For fifteen hundred years, Christendom and then later Protestant America, had followed St. Augustine (AD 354-430) in affirming that as all men are the spiritual image-bearers of the transcendent Triune God then it logically follows that each person is a trinity of being-- of soul, spirit, and body:
"The essence of the human is not the body, but the soul. It is the soul alone that God made in his own image and the soul that he loves….For the sake of the soul…the Son of God came into the world…." (Incomplete Work on Matthew, Homily 25, Ancient Christian Devotional, Oden and Crosby, p. 153)
In Biblical thought, the body is inert matter organized and vitalized by the soul. A human life is a soul which informs inert matter, thus a body without a soul is no more than a disorganized mass of cells that would quickly deconstruct, said Pastor Louis Pernot in a sermon delivered at the Temple de l'Etoile in Paris. ("Body, Mind, and Soul," Nov. 28, 2010)
The noblest part of the soul is spirit (the heart). Spirit is immortal and self-aware. It can will and think and is freely responsible for what it thinks, wills, and does.
Spirit is the unique property that distinguishes soul from matter. In Biblical thought, spirit allows man to spiritually transcend the natural dimension in order to access the supernatural dimension, thereby allowing him to enter into a personal relationship with the Spirit of God. Through this relationship, man's conscience is cleansed over time, thus enabling him to more perfectly orient the manner of his existence in this world in preparation for eternity.
In Christian thought, a person is a spirit and personality is the total individuality of the spirit. Without spirit there is no person.
Pastor Pernot notes that the key to individual liberty in the temporal sphere is man's spiritual liberty contrasted against a genetically programmed animal-like orientation. Animals do not have spirits, which are linked to intelligence, imagination, sensitivity, self-consciousness, reflection and the capacity for truth and moral goodness.
A person is uniquely free because he can spiritually transcend matter to access the supernatural dimension as Paul affirms:
"Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor. 3:17)
Man is God's spiritual image-bearer, and, said the brilliant French economist, statesman, and author Frederic Bastiat, this is the gift from God which includes the physical, intellectual and moral life:
"He has provided us with a collection of marvelous faculties. And He has put us in the midst of a variety of natural resources. By application of our faculties to these natural resources we convert them into products, and use them. Life, faculties, production---in other words, individuality, liberty, property---this is man (and) these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place." (How Evil Works, David Kupelian, p. 8)
Vishal Mangalwadi, India's foremost Christian scholar observes that the unique concept of man as God's spiritual image-bearer gave birth to the "belief in the unique dignity of human beings," and this is,
"…the force that created Western civilization, where citizens do not exist for the state but the state exists for the individuals. Even kings, presidents, prime ministers, and army generals cannot be allowed to trample upon an individual and his or her rights." (Truth and Transformation: A Manifesto for Ailing Nations, pp. 12-13)
Death of the Western and American Soul
Jesus to Buddha, "….you took God away from them (and) your espousal of an absence of self is the most unique and fearsome claim you made…You turned from Hinduism because it said there was an essential self, which they called the atman." (The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha, Ravi Zacharias, pp.59, 67)
Of all Christian doctrines the most difficult to understand is that of creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing). This doctrine is the complete opposite of ancient and modern evolutionary cosmogonies affirming that the universe and even the gods, emerged or evolved out of a pre-existing substance such as primordial matter or the watery chaos, which begs the question of where the substances came from.
The Triune God's miraculous creation has its' foundation in the fact that He spoke all things into existence from nothing. Early Church Father Irenaeus comments,
"God, in the exercise of his will and pleasure, formed all things...out of what did not previously exist."
But if there is no Triune God, then it logically follows that there is no source for life, consciousness, soul, spirit and will, or for human dignity, worth, liberty, and property. Without God the Father unalienable (God-given) rights are meaningless. If man is not God's spiritual image-bearer, then he is less than nothing, a conclusion Buddha reached long before Jesus Christ walked this earth:
"Six centuries before Jesus Christ, the Buddha already knew that if God does not exist, then the human self cannot exist either……Therefore, he deconstructed the Hindu idea of the soul. When one starts peeling the onion skin of one's psyche, he discovers that there is no solid core at the center of one's being. Your sense of self is an illusion. Reality is nonself (anatman). You don't exist. Liberation, the Buddha taught, is realizing the unreality of your existence." (The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization, Vishal Mangalwadi, p. 6)
Teaching Monstrous Lies About God
The great Oriental scholar Max Muller observed that monotheism preceded the polytheism and monism of the Veda. It was Buddha who took the God of monotheism away. Buddha craved God-like power to reinterpret the order of being--- to deconstruct and reinterpret the soul. Taking power not only requires the murder of God but the teaching of lies.
