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5-Fold Development Of The Western Worldview Part 2

5-Fold Development Of The Western Worldview Part 2

Biblical Theology of Mission Course – 4b

 

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Has men’s worldview changed over history? What changes have occurred and how have they affected the way believers look at the Bible, read it and then live? This class gives a great overview of how the current western worldview has come about.

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5-FOLD DEVELOPMENT OF THE WESTERN WORLDVIEW

Diagram1-Expanded-Biblical-Theological-Flow-Chart

Click here to see the Jeffrey Dahmer interview that is shown in class

HELLENISTIC METAPHYSICAL DUALISM

HELLENISTIC METAPHYSICAL DUALISM

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (ESV Genesis 1:1)

A.    Historical Development

1.    First set forth by Socrates (470-399 BC) and Plato (427-347 BC), the Hellenistic worldview is a form of metaphysical dualism, which divides existence into two distinct realms.[1]  For Plato this dualism included the unchangeable, perfect “intelligible world,” which is unseen, and the corrupt, fallen “perceptual world,” which we see around us.  The perceptual world consists of imperfect “copies” of the perfect and ideal intelligible “forms.”[2]  This basic split in reality is still the bedrock upon which the foundation of the Western worldview rests.[3]

Diagram2-Hellenistic-Metaphysical-Dualism

2.            One of Plato’s chief pupils at the Academy (f. 385 BC) in Athens was Aristotle (384-322 BC), who in turn tutored a young man named Alexander (356-323 BC).[4]  Alexander “the Great” made it his life goal to spread Greek philosophy and culture across the entire world, conquering the eastern Mediterranean, Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Iranian plateau, Central Asia, and parts of India in only 10 years (333-323 BC).  This worldwide conquest ushered in what is known as the “Hellenistic Age” (323-31 BC).[5]

3.            One of the first cities that Alexander the Great established was Alexandria (f. 334 BC) in northern Egypt, which became a hub of learning, cultural diversity, and Hellenistic propagation (including the largest library in the ancient world).   The primary stronghold of the Western Church began here when a school was established by Clement (c.150-211) and Origen (c.182-251) with the express purpose of assimilating Christianity into Greek philosophical thought.  The product was the allegorical or “spiritual” approach to interpreting Scripture.[6]

B.    Implications

1.    Cosmogeny

a)    The practical impact of Hellenistic metaphysical dualism is a radical change in the nature and functioning of that which is invisible to human perception.  Ontologically, that which is unseen became ethereal, abstract, insubstantial, intangible, impalpable, etc.  Functionally, it became uninvolved with that which is visible, having no practical relation with it.

b)           The ultimate product of the Alexandrian School was the relegation and consolidation of the heavens to the intelligible realm.  This relegation transformed “heaven” to its present condition in the Western Mind—a distant, detached, and ethereal realm with no real and practical interaction with the “material” realm.  Moreover, as the earth was integrated into the perceptual realm, its existential nature became inherently fallen and corrupted, and thus all matter, in and of itself, became “evil.”[7]

“And again he says, ‘We shall be caught up in the clouds to meet Christ in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.’ We are therefore to suppose that the saints will remain there [in their progress to heaven] until they recognize the twofold mode of government in those things which are performed in the air… If any one indeed be pure in heart, and holy in mind, and more practiced in perception, he will, by making more rapid progress, quickly ascend to a place in the air, and reach the kingdom of heaven, through those mansions, so to speak, in the various places which the Greeks have termed spheres, i.e., globes, but which holy Scripture has called heavens; in each of which he will first see clearly what is done there, and in the second place, will discover the reason why things are so done: and thus he will in order pass through all gradations, following Him who hath passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, who said, ‘I will that where I am, these may be also.’ And of this diversity of places He speaks, when He says, ‘In My Father’s house are many mansions.’”[8]

2.    Soteriology

a)    As the nature and functioning of the heavens changed, so did the metaphysical locus of redemption change from earth to “heaven.”  As the intelligible realm is the ultimate redemptive end in Platonism, so “heaven” became the ultimate redemptive end in Christianity.

“Having sketched, then, so far as we could understand, these three opinions regarding the end of all things, and the supreme blessedness… we must suppose that an incorporeal existence is possible, after all things have become subject to Christ, and through Christ to God the Father, when God will be all and in all; or that when, notwithstanding all things have been made subject to Christ, and through Christ to God (with whom they formed also one spirit, in respect of spirits being rational natures), then the bodily substance itself also being united to most pure and excellent spirits, and being changed into an ethereal condition in proportion to the quality or merits of those who assume it (according to the apostle’s words, “We also shall be changed”), will shine forth in splendour; or at least that when the fashion of those things which are seen passes away, and all corruption has been shaken off and cleansed away, and when the whole of the space occupied by this world, in which the spheres of the planets are said to be, has been left behind and beneath, then is reached the fixed abode of the pious and the good situated above that sphere, which is called non-wandering (aplanh,j), as in a good land, in a land of the living, which will be inherited by the meek and gentle… which is called truly and chiefly “heaven,” in which heaven and earth, the end and perfection of all things, may be safely and most confidently placed.”[9]

b)    Thus, the basic soteriological orientation shifted from earthward to heavenward.[10]  As existential righteousness in Platonism is found in the movement from the perceptual realm to the intelligible realm, so existential righteousness in Christianity changed to the movement from the earthly realm to the heavenly realm.[11]  In this way, death was no longer the enemy of salvation, but now it was the means of salvation (i.e. entrance into heaven).

 Diagram3-Messianic-Salvation-Diagram

 Diagram4-Christonaturalistic-Salvation-Diagram

c)           According to Platonism, being the ultimate and perfect intelligible Form, Jesus could never logically return to the fallen perceptual world, since it is inherently corrupt.  Thus, a literal Second Coming to the earth became as impossible as ash returning to wood after being consumed by fire.[12]

3.    Eschatology

a)    Classical/historical premillennialism was the only view of eschatology for at least the first 200 years of the church.[13]  However, after Origen’s hermeneutic became widespread by the 4th century, this belief came under scrutiny, and Augustine (354-430) was the first to make a logical and systematic application of Hellenism to eschatology.[14]

b)           Since it was impossible for the perfect Christ to return to the corrupted earth, the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20:1-6) must be reinterpreted as “spiritual.”  Thus, the 1000-year reign of Christ began when Jesus ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9), after which He would return and gather his church to “heaven” before the final judgment (i.e. “post-millennialism”).[15]

c)           After the failure of Jesus to return at 1000AD, the church reapplied the Hellenistic hermeneutic to Augustine’s postmillennial Kingdom, making even the number 1000 spiritual.[16]  Thus, Christ will reign in heaven for an undetermined amount of time before He returns.  This belief, which is still common in the church today is called “a-millennialism,” though it is simply “spiritual postmillennialism.”[17]

 Diagram5-Eschatology-Redefinition-Comparison

d)    Thus, most people in the Church today assume a form of neo-christoplatonic eschatology, with a general framework for the future of their existence is as follows:

(1)    Church age (Christianization of entire earth)

(2)    Second coming of Christ (heavenward resurrection of the dead)

(3)    Great white throne day of judgment (destruction of material heavens and earth)

(4)    Recreation of immaterial heavens and earth

(a)    Perpetual worship, with a harp, on a cloud, etc.

(b)    Ownership of a large house, city of gold, eternal bliss, etc.


[1] Though few frame Western philosophy as essentially demonic, Tertullian (c.160-230) speaks of the demonization of Socrates as though it were widely known and commonly understood, “Socrates, as none can doubt, was actuated by a different spirit. For they say that a demon clave to him from his boyhood…” (Tertullian, “It is Not to the Philosophers that We Resort for Information about the Soul But to God,” A Treatise on the Soul, Chapter 1; available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf03.iv.xi.i.html.)

This no doubt refers to the “inner voice” that Socrates frequently relied upon, which he referred to as the “Daimonion” but has been modernly equated with the conscience.  However, Socrates claimed divine inspiration from the Daimonion (Phaedrus, 242) and related to it as a “monitor” assigned uniquely to him among humanity (Republic, 496).  Having never heard of the Daimonion, Socrates’ fellow Athenians regarded it as a new divinity, and Xenophon equated it to divination (Memorabilia, IV.3.12).

Generalizing some passages in Xenophon and Plato, where Daimonion is employed metaphorically, as a symbolic expression for the inner conviction, “the attempt has been made to deliver Socrates from an embarrassing and, for a wise man and pattern of virtue, unworthy eccentricity by explaining the Daimonion as a figure of speech.” [K. Joel, Der Xenophon-tische und der echte Socrates (Berlin, 1893), 67; as quoted in Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets, Vol. II (Harper, 1971), 591.]

[2] Plato’s most commonly quoted illustration is the “Allegory of the Cave” (Republic 7.514a–520a), which is related to his “Metaphor of the Sun” (507b–509c) and the “Analogy of the Divided Line” (509d–513e) which immediately precede it at the end of Book 6.  The common theme in these parables is the “sun,” a metaphor for the source of illumination, which he held to be “The Form of the Good,” generally interpreted as Plato’s notion of God.

[3] “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.” [Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology (1929); corrected edition, ed. David R. Griffin and Donald W. Sherburne (Free Press, 1979).]

