Book of Hebrews
Lorin Friesen, March 2018
This essay is a cognitive verse-by-verse analysis of the book of Hebrews. The general thesis of this essay is that Hebrew is describing the steps that are required to get from present society to the future existence described at the end of the book of Revelation. Saying this more clearly, Hebrews 1-13 describes the same general prophetic sequence that is found in Revelation 10-22. This correspondence is not always immediately obvious, but it becomes apparent as one compares what is happening cognitively, under the surface.
Hebrews refers frequently to Old Testament people, objects, and rituals. This essay attempts to analyze these references from a cognitive perspective. This provides a possible starting point for a cognitive analysis of Jewish halacha.
This essay will be discussing both theory and application. On the one hand, we will be looking theoretically at hypothetical modes of existence. On the other hand, we will be focusing upon what it would feel like personally to live in such modes of existence, the primary choices that people in such environments would face, and the consequences of making these choices.
Due to the length of the essay it has been split into three parts. The first part examines Hebrews 1-6. The second part looks at Hebrews 7-10, and the third part deals with Hebrews 11-13. I have also included a table of contents. All biblical quotations are taken from the NASB.
I would like to thank Angelina Van Dyke for the extensive feedback that she provided on this essay.
I read through this essay in late 2021 after writing the essay on Acts 1-12. That essay added a number of details to the period of history that extends from the present to the middle future, making it possible to gain a fuller understanding of the first 7 chapters of Hebrews. I have added a number of comments to the analysis of these seven chapters. These comments are all in brackets prefaced by the phrase ‘Note from 2021’. I have not altered any of the original text is except for adding some links. That is because the original essay provides a record of my process of deciphering prophecy and it also describes the reasoning behind many of my fundamental concepts of prophecy. I have also put together a tentative prophetic timeline that lines up Hebrews with other New Testament books. That timeline takes precedence over any suggestions made in this essay, because many details have become apparent to me since writing this essay on Hebrews.
Table of Contents
1:1-3 Speaking through the Son
School The School Analogy
1:4-12 Theoretical Return of Jesus
1:13-14 Overcoming Opposition
2:1-2 Two Kinds of Punishment
2:3-5 Spiritual Technology
2:6-9 Reappraising Incarnation
2:10-15 Backlash that Extends Incarnation
2:16-18 Descendant of Abraham
3:1 Transforming Religion
3:2 Moses ‘Drawn from the Water’
3:3-4 Intelligent Design
3:5-6 A Faithful Servant
3:7-8 Hardening One’s Heart
Temptation Temptation versus Testing
3:9-11 Testing God in the Wilderness
Rest Analyzing Rest
3:12-13 Falling Away from God
3:14-19 Finishing a Journey with Christ
Entering Entering Rest
4:1-9 A Window of Opportunity
4:10-11 The Requirements for Rest
4:12-13 Learning to Think Clearly
4:14-16 A New High Priest
5:1-3 Priesthood of Christ
5:4-5 Called by God
5:6-8 Priest of Righteousness
5:9-10 Source of Eternal Salvation
5:11-14 Back to Basics
6:1 Elementary Teachings
6:2-3 Foundational Concepts
6:4-6 No Turning Back
6:7-8 Two Possible Responses
6:9 Building a New Foundation
6:10-12 A New Economy of Love
6:13-20 Swearing and Oaths
The book of Hebrews is traditionally regarded as a literary work written for a Jewish audience in order to show that Jesus instituted a better priesthood. This interpretation turns most of the book of Hebrews into a theological treatise that has limited practical application to a modern-day audience, the primary exception to this being the description of biblical heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. I just finished struggling for several months through the Gospel of John. The second half, starting with John 13, appears to be describing prophecy. Analyzing that text led to some new concepts, including spiritual technology, and a transition from matter-over-mind to mind-over-matter. When one comes up with new ideas, it is always helpful to find corroborating evidence. This is especially true when dealing with the topic of biblical prophecy, because new interpretations are continually being proposed and old interpretations rejected. I was recently asked to teach on the book of Hebrews, which meant that I had to take a closer look at this book. I was stunned to find that it contains a detailed description of the same concepts that emerged when examining the Gospel of John.
The key to interpreting Hebrews is to look beyond the various historical figures to the cognitive mindsets that these people represent. The opening two verses of the book provide an illustration of what this means. Therefore, we will jump straight into the text.
As usual, I will be quoting from the NASB, as well as linking to the Greek definitions at biblehub.com. I have been using the NASB because it sticks fairly closely to the original Greek text. However, I found to my surprise that the NASB does not always do a good job of conveying the sense of the original Greek in the book of Hebrews.
The NASB addresses this inadequacy to some extent by using italics to indicate which words have been added to the English translation as well as pointing out in footnotes more literal translations of some of the Greek words. But this only solves part of the problem. Even when one eliminates the English words that are in italics and substitutes the more literal meanings, one still ends up with a significant discrepancy between the Greek text and the NASB English translation.
Part of the problem with any translation lies with the book of Hebrews itself, because it is full of precise Greek terms that cannot be translated directly into corresponding English terms. In fact, I would estimate that the book of Hebrews contains more than one hundred Greek words that appear only once in the New Testament, a conclusion backed up by this chart. (The epistles of Peter also contain many Greek words used only once in the New Testament.)
But even if one were to translate the Greek text literally and provide precise English definitions of the technical terms, the book of Hebrews still would not make complete sense. That is because the book of Hebrews contains some rather strange language which does not quite fit if one views this book from the traditional perspective as a comparison between Judaism and Christianity. Throughout the book, the translators of the NASB (and probably most other translations) have modified the literal text slightly in order to come up with an English translation that makes sense to today’s evangelical Christian mindset. I am not suggesting that a literal interpretation does not make sense. It does—almost. But one continually gains the impression that one is looking at a picture that is slightly out of focus, and no matter how one adjusts one’s glasses, the picture remains a little blurry.
However, if one approaches the original Greek text from a cognitive perspective, looking at what is happening within the mind, then the book of Hebrews comes into focus, and the picture that emerges is incredibly detailed.
Summarizing, the book of Hebrews contains more unique words than other books in the New Testament, which means that the writer of Hebrews chose his words very carefully. When words are being chosen so carefully, then this implies that one is writing with technical precision. But if one interprets the book of Hebrews literally as a comparison between Judaism and Christianity, then this precise language must be translated into English in an imprecise manner, because translating the precise language precisely does not quite make sense. However, if one interprets the book of Hebrews cognitively as a description of God taking the necessary steps that are required to get from now to eternity, then the text makes sense when one translates the precise Greek language precisely into English. This provides strong circumstantial evidence that the book of Hebrews is meant to be interpreted cognitively.
The end result is a book-length essay on the book of Hebrews that is almost twice as long as any other essay that I have written.
