Publication: One-to-One, Autumn 2010
Satan began this process in the very beginning with Adam and Eve, when he asked, “Did God say that? He really didn’t mean that if you ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that you would die! You will not surely die.” But God did say it, and He meant it. Yet they ate the fruit, and they died. People have died ever since. God says what He means and means what He says.
The enemy is too savvy to bluntly say, “God lied.” He just plants doubt and revises the truth into a lie. His method has not changed, and sadly, it still works too often with too many people.
I remember my dismay when the Revised Standard Version of the Bible first appeared and translated Isaiah 7:14 this way: “the young woman is with child” instead of “a virgin shall conceive”. One of my seminary professors was on the committee that produced the RSV. After its completion, he rejected it because they consistently chose the weaker meaning throughout many Scripture translations. I admired his stand. Slight revisions can alter the true meaning.
Some believe the Bible is God’s Word to us, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Others believe the Bible “contains” God’s Word to us. The latter position leaves us to decide what is and what is not the Word of God…the “pick and choose” version. Those who take that position often take a similar position with other subjects, even science or math. “The truth is relative, whatever you want it to be.” That approach is often used in textbooks or press releases. Misleading has become a science itself.
“Adjusting” the facts in order to make them more palatable and bring about a different result is a dangerous activity. It is putting nice clothes on a naked truth. It is the “fig leaf” that the disobedient use to hide embarrassment. It brings death.
Revelation 12:9 calls Satan the “Deceiver of the whole world.” There is a very large audience for his insidious work, and he has many willing accomplices. He does not work alone. And the idea that “smart people” are not subject to propaganda is itself a deception, as we shall see.
I have recently read Eric Metaxas’ book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.
It is a well-written and well-documented work. Metaxas portrays Bonhoeffer as a deeply committed follower of Jesus, all the way to martyrdom, at the very end of World War II. What I found amazing is how Adolph Hitler and the Nazis manipulated the intellectual community and religious leaders of Germany to accept his Satanic agenda. He cloaked himself in patriotism and German history to ultimately murder millions and bring about the death and destruction of hundreds of thousands more in the war. Hitler often used Christian terminology to deceive. The devil seldom comes to us naked.
Hitler also fooled heads of state, like British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. After reaching a supposed deal with Hitler, he said, “I believe it is peace for our time … And now I recommend you go home and sleep quietly in your beds.” Less than one year later, England and the world were plunged into World War II by Hitler’s continued aggression. Political power and human intelligence are no match for the “deceiver of the whole world”. We may believe that Hitler is gone and Germany was an exception, so the danger has passed; thinking this way would be a tragic error. Revisionism is alive and well in America.
I recently read another book, George Washington’s Sacred Fire by Peter Lillback. Lillback’s research is overwhelming with more than two hundred pages of footnotes and documents. Washington has been falsely portrayed as a Deist in modern textbooks. Deism describes God as impersonal and uninvolved in the affairs of men. Lillback proves beyond a doubt that Washington’s faith was orthodox Christian and deeply held. Washington’s faith was the foundation for his courage, character, and devotion. His motto was, “Deeds, not words.” He was both humble and private.
I concluded the book with a view of Washington that was even higher than before, believing not only in his personal faith, but that he was a gift to us from God. He and the other founders clearly believed that the hand of God was with them, and I do as well. Otherwise, our independence would have been impossible. This book underscores “American Exceptionalism”, our uniqueness in human history.
So why revise the history that was so long accepted by those who witnessed it? The answer should be obvious. The reason was to remove us from our spiritual foundations and put future generations on a different path. It has worked so far.
Revisionists have not only robbed Washington; they have robbed us all and robbed our children of the values that made this nation a shining city on a hill, a beacon of liberty to all people everywhere.
As the 20th century dawned, the revisionists went to work spinning our history, our Constitution, and our theology in ways similar to the same processes that led to Germany’s downfall. By calling our foundations into question, they cause generations to question our values and purpose. “But does it really mean that?” is the same old question. A wrong answer leads to death. When truth becomes “whatever you want it to be,” there is no North or South Pole, just vertigo. “Spinning” is the correct word.
