commentary: The Fruit of Existentialism
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 16-Feb-13; Sermon #1143c; 12 minutes
Ezekiel 34:2-4 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.
This is an often-misapplied section of the book of Ezekiel. This chapter was used often upon the breakup of the Worldwide Church of God by people taking the ministry—and especially the leadership of that church—to task. However, if you look more carefully at that chapter, it is devoted to an indictment against the rulers, not the ministry. You will pick up the first clear hint of this in verse 4, where the word "rulers" is announced, and then later on in a chapter He affirms that by mentioning David, who was very definitely a ruler, but of course dead by that time.
Some of the accusations made by God in that chapter may also apply in principle to the ministry, but the primary targets are the political, business, and educational leaders of the nation who serve themselves rather than righteously leading the people.
Last week, I gave a commentary touching on the philosophical concept of existentialism. This concept contains the ideas of very intelligent and influential leaders of this and other nations, and the concept arose amongst those of social, literary, psychological and philosophical skill. They, in turn, passed their ideas along to others, primarily in the halls of higher education—in the universities. Their pupils then bought into those ideas and passed them on to others in their workplaces. Many of those workplaces were in other schools on a lower level.
Those leaders who spread the concepts in universities were indeed intelligent, but they were carnally intelligent only. They were as unconverted as could be. They rejected what God manifested to them and suppressed any amount of truth made available to them. They were humanists to begin with, and existentialism was their public justification of their beliefs and conduct. Their justification is basically that mankind's existence cannot be explained. Therefore, they are answerable to no one of higher power. Each person is responsible only to himself, and is free to believe and behave as he sees fit.
I realize that this is an oversimplification, but on the other hand, it is also quite accurate. These people are among the elite of this nation, and they are at the forefront of those hailed as progressive. However they carry with them what we see as an overbearing and character/personality deficiency. They believe that they are smarter than everybody else, and they know better, and they are always right. They are filled with pride. It is their concepts that subtly destroy the moral standards of young minds as they enter college, sweeping from those minds the various forms of Christian belief.
The Bible describes what happened in Judah, and it is the same thing that happened to this nation in principle. Jeremiah 18:13 says,
Jeremiah 18:13 Therefore thus says the LORD: “Ask now among the Gentiles, who has heard such things? The virgin of Israel has done a very horrible thing.
What was so horrible that God called it a horrible thing? Well, verse 15, reflecting back on verse 13, tells us what happened:
Jeremiah 18:15 “Because My people have forgotten Me, they have burned incense to worthless idols. And they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways, from the ancient paths, to walk in pathways and not on a highway,
Now, in case you do not understand what God means, He says that nobody forced the Jews to turn away from God in how they lived their lives. No foreign army invaded, enslaved them, and forced them under threat. They turned away from God on their own accord.
A number of years earlier, Isaiah said the same thing in a little bit different way:
Isaiah 1:3-4 The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people do not consider. Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward.
Isaiah is saying, in effect, what Jeremiah said. No one was forcing them to forsake God.
I am not saying that the young people entering college in the past 70 or 80 years were truly Christian. I am saying that the Judeo-Christian values they took with them to college were morally much higher than what they found, taught, and practiced on campus. But when they left, they were increasingly deficient, morally and spiritually, compared to the values that had served the nation well since its founding, thus making this nation a safe, peaceful, prosperous place to live as compared with other nations. When they left the campuses, they spread the values absorbed on campus into the business disciplines involved in their work, and the nation gradually went over the ethical and moral cliff.
By the early 1960s, a president was assassinated and God was legally kicked out of schools. A bit later, He began to be kicked out of the courts, and in less than five years, cities were burning from riots. In the early '70s, it became legal for a pregnant woman to murder an unborn child, the very weakest beings of any culture. We have been murdering babies at the rate of 3,000 per day since last year. Chicago had 512 homicides, Detroit had 411. Philadelphia—the City of Brotherly Love—had 331. Baltimore had 215. And on and on it goes. And brethren, please consider abortion and homicides are only one sin. Can you imagine what the accumulation of all sin committed in this nation looks like to God?
This nation has been led by humanist leadership through existentialism to deviate from a fairly good way of life that had some elements of godliness within its principles into following an educational program that reaches no higher than the minds of carnal men inspired by the destroyer Satan.
The ethical and moral cancer, brethren, has metastasized. Do you know what that word means? —transferred throughout the entire culture. But let us not be guilty of what God charged through Isaiah. The Judeans would not seriously consider what was going on in their nation, and personally and individually take it to heart and turn from their sinful participation in the way of the world in which they were immersed. Let us not be guilty of the same.