[4] Aristotle, however, disagreed with his teacher concerning the world of forms, arguing that all matter is real in and of itself.  He argued that the universals (i.e. “forms”) did not produce the particulars (i.e. “copies”), but rather the universals were found in each particular.  In other words, all that exists is matter, and there is no unseen metaphysical reality.  This view would ultimately triumph in the resurgence of Aristotelianism during medieval scholasticism, which produced the infant form of “naturalism.”  Thus, in a broad way, the struggle between Aristotle and Plato is still seen in the modern struggle between naturalism and supernaturalism.

[5] “Hellenistic” simply refers to Greek culture after the time of Alexander the Great; from Gk. Hellenikos, from the root Hellen, meaning “a Greek [person].” (Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper ed., “Hellenic,” available from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=Hellenic.)

[6] Platonic ideas began making inroads into Christian theology through the writings of Philo (ca. 20 BC–AD 50). An Alexandrian Jew, Philo admired Greek culture and was enamored with Plato’s philosophy. He was also proud of his Jewish heritage. In his desire to offer the Greeks the best of Judaism and the Jews the best of Greek philosophy, he allegorized Scripture. He did so in contrast to the literal interpretation of many rabbis.  Philo’s ideas caught on, and Alexandria became the home of a new school of theological thought.

Though the Alexandrian School was challenged in its mission by the Antiochian School, which espoused a common sense, literal interpretation, the “spiritual” interpretation of the Bible became prevalent by the time Constantine took over the Roman Empire (324), which ushered in the age of the synthesis between church and state and sealed the Greek philosophical worldview in the mind of the Western Church by creedal orthodoxy.  The Church’s greatest theologians of the Medieval Ages, such as Augustine (354-430), Gregory the Great (540-604) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), were thoroughly Hellenistic in their worldview and Alexandrian in their hermeneutic.

In truth, an entirely new worldview was birthed in Alexandria, the progeny of a union between the Hebraic and Hellenistic worldviews.  This new worldview has been termed “Christoplatonism,” since it retained some aspects of both classical Judeo-Christianity and classical Platonism [see Randy Alcorn, Heaven, (Tyndale House Publishers, 2004), 459.].  However, Christoplatonism developed over the centuries in tandem with Naturalism, culminating with Deism during the Enlightenment and finally parting ways with the advent of Darwinism.  Thus, Christoplatonism’s modern descendant would be better termed “Christonaturalism.”

[7] The logical application of this led to many of the heresies of the early church (e.g. Gnosticism, Marcionism, docetism, Manichaeism, Arianism, etc.).  Marcion (c.110-160) was the most well known of the Gnostics and the first to challenge the Church on a widespread level, while other important early Gnostics included Basilides (c.100-160), who founded a school of Gnosticism in Alexandria known as the Basilidians, and Valentinus (c.100-160), who was born in Egypt, trained in Alexandria, and founded a school in Rome after his failed candidacy for the bishopric of Rome (according to Tertullian, Adversus Valentinianos, IV).

Tertullian thus blasts any and all compromise with Greek philosophy: “These are ‘the doctrines’ of men and ‘of demons’ produced for itching ears of the spirit of this world’s wisdom… Indeed heresies are themselves instigated by philosophy. From this source came the Aeons, and I known not what infinite forms, and the trinity of man in the system of Valentinus, who was of Plato’s school. From the same source came Marcion’s better god, with all his tranquility; he came of the Stoics. Then, again, the opinion that the soul dies is held by the Epicureans; while the denial of the restoration of the body is taken from the aggregate school of all the philosophers; also, when matter is made equal to God, then you have the teaching of Zeno; and when any doctrine is alleged touching a god of fire, then Heraclitus comes in. The same subject-matter is discussed over and over again by the heretics and the philosophers; the same arguments are involved… Unhappy Aristotle! who invented for these men dialectics, the art of building up and pulling down; an art so evasive in its propositions, so far-fetched in its conjectures, so harsh in its arguments, so productive of contentions–embarrassing even to itself, retracting everything, and really treating of nothing! … What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church?  What between heretics and Christians? Our instruction comes from ‘the porch of Solomon’ [where the Apostles taught, cf. Acts 3:5], who had himself taught that ‘the Lord should be sought in simplicity of heart.’  Away with all attempts to produce a mottled Christianity of Stoic, Platonic, and dialectic composition! We want no curious disputation after possessing Christ Jesus, no inquisition after enjoying the gospel! With our faith, we desire no further belief. For this is our palmary faith, that there is nothing which we ought to believe besides.” (Tertullian, “Pagan Philosophy the Parent of Heresies,” Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter 7; italics mine; available from http://www.tertullian.org/anf/anf03/anf03-24.htm#P3208_1148660.)

[8] Origen, De Principiis, Book II, chapter 11; italics mine; archived at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Ante-Nicene_Fathers/Volume_IV/Origen/Origen_De_Principiis/II/Chapter_11.

[9] Origen, De Principiis, Book II, Chapter 3: “On the Beginning of the World, and Its Causes”; italics mine; archived at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Ante-Nicene_Fathers/Volume_IV/Origen/Origen_De_Principiis/II/Chapter_3.

[10] “For which reason, now, we may also see of a truth that all the doctrines of the Jews of the present day [referencing the bodily resurrection] are mere trifles and fables, since they have not the light that proceeds from the knowledge of the Scriptures; whereas those of the Christians are the truth, having power to raise and elevate the soul and understanding of man, and to persuade him to seek a citizenship, not like the earthly Jews here below, but in heaven. And this result shows itself among those who are able to see the grandeur of the ideas contained in the law and the prophets, and who are able to commend them to others.” (Origen, Against Celsus, Book II, Chapter 5; italics mine; archived at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Ante-Nicene_Fathers/Volume_IV/Origen/Origen_Against_Celsus/Book_II/Chapter_V.)

Tim Warner likewise summarizes, “The idea of a heavenly destiny was common in the first century among pagans schooled in Greek philosophy. It entered Christianity gradually, after the deaths of the Apostles, through the incorporation of elements of Gnosticism. The Gnostics taught that matter was evil, and the creation was a mistake, made by a lesser god who sought to imprison mankind in physical bodies, and demand their worship. Christian Gnosticism held that Jesus came from the supreme God to free mankind from this evil physical realm, in which he had been trapped by the lesser god whom the Jews worshipped. Jesus’ mission was to show mankind the way to a higher heavenly reality (not atone for sins). Salvation was attained through levels of ‘gnosis’ (the Greek word for ‘knowledge’). Through the attainment of supernatural knowledge of various mysteries, converts were supposed to advance through stages (helped along the way by certain spirit guides) until one reached the ‘pleroma,’ the Gnostics’ version of ‘heaven.’ Since the material world was evil, Gnostics denied the resurrection of the body as well. Being freed from the bonds of earth and the material cosmos, so they could soar into the heavens, was the hope of the Gnostics.” (“Origins of the Heavenly Destiny Concept: Greek Mysticism and Gnosticism,” The Pristine Faith Restoration Society; available at http://www.pfrs.org/pd/06.html.)

[11] The logical conclusion is thus the destruction of the perceptual realm (later to be identified as the “natural” realm), as is reflected in a multitude of modern theologies and hymnologies, e.g. “When the material world perishes, we shall find ourselves in the spiritual world; when the dream of life ends, we shall awake in the world of reality; when our connection with this world comes to a close, we shall find ourselves in our eternal spirit home.” [James M. Campbell, Heaven Opened (New York: Revell, 1924), 114-15.]

[12] Moreover, as the Church’s worldview changed, so did its understanding of the fundamental problem of existence.  Instead of rebellion and resultant alienation from God being the base issue, ignorance and resultant confusion became to source of man’s imperfect state.  Thus, the goal of fixing of man’s imperfect state (i.e. salvation) was attained by means of learning information unto enlightenment instead of repentance unto acknowledgement of God’s governmental authority.  This method is still the primary means of salvation in the Western Church.  Thus, its ministers have generally become dispensers of information instead of preachers of the gospel, demanding a response to the governance of God.

[13] This is primarily an argument from omission, since there are simply no other eschatologies spoken of by the earliest church fathers.  However, many are clearly premillennial—e.g. Papias, Barnabas, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Methodius, Commodianus, and Lactanius (see Charles E. Hill, Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Millennial Thought in Early Christianity, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001).

Justin Martyr went so far as to suggest that anyone with a different viewpoint was heretical, “Moreover, I pointed out to you that some who are called Christians, but are godless, impious heretics, teach doctrines that are in every way blasphemous, godless, and foolish… For I choose to follow not men or men’s doctrines, but God and the doctrines delivered by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this truth, and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians… But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, as the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.” (Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 80; archived at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Ante-Nicene_Fathers/Volume_I/JUSTIN_MARTYR/Dialogue_with_Trypho/Chapter_LXXX.)

[14] Though generally a follower of Origen’s allegorical interpretation (cf. On Christian Doctrine, Preface), Augustine toned down the system to make it less objectionable to orthodox Christians (see Phillip Schaff, “Preface to Augustine’s The City of God,” in The Post Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2, p.5).  On many points Augustine seems orthodox, and though giving lip-service to the resurrection of the body (cf. City of God, 20.6-14; 22.5-21; On Christian Doctrine, 1:19-21), he sees heaven as the ultimate end of salvation (cf. City of God, 11.1; 14.28; 19.10-11; 20.14-27) and thus assumes a heavenly resurrection (cf. City of God, 13.22-23; 22.3-4).  Heaven as the ultimate destiny of the saints is the staple of the amillennial view that grew out of Augustine’s allegorical approach to Scripture.

