Romans 1 Suppressing the truth in Unrighteousness
Did all cultures worship the true god before corruption set in? Did any...
Daniel Kikawa begins his video presentation Fingerprints of God in Japan about the Japanese people knowing and worshipping God as Amenominakanushi with the premise –“The Bible says that all people had a knowledge of the creator. If this is true then we should find a creator God within the history and culture of Japan…” (Video-Fingerprints of God in Japan)
After quoting the Kojiki (the ancient records 712 AD) and Hirata Asutane in his book “Kami” he states- “It makes perfect sense that the Japanese people would have this revelation of God. The Bible say What made be known about God is plain to all men. Because God has made it plain to them for since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen being understood by what has been made. So that man is without excuse.
This theme is the foundation of his video-“This means that people can observe creation around them and know that there must be a higher power that created these awesome wonders. My colleagues and I have researched cultures all over the world and wherever we have looked long enough we have find the name of a creator God” (Fingerprints of God in Japan DVD)
“If the Bible is true and over the thousands of years of Japanese history and culture God has been reaching out to the Japanese people and the Japanese people have been reaching out to him and surely there must be numerous things in the history and culture of Japan that must reflect this relationship.
“As it says in Romans 1:20 we can know the creators heart by observing his creation around us. Clearly God loves the beauty of the diversity he has created both in nature and in his children. Throughout the world followers of Jesus in many cultures are finding that God loves them just as he created them and he loves the cultural expressions that flow from them.
They are finding may things in their cultural identity that were ordained by God. And they are finding new and deeper meaning as they worship God in their traditional ways.” (Video-Fingerprints of God in Japan)
It becomes clear that Kikawa believes in culture redemption (redeeming cultures) by finding anything similar to the Bible on a creator.
“Not that you don’t know God or that you don’t have no relationship with him and he’s a foreign God to you. But that, that the son of your creator came who made himself known to as rom.1:20 says and so this is what we bring to them and we find that if there are people who are really seeking God, there are people like Jobs everywhere who know” (Word to the World interview with Daniel Kikawa Feb.14, 2006, #7)
“ 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 Romans 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” (Word to the World interview with Daniel Kikawa, Feb.10, 06, #5)
Many other religions around the world have also shown strong evidence of beginning with the belief in One Benevolent Creator God, who instituted humane laws of moral conduct, followed by a rapid slide into the belief in many cruel gods who demanded human sacrifice and other inhumane practices. This was true in Polynesia. The Bible clearly shows that God knew of this pattern, Romans 1:18-23… History, anthropology and archeology have again and again confirmed the truth of the Bible. Many non-Christian anthropologists, who disagree with Biblical scholars about how monotheism began, have had to admit that there is a great amount of evidence that the ancient religions began with, and many primitive religions still contain, a belief in One Benevolent Creator God. (pp.22-23 Perpetuated in Righteousness)
Romans 1:20 (and Acts 17) are used as the basis for his position in his book, his video the Fingerprints of God in Japan and his broadcasts. Kikawa says that if we look in the past we can find god[s] of the various people being benevolent and called the creator, this proves Romans 1. It is necessary to look at what Romans 1 actually says: because it was consistently applied out of context in the broadcast.
He uses 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. This is only a general revelation. It says NOTHING about the Son and his work on the cross, so there is NO salvation by someone only knowing that God exists. What Kikawa eliminates is the context. Romans1 exposition starts before verse 20. If we read the prior few verses, it actually goes against his argument that these nations and cultures were worshipping the true God. It explains how they left the truth, NOT kept it.
V.16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-- and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,
25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,
30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”
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 which is clearly seen by what He has made; they are under the wrath of God. Adam Clarke's Commentary stated “Rom 1:18 all the pagan nations were utterly corrupt and deserved this threatened punishment.”
Because of their evil –sinfulness- 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 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 were void of any true knowledge. What Kikawa does not understand is that the Gentiles worshipped the creation and when further corruption set in, things made by their own hands - these are what their gods are named after.
Kikawa turns the context of the Scripture on its head to prove his point. He 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).
The statements in Romans 1 cover EVERYONE since the fall. If these are at the state AFTER Romans 1, then all their gods are idols-they are worshipping creation. You cannot redeem what is religiously false polluted or corrupted, such as worshipping nature or idols.
Romans 1 mentions they knew of God- past tense. How far back in ancient history are we to go to find this monotheism? If we go back 3,500 years to Moses’ time God is very specific about the gods of all the nations being false. 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.” Psalm 96:5 repeats this. An idol 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). All the Gods of the nations are idols according to God – that is what we see when we come to Mars hill in Acts 17.
The main cultures of the world were in the Middle East. God warned Israel of all these cultures (Ex.43:10-11; Deut. 31:3) so Israel would not be ensnared with their pagan practices. Deut 18:14: “you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations.” Deut. 29:18 “so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations. “
Jeremiah asks the question Jer. 14:22 Are there any among the idols of the nations that can cause rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are You not He, O LORD our God?”
