False dichotomy: What if you don’t accept either side of the story?
When the Spirit of God nags you through your heart about something, you can never be sure what it’s about until your mind is properly trained. I’m still learning. I had a post all written about something rather obscure to most of this world. And because of the false dichotomy that rules our social consciousness, it would have been branded as hatred. Of course, it wasn’t anything new on this blog; most of you understand it already.
Often I’ve tried to help readers trace how ideas are pushed through the public presentations into the social consciousness. When you develop a frame of reference that takes the intellect off the throne, as we do, you have a much easier time standing outside of the effects of propaganda. When you place little trust in mere cognition, cognitive manipulation is easier to catch.
It doesn’t matter who did it first in human history. If we are going to study it, what matters is how we got here in our current mess. Did you know that Scripture recounts the birth of propaganda as we know it today? I’m referring to seizing control of the public narrative to the point that breaking out of it is a miracle of God. We’ve already seen how the Fall hinges on the presumption of human reason to answer all the pertinent questions. It is this signal flaw that allows Satan’s lies to prevail. The effects are immediately seen in how Adam and Eve suddenly have a false image of God. They used to walk in the Garden with Him, but suddenly began to hide. The only thing that changed was their perception.
It’s not just deception, but the readiness of the human mind to be deceived. It’s the vast ocean of conditioning that teaches us to ignore a much more reliable faculty, reliable because it is not within human control. Instead of reason, the soul has to subscribe to truth that stands before time and space existed. You buy into it or you don’t. Jesus made that point when He spoke of the sharp division between Heaven and Hell: the huge chasm between where Lazarus rested in the bosom of Abraham versus where the Rich Man stood crying out to them (starts in Luke 16:19). It is also reflected in Jesus’ comment about no neutrality in eternal matters; either we work with Him or we oppose Him (Luke 11:23). There is a sharp line of departure between the Two Realms.
The flaw in human activity is presuming to pull all that truth down into this realm. It’s a pretty confusing mix of nonsense that assumes parables should be taken literally, a reverse and perverse logic of trying to cram our mortality into the business of Heaven. Meanwhile, the symbolic logic of talking about divine things is misapplied to our existence here. In other words, the boundary is obscured. Our Enemy wants to justify his complaint against God, but does so by deception.
When God Almighty elects to use you for something, it’s not because you are better than the other folks He might have chosen. When God chose Lucifer for the role that placed him at the top of all Creation, he decided it was an excuse to strut and claim some of that glory. When God chose Israel, it was not an excuse to strut and despise the rest of humanity. Indeed, as far as that goes, God made it clear through the prophets that Israel was easily the worst nation He could have chosen for the mission. He said that, had any other nation been put in Israel’s place, they would have repented far more readily at the warnings from the prophets.
At the same time, we realize that if you put anybody in the role of Chosen — like Lucifer and Israel — their moral flaws would result in stealing God’s glory for themselves. Paul warns in Romans 11 that we who were grafted into the vine of revelation and redemption should not strut, either. We humbly bow as David did in the Tent of Meeting he erected in the royal courtyard over the Ark of Covenant (2 Samuel 7:18ff). We know better than to play games with the truth of God, but with serious reverence accept the mission to share the truth. This humility was not at all typical of Israel as a whole.
Step back to the days shortly after receiving the Covenant at Mount Sinai. God wrote with His own finger the Decalogue on the stone tablets to symbolize the source of the message Moses bore. It was not that Moses was better; God chose Moses for reasons beyond human comprehension. Moses didn’t strut, but was accused constantly of it. That is, the leaders of Israel played the attitude card every day against Moses (for example, the Rebellion of Korah, Numbers 16). They were so petty that they made up some wild mythology about Moses being a mere shaman striving to keep secret the incantations by which he persuaded Jehovah to grant him miraculous powers (echoes of the Tetragrammaton). Why, the whole nation was sacred, right? Anyone could perform the rituals and get what Moses had. So when God made Aaron’s rod bloom and made fire burst out of the censers and kill the pretenders, they still insisted that Moses had simply tricked them through secret incantations.
In other words, from the very start, we see how elements in Israeli thinking reflected this insistence that things were whatever they said they were. They bought into lies of the Devil and this was their self-proclaimed reality. How do you fight that? How do you counter the noise when the folks making it insist that they are the only ones who can see the truth? When they insist that their very words have the power to remake reality, that God Himself is so enamored with their cleverness that He willingly goes along with their refinements of His revelation? This was centuries before Hellenism even existed, so we can’t blame all this on Alexander the Great and his teachings. Hellenism was simply a better frame of reference for the lies Satan had always told, lies that certain elements in Israel were always eager to embrace.
