|Vol. 12 No. 10 October 2010||
Betty Burton Choate
Cultures, ways of thinking and national behavior are formed largely by predominant religious teaching. The old statement, “East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,” is a declaration of the tremendous differences in thinking between large sections of our world. In times past, not many Americans personally knew “foreigners.” Today, newcomers from other cultures live in practically every small town in the States.
What is the result? First, there is curiosity about the new people and meeting them, they may seem likeable, or they may seem aloof. Getting past the strangeness in dress and the heavily accented English, it then may seem that they are not so “foreign” after all. However, in the majority of cases, if the acquaintance is developed to any depth, there will be an unfolding of differences of thinking and values that will seem incomprehensible to the Christian mind. The feeling of being up against a thick wall will often arise in conversations, a feeling of helplessness in the efforts to really penetrate and understand the thinking. The longer the acquaintance continues and the deeper it becomes, the more of the subtle differences one will discover. These are not because of the geographical differences in birth places, but because of the religious-cultural differences that have molded our thinking and values as well as theirs.
The following quotes are statements, headlines and doctrines in pagan lands:
“A man may have four wives, if he provides for all of them equally…” “Don’t trust any Pakistani, not even me…” “Eleven-year-old boy sacrificed to Kali…” “We will kill. We are fighting a holy war…” “Those who would die for Islam must be willing to kill for it…” “Eight million dollars spent for gold and gems for a new crown for an idol…” “The bride price was not enough. The husband poured acid on his wife because she would not demand more money from her father…” “Children are kidnapped and maimed and then put on the streets to beg for their owners.”
“Don’t compliment anything because the demons would hear and would mar or destroy whatever is good or beautiful…” “Offer food and gifts to Shiva to appease him…” “I must have been evil in my past life for the gods to have cursed me with five daughters…”
“The entire cosmos, all sounds, words, languages, all things and all creatures come from the sound, ‘Om.’” “God is the dispassionate observer of the play of life, all of which is only an illusion that seems real but is not…” “The belief in the doctrine of Maya produces the national vices of passivity, laziness, indifference, lack of initiative…” “God does not interfere in the works of man or the results of his works…”
When we see masses of people following particular lines of behavior, we can know that underlying, widespread teaching is responsible for it. When a whole nation will follow a fanatical leader into a “holy” war and will commit acts of terrorism, such as the unprovoked killing of people in airports, in the name of religion, it is because strong teachings have molded their minds in that way.
When nations will allow the poor to live in hunger and the orphans to beg on the streets while pouring their millions of wealth into temples to adorn idols with diamonds and to cover domes with gold, it is because strong teachings have molded their minds in that way. When superstitions and rituals control most of the activities of peoples’ lives, it is because strong teachings have molded their minds in that way.
When suspicion and the expectation of being cheated are the windows through which people view the world, it is because strong teachings have molded their minds in that way. When passivity, laziness and lack of initiative are national attitudes, it is because strong teachings have molded minds in that way.
Our country is changing far more rapidly than most of us realize. For the first time, massive numbers of people from pagan areas are settling here, and they are bringing their thinking and culture with them. Large temples and mosques are being built and lavishly adorned by them. Their beliefs are beginning to permeate our own culture. Often, in listening to words of songs or reading synopses of books, I am appalled at the pagan concepts that are being subtly implanted in minds. Many dabble with astrology, horoscopes, yoga, chanting, transcendental meditation, ideas of reincarnation, doctrines of karma and destiny, and demons.
Our culture has been one predominantly shaped by the teachings of Christ: “…let him labor, working with his hands…” (Ephesians 4:28). The attitude of giving one’s best to whatever he undertakes grows from the admonition, “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). Being benevolent – caring for orphans, underprivileged and victims of disasters both, nationally and individually – comes from the biblical teaching of being a brother’s keeper. Contrast this to paganism where money is given for the priests, the temples and the idols, and where personal hardship in the lives of others is looked on as the just desserts for behavior in a past life. Christians are taught throughout the Scriptures to be caring and compassionate. This attitude has so permeated our nation that the third source of national aid (after government and business) is the voluntary donation of time, services and money. More of this type of work is done by Americans than by the rest of the world combined, according to statistics.
“Let your yea be yea…” (Matthew 5:37) has shaped our culture to the point that a greater degree of trust and honesty is practiced here than anywhere else. We do not live in the expectation of being cheated at the grocery store or the post office, and we can still return broken merchandise and be believed that we didn’t break it ourselves. These common things that we take for granted are not true in pagan societies.
In the past, as Christians, we have seen Satan’s work of error taught in denominationalism. The divisiveness among believers in Christ and the compromise in His teachings have led to much of the moral breakdown that has already been taking place in our country.
The stage has been set by him now for even more drastic differences. He has brought to us the teachings of thinking and behavior that are totally contradictory to the teachings of Christ. He will work slowly and subtly to influence and remold the “Christian” culture we have had.
If we are unaware, complacent, preoccupied with our buildings and the niceties of the order of services – with trivialities, Satan will find no opposition to his progress. Will America someday be as pagan as Hindu India or Buddhist Thailand or Islamic Saudi Arabia?