The following is a post from Texian Weblog which was written on the occasion of the release of the movie The Da Vinci Code. The post does not discuss the movie itself, only the anti-Christian ideas it supports, and the Gnostic idea that man is divine in particular. The publication of the post sparked a lengthy debate on the depravity of man. For the benefit and edification of our readers, the debate is also included at the end of the post.
Let me quickly debunk some of the lies in The Da Vinci Code, then we’ll move on to the serious problems with the book and movie.
First, the council of Nicaea did not establish the New Testament Canon. The Canon was established through use over several centuries. Gospels were not left out of the Canon because the church was trying to censor dangerous ideas. The books that were left out were either forgotten about or were never considered to be reliable and authoritative in the first place.
Second, the Knights Templar did not suddenly leave Jerusalem and begin building strange churches all over Europe after finding a mysterious artifact near the Temple of Solomon. The Da Vinci Code would have you believe that the Templars found documents confirming that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child. They left Jerusalem to hide these documents in Europe. Then the Church killed the Knights so that the secret wouldn’t be revealed. The truth is that the Knights were killed because the Church and other powers in Europe were jealous of their wealth and power. Since the Templars were entrusted with the safekeeping of pilgrims’ money, they created an early banking system. Through this system, the Templars became very wealthy.
Third, the figure to the right of Jesus in Leonardo’s The Last Supper is not Mary Magdalene. It is John the Apostle. John was the youngest of the disciples. He was often depicted as a young, effeminate man. If that is really Mary, then where is John? There are only thirteen people in the painting.
Fourth, The Da Vinci Code says that the Church has tried to cover up the idea of the Sacred Feminine. Pagan religions often believed that there were two forces at work in the universe, a masculine and a feminine force. Think of the Yin-Yang. According to these beliefs, there is a balance between the masculine and feminine. Christianity does not have this belief. There is simply God, who is always referred to using masculine pronouns due to the limitations of human language, but is actually without gender. The idea of a child of Christ gives support to the pagan myth. So, the book says, the church has spent the last two millennia trying to destroy this belief and cover up the truth of a holy and royal blood line. They declared that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. They have oppressed women, even killing them after denouncing them as “witches.” They are attempting to elevate the masculine above the feminine and that is causing suffering throughout humanity. Of course, this is ridiculous. Mary Magdalene is recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church. The idea that she was a prostitute was merely a legend which the Church has since rejected. Also, if the Church is trying to elevate the masculine above the feminine, then what’s with all the worship of Mary, Jesus’ mother?
But The Da Vinci Code suggests that the Church is worshiping the wrong Mary. At the end of the movie, Robert Langdon, the main character, kneels at the tomb of Mary Magdalene. The Catholics have a problem with worshiping this Mary. Protestants have a problem with worshiping either Mary because it is the worship of humanity, not God. But, Langdon says there is no difference between human and divine. And this is the biggest problem with The Da Vinci Code. Human is divine? Not only blasphemous, but very dangerous. Throw out all the stuff about the Templars and the Priory of Sion. The Da Vinci Code’s most damaging lie is this: that we are all gods. The theory that Jesus and Mary had a child is not intended to elevate woman to the same level as man, but to elevate human flesh to the same level as God. If we believe that we in our current state are gods, or even god-like, then we flatter ourselves.
While driving along the freeway the other day, I saw a car with a bumper sticker that read, “Born OK the first time.” Meaning, this person sees no need to be born again. I thought to myself, what arrogance! Are you saying that you were born perfect the first time? That you have never made a mistake, never sinned, never been violent or caused another person pain? Have you always loved your neighbor as yourself? Are you God? And if you are not perfect, then how do you know that you were born OK the first time? If you are capable of making a mistake, then couldn’t you be mistaken about this?
This attitude is the epitome of human error. There is a need for a touchstone. The touchstone is the foundation of Truth that is used to discover and learn. Plato speaks of the Perfect Forms. A true understanding of the world, he says, comes only through an understanding of the Perfect Forms. In Christianity, this idea is perfected. The Bible calls Christ the Word. The Greek word is “logos” which also means “wisdom.” Christ is the foundation of understanding. He is the Truth, the Touchstone. Only faith in Him brings salvation. But, our fleshly tendency is to believe that truth comes from within us, that we can save ourselves.
Here’s a good way of describing what is meant by “touchstone.” Many cable networks have recently been cashing in on this Da Vinci fever by running documentaries on the subject. One of these documentaries features an art historian who is trying to figure out if a newly discovered painting is a work of Leonardo Da Vinci. To help him figure this out, he decides to place the painting next to a work that he knows was done by Leonardo. He says that when you put a fake next to an authentic work then the fake becomes immediately obvious. This is what is meant by the touchstone. You can tell a crooked line by comparing it to a straight line. You can tell a lie by comparing it to the truth. But this little trick only works if you have an independent standard by which to judge. If that standard becomes relative to the observer then it becomes impossible to tell a fake from a true work of art.
