~by Randy Bushey
For in Christ all the fulness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fulness in Christ, who is the Head over every power and authority (Colossians 2:9,10).
Contemporary New-Age mysticism has roots in ancient Greek Gnosticism.
Gnostic thinking was fully developed in the 2nd century, but the seeds of this heretical worldview had taken hold and were evident in the apostolic churches of the 1st century.
Bible teachers see evidence of defending against pre-Gnostic thinking and its negative consequences particularly in Colossians, but also in Jude and the 3 epistles of the Apostle John.
Like New-Ageism, Gnosticism was not a monolithic set of beliefs; precise definitions and scope of belief differ in content and emphasis resulting in an eclectic menu of ideological tenets.
But at the heart of the Gnostic system was a primary dualism established on 2 “eternal principles”:
a) spirit is essentially, absolutely good; and
b) physical matter is essentially flawed & evil.
Consequently, because God is Spirit, Gnostics posited He could not touch, work with – let alone create – physical matter, and therefore, contact or communication between God (Who is Spirit) and matter (which is physical), was impossible.
The Gnostics were, as their name suggests, guilty of elitist superiority. The Greek term gnosis means knowledge (generating English terms: diagnosis, prognosis, agnostic) and they believed they had more than their fair share.
They saw themselves as the pneumatikoi or “spiritual ones” who were above the general herd of humanity in spiritual capacity and intellectual ability. As they sampled the Gospel of Christ, they theorized that only the pneumatikoi could really become like Jesus.
However, as they refashioned their perception of God, they altered the Deity into an idol of their own imaginations. They missed the truth. They denied the God of the Bible.
And in so doing, they plunged themselves into ignorance, deception, and malevolence failing to know or comprehend Christ.
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul is playing defence. And he does so with a good dose of offense – rebutting the lie by accentuating the truth.
Although he never used the word, Paul was a master of epistemology – the nature, origin and scope of knowledge and belief.
In other words, epistemology examines thinking that leads to knowledge. How do I know, what I know?
Paul’s epistemology was centred on Christ, because He is the head over every other power, authority, administration or regime – physical or spiritual.
And every Christ-follower has been given “fullness in Christ”. In part, that means that we now, by the power of the Holy Spirit, have the ability to see the world – and interpret what we observe – more accurately, more fully, more founded on eternal truth.
Unfortunately, we too often fail to achieve that. But the ability, the capacity to do so, has been given to us by our Master and in our age of agnosticism and angry atheism, the biblically-informed and thinking Christ-follower has every advantage in understanding truth, seeing and processing data through a biblical worldview lens.
Lest we think this is an example of novel apostolic, wishful thinking, the foundation of this concept was laid a millennium earlier in the words of 2 wise Hebrew kings:
Solomon: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7).
David: The fool has said in his heart there is no God (Psalm 14:1).
If the God of the Bible exists, and we ignore Him – or worse yet, we disparage Him – we are foolish beyond conception.
Here’s another $50 word to add to your vocabulary: teleology.
Teleology is the study of purpose, derived from the Greek term telos meaning end, purpose or goal. Basically, we’re probing WHY?
That’s a huge component of a biblical worldview – to understand our purpose in general, and my personal life objective in particular.
When we as a society don’t understand purpose, we become misdirected as a culture.
And yet, the WHY question is one most are fearful to ask.
Maybe that’s why existential philosophers have identified the chief characteristic of modern man as angst. Anxiety. Restlessness. Dread. Fear.
Is life simply purposeless and therefore senseless and hopeless? The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre thought so, concluding, “Life is an empty bubble on the sea of nothingness”? (How’s that for a nihilistic dose of pessimism??)
Or is life an opportunity carrying with it the everyday privilege of reflecting the glory of Christ in this dark world?
The Gnostic assertion of God being allergic to that which is physical is on a collision course with the Gospel of Christ. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us (John 1:14).
And in one of the most astounding declarations in all of history, Jesus the God-Man identified Himself as the personification of Truth (John 14:6)!
Takeaway – as a 21st century Christ follower, these self-diagnostic questions drive to the heart of my worldview:
Do I treasure Christ, cherishing Him above all?
Do I recognize my identity primarily in Christ?
Is my worldview primarily informed by biblical truth?
Is my fullness in life derived from Christ’s fulness?
Does my growth in wisdom, sense of contentment, and entire worldview come from His Gospel??
Am I growing to more completely appropriate the fullness of Christ in my life?
…and you have been given fulness in Christ…
~graphic by Robbie Owen-Wahl animalaidunlimited.org freeimages.com