Living in Parallel Worlds
We really are living in parallel universes:
While we walk and talk and mingle with all sorts of people on a daily basis, the truth is this: as the days grow darker, the divide between those who know God, know truth, and know reality, and those who do not, is growing ever wider. It is as if there are two parallel worlds with no real connection between the two.
The lost are becoming ever more lost; the deceived are becoming ever more deceived; and those who hate God and his people are becoming ever more intense in their hatred. While we are to do all we can to reach these people, the divide becomes greater by the day it seems.
Plenty of Hollywood films could be mentioned here in this regard. Keanu Reeves is said to have made this statement about the famous film trilogy he starred in: ‘The truth is, the Matrix was a documentary.’ Whether he said that or not, the film sure did graphically demonstrate how a two-tiered world can exist side by side.
We have masses of people who are utterly clueless. They think their world is the real one, when in fact they are living a lie, they are living in delusion, they are living in a world of make believe. Trying to wake these people up is the need of the hour. They desperately need truth, but so many of them hate the truth. They desperately need the light, but they hate the light.
And that is just what Jesus warned about. As we read in John 3:19-21: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” They were living in a parallel universe.
But sadly this great divide is not just between the children of light and the children of darkness. Increasingly we find that all this is happening in Christian circles as well. There is a growing divide between real deal biblical Christians and those who just are pretending to be Christians.
We have wheat and tares, in other words, growing up together. And this is easy enough to demonstrate by way of biblical examples, historical examples, and personal examples. As to some biblical examples, I just read this again today from Nehemiah 4:7-9:
But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.
While these critics were not Jews, but non-Jewish local governors, they still pretended to be onside. We read more about them in Neh. 6. They even sent out false prophets to deter the people from completing the work. They sought to push their agenda of stopping the work by pretending they were on the same team. They were living in a parallel universe.
We get this all the time today. For example, how many folks claiming to be Christians were dragged up by the mainstream media during the fight over homosexual marriage to pretend that Christianity supports such things? There were always these false prophets getting on the ABC and elsewhere to assure us that Christians are fully in favour of fake marriage and the like. They were living in a parallel universe.
As an example from recent history, I just read something interesting about Dietrich Bonhoeffer in this regard. While most German Christians seemed happy to go along with Hitler and the Nazis, Bonhoeffer sought to wake up the churches and alert them to the diabolical dangers of supporting this tyranny.
Just yesterday I picked up a 30-year-old book on him by Renate Wind: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Spoke in the Wheel. In it she speaks of how Bonhoeffer had given a lecture to a group of Berlin pastors in April 1933. She said this:
Most of the people sitting there were certainly not encouraged by the way the state was exercising its office. But they were good Lutherans, and so Dietrich first moved on tiptoe through the theme of church and state. The church has no right to appropriate to itself power over the state. But it may not keep out of politics if the state abrogates basic human rights. In this instance Dietrich mentioned three possibilities of church action towards the state: “In the first place it can ask the state whether its actions are legitimate and in accordance with its character as state, i.e., it can throw the state on its responsibilities. Secondly, it can aid the victims of state action. The church has an unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering of society, even if they do not belong to the Christian community (!). The third possibility is not just to bandage the victims under the wheel, but to put a spoke in the wheel itself.”
Dietrich gave the rest of his lecture to an almost empty room. His demand that the church must be prepared for political resistance had flabbergasted most of the audience. With this attitude, Dietrich remained alone in his church. The only ones who would have agreed with him, the Religious Socialists, were themselves already among the persecuted.
They were living in a parallel universe.
As to other devout believers who have had to deal with critics, naysayers and opponents, church history is full of examples of this. All of God’s great saints have had to deal with all sorts of opposition, resistance and criticism. And they often do not get very far in presenting truth, as their message is too hardcore for most churches and most Christians.
I always appreciated what A. W. Tozer said about this: “I have preached myself off of every Bible Conference platform in the country!” That is, he would get an invite to speak, he would deliver God’s Word in fullness, conviction and truth, but most folks could not handle it, and they never invited him back. They were living in a parallel universe.
In my own small way I have known all about this. I have had plenty of one-off speaking engagements. I come and share what God had put on my heart, and that is the last time I speak there! Or at best, it is quite a mixed reaction that I get. Some folks will love what I have to say, while others will hate it.