[15] “It is then of this kingdom militant, in which conflict with the enemy is still maintained, and war carried on with warring lusts, or government laid upon them as they yield, until we come to that most peaceful kingdom in which we shall reign without an enemy, and it is of this first resurrection in the present life, that the Apocalypse speaks in the words just quoted [cf. Rev. 20:1-6]. For, after saying that the devil is bound a thousand years and is afterwards loosed for a short season, it goes on to give a sketch of what the Church does or of what is done in the Church in those days, in the words, ‘And I saw seats and them that sat upon them, and judgment was given.’ It is not to be supposed that this refers to the last judgment, but to the seats of the rulers and to the rulers themselves by whom the Church is now governed. And no better interpretation of judgment being given can be produced than that which we have in the words, ‘What ye bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and what ye loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’” (Augustine, City of God, Book XX, Chapter 9; italics mine; archived at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_City_of_God/Book_XX/Chapter_9.)

[16] Though it is universally acknowledged among historians (but little spoken of) that there was mass movement across Europe of conversion to the Christian faith just before the turn of the millennium, it is fiercely debated as to why it happened [see Richard Fletcher, Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity (Henry Holt, 1998); James Reston, Jr., The Last Apocalypse: Europe at the Year 1000 A.D. (Doubleday, 1998); John Man, Atlas of the Year 1000 (Harvard Univ. Press, 1999).].  Commonly known as the most influential theologian in church history, among Catholic and Protestant theologians alike, it seems obvious that Augustine’s theology, especially his literal postmillennial eschatology, would be the driving force behind the millennium craze.

[17] Though some in modern times have identified themselves as “postmillennial,” it is a logical impossibility, since there was only one 1000 year window (0-1000AD) to be a postmillennialist (unless of course you identify the beginning of the Millennial Reign as something other than the ascension of Christ).  Modern postmillennialists believe that the forces of Satan will gradually be defeated by the expansion of the Kingdom of God on the earth throughout history, by means of the Church Christianizing the entire earth, until the second coming of Christ.  Thus, since modern postmillennialists and amillennialists both believe in a non-literal “millennium,” postmillennialists have begun to distinguish themselves from amillennialists by labeling themselves as “optimillennialists,” in contrast to “pessimillennialists.”

Modern optimillennialism is further divided into two main groups: 1) “pietistic postmillennialism,” which has dwindled since the 19th century, believes the world will be Christianized through worldwide revival, and 2) “reconstructionist postmillennialism,” with leaders such as Rousas John Rushdoony, Gary North, Kenneth Gentry, Greg Bahnsen, etc., believes that the world will be Christianized through theocratic social and political reform.

THE NOTES FOR THIS SESSION BEGIN HERE

FINISHING HELLENISTIC METAPHYSICAL DUALISM

FINISHING HELLENISTIC METAPHYSICAL DUALISM

e)    Since the end of salvation is the eternal existence of the soul rather than the resurrection of the body, missions/evangelism is generally “psuchocentric” (Gk. psuche), i.e. “saving souls” for an ethereal heaven and from the ethereal Day of Judgment.[1]  Jesus is thus “the way to heaven,” rather than the first to be raised from the dead.

“Only our redeemed spirits can live in a spiritual realm like heaven. Therefore, the life we know now as spiritual reality will continue in heaven, but we shall not need or desire the things associated with our present physical bodies, simply because we shall not possess physical bodies in heaven.”[2]

f)             This eschatology is the ultimate reason for the loss of missiological focus during the 2nd and 3rd centuries of the Church.  Moreover, the source of apathy and indifference towards missions and evangelism in the Church today is actually the result of bad eschatology, rather than an overemphasis on the subject.[3]


[1] Thus, existence is often pictured as snatching people (i.e. souls) from a house enveloped in flames (i.e. body/earth), and anything outside of leading people to a point of decision through praying “the sinners’ prayer” (i.e. “ticket to heaven”) is seen as superfluous, analogous to “straightening deck chairs on the sinking Titanic.”  Moreover, since “heaven” is the ultimate redemptive end and since everything and all activities on the earth are going to be destroyed, the logical application is to focus on activities of the soul, which has birthed many Western Christian proverbs, such as, “He is so heavenly minded that he is of no earthly good,” etc.

[2] Arthur E. Travis, Where on Earth is Heaven? (Nashville: Broadman, 1974), 16.

[3] As most clearly defined by Augustine, the Church universal became the manifestation of the Kingdom of God in the physical realm: “Therefore the Church even now is the kingdom of Christ, and the kingdom of heaven. Accordingly, even now His saints reign with Him…” (City of God, Book XX, Chapter 9; archived at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_City_of_God/Book_XX/Chapter_9; see also Chapters 6-10).  Thus, the eschatological hope of the Kingdom was uprooted and planted in this age in context to fallen and wicked men.  As the Church became the means of God establishing His dominion upon the Earth, with the pope as the “Vicar of Christ”, the imitation of and unification with the Roman Empire was inevitable.

RENAISSANCE NATURALISTIC PROGRESSIVISM

RENAISSANCE NATURALISTIC PROGRESSIVISM

A.    Historical Development

1.    After the Crusades (1095-1291), many Greek writings were brought back to Europe from Arabic universities.  This resulted in a resurgence of interest in Greco-Roman culture.  The center of this resurgence was in Italy (esp. Florence), which became known as the “Italian Renaissance” (c.1350-1550).  Apart from its widespread revitalization of the Hellenistic philosophies, it ushered in a common sense of progress in the corporate consciousness of Europe, which was fueled by a common sense of an “Age of Discovery.”

2.            Comprehensive in its impact, the ancient world became the pinnacle of human achievement and the model for contemporary Europeans, socially and culturally.[1]  Theologically, medieval scholasticism became greatly distained, a “harlot” (cf. Luther) to be abandoned.[2]  Machiavelli reoriented the political realm by vindicating a government’s use of any means necessary to secure the well-being of the state.[3]  Technologically, the compass, gunpowder and printing press launched the discovery of the “New World.”[4]  And, the “Copernican Revolution” radically changed the common cosmology,[5] which also fueled the “scientific revolution” initiated by Bacon, Galilei, and others.[6]

3.            This progressivism set the stage for Enlightenment thinkers, such as G.W.F. Hegel, who argued that humanity and its societies progress through stages of increasing development.  Moreover, the general humanistic focus of the Renaissance planted the seeds for the corporate anthropocentrism that would later come to maturity during the Enlightenment; thus it is also referred to as “Renaissance humanism.”[7]

B.    Implications

1.            Cosmogeny – Throughout the middle ages, Platonism slowly transitioned from its base of Greek language and culture to Latin and other Indo-European linguistic and cultural groups.[8]  By the time of the Renaissance, the concept of “nature” as a holistic metaphysical reality had formed out of the resurgence of Aristotelian thought in late medieval scholasticism (c.1250-1350).[9]  Moreover, the Platonic contrast of the immaterial “supernatural” developed in tandem.[10]  As the Church continued to compromise with such concepts, modern “christonaturalism” began to take shape within the public mind.[11]

Diagram6-Metaphysical-Comparison-Diagram

2.    Soteriology – with a new atmosphere of progress, within the development of a “natural” realm independent from God (i.e. immune from external disruption), the necessity of external, divine salvation was practically negated within Western consciousness.  If we are progressing in our knowledge and ability to make decisions in the present moment, then it is assumed that we will be progressing in the next moment, and the next, and so on perpetually.  Thus, the logical implication is perpetual progress, which instilled hope in the human psyche that all problems of human existence would ultimately be overcome through human progress.

3.            Eschatology – the ideology of progressivism heavily influenced Protestant reformers, which laid the groundwork for later “pietistic optimillennialism.”  However, the reformers still functioned under the old framework of “Catholic optimillennialism” and its resultant dominionism, as reflected in the famous edict of the Peace of Augsburg (1555), “cuius regio, eius religio” (i.e. “your region [is] your religion”).[12]


[1] This attitude led to a basic revision of history.  Before the Renaissance, history was generally seen as “dark” until the coming of Jesus Christ, who ushered in the age of “light.”  However, during the Renaissance, the salvation of mankind shifted away from the Cross and toward Greco-Roman culture and philosophy.  Thus, the real age of light existed until the Roman Empire fell in the 5th century, which ushered in the “Dark Ages.”  Thus, the Renaissance was the means of restoring light to the Earth, the beauty, dignity and potential of humanity, primarily expressed through the arts: painting, poetry, literature, philosophy, music, theatre, sculpture, architecture, etc.

[2] The Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation were arguably a simple outworking of Renaissance humanism in the theological arena.  With an influx of Byzantine-Greek scholars and their ancient Greek texts from the relatively recent fall of Constantinople (1453), a charge was led primarily by Erasmus, Luther and Zwingli to return to the original languages in an attempt to free the Church from the theological tyranny of Tradition.

[3] After retirement from a coloured career of diplomacy, Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) began to work out his political theories, later published in The Prince (1532), which describe the arts by which a “Prince” (governor) can retain control of his kingdom, using any means necessary to secure the well-being of the state, i.e. “the ends justify the means.”