This is why the Gnostic gospels were left out of the New Testament Canon. Gnosticism professes that divinity is within all of us, and so the touchstone is no longer independent but within us and relative to us. The Gnostics were also the first to claim that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. Gnosticism was not in line with the rest of Scripture, especially the Hebrew Canon (which had already been settled and was accepted by Christ and the disciples), and so these writings were left out of the Canon. The Church was not attempting to censor Christian writings, but to keep non-Christian writings out of the Christian Canon. It is this Gnostic belief, that there is a god within all of us, that re-emerges in The Da Vinci Code. (By the way, the Gnostics were almost right. There is an innate desire for the divine in all of us, but not divinity itself.)
So, where’s John? Remember that The Da Vinci Code would have you believe that the figure to Jesus’ right is not John the Apostle, but Mary Magdalene? Is it just a coincidence that, of all the apostles, the book removes John from the picture and replaces him with Mary? John is the writer who calls Christ the Light that shines in the darkness, God as man, the true and only path to enlightenment and salvation. But The Da Vinci Code literally takes John out of the picture and replaces him with Mary, Jesus’ lover. The truth has been denied and replaced with a carnal lie. Now who is censoring and covering up?
I don’t care if The Da Vinci Code makes the Catholic Church look bad. Frankly, I don’t think the Church needs any help to do that. I also don’t care that the book gets its history wrong. It is, after all, only fiction. But even fiction is intended to deliver a message, something that the author believes is worth telling and believing. In this case, that message is clear: we were born OK the first time. That is utterly wrong, arrogant, and dangerous. Once we begin to believe that we are gods, that there is nothing above or beyond us, and we have all the answers, then we begin to believe in our own mistakes and our own lies. We corrupt our morality and create our own hell. That is the real danger. That is what Christ warned about. That is what the Great Liar has propagated since the time of Adam and Eve. It is, in fact, the very first lie, and it is what caused our fall in the first place.
Sophia Sadek said...
You chide gnosticism for the concept of the divine within, yet Augustine espoused the same notion. Keep the seed sower paradigm in mind. The reason you reject the divine Logos is not because you lack the capacity, but because you have been culturally conditioned to do so.
Monday, May 22, 2006 1:01:36 PM
Paul Lytle said...
Whenever you can't counter an argument, just say the argument is a result of cultural conditioning. Okay . . .
I am not terribly sure what point "sophia sadek" is trying to make here. Are you trying to defend The Da Vinci Code by ignoring all of the historical and artistic mistakes in the book while only defending this one point, or is it merely that one point you are trying to defend? If it is the whole book, you'll likely need more than three sentences and at least some evidence to refute Mr. Heath's post. Not that I am not a fan of breviety, but there are too many points here to discuss in such a small space.
As for the idea that Man is divine, you will also probably need something more than simply Augustine's word for it. (And I would like a citation for that one; not that I don't believe you, but that I have not read that from Augustine.)
If Men are gods, then we have a very low opinion of gods. We are not perfect, and if you believe that our actions have been perfect, then I would really like to hear your defense of Hitler and Lenin. I know a God who is greater than Man, who created (not begot) Man. If you have not seen that, then don't just pretend that we're all gods. Seek the real thing!
Or are you culturally conditioned to think too highly of yourself?
Tuesday, May 23, 2006 6:47:27 AM
Sophia Sadek said...
My observation was not in reference to Mr. Brown's fictional work. It was addressed to the specific reference to the inner god. (I forget which exact text of Augustine's it appears in. It's probably in one of his works on free will.)
As for Hitler and Lenin, I've read writings of both men. The antisemitism of Hitler can be seen in traditional Christian culture. It wasn't new to Hitler. There were men at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 who wanted to exclude "Jews and Turks" from office. Also, there are numerous antisemitic references in the writings of the Church Fathers. The Augustinians were attacked for their blood libel against Jews.
Lenin, on the other hand, should not be blamed for the atrocities committed in his name. That would be like blaming Thomas Paine for the atrocities committed in the name of the U.S. Certainly, I disagree with some of his more violent remarks, but then, so did he. He often corrected his own violent tendencies. The god within transcended the devil within.
As mortals, we have the capacity to cultivate a unity with the eternal. It's not easy. But then, nothing that is worthwhile is easy.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006 3:03:24 PM
Paul Lytle said...
Once again, you seem rather lost in the discussion. If you want to talk about the Constitution or famous dictators, we certainly may.
I bring up Hitler and Lenin not to talk about how they are misunderstood or whether they were inspired by antisemitism in "traditional Christian culture." Again, if you want to discuss these things, I am perfectly able to do so.
But I bring them up because you comments hint at a belief that Men are gods. Of course, your comments are so shrouded in obscurity that it is still difficult to understand what you are talking about.
"As mortals, we have the capacity to cultivate a unity with the eternal."
