Nations With Or Without Gods
by Mike Oppenheimer
Interviewer Danny Lehmann- “”¦now Daniel, something we touched on the other day in the book of Acts and who am I to say that the book of Acts has problems. But the problem with the book of Acts is that most all of the evangelism in the book of Acts is to Jewish based monothiestic people who understood the Bible and Moses and God in a personal relationship that Abraham had and so forth. In a precious few passages Acts 14 being very short and Acts 17 a little longer at Mars Hill Paul used the Greek name for God rather than the Hebrew name for God and he actually commended them for at least being religious and building an altar to this unknown God even though they didn’t know that God and they weren’t saved. And that brings us in to the application of Acts 17 how does this relate when we go Muslims for instance with their God Allah, to the Koreans, to the Japanese, to any culture who might have a name for God, or the closest AKA Don Richardson uses that term, the closest also known as that is in that culture to our Jehovah.”
Interviewee- Daniel Kikawa- “Yes, well, what we need to do is research for instance in Hawaii you have the name of the benevolent creator God who is known as the God of love and you also have a false creator God, now you got to remember that Satan wants to lift himself up as the creator God and make himself as big as possible. But you see this, this creator God. There’s Polynesian chants to him that say that a spirit that comes from him y’know brings sickness and death and go back to your father in darkness, y’know his name is tonaoah or y’know go back to your father in darkness, and he demands all these human sacrifice and so on. And he always was like that. And there’s the creator God which most of the time, in fact I haven’t found one with no what Don Richardson calls them, Satan tries to dirty the name of this God and puts all kinds of barnacles to try to hide and who he is and does all this evil. And most of these cultures I would look at them, at, what they know of the creator God in their culture as we know in (ed. Note: Romans) Acts 1:20 it says that all people (intelligible) are without excuse to know him because he’s made so clear to them. So if they knew him they had a name for him. But most cultures to me remind me of the times of the kings, y’know like king Josiah and so on where Jehovah is forgotten and way hidden off. There’s a remnant always, that remember him but he’s forgotten and way hidden off, and here in the holy place they’re worshipping Baal and on every hill theres Ashera and the temple prostitutes and the orgies, and Molech, they’re sacrificing their babies and so on. And if we look at a society like that, we say throw it all out, this all evil, y’know, this is a pantheon of Gods and so on, and if we did that with the Jewish culture we would throw out Jehovah or Yahweh with all of that, see” (Word to the World interview with Daniel Kikawa, Feb.10, 06, #5). [emp. Mine]
Why is the book of Acts evangelism to Jewish based monotheistic people a problem? Were not the apostles being led by the Holy Spirit? This is a fallacy, how can he judge their actions like this when the Lord is guiding them (Luke 24:47- the gospel began at Jerusalem). It wasn’t until Acts 9 when God sovereignly picked Paul (later with Barnabas) to go to the Gentiles. Even Paul who was called as an apostle to the Gentiles brought the gospel to the Jews first everywhere he went (Rom.1:16). God was sovereign with Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10 when the first Gentiles were saved and should not be in question. Why even say this?
It is not all evil to have a pantheon of gods and other religions worship practices? God thought so. Deut 12:2-4 Israel was to destroy all the places where the nations served their gods, v.4 “You shall not worship the LORD your God with such things”
When you become a believer you are to leave behind what you formerly did with worship to other gods in a culture. In Acts 19 they burned their Occultic books. You are not to mix religious practices! Kikawa promotes a mixture, not distinguishing a cultures religious practices with a cultures social aspects. In the same way -If drugs are part of ones culture, can they use that? Could they redeem the pagan temples and its orgies to God as worship? There is obviously a line we are not to cross and we see this made in the New Testament.
Kikawa makes the mistake of equating these cultures polytheism as the same as when Israel was disobedient and corrupted their true worship. Even while Israel was in this condition God sent prophets to her to repent and turn back to Him. And no other nation had the truth of God revealed to them; this becomes a non sequitur argument. At times Israel added these false practices to the truth, these other nations did not have the truth, nor prophets sent to them to bring them back to the truth.
Acts 17 and Romans 1:20 were used in these broadcasts as the basis for his position. So it is necessary to look at what Romans 1:20 actually says: because it was consistently applied out of context in the broadcast.
