The Discipline of Delusion

Joy and I met with a young couple recently in our home. They are dating and considering marriage, but there is an essential issue that needs to be addressed. One of them was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and the other was raised as a Baptist. The essentials of their worldview – the nature of God, the nature of man, the nature of salvation and the nature of the resurrection – are in stark opposition to the other’s. We met for about 4 hours and it was a good, and for the most part pleasant, conversation as we looked at Scripture and history both of the church and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. The JW young man seemed quite surprised that there are legitimate, reasonable, biblical answers as to why Christians believe what we believe – the physical resurrection, deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity – and that we made the case from the Jehovah’s Witnesses New World Translation of the Bible. And it was good that the young lady was able to see her faith defended from the Bible. Please pray for them as they sort through these issues.

During the course of the conversation Joy brought up a concept that we hear so often from people these days, especially in rejection of the historical biblical faith. It is, “My god would not…” (fill in the blank). “My god would not condemn anyone to hell.” “My god is not judgmental.” “My god would not stand in the way of love, even if the people involved happen to be of the same gender.” “My god wants me to be happy.” It is essentially a rejection of the God portrayed in the Bible, in favor of a cuddlier, kindly old grandfatherly god that doesn’t impose any standards on human beings, and more or less agrees with us on everything. Conveniently, he is also very willing to “evolve” right along with popular culture. As I listened, the words of the prophet Jeremiah came to my mind:

But they are altogether stupid and foolish In their discipline of delusion— their idol is wood! (Jeremiah 10:8)

The word “discipline” here does not mean correction or punishment, as in disciplining a child, but rather it has to do with being an expert in a certain field. For example, someone schooled in the academic disciplines is an “academic expert.”  We also have “spiritual disciplines” or focused regular practices.

Jeremiah is speaking of people who were expert at creating gods – out of wood, no less! So the modern practice of creating a god of our own design is nothing new. The practice has been popular throughout the centuries! Jeremiah goes on to cite the materials used to create the personal gods and says:

They are all the work of skilled men.

There are great advantages to being the creator of your own personal god, and those who practice Jeremiah’s “discipline of delusion” can become quite good at it. Your own personal god makes no claims on your life. “Sins” – such an ugly word – can only be committed by those who do not follow the ethics and morals channeled to your personal deity from you, and as such, “god” can be made to change his mind at your will! Fantastic! If you happen to be pro-choice, why, your god is pro-choice too, and dismembering humans in the womb is not a problem for this god. “Your god” can be non-judgmental concerning homosexual activity, yet can be harshly judgmental of any who follow the biblical teaching on sexuality. “Your god” is non-judgmental, but harshly judges judgmental people!” “Your god” is actually quite malleable, because of course, “your god” is YOU.

Cults and false religions also practice the discipline of delusion. Mormons like the idea of becoming god, so they designed a faith where humans become gods and goddesses of their own planets. Delightful! Perhaps…if true…which it’s not… Because they hate the concept of eternal punishment, the Jehovah’s Witnesses designed a “god” who eliminates this unpleasantness. Once a person dies, he/she just ceases to exist with no punishment beyond this life. Poof – gone! Inconveniently however, the righteous JW has the same fate and likewise ceases to exist – but that problem has also been “fixed,” through the power of imagination. Their “god” Jehovah simply keeps a copy of the good person’s memories, and sort of “uploads” a copy of these “memories” into a newly created clone. No, we’re not kidding – check it out! Hindus like variety, so they have created zillions of “gods,” and in fact, “god” is in everything, so humans are also “god.” Sweet!

Jeremiah is called “the weeping prophet.” It’s not hard to see why. He was called to present to his people the real, true, God of the bible, and was in fact told by God beforehand that the Israelites would not listen to him. They simply preferred the “gods” they created. He was in fact ridiculed, and even persecuted for his truth telling. Worst of all, he was there to witness God’s judgment upon the land he loved. Like him, we live in a time when the majority does not want to hear truth. Their own “gods” are preferable in their eyes to the God of the Bible. We may face ridicule, and perhaps someday genuine persecution, and we may at times feel like weeping, yet we are called as ambassadors to a people who are heavily engaged in the discipline of delusion.

Our calling, like Jeremiah’s, is to demonstrate the futility of creating a false god of one’s own imagination, and then worshipping that creation. We should present to unbelievers the way to repentance and peace with the one true God of the universe – and remind believers of the authority of the revealed word of God and His claims on our lives.Ω

Don and Joy Signature 2

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