God’s Yes Men
Author: Todd Strandberg
Most people regard God to be a flawless role model. If He said it was so, then it must be true. Christians rely on His wisdom – The Holy Bible – to guide the decisions we make each day. Even atheists that say they don’t believe in a supernatural power acknowledge Him by affirming the soundness of many of the rules and regulations credited to the God of the Bible.
With all this leadership and wisdom to draw upon, there should be no reason society is in such disarray. The Word of God gives more guidelines on morality than any other issue, and yet the area of ethics prevails as the area of one of mankind’s most glaring deficiencies.
The lack of understanding can’t be blamed on a shortage of instructors. We have in America an endless number of Christian organizations, with tens of thousands of ministers, pastors, priests, and deacons. The root problem obviously has to be how men interpret Scripture.
I could write endlessly about how men go astray, but I decided to focus on a single factor. In this article, I chose to tackle one of the most subtle errors that occurs when people become God’s “yes men.” They claim to represent the King of truth, but in reality they are following the lead of the lord of lies.
Monkey See, Monkey Do Yes Men
Because we human are social creatures, we get most of our understanding of the world from other people. The transfer of knowledge needs to be conducted with great caution. When we fail to use good judgment, falsehood can be spread with the same ease as truth.
When it comes to gaining wisdom from people, one of the most important methods is to learn from their mistakes. The following are two good examples highlight the danger of herd-mentality thinking.
In 1999, several Christian ministries became entangled in the Y2K debacle. People thought society was doomed to suffer a technological armageddon because computers would not be able to handle the change over to the new millennium.
After researching the so-called problem, I discovered that most companies had already replaced their outdated software. A full year before the Y2K meltdown was scheduled to manifest itself, I wrote an article entitled “The Y2K Hoax: Myth or Mayhem.” In my article, I cited numerous reasons the millennium bug had a few bugs of its own. These fact did little to stop prophecy teachers from proclaiming certain doom come January 1, 2000.
When the calendar rolled over to 2000 A.D., there were hardly any glitches. Several prophetic ministries suffered permanent damage to their reputation by claiming Y2K would be a cataclysmic event. Their mistake was jumping on a bandwagon without verifying its validity.
Another craze of the past few years concerned the Bible codes. A select group of scholars believed that the text of the Old and New Testaments contained messages that were encoded by way of Equidistant Letter Sequence (ELS). For example, the bold letters in this sentence form an ELS for the word SAFEST. (The skip is 4 letters running backwards).
The Bible codes seem very convincing when you can point to a highlighted portion of a Bible passage that spells out a positive message like “Jesus is the Son of God” or “the devil is a liar.” They can be all the more beguiling when they are used to predict events. One popular book cited references to the holocaust, world war, Hitler, and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.
When I first heard of the Bible codes, I was a bit a yes man myself. When a well-known authority of prophecy told me about them, this gentleman had my initial trust that he knew what he was talking about. When I tied verify his claims, however, I quickly ran into trouble.
In my research, I found that the same type of letter sequence can be produced in any type of document. I also noticed that one could use code search software to find messages that contradict the message of Bible. For every “Jesus is Lord” one can find instances of “Satan is Lord.”
Worldly Yes Men
One of the most common examples of yes men are church leaders who seek to please the world at the expense of the biblical truth. They do their faith a disservice by their efforts to bridge the gap between the Bible and the carnal world. In nearly every case, the compromise comes at the expense of established Christian values.
[Related Article: The ‘Jesus’ the World Loves]
Tony Campolo is an author and founder of the Evangelical Association. He recently proposed the idea that God is not omnipotent. He made this claim to try to explain why God allows disasters like floods and earthquakes to kill thousands of people.
“Perhaps we would do well to listen to the likes of Rabbi Harold Kushner, who contends that God is not really as powerful as we have claimed. Nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures does it say that God is omnipotent. Kushner points out that omnipotence is a Greek philosophical concept, but it is not in his Bible. Instead, the Hebrew Bible contends that God is mighty. That means that God is a greater force in the universe than all the other forces combined.” – Tony Campolo
The Bible says that our hairs are numbered, and that a bird doesn’t fall from a tree without God knowing about it. If the Lord has the capability to count hairs and watch each and every bird on earth, he certainly would know about the factors that would lead to calamity.
Joel Osteen is pastor of Lakewood Church, the largest evangelical church in America, with 30,000 weekly attendants. Osteen’s success is based largely on presenting a message that any yes man would find agreeable.
Osteen’s New Age message that God loves everyone ran into trouble during an interview with Larry King on CNN. It interesting that King is a non-believer, but he has a habit of asking the right question to people who should standing up for the gospel. Here are a few excerpts from that interview that reveal Osteen’s desire to please the world.
Larry King: “What if you’re Jewish or Muslim, you don’t accept Christ at all?”
Joel Osteen: “You know, I’m very careful about saying who would and wouldn’t go to heaven. I don’t know…”
Larry King: “If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They’re wrong, aren’t they?”
Joel Osteen: “Well, I don’t know if I believe they’re wrong. I believe here’s what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God will judge a person’s heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don’t know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don’t know. I’ve seen their sincerity. So I don’t know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.”
Larry King: “But don’t you think if people don’t believe as you believe, they’re somehow condemned?”
Joel Osteen: “You know, I think that happens in our society. But I try not to do that. I tell people all the time, preached a couple Sundays about it. I’m for everybody. You may not agree with me, but to me it’s not my job to try to straighten everybody out. The Gospel is called the good news. My message is a message of hope, that God’s for you. You can live a good life no matter what’s happened to you. And so I don’t know. I know there is condemnation, but I don’t feel that’s my place.”
“Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6)
Trying to bridge the gap between evolution and creation, leaders in the Catholic Church are now saying that some form of evolutionary mechanism is at work. When confronted with media headlines that had them confirming that man may have descended from monkeys, the Vatican turned to a confusing quote made by a former Pope.
According to Pope Pius XII, evolution was “gladly made use of by the proponents of communism to make of themselves defenders and propagandists of dialectical materialism and to take from minds every mention of God.”
If you are going to compromise your principles, you should at least be clear about it.
Christian Yes Men
One of the most essential ingredients in the Christian faith is the ability to know why you trust God. Many people have absolutely no idea why they decided to become a believer. Sadly, many of these people are not true Christians.
They proclaim Jesus to be Lord and Savior, but He never became a personal Lord to them. I think the failure is caused by a cultural acceptance of Jesus. “Christian society” teaches us that God is great, so we follow the lead that is given to us.
I’ve seen how contradictory some people can be in my military travels. While deployed in the desert, you get to know people’s true nature. After eating, sleeping, working, and spending recreation time with them 24 hours a day, there is very little you don’t know about them.
I’ve seen people who could be the meanest, most foul-mouthed, dishonest individuals all week, and on Sunday morning in church they would reverse gears and become loving saints, singing God’s praises.
I’ve known people who appeared to be good Christians in a church fellowship setting. However, when it came to business, they did not hesitate to swindle their own pastor.
Because hypocritical acts invokes such strong reaction, most people would overlook the reason why many individuals are two-faced in their faith. The contradiction might be caused by people’s struggle with sin, but in most cases the root problem is the lack of appreciation for what it means to be followers of Jesus Christ.
Praise God for His Critics
I‘ve always found unbelievers to be very helpful in the process of maturing my understanding of the issues that relate to the life of a believer. These people prove themselves useful by highlighting the weak points of the Christian faith.
The critics of Rapture Ready have helped me clarify my views by attacking the articles I’ve posted on the site. The foundation stone of many of the pages that defend pretribulationism came from hateful email that attacks the rapture.
After reading the atheistic remarks made by well-known men like Albert Einstein and Mark Twain, I felt inspired to overcome what had been stumbling blocks to them. Both men were troubled by their inability to find solid evidence for God’s existence, and by what appeared to be His unjust nature.
It’s hard to build your spiritual strength when you’re surrounded by Christians who have trained themselves to only think happy thoughts. You’re not going to see yes men making comments like the following:
“I see only with deep regret that God punishes so many of His children for their numerous stupidities, for which only He Himself can be held responsible; in my opinion, only His nonexistence could excuse Him.”
Albert Einstein, letter to Edgar Meyer, Jan. 2, 1915.
“A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”
Albert Einstein, Religion and Science.
“One of the proofs of the immortality of the soul is that myriads have believed in it. They have also believed the world was flat.”
Mark Twain, Notebook, 1900.
“Our Bible reveals to us the character of our god with minute and remorseless exactness… It is perhaps the most damnatory biography that exists in print anywhere. It makes Nero an angel of light and leading by contrast.”
Mark Twain, Reflections on Religion, 1906.
“The two Testaments are interesting, each in its own way. The old one gives us a picture of these people’s Deity as he was before he got religion, the other one gives us a picture of him as he appeared afterward.”
Mark Twain, Letters From the Earth, 1909; published in 1962.
I worry about believers who can only deal with troubling issues by blocking them out of their mind. These type of yes men don’t fare very well when they experience personal trials. Without a firm foundation, adversity can cause the most happy-go-lucky believer to become as sour on God as these two gentlemen.
Know Why You Believe What You Believe
It is vitally important for us to be able to cite the reason for our faith. The Christian faith is not held together by some energy force that springs from wishful thinking. Christianity was at its best when doubters vastly outnumbered believers.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Lord needs our positive feedback to maintain His control of the universe. It is silly for believers to flee from anything that would challenge their faith.
I think every believer should have a testimony for why they trust Christ. Anyone who can only cite family or cultural tradition as the foundation of their Christian experience is in big trouble. Jesus is a personal Savior who reaches out to everyone on an individual level. Because a yes man is not likely to have a commitment that comes from his heart, it’s hard for him to find the truth.
I know God is real because he has carried me through some difficult times in my life. He has blessed me so abundantly that I now feel obligated to give Him my praise.
Some of the most powerful evidence supporting the God of the Bible can be found in how world events follow Bible prophecy. We have long since reached the point where it is mathematically impossible for these events to have occurred by accident.
We Don’t Have All The Answers
I long ago concluded that our limited knowledge of God leads to many questions that cannot be answered in this life. It is essential for us to have direct access to Him before we can have a proper understanding of His complete nature.
People who decide to fill in the gaps with guesswork are doing the Lord a disservice. By just being wrong in some areas, they can bring confusion and discredit to our understanding of the Creator.
There is no need for speculation in the first place. People need to realize that it is perfectly acceptable to say “no” or “I don’t know.” Anyone who goes beyond the bounds of the basic facts is willfully venturing out into the realm of falsehood.
God only requires us to apply ourselves to the basic rules of life.The act of placing our trust in God does not require us to have a degree in physics.We have all eternity to learn the details of God’s universe.
“For since the beginning of the world [men] have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, [what] he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” (Isaiah 64:4)