Question:I came across an old teacher of mine today and we started talking. She tells me I should join the service or go to college. So I started telling her my views of how I think that the Rockefellers and other rich families run this world and have influence in all the educational outlets and that they generally lead people away from Jesus. I won't go for this. So she comes at me with, "I have studied a lot of religion, and Hinduism was the first religion. All these evangelical Christians teach that the only way to get to heaven is to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior." So with that said she says, "How can such a loving God condemn people to hell who have never heard of Jesus or the Bible? (The people in the really old days, like around Moses's time.)" I really didn't know what to say. I told her that there was the Law around Moses's time or something similar, but my argument was weak. What do I say to people that say this?
First off, I'm going to make myself unpopular with you. If you can hold out through that I will get around to answering your primary question.
The world is not run by a handful of people. It never has been. God is always in control. Even when the world has seen mighty empires, it was God who brought them up and put them down. "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God" (Romans 13:1). So even if some rich families were in control of our economy or education system, they only have as much control as God allows them to have and they there because God has some long-range plan in mind which they are unknowingly helping to accomplish.
But the truth is the world's economy is too large for a few to control. Some have strong influence in various sectors, but the economy as a whole is too large for any group or even a government to control. Our education system for a long while was locally controlled. It is only in the last hundred years or so that it became state controlled and now federally controlled. With the centralization control comes centralization of ideas. It isn't the rich who are influencing education, we have heavy influence of humanists to deal with in that realm.
But even with the humanist influence, there is still value in gaining knowledge. I would like you to read the article, "On Being Educated" to see that all education is not valueless. College isn't the only means of learning, but improving your knowledge is always important.
One reason for knowledge is that there are always people who prey on other people. One way to get people to make rash decisions where they don't think too long about their choices is to get them to fear. People in a panic make bad choices because they don't take time to think. One way to cause fear is to present a vague "bad guy." "There is someone out to get you!" But who it is exactly is hard to pin down. That is why God warned, "Do not say, 'A conspiracy,' concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled" (Isaiah 8:12). People who blame wealthy families for problems in the world are involved in conspiracies. You can't pin down who or what. There are lots of accusations and rarely any hard facts.
Your old teacher might have studied world religions, but that doesn't mean she has accepted truth. Just the fact that she believes Hinduism to be the oldest religion tells me that she has no regard for the Bible.
But the question she raises is one Paul addressed. Starting in Romans 1:18, Paul details the decay and sins of the Gentile society, proving how morally corrupt they were. But starting in chapter 2 Paul addresses the question of the justice of holding people to rules that their ancestors had abandoned in the distant past.
"But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things" (Romans 2:2). God has an absolute standard (truth) which everyone is measured against. He doesn't use one standard for one group and other standard for someone else. Second, God bases His choices on what a person does and not what they claim to believe. Thus the standard is crisp in definition and in measurement. There isn't a wishy-washiness with God. Sadly, vagueness is what people generally want. They want rules applied to others, but exceptions given to themselves. "For there is no partiality with God" (Romans 2:11).
That leads to the next question, how can someone be measured against a standard they don't realize exists? Paul points out that the Gentiles do understand the fundamentals of the law because they practice it for the most part. "For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)" (Romans 2:14-15). Even in remote areas, people understand the concept of not taking something that belongs to another (stealing); thus they condemn a thief. But in doing so, they show they understand the concept and can be held accountable to that law. We can then extend it to various topics. While people generally have the idea of morality, what we also find is that people break their own concepts frequently. Thus they condemn themselves.
The real problem, though, is that knowing you did wrong doesn't solve the problem. You need a way out. That is what Jesus offered. He did it not only for those who came after him, but also for those who came before. "And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance" (Hebrews 9:15). Even before the law of Moses there were good people whom God accepted, though they did not have a written law, such as Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. It doesn't mean these men didn't sin, but in God's impartial judgment they were acceptable and He could overlook their sins because of Jesus' sacrifice.
But knowledge of the law of Christ turns what is a fairly rare thing into something that becomes much more common because the law of Christ defines the concept of right and wrong for us. It helps us stay in line because we now can clearly see where the line is. And God has seen to it that knowledge of His laws have reached the remotest regions of the world. "For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything" (I Thessalonians 1:8).
You have not made yourself unpopular with me. I've read a lot of your web site and I respect you for giving people honest answers that come from the Bible. I am ignorant for the most part and I have lots to learn about the Scriptures. However, I am genuinely on a quest for truth and to be completely honest I have felt myself being ripe for a rebuke on being a conspiracy theorist. I read some articles on your site after I sent the email to you, and I received some answers to them already. I really need discernment and understanding and I was wondering if you could give me some verses. Also i wanted to ask you (I'm surprised I remembered) what Bible do you suggest I read from?
I'm impressed. There aren't many young men who are so honest about themselves.
The best Bible translation is one that is faithful to the original text and readable enough that you'll actually use it. If you are used to the King James style, then I recommend the New King James Version. If you want more precision, then the New American Standard would be good, though it can be awkwardly phrased at times. If you want something a bit more in today's language, I would recommend the English Standard Version. If reading isn't your thing and you find the others hard to read, then I would even recommend the New International Version even though it has a lot of flaws. There is one called the World English Bible that I have been really impressed in its readability, but it is hard to find and only the New Testament is available.
Discernment and understanding in a general sense is a tall order. But if I had to select something for you that would really improve your knowledge of people, I strongly suggest reading Proverbs. What I want you to do is get a notebook and have it at your side. Read just one chapter a day, but do it section by section. In your notebook write down a brief summary of what that section is saying and any questions it leaves you with. Some parts of Proverbs have a number of verses in a section, other parts each verse is a topic by itself. If you want a breakdown, let me know.
When you have questions, write and let's discuss them. It is those questions that come up that is going to make you reach for greater understanding.
There is also a workbook, that might be too deep right now, that talks about how to reason with people. You can take a look at "Keys to Understanding."