Looking at this more generally, this essay will attempt to analyze the nature of a future civilization based upon a book written during a previous civilization, guided by common patterns of cognition. And we will attempt to do this in a semi-rigorous manner. That is an almost impossible task. As far as I can tell, the only way to comprehend something new and strange is by showing how it is similar to something familiar that already exists, which means using many illustrations and analogies. These will be drawn primarily from two sources: 1) Science and technology. I have a Master’s degree in engineering and have taught math and physics. I will not be giving any mathematical equations, but rather describing primarily what it feels like to live within a world of science and technology, in order to try to comprehend—and convey—what it might feel like to live in the future world described by the book of Hebrews. 2) Mental structure. For several decades, I have been following a path of attempting to understand how the mind functions and how one can get it to function in a more integrated manner. As I was studying the book of Hebrews, I kept finding that these personal experiences resonated with the words of the text. This too will help to convey what it might feel like to live in a future world described by the book of Hebrews.
Therefore, I suggest that this essay will make most sense to the reader who knows what it is like to work with science and technology, and who knows what it is like to follow a path of ‘being transformed by the renewing of the mind’. If one approaches this essay from a traditional evangelical Christian viewpoint, then it may feel as if I am not really saying anything new for the first six chapters and then abruptly shift to feeling as if what I am saying does not make any sense.
Books on prophecy often focus upon timing and dates. When one is using analogy and comparison to attempt to understand what the Bible says about the future, then it is impossible to make any definitive statements about timing or dates. I suspect that the various steps described in the book of Hebrews will each take decades or centuries, but that is merely an educated guess. I am a Perceiver person, and Perceiver persons are naturally rotten at timing because they think in terms of connections and not sequences. Therefore, I will attempt to analyze the book of Hebrews and describe what the future might be like, and also try to explain how each step in this process lays the foundation for the next. But I will not attempt to guess how long each step in this process will take.
Analogy is also incapable of describing the precise nature of something, but can only say what it is like. For instance, how would one describe a smart phone to someone living 100 years ago, because it is totally different than anything that existed in the past? Instead, one is reduced to using analogies. Similarly, this essay will not attempt to guess the precise nature of the future, because that would be futile. Instead, we will limit ourselves to trying to understand what the future will be like, guided by the Greek text of the book of Hebrews (as well as other books of the New Testament) combined with an understanding of how the mind functions.
One final point of a technical nature. When I provide a more literal translation of some phrase or sentence from the Greek text, then this literal translation will often be grammatically incorrect in English, because the verb may be missing or prepositions not present. These are not typos. Instead, the grammatical errors are deliberate because I am attempting to convey the original Greek text as accurately as possible. This kind of grammatically incorrect translation is what one finds when reading the English text of a Greek/English interlinear New Testament. Similarly, the definitions from biblehub.com, including the definitions from HELPS Word-studies that are included on biblehub.com, are not always presented as grammatically complete sentences. My general practice will be to quote the definition accurately without fixing these grammatical inadequacies.
Hebrews begins by comparing the prophets with the Son: “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” (1:1-2). Two different forms of communication from God are being compared: the prophets and Jesus. Interpreted literally, this applies to the transition from Judaism to Christianity. But if one looks more closely, then a larger interpretation emerges.
The author is comparing God speaking through the prophets with God speaking through his Son. A concept of God is based in a general Teacher understanding, while the Son of God is the incarnation who is both God and man. Thus, the focus is not upon the life and death of Jesus-as-man in concrete Mercy thought, but rather upon understanding the nature of God through Jesus-as-God in abstract Teacher thought.
Looking at verse 1 more closely, a prophet is ‘one who speaks forth by the inspiration of God’, and the author adds that communication through the prophets happened ‘long ago’. This would describe various forms of absolute truth which have their basis in the distant past. For instance, the book of Hebrews was written in the distant past by some prophet (or prophetess) who penned words that were inspired by God. (The New Testament had to be inspired by a single supernatural author because it contains too much integrated cognitive structure to have been penned by many human authors from different eras and cultures.) Most modern biblical scholarship consists of quoting from the Bible, as well as quoting from other established ancient sources such as the church fathers. However, the author of Hebrews does not talk any more about the prophets. Instead, this word is only used once more in Hebrews 11:32 when talking about the heroes of faith. In other words, the primary method that most theologians and Christians use to learn about God is mentioned once in the first verse of the book of Hebrews as something that occurred in the distant past, and then dropped for the rest of the book, except for one reference in a section on heroes from the past.
Notice how a cognitive interpretation differs from a literal interpretation. Looking at verse 1 literally, one concludes that the Old Testament prophets have been replaced by the living example of Jesus of Nazareth, causing Judaism to be replaced by Christianity. Looking at verse 1 cognitively, one observes that Christianity is still taught using primarily the same mindset that was practiced by the Old Testament prophets. In both cases, holy people spoke words from God, which were then written down in a holy book, which is now accepted as absolute truth from God.
Verse 2 talks about a new way of learning about God that has opened up ‘in these last days’. A day refers to ‘the period from sunrise to sunset’. Symbolically, this represents a period that is illuminated by the ‘sun’ of some general Teacher understanding. Instead of referring to long-dead experts who are regarded as sources of absolute truth, people now have a general Teacher understanding about God. The source of this Teacher understanding is described in verse 2. Looking first at the future, the Son has been appointed heir of all things. ‘All things’ refers to universal concepts that extend far beyond specific words spoken by long dead prophets. And ‘appointed heir’ tells us that God the Father will ensure that everything eventually belongs to Incarnation. What I have just mentioned is not new, but is taught as standard Christian theology. But what defines standard Christian theology? Standard theology is believed to be true because it was spoken by the prophets of long ago who wrote the Bible. However, the book of Hebrews opens by saying that this method of learning about God has become obsolete. Instead, what is being described is learning about God in a new manner because it has become apparent that everything is becoming an expression of Incarnation.
This is a significant transition because we now live in a post-Christian society that is actively rejecting the truth of Christianity because it thinks that this truth is based in the words of long dead prophets who are no longer respected. But I have discovered that it is possible to base the same Christian theology in a general Teacher understanding of how the mind works. This has been summarized in the book Natural Cognitive Theology, and is expanded in the essays on the mental symmetry website.
Saying this more carefully, I am not suggesting that the Bible is obsolete. I would not write a 400 page essay on the book of Hebrews if I believed that the Bible was obsolete. But the consensus of modern Western society is that the Bible is obsolete. This does not mean that no one is reading the Bible or open to the message of the Bible anymore. But it does mean that the average person no longer reads the Bible, learns from the Bible, applies the message of the Bible, or even knows what the Bible says. One can respond to this by discarding the Bible and other holy books, but that leads to moral relativism and societal angst. One can respond to this by clinging to the Bible in a fundamentalist fashion and preaching it more strongly than ever. But that is like trying to preach a sermon in a hurricane, and so much effort will be required merely to stand in the middle of the storm that the struggle of fighting the wind will tend to overwhelm any message that one originally intended to preach. Or one can respond by using a new method to analyze God and religion by looking for universal principles that describe the path of reaching mental, spiritual and societal wholeness. If one uses this new method, then one finds the Bible actually makes more sense than before.
