Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Supreme Supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ

Christ before Cosmos
By Pastor Larry DeBruyn
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit,
after the tradition of men,
after the rudiments of the world,
and not after Christ.”

Emphasis added, Colossians 2:8, KJV

Introduction
From time immemorial, paranormal phenomena have manifested themselves in the cosmos. And as America has become more secular, there’s been a resurgence of it in our society and culture. Via the digital dimension of movies and video games, the paranormal has become quite “normal” in Western culture over the last generation. In fact, for many persons it’s become their new “reality.”[1] To hitchhike on the title of Peter Jones’ book, the Gnostic empire has struck back.[2]

The phenomenon has especially manifested itself in movies that highlight invading UFOs, aliens and powerful hybrid-transformer-like creatures which threaten to destroy or control civilization as we know it. Consider but several out of hundreds of movies that have been produced around this theme: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Invasion (1997), The Colony (1998), The Invasion (2007), Alien Siege (2007), Alien Species (2008), The Darkest Hour (2011), Lethal Target (2013), Battle Earth (2013), Alien Invasion (2013), etc. Literally, American culture is being mesmerized by digital imagery depicting how life “out there” threatens life “down here.” And in an attempt to keep the Christian faith in step with the paranormal culture of modernity, some Christians are now teaching and writing about “UFOs,” “watchers,” “aliens,” “invading “Nephilim,” and so forth, employing a few biblical passages to construct contemporary and futuristic scenarios and then embellishing them with apocryphal, pseudepigraphal and ancient mythological sources.

All of this and more constitute the spiritual collage that makes up the neo-pagan worldview of our New Age, the Age of Aquarius.[3] In our post-Christian culture it’s not that masses of souls believe in nothing, but rather that they believe in anything, and everything! The Gnosis has returned and has become an influential part of western culture’s mindset. And to one degree or another, such Gnostic thinking about the cosmos influences how Christians understand the universe in which they live, which in turn affects what they believe. But the Gnostic influence upon Christianity is not new. In fact, the Apostle Paul warned about the spiritual danger posed by the Gnosticism that surrounded the Christians at Colossae.

Background
Paul warned those believers about being taken captive by “the rudiments of the world” and “not after Christ” (Colossians 2:9). By employing the elements and entities of the cosmos, Satan ever attempts to lure people’s attention from off the Lord Jesus Christ and unto other beings that inhabit the universe, whether real or imagined. Whether by deception or coercion, this neo-Gnostic empire of the devil’s making ever seeks to captivate and intimidate people and turn the spotlight from off of Jesus Christ and unto paranormal phenomena. And if the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ gives any indication, and we know it does, things are only going to get worse before they get better as this age progresses and draws to a close.

Should we be concerned and intimidated by the spiritual threats post-Christian America poses to the Christian faith? Well, yes and no. Yes in the sense that all Christians ought to know that there can be no fellowship between Christ and Belial or agreement of the temple of God—whose habitation we are “in Christ”—with idols (See 2 Corinthians 6:15-16.). But no, because in His fulness, the Lord Jesus Christ delivered a death blow to whatever opposing spiritual forces are “out there,” for in Christ God “disarmed the rulers and authorities [and] made a public display of them, having triumphed over them” Christ (Colossians 2:15, NASB). We turn to Paul’s warning to the Colossian Christians whose newly planted faith was being captivated by the folk religion that surrounded them, a religion inherent to “the rudiments.”

The Rudiments of the World
(ta stoicheia tou kosmou)
As the word relates to the world or cosmos, “rudiments” (Greek, stoicheion) is variously translated “elemental powers” (NAB), “elementary principles” (NASB), “basic principles” (NIV, NKJV), “evil powers” (NLT), and “elemental spirits” (ESV, NRSV). Translations indicate that stoicheion’s meaning diverges between “principles” and “powers,” between the “physical elements” constitutive of the cosmos or universe, or the “spiritual powers” that inhabit it. In 2 Peter 3:10, the first sense—that is, the “elements” which “shall melt with fervent heat”—is evident, while in Galatians 4:3 and 9, the other sense—that is, “world forces” which once “held in bondage” the Galatian believers—is evident.

Interestingly, the ancient mind did not separate the spiritual principalities and powers that inhabit the universe from the material particles which comprise it (i.e., the stoichieon). As one lexical authority notes, “heavenly bodies were also regarded as personal beings and given divine honors.”[4] And herein may reside a clue to the meaning of “the rudiments” (i.e., the stoichieon) as the apostle related the word’s concept to the cosmos.

