HEATHENISM

I. Three systems of human perception

A. Empiricism

1.    Perception through observation and experimentation. Conclusions derived from the observation of phenomena.

2.    Reality through sensory perception rather than theory, which is rationalism.

3.    Aristotle demonstrated the failure of empiricism to understand and know God, "the Unmoved Mover."

 

B. Rationalism

1.          Perception through reason.    Reason is the source of knowledge, and in itself, is superior to and independent of sensory perception (empiricism).

2.    The criterion for perception is the human mind. Under this system both doctrine and all Scripture are subjected to the test of human reason.  Both dogma and supernatural are rejected.

3.    Descartes demonstrated the failure of rationalism to understand God:   "I think; therefore, I exist." (1 Cor. 2:14)

 

C. Faith

1.          System of perception which accepts an established criterion as the basis of reality.

2.          This criterion is outside of the capabilities of the individual; there­fore, making faith the only non-meritorious system of perception in the human race.

3.    Hence, faith is tantamount to confidence or belief in the authority and veracity of another, e.g., God.

4.          Since the verb "to believe" is a transitive verb, the real merit of faith lies in the object of the verb.

a.   In salvation Christ.

b.   In Christian modus operand! The Bible.

5.          Faith is the only system of perception which is compatible with the principle of grace.

6.          Only system of perception common to all members of the human race.

7.          Only means of appropriating salvation (John 3:15, 16; 20:31; Acts 16:31).

II. Logical approaches to the existence of God

A.  Religious

1.          God must exist because man universally believes in His existence.

2.          In this case the human mind establishes faith as the criterion for reality.

 

B.  Moral or Anthropological

1.         Man possesses a conscience with the urge to choose right over wrong.

2.         The structure of society and the function of human government ex­press human recognition of virtue and truth.

 

C. Ontological

1.          The human mind possesses the idea of perfect and absolute Being; therefore, such a Being must exist.

2.          In this case, the mind uses rationalism as the criterion of reality.

 

D. Teleological

1.          Structure of the universe demands a Designer (Rom. 1:19, 20).

2.          In this case, mind uses empiricism as the Criterion of reality.

 

E. Cosmological

1.         Intuitive law of cause and effect demands the existence of God.

2.         This is the perceptive process of rationalism plus logic.

III. The reaction to God-consciousness

A. When man becomes conscious of God, he then exercises positive or negative volition.

B. Positive volition: desire to know God and have fellowship with Him.

C. Negative volition: no interest in fellowship with God.

D. Once a person reaches God-consciousness and has no desire for fellow­ship with God, God has no further obligation to that individual.

E. In the case of positive volition, God is responsible to provide information on which to be saved (John 7:17; Acts 17:27; Jer. 29:13).

IV. The problem of heathenism

A. Application of the doctrine of Divine Essence.

1.          Since God is perfect righteousness and justice, it is impossible for Him to be unfair to any member of the human race.

2.          Promise that every generation will be evangelized (Isa. 51:8b).

 

B. Application of the doctrine of unlimited atonement.

1.          Christ died for all members of the human race (2 Cor. 5:14, 15, 19; 1 Tim. 2:6; 4:10; Titus 2:11; Heb.  2:9; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 John 2:2).

2.          Therefore, God obviously desires the salvation of everyone.

 

C. Application of Divine Sovereignty.

1.          It is God's will that all members of the human race be saved (2 Pet. 3:9).

2.          If they are not saved, it is because of their own negative volition or rejection of Christ as Savior.

 

D. Application of the principle of God-consciousness.

1. Two areas in which a decision must be made.

a. At the point of God-consciousness.

b. At the point of gospel-hearing.

2. Principle.

a. If any member of the human race, regardless of geographical isolation or linguistic barrier desires relationship with God after reaching God-consciousness, God will provide gospel infor­mation on which to be saved (John 7:17; John Chapters 9 and 10; Acts 17:27; Jer. 29:13).

b. Man has the ability to arrive at God-consciousness through the activity of his own mind (Rom. 1:20, 21).

c. When a member of the human race has arrived at the point of God-consciousness, he has reached the point of accountability. This varies with cultures and circumstances of environment.

 

E. Essence of Heathenism

Heathenism exists where the gospel has been preached and rejected, or where people have reached God-consciousness and rejected (Rom. 1:18-30; 10:18; 2 Thess. 1:8; Isa. 40:17-21).