Romans 1:20 ‚ “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities”” his eternal power and divine nature”” have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
The creation testifies of a Creator. ‚ Kikawa knows this is only a general revelation because he mentions that later. It says NOTHING about the Son and his work on the cross, so there is NO salvation by someone knowing God exists. ‚ What he eliminated in the quote is the context. When we read the prior few verses it actually goes against his argument that these nations and cultures were worshipping the true God. The context is made clear and it does mean what Kikawa is saying at all. V.18-19: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.” Paul is telling us because of their sinfulness they deny the truth that God is the creator clearly seen by what he has made; they are under the wrath of God. “Rom 1:18 all the pagan nations were utterly corrupt and deserved this threatened punishment” (from Adam Clarke’s Commentary)
Because of their evil malevolence they hindered the truth, concealed the truth of God from men. It is an indictment on them. Paul is making a statement of guilt in rejecting the true God, not affirming their original belief.
Now, as we read the next verses we can understand why. Romans 1:21-25: ‚ “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator“” who is forever praised. Amen.”
The context is ignored and the Scripture is turned on it head to prove his point. The Bible presents to us that ALL Gentiles-did not glorify God- they intentionally rejected the truth- they did not give thanks to God ““ and became futile in their thinking, their hearts were darkened which led to idolatry, exchanging the glory of God for images. “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie,” worshipping created things instead of the Creator. ‚ Rom. 1:28 “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind.“ They were void of any true knowledge. What Kikawa does not understand is that the Gentiles worshipped the creation- these are what their gods are named after. All the Gods of the nations are idols according to God (1 Chronicles 16:25-26; Psalm 96:5; 1 Cor 12:2; 1Thes 1:9). Trying to justify this false presentation by Scripture is clearly wrong; anything else is non sequitur on this subject.
It mentions they knew of God- past tense. How far back in ancient history are we to go? If we go back 3,500 years to Moses’ time God is very specific about the gods of all the nations being false. If we go back to Abraham it does not makes sense either, God took him out from his people to form a nation (Israel) under his rulership. How far back in the past are we to go to find this worship of the true God by any culture (nation), to Babylon, to Babel? These people were involved in building the tower. The dispersing of the people of Babel was a judgment. Kikawa says “so we find again the native name, if Romans 1:20 is true, they would have a name for the creator God even if it’s a remnant left, y’know, because there at the state after Romans 1″ (Word to the World interview with Daniel Kikawa Feb.15, 2006, #8).
He is taking a false god and making it the true God. The gods he is using as an example for these nations (Korea, Japan etc.) are not this old so what justification can he have for any of this? NONE!
If these are at the state AFTER Romans 1 then all their gods are idols, they are worshipping creation. You cannot purify what is false (not just polluted). 1 Chronicles 16:25-26: “For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; he is also to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.” This is said by David, Israel’s king, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Psalm 96:5: “For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.” This does not necessarily mean something made of mans hands, but anything that is not truly the Lord- the creator of heaven and earth. Why? Because God says “I am the LORD, (YHWH) that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to graven images“ (Isa. 42:8).
So who are we to believe? What God has said or what these men are saying.
The statements in Romans 1 cover EVERYONE since the fall. God then revealed Himself to Abraham; to Israel through Moses and the prophets to give them the truth for the nations. ‚ The fact is- all these nations are post flood, post Babel cultures. Kikawa is using examples of cultures, nations that were not formed until the time of Moses or later, some going back only to the time of Christ to justify his syncretistic evangelism. This whole concept goes against this Scripture. Trying to find the true religion of the world in the early cultures is like picking up bread crumbs to form a sandwich. The majority of cultures he refers to did not exist then and one can go back to their origin and find that they did not have the the true knowledge of God.
On this one Scripture alone Kikawa’s whole proposition fails- Ephesians 2:11-12 Speaking of the Gentiles (v. 11) “at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having NO HOPE and WITHOUT GOD in the world.” Paul writes-WITHOUT God; this is the same Paul who wrote Romans 1:20. Yet Paul writes even more on this. Galatians 4:8 “But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.” Paul tells the church not to live “like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1Thess. 4:5). These are the gods of the nations”“ false gods, the very thing he mentions in Romans 1. They didn’t worship the true God then, and they certainly do not thousands of years later.
Why go back in time when we have the completed revelation in our hand through the Bible. Why use distortions and fragments contained in myths? Because as Kikawa puts it, Jesus becomes a foreign God to them.
Part 3 Foreign God’s As God