THE ETERNAL JOURNEY V:
The Emerging Crisis
Around the world, today’s media are rightly concerned over climate change and natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, tornadoes, floods and volcanic eruptions. Meanwhile, however, this planet is witnessing developments that portend an epic crisis wrought by humanity itself.
Our world is rife with evident human conflicts — terrorist attacks, drug wars, violent crimes, revolutions, and myriad other forms of human uprisings. However, there are also many, often covert efforts across the globe, by various government officials, politicians, corporate and privileged interests, unprincipled “leaders” and others, to secure ultimate wealth, power, authority and domination. While many of those engaged in these schemes claim to be religious, even Christian, their claims mask endeavors that are wholly contrary to the life and teachings of Jesus and a host of other spiritual leaders who have reflected his spirit. Because their endeavors threaten a global crisis, it is essential to investigate the convictions and intentions behind these developments.
Gnosticism and the Crisis
The underlying worldview behind these pervasive developments is fundamentally Gnostic.1 Gnostics believe that they possess hidden divinity, now evidenced by their exercise of command, possession and power. Gnosticism divides humanity among the spiritual elite (equivalent to Gnostic pneumatics or “knowers”), another class who fail to be among the elite but will ultimately be rescued (equivalent to Gnostic “psychics”), and those who are destined for eternal damnation (equivalent to Gnostic “apostates”). Idolized “high and mighty” are fundamentally Gnostic pneumatics when they assume the role of an imaginary god (e.g., “deserving” prodigious wealth) and exercise so-called “freedom” to dominate and manipulate “others.” The Gnostic obsession with me, myself and I is often manifest in religion,2 popular culture and various power structures. Meanwhile, the middle class exist as psychics, and the lower class are expendable.
Gnostics not only believe that the exercise of command, possession and power is now evidence of their divinity. They also believe that this hidden divinity will finally be revealed by their ultimate liberation from fallen human flesh. Gnostics thus view the created order as but the temporary habitation for their divinity until its liberation to divine Oneness. This leads to treatment of the created order as ultimately dispensable and to a “low” view of environmental concerns.
Just as the Creator must have initially lived alone (all One) in nihilo (“nothingness”), without anything or anyone else, so Gnostics are determined to “restore” nothingness (no-thing-ness). They are therefore nihilists, and nihilism has thus become a leading modern and postmodern philosophy.3,4 The Gnostic view of fellow humanity is reflected in the thought of the French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, who declared, “The other is my enemy and my original sin.”5,6 Freedom is seen as freedom from the “other” rather than freedom to be with and for the “other.” Liberty is viewed as liberty to control and dominate the “other” rather than liberty to be a compassionate neighbor to the “other.” Although largely unrecognized, Gnosticism has not only penetrated the American psyche; it has also infiltrated the rest of the world. Those guided by Gnostic nihilism are attempting to dominate our planet and are hoping to thus realize their inhuman purposes.
The Ultimate Solution to the Crisis
Despite these ominous developments, we need not despair, for there is one — and only one — ultimate solution. That imminent solution is the promised Parousia (transformative Second Coming) of the True God, who will “make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). This is the One who not only created all things but who paid the penalty for the mistakes and sins of all nature and humanity through his suffering, torture and painful death as Jesus Christ.7 Furthermore, this is the One who, rather than abandoning Creation for “nothingness,” purposes to advance Creation to willing and loving interactive covenantal relationships for all eternity.8
As the Parousia nears, we are not to respond by abandoning the world for a heavenly spirituality that is of no earthly good. Because the Risen One is active and present in history,9 we are called to participate in history as representative witnesses to him as the transformative Way, Truth and Life of the universe.10 That witness is not defined by ideology or religion. It is not defined by some creed or “belief system.” Rather, it is evidenced by the Golden Rule of “do[ing] to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12, NIV). As the Lord declares in the parable of the final judgment, “ . . . [Inasmuch] as you did it [acts of human compassion] to one of the least of these [the disadvantaged and oppressed, the poor and vulnerable] my brethren [and sisters], you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40, RSV).
We may be confident that God will shortly succeed in his loving intention for our universe and humanity and will manifestly triumph over all evil. Then let us respond to his cosmic purpose and, together with him, advance history and leaven society with active faith, hope and love toward all “others.” Irrespective of locale, culture or religion, this concrete witness to the universal presence of the Risen One embodies the words of the Revelator, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
- See “Out of Egypt I: Introduction to Gnosticism,” Outlook (January 2011); “Out of Egypt II: Probable Origin of Gnosticism,” Outlook (February 2011); “Out of Egypt III: Emergence of Gnosticism,” Outlook (March 2011); “Out of Egypt IV: The Apocalypse,” Outlook (April 2011); “Out of Egypt V: The Open Fracture,” Outlook (May 2011); “Out of Egypt VI: The Final Appearance,” Outlook (June 2011). (go back)
- See Harold Bloom, The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992). This book was written by the Yale scholar, Harold Bloom, who regards himself as a Gnostic. The author claims that Americans generally contend for the Gnostic belief that the “self already is of God” (p. 15). Bloom applies this belief to a multitude of American religions, such as Mormonism, Christian Science, Seventh-day Adventism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pentecostalism, and even Southern Baptists. Nevertheless, it should be noted that, in practice, many members of these religions transcend the underlying Gnosticism of their churches. (go back)
- See Eugene Rose, Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age (Forestville, CA: Fr. Seraphim Rose Foundation, 1994). (go back)
- See John Carroll, Humanism: The Wreck of Western Culture (London: Hammersmith, 1993). (go back)
- Quoted in John Zizioulas, “Communion and Otherness,” at www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/liturgics/john_zizioulas_communion_otherness.htm. (go back)
- See Emil Brunner, Eternal Hope (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954), p. 200: “The decisive point in the Biblical conception of sin is that . . . sin is . . . sheer nothingness [nihilo]. If God is life and sin a deviation from life in God, then sin is necessarily a lapse into the non-existent.” (go back)
- See “The Eternal Journey IV: Paying the Price,” Outlook (September/October 2012). (go back)
- See ibid. (go back)
- See “The Divine Struggle for ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ IX: ‘I AM’ with ‘You,’” Outlook (June 2010). (go back)
- See “Called to be Witnesses,” Outlook (July 2008). (go back)