I'm frankly not sure what you mean by this. And since this is the only part of your response that actually deals with the topic at hand, I am rather disappointed that I don't understand you, since I am actually interested in hearing other ideas. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, but so far you have only dodged the subject by following every tangent that could possibly be twisted out of the conversation.
Come now, if you have the secret of life, share with the rest of us. Surely Mr. Heath and I have never been shy about sharing what we have learned to be true. In fact, we both spend some amount of money to promote free websites that seek to share the truth. What are you so timid about?
And if you do find that Augustine reference, do let me know.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006 8:15:27 PM
Allow me to thank you for reading Texian Weblog and to defend my post.
I also am unaware of any teaching of Augustine’s that supports the Gnostic idea of the divinity within. If there is such a teaching, however, then it is not supported by Scripture. In fact, Scripture is very clear regarding the subject. There is nothing good in unredeemed man. There is nothing divine. Your reference to the antisemitism of Church Fathers and convention delegates is an excellent example of how mankind is lost and in need of salvation. As Mr. Lytle and I have both said, mankind is not perfect. My complaint with The Da Vinci Code is that it supports the notion that humanity is divine. I point back to my post to explain why this notion is not only wrong, but dangerous.
Your comment that we “have the capacity to cultivate a unity with the eternal,” is wrong (that is if I’m reading it right, it’s hard to tell where you’re headed). Certainly, a unity with God is a good thing, but although we have an innate desire for the divine, we cannot achieve redemption ourselves. I know some Calvinists that can go on for hours on that. How is it possible for imperfect, mortal man to join himself with God, who is holy and eternal? The separation is too great.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006 8:34:55 PM
The Umpire said...
I hope "Sophia" (whose name means "wisdom") returns to this discussion -- it's quite intriguing to run across such individuals.
An excellent post, Mr. Heath -- and much needed in this day and age.
Regards from a Calvinist,
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 8:24:32 AM
Sophia Sadek said...
I'm familiar with the "it can't be done" argument. There are those who say that it would have been impossible for Shakespeare to have written all that he did.
I must agree that the unguided individual is unlikely to transcend the trappings of human depravity. It's best to follow the path of those who went before.
Where I disagree is in the view of man's condition as an innate aspect of mortality. Children demonstrate high degrees of positive conduct until they have been cultivated into vicious behavior. Much of transcendence involves breaking out of the patterns of bad behavior that society expects of us.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 3:27:57 PM
The ability or inability of Shakespeare to write all of his works says nothing about the ability or inability of man to join with the divine. There is a very big difference between imperfect man becoming perfect, and writing a play. If you have a point here, it isn't well made. I'm beginning to think that you are deliberatly refusing to explain your position. Perhaps this is because you want to attack another person's beliefs without having your own attacked, but I think this is because you simply don't have a position.
"It's best to follow the path of those who went before."
It can be helpful to follow those who came before, but one must ask who. Of all the people who have come before us, whose path should we follow? To bring up an example that Mr. Lytle has used, certainly we should not follow Hitler's path. Indeed, is there any man alive, dead, or yet to be born worthy of our following? I remember a professor of mine saying, "Let no man be your God." All men are sinners, all stumble, and all "fall short of the glory of God."
"Children demonstrate high degrees of positive conduct until they have been cultivated into vicious behavior"
If this were true, then there would be no need to educate children. In fact, education would be detrimental. We should let them run free without correcting them. Perhaps we should elect a child as president. Of course, that would be absurd (though, a mandatory mid-afternoon nap preceded by milk and cookies is a good idea). According to your Blogger profile, you are in the education industry as a "Professor of Metaphysics." Certainly, you would agree that all children need education. So, we were not born OK the first time. We need to be perfected, and we cannot do it ourselves.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 6:28:43 PM
The Umpire said...
"Children demonstrate high degrees of positive conduct until they have been cultivated into vicious behavior"
She must not have children... I have two, so I know that sin is inherent to the nature of man. You don't need to teach a 2 year-old to lie -- they come to it all on their own!
Thursday, May 25, 2006 8:23:54 AM
Sophia Sadek said...
I don't disagree with what has been said about the need for education or the capacity for children to misbehave. Where we probably part company is on the quality of the educational methods and the severity of the correction for misconduct. How a child is educated can determine whether they follow a positive or a negative path.
As for who to seek for guidance, we recommend that people stay away from charlatans who profess to know the way, but don't. They claim kinship with the divine, but they lead people astray. They profess to know the truth, but they don't even know the structure of truth. If the truth bit them on the butt, they'd sue for damages.
Thursday, May 25, 2006 11:57:05 AM
Paul Lytle said...
Sophia, once again you have made vague comments and accusations, but don’t seem to have any answers of your own. For guidance you suggest staying away from charlatans who profess to know the way? Since the very beginning you have claimed to know the way, and yet you refuse to give one hint as to what that way is!