Not unlike modern quantum spiritualists who seek to divinize nature, the ancient mind believed “the rudiments of the world” (Greek, ta stoicheia tou kosmou) to connote both the physical “elements” that comprise the universe and the “spirituality” which permeated it (i.e., polytheism, pantheism, or panentheism).[5] In their attempt to make sense of the universe, ancient people assigned consciousness to the energy (i.e., the Force) which they believed formed the self-perpetuating and self-regenerating polarity of the cosmos (i.e., the yin and the yang). Magee notes of ancient Hermetic philosophy that it viewed that, “everything in the cosmos is internally related, bound up with everything else.”[6] Then he further explains:

Even though the cosmos may be hierarchically arranged, there are forces that cut across and unify at all levels. Divine powers understood variously as “energy” or “light” pervade the whole.[7]


Then he concludes that, “This principle is most clearly expressed in the so-called Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, which begins with the famous lines ‘As above, so below,’ a “maxim” which has become “the central tenet of Western occultism.”[8]

Thus, we can observe that the ancients animated the inanimate, the fusion of which then provided fertile ground for evil spirits (Satan’s hosts) to lure human hearts away from Christ the Creator unto imaginations and speculations based upon nature (See Romans 1:20-23.).[9] Though the world of the ancients was not digital, it was deceptive as it included belief in the forces and divine powers of life “out there.” But when He came to this earth, Jesus challenged this pagan mindset. He explained to the Jewish leaders, “Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world” (John 8:23). With but a few exceptions, they didn’t believe in the exclusivity of His origin and His coming from above.

Scripture reveals to us that deceptive and impersonating principalities and powers inhabit the universe, and that they employ time, matter and space to hatch and perpetuate their spiritual deceptions (See Colossians 2:10; Ephesians 6:12.). For example, planetary alignments, and the attendant religious calendrical cycles, rituals and celebrations invented from those alignments—we’ll call them “elementals”—distract persons from simple faith, faith which “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Compare Galatians 3:9 and Hebrews 11:1.). Dictated by “the animated elementals,” these celebrations become events that “principalities and powers” employ to mesmerize excitable religious hearts away from Christ only to embrace spiritual deception that drives them to worship nature, to worship the creation rather than the Creator (1 Timothy 4:1-3; Colossians 2:16-23; Romans 1:19-23). As a result, attention is diverted, if not turned away from Jesus Christ (“and not after Christ,” Colossians 2:8). To the pagan mind, Jesus Christ becomes peripheral to the ritual as He is relegated to be but one alien or extra-terrestrial among many others.

Further, because of the destructive forces inherent in it, religious pagans fear nature. The ancients believed that the cosmos was comprised of Earth, Water, Air and Fire, and perhaps a fifth element (the pure essence of the universe where ancient science believed the gods [principalities and powers?] lived and breathed), the Aether.[10] The gods, they believe, permeate this reality. Therefore, to appease the powers that controlled the elements, pagans would offer compensatory rituals, sacrifices and offerings to placate the spirits so that they might be inclined to calm nature down when it threatened the stability of life.

An Example
Remember the end of the world that didn’t end; the countdown to the apocalypse that misfired?[11] Speculation over the approaching Mayan doomsday reached fever pitch as the year 2012 was drawing to a close. According that civilization’s calendar, people noted that the world was going to end on December 21, 2012. Cable news outlets picked up on the coming catastrophe as they devoted whole broadcasts to the Mayan prediction. Scarcely an evening newscast would go by when reporters did not mention it. In the face of the ominous prophecy, and not wanting to be “victims” of it, some harrowed souls even considered suicide.

The end time frenzy stimulated by the Mayan calendar caused great numbers of the religious to journey to the scene where they thought the world was coming down; that is to the Mayan city of Chichen Itza, in Mexico. There they gathered together on December 21, 2012, in order to be near ground zero when the end came. About those who joined together at the “sacred” Mayan pyramid El Castillo, CBS News reported:

Ceremonies were being held at different sides of the pyramid, including one led by a music group that belted out American blues and reggae-inspired chants. Others involved yelping and shouting, and drumming and dance, such as one ceremony led by spiritual master Ollin Yolotzin.[12]

Then the report notes the ecumenical spirituality of that boisterous gathering which,

included Buddhists, pagan nature worshippers, druids and followers of Aztec and Maya religious traditions. Some kneeled in attitudes of prayer, some seated with arms outstretched in positions of meditation, all facing El Castillo, the massive main pyramid.[13]

To clarify why the end didn’t end, and to protect the credibility of the Mayan religion, it’s now explained that what the Mayan calendar really calculated—given its commitment to an eastern, mystical and cyclical view of time—was the end of an age, not the end of the world. And so it was . . . and so it will be again . . . and again . . .