As a recent case in point, the other day I gave a rather impassioned talk in one small church which held a special inter-church service. I spoke about the culture wars and the importance of truth to around a hundred people. At the end of it I positioned myself next to a book table I had near the front entrance. Almost immediately one couple angrily stormed past me and straight out the door.
Hmm, I take it they did not approve of what I had to say! Later I was told by someone that they were leaders in a very liberal denomination that pushed all the usual leftist agenda items. I guess that explains why they were not too thrilled when I spoke about things like defending the unborn and standing up for God’s institutions of marriage and family. They were living in a parallel universe.
So that is the world we find ourselves living in. Not only are non-Christians increasingly moving in circles completely opposed to, and at odds with, the Christian, but we also find a widening divide in the churches, where some are following Christ fully while others are merely paying lip service to their faith.
We must be aware of this and guard against it. Many are living in deception and embracing lies, but are in the churches seeking to drag others down. The New Testament repeatedly warns against this. As but one key text, consider what Paul told the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28-31:
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.
So we need to be aware of this fact: we have folks living in parallel universes. It would be nice if everyone were on the same page and living in the same ideological, intellectual and spiritual world. But they are not. Knowing this should in part explain the routine antagonism and opposition that the true follower of Christ will always get – both from the world and from fake Christians.
16 Replies to “Living in Parallel Worlds”
Bill. This is one of the most important commentaries you’ve ever written. It describes precisely the difficult predicament in which Christians find themselves, not only in today’s hostile culture, but even within their own churches. Your piece deserves to be read, re-read and pondered carefully. I recommend that your CultureWatch readers forward it to all their Christian friends. Thank you, Bill, for keeping your readers so well informed.
Many thanks indeed John. Bless you.
Excellent excellent report of the current situation. People believe Authority is Truth when in fact Truth is Authority.
Jesus is the Truth the Way and the Light.
Bill, fire burns in your bones just like Jeremiah the Prophet. You can’t stop teaching and preaching even if you want to and there are many like you out there.
Go Bill go we are coming with you.
Many thanks Steven.
Hi Bill. A timely article! How often I feel like a stranger in a strange world! I don’t go out that much and live way out in the country so it gives me a greater contrast, when I do. It never ceases to amaze me when I go to town and sit in the mall and contemplate what’s around me. Its so much the spirit of the age. But you know what, on occasions when I go out to a church or even watch a video of some new popular preacher preaching up a storm it is much the same. Frankly I have little time for performers and in the church that is what in the main it has become. The late Art Katz captured it and addressed it very well in his little book, The Spirit of Truth. Not a lot of churches invited him back, some ministers even ordered the music team to crank it up to drown out what he was saying because they didn’t want their congregation to be disturbed.
If ever there was a time we need troublers of Israel in our churches it is now but somehow I think we are now moving past that into a new phase. To follow the religious crowd will be the undoing of multitudes. Unless we like Moses can take the time to turn aside to look into the bush and the world around us that is on fire we might just end up being consumed by it. And the same spirit is in our churches and we don’t see it because we won’t see it because then there is requirement! If Tozet was here today he would not believe it. Performance should never be seen as if it is annointing! And today most cannot tell the difference!
It also reminds me of a Star Trek DS9 episode where they land in the wormhole. Sisko looks out and sees a barren world while Dax sees a beautiful garden like setting teeming with life. Same place but each sees two VASTLY different things. Here same world we and they live in but we are both seeing it MUCH differently!
As to the tozer comment I think how I try to warn people at various site at various times and get no where but I remember Ezekiel 33:1-9
1 Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman:
3 If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;
4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.
5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.
7 So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.
8 When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
9 Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul
Not only warning the wicked but I warn of the coming judgement. I sometimes feel I would have better luck converting a brick wall.
Yes Paul I have often written about the need for watchmen, eg:
Yes Robert if Jesus overturned money changing tables in his day imagine all the thing he would be overturning in today’s churches. (Harder and harder to tell a church from a rock concert) It seems entertainment is all people want. (Just tackle our ears and put on a show to kill an hour of time) You have to be a cross between Mick Jaggar and PT Barnum to be a pastor these day.
Your phrasing reminded me of a book I bought Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World by Charles J. Chaput
There are so many times I feel like a relic from a bygone era. I just never seemed to fit in.