Look, not too long ago I had much in common with you (I still do, I imagine, but not in this same way). Not really in the metaphysical stuff or that sort of thing, but in that I was very impressed with myself. I was impressed with my intelligence and my ability to persuade. To a certain degree, I felt like a god. Again, we not talking about the same degree here. I would not call myself that, and nor would I have thought that my nature was godly. But I knew the goal, how to get there, and it was all by my own might.
I had no idea. It is that simple. My vision of power and might was nothing compared to the truth.
If you think that there is a little god in you, then you do not understand what the word God truly means. If you think you have power, then you have never recognized power. If you believe yourself good, wise, or generous, then it is only because you are unaware of their fullest meanings.
I cannot help you. I am no charlatan looking for money here (again, my efforts to spread truth on the internet actually cost me quite a bit). I do not have any secret knowledge that will buy my way to heaven. I am a simple man who has seen the truth, and that truth was so large and grand that I was dwarfed by it. I cannot believe any world view that puts Man at the top, because I know men, and what I have seen is too big for that.
I cannot offer that truth; I am only here hoping that God can use me to spread it. It is He who controls that truth. It is He who offers freely. It is He who bled for it.
You have come here with what you think is truth, and that truth is hidden within the shadowy hearts of man so deeply that you cannot even explain what you are talking about. I know a truth that is only light, that is so large that even the demons bow before it. And I can explain it too, because this large truth is offered to all freely, unlike the petty truth you have hinted to but will not reveal.
All it takes is submission. All it takes is for you to set aside that pretense of a deity in your mind and offer it up to God. Christ’s actions on the cross can cleanse all of us, and all it takes to partake of that gift is to accept it.
All I read from your comments is confusion. You don’t know how any of your theories work, or else you are merely greedy, and want to horde hope and truth. I don’t think that it’s the latter case. If you knew how to retrieve that little god, you would tell. But you don’t. You are here to try to feel better about yourself, because you haven’t lived up to your own preaching. You are no god, are you? If you want to just taunt a couple of Christians with half-truths and fallacies, then by all means, go ahead. We have debated many people on this blog, and not one has destroyed the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We have nothing to fear from you.
If you are looking for something else, then this is your chance. We are not charlatans, because we are not even the ones who are offering the way. We were merely invited ourselves, and we took the invitation. We can promise no power, no money, no fame, nothing. The only offer on the table is life.
Thursday, May 25, 2006 5:18:51 PM
Wow! I was going to respond, too. But after reading Mr. Lytle's post, nevermind! That should settle the question. Truly, that was inspired by the Spirit.
Thursday, May 25, 2006 6:21:24 PM
Sophia Sadek said...
Thanks for the invitation, but no thank you. There is a patch of wolf fur peeking out from under your sheepish facade.
As for a practical way to open your heart and soul to the divine Logos, I don't detect any seriousness in the request. If I were to provide guidance for your repentance, I seriously doubt you would follow it.
Friday, May 26, 2006 2:51:09 PM
Paul Lytle said...
It is curious that you would suggest a "patch of wolf fur" on me. Exactly what do I have to gain if you accepted Christ? There is no monetary value for me. I am beginning a music ministry here in Houston, but we do NOT accept donations, and I doubt you are around to pay to see a show. If you gave to a church I would see none of it. I am not part of some religious organization that would ask you for a donation. My websites sell nothing nor ask for donations. There is a little advertising on one, but I have never asked anyone to click on one of the links.
Any social benefit? Perhaps you think I have a running count of converts, and I need to beef up my score? God would find fault in me if I did that. What good would it do me to take pride in a convert when I had nothing to do with it? Such would be sin. I don't need that. God sustains me.
I do not get to heaven on good works, so nothing I say to you would have any effect on my soul. There is no personal religious reason for me to want you to have eternal life.
You would not help any membership drive my church has. In fact, we do not have any. We do not care how many people come, because that detail is left up to God. I am only a layman at the church anyway. I draw no salary nor have any leadership position.
So exactly why would I be a wolf here? What benefit to me is it?
There can only be benefit to you and to God. I have gained all the benefit I can by my own conversion.
Your refusal to share your beliefs because I supposedly do not care is not surprising. I was right about you when I said you did not know. You cannot live up to your own promises, and here a light is shining on the shallowness of your vision. Your understanding is so small that it cannot compete with what the Spirit has said here.
And you know it.
You scoff at me and deny to reveal your wonderous understanding. You horde your vision because you fear that in the light, it will be revealed as tiny.
Meanwhile, I reach out my hand to you, even after you laugh at me, besmirch my motivation and my understanding. What I have said to you can bring you life to the full. You offer me nothing, and yet here you have been offered the only thing that matters.
You refuse to speak because you say that I do not seem to be serious (even though more people read this blog than simply me, and I would think you would at least try to reach them), but I speak on the chance that you may hear. The Spirit tells me to speak, and I know that when He tells me to do so, someone is listening.
I hope that person is you, Sophia, because no matter what you think of me, I truly want you to be set free. I am praying for you, whether you want it or not.