Yet the fervor incited by the predicted Mayan apocalypse shows how hysterical masses of people can become when their “spirituality” is taken captive by what the Apostle Paul called “the rudiments of the world” (Colossians 2:8). A spirituality based upon “the rudiments” is a philosophy which, in the end, leaves people with a nature religion devoid of an ultimate Creator and Controller of it; in other words, without Christ (Colossians 1:16; John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2).

Perhaps, it was this kind of worldview/spirituality—one which divinizes the elements—that the Mayan religion and its apocalyptic calendar illustrate. In part, such a view of reality may explain Paul’s warning about being taken captive by “the rudiments of the world”—which we could understand to refer to the fusion of powers and particles which nature religions believe govern and form this universe. Note: There are other religions, even Christian, whose celebrations and rituals are calendrical driven. As Thomas Watson (1620-1686) observed, “God made man from the dust [particles], and man makes his god from the dust [particles].”[14]

The Fulness of the Christ
(en auto katoikei pan to pleroma tns theotes somatikos)
Yet the real power does not reside in nature, in “the rudiments” per se, but in Christ the Creator in whom dwells “all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 1:16; 2:9). Because of the fulness that indwells Him (Colossians 2:9; 1:19), the stoicheon, including the elements and powers of the cosmos, are subject to Him. By His indwelling fulness (i.e., pleroma), the eternal Christ disarmed “the rulers and authorities . . . [and made] . . . public display of them, having triumphed over them” (Colossians 2:15; Compare Colossians 1:16). Yet about the pleroma which inhabited the Christ three points can be noted.

First, God was/is “pleased” that “the fulness” indwelt/indwells Christ (Colossians 1:19). In a continuing way, the Father is affectionately disposed that “the fulness” is at home in His Son. This disposition of God indicates that He did not, at a point in time, endow Christ with the pleroma. Christ was a Person who “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God [because He is God]” (Philippians 2:6). He is the “I am” (Compare Exodus 3:14; John 14:6, etc.). As such, it “pleased” the Father to know that “the fullness of Deity” dwelt comfortably in Christ! On the other hand, the Gnostic/mystical approach to God seeks to obtain unity with the divine fulness by experiencing a shift in consciousness which can be facilitated by engaging in contemplative practices and employing meditative techniques, all of which offer occasion for the demons to delude people into believing the lie, that in conjunction with nature, man is god.

This disposition on the part of the Father, that He was pleased, toward the Son delivers Christ’s Person from the monarchial or adoptionist heresy which suggests that at a point in time God, as a ruling monarch, invested Jesus with divinity (or fulness) during His incarnation when He announced, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (i.e., at either Jesus’ baptism or transfiguration, Matthew 3:17; 17:5). But atemporally, God was pleased (constative aorist tense) that Christ possessed the divine fulness of the Godhead.[15] The Father did not endow Christ with the fulness. But from eternity and in perpetuity He is pleased that His Son possesses it.

Second, such a possession, of course, then raises the question, “What is the fulness?” To begin with, the verb “to fill” (pleroo), from which the noun “fulness” (pleroma) derives, means “to fill with a content.”[16] But fill with what? To understand what the apostle meant when stating that Christ Jesus was indwelt of the fulness, we must set his statement against the backdrop of the Gnosticism that influenced the way in which this ancient spirituality influenced some Christians to understand their faith. Christianity ever lives in the pressure cooker of a contemporary culture which seeks to conform the faith to it (1 John 2:15-17).

The “Pleroma” according to Gnosticism
In the pagan religious parlance of the day, “fulness” possessed a Gnostic meaning. The term (i.e., pleroma) technically stands for the totality of the 30 AEons, or divine emanations from God, each being lower and more distanced from its predecessor. “This totality is God’s product; he stands over it.”[17] Hodge provided a fine summary of Gnostic belief:

The Gnostics, as a general class, held that the supreme God is one alike in essence and in Person, and that from him emanates different orders of spiritual beings, none of them in any proper sense God, yet all divine, since they all proceeded by way of emanation from him. [Note: the descending gods are divine, but not Deity!] These [gods] are called AEons. The Old Testament Jehovah, or Creator, was one of these AEons, of which class Christ was one of the greatest. The entire sum of these AEons constituted, in the view of the Gnostics, the pan to pleroma tns theotntos, the entire sum of all the actual or possible self–revelations, or self–communications, of the unapproachable Godhead, which the Apostle Paul declared to be alone and fully realized in Christ.—Col. ii. 9.[18]