[4] With such military and navigational breakthroughs, the naval superpowers of the day, Portugal and Spain, went forth with little resistance, snatching up as much land and loot as possible.  The intense rivalry forced the Pope to arbitrate, giving Spain the West (i.e. Americas) and Portugal the East (i.e. Africa).  Exploration by Columbus, da Gama, Cabot, Vespucci, Pizarro, Magellan, Cartier, Cook and others thus fueled the corporate sense of European progress, superiority and domination.

[5] Raised by a Catholic bishop in Poland (his maternal uncle, Lucas Watzenrode the Younger) Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) initiated the most radical worldview change in Western history with the publication of De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) in 1543.  No longer did the universe—and thus existence as a whole—revolve around the earth (i.e. geocentrism), but rather the sun (i.e. heliocentrism).  This discovery was widely interpreted to mean the earth did not hold a unique position in the cosmos, which was thus interpreted to mean man did not hold a unique position on the Earth.  It was this public interpretation of heliocentrism that resulted in the retaliation of the Catholic Church after Copernicus’ death, e.g. Galileo Galilei was convicted in 1633 of grave suspicion of heresy and placed under house arrest for the rest of his life for “following the position of Copernicus, which is contrary to the true sense and authority of Holy Scripture.” [“Papal Condemnation of Galileo, 22 June 1633” (translated from the Latin), in Giorgio de Santillana, The Crime of Galileo (University of Chicago Press, 1955) 306-10.]

[6] Though Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) is most commonly known for his inductive methodology for “scientific” (Lt. scientia for “knowledge,” from scio for “I know”) inquiry, his primary contribution to Western consciousness is found in his belief in corporate progress—“Though it is hard to pinpoint the birth of an idea, for all intents and purposes the modern idea of technological ‘progress’ (in the sense of a steady, cumulative, historical advance in applied scientific knowledge) began with Bacon’s The Advancement of Learning and became fully articulated in his later works. Knowledge is power, and when embodied in the form of new technical inventions and mechanical discoveries it is the force that drives history – this was Bacon’s key insight… That history might in fact be progressive, i.e., an onward and upward ascent – and not, as Aristotle had taught, merely cyclical or, as cultural pessimists from Hesiod to Spengler have supposed, a descending or retrograde movement, became for Bacon an article of secular faith which he propounded with evangelical force and a sense of mission. In the Advancement, the idea is offered tentatively, as a kind of hopeful hypothesis. But in later works such as the New Organon, it becomes almost a promised destiny: Enlightenment and a better world, Bacon insists, lie within our power; they require only the cooperation of learned citizens and the active development of the arts and sciences.” (David Simpson, “Francis Bacon,” The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, available from http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/b/bacon.htm.)

Bacon first presented his method in Novum Organum (New Organ/Instrument, in contrast to Aristotle’s Organon) in 1620, a year before being indicted and barred from public office in 1621 because of vast corruption as Lord Chancellor under King James.  The “Baconian method” is often referred to as the forerunner to the modern “scientific method.”

[7] E.g., see Dictionary of the History of Ideas, “Renaissance Humanism;” available from http://etext.virginia.edu/cgi-local/DHI/dhi.cgi?id=dv4-19.

[8] The English word “nature/natural” derives from the Latin word natura, which corresponded with the Greek word phusis.  Originally, both words simply referred to the inherent composition of a thing (see Online Etymology Dictionary, “Nature,” available from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=nature; and Liddell-Scott-Jones Lexicon of Classical Greek, “fu,sij,” available from http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/lexindex?entry=fu/sis&display=Latin+transliteration&links=Perseus+Web+Texts&smk=1).

[9] See Online Etymology Dictionary, “Physical,” available from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=physical.

[10] See Online Etymology Dictionary, “Supernatural,” available from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=supernatural.  Moreover, the concept of “religion” developed within this context (c.1535) to help define belief in that which exists beyond human perception (see Online Etymology Dictionary, “Religion,” available from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=religion.  Thus, “religion” is a false concept since the metaphysical construct (i.e. metaphysical dualism) within which it was developed is false.  All human beings simply have a worldview, a basic framework for their perception of their own existence—whether it be animistic, pantheistic, polytheistic, monotheistic, or atheistic.

[11] The Bible is completely void of any form of metaphysical dualism and its begotten concepts such as “natural” and “supernatural.”  Phusis/phusikos universally refers the inherent nature of a thing (cf. Rom. 1:26f; 2:14; 11:21ff; 1 Cor. 11:14; Gal. 2:15; 4:8; Eph. 2:3; Jam. 3:7; 2 Pe. 2:12), and there is no word in the Hebrew language that can be even remotely translated as “nature” or “natural.”  Likewise, the term “supernatural,” which is commonly used to describe the heavenly realms, is never used anywhere in the Bible.  The consistent use of this term reveals the bedrock of the Hellenistic worldview in the Church today.  Moreover, the Bible speaks nowhere of the modern concept of “religion” which assumes a naturalistic metaphysical construct (esp. in contrast to secularism).  Though threskos (Jam. 1:26) and threskeia (Acts 26:5; Col. 2:18; Jam 1:26f) are commonly translated “religion” and “religious,” respectively, these words simply refer to an individual’s internal quality of piety and adherence to their belief system rather than an external metaphysical construct.

[12] The treaty effectively gave Lutheranism official status within the domains of the Holy Roman Empire. According to the policy of cuius regio, eius religio, the religion (Roman Catholic or Lutheran) of a region’s ruler determined the religion of its people.  During a grace period, families could choose to move to a region where their faith was practiced (cf. Article 24).  However, neither the Anabaptists nor Calvinists were protected under the peace, so many Protestant groups living under the rule of a Lutheran prince still found themselves in danger of the charge of heresy (Article 17: “However, all such as do not belong to the two above named religions shall not be included in the present peace but be totally excluded from it.”).  It was ultimately intolerance towards the Calvinists which caused them to take desperate measures, the most notable of which was the Second Defenestration of Prague (1618), that led to the Thirty Years’ War (tolerance officially being extended at the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648).

Reformed eschatology thus produced reformed missiology which mimicked previous Catholic missiology.  However, with the addition of “theological progressivism” to the previously held Hellenistic/Augustinian eschatology, the new “apostles and prophets” were even less missiologically oriented, as the Counter-Reformation’s greatest apologist, Robert Bellarmine, pointed out: “C12: The effectiveness of its teaching.  Heretics are never said to have converted either pagans or Jews to the faith, but only to have perverted Christians.  But in this one century the Catholics have converted many thousands of heathen in the new world.  Every year a certain number of Jews are converted and baptized at Rome by Catholics who adhere in loyalty to the Bishop of Rome; and there are also some Turks who are converted by the Catholics both at Rome and elsewhere.  The Lutherans compare themselves to the apostles and the evangelists; yet though they have among them a very large number of Jews, and in Poland and Hungary have the Turks as their near neighbors, they have hardly converted even so much as a handful.” [Robert Bellarmine, Controversiae, Book IV; quoted in Stephen Neill, A History of Christian Missions, 2nd ed. (London: Penguin Books, 1986), 188-189.]

ENLIGHTENMENT NATURALISTIC ANTHROPOCENTRISM

ENLIGHTENMENT NATURALISTIC ANTHROPOCENTRISM

A.    Historical Development

 Diagram7-Metaphysical-Comparison-Diagram-2

B.           In the aftermath of the Thirty Years’ War, widespread disillusionment and cynicism gripped Europe ushering in the “Age of Enlightenment,” in which reason was advocated as the primary source and legitimacy for authority (vs. divine right).  Like the Renaissance from which it developed, Enlightenment thinkers were convinced they were ushering humanity into a new age of light, free from the cruel bondage of religious authorities and their puppet kings.[1]

 Diagram8-Christonaturalistic-Spectrum-Diagram

1.            Reality was generally oriented about the human perception in Platonic dualism (i.e. the “perceptual realm”), and this continued in its development during late medieval scholasticism and the Renaissance as modern “naturalism” was birthed.  However, during the Enlightenment (c.1650-1800), “anthropocentrism” or “man-centeredness” became crystallized in the mass consciousness of Europe.[2]  This holistic shift in the locus of reality to the natural realm resulted in the invalidation and rejection of anything outside of human perception.[3]

2.    Three people played a primary role in this shift:

a)    Rene Descartes (1596-1650) – known as the “father of modern philosophy,” the young French Jesuit resolved to establish existential certainty by doubting everything that could be doubted.  From this quest came the infamous phrase Cogito ergo sum, or “I think, therefore I am.”[4]  Before the Enlightenment, it was almost universally assumed that all knowledge of reality, and even reality itself, emanated from somewhere beyond human perception.  In contrast to Descartes, it might have be said, “God/gods think(s), therefore I am.”  However, after Descartes anything outside of the human ability to think and perceive, logically, did not exist.

b)           Isaac Newton (1642-1727) – in Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (1687), widely considered to be the most influential book in the history of science, Newton proposed universal gravitation and the three laws of motion (inertia, historical development, and reciprocal actions), forming the basis for classical mechanics.  By drawing up in mechanical form a completely mathematical view of “nature” and “natural laws,” excluding God from the equation, his naturalistic explanation of existence laid the groundwork for the rejection of all “supernatural” explanations in modern science.[5]