We see this same tendency reflected in the Talmud and Kabbalah teachings. It’s the same attitude that alleges God is not God, that reality is whatever the speaker/writer insists it is, that some folks are somehow inherently better than others. It matters not how they claim to gain that status, but that they claim one at all. You aren’t permitted to question their mythology because you aren’t good enough to hold the special privileges.
We know that the stark chasm that separates the Two Realms does not apply here on earth regarding the false dichotomies thrown at us. We don’t have to accept the story told by either side in the race riots scattered across the US today. We don’t have to accept the false dichotomy that either side is somehow holy and righteous, while the other side is evil. Both sides are evil liars. You can’t be neutral about Jesus; you either follow or don’t. However, He is God and the truth He taught is older than mankind. What we see in the public debates today has no bearing on what Christ taught, because Jesus said human political activity cannot work the righteousness of God.
Don’t let them steal the neutral ground. We reject the entire frame of reference, never mind the false stories told by both sides.
I have no doubt we shall be troubled greatly by whatever passes for Artificial Intelligence (AI). The term AI itself is ill-defined at best, but that’s not the point. We are developing machines capable of acting on some measure of volition and our own imperfections will ensure this turns out bad at some point. When humans are forced to defend themselves by destroying a machine lacking human limitations, it won’t much matter what kind of AI is behind it. In a certain sense, we are already there.
But the whole question of what AI is or could be rests on a false assumption we’ve often identified here: that true awareness rests in the intellect. There is no doubt we will at some point rig up machinery that is indistinguishable from humans on the level of intellect and perhaps some mimicking measure of creativity. What we cannot create is a sensory heart.
We struggle mightily as it is to awaken the sensory heart in real people. That is, we struggle to get folks to pay attention to their own hearts. It’s a much bigger problem than the mere Satanic idiocy of associating the heart with emotions. If there is one lie from Hell that has done more to keep folks away from their divine heritage, I would be hard put to identify it. In Western mythology, anything not purely intellectual must be relegated to mere sentiment. The Western orthodoxy that there is nothing higher than pure reason is the damnedest of damned lies.
This is a portion of what makes us fallen, a critical element in the Fall itself. The Fall is in essence the choice to place human capability on the throne of the soul. For the most part, that means electing to measure and judge morality from reason alone. This defines Western Civilization itself. No other civilization on record made that mistake, and our Western hubris has surpassed every boundary so far. Even what little humility we can drum up is merely the product of intellect.
Those of us who have become aware of other faculties granted by our Creator, and have begun to exercise those faculties that are far above mere intellect, are few in number. It’s not a question of being smarter than the bulk of Western humanity, not wiser than those of primitive barbaric superstition, but of having sufficient wisdom to climb down from the throne. We realize we aren’t in charge of ourselves very much, never mind anything external to us. We couldn’t possibly change the weather beyond highly limited localized effects; God’s Word warns us of as much. Nor could we possibly create sentience after our own image.
More likely, we shall permit the psychopaths to affect the programming of AI in their image. Bad enough are weapons of mass destruction that make no distinction. We face weapons of mass destruction that will be frighteningly selective, creating a fear like no other. We face machinery that will be unfailing in its implementation of human failure.
And our God is still bigger than those threats.
It’s a divine tactic against evil to make friends.
The biggest killer is operating by fear. The world is full of people who need help dealing with the Devil’s lies about our existence here, buried under countless layers of deception. God grants a spontaneous breakthrough for some of those layers, but He chooses to use us in the process. We place ourselves in the best position for use when we are at least willing to interact with perfect strangers.
If you listen to mainstream Christians, they’ll tell you to start every encounter with a gospel sales pitch. Wrong. We don’t sell anything and we don’t convert people into loyal customers of our favorite brand. We simply live the gospel message, living in the context of the Spirit’s moving in that moment. It might be hard to predict what shape that sacrificial living takes in the storms of human decision. If the Holy Spirit opposes some of my silly choices, He might well guide me to fight something out of compassion for a fool in his folly. Despite how it might sound, it can be a friendly act to punch someone’s lights out if your reason for doing so is within divine justice. We are friends of God first. Being a friend to your fellow humans is something on the level of the heart, not a learned script. You can’t allow the recipient to order what they want from you; it’s commanded by God.
