Catacomb Resident Blog

Futile Philosophy 3

22 October 2021

The emphasis on objective and propositional truth leaves us with the perception that divine revelation cannot point to something beyond the reach of human intellect. But if you are nonetheless somehow moved to believe the Bible, you end up with miracles as something spooky, the results of some random choice of God that is denied everyone else. It creates a two-tiered Kingdom of Heaven where a chose elite are granted great powers, and everyone else is relegated to whatever their human capabilities can muster.

It's calling God a liar.

Jesus said His teaching would open the door to miracles, making them almost common. The Apostles certainly understood this, and they brought miracles into their work across the entire Mediterranean Basin the off as far as India, into Africa, etc. They had something we don't have. The problem is that this "something" is shoved into the unknowable by Western assumptions, whereas, in the Bible is knowable, but on a different level.

Consider for a moment: Why were the magicians in Pharaoh's court able to do miraculous stuff with their staves? Do you suppose it was all fake? That is what you would conclude if you were limited to what your human capabilities could perceive. But the Bible passage assumes it was just as real as the miracles of Moses with his staff. It was the same kind of power. Later, during the plagues, the magicians kept doing the same stuff as Moses did until it reached a certain threshold that they couldn't cross.

The entire Ancient Near East operated under a shared set of assumptions about reality that are completely absent from the West. Moses studied the same stuff the court magicians did during his upbringing in Pharaoh's court. He also studied under his father-in-law Jethro, who carried a legacy of what Abraham brought from Ur. Scholars can tell you that there was a significant overlap in all of those cultures in their basic assumptions about reality. They can also tell you that the shared approach is radically different from what is common in the West today. And they can also tell you that the Hebrew people shared that same set of assumptions throughout the Old Testament period.

All of these cultures were mystical in the sense that they insisted there was a higher faculty about the intellect, and that this faculty would allow you to approach the hidden truth about reality that senses and logic could not discern. Even without a direct connection to the God of Creation, the Egyptians could make use of this faculty and make a limited approach to what Adam and Eve did in managing the Garden of Eden before the Fall. It wasn't that they had secret knowledge, but that they gained access to perceptions not possible with mere intellect and senses.

This orientation on a higher faculty means learning to let your heart rule. Not our Western hearts with only sentiment, but an Eastern heart that takes full advantage of that sensory and processing power our scientists can detect, but don't understand because they are Western. The literature of the Ancient Near East is full of references to the heart as a sensory organ like that, and Hebrew literature is part of that. The heart knows things the mind cannot grasp. So the heart must dominate the mind. Faith trumps reason. Unless you can seize that concept and live by it, you'll never understand the way reality actually works.

In Acts 4:8-20 we have the narrative of Paul and Barnabas in Lystra where there was no synagogue. Paul preached in the open market square, which is pretty much how news of any kind of shared in those days. At some point, Paul could see by his faith that there was a crippled man whose faith had risen. Paul didn't rely on his basic sensory apparatus and his logic to discern this. It was Paul's faith that told him. In other words, Paul's heart interacted with this man's heart on that special wavelength hearts use in their sensory fields. It was the man's faith that held the key to his healing. He was already committed to the way of Christ as Paul preached, and that granted him access to the invisible ways of the natural world. The man knew, but at that point lacked the practiced authority, so Paul exercised it for him.

That's a very Hebrew way of looking at it. And while it's highly unlikely the man was also Hebrew, he was at least acquainted to the ways of the heart and Eastern mysticism to make use of that faculty. Thus, the faculty exists without the presence of God's Spirit. It's there, has been there since the departure from the Garden of Eden. If it gets off track, it leads to the nasty demonic stuff performed by the Egyptian magicians in Pharaoh's court. It leads to pagan religions such as that practiced by the folks in Lystra. But when the heart finds its natural home trusting in the true Creator of all things, the power is unlimited.

The power of Satan is not in releasing dark magical authority; that's a uniquely Western myth. The power of Satan is in deceiving humans to use their divine faculty for the wrong purpose. But it's a whole lot easier for him to keep humans under his authority if he can convince them that none of that stuff exists in the first place. We have evidence that a strong mythology about the powers of Adam and Eve before the Fall was circulated in limited circles throughout human history. As long as the dominant culture shared the basic assumptions about reality, it was fairly accessible. It became part of the curriculum for government service in every Ancient Near Eastern empire. Daniel studied it in Babylon, and it wasn't too foreign to him, since it shared much with a good Hebrew education.

But in Greece was born a thread of pagan thinking that led to the Socrates-Plato-Aristotle trend of secularism that rejected the mystical approach of using the heart. We know historically that Hebrew scholars were around in Athens, along with other Eastern mystical philosophers, but that Aristotle obviously rejected their ways. His teaching was the core assumptions behind Hellenism. It was adopted by the Romans later. It was also adopted by the Western church leadership in stages. It became fundamental to Western Civilization.

Jesus was a Hebrew man, and Eastern mystic. He taught an Eastern mystic faith, from an Eastern mystic Bible. The word "Christian" means following Christ. To be a Christian requires an Eastern mystical outlook. Clinging to the Western assumptions guarantees you will never be a genuine follower of Christ.

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