Science and technology provide a partial illustration of this new method. The scientific revolution made it apparent that all of the physical universe is an expression of the universal laws of God the Father in Teacher thought, discovered through the technical thinking of Incarnation. Going further, science provides the basis for technology, and technology is being used to transform human society. Thus, the technical thinking of science is becoming the heir of human society, because more and more aspects of human society explicitly reflect the technical thinking of science. In practical terms, this means that one can learn about the technical thinking of science and the universal laws of nature by studying the technological gadgets that have become ubiquitous throughout society.
Incarnation is explained in technical detail, and also more simply, in previous essays. In brief, a mental concept of incarnation forms when the two sides of Contributor thought become internally integrated. These two sides are: 1) abstract technical thought which improves Teacher theories, guided by precise definitions of words; and 2) concrete technical thought which improves Mercy experiences, guided by a knowledge of cause-and-effect. I will use ‘incarnation’ in smaller case to refer to the mental concept of incarnation while capitalizing the word ‘Incarnation’ when referring to the second person of the Trinity. I will probably be inconsistent in this usage because it is often difficult to distinguish one from the other.
Returning now to Hebrews, verse 2 adds ‘through whom also he made the world’. As the NASB points out, the word translated world actually means ‘an age, a cycle of time, especially of the present age as contrasted with the future age’. More literally, the phrase is ‘and through whom he made the ages’. I suggest that this is not merely a theological fact stated in the Bible but a universal principle through which one learns about God. One can examine how things worked in previous ages, and from this gain an understanding of the nature of God. This describes the approach that I have been trying to take in my analysis of the Bible.
The nature of incarnation is described further in verse 3: “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” The word radiance is only used once in the New Testament and means ‘a light flashing forth’ and is derived from the word for dawn. Exact representation also occurs only once and describes ‘an engraving, an exact impression which also reflects inner character’. Nature is a legal term that means ‘under a legal standing, entitling someone to what is guaranteed under the particular agreement’. Putting this together, incarnation is being described as something that is actively revealing the character of God in both concrete and abstract thought. In concrete thought, incarnation is the flashing forth of the glory of God. In abstract thought, incarnation is an accurate translation of the universal laws of God which reflect the character of God. Again using science and technology as a partial illustration, technology is an expression of the universal laws of nature that flashes forth. Whenever some new gadget is unveiled, then this provides a glimpse into what natural law makes possible. Similarly, science translates universal law into the technical language of math and one can use mathematical manipulation to accurately describe and predict how universal natural laws behave. This type of learning about God goes far beyond ‘speaking long ago to the fathers in the prophets’. (Science is only a partial illustration of the ‘new method’, because scientific thought does not include subjective experience. This deficiency will be addressed in the coming verses.)
Finally, verse 3 says that ‘he upholds all things by the word of his power’. Uphold means ‘carrying to a definite conclusion’. This is not just holding something in place but rather bringing something along. This carrying is not being done by physical actions in Server thought, but rather by power in Perceiver thought, backed up by words in Teacher thought. Modern technology provides a partial illustration of what this means. All of modern society is being carried to the condition of being dominated by technology. What is driving this transformation is not primarily physical labor, but rather the power of new scientific discoveries guided by the Teacher theories of universal natural law.
I suggest that these verses are related to what I call the theoretical return of Jesus. Summarizing the progression that occurs in the book of Revelation, a general rational understanding of God and incarnation is developed in Revelation 10, this general Teacher understanding is preached in Revelation 11, and this culminates in God and Incarnation empowering this Teacher understanding at the end of Revelation 12. This divine empowering of a rational understanding of God and Incarnation is what I call the theoretical return of Jesus. Similarly, we will see that Hebrews 1 describes the development of a general understanding of God and Incarnation, and this understanding will become empowered by God in the beginning of Hebrews 2.
Looking at this theologically, I suggest that a distinction needs to be made between the theoretical return of Jesus as described in Matthew 24, Revelation 12, 1 John 3, and 1 Thessalonians 4, and the physical return of Jesus mentioned in Revelation 19. If one takes the description in Hebrews 1 at face value, then it describes a theoretical return of Jesus. The physical return of Jesus appears to be mentioned in Hebrews 10:20, and it takes several major steps to get from Revelation 12 to Revelation 19, and from Hebrews 1 to Hebrews 10.
Summarizing, the theoretical return of Jesus is the starting point for the book of Hebrews. The author will compare this new method of learning about God with previous methods, and then describe what happens next. This is traditionally interpreted from a theological perspective as referring to the transition from Judaism to Christianity, instituted by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. I suggest that this theological interpretation is accurate but incomplete.
One can explain this with the help of an analogy that has been used in previous essays. Incarnation combines concrete technical thought with abstract technical thought. Concrete technical thought works with sequences of cause-and-effect, treating these sequences as steps that occur over time. For instance, first I plant the seeds, then I water the plants, and finally I harvest the crop. Abstract technical thought works with the same sequences, but views them as complete entities that are combined to produce general theories. For instance ‘growing a crop’ needs to be coordinated with ‘raising animals’, ‘building a barn’, ‘maintaining machinery’, and ‘supporting a family’. This same contrast can be seen in the classes of a school. Concrete technical thought views each course as a sequence of classes that one must attend and assignments that must be completed. This describes the perspective of the student. Abstract technical thought views the same courses as building blocks of education that are combined to form a curriculum of understanding. The focus is not upon taking each class but rather upon combining classes in order to create some educational program.
Theology takes the perspective of abstract technical thought, describing and analyzing the curriculum of God’s school of character transformation. This is essential because the school must be set up and a curriculum established before students can start attending classes. But a purely theological perspective will think that enrolling in a class is sufficient. It is imperative that one in enrolls in the appropriate classes, but signing up for a class is only the first step in taking that class. Using theological language, justification views the school of personal transformation from God’s perspective of abstract thought, while sanctification views the same school from the human perspective of concrete thought. When one enrolls in God’s school by becoming a Christian, then one becomes justified in the eyes of God; God verbally declares that one is righteous. Similarly, when one enrolls in a school, one officially becomes a student, and one can receive the benefits of being an official student. But one still has to take the classes and pass the courses. The abstract verbal declaration of justification has to be accompanied by the concrete process of sanctification. God the Father deals with justification in Teacher thought, while God the Spirit guides sanctification in Mercy thought. If one focuses solely upon God the Spirit, then that is like a school that focuses upon the needs of the students while ignoring the curriculum.
