Pagan philosophers have long admitted to the existence of body and soul (mind, will and emotions). What they most often deny and refute—sometimes violently—is the existence of spirit (because they have no personal evidence of such). Claiming to make scientific observations, they live in the world of speculation. Without the ability to perceive God, people decide truth for themselves (based on observations made exclusively by the fallen, thus warped, body and soul). They argue that no two people see anything exactly the same way. Therefore, all is relative to one’s own standpoint. Each person is the highest authority in his own, small world; he is the center of his individual universe.
I have a friend who believes the secular idea that man is just body and soul…nothing more. He has come to this conclusion, much in the way Charles Bradlaugh came to his ideas: he witnessed people (so-called Christians) touting irrational theories and displaying unstable emotions which they insisted were spiritual…claiming the source of their ideas was God. My friend left the island of mythological madness for the more placid waters of philosophy. False representations of Christianity did not kindle the fire of doubt in him, but they did fan the flames.
My friend does not realize his erratic philosophy is merely another side of the same coin. Pagan mythology and pagan philosophy, though not identical, are nonetheless twins. Cultural and ethical differences are all that separate them. Varied opinions are equal if they are all wrong; a dead rat is just as dead as a deceased mouse. Philosophy and mythology are in the same proverbial boat.
What my friend experienced was more akin to pagan mysticism than Christianity. Claiming to be “faith,” it was a system of unbelief, fostered by the negation of creation and the insistence on fantasy. It was like the toy, plastic food offered by children playing house. There is nothing wrong with imagination, per se, but when one insists his imagination is reality, the game ceases to be innocuous.
When Christian educators teach science, math, and other wholesome subjects, the student at the natural level sees the goodness of God. This establishes and strengthens his faith. It is important to establish in the hearts of students that God is just as much God in the ordinary as He is in the extraordinary. There is a type of reverse secularism, which Christian educators should be mindful of—the defiance of common, ordinary, everyday life; the disdain of practicality. God was just as much God in the carpenter shop as He was on the mount of transfiguration. He was just as holy in the stable, among the cows, as He is in Heaven…and just as spiritual.
That God came down to earth is not the negation of spirit, nor the negation of earth, but the combining, once again, of two realms. Adam was made to be spiritual and physical. Jesus, being the Last Adam, is Son of God and Son of Man. The first Adam lost the function of his spirit, and became a creature of mere earth (soul and body alone). The Last Adam is not only the Lord of Heaven, but Lord of earth as well (1 Corinthians 15:44).
My unbelieving friend had many experiences with believers who might as well have sung Bibbety Bobbety Boo, or When You Wish Upon a Star in their worship services. To them, the Bible was treated as a book of spells; people were always trying to coax the “genie” out of the bottle to make him grant their wishes.
There is no harm in imaginary places like Neverland or C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. They metaphorically represent real places. Christ Himself was the Master of Parables. Stories can aid in getting people to see beyond the natural world. However, in my friend’s experience, it was the imaginary that was proclaimed—not as something pretend, allegorical or even metaphorical—but as reality!
Religion and philosophy outside of Christ is merely mythology and folly. The call of Christian education is to preach and teach Christ. The putting forward of cultures and creeds as absolute, unless they are rooted and grounded in Christ, is the kind of irrational idolatry that fuels the flames of unbelief. When systems of self-righteousness are built out of fragmented truth, they often look so much like Christianity that the average person cannot tell them apart. Like counterfeit currency, it takes close examination to discern sham religion from true Christianity.