Telling lies is wrong. But telling lies about God is a monstrous crime with eternal consequences.
Centuries later, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Darwin, Freud, and Nietzsche, among others, followed in Buddha's footsteps. God was taken away, man's soul deconstructed and lies taught as truth. Eric Voegelin comments:
"….the order of being (was) obliterated (and reinterpreted) as essentially under man's control." Taking control "requires the decapitation of being — the murder of God." (Eric Voegelin, "Science, Politics and Gnosticism," p. xv)
In place of man as God's spiritual image-bearer, the New Man was beast-man, qualitatively no different from a rat, pig, or ape.
Nihilism, or non-belief in one's own soul, is the logical assumption if the transcendent God does not exist. Nihilism is spiritual, moral, and intellectual suicide, yet for the last two hundred years, Enlightenment atheist humanists----rationalists, materialists, positivists and their modern naturalist counterparts such as occult New Agers and Trans-humanists----have been moving the West and America closer and closer to Buddha's denial of the soul.
Beginning with Kant, soul was separated from body. Man was a machine. Soul hovered somewhere in the vicinity. This did not go far enough for Enlightenment nature philosophers however. Lester Crocker explains:
"There existed in the eighteenth century a widespread desire to equate the moral with the physical world…" What was desired above all was "total integration of man in nature, with refusal of any transcendence, even though it was admitted that (being God's image-bearer) gave him certain special abilities and ways of thinking. The important thing, as La Mettrie, d'Holbach and others made clear, is that he is submitted to the same laws; everything is response to need---mechanically… like a tree or a machine. Man merely carries out natural forces---without any freedom whatsoever---in all he does, whether he loves or hates, helps or hurts, gives life or takes it." (Monsters from the Id, E. Michael Jones, pp. 5, 7)
Nietzsche declared the death of the Triune God and reinterpreted soul as an aspect of body, but it was Marxist materialists who attempted to scientifically re-engineer human beings after the fashion of Buddha's programmatic nihilism said Mangalwadi.
After seizing control of Russia, they utilized mind-conditioning techniques such as propaganda and re-education with emphasis on Darwinism as well as mind-altering drugs, electro-shock therapy, terror and other brutal measures to,
"...liquidate all expressions of individual identity in favor of an impersonal collective, communal consciousness." (The Book that Made Your World, p. 74)
With B.F. Skinners' behaviorism there is neither God nor soul. Human beings are chemicals turned into psychochemical machines determined by environment, chemistry, chance, and cultural conditioning.
With Richard Dawkins nihilism, metaphysical "thinking" memes plant thoughts in the grey matter of psychochemical organisms that are fatalistically determined by DNA.
Cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett, one of the Four Horsemen of Atheism, claims there really is no you, that soul, spirit and will are illusions caused by chemical interactions in the brain while his partner in nihilism, naturalist Tom Wolfe proclaims,
"Sorry, but your soul just died." (The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul, Beauregard and O'Leary, p. 4)
After World War II reaction set in against the eclipse of the unseen dimension by materialist and positivist simplifiers. Seeing the writing on the wall, Mortimer J. Adler, the guiding hand behind The Encyclopedia Britannica predicted that belief in the unseen dimension would soon be considered orthodox science. (The Seduction of Christianity, Hunt and McMahon, p. 107)
Sure enough, scientism, evolution, theosophy, spiritism, Vedanta monism and shamanism mingled, giving rise to occult science. Whereas the metaphysical program of materialist scientism outwardly denies anything nonphysical and supposedly confines itself to physical laws, occult scientism deals with spiritual laws and metaphysical forces believed to govern the physical. Building off of Darwin's materialist theory of evolution, Teilhard's spiritual theory teaches that after millions of years of evolution an impersonal god has emerged from matter. Whereas Christianity had de-divinized nature, Teilhard's theory trumpets its' re-divinization. The stage was set for the return of the gods and goddesses.