If you think I am some Christian mercenary, then speak to someone else. If you think I am counting conversions then go elsewhere, but do not flee the truth. You have spent too long doing that. It's time to rest.
Friday, May 26, 2006 5:27:25 PM
Allow me to second what Mr. Lytle has written.
You believe that you have the Truth, the way to Life, and you refuse to share it with us because you don't believe that we will follow it. That's really selfish on your part. We have been very forthcoming with you. We have explained what we believe. We have shared what we have learned with you because we believe that the Truth is so important that it must be proclaimed. We cannot help but proclaim it. If we do not, even the stones will cry out. The heavens sing the praises of God, and we simply join the chorus.
Perhaps you are right in thinking that we would not follow your guidance. If what you believe in is so small that it can be withheld, then we have good reason to be suspicious of it.
Saturday, May 27, 2006 10:33:18 AM
Sophia Sadek said...
One of our students observed that your perspective on divinity resembles the reaction that a peasant child might have upon encountering the butler of the manor. His splendid attire makes him appear to be the householder.
Thanks for the positive prayer, although it appears to be somewhat misdirected. Given your overt adversity to divinity, it is your own souls you should be praying for, not mine.
Sunday, May 28, 2006 3:47:08 PM
Pardon me, but I don’t see your point. You don’t have to be afraid to elaborate and explain what you are trying to say. We will allow you to do that. In fact, we would like for you to do that. However, all of your comments have been vague and evasive, and that isn’t appreciated. If you have something to say, just say it. If you do not want to engage in a real conversation on this subject, then perhaps you would prefer to go somewhere else.
I’m not sure what you are trying to say with the butler analogy. Are you saying that we think we are God? That’s odd. You are the one claiming divinity. If there is anyone who might be confused enough to think that the butler is the householder, it is you. You seem to be so amazed by the unique qualities of mankind that you actually believe that man is a god. And you say our prayers are misdirected. How can you say that we have an “overt adversity to divinity” when you are the one claiming to be a god? God is not trapped in the feeble mind of man or in his corrupt heart.
Every comment you have made here is nothing more than a jumble of nonsense. That should be proof enough that man is not divine. Once again, we ask you: if we are so wrong, then please show us the way. Tell us how you saved yourself, and how we can save ourselves. Surely, that would be the compassionate thing to do. But if you refuse once again to show us this truth of yours, then you show only the greed of humanity. Greed is not consistent with divinity, and therefore man cannot be divine.
Sunday, May 28, 2006 11:39:00 PM
Paul Lytle said...
"One of our students"? Now, Sophia, who is being the mercenary here? You accuse me of seeking some gain out of you, but (it appears to me) you are the one using the discussion for personal gain by giving it to students apparently as an example.
I am glad you are doing so, in truth. The message of Christ should be spread to as many places and as many people as possible. You come to our blog with pride and greed, with the intentions of making examples of us, but the Lord will use you, Sophia, whether or not you wish Him to.
Let me ask you, Sophia. Are you praying for us? You say that we should be praying for our own souls because we have missed the truth. And yet you refuse to share what you believe is true, even as we share your own prayers and message with you. Is this the divinity within you? If it is, I want none of it. I know better, because I have seen better.
We will continue to pray for you, even as you try to hoard your supposed secret knowledge all to yourself. You may think it misdirected, but we know it is not. The reason is because we have experienced something outside ourselves. It is easy to think yourself a god when you are the only thing you have ever known. If you open your eyes to something beyond yourself, you will see something far greater than you could ever be.
Monday, May 29, 2006 2:03:20 AM
Sophia Sadek said...
You accuse me of hording the truth, yet when I tell the truth about Augustine, you refuse to accept it. We give of ourselves without condition. If you are not willing to receive, that's your prerogative.
You rehash the traditional apostolic error with respect to the "secrecy" of gnosticism. Knowledge is not secret, nor do we have property rights over it. It is available to all who have the courage to seek it.
You imply that I'm professing to divine status when all that I have professed is to have achieved unity with the eternal. Once an individual has reached that position, they see the futility in those who profess to know the truth about divinity, but who have only begun to scratch the surface.
As for praying for your redemption, instead of doing so, we do everything in our power to prompt you to repent. That's far greater than any prayer.
As I pointed out at the beginning, keep the seed sower paradigm in mind. Open your minds and hearts to the divine Logos. That's something that only you can do.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006 12:02:35 PM
Paul Lytle said...
Goodness. Getting a little ruffled, are you? Let me try to straighten out what you accuse here.
1) "You accuse me of hording the truth, yet when I tell the truth about Augustine, you refuse to accept it. We give of ourselves without condition. If you are not willing to receive, that's your prerogative."
Perhaps you need to read over the discussion so far. I never rejected the "truth about Augustine." My exact quote is: "And I would like a citation for that one; not that I don't believe you, but that I have not read that from Augustine." A professor should know that it is poor form to paraphrase without a citation. I asked for one because I wanted to read Augustine's reasoning in this. It is not something I have read from him, and it quite frankly doesn't sound like what I know of him. I wanted to see for myself.