Those of us who love God are not exempt from this insidious process. We too have been subject to revised versions. The termites are into the foundation: the timbers are “honey-combed” with doubts and deletions of biblical Gospel. “Did God really say that?” has destroyed entire denominations. Long ago, schools of theology and universities became riddled with unbelief still cloaked in religious terms…”the taxidermy method.”
The Reformers from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were focused on Christ; severe on sin; insistent on repentance; proclaimers of holiness and devotion; and practitioners of serious prayer. They were spiritual Paul Reveres warning of judgment, and they were passionate evangelists. They preached the truth to their own hurt, and they believed their own creeds.
So what happened? The desire to be accepted overcame the desire to be truthful. They sawed off the very limb on which they perched. More “user-friendly” words were found to revise harsh biblical language. The Cross, the blood of Jesus, repentance, judgment, hell, covenant, and a host of others were replaced with cheap grace without repentance and self-help without new birth. The Holy Spirit became a ‘lackey” and “tolerance” replaced love. The Church became a supermarket.
Of course theology was not the only thing that got emptied; the churches were as well. “Old time churches” went up for sale like their European counterparts that they love to emulate. And again, like Europe, mosques continue to spring up like weeds in the flower beds, while dying churches debate homosexuals in the pulpit.
In the name of tolerance, the intolerant are tolerated, while those who invented real tolerance are not tolerated, but are called bigots or homophobes. The truly intolerant are protected. How deceived and twisted is that? In some Western communities, you can’t even criticize Islam; it is labeled “hate speech”, though nothing is more intolerant than an Islamic majority. But it is quite okay to criticize Christians. Go figure.
Of course, hatred and fear are not answers. Did someone say, “Love your enemies”? I believe so. But we do need discernment. The right words are no guarantee for the truth. The enemy will nearly always use the right words. Discernment once lost is not easily regained. Read Malachi chapters 3 and 4. Germany regained discernment by fire. The cure is extremely painful.
Perhaps the most influential person in the last 150 years has been Friedrich Nietzsche, the nihilist cynic, the “God is dead” philosopher. Metaxas calls Nietzsche, “Hitler’s John the Baptist.” Skepticism and doubt are forerunners of hell on earth. Martin Bormann, a high Nazi official, stated that Christianity and National Socialism are incompatible. But the National Socialists did not mount a frontal assault on Christianity. They revised it and adjusted it, until it became something else entirely. The Hell that they ceased to believe in became an earthly reality. After Hitler shot himself, his body was literally consumed by flames.
Before I elaborate on hell, let me confess my own neglect of the topic. I have always believed in existence, but too often failed to discuss it. Failure to address it has a similar result to denying it. But the Bible does address it.
In seminary, I had a professor who rejected the idea of hell. Though I disagreed, I said little. I do know that sometimes hell refers to “the place of the dead” or place of “retribution.” Hell and destruction often appear together in the Scriptures. In Matthew 5:22, Jesus adds the word “fire” to hell. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, hell is described as a place of torment with no exit. In the book of Revelation, we are told that Jesus holds the keys to death and hell and that hell is a “lake of fire”.
The revisionists hate the truth of hell and vehemently attack these references from all sides. What they really hate is the natural and spiritual law of accountability. They seek the removal of the fear of God and eternal accountability, to trivialize moral law; to remove evangelism, missions, and the Ten Commandments. By attacking the doctrine of hell, they have pulled down a culture. By attacking the Word of God, no other document is safe.
We might ask ourselves, do we really believe that there is a place called hell? If so, how does that motivate us? Or, does neglect have the same affect as unbelief? Who is more guilty, the one who takes the wrong road, or the one who removes the signs?
How can we see clearly through the revisionist fog? Here are some ways:
You are not alone in your desire for truth. Many are coming to realize that they and their children have been robbed. We do not have to agree on everything, but we can agree to seek the God who is true …together, in love. We can love freedom and hate the lies that would seek to walk worthy of those who died for truth so that we might have it.
Scripture Reference: Isaiah 7:14; Revelation 12:9; Malachi 3 and 4; Matthew 5:22
Charles Simpson is an internationally-known author, Bible teacher, and pastor, serving in ministry since 1955. He is also Editor-in-Chief of One-to-One Magazine and ministers extensively throughout the United States and the nations.