The emphasis upon “emanations” of Deity was meant to distance the good God (the Autopater) from the lesser gods (i.e., called “AEeons”), a lower one—perhaps the lowest one of thirty emanations—which was responsible for creating the evil world. By distancing the creator Demiurge (the lowest of the emanated deities) from the Autopater, the Gnostics believed that, at least in theory, they explained how God originated an evil world.[19] (In theology, this is called a theodicy.) As this pagan worldview began to influence the Christian faith, the resultant synthesis is called Neoplatonism.[20] But if this Gnostic understanding of the fulness is ascribed to Christ—and scholars of Christendom have been known to do so—Christ becomes viewed as a lesser god.[21] While He stands close to God, He is not God, but a mere AEon, perhaps even a person in whom all the Autopater’s emanations (“the fulness”) indwelt.

The Fulness according to Paul
But Paul states that “the fulness of the Godhead” indwelt Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9). In contrast to the same English word “Godhead” occurring elsewhere in the New Testament (Greek, theiotes, Romans 1:20, KJV,), theotes (English, Godhead) means God. One lexical authority notes that the word “Godhead” (Greek, theotes) is “used as abstract noun for theós [i.e., God].”[22] On the other hand, the like-word theiotes denotes “persons [as ancient emperors or Caesars] who stand in close relation to a divinity.”[23] In other words, if Paul had stated that a fulness of the theiotes indwelt Christ Jesus, then perhaps it might be construed that Jesus was an underling divinity who was just close to God, but not God. But because the apostle stated that the fullness of the theotes indwelt Christ, he can only be understood to have stated that Christ was not just a divinity, but Deity!

On this point the words of R.C. Trench’s (1807-1886) are worthy of note. Of the indwelling of the Godhead in Christ, he stated:

Paul is declaring that in the Son there dwells all the fulness of absolute Godhead; they were no mere rays of Divine glory which gilded Him, lighting up His Person for a season and with a splendor not His own; but He was and is absolute and perfect God. The apostle uses theotes to express this essential and personal Godhead of the Son.[24]
Johann Albrecht Bengel (1687-1752) adds that, “the fullest Godhead, dwells in Christ: not merely the Divine attributes, but Divine nature itself . . .”[25] On the part of the apostle, the stated nature of Christ Jesus’ indwelling Deity (homo ousios) separates Him from any Gnostic taint. Jesus was no emanated being who was like God (homoi ousios).[26]

NOTE: Did Paul’s initial statement in Colossians regarding “the fulness” possess a Gnostic flavor? In the earlier mention of the word “fulness” in Paul’s letter (Colossians 1:19), the content of “the fulness” is unqualified as also is the subject of the verb “pleased to dwell.” In reading various English versions of Colossians 1:19, we note the italicization of Father (i.e., the Father, KJV; of the Father, ASV; Father’s, NASB; and the Father that, NKJV). [27] As these translations read, the Father was pleased that “all the fulness” (i.e., the pleroma) dwelt in Christ.

But literally, verse 19 reads, “because in Him was pleased all the fulness to dwell.” This literal reading raises the question about whom or what is the subject of the verb pleased. Was God the Father personally “pleased” for “the fulness” to dwell in Christ, or was a “fulness” pleased to dwell in Christ?[28] While the later understanding personifies “fulness”—the fulness was pleased—the former makes it personal—the Father was pleased.

The issue does not concern whether Christ possessed the fulness (Greek, pleroma)—He did. The fulness belonged to Him. At issue is the question of whom or what was pleased for the fulness to indwell Christ? Was the Father pleased for the pleroma to dwell in Christ, or was the pleroma pleased, the later understanding lending itself to Gnostic spirituality which views that Christ possessed an emanated divinity within.[29] But such an understanding is hardly in line with Pauline theology.

For me, the apostolic assertion which follows (verse 20) answers the question. It clarifies the subject of verse 19 by stating, “and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:20, NASB). Obviously, as God is the one who reconciled “all things to Himself” (See 2 Corinthians 5:19, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.”), so coordinately was the Person who was pleased that the fulness indwelt Christ. In that the Father is the one who reconciled all things to Himself in verse 20, so also was He the one who was pleased that “all the fulness” dwelt in Christ in verse 19. In other words, the fulness (in an egotistical way) was not pleased for the fulness to indwell Christ. God was pleased. Colossians 2:9 confirms this understanding.


Third, the apostle states that the pleroma of the Godhead dwells in Christ “bodily” (Colossians 2:9, KJV; NASB “in bodily form”). The fullness somatically indwelt Christ (Greek adverb, somatikos), and the Father was pleased that it was so. Even amidst the humiliation of His incarnation, the fulness of the Godhead inhabited the body of Jesus, an indwelling in which Christ’s body was neither phantasmal nor ephemeral, but material.