And you have given nothing of yourself here, Sophia. After repeated requests for you to speak of what you believe, you continue, even now, to refuse. A mere glance up at the conversation proves that.
2) "You rehash the traditional apostolic error with respect to the "secrecy" of gnosticism. Knowledge is not secret, nor do we have property rights over it. It is available to all who have the courage to seek it."
I have mainly been commenting on your unwillingness to share your so-called truth. You are the one being secretive here. We have given all of ourselves, and you continue to hold back. You are the one who tries to hoard secret knowledge. Every time I speak of secret knowledge, it is in connection to YOU, not gnosticism.
3) "You imply that I'm professing to divine status when all that I have professed is to have achieved unity with the eternal. Once an individual has reached that position, they see the futility in those who profess to know the truth about divinity, but who have only begun to scratch the surface."
Again, we do not know what you are professing. I have been trying to read between the lines here, and if I mistook what you said, forgive me. Perhaps if you say it more clearly and with an effort to be understood, we would not make such mistakes in the future.
4) "As for praying for your redemption, instead of doing so, we do everything in our power to prompt you to repent. That's far greater than any prayer."
And yet you have made no such offer, nor given us any reason to believe that you have some better way. I have just reread every comment you have made on this blog, Sophia, and not once have you asked either me or Mr. Heath to learn anything from you. In fact, you have doen quite the opposite:
"As for a practical way to open your heart and soul to the divine Logos, I don't detect any seriousness in the request. If I were to provide guidance for your repentance, I seriously doubt you would follow it."
Right there you refuse to make such an offer. You can make all sorts of excuses about how you don't think I will listen. The fact remains that you have withheld what you think you know as well as any prayers for my understanding. Once again, if this is divine, then I want nothing of it.
Futhermore, we have been nothing but loving and generous toward you. We offer (and give without your permission) our prayers. We try to show you the way, even though we know you are very unlikely to take it now. We offer you debate and ideas. You offer us nothing but ridicule.
If you cannot see something from this, then you are truly lost. Do you really think you have shown us honesty and reasoning here? You really think you have done what you claim: "everything in our power to prompt you to repent"? What is eternal about what you have said here?
5) "As I pointed out at the beginning, keep the seed sower paradigm in mind. Open your minds and hearts to the divine Logos. That's something that only you can do."
Ah, now we do have an offer. It's only been 9 days since your original comment. I'm proud of you! The generousity you have found here must be rubbing off. I still have no idea what you are talking about (the sentence itself is pretty meaningless without some definitions behind it), but I am happy to see you write it! Now, how about going into this in a little more detail?
It's great that you mention the divine Logos here. It means you are closer than you know. You see, I know something of the Logos. In the beginning was the Logos, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
But you cannot reach that level, no matter how hard you try. Do you think it a great height that you can reach without help? Every height is reached by a mountain or a vessel. You then think the eternal is so low that you can step into it and become one with it? To switch metaphors, can a fictional character know its writer?
Well, yes he can, if the writer steps into his story. You can see the heights if you are brought to them. And you step into the eternal if something eternal opens the door.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
You have reached for something far too low, Sophia, to grab it by your own understanding. But that eternal Logos has come to Earth so that He may lift us up to His level.
You have the right idea, but you are not seeing what truly could be. You are not seeing the fullness of the Word.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006 3:38:17 PM
Mr. Lytle’s reply is truly excellent. If I may, I’d like to comment on something. It is this quote:
“As for praying for your redemption, instead of doing so, we do everything in our power to prompt you to repent. That’s far greater than any prayer.”
Mr. Lytle explained what is wrong with this reasoning. I would like to add to what he said.
This logic is only valid if were true that a man could achieve reconciliation with God on his own. Of course, it is not possible. Mr. Lytle explained that eloquently when he asked “can a fictional character know its writer?” Only if the writer steps into his story.
You say you have done everything in your power to prompt us to repent. However, it is not within your power to prompt us to repent. The ancient prophet, Elijah said (in a prayer to God), “Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.” (1Kings 18:37 NASB) Also, Christ said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” (John 6:44)
Man is so corrupt and so far from God that he doesn’t even know how far gone he is. Only God can enable a man to realize this and repent. Not only can we not save ourselves, but we cannot even know we need saving without God showing us. Remember Plato’s Allegory of the Cave (www.per-fidem.org/bookshelf/cave.html). The man in the cave did not know about the world outside until his chains were removed. He could not remove his chains himself. He was a prisoner.
So, how could his chains be removed? Who could have done it? He could not have removed his chains on his own. Nor could his chains be removed by one of his fellow prisoners. And certainly the shadows on the wall would have been no help. So, who then? Could it be someone from the outside? Plato explains that the prisoners would not trust a man who came from the outside. When that man speaks of the outside world, his words are only gibberish to the prisoners. He would not be able to function in their dark world because his senses are accustomed to the light. Nor would he even care to play their games after seeing Truth. The prisoners would consider this man to be a fool, and they would convince themselves that it is better to not think about the outside world.