“The most fundamental concept of the Enlightenment were faith in nature and belief in human progress. Nature was seen as a complex of interacting laws governing the universe. The individual human being, as part of that system, was designed to act rationally. If free to exercise their reason, people were naturally good and would act to further the happiness of others. Accordingly, both human righteousness and happiness required freedom from needless restraints, such as many of those imposed by the state or the church. The Enlightenment’s uncompromising hostility towards organized religion and established monarchy reflected a disdain for the past and an inclination to favor utopian reform schemes. Most of its thinkers believed passionately in human progress through education. They thought society would become perfect if people were free to use their reason.”[6]

c)           Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) – Kant’s philosophy viewed the universe through the ultimate anthropocentric lens of the human mind, which is “shaped” by space, time, and those things embedded in space and time.  Thus, it is impossible to see things-in-themselves (“noumena”), the real objects that lie behind the subjective objects (“phenomena”) that we recognize.[7]

C.   Implications

1.            Cosmogeny – the shifting of the existential locus to the natural realm was the next logic step toward human autonomy.  Now the supernatural realm/heaven was not only fixed across the chasm of the Hellenistic metaphysical dualism, but also the natural realm was progressing in its struggle with imperfection, and anything beyond the natural realm was existentially invalid.[8]

2.    Soteriology – with increased technological and scientific discovery, the Enlightenment continued to advance the Renaissance idea of human progress. [9]  Moreover, as the locus of existence became increasingly anthropocentric, so did the locus of the redemption of the earth increasingly come to rest on humanity’s shoulders.  Likewise, during this time “higher criticism” was first employed, applying to the Bible the same principles of science and historical method applied to other secular books, which laid the groundwork for the later “demythologization” of the Bible.[10]

3.            Eschatology – the invalidation of the heavenly realms further reinforced the impossibility of a restoration of all things to their original glory at the coming of Messiah.  As pietistic optimillennialism continued to settle into the Western Church’s consciousness, the era of “revivalism” began, resulting in the birth of “pietistic dominionism” in which the Church sought to establish justice on the earth by means of the Holy Spirit changing societies from the bottom up, one individual at a time.[11]


[1] “Age of Enlightenment, a term used to describe the trends in thought and letters in Europe and the American colonies during the 18th century prior to the French Revolution (1789-1799). The phrase was frequently employed by writers of the period itself, convinced that they were emerging from centuries of darkness and ignorance into a new age enlightened by reason, science, and a respect for humanity… During the Enlightenment, people came to assume that through a judicious use of reason, an unending progress would be possible—progress in knowledge, in technical achievement, and even in moral values… They saw the church—especially the Roman Catholic Church—as the principal force that had enslaved the human mind in the past… Nothing was attacked with more intensity and ferocity than the church, with all its wealth, political power, and suppression of the free exercise of reason… Many proponents of the Enlightenment were not philosophers in the commonly accepted sense of the word; they were popularizers engaged in a self-conscious effort to win converts. They liked to refer to themselves as the “party of humanity,” and in an attempt to mold public opinion in their favor, they made full use of pamphlets, anonymous tracts, and the large numbers of new journals and newspapers being created… During the first half of the 18th century, the leaders of the Enlightenment waged an uphill struggle against considerable odds. Several were imprisoned for their writings, and most were hampered by government censorship and attacks by the church. In many respects, however, the later decades of the century marked a triumph of the movement in Europe and America. By the 1770s, second-generation philosophes were receiving government pensions and taking control of established intellectual academies. The enormous increase in the publication of newspapers and books ensured a wide diffusion of their ideas.” [“Age of Enlightenment,” Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2008 (Microsoft Corporation, 1997-2008); available from http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761571679/Age_of_Enlightenment.html.]

[2] “The Enlightenment brought to fruition the aspirations of two earlier periods of enlightenment, namely, classical Greece and the Renaissance and Reformation.” (Dictionary of the History of Ideas, “Enlightenment,” available from http://etext.virginia.edu/cgi-local/DHI/dhi.cgi?id=dv2-10.)

[3] As human reason was exalted, divine revelation was conversely condemned.  The Enlightenment thus overturned the accepted belief that mysticism and revelation are the primary sources of knowledge and wisdom, which was blamed for fomenting the political instability of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648).  The product of this shift in the locus of reality was a radical distrust of authority and tradition (esp. Christian), which came under attack in the form of biting sarcasm and ridicule.  Foremost in this attack was the French rationalist Francois Marie Arouet (1694-1778), i.e. “Voltaire” (known as the “prophet of progress”), who was known for shouting “Ecrasez l’infame!” meaning “Destroy the infamous thing!”  Denouncing Christian doctrine and belief, he scoffed at the miracles in the Bible and made fun of traditional Christian saying, “If Jesus had been taken up to a hill where he could see all the kingdoms of the earth, why hadn’t he discovered America instead of Columbus?”  Likewise, Kant summarized the Enlightenment like this: “Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage s man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! ‘Have courage to use your own reason!’—that is the motto of enlightenment.” [Immanuel Kant, What is Enlightenment? (1784).]

[4] First conceived of in the winter of 1620 and later published in Discourse on Method (1637), the Latin phrase literally means “I am thinking/doubting, therefore I exist.”  From this premise he proposed a philosophical framework for the natural sciences, attempting to arrive at a fundamental set of principles that one can know as true without any doubt.  By attempting to secure a certainty of knowledge based on human reason, Descartes radically shifted the locus of reality about humanity’s perception of it.

[5] Newton thus largely paved the way for modern “methodological naturalism,” the disciplinary method of investigation conducted as if nature is all that there is.  When asked about the lack of mention of God in his works on physics, Newton replied with the now famous statement, “Hypotheses non fingo.” (“I do not make hypotheses.”) [Isaac Newton. Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, General Scholium, Third edition (1726), trans. I. Bernard Cohen and Anne Whitman (University of California Press, 1999), 943.]  The centrality of Newton’s work in the development of the Enlightenment is immeasurable, as it provided the metaphysical framework for the functioning of multitudes of other disciplines.  Many have summed up Newton’s role in the Enlightenment with English poet, Alexander Pope’ famous epitaph: “Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night; God said ‘Let Newton be’ and all was light.” [Alexander Pope “Epitaph. Intended for Sir Isaac Newton, In Westminster Abbey” (1730), The Poems of Alexander Pope, ed. John Butt (New Haven: Yale, 1966).]

[6] Lewis Hackett, “The Age of Enlightenment: The European Dream of Progress and Enlightenment,” International World History Project (1992); available from http://history-world.org/age_of_enlightenment.htm.

[7] Born in Königsberg, the capital of Prussia at the time, Kant enrolled at the University of Königsberg (where he would spend his entire career) at the age of 16.  The bulk of his studies and early teaching career was focused on Newtonian physics and discussions of metaphysics surrounding it, even discovering the retardation of the rotation of the Earth, for which he won the Berlin Academy Prize in 1754.  It was not until later in his career that he began to focus heavily on philosophical issues of the mind and reason.  However, it is important to understand the naturalistic foundation that Kantian philosophy is built upon, which paved the way for the progression of naturalism to it present form, as Thomas Huxley (“Darwin’s Bulldog”) reflects, “The sort of geological speculation to which I am now referring (geological aetiology, in short) was created as a science by that famous philosopher, Immanuel Kant, when, in 1775, he wrote his ‘General Natural History and Theory of the Celestial Bodies; or, an Attempt to Account for the Constitutional and Mechanical Origin of the Universe, upon Newtonian Principles.’” [Thomas H. Huxley, Discourses: Biological & Geological (London: Macmillan and Co, 1869), 320.]

[8] Those who tried to hold on to some form of theocentrism had to resort to belief in a God completely independent of the natural realm, i.e. “deism.”  This resulted in the common perception of God as a “Watchmaker,” who created the universe, wound it up, and left it to run on its own.  Though Deism is generally considered to have died out as an influential school of thought by around 1800, the remnants of which have produced a “practical deism,” according to the modern sense of the term—“a person who believes that God created the universe and then abandoned it.” (HyperDictionary.com, “Deist,” available from http://www.hyperdictionary.com/search.aspx?define=deist.)  This metaphysical construct results in a “cosmic loneliness” that has bound the soul and consciousness of the West with a straightjacket of abandonment, producing a catatonic culture utterly hopeless in its struggle to gain victory over pain, suffering and death.

[9] “The human condition is not necessarily immutable or retrogressive owing to the Fall. On the contrary, undeniable and cumulative progress can be seen to occur in the fields of science, technology, and the applied arts. Progress [became] a fact of history.” (Dictionary of the History of Ideas, Hellmut O. Pappe ed., “Enlightenment,” available from http://etext.virginia.edu/cgi-local/DHI/dhi.cgi?id=dv2-10).

[10] First developed by French scholar Jean Astruc and followed by the formal use of the term by German scholar Johann Eichhorn, “the father of modern higher criticism,” in the second edition of Einleitung (1787), this anthropocentric approach to the Bible is still the standard in all mainline Western training institutions.  A notable application of this is seen in the “Jefferson Bible” or The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, as it was formally titled by Thomas Jefferson.  In an attempt to extract the true doctrine of Jesus, Jefferson simply removed sections of the New Testament containing supernatural aspects as well as perceived misinterpretations he believed had been added by the Four Evangelists.  Creating a single chronological narative by cutting and pasting passages from the Gospels, Jefferson begins with an account of Jesus’s birth without references to angels, genealogy, or prophecy.  Miracles, references to the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus, and Jesus’ resurrection are also completely absent.  The work ends with the words: “Now, in the place where he was crucified, there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus. And rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.” (17:62-64; archived at http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/JefJesu.html.)