Philippians 2 states, Christ Jesus “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God... made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7). During the humiliation of His incarnation, Christ Jesus was not less than God. He did not need to rob God of His Deity. He did not need to pull a “stick-up” on the Father to steal His Deity because He already possessed it. You can’t rob anybody of the same-something you already own! All of this brings us to observe some points of application from what is stated by the Apostle Paul regarding “the supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ.” These applications are especially relevant in combating the “new spirituality” of the so-called “new age,” for this spiritual and cultural pressure cooker is affecting the way in which many Christians are viewing the Lord of the Church.

Applications
First, there are those who suggest that Christians are or can become “little christs.” In this regard, I have noted claims of those involved in the “new spirituality” and extreme charismatic movements.[30] To this point, New Age author Neale Donald Walsch tells his readers, “Many have been Christed, not just Jesus of Nazareth. You can be Christed, too.”[31] But Paul’s statement that “the fulness” belongs to Jesus Christ refutes any such claims for as Harris notes, “it is in Christ, and Christ alone, that the sum total of the fulness of the Godhead, no part or aspect excepted, permanently resides in bodily form.”[32] In short, as regards human history, there is but one Person in whom the full-fulness of Deity indwells, the same personal essence of whom does not, in fact cannot, exist in any other materiality whether animate or inanimate. The fulness of God belongs exclusively to Christ, the full substance of which cannot be replicated in or “spillover” into any other being, whether angel or human.

Despite this fact, there are those who would claim they possess a spirituality that morphs into Christ’s fulness. Consider the words of one church leader:

Now, in this age, there are people being transformed from natural earthly spirit beings into supernatural spiritual sons of God—literally becoming as Christ is in this world today. In fact it is God’s desire for all of His children to fully partake of His divine nature. [33]

This leader’s assertions raise questions. First, what is meant by his statements that “there are people being transformed from natural earthly spirit beings into supernatural spiritual sons of God”? Is it being denied that Christians and Jesus possesses true materiality? Are we to think of ourselves as “earthly spirit beings,” and nothing more?[34] Whatever happened to our bodies and souls? Further, in difference to Jesus’ physical and bodily resurrection, is our created material being unimportant? Are these “supernatural spiritual sons of God literally becoming Christ in the world today”? If so, why is Christ’s current spiritual presence needed (Matthew 28:20), and what’s the point of the promise of His future Parousia (Parousia means His presence, Matthew 24:29-31)? If “literally” people are becoming Christ, then He in multiple personalities would already be here on earth. If people can become Christ now, what becomes of the prospect that believers shall be glorified together with Him when He is revealed again? (See 1 John 3:2; Colossians 3:2.) And given the transformation that’s going on, why would His future presence on earth even be needed? Finally, do we in fact “fully partake of His divine nature”? This question leads to a second important spiritual application.

That we partake of Christ’s nature is the teaching of the New Testament (See 2 Peter 1:4).[35] Immediately after asserting that in Christ “all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form,” the Apostle Paul tells the Colossians, “and in Him you have been made complete” (Colossians 2:9-10a). Perhaps Paul’s argument can be best understood from a prima facie reading of the NIV translation of Colossians 2:9-10. It reads: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.”[36]

On this point, believers need to recognize the great spiritual endowment that God gives to us in Christ. Please follow the apostle’s explanation with me. As Christ possesses all the fulness [noun, pleroma] of the Godhead (verse 9), so believers, who are defined as those who are in Christ, find spiritual resource in having been filled [perfect passive verb, pleroo] from the infinite spiritual reservoir His fulness. We note that “all the fulness belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:9) while by divine gift, we possess a part of it; just a part, so as not to delude ourselves into thinking we are Christ, but nonetheless a part to let us know we are indissolubly united with Him! By way of analogy, in the overall understanding of the fulness of the Godhead, we must remember that in the corporate structure of the church Christ owns all the fulness, but gives every regenerate child of His a “share.” He is the ocean of fulness... we possess a drop of it. To avoid the error of thinking we fully partake of Christ’s divine nature, we must remember that Christ is Deity (Greek, theotes), and we are not! Christ is ever the Creator while we shall ever remain the creature.

