Our Western worldview is one of the few (maybe the only one?) worldviews that completely rejects the idea of a supernatural realm. Empirical evidence is our mandate. If it can’t be measured, touched, dissected…it doesn’t exist.
I love that Justin can be so free in his culture to identify where the struggles of this life originate. He makes no qualms about assigning the opposition to Christianity to demons and dark, spiritual forces. That’s a given, in his world. In our culture, I think we struggle with believing in the devil as much, or more, than we struggle to believe in God. It seems to me that we are prone to extremes when it comes to spiritual warfare. We either obsess over it, seeing demons behind and influencing everything (I even knew a guy who believed farts were signs of demonic activity…not his own, of course, he didn’t think his stank)…OR, we dismiss or ignore the reality of a spiritual force in opposition to the kingdom of God.
The ease in which Justin identifies the problem, and moves on is something I admire. I’d like to have that kind of aplomb in that realm.
It’s plain to see that we are not, in fact, atheists. We are worshippers of the God who made the universe, and we worship Him the way He taught us to. Not with rivers of blood from sacrificed animals, not with rites of drunkenness or with intoxicating incense. God wants us to worship Him with our lives. We worship Him by talking to Him about everything, by singing songs and expressing our gratitude to Him for making all things and providing everything we have need of. Since God made all things, we don’t need to offer those things back to Him. We ourselves use the things He created for us, to provide for our own needs and for the needs of those who are poorer than us. We live a life of gratitude to God for our health, our food, this planet and the seasons and the beauty around us; as well as a life that extends beyond this present one by our faith in Him.
We have learned to worship this way from the teachings of Jesus the Christ. He was born into the world for this purpose, to show us the way to God. He was crucified under the command of Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea at that time (this was back during the reign of Tiberius Caesar). We worship Him based on our belief that He is the Son of the one, true God. This has been made known to us by those who were with Him, and through prophecies which have been given by the Spirit of God. It is His teaching which we want to make clear to you. We’ve been accused of being insane because it’s said we worship and esteem as God an ordinary man who was crucified. They are stating this from a place of ignorance about our beliefs. I’m sure it looks very mysterious to those observing us, but we can make our faith plain to you and clear up these misconceptions. My hope is that you’ll pay close attention and hear our position.
Chapter XIV.-The Demons Misrepresent Christian Doctrine.
Since we believe there is a spiritual battle raging here, it’s quite possible that you’ll find yourself distracted from reading our whole appeal, or listening to our entire defense. Please don’t let that happen. There are dark forces at work that have a powerful influence in this world, holding so many people hostage to their will. Sometimes they influence through dreams, sometimes they speak through the mouths of the priests or magicians, but their whole purpose is to beguile weak willed souls and keep them from finding salvation.
This is the main reason we keep away from magical arts and the various ways in which deceiving spirits can manipulate people. We follow Jesus Christ alone, not demons anymore. Once we followed them. Once we lived terrible lives of abandon to all kinds of bad behavior. Now, where we used to find our identity in sexual conquests, we find ourselves in Christ, enjoying a life free of the consequences of promiscuity. We used to practice magic arts, but now we’ve put that aside and spend our time praying to the true God. Where once we spent all our time and energy trying to make more money and buy more stuff, we now make sure everyone around us is taken care of, we give our excess to the poor. We used to live off our hatred for others and fear of people different from us, but now, in Christ, there is no one we won’t embrace and call friend. We love our enemies, and those who are prejudiced against us and hate us for no reason, we seek all the more to show them the truth so that they may have the same hope we have in Christ.
In case we seem to be using a tactic of confusing rhetoric to bog you down and tangle you up in endless rabbit chases, I want provide some specific examples of what Jesus Christ taught. This way you can see for yourself what kind of doctrine we follow, and what kind of lives we live because of Him. He taught very simple concepts, easy to understand for the common man, yet powerful as the very word from God.