In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 "Jesus Christ was no part of the creation, as he existed when no part of that existed; and that consequently he is no creature, as all created nature was formed by him: for without him was nothing made that is made, John 1:3. Now, as what was before creation must be eternal, and as what gave being to all things, could not have borrowed or derived its being from any thing, therefore Jesus, who was before all things and who made all things, must necessarily be the Eternal God." (Clarke's Commentary on the Bible)
And the Incarnate Word said to them: You are from beneath, I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world. John 8:23
Jesus Christ the Son of God said He is from above, meaning the supernatural realm as opposed to the natural. He is not from above with respect to his human body that was formed in the natural world in the Virgin's womb, but with regard to his divine nature and person. He is of the supernatural God, the only begotten of the Father, thus His mission, His good news of salvation, crucifixion and resurrection are of heaven.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary describes the churchâ€™s central message as the cross and resurrection of Christ:
"It is the message we call the gospel, the good news of salvation to sinful humanity through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. But that message comes to us in the midst of a larger truth, without which there is no context for either affirming or understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ. And that is the entire story of Godâ€™s dealing with humanity that includes the Genesis account of how God brought the world into being. Scripture never separates the knowledge of God the Redeemer from God the Creator; almost every Christian heresy can be traced in some form to an attempt to separate God the Creator from God the Redeemer. Christianity stands against that. The gospel of Jesus Christ makes no sense unless you put it in the context of the total story of Godâ€™s creative and redemptive work, from Genesis to Revelation." Jesus Himself said "we cannot understand Him apart from the Old Testament Scripture (John 5:39). The Gospel of Matthew takes great pains to demonstrate time and again that these things happened in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. It makes no sense whatsoever for a Christian to suggest that we have merely the New Testament as our authoritative Scripture. This false teaching is deadly and will undermine the gospel itself. The Bible is Godâ€™s word to usâ€”every single word inspired by God. It is a slander not only against the Scripture, but against God Himself, to suggest that we can do without any portion of Scripture." (Creation and Redemption: A Conversation with Albert Mohler, interview with Lael Weinberger, creation.com )
The revolutionary impact of Christian teaching about the supernatural realm and the natural realm, the Incarnation, Resurrection and Gospel of salvation was nothing less than a scandal to pagan thinkers. It was inconceivable to them that both a supernatural and a natural realm exist. Furthermore, it was utterly repugnant to them that God should assume materiality, for matter was evil. This thought was as abhorrent to them as the idea of creation ex nihilo, which if true meant that matter was of God's creation and did not preexist creation as a separate and evil principle.
In "Against the Christians" (frag. 77) Porphyry, disciple of Plotinus and Arnobius, writes:
"How can one admit that the divine should become an embryo, that after his birth he is put in swaddling clothes, that he is soiled with blood and bile, and worse things yet?" (The Pagan Temptation, Thomas Molnar, p. 27)
In "Adversus nationes" (2.37) Arnobius complains:
"If souls were of the Lord's race...They would never come to these terrestrial places (and) inhabit opaque bodies and (be) mixed with humors and blood, in receptacles of excrement, in vases of urine." (ibid)
Pagan thinkers held that souls are not God created, for how could an impersonal, nonthinking all-permeating substance create anything, let alone souls? Things mechanically emmanate, emerge, or evolve from the One Substance of which souls are mere particles that have fallen into evil matter.
The closest pagan thinkers came to Incarnation was with a purely negative connotation in the teachings of Pythagoras and Empedocles. They taught that souls fallen from the divine Substance are subsequently incarnated in animal forms as punishment.
From Plato to Plotinus, it was held as axiomatic that the fall of souls into the material realm was either inexplicable or explained as punishment. At any rate it was a plunge from being as one with or an aspect of the Divine Substance into the multiple, or binary.
In other words, there is no distinction between the Divine Substance and the creature as all things are aspects of (in contiunity with) the Divine Substance. Human beings have a share of the Divine substance. The fall then is into evil matter. The body being matter it is perceived as an evil tomb, a receptacle of excrement, from which spirit must escape that it can become one with, or be reabsorbed into, the Divine Substance. Salvation is reabsorption into the collective, to use a contemporary term for the one substance.