[11] This is why “revival history” always starts with the “First Great Awakening” (c.1730s-1740s) under the leadership of Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John Wesley, etc.—all self-professed postmillennialists.  Revivalism is found nowhere in the Bible (though many misinterpret Peter’s reference to the resurrection of the dead in Acts 3:19), and it is a poor explanation for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Because of this misinterpretation, burnout and disillusionment has followed every major revival, which is the little known dark side of revival history.

DARWINIAN NATURALISTIC PANTHEISM

DARWINIAN NATURALISTIC PANTHEISM

A.    Historical Development

1.             Building upon the metaphysical dualism of Hellenism, the progressivism of the Renaissance, and the anthropocentrism of the Enlightenment, Darwinian evolution (c.1800-1900) was the final step in establishing the full autonomy of the “natural realm,” by providing an impersonal mechanism (i.e. natural selection) for its self-origination.  Thus, it practically deified the natural realm—i.e. “naturalistic pantheism.”[1]

2.    Though none today would label evolutionism as “naturalistic pantheism,” it is the basic framework of the Western worldview.  Corliss Lamont (1902-1995), leading spokesman for the humanist movement in the 20th century, clearly sets forth “Humanism’s Theory of the Universe” (Chapter IV title) as follows:

“Any complete philosophy of existence requires a carefully worked out theory of the universe, in technical terms a metaphysics, an ontology, or a world-view. As we have already seen, Humanism believes that Nature itself constitutes the sum total of reality, that matter-energy and not mind is the foundation stuff of the universe, and that supernatural entities simply do not exist. This nonreality of the supernatural means, on the human level, that human beings do not possess supernatural and immortal souls; and, on the level of the universe as a whole, that our cosmos does not possess a supernatural and eternal God.”[2]

3.    Three people played a primary role in this development:

a)             James Hutton (1726-1797) – generally considered to be the “father of modern geology,” Hutton argued in his primary work, Theory of the Earth (1795), that the tremendous displacements and changes seen on the earth did not happen in a short period of time by means of a catastrophe (i.e. the Noahic flood), but rather they were caused by processes happening presently on the Earth.  Since these processes were very gradual, the earth needed to be ancient (i.e. hundreds of thousands of years) in order to allow time for the changes. This idea later came to be known as “uniformitarianism,” a primary presupposition of evolutionism.[3]

b)             Charles Lyell (1797-1875) – Lyell’s chief work, Principles of Geology (1830), in brief, stated that given sufficient time (i.e. millions of years) the features of the earth’s surface, particularly the “geologic column,” could be formed by slow and gradual geological changes, without need of an inexplicable catastrophe (i.e. the Noahic flood).[4]  In this way the earth had “evolved” completely independent of divine intervention.[5]

c)             Charles Darwin (1809-1882) – after studying to become an Anglican clergyman at Cambridge, 22-year-old Darwin boarded the H.M.S. Beagle in 1831 as an unpaid naturalist on a scientific expedition around the world.  He carried with him two books: the Bible and Charles Lyell’s newly published, Principles of Geology.  Though the basics of his theory of “natural selection” were formulated on this trip at the Galapagos Islands, it would be over 20 years later that he would publish his complete theory in The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life (1859).[6]  In it Darwin painstakingly lays out his theory, meticulously refuting the doctrine of “Created kinds” which underlaid the widely accepted theories of Creation biology of his day, and primarily arguing that all living things had a common ancestor.[7]

B.    Implications

1.    Cosmogeny – with fresh ammunition, liberal scholars immediately took aim at the validity of the Old Testament, especially the Genesis creation account of the heavens and the earth.[8]  Moreover, with the corporate acceptance Darwin’s theory in the academic realms (Christian and secular), evolutionism became the standard of reality by which all “religions” would later be measured.

2.             Soteriology – the consequence of sin (i.e. death) is simply an inherent existential reality—that is, death and suffering are simply part of life.  Moreover, death and suffering are the very building blocks of evolutionism, since survival of the fittest (i.e. the killing and death of the unfit) is the means of natural selection and the progress of existence.  Evolutionism thus assumes an existential righteousness, and the idea that man is in need of fixing or salvation is simply an illusion.[9]

3.             Eschatology – as the existential reality of Genesis 1-11 was discarded and as death was integrated holistically into the corporate consciousness, so was any hope in the restoration of original perfection.  As naturalism was increasingly integrated into the theology and practice of the Church, pessimillennialism (i.e. “amillennialism”) became the norm and standard of most Western training institutions.[10]


[1] With a mechanism in place to produce the complexity of existence, the necessity of an intelligent designer became obsolete.  The existence of the universe in its present form, and the complexity of the life therein, could be rationally explained with complete independence of any external force or intervention.  Thus, the natural universe became self-existent, self-conscious, self-sufficient, self-determining, etc.—i.e. existential deification (cf. Ex. 3:14-15).  The natural universe is thus God, and God is the natural universe.  Herein is the ultimate form of idolatry (i.e. worship of a false god), and humanity claims the highest form of existence within this deification.

[2] Corliss Lamont, The Philosophy of Humanism, 8th ed. (Amherst: Humanist Press, 1997), 126; available at http://www.corliss-lamont.org/philos8.htm.

[3] As a product of European Enlightenment thought, Hutton laid out his uniformitarian ideas to undermine the authority of the Bible, for if the Bible was a fairy tale or myth, then the king didn’t actually receive his authority from God.  This anti-monarchy expression of the Enlightenment led to the political revolutions in Europe and the Americas during the late 18th-early 19th centuries, such as the American Revolution (1776), French Revolution (1789), Polish Constitution (1791), Spanish Revolution (1823), Polish Revolution (1831), Italian Revolution (1848), and the German Revolution (1848), with ramifications on the Latin American revolutions: Haiti (1791-1804), Bolivia (1809-25), Argentina (1810-17), Chile (1810-18), Colombia (1810-19), Mexico (1810-21), Paraguay (1811), Venezuela (1811-22), Peru (1821), Ecuador (1822), and Brazil (1822).

[4] Lyell’s ultimate mission in life was the establishment of Hutton’s uniformitarianism (still highly controversial at the time), as the full title of his book reveals, Principles of Geology: Being an Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth’s Surface, by Reference to Causes Now in Operation.

[5] “Evolve” (from L. evolvere, “unroll,” originally meaning “unrolling of a book”) was first used in the modern scientific sense by Lyell in Principles of Geology.  Darwin used the word only once, in the closing paragraph of The Origin of Species, preferring the description “descent with modification.” Herbert Spencer and others eventually popularized the term “evolution.” (Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper ed., “Evolve,” available from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=evolve.)

[6] There is debate as to what Darwin meant by “favored races.” The first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1928) gives a fairly clear definition of the Darwinian concept of race: “A group of persons, animals, or plants, connected by common decent or origin.”  Though race is not only related to humans, it is most clearly seen in the different races of men, ranging from “civilized” to “savage.”  Darwin’s encounters with the natives of the Tierra del Fuego on his Beagle voyage convinced him that civilization had evolved over time from a more primitive state, as is seen in his later work The Descent of Man (1871): “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes…will no doubt be exterminated.  The break between man and his nearest Allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as the baboon, instead of as now between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla.” (Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 2nd ed. (New York: A.L. Burt Co., 1874), 178)

Though hinting at an application to man’s evolution at the end of Origin (e.g. “[Much] light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history.”—p. 407), Darwin intentionally refrained from a direct application to man because of the obvious social ramifications.  It seems clear that Darwin viewed his Origin as a two-part series, Origin/Descent, and that once he completed his total task, he intended that Origin should never be read without Descent.  Thus, in Origin he was merely laying the groundwork for Descent, and only by reading both his theory of descent with modification (Origin) and its application to humanity (Descent) can Darwin be fully, or “rightly,” understood.  To regard Descent as merely an afterthought, or as a separate collection of subsequent thoughts, would be to miss the whole point Darwin was trying to make: that all plants and animals had a common ancestor, and conversely that humans were the most advanced descendant of all plants and animals.

In this light the racial implications of evolutionism are clear.  As anthropoids evolved in different areas of the world, some evolved faster than others, since interbreeding was impossible due to geographic distance.  The “savage races,” such as negroids and aboriginals, were those who had been isolated and fallen behind in their development.  Thus, it became the responsibility of the more evolved Europeans, i.e. “the white man’s burden” (originally taken from a poem by the English poet Rudyard Kipling), to civilize the savages through education, medicine, technology, etc.  As the discipline of anthropology came into its own in the mid-19th century, technological development became to standard of human evolution, which generally moved through three stages: 1) “stone age” (c.3500BC+), 2) bronze age” (c.3500-1000BC), and 3) “iron age” (c.1000BC-Industrialization).  This technologically-based condescension toward non-Western ways and culture is still deeply rooted in the Western worldview.

[7] “It is a truly wonderful fact—the wonder of which we are apt to overlook from familiarity—that all animals and all plants throughout all time and space should be related to each other.” [Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life (New York: The Modern Library, 1859), 170.]  The complexity of existence was thus the result of an impersonal force (i.e. natural selection), which dictated the gradual evolution of all organisms, resulting in the appearance of design seen in the world today.