Third, we ought to be comforted that because “the fulness of the Godhead” resided in Him, Jesus Christ “spoiled principalities and powers . . . [making] a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:15, KJV) We should know that a part of that same victorious fulness resides in us, and in the midst of the paranormal spirituality we are fighting against (Ephesians 6:10-18), both He and it protects us. Writes one theologian: “From him as the bearer of the divine fullness (Col. 1:18ff.), vital powers flow into the church, so that he may be said to fill it.”[37] Since the fulness resides in Christ and we by His grace have a share in it, why should we be enticed, seduced and perhaps even intimidated by the principalities and powers of the cosmos, whether they are hyper-dimensional aliens, invading Nephilim, or whatever else the human mind can imagine? We are already united with the personal Christ who is supreme over every other creature. “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16, NASB). That is why the Psalmist told the paranormal principalities, “Worship Him, all you supernatural powers . . . [for] Thou [Lord Jesus Christ] art exalted far above all gods” (Psalm 97:7, 9, NASB marginal reading).[38]

Conclusion
In the current theological climate among pan-evangelicals, I am concerned that Jesus Christ “can’t get no respect,” let alone be worshipped for whom He is, the one in whom all the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily and with that fulness, be praised as the one who defeated every combatant principality and power. But along with the Throne-sitter, the Lamb is currently the central attraction in Heaven even though He is being diminished by many, even Christians, on earth. It’s not below as it is above!

Yet, some contemporary church leaders infer that understanding Jesus Christ, in His fulness, to be Lord over the universe is a metaphysical imposition upon the historical and authentic Jesus.[39] In their thinking, “the Lord Jesus Christ” must be stripped of being “Lord” and “Christ” so that real historical Jesus can be discovered. Couple this movement with the current obsession and distraction regarding extra-terrestrial life, invading aliens and Nephilim, UFOs and the like, and with Jesus Christ is being relegated to the periphery of the pan-evangelical church’s attention, the Gospel is being lost (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Simple and devoted faith in the Savior who died for our sins and was raised from the dead no longer suffices. Instead, there is distraction and fear—fear of extraterrestrial and hyper-dimensional life which can easily be counterfeited by the principalities and powers to obstruct simple faith in the Savior. So to protect that faith, let us remember,

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal,
but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Casting down imaginations,
and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God,
and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ

(Emphasis added, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, KJV).



