Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Divine Communication - philosophy and mysticism

Well, it's certainly nothing new! Human philosophies and mysticism have been influencing the Church since the very beginning. In fact, we can see from the topics Paul talks about in the book of Colossians that these false teaching were already being taught in the church at Colossae even then. Basically, they had allowed Jewish legalism, Greek philosophic speculation, and Oriental mysticism to seep into their assembly. For example, in the second chapter we read:

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ (Col 2:8).

Apparently some believers in Colossae had been taken in by a philosophy that involved regulating their religious life by observing the movements of the stars, which they associated with the powers of the angels.

Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow (Col 2:18-19).

And some were teaching a false humility and the worship of angels, claiming special mystic insights by way of visions ("taking his stand on visions he has seen" v 18 -NASB). The underlying problem was their egoistic or fleshly minds.

In Paul's condemnation of all these heresies (including legalism and asceticism in vs 11-17, 20-23), he emphasizes the significance of Christ as Lord of creation and Head of the Church, essentially saying that since we are complete in the Head (v 10) and perfectly nourished by the Head (v 19), and since the Head has "disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities" and has set us high above all angels in Christ (v 15; Eph 1:3, 2:4-6), then human philosophy, legalism, mysticism, and asceticism are useless. Indeed, any teaching, practice, or intermediary that detracts from the centrality of Christ is against the faith.

True spirituality comes from staying focused on Christ, and the only way to do that is to be in the Word.

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