Buddha's Nihilism Comes to America
In no Western thinker has Buddha's nihilist doctrine been more clearly expressed than in Nietzsche's ecstatic utterance, "God is dead." God is dead in the hearts of modern Westerners:
"…and it is as true of the atheists and Satanists who rejoice in the fact, as it is of the unsophisticated multitudes….Man has lost faith in God and in the Divine Truth that once sustained him; the apostasy to worldliness that has characterized the modern age since its beginning becomes, in Nietzsche, conscious of itself and finds words to express itself. God is dead…" (Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age, Eugene Rose, p. 60)
Prior to the turn of the century, God was already dead in the hearts of America's 'elite' progressives, and upon the arrival of Swami Vivekananda at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 the 'elites' eagerly embraced him:
"He was immediately lionized by high society in Boston and New York. Philosophers at Harvard were mightily impressed. Many wealthy high society types and intellectuals reverted to the Buddhist idea that self is an illusion. They constituted a '… hard core of disciples who supported him and his grandiose dream: the evangelizing of the Western world by….Vedantic (monistic) Hinduism." (Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, Fr. Seraphim Rose, p. 21)
Vedanta Societies were established in America and Europe for the purpose of injecting Vedantic ideas into the bloodstream of the West and America. Among those who helped disseminate Vedanta monism were Aldous Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, Somerset Maugham, and Teilhard de Chardin.
The Sixties witnessed a whole series of Indian gurus make their mark on the student generation. Popular culture was introduced to any number of nature- beliefs, from Vedanta monism, Zen Buddhism, pantheism, panentheism, reincarnation and karma to belief in a vague immanent 'force,' World Soul, Gaia (Mother Earth) and Teilhard de Chardin's Omega Point:
"…..de Chardin believed that humanity could achieve a form of Godhood or a high level of spirituality called the Omega Point. This was an evolutionary process that everyone could attain through discipline and dedication to the path of enlightenment." (Reflections of the Omega Point, Frank Tipler, omegapoint.org)
The exciting new spirituality discouraged belief in the Biblical God and promised followers that by dedication to the path of enlightenment they would attain godhood through the merging of their souls with the cosmic universe. Through guided imagery, Tantric sex, kundalini yoga, hypnosis, possibility-thinking, dream-work, past-life regression, mind-altering drugs, rhythmic music, and spiritistic practices such as channeling, initiates could be raised to new levels of consciousness, develop psychic powers, release their souls from their bodies through astral projection and merge their consciousness with the void.
In his article, "Confronting Neo-Paganism in the Culture and the Church" Dr. Peter Jones reports that many of the architects of the new spirituality,
"…. such as Aldous Huxley, Joseph Campbell, and Huston Smith were converts of Vedanta ….. Contemporary architects… call themselves 'Cultural Creative's,' 'Progressives,' 'Evolutionaries,' 'Integral Spiritualists,' 'Interspiritualists' or 'Transtraditional Spiritualists.' It is doubtless true to say that the key New Age leaders and their present disciples all claim some form of Vedantic enlightenment." (truthexchange, Apr. 12, 2011)
It is already the case that for increasing numbers of contemporary believers the death of God has made it impossible for them to affirm the existence of the human self thus they actively seek the annihilation of their souls through drugs, Tantric sex, yoga, and meditation. As with Buddha and contemporary Hindu gurus some initiates are trying to merge their individual consciousness with the void.
Jesus to Buddha: "Wherever the worship of the living God has been perverted, it has always been the result of a departure from my Word….when my people cast aside the Word, the absolute is lost. Pollution in worship is the result." (The Lotus and the Cross, pp. 74, 77)
Perpetuating the lies of his predecessors, spiritual evolutionist and Vedanta prophet Ken Wilber, a Mahayana Buddhist from a Christian background, teaches "integral spirituality." A popular author whose teachings have been avidly studied by world leaders, politicians (i.e. Bill Clinton and Al Gore), scholars, writers, artists, musicians, spiritual teachers and pop culture icons, Wilber combines evolution with the world's nature religions, morals, and Eastern and Western philosophy so as to establish a universal spirituality.
A panentheist, Wilber imagines that the entire universe is God evolving from matter through billions of years toward de Chardin's 'Omega Point.' Having evolved from primordial soup beast-man now evolves toward total god-consciousness, and in this way, the imaginary god is in process of becoming while evolution becomes conscious of itself.