[8] Assuming denial of Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch by Eichhorn and others, German historian Julius Wellhausen published Prolegomena to the History of Israel (1878), in which he introduced the concept (known as the “documentary hypothesis”) of the evolutionary development of religion in the Old Testament, proposing that a redactor (R) composed the Pentateuch by combining four earlier source texts (J, E, D and P) of progressing/evolving religious complexity and refinement.

Moreover, evolutionism powerfully validated the growing liberal ideas first put forth by Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) that Jesus was simply a human being who had fully attained “God-consciousness.”  Likewise, all human beings are on a similar path toward full recognition of “utter dependence” upon God.

[9] Ontologically, man is simply a random conglomeration of matter within time and space—no different from the rest of the animals, since all evolved from a common ancestor.  Darwin considered Ernst Haeckel’s (1834-1919) work in embryology “by far the strongest single class of facts in favor of [his theory].” [Charles Darwin, “September 10, 1860, letter to Asa Gray,” The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol. II, ed. Francis Darwin (New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1896)]  Haeckel is most famous for his “biogenetic law,” summarized it in the now-famous phrase, “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.”  He coined the terms “ontogeny” to designate the embryonic development of the individual, and “phylogeny” to designate the evolutionary history of the species.  He believed that embryos “recapitulate” their evolutionary history by passing through ancient adult forms as they develop.  In other words, the development of an embryo (ontogeny) is a speeded-up replay of the evolution of the species (phylogeny).

[10] Moreover, the end of the “Great Century” of Christian missions (c.1800-1900) was ultimately the result of the integration of Darwinian evolution into Western missiology.  As naturalistic pantheism was integrated into the Western worldview, the missions movement redirected its efforts to help people survive by provision of naturalistic necessities, i.e. food, water and shelter.  Since missionaries generally carried the bulk of the educational burden in the context of Western colonialism, the “Great Century” of missions did more, long-term, to establish naturalism around the world than any other single factor.  Though most missionaries were genuine and sincere in their motives, they none-the-less carried with them their worldview, expressed in “the white man’s burden,” which saw the peoples of the earth as “savages” who needed to be “civilized” by Christianity.

FREUDIAN NATURALISTIC ANTHROPOLOGY

FREUDIAN NATURALISTIC ANTHROPOLOGY

Diagram9-Metaphysical-Comparison-Diagram-3

A.    Historical Development

1.            By the end of the 19th century the West was experiencing radical changes cosmologically (Darwin), philosophically (Nietzsche), politically (Marx), socially (abolitionism), economically (industrial revolution), culturally (technological innovations) and religiously (colonialism/immigration).  In this context people of the late 1800s and early 1900s felt they were just beginning to understand the world around them, and as the primary framework for their existence (evolutionism) began to take root in their mind, the logical application was to themselves.  Thus, the human person was as much a new frontier of exploration as the world around them.[1]

2.            Sigismund Schlomo Freud (1856-1939) – “Sigmund Freud, more than any other explorer of the psyche, has shaped the mind of the 20th century.”[2]

a)    Born an Austrian Jew, Freud was trained as a neurologist and pioneered the field of modern psychoanalysis.  An aggressive atheist, he became infatuated with Darwinism at the University of Vienna (1873-1881), which became the basic metaphysical framework for the development of his psychological theories.

b)           Freud’s first widely read publication, The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), primarily argued that mental experiences and entities, like physical ones, are “part of nature” and can thus be calculated and measured, as in any other area of science.[3]  In this way he promoted what can be called “naturalistic anthropological monism.”[4]

c)           Because the driving force of evolutionism is reproduction, human sexuality (i.e. “libido”) became the driving force and focal point of Freud’s anthropology.  As the most basic of all natural animal “instincts,” sexuality or “sex drive” lies at the center of all psychopathology as well as individual development, ultimately determining all human behavior.[5]  The “sexual revolution” of the 1960s and 70s, pioneered by Alfred C. Kinsey, was a direct application of Freud’s evolutionary psychology.[6]

d)    One of Freud’s main objectives was to demonstrate Haeckel’s model of recapitulation in human development; that is, human consciousness from infancy to adulthood “recapitulates” evolutionary consciousness from the primordial soup to modern man.[7]  Moreover, Freud used the recapitulation model to explain the origin of mental illness and even the order of illnesses in relation to their evolutionary sequence.[8]

e)    Thus, concerning “religion,” Freud ultimately deemed human consciousness “void of religious significance.”[9]  Freud was an ardent atheist who contended that religion is but an “illusion.” He argued that early man did not understand the material forces of nature.  Hence, out of that frustration, our ancestors felt “the need to make tolerable the helplessness of man.” As a result, they “personified the forces of nature,” and endowed them with qualities that reflected a “father-longing.”  Thus, an explanation was conceived for the origination of man’s concept of the “supernatural” and his use of religion as a “crutch.”

f)      Summary – Though some of the specifics (e.g. id, ego, and superego) of Freud’s psychological dualism (i.e. conscious vs. unconscious) have generally lost acceptance in modern academia, his anthropological monism is the ultimate point of his theory, which has firmly entrenched itself in the Western mind.

“Can religion stand up to the progress of science?  This debate long predates Darwin, but the antireligion position is being promoted with increasing insistence by scientists angered by intelligent design and excited, perhaps intoxicated, by their disciplines’ increasing ability to map, quantify and change the nature of human experience.  Brain imaging illustrates—in color!—the physical seat of the will and the passions, challenging the religious concept of a soul independent of glands and gristle.  Brain chemists track imbalances that could account for the ecstatic states of visionary saints or, some suggest, of Jesus.  Like Freudianism before it, the field of evolutionary psychology generates theories of altruism and even of religion that do not include God.”[10]

3.    Two-fold expression of naturalistic anthropological monism:

a)    New Age Religion

(1)    New Age philosophies primarily originated at two times: 1) the late 19th century, with worldwide colonialism and the explosion of immigration, and 2) the 1960s-70s with the Western cultural revolution that sought alternatives to societal norms.  In both cases, it was the integration of Darwinian evolution and Eastern mysticism, attracted by the common pantheistic metaphysical framework, which produced the variety of New Age religions seen today.

(2)             Moreover, the explosion of New Age philosophies in the 60s and 70s incorporated Freudian Psychology with evolutionism and Eastern mysticism, producing the general tenets of most modern New Age religions: 1) naturalistic pantheism, 2) anthropocentric origination/generation of consciousness, 3) perpetual progression/evolution of human consciousness, and subsequently 4) equation of modern human consciousness with historical divine consciousness.[11]

b)    Postmodern Philosophy

(1)    Though difficult to define because of the multitude of its effects, postmodernity (or “postmodernism”) is simplistically perceived in the popular mind as a reaction against the presuppositions of “modernity” (i.e. Enlightenment)—primarily epistemological certainty, i.e. the knowledge of existence being attained with absolute certainty.

(2)             In reality postmodernity is simply the result of naturalistic anthropology pushing the locus of reality to its logical end.  The Enlightenment (modernity) centered reality around humanity’s perception of existence corporately; naturalistic anthropology (post-modernity) centered reality around humanity’s perception of existence individually.  Thus, modernity would best be labeled as “corporate anthropocentrism” and post-modernity as “individual anthropocentrism.”[12]

(3)    The attitudinal end of naturalistic anthropology is “tolerance,” which has become the dominant attitude toward religion in the West.  However, the basic assumption that is never mentioned is that absolute truth (i.e. that which corresponds to the reality of existence) does actually exist in Naturalism.  All religions must be tolerated, so long as they do not contradict evolutionism by claiming absolutely true knowledge of existence.

B.    Implications

1.    Cosmogeny – as Darwinian evolution provided the mechanism for the formation of the natural realm, so did Freudianism provide the mechanism for the formation of the supernatural realm.  It is simply an invention of necessity in the mind of ancient man in the evolution of his consciousness, which will ultimately be eliminated as human consciousness progresses beyond need of it.

2.    Soteriology

a)    Since man is simply a product of the natural realm (i.e. monism), the existence of a “soul” or “spirit” is a logical impossibility.[13]  Likewise, there is no existential place for the union of the Spirit of God with the spirit of man, which is the existential crux of salvation, producing the resurrection of the dead.[14]

b)    Moreover, since life originates from within the being of man (which is generally seen as independent and progressing, both functionally and ontologically), external salvation from death is irrelevant.[15]  Freudian anthropology is thus the practical means by which the self-existence of Nature is applied to the human person.  We are the highest form of progressive self-existent, and life/consciousness originates and generates from within our own being through chemical processes.  In this way, human beings thus declare themselves to be God.

3.            Eschatology – as the locus of society has shifted progressively to the individual person, so also has the modern church shifted its focus of salvation to the individual person.  Rather than a focus on the corporate destiny of the Church in the age to come ruling in the Messianic Kingdom, the modern church almost universally focuses on the individual destiny of the believer in this age before his/her retirement to heaven.[16]

Diagram10-Western-Worldview-Diagrams Diagram11-Naturalistic-Flow-Chart

Diagram12-Christonaturalistic-Flow-Chart


[1] “Continental thinkers [general set of post-Kantian traditions of 19th and 20th century philosophy from mainland Europe, in contrast to “analytic philosophy”] like to take as the starting-point of modern thought man’s three ‘humiliations,’ namely, the recognition that the earth is not the center of the universe [i.e. Renaissance]; that man, rather than being created in the divine image, is a creature of nature like the other animals [i.e. Evolutionism]; and that his reason is subject to the passions and subconscious urges [i.e. Freudian Psychology].” (Dictionary of the History of Ideas, “Enlightenment,” available from http://etext.virginia.edu/cgi-local/DHI/dhi.cgi?id=dv2-10.)

