamb was slain that conquered sin which led once more to God communicating directly with His people, as in Eden, but through the gift of the Holy Spirit. All those who wish to follow Christ become priests, for priests were the people who in Old Testament times were the counsellors that people turned to, to know what the will of God was for them, as the Holy Spirit only communicated with Priests and Prophets. But in the New Testament era, all through the Holy Spirit are able to communicate with Christ and learn mind to mind. This was the basis of the new covenant: that God's Laws are to be written in man's mind and interpreted by Christ Himself as He guides man's lifestyle actions. Mankind now learns from God by practice demonstrated not just theory that has to be applied by human comprehension. Man is now an apprentice directly under Christ's direction through the Holy Spirit. Satan, through Natural Theology, tried to nullify that direct communion that is now possible between man and God after Christ's resurrection.
This artificial separation from God, created by Satan through natural religion, has led to a proliferation of books written about why God seems to be absent. Books about all various views of God as man perceives God in nature and glimpses they obtain humanly in scripture. Natural Religion has led to a need for copious doctrinal proof of the correctness of a body of believers' concepts of God's will. This has led many Protestant churches to believe that they need academic theologians to approve the church's position, thus taking away the personal leadership Christ craves from his people. Christ wants to lead His followers personally to the knowledge of His will as they study His word. Satan has achieved in the most part to depersonalise the Christian experience so that man struggles in his/her own strength alone. Believers in God become discouraged and give up.
Natural Theology has been responsible for the ever increasing secularisation that exists around the various denominations. Members accept the church's propositions of faith. The faith and understandings they obtain this way are not their own worked out through the direction of the Holy Spirit. The denominational member sees the church as responsible for having to establish those propositions and therefore the member accepts the church policing that member's stay within the bounds of those propositions. Such members also believe the individual is not capable of understanding God's will. The Church becomes a type of ecclesiastical legal department between the member and God with its professional academic clergy searching the fine print to determine if the members are pleasing God. The entire focus is on the boundaries set by the hierarchy of the church. There is no focus on the likelihood of progressive revelation from God to clarify man's understanding through the Holy Spirit. Members become so detached from the study of God's word and expect church membership to ensure their passage to heaven. Natural Theology and its offshoot behaviours and attitudes have insidiously penetrated deep down into what is known as accepted Church Denominations who possess a creed.. Others who do not fit into this mould are known as sects. Yet , this is another way Satan has used to marginalise those who truly are following God's will through progressive revelation led by the Holy Spirit..
Lucifer's very clever ploy, through Natural Religion, was to bring God's people down to the same level as his worldly philosophers and counterfeit followers. Natural Religion connected the Christian Church to biological sciences as a means of gaining its proof that God really exists. John Ray, one of the founding fathers of modern Biological Sciences who was influentially responsible for making the connection
God, on the other hand, through his Son Jesus, had created the best possible way to prove the existence of God. Jesus said to those who asked Him "show us the Father". Jesus reply was, "I have been with you so long and you have not seen the Father?" On Jesus' return to God the Father, Jesus turned to His disciples and said to them, " I am giving you the Holy Spirit as a comforter". The role of the comforter was to lead those who accept Christ in Truth and understanding of God, His wisdom, goodness and personal love that God has for every one of us. The very best proof that God exists is the direct and personal connection that every believer is able to have with Jesus Christ himself through the Holy Spirit. At Christ's death on the cross, the temple curtain that separated the most Holy place from the Holy place in the temple was torn from top to bottom. The most Holy Place, in the temple, was the place God the father resided on earth. Only the high priest could once a year go into God's presence. Now the Good News Of Christ's death reunited man and God through the Holy Spirit and His Son Jesus. But Lucifer had, once again, led man's mind to sideline us from the restored and real connection we are able to have with God. This connection was re-established through Christ's sacrifice and Christ giving us access through the Holy Spirit. This restored connection Lucifer sought to sever by once again in man's mind separating us from God through our own self centeredness and desire to be our own measure of all truth. Lucifer was able to separate mankind by appealing to the original lie. "If you eat of this fruit God knows in that day you will surely become like God". Lucifer was once more appealing to man's carnal nature to believe in his own self sufficiency instead of being led into Truth by God himself.