Applying this to the book of Hebrews, a theological perspective analyzes the various courses and emphasizes the need to enroll in these courses. This is necessary but it is not sufficient. One must also examine what is involved in taking these courses, and one must evaluate where one is in the process of taking these courses. Asking those questions leads to a cognitive perspective. Saying this in more detail, a theological perspective views the transition from prophets to incarnation as a change in divine curriculum that happened at the heavenly level. This may be true, but it does not describe what is happening at the concrete level of human experience. A cognitive perspective observes that a mindset which thinks in terms of ‘absolute truth revealed in the past by experts’ is being transformed into a mindset which thinks in terms of ‘universal truth revealed through the plan and structure of incarnation’.
There is also a prophetic perspective, which believes that God will step in at some time in the future to intervene directly in human affairs. God must eventually intervene, but when will that happen, and what must humans do to prepare? Asking such questions leads again to a cognitive perspective, because it appears that God will only step in when humans have reached the required level of cognitive development, and God intervenes by following a plan that can be rationally comprehended if one understands how the mind functions. The book of Hebrews talks extensively about this interaction between human growth and divine intervention. For instance, chapter 3 talks about entering God’s rest and says that God wanted to intervene several times but could not because humans did not complete the required path of faith.
Summarizing, I suggest that the transition from prophets to incarnation became theologically true after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Using the school analogy, this is when the school was established. This transition is currently in the process of becoming cognitively true, as people internally move from absolute truth based in religious experts to universal truth based in general understanding. Using the school analogy, this describes people studying in the school and learning what the school teaches. This transition has not yet become prophetically true, because the theoretical return of Jesus has not yet occurred. Using the school analogy, this will happen when enough people have graduated from the school in order to transform society at large.
If one compares these three perspectives, it becomes obvious that the cognitive and prophetic perspectives are lagging far behind the theological perspective. In other words, many Christian doctrines are theologically true in heaven, but are not cognitively apparent within people’s minds and have not become true within human society. I suggest that there is a historical reason for this discrepancy. My hypothesis is that God wanted a scientific revolution to occur in Alexandria before the time of Christ, but this did not happen. (This hypothesis has major implications regarding divine sovereignty and human free will. In brief, I suggest that God’s sovereign plan of redemption will be completed regardless of human free will. However, human free will is capable of temporarily opposing divine sovereignty, forcing God to follow a path that takes longer and usually involves greater human suffering.) I do not state this hypothesis lightly. Historical evidence makes it clear that science almost emerged in Alexandria. As this website on Jewish history states, there is a strong Jewish connection to Alexandria, because “At its height, Alexandria was the wealthiest, most powerful, most influential and most sophisticated Jewish community… In their view, Jerusalem was a very provincial, small, backward city. [Jerusalem] was not a city of the world. The situation was similar to the way the Jews of New York sometimes feel vis-a-vis anywhere else in the world… The Jews in Alexandria were so influential that the Greek rulers of the Ptolemaic empire became very interested in Jewish customs, ideas and behavior.” Going further, I have just finished analyzing John 1-18 from this perspective, and it is repeatedly apparent that Jesus would have had a much more receptive audience if people had understood scientific thought.
Because scientific thought did not emerge, a gulf opened up between divine theory and human practice. From the divine perspective of theology and justification, Jesus completed God’s plan of redemption. God’s school of character development was fully established. But from the human perspective of cognition, sanctification, and prophecy, people were only capable of attending and comprehending the more basic classes in the school of character development. If people did comprehend the more advanced classes of this school, then it would become apparent that there is a deep relationship between scientific thought and Christianity. (The class that I was teaching on Hebrews got canceled in the middle of chapter 2 precisely because what I was teaching went beyond the level of comprehension and comfort for my audience.)
Verse 3 describes the completeness of Jesus’ work from God’s divine perspective: “When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high”. ‘Making purification of sins’ has to do with God’s view of human imperfection. Using the school analogy, this describes God setting up the school and humans enrolling in the school. From the divine perspective, Jesus has completed the task of setting up the school, and even though it is not yet possible for humans to take all of the classes, from God’s abstract perspective, it is already possible for humans to acquire the official status of being a school student. From God’s perspective, Jesus has finished the task of human redemption. Thus, Jesus ‘sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high’. Theologically, this is already true.
But ‘purification of sins’ is not just a theological statement. 1 John 1:7 describes what it means cognitively for Jesus to make ‘purification of sins’: “But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Hebrews 1:3 and 1 John 1:7 both use the same Greek words for purification and sins. 1 John explains that this requires walking in the light as Jesus is in the light. Cognitively speaking, this means allowing personal behavior to be internally illuminated by the light of a general Teacher understanding of God. Hebrews 1 describes something similar, talking about Jesus sitting down at the right hand of ‘the Majesty on high’. Majesty describes ‘large, great, in the widest sense’, while high refers to ‘height, heaven, dignity, eminence’. Cognitively speaking, these are attributes of a universal Teacher understanding that rules over lesser concepts.
Verse 4 describes the rule of incarnation in more detail: “having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they”. The word translated better means ‘better because more fully developed in reaching the needed dominion’. The word translated excellent means able to ‘take all the way through to the end’. Thus, Incarnation is more capable of carrying out God’s plan of redemption because Incarnation has a more fully developed plan. Verse 4 adds that Jesus has inherited a better name. A name is a verbal label that is given to a person in Teacher thought, because Teacher thought works with words. A name that is inherited is not just some random label that is applied to a person, the way that human children are named, and it is also not just a label that describes the skill or profession of some person, such as ‘dentist’ or ‘engineer’. Instead, it is a label that describes the core mental networks of a person, because a person inherits a name as a result of being born within a certain family. Putting this together, Jesus is not just implementing a better plan, but Jesus is carrying out a better plan that expresses the core nature of Jesus, as viewed from the Teacher perspective of general understanding.
This personal relationship with God the Father is emphasized in verse 5: “For to which of the angels did He ever say, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You’?” God the Father is calling Jesus his Son, which indicates that the very nature of incarnation reflects the nature of God the Father. Begotten is merely an old English term that refers to the child of a father. Thus, a mother gives birth to a child, while a father begets a child. From the divine perspective, God the Son has always been the son of God the Father. But this verse must also be referring to something more specific because of the word today, which means ‘today, now’. The implication is that God the Father is being revealed through God the Son in a new manner that has not occurred in the past, consistent with the idea of a theoretical return of Jesus. But the word ‘today’ is combined with the past tense (‘I have begotten you’), which tells us that this something new has just happened, consistent with the hypothesis that the book of Hebrews describes what happens after the theoretical return of Jesus.