[2] Peter Gay, “The TIME 100: Sigmund Freud,” TIME Magazine Online, 29 March 1999; available from http://www.time.com/time/time100/scientist/profile/freud.html.  See also Dave Breese, Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave (Chicago: Moody Press, 1990).

[3] His fundamental idea concerning human consciousness was that it was divided into two “selves” or parts: the conscious and the unconscious (in which potent sexual/aggressive drives and defenses against them struggle for supremacy).  It is the conflict between these “selves” which brings about all mental illness.  “Defense mechanisms,” such as “denial,” are the natural processes of the conscious trying to “repress” traumatic thoughts into the unconscious.  Within this naturalistic view, there are no mere accidents in mental procedures.  The most nonsensical notion, the most casual slip of the tongue, the most fantastic dream, must have a meaning and can be used to unriddle the often incomprehensible maneuvers we call thinking.  Thus, “free association,” saying whatever comes to mind, was the basis for his psychoanalytic observation.

[4] Monism generally refers to “the doctrine that reality consists of a single basic substance or element.” (HyperDictionary.com, “Monism,” available from http://www.hyperdictionary.com/search.aspx?define=monism)  Thus, “anthropological monism” refers to the doctrine that human beings consist of a single basic substance or element.  “Naturalistic anthropological monism” assumes that substance to be a random conglomeration of matter within a naturalistic universe.  This is distinguished from Freud’s psychological dualism of conscious vs. unconscious, which is simply a subcategory within his overarching view of anthropological monism.

[5] The five stage of human development being: Oral Stage (0-1 yrs), Anal Stage (1-3 yrs), Phallic Stage (3-6 yr), Latency Period (6 yrs-puberty), and Genital Stage (puberty-maturity).

[6] After graduating magna cum laude from Bowdoin College with degrees in biology and psychology, Kinsey went on to get his Sc.D. in entomology from Harvard University (1919), introducing the gall wasp to the scientific community and laying out its phylogeny.  Joining the department of zoology at Indiana University Bloomington in 1920, Kinsey spent the next 16 years gathering specimens and researching the evolutionary history of gall wasps, publishing a monograph on the origin of the species in 1930, The Gall Wasp Genus Cynips: A Study in the Origin of Species.  Kinsey initially became interested in the different forms of human sexual practices around 1933, and in the years following he developed the Kinsey Scale, which measured sexual orientation ranking people from 0 to 6, where 0 is exclusively heterosexual and 6 is exclusively homosexual.

After obtaining research funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, Kinsey commenced his extensive research on human sexuality and founded the Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction (1947) at IU, culminating with the Kinsey Reports—the first publication Sexual Behavior in the Human Male in 1948 followed by Sexual Behavior in the Human Female in 1953.  In them Kinsey claimed  that Americans are 10% to 47%, more or less, homosexual (thus, most homosexual activists today cite Kinsey as the man who made the homosexual movement possible. [See Long Road to Freedom: The Advocate History of the Gay and Lesbian Movement, ed. Mark Thompson, Stonewall Inn Edition (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 22, 59-60, 102, 164; note also the father of the homosexual “civil rights” movement, Harry Hay, and his wide circulation of Kinsey’s 10% figure, urging that homosexuality be seen no longer as an act of sodomy but as a 10% minority class (Judith Reisman, “Kinsey and the Homosexual Revolution,” The Journal of Human Sexuality (Carrollton: Lewis and Stanley, 1996), 21.).]

Moreover, as an ardent student of Freud, he argued that humans are fundamentally sexual in nature and that children are sexual from birth (note his molestation of 317 children in chapter five of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Tables 30-34, presenting data on children’s orgasms, beginning with five-month-old infants).  Thus, deviant sexual activity is normal and natural, and society should not stifle any form of sexual activity.  Kinsey’s Reports naturally led to a storm of controversy and are generally regarded as the primary trigger for the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

[7] “The evolutionary idea that Freud relied on most heavily in the manuscript is the maxim that ‘ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,’ that is, that the development of the individual recapitulates the evolution of the entire species.” (“Lost Paper Shows Freud’s Effort to Link Analysis and Evolution,” New York Times, 10 February 1987, c4.)  Born an Austrian Jew, Freud became an aggressive atheist after becoming infatuated with Darwinism at the University of Vienna (1873-1881), which became the basic metaphysical framework for the development of his psychological theories.

[8] See Steven J. Gould, Ontogeny and Phylogeny (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1977), 158-9.

[9] Freud’s application of his psychoanalytic theory to anthropology and religion found its culmination the year before he died in Moses and Monotheism (1938).

[10] Brad Holland, “God vs. Science,” TIME Magazine, 13 November 2006 (Vol. 168, No. 20), p. 50.]

[11] “Within the New Age one theological affirmation [of four primary universal themes] has found popular support, the identification of the individual as a one in essence with the divine. Underlying this notion, which finds a wide variety of forms is a monistic world in which the only reality is “God,” usually thought of in predominantly impersonal terms as Mind or Energy.” (J. Gordon Melton, “New Age: An Introduction,” in The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions, ed. James R. Lewis (Prometheus Books, 1998); archived at http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/newage_intro.html.)

[12] If the parameters of reality are defined by each individual, then reality itself is logically relative to each individual.  This is the driving force of relativism in the Western world—“The philosophical doctrine that all criteria of judgment are relative to the individuals and situations involved.” (HyperDictionary.com, “Relativism,” available from http://www.hyperdictionary.com/search.aspx?define=relativism.)  Relativism finds its expression primarily in three ways (in logical declination): 1) epistemologically, i.e. there is no universally true knowledge, but only diverse interpretations of it, 2) existentially, i.e. there is no universally true belief system concerning existence, but only diverse interpretations of it, and 3) morally, i.e. there are no universally true standards of ethical conduct, but only the cultural norms of particular societies.

[13] This contradicts the Biblical view of the human person as dichotomous (two parts) or trichotomous (three parts).  Like the Tabernacle and the Temple, the human person has two primary parts: the outer, material man, or “body,” and the inner, immaterial man, or “soul.” (cf. Mt. 10:28)   Moreover, like the tabernacle/temple, this “soul” is further divided into the inner man (~holy place) and the innermost man (~most holy place), divided only by a thin veil.  Thus, the human person can be seen as dichotomous (body & soul) or trichotomous (body & soul-spirit).  Of greater import is the annihilation of belief in the imago dei, (i.e. man being created in the image of God).  Since human consciousness is simply a higher developed continuation of the consciousness of other animals, humans exist in the image of previous animal ancestors, rather than the image of God.  The loss of our identity as being created in the image of God produces a corresponding and proportionate sense of meaninglessness in our existence.  Likewise, being created in the image of our animal ancestors, the logical conclusion is to assume their moral ethic, i.e. “survival of the fittest,” resulting in the explosion of youth violence.

[14] This thus confounds the three-fold progression of the human person in salvation: 1) justification—the filling of the innermost being with the Holy Spirit at the New Birth, 2) sanctification—the purification of the mind, emotions and will in the inner being by the progressive dominion of the Holy Spirit, and 3) glorification—the resurrection of the body by the complete regeneration of the Holy Spirit.  Man became a “living being” (Gen. 2:7) at creation by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and he will experience the restoration of original glory only through an existential union with the Holy Spirit resulting in the resurrection of the body.

[15] It is believed that though we have made significant functional mistakes in the 20th century, we have learned from them, and humanism will ultimately triumph over tyranny.  Moreover, naturalistic ontological death is soon to be overcome through nano-technology.  It is believed that in the years to come microscopic nano-machines, “nanobots,” will be injected into the human body to perpetually repair and regenerate it.  For an introduction to the fields of transhumanism and technological singularity see Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough To Live Forever (Rodale Press, 2004); also Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (Viking Penguin, 2005).  Kurzweil, as well as Richard P. Feynman, K. Eric Drexler, and Robert A. Freitas, are leaders in the field of transhumanist nanotechnology (part of a larger field called “technological immorality”), and major organizations involved include the World Transhumanist Association (www.transhumanism.org), Extropy Institute (www.extropy.org), and Immortality Institute (www.imminst.org).

[16] Within this highly individualistic, heavenized eschatology, “church growth” has become the dominant missiology of the West, proliferating mega-churches throughout the earth.  Such a “seeker sensitive” approach to salvation, generally rooted in pop-Freudian psychology, has abandoned the original proclamation of the Church, i.e. the coming Day of the Lord and judgment of Messiah (cf. Acts 2:21; 10:42; etc.), and the urgent need of universal repentance (cf. Acts 2:38; 3:19; etc.).  The original themes of the apostolic gospel are not so much ignored or disregarded as they are simply unheard of.

John John (119 Posts)

John lives in Columbia, SC with his wife, Lydia, and four children. He travels and teaches on the Cross, the return of Jesus, and the Great Commission.


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