John Ray himself allowed Lucifer to lead his mind and deceive him through his ignorance that comes from not surrendering to the very spirit of God and allowed lucifer to feed his ego to believe that John Ray the scientist could prove and quantify God and provide the very best insight into the wisdom and nature of God. Nothing in animals and plants, John Ray showed us, appears to be useless: everything has been arranged for a good reason. If in a few cases we ourselves cannot see the purpose of some detail, there is likely still to be a purpose known to God, and useful to the creature concerned. This was counterfeit faith giving rise to and setting the precedent for the same counterfeit faith that Lucifer would eventually attach to the evolutionary theory leading mankind to accept gaps in logic and still accept it as truth. The bigger mistake John Ray made was to take the evidence and proof of God's existence away from the revelation of God through Jesus and subsequently through the Holy Spirit. Instead John Ray was saying that science could reveal God in the very best way.
Ray's second mistake and what set the precedent for counterfeit faith, was to draw people's minds to the perfection of God's creation when he had completely ignored and sidelined the effects on nature of a sinful world. Due to man's sin under Lucifer's leadership, the universe for the first time had experienced the concept of death. For the first time in the universe there was a struggle for survival. This struggle was the blemish that Lucifer had brought on this world. Lucifer was to use John Ray's scientific error, of ignoring vital historical context surrounding Lucifer's interference with God's perfect creation, to then take the very blemish of sin that Satan had introduced into the world, to scientifically prove John Ray's position wrong. Satan created death and the struggle to survive but it was Satan who led man's mind to use this very blemish to prove that there was no God who created a perfect world as life evolved through survival of the fittest and an ever increasingly sophisticated order of life forms. Science had now proved through evolution that there is no God and that all life forms evolved through evolutionary chance. John Ray was now shown to be inept in his observations and had poor form as a scientist to have missed such an important scientific fact.
Now that the influential Christian world and especially British Protestant Christianity had argued itself into a position where religious belief depended heavily upon the interpretation of biology for intellectual support to prove that God exists, Lucifer was now able to disprove God on the very same basis. Lucifer now had side stepped and blinded mankind regarding his responsibility for the problems and struggles that exist in the world since sin entered the world and made these very blemishes and aberrations of a perfect creation the centre of so called scientific logic to prove that man was not declining but ascending to greater perfection.
So begins the debate between creationism and evolution. Evolution began to be perceived as scientific as it appeared to be observed around us in fossil and geological evidence. It was difficult to include the context of sin into a theoretical frame work that could be seen and handled in a tangible manner for Christians trying to use science as a basis for proving God.
The Christian world felt pressed to prove itself scientifically, philosophically and academically. The Christian doctrines began to be formulated by eminent educationalists into propositional frameworks of man-made logic. These doctrines became fixed by certain schools of thought to be argued about by other schools of thought. Thus, Satan skilfully provided a dividing wedge among those in the Christian world to be so thoroughly separated while worshipping a single God. Satan or Lucifer is the arch deceiver who rules by confusion and is able at all times in this world to lure mankind into confusing simple things that are God's.
The Christian world placed academia in the place of the Holy Spirit that God intended to guide mankind into truth. Instead truth was considered to be measured against human reason. Truth no longer was progressive but became fixed partial understandings of God's will. Such limited perception placed great burdens on people in the Christian world trying to do God's will in their own strength.
This legacy of the natural religion movement has confused Christians to this very time period in history. It has given rise to many counterfeit movements that have perpetuated separation amongst Christians. The following chapter is the story of how Christians have groped their way around in delusion created by this powerful movement designed by Satan to confuse.
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