Obviously, it does not make historical sense to suggest that a book that was written 2000 years ago would start by referring to a future event. Instead, it makes historical sense to suggest that the book of Hebrews is describing the transition from Judaism to Christianity which was happening at the time that the book of Hebrews was written. But we will see that the book of Hebrews has to be slightly mistranslated if it only describes the transition from Judaism to Christianity. Christians claim that the Bible was ultimately written by God and not by human authors. That is Christian theology. We are going to apply this Christian theology by interpreting the book of Hebrews as if it is actually written by a supernatural being who lives outside of human time. Saying this another way, we will be adding faith to theology, because faith goes beyond proclaiming theology to acting as if theology is true. This view of faith will become apparent when examining Hebrews 11, the ‘faith chapter’.
The rest of verse 5 emphasizes this father-son relationship: “And again, ‘I will be a Father to Him and He shall be a Son to Me’?” From a theological perspective, this father-son relationship has always existed. But the verb tense indicates that something new is about to begin, because verse 5 says that ‘I will be a father’ and ‘he shall be a son’. Again, one gains the impression that God the Father and God the Son will start interacting in a more connected manner, supporting the idea that a major transition has just happened that will lead to a more integrated relationship between God the Father and God the Son.
I suggest that one can understand what this means by looking more closely at the theoretical return of Jesus together with what angels represent, because the rest of the chapter compares incarnation with angels. The word angel means ‘messenger’ and can refer either to a human messenger or to an angelic being. A message is something finite that one communicates using Teacher thought. Humans live in a physical world composed of concrete experiences that are interpreted by Mercy thought. Angels live in a non-material world composed of messages and words that are interpreted by Teacher thought. Like God the Father, angels also dwell in Teacher thought. But an angel is a finite being while God the Father is infinite. Similarly, God the Spirit interacts with the human realm of Mercy experiences, but humans are finite beings while God the Spirit is infinite. (Angels and UFOs are explored in more detail in other essays.)
One interpretation of this passage is that Jews focused upon angels because angels played such a major role in the stories of the Old Testament, and the author of Hebrews is trying to replace this fixation upon angels with a focus upon Jesus. This may be theologically true, but what does it mean cognitively and prophetically? Another interpretation is that the book of Hebrews was written to churches that had developed an unhealthy focus upon angels. This may be true, but it also turns the passage into one that applies primarily to people such as the woman in New Mexico who created a shrine to a tortilla with burn marks that looked like the face of Jesus.
The application of this passage becomes apparent if one recognizes angels as finite beings who manipulate words within abstract thought. This combination describes modern academia. Like angels, academia lives within abstract thought. Like angels, academia is composed of finite individuals who all specialize in some limited specialization. And like angels, academia manipulates words through math and other forms of technical vocabulary. Placing this within a historical and prophetic context, both cognitive theory and the biblical text suggest that the theoretical return of Jesus will be preceded by an era of technical specialization, a period of time that focuses upon the kind of thinking that occurs naturally with angels. Hebrews 1-2 describe incarnation emerging within an angelic context and then taking precedence over angels. This interpretation is consistent with the word ‘angel’, which can refer either to an angelic being or to a human messenger. These two meanings are not mutually exclusive, because the rise of modern science and technology has been accompanied by an increased focus upon UFOs and aliens, beings that appear to inhabit the angelic realm.
I do not know exactly how real angels relate to academic thought. Cognitively speaking, my hypothesis is that angels live within a kind of supernatural environment that causes them to naturally develop the type of abstract technical thought that characterizes academia, just as humans live within a physical environment that causes them to naturally develop concrete technical thought. Thus, it makes sense cognitively to take a biblical passage that talks about angels and apply it to modern academia, especially since ‘angel’ was the only word that the writer of Hebrews could use, because modern academic thought did not exist two thousand years ago when the book of Hebrews was written. However, there is indirect evidence which suggests that a deeper relationship exists between real angels and academic thought: The development of modern scientific thought has been accompanied by a change in angel mythology. The pre-scientific world talked about dwarves and elves and similar supernatural creatures which lived primarily within Nature. Today, we talk about UFOs and aliens who—supposedly—use advanced technology. I am not suggesting that all stories about UFOs are true. But it is curious that the rise of modern technology has led to a transformation in the mythology of the supernatural. Going further, the emergence of modern UFO mythology has accompanied the rise of technology and not just the rise of scientific thought. Thus, what really appears to matter is not abstract technical thought by itself but rather living personally within a realm that is created by abstract technical thought. This also explains why the writer of Hebrews would use the word ‘angel’, which implies living personally within a realm of abstract technical thought, and not just talking in some generic manner about knowing God.
The relationship between technical thought and incarnation is described extensively in the essay on the Gospel of John. Stated briefly, a mental concept of incarnation emerges when abstract technical thought becomes integrated with concrete technical thought. Abstract technical thought uses precise definitions to improve theories in Teacher thought. Using religious language, Incarnation is the Word who lives with God in Teacher thought. Concrete technical thought uses cause-and-effect to improve personal experiences in Teacher thought. Using religious language, Incarnation saves people in Mercy thought (the name Jesus means salvation).
Science claims to search for general theories but, as Thomas Kuhn says, most scientists spend most of their time using abstract technical thought to solve intellectual puzzles within some specialization. Whenever some system of thought continues to be used, then this will cause a TMN (Teacher mental network) to form within the mind, which will emotionally drive a person to expand and defend that system of thought. This is related to what psychology calls the law of the instrument, which is typically summarized by the statement ‘If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail’. Incarnation, in contrast, submits abstract technical thought to the TMN of an integrated concept of God, and God is a Universal Being who extends beyond all specializations.
This contrast is described in verse 6: “And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, ‘And let all the angels of God worship Him.’” The obvious interpretation is that this refers to the birth of Jesus, and Luke 2:13 describes “a multitude of the heavenly host praising God” when Jesus is born in Bethlehem. But while this event may be a partial expression of the text, the author of Hebrews must be referring to something that is happening later, because he says ‘when he again brings’, and the word again is in the original Greek. In addition, the verb brings implies that God the Father is ‘bringing in or introducing’ God the Son. This describes the theoretical return of Jesus, which combines the technical rational thinking of incarnation with an integrated concept of God the Father. This combination can be seen in John 14:23, which I suggest also refers to the theoretical return of Jesus: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” This is a theoretical return because people are holding on to the words of incarnation, and both God the Father and God the Son are ‘making their abode’ with people. (This claim makes more sense if one examines the context of that verse.)
When technical thought is held together by a concept of God, then all specializations become integrated, because God is a universal being. Using theological language, there is one monotheistic God who is above everything. Similarly, incarnation is not being referred to as the Son of God, but rather as the firstborn, with the definitive article in the original Greek. Firstborn means both preeminent, and first in time. Preeminent tells us 1) that everything is held together by a single incarnation rather than being split into distinct specializations, and 2) that this is the start of something new that will end up tying everything together.
