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Faith

D.C. Collier: Our Personal ‘Theology’ Determines Our Destiny

Ideas have consequences. Your response to God will reflect what you believe about him. We all have a personal theology, whether we know it or not.

Is the “god” you have in your head distant, unfeeling, cranky, angry, unresponsive? Is he even there at all? Does he care how you live, or has he just “wound the whole thing up” and bolted, leaving you to deal with life, death, evil and suffering on your own?

Ideas are the most powerful forces in human history. Go all the way back to the beginning. Christian philosopher Dallas Willard once observed, “When the Devil approached Eve in the Garden of Eden, he didn’t hit her with a stick, but with an idea.”

The Devil’s ghastly notion was sown in the fertile mind of Eve that God’s intentions were not good toward her and that she had better protect herself by learning all she can about good and evil. After she brought Adam on board with that whopper of a lie, the actions followed in lockstep.

That’s all it took to redirect the course of human history, and it’s been that way ever since.

When God looks at a person to evaluate his or her character, what “window” do you suppose he looks through? “For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”1

The heart can be compared to our “spiritual dashboard,” constantly monitoring our values, attitudes, decisions and motivations. Our beliefs live in the heart, and they are our most important treasure.

Time and again, the scriptures declare that faith is a conscious choice — not some gossamer cloud that descends upon us from on high. We make the choices about what to believe, and God holds us responsible for the results. But since Adam and Eve’s first encounter with Satan in the Garden of Eden, there has been an ongoing contest for our minds and hearts.

The Stakes Are Higher Than You Think

Here is one example of the effects of a vacuous belief system on an entire life — in this case, we refer again to Woody Allen:

“There are some laughs that you have in life, provided by comedians and provided by fortuitous moments with your family or friends or something,” he said. “But most of life is tragic. You’re born, you don’t know why. You’re here, you don’t know why. You go, you die. Your family dies. Your friends die. People suffer. People live in constant terror. The world is full of poverty and corruption and war and Nazis and tsunamis. ... The net result, the final count is, you lose — you don’t beat the house.”

Reading between the lines, he seems to be saying that he is powerless in the face of forces greater than himself and that he has nothing to do but fatalistically “go with the flow.” Is that true?

Where Bad Ideas Can Take Us

A twisted, wrong-headed view of the basic nature of man can lead to global movements like eugenics (which literally means “well-born”). In a WORLD Magazine article headlined “Unwanted,” author Jamie Dean explained:

“The plan behind eugenics — driven by Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection (also known as survival of the fittest) — was simple and chilling: Eliminate certain future problems by eliminating certain future people. Germany adopted similar sterilization laws in the 1930s, and the American movement in part inspired Adolf Hitler in his genocidal campaign to exterminate millions of victims based on his notions of racial superiority ...

“In the early 20th century, Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger — an ardent eugenicist — infamously referred to lower classes and those she deemed unfit as ‘human waste,’ and she championed mass sterilization of so-called defective classes of people ...

Steven Mosher of the pro-life Population Research Institute says he hopes the graphic videos (of aborted fetuses) will revolt viewers with the reality of what happens when abortionists eliminate unborn children. Mosher learned the reality when he witnessed late-term abortions in China while studying the country’s one-child policy in 1981. The experience transformed him into a pro-life advocate and led to his Christian conversion.

“Mosher hopes the grisly images in the Center for Medical Progress videos also lead many to embrace the reality of man as created in the image of God, instead of the theory of man as organic material evolved from animals. ‘There are only two views of man,’ said Mosher. ‘One is that we are a little lower than the angels. The other is that we are a little higher than the apes. I’m firmly on the side of the angels.’”

And then, on a more individual level, your notions of who you are profoundly affects how you value yourself and how you behave toward others.

In his book, What’s So Great About Christianity, political commentator Dinesh D’Souza wrote:

“The Rev. Randy Alcorn, founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries in Oregon, sometimes presents his audiences with two creation stories and asks them whether it matters which one is true.

“In the secular account, ‘You are the descendant of a tiny cell of primordial protoplasm washed up on an empty beach 3½ billion years ago. You are the blind and arbitrary product of time, chance and natural forces. You are a mere grab bag of atomic particles, a conglomeration of genetic substance. You exist on a tiny planet in a minute solar system in an empty corner of a meaningless universe. You are a purely biological entity, different only in degree but not in kind from a microbe, virus or amoeba. You have no essence beyond your body, and at death you will cease to exist entirely. In short you came from nothing and are going nowhere.’

“In the Christian view by contrast, ‘You are the special creation of a good and all-powerful God. You are created in His image, with capacities to think, feel and worship that set you above all other life forms. You differ from the animals not simply in degree but in kind. Not only is your kind unique, but you are unique among your kind. Your Creator loves you so much and so intensely desires your companionship and affection that He has a perfect plan for your life. In addition, God gave the life of His only son that you might spend eternity with Him. If you are willing to accept the gift of salvation, you can become a child of God.’”2

Alcorn adds:

“Now imagine two groups of people — let’s call them the secular tribe and the religious tribe — who subscribe to these two worldviews. Which of the two tribes is more likely to survive, prosper and multiply?

“The religious tribe is made up of people who have an animating sense of purpose. The secular tribe is made up of people who are not sure why they exist at all. The religious tribe is composed of individuals who view their every thought and action as consequential. The secular tribe is made up of matter that cannot explain why it is able to think at all.”3

Our personal theology affects the way we live

The Bible declares that we humans are the crowning achievement of God’s creative plan and, quite literally, the reason for it. We are created in His very image and likeness, however marred by sin we may be. In honor of our dignity as humans, God forces nothing upon us. He wants us to come to Him voluntarily, willingly — indeed, “seekingly.”

He leaves the choice to us, just as He did in the Garden of Eden those many millennia ago. But in these matters, there is no room for complacency or for ignorance.

D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

1. 1 Samuel 16:7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

2. D’Souza, Dinesh. "Survival of the Sacred: Why Religion Is Winning." What’s so Great about Christianity. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2007. N. pag. Print.

3. Ibid.

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