There is only One who could have removed the prisoner’s chains. Only One who would have the power to remove the chains and explain to the prisoner why it would be necessary to remove the chains. That is God.
By the way, Cicero’s “The Dream of Scipio” is another example from ancient philosophy in which a character learns Truth after being removed from his habitation (www.per-fidem.org/bookshelf/scipiodream.html).
I have gone on quite long here. But this is an issue that must be explained, and it serves as an example of how your worldview and ours are so different. You say that you can do something that is “far greater than any prayer.” But you are no help to me. You are no help to yourself. You are chained to the floor, just as I once was. But, God is speaking. He always speaks, and your soul is straining to hear. You cannot do anything to remove your chains. In fact, it is best to do nothing at all. Simply be still and submit to God’s call.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006 11:30:19 PM
Sophia Sadek said... Thanks for bringing up the Cave. It is one of my favorite gnostic paradigms. It describes the transition out of darkness into the light. Plato, like the father of his school, was a gnostic practitioner. In fact, the techniques that Christ used were techniques from that same tradition.
The Church persecuted that tradition for the exact reason that you cite: there can only be one individual with the capacity to liberate us from darkness. When a different individual tries, they are seen as being the wrong one. It's part of the chaining process. It's an aspect of the puppetry of ignorance.
The author of the Gospel of John stated that he was not the light, but a witness to the light. Instead of recognizing that fact, his text is held up as if it were the light itself.
Logos means more than "word." The Latin translators didn't have an appropriate Latin word to correspond to the philosophic concept of "reason and oratory," "ratio et oratio." To use a simplified "word" or "verbum" translation is to cast a shadow on the wall.
Also, the philosophic concept of monogenesis from which "monogenes" derives does not imply a single child, instead it implies a single pair of parents. The inverse "only-begotten" notion is also a mere shadow of the original meaning.
The god that you profess to know and worship is a shadow on the wall of the Cave. It is a silhouette of a petrified form of the true Father of Christ. It is a god created in the image of man, an idol.
Thursday, June 01, 2006 11:56:42 AM
How can Plato be a gnostic when Gnosticism didn't come around until after Christ? Gnosticism is based (albeit very loosely) on Christian teachings. Among Gnostic beliefs was the notion that the God of the Old Testament was not the same God who sent Christ (this appears to be something you believe). Now, if Plato was a pagan and a Greek living before Christ, how could he be a Gnostic?
I'm glad that you agree with me that there is only One who could liberate us from darkness. But, why did you say that you can do something that is far more powerful than prayer? You seem to be trying to have it both ways. You say that we can free ourselves, then you say that only God can save us. Please be consistent.
If you are referring to John 1:6-8, then your interpretation is wrong. The John that the gospel writer is talking about is John the Baptist. Not John the disciple, who is commonly believed to be the writer of the gospel. I don't believe that anyone here has ever suggested that the writer or the gospel text itself is the light. So, I'm not sure why you suggest that we are worshipping a shadow.
The fact that the Greek word "logos" is not translated completely is mentioned in my original post. Aside from that, we do not worship the text, but the Light it points to. So, again I'm not sure what you are trying to get at.
As I understand it, the theory of monogenesis refers to the theory that human beings decended from one set of parents. It is a theory of anthropology, not theology (though it does have support in Scripture). It has nothing to do with Christ.
Through this entire discussion, we have been clear about what we believe. Mankind lives in darkness, and we must be rescued. Only God can save man from darkness. A man cannot save himself, and he cannot be saved by other men. That is our faith. On the other hand, you have not been as clear about whether you agree with what we have said or disagree. If you believe that man needs to be saved, but cannot save himself, then we agree. I don't see why you are debating us. But, if you believe that we do not need to be saved then explain to us why you believe that. If you believe that we need to be saved, and we can save ourselves then explain to us how we can save ourselves. If you believe either of these last two theories, then you are worshipping a shadow. We have already explained (quite thoroughly) that both beliefs are wrong.
By the way, we're still waiting for that Augustine quote.
Thursday, June 01, 2006 4:00:59 PM
Sophia Sadek said...
Your knowledge of gnosticism has been shaped by a limitation to gnostic Christians. This is natural since most of the source material is from anti-gnostic Christians. Gnosticism predates Christ. The oldest texts with a gnostic flare were unearthed in archeological digs from Sumerian sites.
As for salvation, there are different types of salvation. If you are driving a vehicle that is headed for destruction, you have the capacity to steer it away from its fateful end. If you can perceive that end, you have the knowledge that you need in order to act. If you can't perceive that end, you need some external advice, but it is still up to you to do the steering.
There are types of salvation that are within your own power.