The word translated ‘the world’ actually means the entire inhabited world and not the physical universe. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he came to the physical world. This second coming (and I suggest that what people call ‘the rapture’ is actually the theoretical return of Jesus) is one in which God and Incarnation come to live with people. Thus, God the Father brings God the Son to the inhabited world.
This theoretical return will not eliminate the technical thinking of academia, but rather integrate the various specializations under the rule of God. This can be seen in the phrase “Let all the angels of God worship him”. The word worship means to ‘prostrate oneself before a superior’. Interpreting this cognitively, the various technical specializations are supposed to recognize that incarnation rules over them as a more general theory, just as a monarch rules over nobility. The text does not tell all angels to worship but rather limits the command to the angels of God. That is because not all technical specializations are expressions of an integrated theory of God. Instead, many technical specializations are ruled over by sources of authority, personal opinions, or cultural beliefs.
Verse 7 describes the motivation for specialization: “And of the angels He says, ‘Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.’” The word translated wind can mean wind, breath, or spirit. Both incarnation and academic specialization use technical thought. (I am using the term academic specialization, because we are looking at the specialization of abstract technical thought. Concrete technical thought also has a natural tendency to specialize, driven by some limited emotional bottom line in Mercy thought, as illustrated by business or professional sports.) Incarnation does not connect God to man in some sort of vague, mystical manner. Instead, incarnation translates the universal laws of God into specific sequences and actions that save humanity, similar to the way that technology translates the universal laws of nature into specific machines and gadgets that—hopefully—help humanity.
With academic specialization, Teacher thought is the servant of Contributor thought: Contributor thought uses conscious control to limit the mind to using technical thought within some restricted context. This repeated use of some system of rules and procedures will cause Teacher thought to form an implicit theory about this system of rules and procedures and as this theory continues to be used, it will form a TMN within Teacher thought. The end result is a mind that is driven by the ‘wind’ or ‘spirit’ of a mental network, and this wind will turn the academic specialist cognitively into a flame of fire, driven internally by some flame of emotional passion for the technical specialization.
In contrast, incarnation submits technical thought to the TMN of a universal understanding of the character of God. Technical thought experiences this as a loss of control, because Contributor thought has to let go of the current context in order to submit to the larger plan of a general understanding. This happened in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus submitted to the plan of God the Father in order to extend God’s plan beyond the Jews to include the Gentiles as well. (This expansion through rebirth is described in the story of Jesus meeting the Greeks in John 12.) The end result of this expansion through rebirth is a form of technical thought that is interdisciplinary, as illustrated by the many crowns that Incarnation wears when returning from heaven in Revelation 19:12. That is why incarnation is described as the son of God the Father in verse 5 and not just as a flame of fire.
This distinction between incarnation and academic specialization can be interpreted in several ways. Looking at this cognitively, if one develops technical thought in some specialization, then one will become mentally like an angel: a wind or spirit who is driven emotionally by the flame of the fire of that specialization. If one wishes to be guided internally by a concept of God and incarnation, then one must develop technical thought in more than one area, and then die internally to specialized thought in order to become reborn to an interdisciplinary concept of God and incarnation. Stating this theologically, Jesus had to die and become reborn in submission to God the Father in order to extend God’s relationship beyond the Jews to the world at large. Looking at this literally, angels are finite intelligent beings who inhabit finite ‘bodies’ within abstract thought, just as humans are finite intelligent beings who inhabit finite bodies within concrete thought. Finally, looking at this prophetically, we currently live in a world fragmented by technical specializations. After the theoretical return of Jesus, these various specializations will have to submit in an integrated fashion to the guidance of God and Incarnation.
Hebrews 1 appears to be describing precisely such a time. Verse 7 does not say that technical specialization should stop. Instead it says that God makes his angels winds, and the present tense is in the original Greek, which tells us that this is something that will be happening at that time. Current technical thought is driven by mixed motives. The typical scientist is motivated to some extent by the TMN of some paradigm, but is also usually motivated by MMNs of personal and professional status, mental networks of culture, as well as by MMNs of hedonism and idolatry that characterize the typical un-transformed human mind. (An MMN is a mental network within Mercy thought; a TMN is a mental network within Teacher thought.) Making his angels winds implies purifying the mind of these lesser motives and replacing them by a pure love of understanding and learning. For instance, I played violin professionally for many years, and I realized that I could be driven either by the love of music or by lesser motives such as the applause of the audience or competition with other musicians. Part of my path of personal transformation has involved becoming driven more purely by a love for music.
Verse 7 also describes angels as ‘his ministers’. Government employees are referred to as public servants, and in some countries the leader of the country is called the prime minister. But who does a public servant serve? A public servant can serve himself, driven by MMNs of personal desire and status. This leads naturally to corruption, because the public servant will only serve others if he himself is rewarded. A public servant can also serve the system, driven by the TMN of order and structure that naturally emerges when one works within a bureaucracy. (This is like the TMN of a paradigm that naturally emerges when a scientist works within some specialization.) This leads naturally to a parasitic bureaucracy that exists for its own sake, as illustrated by the saying, ‘The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the expanding needs of the bureaucracy’. In contrast, verse 7 describes the angels as ‘his ministers’, which implies that they are servants of the TMN of a concept of God and incarnation. In practical terms, this means being ruled by an integrated understanding of how God is guiding all of human society, saving both individual people and the entire inhabited world.
Verse 8 describes the nature of this larger motivation: “But of the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your companions.’”
‘Angelic’ thinking uses abstract technical thought to rule over some specialization. But theories come and go, resulting in paradigm shifts. Incarnation, in contrast, is guided by a universal concept of God in Teacher thought that extends everywhere and survives paradigm shifts. Stating that the throne of God is forever is standard Christian theology, but talking about a universal theory is much different than actually coming up with a universal theory that crosses many specializations and survives paradigm shifts. When the theoretical return of Jesus occurs, it will become apparent that one is not dealing with the typical theory of some specialization, but rather with an understanding that is much broader and long-lasting.
Going further, the rule of incarnation will be characterized by righteousness, which means Server action that is guided by the TMN of a concept of God. Using the school analogy, a person who enrolls in God’s school is declared righteous, because he has officially chosen to follow a path of taking the classes of the school. But verse 8 appears to be describing more than just a verbal declaration of righteousness by God. Instead, if righteousness is the sceptre of the kingdom, then a standard of righteousness is being imposed. Using the school analogy, people are being forced to go beyond enrolling in classes to actually attending and passing the classes. Technical specialization currently has a schizophrenic attitude to righteousness. On the one hand, it is generally recognized that theory needs to be applied; acquiring understanding in Teacher thought needs to be accompanied by acting out that understanding in Server thought. Therefore, righteousness tends to be emphasized within specializations. But on the other hand, it is also generally felt that professional thought has nothing to do with personal behavior. Thus, righteousness tends to be ignored outside of specializations. If incarnation bridges all specializations, then righteousness will become a universal principle that applies to all of life and not just to professional behavior.
