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Worldviews in Conflict: Christian Cosmology and the Recent Doctrine of Spiritual Mapping (Part 1)


6 G.F.W. Liebniz is a good example. See Monroe C. Beardsley, (ed), The European Philosophers: From Descartes to Nietzsche (New York: Modern Library, 1992), p. 263.

7 Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), p. 31.

8 Ibid.

9 For a simple but accurate synopsis of Gnostic doctrine, see W.T. Jones’ The Medieval Mind, 2nd ed., vol. 2 in A History of Western Philosophy (New York: Harcourt, et al., 1969), pp. 61-3.

10 Ibid., pp. 67-9.

11 Thomas W. Africa, The Ancient World (New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1969), p. 444-5.

12 Ninian Smart, The Religious Experience, 5th ed., (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1996), pp. 274-5.

13 W.T. Jones, Medieval Mind, pp. 68-9.

14 The most famous dispute between the orthodox church fathers and Mani (spelled “Manes” in earlier writings) is referred to in “Archelaus” in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 6 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), pp. 173-253.

15 Archelaus condemned Mani for his weak view of God, stating, “You do indeed call Him God, but you do so in name only, and you make His deity resemble man’s infirmities.” Ibid., p. 196.

16 Until recently, the term, “Western,” referred to the whole history of Western Civilization, beginning in Egypt and the Mesopotamian Valley sometime between the 8th and 4th millennium B.C. See William H. McNeill’s, History of Western Civilization: A Handbook, 6th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1986). Since the 19th century the term has unfortunately been understood to mean modern European culture and the general scientific and technological outlook of the Western Hemisphere, especially the United States.. This factor obscures an important fact concerning the original distinction between the philosophical world of the Middle East, which followed the Mosaic tradition of a personal, transcendent God, as opposed to its Far Eastern neighbors of India and China. Eastern philosophy, in general, has been more open to belief in spiritual and mental powers, but mostly closed to the exclusive claims of Christianity and the concept of absolutes. A form of relativism has dominated the Eastern worldview from the beginning, whereas the Mosaic Western tradition has asserted that principles and rules apply to both the spiritual and material world orders. Hence, both technology and religion were able to thrive together until animosity separated them, especially during the Modern Age and the period of the Enlightenment (17th – 19th centuries).

17 Diane W. Darst, Western Civilization to 1648 (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990), p. 37.

18 Although it has been popular since the 19th century for evolutionary theorists to argue that primitive man’s religion evolved from animism to polytheism, and finally, to monotheism, recent criticism has challenged some of the key assumptions. Some evidence has suggested that a belief in a single High God was believed among a few tribes and people before the advent of polytheism. See Ninian Smart’s, The Religious Experience, pp. 22-35. This concurs with the biblical account.

19 See Plato, Timaeus, 28. However, Plato’s ideas had more lasting influence in the church due to the work of Plotinus (c.204-c.270), especially through the latter’s Enneads.

20 Smart, The Religious Experience, pp. 272-3.

21 John 1:1-3 provides a New Testament parallel to the Genesis creation account, with the superceding revelation that Christ, “The Word,” is identified as Creator God.

22 Although the NIV and the NASB translations only indirectly discredit the idea that God used pre-existent material to create the world, additional Scriptures combine to support the basic creation ex nihilo doctrine., Cf., Psa. 33:6,9; Isa. 45:18; Acts 17:24-25; Rev. 4:11. For a fuller treatment of the New Testament teaching, see Millard J. Erickson’s, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985), pp. 367-70.

23 Gordon R. Lewis & Bruce A. Demarest, Integrative Theology, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), pp. 317-8.

24 Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, Trans. Olive Wyon (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1952), p. 12.

25 For a more thorough explanation of this thought see Erickson, Systematic Theology, pp. 447-8, and Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, and Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), pp. 412-14. Both writers conclude similar ideas based on the inference that Genesis 1 reveals a completely good world, whereas Genesis 3 admits the presence of an evil creature with evil intent. That a rebellion of some magnitude must have occurred in the spiritual realm, is implied by the contrast of good and evil.

26 See Matt. 5:45; 6:26; 10:30

27 Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 412.

28 Paul continued to wrestle with false teachers on the treatment of the body; Cf., I Tim. 4:1-3; Gal. 3:1-5.

29 I Cor. 15:35-58; Cf., I Thess. 4:13-18. Paul does speak of the transient nature of our present bodies, the fact that they are imperfect and destined to be returned to earth (II Cor. 5:1-4; Cf., 4:16), but this does not diminish the fact that the body is good and valuable.

30 I Cor. 15:35-55; II Cor. 5:2-3; I Thess. 4:13-18).

31 I. Howard Marshall, The Epistles of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1978), p. 205.


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Category: Fall 2001, Living the Faith, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Larry L. Taylor, M.A., D.Min., is Affiliate Faculty at Regis University in the Denver area and formerly professor of humanities at Portland Bible College. Larry Taylor founded a church in Colorado and has 17 years of pastoral experience.

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