As long as you follow darkness you will remain in darkness. Rejecting a concept based on scriptural misinterpretation is a form of fellowship with the forces of darkness. Until you repent from the practice, you will remain alienated from the light. That is within your power, because it is something that you do willfully and with deliberation.
As for Augustine, other more pressing business prevents me from researching the reference in his writings to the inner god.
Friday, June 02, 2006 4:56:39 PM
Perhaps the roots of Gnosticism go back farther than Christ, but Gnosticism itself, as I am referring to it, is from the Christian era. I do not see how the Allegory of the Cave is a purely Gnostic parable.
"If you are driving a vehicle that is headed for destruction, you have the capacity to steer it away from its fateful end."
No, you don't. That's what we have been saying all along. We have already explained how that kind of thinking is wrong. There is no type of salvation that is within our power. We are lost. We are corrupt. We are imperfect. Everything that unredeemed man does is evil and contrary to the will of God. We all have a soul, and that soul reaches for God's love "like the flower that reaches for the sun" (if I may shamelessly quote myself). We have an innate desire for God, but we do not have the capacity to save ourselves. All we can do is get in the way. To use the example of the Sower that you brought up earlier, it is God who must do the sowing and the nurturing. We do not sow the seed and we do not nuture it.
"Rejecting a concept based on scriptural misinterpretation is a form of fellowship with the forces of darkness."
Ah! So you admit that Gnosticism is "a concept based on scriptural misinterpretation." Finally we're getting somewhere!
"As for Augustine, other more pressing business prevents me from researching the reference in his writings to the inner god."
I'm sorry that we have taken so much time from your busy day. I hope you do not give the same excuse to your students when they ask you a question. I'm actually writing this reply during what little down time I have at work. Perhaps the Truth just isn't that important to you. I suspect that if Augustine actually said what you say he said, then it would not be too difficult for you to locate that quote. I would expect that you would have it memorized and bookmarked
Friday, June 02, 2006 6:40:20 PM
Paul Lytle said...
I must admit disappointment, Sophia. I have not the patience of the Lord, and it is frustrating trying to have a conversation with you. While I have tried to answer you point-by-point, you have largely ignored what I have had to say. Anything you cannot answer (even the rather simple questions, such as what you think we hope to gain by this conversation), you simply skip. Instead of seriously looking at my quote from John, you criticize the fact that I use a perfectly accepted translation for "Logos." Well, Sophia, no name is worthy of God. Not even Logos, not matter how many meanings it has. I used "Word" because I was quoting.
And you are wrong about Plato. Most early Church leaders embraced Plato while kinda shunning Aristotle. Personally, I think they were a touch hard on Aristotle.
Not that it matters. Our point from the first is that man is fallen. It does not matter what Augustine said about our divine nature. I am interested in reading it because I think that Augustine has some interesting ideas, but nothing that comes from his mouth is gospel. If it is wrong, it is wrong (as Aristotle said of Plato: "Plato is dear to me, but dearer still is truth" -- I'm sure this is a weak translation, so "Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas."
Your analogy with the vehicle is a false one. A better one is that we are dying. The only way to avoid death is to be cured of what is killing you.
What is killing us? Sin is. "For the wages of sin is death," says Romans 6:23, "but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Is there another way to avoid this death? No. David, repeated in Romans, says, "They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one" (Psalm 14:3).
Even if you turn your life into a perfect one, you have no escaped sin. The punishment for even one sin is death. There is only one cure -- for someone to take your sentence for you. There has only been one man perfect, and so only one man has not earned death. That is Christ.
You cannot even answer our questions, how do you expect to save yourself? You cannot explain your salvation, nor can you pass it on to someone else. You cannot even find a passage in Augustine! How is it, that with that sort of weakness, you are able to cure that disease killing you? What is it in you that is so enlightened, even as you ignore every argument that disagrees with you?
I am but a man who confesses human frailty, and yet I have consistantly been more thoughtful, caring, and considerate than you. I am growing weary of being ignored, as I said before. God's patience is longer than mine, luckily for you, but there will be a time when you are so consumed in yourself that you will no longer be capable of redemption. There will be a day when even God will toss you away. This passage makes me fear for you:
"Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them." -Romans 1:22-24
You have exchanged God for a "the form of corruptible man." I will put my faith in nothing so weak.
Friday, June 02, 2006 11:44:41 PM
I would like to clarify one thing. I mentioned several times in this debate that man has an innate desire for the divine. I hope that I made it clear in the debate that the desire alone is not enough for us to become reconciled with God. What I did not explain in the debate is that this desire is faulty and corrupt like the rest of man. We seek beauty. Science has established that fact. However, we do not always seek true beauty: the Gospel of Christ. Our desire for the divine can be fooled into worshiping something other than God. We worship money, power, sex, and drugs. Often, we worship things that are not necessarily bad such as our families, our nation, or art. When I say that we have a desire for the divine, I mean we desire something to worship. But, what we truly need is God. Only He can fill that desire.