Purification and/or perfection of the soul (re-birth) was attained through rites of initiation into secret doctrines and by purgation. Since the Divine Substance is neither male nor female the truest symbol of perfection was the hermaphrodite (androgyne). Thus homosexuality had an important part in the purification process. And so Xenophon declared:
"I must now speak of pederasty, for it affects education." (The One and the Many, Rousas John Rushdoony, p. 73)
Pre-Christian and early Christian Gnostics were more directly influenced by Eastern systems than were Greek thinkers. The leaders of the Gnostic movement--Valentiunus, Basilides, Arnobius and others---taught that the world and bodies are the work of the devil (Yahweh) who holds the Divine Substance (good God..Lucifer) in bondage. Gnostics, or Pneumatics, possess the secret gnosis of escaping this evil world so as to be reabsorbed into the divine substance. Since matter is evil and reabsorption is salvation then procreation is evil because it produces more earthly suffering by trapping divine sparks within bodies.
The similarity between Greek and Upanishadic doctrines is striking. The Upanishads teach that souls are aspects or particles of the totality. The fall of the souls is into bodies. This cosmic rupture is a state of misery for the separated souls because in the body they become limited and divided into individuals. Rather than oneness (wholeness) there is a binary system of opposites which must be eliminated:
" The foremost â€œbinaryâ€ is the distinction between the Creator and the creature. Other binaries then fall like dominosâ€”the binary of right and wrong, for example. â€œWe must beware of thinking of good and evil as absolute opposites,â€ says a leading theorist. Modern psychologists tell us that a binary view of reality (as made up of opposites) produces guilt, the hallmark of neurosis. The Hindu notion of Advaita, â€œnot two,â€ dominates spirituality and â€œnon-dual spiritualityâ€ is taught even in some â€œevangelicalâ€ schools. Lesbian activists ask: â€œCan We Put an End to the Gender Binary?â€ (The Advocate.com) because â€œthere is no one way a person should be.â€ (May 9, 2012: The Official End of Christendom, Dr. Peter Jones, http://patriotsandliberty.com/?p=17185 )
From the time of Babylonia the divine One Substance has been called Chaos, the watery abyss or void. With the Stoic's the divine One Substance is like an all-permeating gas or a universal spirit-reason-fire which may be called God or Zeus.
For Seneca, the divine Substance is an all-permeating breath, an incorporeal reason, or an immutable chain of interlinked causation (i.e., Great Scale of Being).
Atomists such as Epicurus taught that the "all that exists" is the void (one substance) and matter, and that human beings, their intelligence and volition, are an evolved accident of chance. Everything is void and matter, therefore first principles, eternal ideas, souls, spirits, divine reason and afterlife are absurdities. Only reason is left, but reason is active only because sensations (i.e., firing of neurons, chemical interactions) stimulate it.
Epicurus's materialist teachings are the basis of all materialist systems, including the West's contemporary version, scientific matierialism and its main doctrine, biological evolution.
In contrast to pagan evolutionism, Christianity teaches that the supernatural God is the Ultimate Thinker, the living, personal Creator who called all things into being from nothing---creation ex nihilo. He creates all souls individual and immortal. They are not mere aspects of an unthinking, impersonal substance, but rather they belong to the supernatural God Who speaks:
"Behold all souls are mine: as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, the same shall die." Ezekiel 18:4
Again in contrast to pagan doctrine, the Bible traces all human sinfulness to the fact that Adam and Eve sinned. Adam, as the head and father of the human race, is important not only for his own sin, but because in Adam we all sinned. The Genesis account also teaches that Godâ€™s judgment on that sin has cosmic effects.
Molnar writes that despite the rise of Christianity a pagan influence persisted underground and in the fourteenth century onward to our own time it has grown increasingly coherent, interconnected, organized and assertive. In the twentieth century the pagan influence and its' evolutionary account of origins is so pervasive and seductive that Westerners are increasingly turning from Christianity to seek meaning, salvation, and spiritual powers in pagan spirituality and the occult.
Though the theory of evolution has not captured the hearts and minds of the vast mainstream of American Christians this good news is only for a short time, said Dr. Mohler. And this is because Christians do not know what evolutionary theory really is. Nor do they have any:
" understanding of the Bibleâ€™s message of creation and redemption. We have not only a failure to connect the dots; in too many churches we have a failure to teach the basic truths that will be dots we might want to connect....Doctrinal illiteracy has infected much of evangelicalism, where experience seems to rule over knowledge, and intuition seems to dominate over true intellectual engagement. This bad news gets worse, because generation by generation there will be a greater acceptance of naturalism and evolution simply because the younger generation is so steeped in the educational process and in a secular culture where thatâ€™s taken for granted." (Creation and Redemption: A Conversation with Albert Mohler, interview with Lael Weinberger, creation.com )
With some sterling exceptions, neither Christian parents nor the Church are countering pervasive pagan influences---the intellectual attacks--- on the faith of children and each other. Pagans teach evolution as scientific fact while apathetic Christians stand by passively, indecisively, frozen in ignorance.