What do you see in the picture? People perceive, analyse and imagine in different ways but for this challenge there is only one right answer. Enlightenment will come as you read on! The very word ‘enlightenment’ can be taken in three ways – simply, it could be the process where someone is given greater knowledge and understanding about a subject or situation. It can also refer to a spiritual opening of the eyes or to a European movement of the late 17th and 18th centuries. More of that to come but first, how much of life is shaped by conspiracy theories, shadowy speculations and secret societies, some of which were created during the ‘Age of Enlightenment’? There are those who claim to have special knowledge which can lead to cults being formed, rituals being practiced and controlling power being wielded. Human beings are drawn to these darker things.
- ‘I think the Enlightenment is leading us into a dark hole, really’ – David Hockney
- ‘I don't believe that human beings can achieve ultimate enlightenment, because humans have flaws’ – Tiger Woods
- ‘Tonight I'll dust myself off, tonight I'll suck my gut in, I'll face the night and I'll pretend I got something to believe in’ – Jon Bon Jovi
- ‘The enlightenment is under threat. So is reason. So is truth. So is science’ – Richard Dawkins
- ‘Europe and the world are waiting for us to defend the spirit of the enlightenment everywhere’ – Emmanuel Macron
‘The Enlightenment’ put science, reason, liberalism and individualism in the driving seat and was heavily influenced by 17th and 18th century philosophers such as Locke, Newton, Voltaire and Rousseau. It was leading thinker René Descartes who came up with ‘je pense, donc je suis’. Translated then into Latin it was, ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ – ‘I think therefore I am’! This ‘each to their own’ approach meant that in the area of truth, everyone is right and no one is right! It was the embracing of relativism and the abandonment of absolutes. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche declared, ‘Gott ist tot’ (God is dead) to express his idea that the Enlightenment had eliminated the possibility of the existence of God. There are nearly 3 billion Christians in the world who disagree because they follow a risen Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Light of the world.
Is it not ironic that ‘The Enlightenment’ spawned a plethora of secret societies? Some such as Free Masonry began earlier in 1717 but now there are many such as The Oddfellows, The Ancient Order of Foresters and The Illuminati. Each has its own traditions, gestures, ranks and symbols that have drawn many in but leave others very uncomfortable with speculation about powerful forces controlling events behind the scenes.
- ‘When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ – John 8:12
- ‘For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible – and everything that is illuminated becomes a light’ – Ephesians 5:8-13
- ‘The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law’ – Deuteronomy 29:29
- ‘Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”’ – John 8:31-32
- ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery’ – Galatians 5:1
- ‘So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’ – John 8:36
A group known as the Gnostics had already been at work among early Christians teaching that spirit is entirely good and matter is entirely evil. They held that special knowledge (gnosis) showed salvation came through escape from the body rather than by faith in Christ. The Apostles John and Paul addressed these various heresies to safeguard the church. Those claiming special knowledge can even lead to people losing their lives in mass killings such as ‘The Branch Davidians’ where 76 died in Waco in 1993 and in Guyana where 909 died through ‘The People’s Temple’ in 1978.
Be careful who you follow, who you listen to, what you watch and what you read. God’s Word forbids occultist practices and special knowledge other than what he has shown us in Jesus who we can trust fully for salvation. Jesus tells Thomas as much: ‘Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”’ (John 14:6). On the 29th April 1991 David Icke claimed in a live TV show that he was the Son of God and was told by Terry Wogan that the audience was not laughing with him but at him!
- ‘”At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you in advance”’ – Matthew 24:23-25
- ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God’ – 1 Corinthians 1:18
- ‘He (God) said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children”’ – Revelation 21:6-7
- ‘For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand’ – Ephesians 6:12-13
There is a battle for your mind, for your heart, for your body and for your eternal future. Thank God for the armour that is given to his children and be sure to put on the full armour of God. We do not have all the answers or all the knowledge now, but we know the one who has and we can trust him fully.
- ‘For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known’ – 1 Corinthians 13:12
- ‘No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit’ – 1 Corinthians 2:7-9
- ‘”I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: if anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll”’ – Revelation 22:18-19
A little bit of enlightenment for you then if you are still wondering about the photograph! It is the end of an old-fashioned curly window stay - it makes a great ‘e’!
This Booster has only touched the surface of this topic. If you want to delve in a bit more, watch 7 minute C4L video ‘The Age of Enlightenment’: https://connect4life.org.uk/c4l-videos-4-life
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