A form of Christianized-Vedanta monism is already here, said Dr. Peter Jones:
"Evolutionary Christianity" is producing the longed-for and much-prophesied synthesis, namely, the union of science and spirituality…. Evolutionary Christianity is a variant of Wilber's 'Theory of Everything', a worldview of (Vedanta monism) that claims to explain everything through the notion of human evolution into a non-dual divine. Michael Dowd, the ex-Evangelical now evangelist for evolution (agrees) with Bishop's Spong's post-theistic Christianity (and) declares supernatural other-worldly religion will die out for a post-metaphysical natural religion."
Jones adds that Evolutionary Christianity is an online gathering place for:
"….evangelical theistic evolutionists, 'progressive' Emergent Christian leaders, radical post-theistic Christian liberals, Christian non-dual mystics, pro-homosexual ministers, radical religious feminists, and recognized evolutionary scientists. Some are deeply influenced by Pierre Teillard de Chardin, and pagan "geologians" such as Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme."
Emergent Church Pastor Rob Bell for example, enthusiastically endorses Ken Wilber and claims to be reinventing Christianity as an Eastern religion while evangelical leader Leonard Sweet uses quantum physics to 'scientifically' prove that God is 'in' everything. Not surprisingly, Sweet cites Teilhard de Chardin as "20th century Christianity's major voice." (Normalizing Necromancy: Tempting the Church to Talk with the Dead, Worldview Weekend, 1/23/12)
Nihilism underlies all permutations of the 'new' spirituality, whether Evolutionary Christianity, Hinduism, Gnosticism, Mythology, Jungian Depth Psychology, the Perennial Philosophy, Interfaith, Trans-humanism, Wicca, Scientology, Goddess worship, or the spiritual 'gay' agenda, for there is no form of the new spirituality that is not naturalistic. All are equally God-less; none have a source for life, consciousness, and soul, hence all are merely different expressions of nihilism.
Welcome to the Theater of the Absurd
For over two hundred years, nihilist philosophies have been working their way through our culture, embedding themselves, often unconsciously, within our psyches. This means that not only is the way we see ourselves and America colored by nihilism, but to the degree that our minds have been polluted are we immobilized by apathy, the spiritual emptiness that says in reaction to our peculiarly twisted, degraded culture, "Why bother?'
The strangely twisted atmosphere of our age is the "death of God" made tangible and it is Nietzsche who describes our meaningless, disordered, ugly, atonal, brutal, upside-down climate of nothingness:
"We have killed him (God), you and I! …But how have we done it? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the whole horizon? What did we do when we loosened this earth from its sun? Whither does it now move? Whither do we move? …Do we not dash on unceasingly? Backwards, sideways, forwards, in all directions? Is there still an above and below? Do we not stray…through infinite nothingness? Does not empty space breathe upon us? …Does not night come on continually, darker and darker?" (Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age, Eugene Rose, p. 108)
Such is the theater of the absurd in which there is neither up nor down, male nor female, right nor wrong, true nor false, normal nor abnormal because the living God is dead, and while America and the West drift aimlessly in "infinite nothingness" nihilism progressively dissolves the foundation of soul, mind, worth, morality, family, and individual liberty.
America and the West are swirling ever downward in a spiraling vortex issuing into a void of outer darkness…..hell.
Choose Life that You May Live
As the new spirituality forcefully sweeps over and across America it effects a counter-conversion of souls. This means that in turning away from the Triune God comes the reversal of conversion in which the soul ceases to live from the spirit and begins to live with the life of the body. The disordered passions thereby revived absorb the life of the person who spiritually dies resulting in the natural man of 2 Tim. 3:3. (St. Tikhon, Works II, as quoted in Political Apocalypse: A Study of Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor, Ellis Sandoz, p. 120)
"….. I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life…" Deuteronomy 30:19-20
The Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Word become Flesh, Jesus Christ the Physician came to heal the spiritually sick. But whoever rejects the Physician and his own soul, whether through indifference or outright denial, rejects His prescription, hence destroys him or herself.
Destruction however, does not mean annihilation of the soul. The soul though immortal, said St. Augustine, nevertheless suffers a kind of death when the living God forsakes it:
"…in that penal and everlasting punishment….the soul is…said to die because it does not live in connection with God (meaning that) though man does not cease to feel, yet because this feeling is neither sweet… nor wholesome (but) painfully penal, it is (called) death rather than life." (St. Augustine's City of God, Chapter 2, Of that Death Which Can Affect an Immortal Soul, and of that to Which the Body is Subject)
copyright 2012 Linda Kimball
Linda writes on worldview and similar issues.