Dear Bill, you are certainly anointed by Our Lord to tell the truth.
Our family experienced exactly what you describe a few weeks ago, when we visited a church of our denomination in the ACT.
Your exposition here makes me understand what we could not fathom.
May you continue to bless us with your Godly words of wisdom, Bil.
Many thanks Mark.
As the verses I pointed out above show Bill you are appointed a watchman and since you have been blowing your trumpet you shall be held blameless in the destruction of others. They have been warned it is now up to them.
I think this UFO phenomenon is going to push things to even more extremes. I’m already seeing the origin of life theory that aliens seeded life on earth taking new life. Since the bible does not mention UFOs it makes sense that the new atheists will grab onto this as evidence for the bible not being true.
I find it interesting that most Christians I talk to about big questions tend to mix into their worldview elements of Star Wars or Star Trek. Things like there being multi-dimensional beings. The US Government has already asserted that UFOs exist. If these UFOs turn out to be a craft that we humans are not able to build then I feel this will cement Star Wars or Star Trek ideas of life into people’s minds.
I think this is something to watch closely.
A generation of Christians have been deceived to believe two kingdoms theology. Two kingdoms preaching is the grandest schizophrenia and parallel universe allowing, as it does, Christians to justify crying Lord, Lord at church, while sending their children to secular schools and refusing to engage in politics or the public square.
Two kingdoms theology tends to a man-centred gospel, antinomianism and a defeatist eschatology rather than extolling the Sovereignty of God and the Lordship of Jesus.
Thanks for the article Bill.
Thanks Tony. Yes and no! As such, your short comment calls for a longish response, sorry! Of course it depends on what particular definitions and what particular versions one is talking about here. There would be various formulations and understandings of two kingdoms theology. And those who are aware of the debate understand how complex and detailed the discussion can be. But I suspect that most believers may not know all that much about this particular theological bun fight. So let me say the following mainly for their sake, as opposed to those who may want to go to war over this issue.
The fact is, most Christians in one way or another have held to some sort of teaching like this. Most believers understand that God works through common grace and special grace. Most Christians understand that God has somewhat differing relationships with mankind in general and his own redeemed people in particular. And most Christians understand that God is the creator of both the state and the church, and that while there is overlap there, there are also differences between the two.
And in one sense there is nothing new about such thinking. One can go back to Augustine for example, or Aquinas. Calvin and Luther had their own takes on this, as have countless other Christian thinkers and theologians, be they Kuyper or Horton of more recent times. And with so many different aspects to the debate, and so many various formulations – including discussions about things like natural law, general versus special revelation, covenant theology, the “Escondido” teaching, what to make of Theonomy, and the place believers have in the political process – things can get rather complex. This is not one monolithic movement in other words, and there can be plenty of nuance and difference found here.
There are of course whole libraries devoted to these themes and debates. I would have numerous volumes looking at various aspects of all this. But let me mention just two articles – of many – that may be of some help to those new to all this. They help to lay out some of the historical and theological background to it; look at some of the points of contention and debate; and present some aspects of the biblical understanding to this:
Both hardcore defenders and critics of the theology are easy enough to find. And then we have defenders of two kingdoms theology who critique what is called radical two kingdom theology (R2K). See for example Wilson on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLKguSkgDxI
One can of course differ on various points raised by those who are sympathetic or opposed to such teachings. This is true of all three of the links I offer above. But there is some room to move here, and one does not become a rank heretic for simply holding to somewhat different beliefs or emphases on these matters.
As I say, this is a big discussion and a complex one. I could offer plenty more resources here, both pro and con. Let me offer just one more set. In 2011 John Frame penned the book, The Escondido Theology: A Reformed Response to Two Kingdom Theology. And in 2012 Michael Horton wrote a critique of Frame’s critique: https://whitehorseinn.org/resource-library/articles/a-response-to-john-frames-the-escondido-theology/
That particular back and forth would be just one part of this bigger debate.
Lastly, my post above was not directly on this topic, but on the broader issue of how non-Christians especially are in a different world from believers, and how many who call themselves Christians do not hold to basic biblical truths. So I would need to write a few introductory articles on all this, and then those with strong views on this can come here and argue all they like! So stay tuned. But thanks again for your thoughts.