Can any of the nations gods can do what the God of Israel can? The answer is none. Therefore, our answer to the gods of these nations Kikawa upholds with his theories is that they are not God, just as the Bible says. Kikawa (and others who promote this inclusive theology) purposely ignore this fact because it goes contrary to their syncretism.
How far back can we go to find this monotheism? If we go back to Abraham this does not makes sense either. Josh 24:2 And Joshua said to all the people, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham … served other gods.” God took him out from his people to form a nation (Israel) under his rulership, a theocracy where God was their leader. He personally gave them commands. It was through Him all the nations would be blessed.
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 in disobedience to worship the sun moon and stars. The dispersing of the people of Babel was a judgment. 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 the clear teaching in the Scripture. Trying to find the true religion of the world in the early cultures is like picking up bread crumbs to form a sandwich. One can go back to their origin and find that they did not have the knowledge of God.
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, China, Islam etc.) are not this old so what justification can he have for any of this? NONE!
In fact he is not finding Romans 1 which is referring to ancient monotheism but henotheism, one main God with many sub deities. He ignores the polytheism and tries to change it to monotheism. Kikawa’s history is poorly presented and the teaching is filled with inadequate examples, without factual or historical basis. And more importantly, it carries no correlation to the Scripture except for a few minor points, (mostly words i.e. creator, creation, deity). Kikawa makes this up as he goes along, taking portions of religions to his liking and ignoring those portions that do not fit. He then synthesizes them together for a historical presentation that convolutes both the religion and the Bible (see his video Fingerprints of God in Japan).
God's work through the apostle Paul among the Gentiles was not about affirming their former gods. His intention was not to syncretize their heathen, pagan beliefs with Christianity. Paul did not use the method of your god is God and let me introduce you to his son.
Paul in his Romans 1 statement goes even further and should be the end of any argument for the nations knowing their creator-- Rom 1:28-32 “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”
Paul is giving a panorama of history of how mankind left the truth, NOT held it. The people refused to listen to God so God allowed them to go as a far away as possible. Given over, left with only their fallen in their lifestyles. This is what all the religions of man are about, trying to grope and find their own way to have a relationship with their creator. Even if they have some moral vestiges incorporated in their religious activities it is only because man was made in the image of God and has a portion of a God given conscience. We still have to deal with the facts of Scripture they did not like to retain God in their knowledge” “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” “they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Jesus certainly referring to Jer. 17:9-10 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” stated, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies”( Matt 15:19).Mark adds murders, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, pride, foolishness” (7:21-22).
The whole of nature witnesses against mankinds unbelief in the true God substituting false representations of Him. It does not teach that they (people, culture, or nation) kept the true knowledge but left it purposely. God did not put anything in these nations, they were on their own. Paul writes in Acts 14:16: “who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways.” In other words they were apart from him because of what Romans 1 states they suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, so, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting.”
The reason behind all this is to justify redeeming cultures. Teaching, God has been with these people from the beginning shaping their culture with traditions of God himself put in their culture. Which completely opposes the Bibles teaching on mankinds true history. God destroyed the world of Noah’s day except for his family. He did not redeem any culture then nor any other time in history. He is not doing it today.
Deut 12:30-32 “take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.' “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods”
There were no nations that worshipped– the creator correctly, except one- Israel. And this is only because God specifically revealed himself to them; yet they fell in and out of idolatry even with this revelation. If there were any redeeming qualities of these nations God would not have had to remove Abraham from among the pagans (Chaldeans) to train him and make a nation. God never purified any nation Contrary to what Kikawa is and the Indigenous People movement is teaching. God did not purify Egypt, He took his people out and judged them. And He continues to call us out from the world’s beliefs and will one day judge the world.
Gal. 4:8: “But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.”” Paul commended the Gentiles, “how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thess. 1:9). Paul tells the church not to live “like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thess. 4:5). The Bible does not say these people knew God as Kikawa claims. This one Scripture alone proves him wrong - 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. In 1 Cor. 1:21 “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”
The gods of the nations are 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 and they won’t accept him.
In fact if we find a direct conflict if go back to Paul’s initial statement in vs.16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
Paul was NOT ashamed to give the same gospel to both Gentiles and Jews. However, today we have others who do not want to introduce Jesus as a foreign God to the people who desperately need the gospel, instead they are willing to compromise the nature of God ands introduce him to these people as their own god.
2 Cor. 4:3-4 “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” The gospel is about God the Father, the God of Israel sending his Son as savior to the earth to die for our sins, not any other nations god.
Rom.1:20 does not say they seek him at all- this is completely different interpretation than what Paul meant.
Each culture worship and prays to their creator God and Kikawa calls him God. You cannot ignore the idolatry and polytheism in these religions and change it to monotheism to prove a point. Kikawa’s history is poorly presented and the teaching is filled with inadequate examples, without factual or historical basis.
As Paul said to the Galatians,we should do the same “we should not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with us. (Gal 2:5)