of John's Epistles
on the Apostle John’s Epistles
it’s difficult to understand the rationale for John writing
his epistles without understanding Gnosticism
Gnosticism is the Greek work for ‘know’. Philosophers have debated throughout the centuries ‘how do
Descartes (1596-1650), the French philosopher said, “I
think, therefore I am.”
So understand Gnosticism, we first must understand
where it came from.
mother religions of the world are Hinduism
The primary distinction is in the way each answers the
question, “How do we know?”
Hinduism is a religion of reason and observation [and usually polytheism]. Judaism
is a religion of revelation [and
everything is cyclical. For
example, after spring we have summer, then fall then winter,
followed by spring. The
rain goes up to the clouds, falls back down, goes into the
rivers and the sea, evaporates up to the clouds and then comes
down again as rain. So
based on this observation Hinduism says that after this life
we have reincarnation; man dies and is reborn in another form
in endless cycles.
Hinduism’s sister religions
came the religions of the orient.
was a Hindu, so Buddhism
was a reformation movement within Hinduism.
and Taoism (道教)
and other related religions came from this.
They all answer the question “How do we know?”
with observation and by reason.
Ancient Greek philosophy (古希臘哲學)
was also essentially Hindu in its view.
believed in transmigration of the soul, which is another name
Gnosticism is a sister religious worldview of ancient
Greek thought. [Perhaps
all these views originated around 2100B.C. at the time of
Nimrod and the Tower of Babel, so that some followers went
east and some went west.]
started around the same time.
God called Abraham around 1900 B.C.
Abraham was the father of the Jews and Judaism.]
The mother religion of Judaism spawned Christianity,
Islam and numerous cults.
Judaism says that we know by revelation.
As a brief review, no other group of people in history
has ever even suggested that something like what happened at
Mount Sinai around 1460B.C. was possible. One entire nation [of around one to
three million people] said they all were at one place
and saw the same thing – the giving of the Law of God.
This was spectacular! [He
declares His word to Jacob, His statutes and His judgments to
Israel. He has not dealt thus with any nation; and as for His
judgments, they have not known them.
Praise the Lord! – Psalm 147:19,20 NKJV]
That’s why the Law [and
revelation] play such a central role in Judaism.
the Gospel began in the Middle East, and although it
influenced India, basically its migration was westward.
As a result, it spawned the scientific method – which
is based on the premise that [natural] laws are inviolable.
For example, when the space shuttle Columbia blew up in
the air, people didn’t ask why it blew up in space; they
asked what laws were violated.
So it’s on that basis that we have the scientific
method. Just as
spiritual law is absolute, so also natural law is absolute.
The two came together and produced what some people
[Wikipedia says modernism is
“an array of cultural movements rooted in the changes in
Western society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth
century. The term covers a series of reforming movements in
art, architecture, music, literature and the applied arts,
which emerged during this period.
It is a trend of thought that affirms the power of
human beings to create, improve, and reshape their
environment, with the aid of scientific knowledge, technology
or practical experimentation.”]
[In the 19th
century there were philosophers like Søren Kierkegaard
(1813-1855) and Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) who began to
question traditional philosophies, such as rationalism
(經驗主義). One result was the emergence of existential thought.
Most existentialists refused to belong to any popular
school of thought. Although
Kierkegaard and a minority of existentialists believed in God,
Nietzsche proclaimed that “God is dead”, so eventually
most existentialists embraced atheism.]
says there is no purpose or rationale of life.
If you strip away all the purpose, it becomes nonsense.
Every religion is supposed to define purpose (not
salvation), why are we here.
The existentialist says that’s a question we cannot
philosophy produced nihilism
(虛無主義). [Nihilism says] nothing makes sense – I don’t know why
I’m here and where I’m going.
All I have is this existential moment, so I’m going
to try to glean (點滴搜集)
from this whatever significance (意義)
I can find. That
in turn produced post-modernity.
in this country [the U.S.A.] began to gain credence (信用,
around the 1960’s during [the time of] the Vietnam War.
Academia said our suppositions and presuppositions have
to be wrong. It
became skeptical of modern thought.
It called into question absolutes.
Bloom,] a professor at the University of Chicago wrote
“A Closing of the American Mind.”
I encourage you to read it.
[Published in 1987, it is a
critique of contemporary American universities and the
influence of pop music on America's youth.
Bloom said modern professors of philosophy “simply
would not and could not talk about anything important, and
they themselves do not represent a philosophic life for the
argued that commercial pursuits have become more highly valued
than the philosophic quest for truth or the civilized pursuits
of honor and glory. He
also explored music’s power over the human soul and how rock
music often leads American youth to embrace short-term, erotic
relationships and foolish rebelliousness that actually places
them under the control of the men who manage the money of the
pop music stars.]
Basically, his thesis was that although postmodernism
may be right, you’ve got to assume in natural science that
all the laws are correct.
Otherwise, you’ll destroy the ability to investigate.
You’ve got to assume correctly to get involved in the
Natural law and moral law are related
that science is a child of Judeo-Christian religion, take gunpowder
for an example. It
was discovered in China, but it wasn’t used to great effect.
When westerners examined it, they said it’s not
working because of violation of some natural laws of science.
They discovered that it didn’t work as well when it
was wet as it did when it was dry.
So in the west they made bullets, and it worked.
They assumed there are natural laws.
Assuming that natural law exists is a step of faith,
and it goes back to the question, ‘How do you know?’ It was built upon the laws of Judaism. In nature you rely on natural laws. For moral laws you rely on revelation.
Hinduism, Gnosticism and post-modernity in the Church today
eastern. It says
you can’t have absolutes.
[However, today, due to
globalization and other factors,] the eastern and
western cultures [and Hinduism and
Judaism and Christianity] are overlapping in our
culture, even though they are mutually exclusive ideas.
We can talk about them in absolute terms, but their
application is always a mixture.
We are all influenced by our culture far more than we
want to admit. The
in which we grow up has a profound (很深的)
influence on us in a way that we ourselves don’t fully
when I talk about these two worldviews, it’s not that they
don’t blend, because we are all syncretistic
in one way or another. One
of the most frightening thoughts to me is wondering how much
my culture has influenced my view of God.
It terrifies me! The problem is I don’t know.
If I knew, I’d change it.
That is precisely the problem.
But with this skepticism (懷疑論)
that really started to pick up momentum in our [U.S.A.]
culture in the 1960’s it was what we call post-modernity.
That is, it was a rejection of the modern way of
looking at the world in reality.
This web page was last updated on 03 September 2008 .