You can only give what you have; you can only be what God made you to be. It’s for sure your self-concept under the Spirit will be in constant motion. God help me if I’m not a different man from two weeks ago. However, the only way I can do God’s will is be forthrightly what He has made of me thus far. If allowing others to see some change is a critical element of my testimony of His glory, then let me boldly show it. Yeah, this is totally contrary to what our culture pretends is good and right.
It’s that pretense that destroys our witness. We cannot let the world to shape us, but to force the world to deal with us as we present God’s truth. The power of His truth is most gloriously proclaimed in how we deal with people. There are some common elements within the total uniqueness of His calling for each of us. There are some common tactics in pushing back the darkness.
You can’t be a friend to everyone. That’s part of the calling; we are all different in our witness because everyone in the world is different. Never mind why, that’s how God does things. You can bring redemption to every life, but sometimes that means moving out of their world gracefully. Only the Lord can decide when persistence is right and when bowing out is grace.
Let me suggest a few ideas that should work well enough in our current social context.
We humans laugh at all kinds of things. Snickering at the misfortunes of others is the symptom of serious moral disorder. It signals an arrogance and smug self-righteousness that has nothing to do with God. It’s all the more evil when you are the least bit hypocritical about it. What follows assumes you already know that empathy is a moral necessity, that compassion is our first order of business in dealing with human moral blindness.
Humor is easily the one thing that separates us most quickly. Try to understand that you cannot and should not try to apologize for what you find funny. For example, a morbid sense of humor isn’t evil. Don’t accept anyone’s attempt to shame you for laughing at what amuses you, especially if the scolding is based purely on cultural bias. Only Satan does that, trying to deny your sense of joy and amusement at his antics. Laugh at their rejection because such censure comes from the Devil. Let your sense of humor separate you from people who aren’t ready for your friendship. By the same token, be graceful with the humor of others. Offer when you can to provoke their laughter. Take no offense, but recognize the boundaries humor draws. It’s one of the best and quickest paths to sorting things out.
For the most part, compel no one put up with you who struggles over it. Be what God has made of you, and be where you must and when you must be there, but don’t rub people raw simply for the sake of your own entertainment. There’s a fine line of separation there in refusing to be shamed for what is wired into your character. Don’t hide your amusement at the energy they waste, but don’t go out of your way to harass.
Be the strong one when possible. A story best illustrates: There was a believer who came into work every day, greeting some woman at the front desk with his sunny disposition. She was always icy, if not bitter, in rejecting his warm wishes. Yet he remained consistent in treating her kindly, refusing to absorb her misery. He never pried or hinted at some character flaw in her. As naturally happens in this world, their paths diverged and he didn’t see her any more. Some time later she sent him a note thanking him for his caring attitude during a very difficult time in her life. She wanted to know what kind of church he attended. It wasn’t being nice that won it for her, but his strength and fortitude in his calling. Love is what held Christ on the Cross, not the nails. He could have called a legion of angels.
Never fear appearing self-contradictory. Our whole world was built on the wrong logic; it cannot comprehend God’s character. If nothing else, be ready to say, “Well, it makes sense to me.” Let such criticism roll off your back. The ethic is that we don’t expect people to agree with us because we know they can’t possibly understand in the first place. Don’t apologize for it, but willingly explain as much as you can in any context.
The power granted through living by God’s moral character is overwhelming, but it’s a power against the Devil, not directly against this world. Satan’s character is deception, so it’s no surprise that the world can’t follow divine logic in deciding what matters in each context. You can’t even pretend infallibility, but you can be certain of God’s will for you in any given context. Reach for that. Your sense of certainty is your greatest victory.
God says your friendship, whatever shape it takes, is the key to setting souls free from prison.
The ultimate truth of things is far beyond our grasp, never mind our ability to discuss. We are left with symbols, imagery and parables to indicate just enough that we can serve and manifest God’s glory. It’s not so much what we do as that we stand in the place where His glory waits for us. There’s a place for you and one for me. I can tell you what I see of His glory, but you’ll have to find your own place to see for yourself.
I struggle at times to put into words even so much as I can see. My mind reels at the impact of things spilling out of my heart.
Individual redemption unto eternity is a given. It is real and we can be aware of our own spiritual awakening. We can sometimes see glimpses of it in others. However, the particulars are beyond our understanding. God says it’s not for everyone, and that He does make a selection between us here below, but says little else about it. What He does say makes no sense on our level; it’s loaded with apparent contradictions. We are assured it is a miracle, that He alone decides, that we cannot possibly know for anyone but ourselves.