ENDNOTES
[1] Pastor Larry DeBruyn, “Babylonianism at the Gates: Christians and the Encircling World of the Occult,” Guarding His Flock Ministries, August 24, 2012 (http://guardinghisflock.com/2012/08/24/babylonianism-at-the-gates/).
[2] Peter Jones, The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back: An Old Heresy for the New Age (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992).
[3] Other occult evidences of the Gnostic empire striking back include: The Great White Brotherhood. A great body of Adepts. Satanism. Demon possession. Ghosts. Poltergeists. White noise. Astrology. Calendrical solstices and their attendant worship rites. Horoscopes. Palm reading. Channeling spirits. Out-of-the-body experiences or astral projection. Drug (peyote, LSD, marijuana, opium, etc.) or meditatively induced states of altered consciousness. Voodoo. White magic. Black magic. Goddess worship. Gaea. Sophia. Shamanism. Bigfoot. Palm reading. A ten-dimensional universe. Alternative universes. The coming Apocalypse.
[4] See William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1979): 769. Bright notes: “The ancient paganisms were all polytheistic, with dozens of gods arranged in complex pantheons. These gods were for the most part personifications of the forces of nature or other cosmic functions; they were in and of nature and, like nature, without any particular moral character. Their will could be manipulated in the ritual (which re-enacted the myth) so that they would bestow on the worshipper the desired tangible benefits.” See John Bright, The Kingdom of God: The Biblical Concept and Its Meaning for the Church (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, MCMLIII): 25.
[5] Though in the universe God is omni-present (Jeremiah 23:24), He is not omni-permeant. Pantheistically or panentheistically, the Holy God does not permeate matter for out of nothing He created it distinct from Himself. As the eternally pre-existent One, God did not fuse His being into the matter He created out of nothing in time and space (as process theologians assert). In the coming “day of the Lord,” when God destroys the present created order (2 Peter 3:7, 10), and assuming that nature is infused of Him, what’s God going to do, destroy Himself? If God is nature, then the present ecological crisis is hopeless. Also, the assumption that God permeates matter is presuppositional to idolatry (See Isaiah 40:18-22.). In worshipping God, the distinction between the Creator and the creation/creature must ever be maintained (See Revelation 4:10-11; Romans 1:19-23.) If that Creator/creation distinction is violated in the least, then the so-called “worship” of God becomes idolatry for idolaters materialize their gods (See Exodus 32:1-6.).
[6] Glenn Alexander Magee, Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001): 13.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] AN EXCURSUS ON IDOLATRY
Any religious belief system which fuses spirituality into materiality has, I think, a cause, an affect and a consequence. First, given the contrast between nature’s longevity (the eternality of matter is assumed) and human brevity (in the evolutionary pattern of a self-creating universe, man is a “late-bloomer” and his time on earth short) causes pagans to divinize the elements to make nature god (i.e., “Mother Nature”). Second, because pagans believe that spirits permeate the elements which comprise nature (i.e., earth, wind, fire and water), they attempt to visualize this “union” by making idols out of the material the spirits inhabit. (See Isaiah 44:12-17; Jeremiah 10:1-16.). And third, knowing that “Mother Nature,” beautiful though she be, possesses a mean streak and can turn nasty, how do pagans attempt to mollify her so that she will not impetuously turn against them? Fearfully, they sacrifice and pray to the gods in an attempt to manipulate the elements to be kindly disposed ed toward them (See 1 Kings 18:20-29.). Among primitive people, a belief system involving fearing of and sacrificing to the spirits develops when primitive people do not accept that God created the universe (Jeremiah 10:10-16).
[10] “Aether (classical element),” Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aether_(classical_element).
[11] Prophesying the end is not new, especially amongst evangelicals. Futurist Hal Lindsey (1929-    ) keyed his date-setting to Israel’s reconstitution as a nation in May, 1948, as the fulfillment of Jesus’ fig tree parable as the signal event from which to calculate the time of the Lord’s coming and the end within a “generation” (Matt 24:34). “A generation in the Bible,” wrote Lindsey “is something like forty years. If this is a correct deduction, then within forty years or so of 1948, all these things [the events predicted by Jesus in his prophetic sermon the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24] could take place.” Historically positioned as we are, over half a century after “the sign” he identified, Lindsey’s failed interpretation is obvious. See Hal Lindsey with C.C. Carlson, The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970): 53-54.
     Then there’s Harold Camping (1921-     ). He too set dates for the end, firm dates; first, May 13, 1988; then Saturday, May 21, 2011. Two days after his prediction failed, Camping reportedly remarked, “It has been a really tough weekend.” So what did the prognosticator do? He claimed a faulty calculation and reset the date of the end on October 21, 2011. Neither did the end come then. So earlier this year he wrote an apology: “God has humbled us through the events of May 21,” he wrote. “We must also openly acknowledge that we have no new evidence pointing to another date for the end of the world.” See Time, June 6, 2011, p.11; and Garance Burke, “Harold Camping Admits He Was Wrong about End of World Prediction,” The Huffington Post, March 9, 2012 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/harold-camping-admits-hes-wrong_n_1335232.html).
     The rising of end time scenarios is not a new phenomenon in history. At various times Jews, Christians and Muslims have all advocated and anticipated a near end of the world. These days, even Hollywood is producing a variety of apocalypse movies. What seems to be a new twist in end-time scenarios is that the media have now manufactured an end-of-world scenario around what essentially is a nature religion (i.e., the Mayan Apocalypse).
[12] See “Mayan calendar ends; world doesn’t,” CBS NEWS, December 21, 2012 (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57560400/mayan-calendar-ends-world-doesnt/).
[13] Ibid.
[14] Thomas Watson, “No Other Gods,” Glorifying God: A Yearlong Collection of Classic Devotional Writings, Patti M. Hummel, Compiler (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2009): June 28.
