The Evils of the isms

December 30, 2013

The Evils of the Isms

            According to the Random House dictionary of the English Language, the letters – ism  at the end of a word identify words having to do with “A distinctive doctrine, theory, system or practice.”

Not all isms are evil.  We need to know the pros and cons of the isms to be able to properly evaluate them.  The evil in the isms varies from a blinding flashing red light to a tiny led light on a computer.  Many times people are left in ignorance because they refuse to heed warnings.  A good example of the sad consequences of not heeding a warning is that of the people in Noah’s day.  We read how Noah obeyed God and build the ark in Genesis chapter six.  Then in II Peter 2:5 we read that he was a “preacher of righteousness.”  Noah informed people   of the danger of the flood, but they refused to take heed.

Most of the isms weren’t invented yesterday.  That’s why it behooves us to study history.  They have already been tried.  We need to know what has resulted from them.

Only a few of the isms will be included in this article.  For our wellbeing, it’s important that we be informed of the flashing red light isms.  Most often they are foisted upon us with no warning of the dangers that accompany them.  For convenience, we will divide our discussion of the isms into three separate categories.

First let’s consider the political isms.  We might also call them economic isms. Unfortunately, when it comes to politics, many say with a yawn, “It doesn’t really matter.    It’s six of one and a half dozen of the other.”  Yes it does matter!  It’s more like 60 of one and a half dozen of the other.

In our day, the major political isms are communism, socialism and capitalism.  Communism is little more than socialism carried to a higher level.  For the most part, communism has been abandoned because it has failed to bring about the utopia that was promised.  Most former communist countries have turned to socialism.

The breakdown of communism comes because of a failure to take human nature into consideration.  It is based on the assumption that all men are, by nature, altruistic.  That just isn’t true.  Most people are more concerned for their own wellbeing than they are for the wellbeing of society.  The theme of communism is “From each according to his ability to each according to his need.” Communism has two strikes against it that come from human nature.  Men have a desire to acquire.  They are willing to achieve if, by so doing, they can get a bigger piece of the pie.  They are left without initiative if all receive the same remuneration in spite of the effort they put forth.  The result is that they do as little as possible.

The other quirk of human nature is that many are willing to take advantage of the ability of others to produce.  They have no motivation to work as long as their basic needs are provided at the expense of those who are working. Sooner or later communist countries find themselves on the brink of poverty.  It is then that they realize that they need to give credence to the profit motive.

Socialism also fails for the same reason.  It is based on government control of the production and distribution of goods.  Government owns all the real estate including the factories and houses.  Those who put forth initiative are paid more and can enjoy more of the luxuries of life, but they are penalized by the graduated income tax.  That means, the more they earn, the more they pay in taxes.  That leaves workers with a lack of motivation to excel.

Another evil of socialism is that welfare state entitlements promote indolence.  When people learn that they can live reasonably well without working, they take advantage of it.  Those who are benefiting from the welfare system may not accept any criticism of it.  As time goes on, the number of those on welfare exceeds those who are working.  The breaking point comes when the government’s expenses exceed its income.  There are now countries with socialistic governments that are at that point.  They are being sustained by deficit spending.   That can’t go on indefinitely.

The liberty of the people is greatly limited under both socialistic and communistic governments.  The government leaders assume that the common man is incapable of making his own decisions.  The common man is obligated to accept decisions that are made for him by his superiors.  Almost always his superiors are given favoritism, both socially and economically.

The leaders of socialistic and communistic governments find it necessary to stamp out belief in God.  It is impossible to obey God and the dictates of superiors in government, both at the same time.  In Matthew 6:24 Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.”

The alternative to communism and socialism is capitalism.  There is no perfect form of government.  Capitalism isn’t perfect either, but it is less evil than the other two.  It leaves people with much more liberty.  It takes advantage of the profit motive.  It is the economic system that made America great.  Why should we abandon it?

Some will be sure to ask, “But what about the welfare system?” Many don’t realize that there was no welfare program in the United States for the first 150 years of its history. We don’t read in the history of that period that there were great numbers who died of starvation. The welfare system had its beginning in 1904 when the old age pension began.  The social security system had its beginning in 1939.  From then on the welfare system was gradually developed.  When welfare depends on the mercy of relatives and friends, it isn’t nearly as easy to take advantage of it.  The Bible says in II Thessalonians  3:10 “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

Now let’s look at two of the philosophic isms.  Philosophy is a study that searches for meaning in life.  First we will consider materialism.   My dictionary says that materialism is “attention to or emphasis on material objects, needs and considerations with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual values” (random House Dictionary of the English Language). In every day terminology, it’s an obsession with material things.  Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, warns us of the folly of seeking satisfaction in material things.  In Ecclesiastes 2:8 he said, “I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts.” In verse 11 of that chapter we find his conclusion.  “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” Jesus also said in Luke 12:15, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” He who lives only for the accumulation of material things has a poor quality of life.

 

Another predominate philosophy in our day is humanism.  It is a variety of ethical theory and practice that emphasizes reason, scientific enquiry, and human fulfilment in the natural world and often rejects the importance of belief in God” (Dictionary.com).

Humanists claim that all human problems can be solved by human reason, scientific inquiry, and human effort without the help of God.  If that is so, why isn’t it being done?  Human problems are on the increase.  No, we need God!  Isaiah 55:7-9 says “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.   For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.    For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

The biblical philosophy is superior.  In essence it is: (1). There is a God. (2).  God has revealed himself in nature and by means of the Bible. (3). Fulfilment in life, happiness and harmony in human relationships are found by taking heed to what God says

There are also isms in theology.  The two most prominent are arminianism and Calvinism.  Arminianism gets its name from Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609).  He was a Dutch theologian who taught that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross made a significant contribution to man’s salvation, but human effort is also necessary.  Calvinism gets its name from John Calvin (1509-1564).  He was a French theologian who declared that Christ’s death on the cross is totally sufficient for man’s salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 confirms that he was right about that.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:    Not of works, lest any man should boast.” He said that human effort serves   for gaining merit with God which contributes to rewards we will receive in heaven. Matthew 6:19-20 says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:    But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.”

There are other things that Calvin taught, however, that cannot be upheld by the Bible.  He went to extreme on the doctrine of predestination.  He taught that men will be saved regardless of what men do.  The Bible does teach that men are predestined to be saved.  Romans 8:30, for example says, “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”  However there is also the great commission in Matthew 28:18-20 that commands us to go and make disciples of all men. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.    Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:    Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”  We must confess that there are some grey areas, between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man, that are hard to explain.  We know, however, that it is our responsibility to obey and do what God says.

We need discernment to detect the evils in the isms.  Don’t identify with any one ism and assume that it is perfect.  They all have some faults.  As we said at the beginning, some have more merit than others.  We need to take heed to what the Bible says in Hebrews 5:12-14. “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.   For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” The more we study the Bible the more discernment we have.  God wants us to have knowledge and discernment.  Don’t be without it.

 

 

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