Instead, we pretend, we act as if it’s somehow possible for others to seize upon something in our lives that would bring to them at least the realization of it. There is something about breathing in the winds of Heaven and exhaling that sweet breath of the divine into our world that gives us a reason to keep on living. Otherwise, we are in a hurry to get out of here and be with Our Lord. In His time, when He is done with us in His glory here.
We are not unopposed in this mission.
Satan is not having a good time. His assigned job in Creation is not his original role and he is not happy at all with the demotion. The Scripture characterizes him as previously the Covering Cherub, a mission that placed him between God and His Creation. Something in his character was flawed, and the glory that should have simply passed through him, he tried to claim some of it as his own. Something in his mistake adheres to the issue of God’s glory flowing between Him and His Creation.
So God reassigned Satan to the task of Divine Lictor and Jailer. There are distinct limits on this role. Something about it confines the Devil to this sphere of existence. He’s not allowed to hang out in Heaven as a member of the Divine Inner Council. Whatever his previous reward, it’s now confined to consuming us and our souls in a certain sense. There’s nothing he can do about people going to Heaven, but he does have a lot of authority over human life down here.
The hardest thing you’ll do here is discard all the imagery of our Western culture in regards to Satan’s character and powers. It should come as no surprise that much of our Western consciousness is pretty much what Satan designed. Whatever resentment he has with his demotion is expressed in keeping us away from God’s glory. All the things I complain about as limitations in Western intellectual traditions reflect an acute awareness of how it keeps us from seizing the full inheritance that comes with spiritual birth.
More than that, it is the blessings of divine justice on this level of existence that Satan denies all humanity, as much as possible. Blindness to the moral fabric of the universe is his greatest achievement against humanity. It’s the single greatest factor in denying God His due glory from us. You see, that moral discernment and living by divine justice is the glory of God. It’s the best possible life we could have here below in this prison. It’s how we tell Satan to keep his hands off of us.
No, it’s not a total release from every aspect of slavery. We are still here in his sphere, after all. But our cry for the character of God is answered and somewhere between the total depravity of the Curse and our departure to Heaven is a life of moral justice that weakens the Devil’s hold over us. We get a taste of divine glory and it begins the process of bringing us out of this world.
In the Hebrew intellectual traditions, what can appear free association to mere intellect is a structure in itself perceived only in the heart. This song is a Hebrew acrostic, though imperfect, perhaps because of subsequent editing. Regardless, the burden is on the reader to absorb the message and find their own soul’s pattern. Hebrew was never meant to convey truth, but to stand as a sign post indicating where truth can be found.
This is not a psalm one could write when things are going well. It calls for contemplation, a time of waiting upon God to speak to the heart while letting the mind be patient. The mind of a man can be all over the place, but the heart works on a level far beyond mere sensory awareness or reason. Sometimes the answer is not in action but in remembering just Who is in charge. In these verses David calls to his mind to cease the frantic search for solutions.
The image of what David seeks is not mere political victory, but a sense of peace with God. People who ignore divine justice can still have a lot of things, but not the peace often indicated by the word shalom. The shame David fears is standing embarrassed before God. The Hebrew concept of noble character is not implacable and demanding, but places the highest value on personnel. Thus, David’s request for training and education in God’s ways is entirely appropriate protocol. However long it takes for God to make him understand, David is in no hurry for his own relief.
David calls God’s attention to the most ancient promises of mercy for those who embraced His justice, stretching back before human memory. How much has God already overlooked in His divine favor? David knows it was a matter of God’s glory, nothing less. Those who humble themselves before His glory have every reason to expect His patience. David is not blind to his own sin, but realizes that God’s glory is the one reason He offers mercy. So while David celebrates all the fame of God’s mercy, he knows he has to play his part. He’s no better than any other man. What God offers David is hardly different from what any man could have if he simply obeys from the heart.
In the final verses, David recalls what brought him to God’s face again. He’s not having a good day, to the say the least. So he calls on the Lord to save His own glory yet again by enforcing His justice on the earth. David would be the first to realize how fallible he is, as all men are. It’s not as if the righteous would ever run out of enemies in this world. Without divine mercy and protection, there would be no David, no king, no Israel.
Western Christians are easily the most superstitious folks I know.
The word “superstition” comes to us from Latin and implies a dread of the supernatural. Thus, much of Christian belief tends to be false, based on the heathen fears passed to our culture the Germanic hordes, not on the high intellectual culture of the Ancient Near East (ANE). The effect of Aristotelian logic stripped away the strong mystical roots of the ANE and left people wide open to all sorts of truly silly notions.