Verse 9 explains that this extension of righteousness will be driven by positive Teacher emotion: “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your companions” (v.8). On the positive side, righteousness is being loved. Saying this cognitively, Teacher thought feels good when a general theory applies to more specific situations. When one allows Teacher understanding to guide Server actions, then this applies the Teacher understanding to more situations, leading to positive Teacher emotion. Going the other way, Teacher thought hates behavior that is not an expression of Teacher order and structure. This leads to a hatred of lawlessness, which literally means ‘without law’. Looking at this more generally, when a general Teacher understanding integrates technical specializations, then this leads to an emotional desire for order and an abhorrence of chaos.
This principle is always true, but it will function in a major positive way after the theoretical return of Jesus, because a general Teacher theory will then exist within which personal behavior can be placed. That is why “God has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your companions.” Oil represents ‘the indwelling of the Holy Spirit’, and the word translated gladness means ‘ecstatic delight, exhilaration’. Looking at this cognitively, incarnation will look like another form of academic specialization—one of many companions. But it will be characterized by an emotional attraction to righteousness and emotional repulsion to lawlessness, and it will experience great theoretical success—joy that comes from God in Teacher thought.
I have experienced something similar with the theory of mental symmetry. I have not had much success so far in publicizing this theory, but it has given me continual Teacher joy, because I keep discovering new topics that this theory is capable of analyzing. For instance, I have always viewed the book of Hebrews as strange and somewhat incomprehensible. But I now find that it is making sense, because I am approaching it from a cognitive perspective. The result is Teacher joy. This is an internal joy related to the oil of the spirit, because it leads to internal images of how things could be, which are not yet reflected externally in how things are. This continual Teacher joy has gradually transformed the theory of symmetry from one of many theories of personality into a meta-theory of cognition.
I have suggested that the book of Hebrews starts with the theoretical return of Jesus. Verses 10-12 describe where this is heading, and these verses summarize The Big Picture described in the previous essay on the Gospel of John. In brief, we currently live in a universe characterized by matter-over-mind. The physical universe is solid and people can only use their minds to change physical matter in limited ways. The ultimate purpose is for humanity to build internal content by understanding the structure of the physical universe. The theoretical return of Jesus will occur when some people break through to an understanding that is sufficiently complete. (Matthew 24 appears to be describing this transitional time, and it says that many will fall away or be led astray.) This theoretical return will start a process of transforming matter-over-mind into mind-over-matter, which will culminate in the new heaven-and-earth described at the end of the book of Revelation.
Returning now to Hebrews, verse 10 says that the physical universe expresses the character of God: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands”. Looking at this physically, the structure of physical reality was originally created by God. Thus, one can learn about the character of God by studying the natural world. The text does not stop there, but also includes the heavens. A mystical mindset tends to view heaven as a realm of divine perfection that is totally distinct from the imperfect realm of human earth. However, both earth and heaven are being described as created by God. Consistent with this, one can use the theory of mental symmetry to explain both living in reality as well as the scientific thinking that is used to analyze physical reality. And one can also use mental symmetry to provide a rational explanation for descriptions that people give of both the angelic realm as well as the realm of UFOs and aliens. (I am not suggesting that the Bible was written by UFO aliens. Instead, I am suggesting that angels and aliens are similar beings who come from the same angelic realm, just as Abraham Lincoln and Adolf Hitler were both humans who lived in the same physical universe.)
But verse 11 adds that the physical universe will not remain solid: “They will perish, but You remain; and they all will become old like a garment.” The word perish means to ‘cut off entirely’ and ‘implies permanent destruction’. In other words, the present arrangement of matter-over-mind will come to an end, and there will be no return to the present system of matter-over-mind. In contrast, incarnation will remain, and the word translated remain means to ‘fully remain, to continue on completely, to remain throughout’. Thus, the theoretical return of Jesus will be the start of building all of existence upon the foundation of God and Incarnation. This fading away of physical reality will not occur instantly, but instead physical reality will ‘grow old and become obsolete’ like an outer garment. An outer garment is worn by a person but is also exposed to the physical elements. It grows old as it becomes weathered by the environment while it is being worn. The implication is that physical reality will fade as a result of personal interaction with the environment. A similar fading occurs cognitively whenever there is a charismatic Christian renewal, because the ecstasy and excitement of spirituality (and possible miracles) eats away at the mental foundation of doctrine and common sense. The end result is typically spiritual chaos and a lack of common sense, held together by spiritual charlatans with strong personalities. Similarly, if a theoretical return of Jesus opened a new door to spiritual power, then this would lead to the ultimate ‘charismatic Christian renewal’, and people would eventually have to find a non-material source of mental stability. This explains why the perishing of the earth and heaven is accompanied by the remaining of incarnation.
Verse 12 says that there will be a gradual transition as well as an instantaneous change: “Like a mantle You will roll them up; like a garment they will also be changed.” A mantle is something ‘which is thrown around, a covering’. If the transition is like a mantle being rolled up, then God will gradually roll up the fabric of the physical universe that currently covers ultimate reality. However, there will also be an instant transition in which one outer garment is replaced by another. The word translated changed means ‘alter, exchange, transform’ and the same verb is used twice in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 where Paul talks about being personally changed during the resurrection. (Paul is talking about a change in physical bodies while Hebrews is talking about a change in physical reality. I suggest that these two are different events that involve similar processes.) My guess is that this changing of a garment refers to the paradigm shift that is described in John 16:18-24. This shift is like a continental divide that indicates a cosmic change in direction. Before this transition, spiritual power is being added to physical reality. After this transition, spiritual existence starts to replace physical reality. This is described as the changing of a garment. (Hebrews 1 is looking forward to this watershed change. The actual continental divide is several chapters later in Hebrews 6:4-5.)
Obviously, a garment can only be changed if it is not attached to the body. This may sound like a joke, but the concept of embodiment teaches that the mind cannot be regarded as independent of the body. There is some truth to embodiment, because the mind acquires its initial content from the body, just as humanity acquires its initial understanding from the physical universe. But a transition to mind-over-matter is only possible if the mind can become independent of the body. Physical reality must be viewed as a garment that can be changed and not as a skin that is attached.
What will remain the same during this change is the nature of incarnation, which will not fade away: “But You are the same, and Your years will not come to an end.” For those who are experiencing the aftermath of the theoretical return of Jesus, this will not be just a theological statement, but rather a basic principle for maintaining sanity, a lifeline to hang on to while reality itself begins to shift.
Such a transition would lead to major opposition, which explains why verse 13 talks about the enemies of Incarnation: “But to which of the angels has He ever said, ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet’?” The typical academic theory does not spread itself but rather has to be taught, defended, and marketed. In contrast, Incarnation will be defended by God. This already happens today for theories that describe reality, because they are defended by how the world functions, and God created the world to function in a certain manner.
