Monday, February 20, 2012

Perceptions – things are not always as they seem.

Interpretation of a situation is always context-dependent (Wittgenstein). 

Wittgensteing reconsidered some well-known psychological puzzles. Have you ever seen the duck or the rabbit?

This phenomenon of seeing either a duck or a rabbit Ludwig Wittgenstein philosopher (1889 – 1951) defined as we see something 'as' a duck – or 'as' a rabbit. 

(insert picture)

Much of the New Testament's teaching about last things is explained in word pictures  – picture thinking. Words that specify and present future scenes. 

James McClendon in his book Doctrine Systematic Theology Volume 2 explains "the 'seeing-as' (seeing a line drawing as a rabbit, for example) is not identical with ordinary seeing (for example, seeing a drawing on an artist's pad), but it has some feature sin common with the other as well." To relate this to theology Wittgenstein (1953) explains that religious belief, such as life after death and the last judgment, are not objects of belief on the basis of ordinary sorts of evidence; and they are not the result of better or worse reasoning based on such ordinary evidence, either (McClendon, 1994). They are not unreasonable beliefs. What distinguishes those who believe in the last judgement from those who do not is not different chains of reasoning, but radically different pictures of how in general the world goes. As a Christian we would explain that this is a difference in someone's worldview or conviction. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to Interpret Dreams and Visions by Perry Stone

I spent Xmas hols reading How to Interpret Dreams and Visions by Perry Stone. This is my critique on the book he has written.

As much as I enjoy dialogue with people of the faith, I am well aware of the American pride that is often exhibited by its authors. I found the book would give anecdotal situations of what this writer had experienced --- which is all good and fine, I suppose. But the problem I have with that is that is smacks with spiritual pride. So he gets visions, yes, I get mental pictures too. But the whole ecstatic experience the apostles had I don't think he does get. Beloved brother Perry, when our brother Paul describes things happening to himself, he would say "I know of a man ..."

Also I note that having dreams and visions is something that was peculiar to the Old Testament and only a couple of times in the book of Acts. What I'm saying is that the gifts of the Holy Spirit (there are 9 of them) do not include having mental images or even using dreams. However, I would guess this is partly the function of the prophet.

Once the Church is removed from this earth, then the prophecy of Joel shall come --- it's like the OT times again, as the Holy Ghost has left with the believers. Now God reveals himself with His spirit being poured upon all flesh and all the earth will know the knowledge of God.

Apart from Stone's own experiences shared in his book, most of his authorship is valid and critical for our time and hour.

However, there are a number of errors in his work which I will point out here:

Page 54: The nightmare (para 2). Stone tells us it originated in the 1300s, but this is not right. The word 'mare' is Scandinavian for demon. Norwegian folklore believed that a demon would sit on a person's chest at night and give them a horrifying dream. This came into society shortly after the Anglo-Saxons invaded Britain.

Page 55: Lilin (para 1). Although he has rightly advised this is a demon spirit from Akkadian mythology, in the NT the Jews would have been referring to Lilith, which was their peculiar female demon that would only come out at night in their mythology. She is often depicted with a snake wrapped around her body. She is connected with the owls. Her habitat is in the desert.

Page 75: Test the spirits. Quoting from the last paragraph "In the late 1980s I was hosting a tour to Israel with more than two hundred fifty believers joining me. A woman who as not going on the trip was washing dishes when suddenly she dropped a glass, and it broke. She said that suddenly she had a vision [does she mean a mental image?] in her mind and heard a voice say, [audibly? or through her mind?] "Those going to Israel will come back broken like this glass!" She immediately called her friends and encouraged them to cancel their trip or they would return broken or injured. People planning to travel on the tour began calling me, concerned for their safety." Stone was correct in the action he took, however, he just says that the "woman totally misread what she felt." No she didn't misread. She was divining, which is prohibited in scripture. She was using augury, i.e. by the happenstance of certain objects (such as the plate breaking) she picked up a divining evil spirit to place an omen on people which would in effect discourage and put fear in them. She was being superstitious, again this is not how the Holy Ghost's nine spiritual gifts work. In the Middle East when people practised augury they would look at any thing happening and try and interpret it into an omen. God has prohibited this.

Page 107: Biased viewpoint. Stone says "Married couples often make jokes about the fact that a wife has a certain type of inner instinct that seems to be missing in the average husband." Wrong! Men also have intuition, but you know what, they give it a different name. It's called their 'gut feeling'. Police officers often have it when they sense something is not right about a situation or someone. I get tired of hearing that men do not have intuition.

Page 121 - 126. Apparitions of loved dead ones. The word of God clearly states that Jesus Christ has been resurrected and has ascended up to heaven. In the meantime, those that are dead are in the grave (body and soul), whereas their spirit has returned to the Father (whose it was in the first place to give life). Our spirits are with the Lord but are not returned until the resurrection of the dead. When Jesus Christ returns, those that are in the grave will be resurrected into eternal life and those that are living who have faith in Jesus will hear the sound of a trumpet and in the twinkling of an eye will be changed into an incorruptible body and raised to be with God in the clouds.

So how does this relate to Stone's book. Because people are saying they are seeing their loved ones in visions. That could only be a familiar spirit, as God does not allow people to come back from the dead --- only once did he allow it and that was with Samuel (go to Phantasm of Samuel). Until the resurrection then our bodies and our soul are still asleep, we will be in a state of dreaming --- whether of being in paradise or hell --- but we aren't there yet until the RESURRECTION of the dead. I can only understand Christians having DREAMS of their loved ones and not really apparitions.

When Stephen was being stoned he saw into the spirit world, because his spirit was going back to God his maker. And he called upon the Lord to "receive his spirit."

Page 140: The double law. This is true, however, just because you may have a double dream does not necessarily mean it is from the Lord. Satan can quite easily do this too, so we are always to try the spirits first .... not become superstitious because it is 'double'.

Page 148. The theophany of Daniel. Stone does not believe the angel of the Lord is the pre-Incarnate Christ. This is because this angel of the Lord was restrained by a demonic force - the prince of Persia for 21 days. I agree Christ cannot be hindered by any demonic spirit, however, this is before His death and Resurrection which is only when He was able to make an open spectacle of them once He had conquered death. Before this, ethically Christ was not in a position where He could with one sweep of His Word declare this prince to be out of the way. He is still in abeyance of His Word and His Laws. This is why prayer is so important, because it is God and the spirits that act on the speech or thoughts petitioned to God; without our help via prayer, angelic forces cannot act as efficaciously as they can if we pray earnestly and more so when we fast.

Page 154: Can angels appear as women in dreams? Stone quotes Zechariah 5:9 . Here are described two women with wings. However, this is the only time scripture has suggested female angelic beings, and here they are evil spirits. God did not create female angels. All angels have male names, they are not given in marriage, but it doesn't make them less male. This was the whole problem of the Genesis 6 Sons of God falling from heaven and materialising as men, cohabiting with women, then breeding giants (what our legends and myths have come from). During this time Nephilim had sex with women who produced both sexes, once they died they became evil spirits upon the earth and in the heavenlies. In fact these are the spirits Jesus went and preached to, and what Jude, Peter and Enoch talk about leaving their first estate (that is heaven).

Angels will always appear as men, as they always do so in scripture.