Did Aristotle and his friends imagine they could keep people away from genuine religion? The Jews managed to absorb the entire raft of his assumptions. While it did destroy their faith, turning it into an empty and legalistic religion, they did manage to keep some of their ancient savvy. They went after the early churches and succeeded in Judaizing them sufficiently to destroy the Christians’ ANE mystical approach. The Jews threw it away, rejected Christ’s call to come back to it, and insisted no one else resurrect it. Christian religion was mostly cerebral by AD 200.
Yet humanity is inherently mystical in nature. If you deny them a strong and forthright mysticism, they’ll be wide open to any heathen mythology.
Once the established church organizations capitulated to Roman politics under Constantine, it was just a matter of time. They didn’t adopt Constantine’s pagan solar worship, but when Roman political power collapsed under the onslaught of Germanic tribes, the only way for the Church to survive was to compromise with the new overlords. The official church organization embraced Germanic tribal mythology, at first as cultural and language. But when more and more Germanic nobles entered the Church hierarchy, it became fully paganized. Neither the Reformation nor the Enlightenment churches broke free. They simply assumed the Germanic view of reality was the default.
We who are connected to the Eternal One are so because of His election. Nothing in us could have wanted it, Paul warns in Romans. However, a dread and fear of God was not the default in his day. It came later. Virtually the entire range of pagan religion in the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia held a strong respect for the supernatural, but a dark foreboding was actually quite rare. That’s more common among the Nordic races. Thus, Paul’s warning becomes dark and ugly only if you first assume that dreary atmosphere that dominates Beowulf.
We aren’t sure where the Germanic tribes got that fearful superstition, but it’s not the human default. However, it has become the Western default. Thus, the full range of Western Church History is replete with superstition masquerading as theology.
For example, today’s Charismatics teach a demonology based entirely on fear. You can’t afford to say the wrong words, touch or own the wrong objects, or read the wrong materials. Demons will seize you through those open doorways, as the Charismatics see it. The Devil is little more than some kind of Grendel, but with an almost equal footing with Christ. Review in your mind for a moment all the movies where terror or fright was a part of the storyline and you’ll see it’s a narrow cultural view of reality peculiar to Western superstitions. It also colors American religion a great deal.
On the one hand, if you immerse yourself in a certain type of literature, it will dominate your thinking. On the other hand, reading a single book by Aleister Crowley will not infect you with his demons. I note in passing that his brilliant mind did not grant him the power to walk in his own teaching because his heart was bound by a lack of full freedom. It’s not that he didn’t know about ANE thinking, because too much of his work shows it. Rather, he was trying every door except the one where Christ stood. His pursuit of all those other avenues is what left him open to demons and frustration. You don’t get his demons from his books like some kind of communicable disease. You get them by rejecting moral truth.
The same goes for any other “black magic” lore. If you approach it with a superstitious mind, your heart will not protect you very well from a fearful imagination. If you can climb back up into the high intellectual learning of the ANE, you realize how silly all that stuff is. Perhaps not totally wrong, since the most learned scholars of the alternative mystical approaches often come up with surprising accurate insights. Even Crowley understood that mere intellectual reason was a trap; he just didn’t have a clear view of what was above the intellect.
No, I’m not into tarot, numerology, arcane rituals for casting out demons, etc. I find Kabbalah is simply the secret sister of Judaism, still too much the result of Hellenism. They are all human efforts to reclaim the power of revelation without referring directly to revelation. In my personal view, they are probably quite entertaining, but largely harmless because they are powerless to do the one thing that matters most: change us into channels of our Creator’s glory. He’s not a grouch about pagan stuff; His character reflects precious little of the European mythical deities. That He was so demanding with Israel under the Covenant of Moses, as He explained through the prophets, was because they were easily the most fickle nation in human history, chasing every deity down dark alleys like a true hooker.
With us today, He’s there waiting for people to work their way through whatever it is in front of them until they realize nothing works like the Blood of His Son. Hint: That’s a parabolic symbol. There is no spiritual or moral power in anything that you can touch, see, name or understand, only in that living connection between our spirits and His Spirit.
Meanwhile, most of what evangelicals in general say about “black magic” is caricature, taking as viable sources some of the biggest frauds and tricksters in the market. They would hardly know the difference between a real wiccan and Wendy the cartoon witch. Remember that bogus satanic child abduction scare from the late 1980s? A surprisingly large number of evangelicals still believe that stuff. They also have no idea what folks like Crowley even taught. God has been pretty patient with Western Christians, too.
An awful lot of common evangelical Christian belief arises from the same superstitious background that they denigrate.