In my non-pseudonymous world last week, I got into what became a pretty intense apologetics discussion online. It was with a friend whom I haven’t communicated with in the offline world for perhaps 20 years. But we have reconnected, to a limited extent, in the online world over the past couple of years.
This person wasn’t exactly a close friend, even back in the day. But he is a talented individual whom I had admired and respected quite a bit, and still do. But apparently, over the years, he has gone to some places spiritually that I find disturbing, seeming to be at least flirting with, if not fully embracing, ideas that seem to come from various new age, gnostic, and perhaps even Luciferian realms.
The question of what motivates people to go in these directions has always bewildered me. If you believe in the existence of a spiritual realm, and (and this is a very important and) in an external reality to what we call good and evil, then why not embrace teachings that make a clear distinction between that which is good and that which is not, instead of teachings that are, at best, murky in their positions on questions of good and evil? Being an atheist, to me, seems much more rational than being new ager, Luciferian, etc.
The discussion began with a comment I made on an article in the online version of a U.K. rag, The Daily Mail, on the ascendant phenomenon of celebrities becoming enamored with Aleister Crowley, The Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), and related things occultic, citing Peaches Geldoff and Jay Z as examples.
After reading my comments on the above-referenced article, my friend asked me what I thought was so sinister about the OTO. My response was to ask him, first, whether he thought Crowley was sinister, adding that, if his answer were “Yes,” my response in turn would be that the answer to the question of what is sinister about the OTO is the same as the answer to what is sinister about Crowley.
The remainder of the discussion was in many ways would be quite predictable to anyone familiar with the typical gnostic inversions of the Gospel of Christ. He first launched into a defense of Crowley, relating an account–a very sanitized one, in my view–of Crowley as a “misunderstood” figure who said things to frighten and mock the ignorance of fin-de-siecle Christians, as part of a larger purpose of opening the doors to humanity of a wider range of spiritual experiences. “He was hardly Satanic,” my friend said.
To me, that’s preposterous because Crowley’s overt embracing of the dark side, from every indication that I have seen, is well documented. Even if Crowley did not believe in a literal Satan (and there is plenty of reason to believe that he did), is not the act of calling oneself “Antichrist/666) a clear embracing of the dark side of human potential, of that which is evil, unnatural, and anti-life? And what about the dark “fruits” of his followers–Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard, to name just two?
But the online conversation with my old friend got even worse than that when, as further extension of this effort to justify Crowley “un-sinister,” he made reference to a part of a Bible verse, John 10:34, in which Jesus utters the phrase “Ye are gods.”
The fallacy here is obvious. The phrase “Ye are gods” is only part of the verse in question, and it is taken out of the context of the entire content the chapter, John 10–not to mention the rest of scripture, which easily, clearly, and simply refute any notion that Jesus could have been supporting any Luciferian or new-age notion that humans were meant to be able to evolve into deities.
My response to my friend, I believe, points to a general method of fallacious, oversimplified, inverted readings of scripture that are so commonly employed by those who are seeking support for cultic or occultic theologies:
“Jesus is arguing with the Pharisees and Sadducees whose law is not necessarily consistent with the original Torah. He says ‘Your law,’ not God’s law. Secondly, there is an issue of translation of Greek and Hebrew words–several of which can be translated as ‘gods’ yet do not refer to anything divine or to a legitimate deity. Thirdly: ‘context’ means more than just the surrounding sentences or even chapters. Fourthly: the great Luciferian deception is: ‘Ye shall be as gods.’ So it’s a stretch–and a gross oversimplification–to take this verse as suggesting that humans are or can become deities.”
I also pointed my friend to an excellent blog post I found that gives a compelling refutation of these gnostic readings of John 10:34: see http://thegranpooba.blogspot.com/2013/06/misapplied-texts-and-terms.html.
My take is that the fallacy of my friend’s reading of scripture is so blatant that it should be self-evident to anyone who has any level of God-sense, let alone someone who has been saved and received the Holy Spirit. But, then again, the latter is really the point, when you consider, for example, 1 Corintians 2:1-14:
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Sadly, it appears that my friends continued argument is an unfortunate case example of how “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God,” because he continued to latch onto small, isolated snippets of scripture that, taken out of context, could be taken to support inverted, gnostic understandings–missing out on the big picture of truth that is discernible when the Holy Spirit has lifted “the scales from the eyes” of the natural man.
I pray that my friend may one day, through the grace of God, receive the Holy Spirit and understand the larger truth of Christ, instead of being blinded by gnostic inversions that focus on the trees of out-of-context detail but miss the all-important forest of divine truth.
But I also believe that, when we as Christians reach out to those who have embraced these ideas, it is also scriptural to realize that we may arrive at a point at which it is time to move on in our efforts, because some people, sadly, may themselves have come close to a point of no return, “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18).
We can, of course, continue to pray that the unlimited capabilities of the Lord may still bring someone to salvation, if it is the Lord’s will. But especially when it comes to such dark realms, we must also keep in mind an all-important caution: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-17).