[15] The verb “pleased” (Greek, eudokeo) is in the aorist tense, active voice, and indicative mood. I understand the aorist to be constative; that is, describing “the action taken as a whole . . . without focusing on the beginning or end of the action specifically.” See Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996): 557-558.
[16] G. Delling, “pleres,” Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Abridged in One Volume (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1985): 868.
[17] Ibid. 870.
[18] A.A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, from the 1879 edition 1972): 196.
[19] Of course, this theory of descending gods solves nothing in its attempt to explain the origin of evil in the world.
[20] In my reading and study, scholars of religious antiquity are not certain as to what came first, Gnosticism or Platonism. The two systems bear rough resemblance to each other. My view is that the philosopher Plato (427-347 B.C.) took the Gnosticism of antiquity and “sophisticated” it thereby making it palatable for the intelligentsia of his and subsequent cultures. The danger the platonic worldview poses to Christianity is that numbers of Christian scholars presume that as the Old Testament scriptures prepared the Hebrew people for Messiah’s coming so in a parallel way, Platonic philosophy prepared the Gentile world for His advent. Such a synthesizing of Platonism (or for that matter Aristotelian philosophy also) with Christianity is precisely what Paul warned of when he wrote to the Colossians, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit” (Colossians 2:8). Remember Mars Hill (Acts 17:16-33). Though Paul admitted to some common ground with the philosophers with regards to their understanding of God, most of the philosophers scorned and mocked the teaching of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. The philosophy of that age hardly prepared “Platonized” Gentiles for the Gospel, the heart of which proposes the penal substitutionary death of Christ on the Cross for humankind’s sin and His physical resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
[21] See footnote 26.
[22] See William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1979): 358.
[23] Ibid. 354.
[24] R.C. Trench, Trench’s Synonyms of the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2000): 24. Based upon both the biblical and classical occurrences of the words, Trench’s theological discussion in differentiating the meaning of theot?s (Deity) from theoit?s (divinity) is most useful.
[25] Johann Albrecht Bengel, New Testament Word Studies, A New Translation by Charlton T. Lewis and Marvin R. Vincent, Volume 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1971): 460.
[26] The Council of Nicea in A.D. 325 declared that Jesus’ “divine nature was of the same essence (homo ousios) with the Father . . . That is, the “being” [Ed., ousios] of Christ is the being [Ed., ousios] of God. He is not merely similar to Deity [Ed., homoi ousios], but He is Deity [Ed., homo ousios].” RC Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992): 77. As influenced by Gnosticism, some early churchmen tried to define Jesus as a distant emanation from God; hence while they viewed Him to have been divine, they did not, in the synthesis between Heaven and earth (“As above, so below.”), view Him to have been God. The apostolic theology in Colossians, as demonstrated in the body of this writing, puts to flight any idea that Jesus was/is a successively emanated Gnostic god.
[27] The NIV reads: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him”; while the ESV translates: “For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell.”
[28] If “the fulness” was pleased to dwell in Christ, this would be personification; that is ascribing a feeling (i.e., “pleased”) to a quality with which Christ was/is endowed (i.e., “fulness”).
[29] Martin notes that the German and Lutheran theologian Ernst Käsemann (1906-1998) contended that the subject of Colossians 1:19 “is not God but the pleroma as an aeon which has become ‘incarnate’ in the Redeemer.” See Ralph P. Martin, Colossians: The Church’s Lord and the Christian’s Liberty (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972): 41. For reasons stated, I obviously disagree that this text teaches that.
[30] See Larry DeBruyn, “Did Jesus Teach the Deity of Humanity?” August 3, 2010, Guarding His Flock Ministries (http://guardinghisflock.com/2010/08/03/did-jesus-teach-the-divinity-of-humanity/#more-1266).
[31] Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God, Book 2, p. 22, quoted by Warren B. Smith, Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel (Ravenna, OH: Conscience Press, 2002): 23.
[32] Murray J. Harris, Colossians and Philemon: Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991): 99.
[33] Emphasis added, Ron McGatlin, “Partaking of the Divine Nature,” Open Heaven.com: Apostolic Kingdom Revival, July 25, 2012 (http://www.openheaven.com/forums/forum_posts.asp?TID=40140&PN=1). I am indebted to Gaylene Goodroad for drawing my attention to this quote. [Ed. Note: McGatlin, who teaches Latter Rain cult doctrine, has been associated with C. Peter Wagner via their "apostolic" relations.]
[34] “There are some who declare that Jesus Christ did not come in the flesh but only as a spirit, and exhibited an appearance (phantasían) of flesh.” See J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, 1978): 141.
[35] See Larry DeBruyn, “On Theosis, or Divinization,” January 11, 2012, Guarding His Flock Ministries (http://guardinghisflock.com/2012/01/11/on-theosis-or-divination/#more-1989).
[36] On this point, the NIV (and being a KJV, NASB, NKJV adherent, I dislike saying so) renders the most accurate translation of Colossians 2:10.
[37] Delling, “pleres,” Theological Dictionary, 870.
[38] I am aware that Hebrews 1:6 quotes this Psalm as referring to angels. But perhaps for reason of demonic principalities and powers, the command may include all the angelic hosts, whether rebels or faithful.
[39] Larry DeBruyn, “Jesus Talk,” April 4, 2010, Guarding His Flock Ministries (http://guardinghisflock.com/2010/04/19/jesus-talk/#more-957).




Ed Note: Pastor Larry DeBruyn began working on this article nearly 6 months ago while the rest of the Discernment Research Group began to delve into the strange new eschatological tenets of what we have termed the Postmodern Prophecy Paradigm (PPP) teachers, and also Chuck Missler's book that jumpstarted this PPP movement, Alien Encounters. As such, this article by Pastor DeBruyn provides a solid Christian apologetic against significant foundational errors of the PPP teachers. We decided to interrupt our two on-going series in order to provide our readers with this blessing of truth.