Verse 13 says, ‘Sit at my right hand’. I have found that biblical references to left and right hands or feet make neurological sense. Hands are used to manipulate physical reality. Cognitively speaking, the mind uses Server thought in combination with Perceiver thought to perform skilled movement. Thus, I suggest that the left hand represents Perceiver thought while the right hand represents Server thought. Sitting at the right hand of God implies resting in the Server sequences of how God works. This is an extension of the righteousness mentioned earlier in verses 8-9, because it goes beyond loving righteousness to finding personal stability in righteousness. Going further, a body rests upon the feet. Cognitively speaking, this refers to the mental networks within Mercy and Teacher thought upon which personal identity rests. If someone is becoming my footstool, then this means that my personal identity is over that individual. A footstool does not support the entire body. The body is being held up the chair. But a footstool does provide some support for the feet.
Looking at this from personal experience, we live in a time of major societal and moral upheaval, during which all traditional truths and values are being questioned. I have found that one can find stability in how things work—the universal Server sequences of righteousness that reflect the character of God. Going further, I have tried to respond to those who reject the theory of mental symmetry by analyzing their theories. I have found that this analysis adds stability and confidence to my understanding of cognition, making it possible to place greater weight on this theory. Cognitively speaking, the TMN of a concept of God is turning my enemies into a footstool for my feet. This does not mean that the entire weight of mental symmetry rests upon analyzing the theories of enemies. The primary internal support comes from the righteousness of ‘sitting at the right hand’ of a Teacher concept of God. But analyzing the theories of enemies does act as a footstool which can provide some support for the feet of personal identity. I suggest that a similar—but much stronger—process would occur after the theoretical return of Jesus. The temptation would be to try to engage in academic debate, but I suggest that this would be the wrong approach. Instead, the most effective approach would be to rest in the universal Server sequences of God and use Teacher thought to analyze and understand the thinking of opponents.
Verse 14 describes this attitude of understanding one’s opponents: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” Notice that all of the angels are being described as ministering spirits, and not just the angels of God. (The word translated spirits in verse 14 is the same Greek word that is translated winds in verse 7.) Illustrating this from personal experience, I have found that it is possible to gain understanding from every ‘angel’—every system of abstract thought that I have examined. This is obviously the case if the system being analyzed is consistent with the theory of mental symmetry. But it is also the case when there are inconsistencies with mental symmetry, because it is then possible to use the theory of mental symmetry to explain why the author is being cognitively driven to make those statements.
For instance, John Darby’s doctrine of the rapture is inconsistent with the idea of a theoretical return of Jesus. But it is possible to explain why Darby says what he does by examining the personal life of Darby. One then notices that Darby is teaching that God will treat the church the same way that John Darby treated the church. Thus, the Teacher theories of Darby are being determined by the Server actions of Darby. Darby’s actions are not just speaking louder than his words, they are actually shaping his words.
In other words, the mental connection between Server actions and Teacher understanding can either help or hinder the growth of Teacher understanding. In the case of John Darby, his personal actions hindered him from gaining a more complete understanding of God’s relationship with the church. However, if one consistently chooses to follow a path of reaching greater internal wholeness, then this will lead naturally to increased Teacher understanding. Thus, mental symmetry can—and must—be viewed both as a theory of how the mind works and as a path of personal transformation. Using the school analogy, one must adopt both the mindset of the administration and the attitude of the student.
Similarly, verse 14 says that this service is not for everyone, but rather for the sake of those who will inherit salvation, because it talks about being about to inherit salvation, and this word means ‘at the very point of acting; about to happen’. This tells us that the theoretical return of Jesus may start as an academic quest for understanding, but it will very quickly lead to personal benefits. These benefits are not the result of Server actions, because that describes wages. Instead, salvation is being inherited, which means that the benefits will come as a result of who one is rather than what one has done. Who one is includes what one has done, but it goes beyond actions to underlying character.
Technical thought is currently regarded as the only form of thinking that is truly valid, and a field of thought or action becomes accepted as officially valid by adopting technical thought. For instance, I taught for several years at an international school in Seoul, Korea. While I was there, the school became officially accredited. Half of this accreditation process involved describing in precise detail what we were already doing. That is because abstract technical thought can only start to function if words are given precise definitions. Thus, a major part of the process of adopting technical thought is describing what one is doing using words with more precise definitions. The other half of the process involved improving standards and addressing deficiencies. This is also an expression of technical thought, which improves and optimizes within some specific context. For business, the primary accreditation process is ISO9000, which emphasizes various aspects of technical thought, such as optimization, risk analysis, and contingency planning, based upon a foundation of massive documentation. This adopting of technical thought through some sort of official accreditation process can be seen in all facets of modern society, and any group or activity that has not officially adopted technical thought is generally regarded as deficient and less worthy.
Hebrews 1 described ‘angelic’ technical thought being overshadowed by incarnation. When this happens, then many groups and individuals will feel that this means freedom from rules, and that the new system of incarnation does not have to be taken as seriously as the existing, now-discredited, systems of technical thought.
Hebrews 2:1 warns against this attitude: “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.” Notice that the context is still abstract thought, because one is supposed to pay close attention to ‘what we have heard’. The language in the original Greek is quite strong. More literally, it is ‘absolutely necessary’, ‘beyond expectation, further than the upper limit, going past what is anticipated’ to ‘give full attention’ to the things we have heard, lest we ‘drift past the destination because we are pushed along by the current’.
The Greek word ‘drifting past’ occurs only once in the New Testament, and it describes a basic attribute of current society. The rise of technical thought has been accompanied by the belittling of other forms of thought, as well as the questioning of content that comes from what is regarded as lesser forms of thought, such as culture, tradition, and revealed truth. When traditional content becomes replaced by technical thought, then what survives more than anything else is methodology. Doing things in a technical manner becomes all-important. Part of this is because doing is cognitively self-reinforcing. Perceiver thought gains confidence in truth as one observes facts being repeated. Similarly, Server thought gains confidence as one observes sequences being repeated. But Server thought will also gain confidence when some action is repeated. Thus, any person or group that adopts technical thought as a replacement for other forms of thought will implicitly give itself Server confidence, leading to a strong institutional current of ‘this is how we do things’.
The replacing of technical thought by incarnation will have to contend with all of these implicit streams, which will naturally cause the mind to drift past the desired destination of following incarnation. Most of this drifting will not occur consciously, because a person who follows Server thought without using Perceiver thought finds it difficult to practice self-analysis. One can see this in the typical Server person, who is excellent at copying the actions of others, but almost incapable of internally stepping back and observing self.
Verses 2-3 compare how technical thought is enforced with how the thinking of incarnation is enforced. Verse 2 talks about technical thought: “For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty...” As with verse 1, the focus is still upon abstract thought, because the text talks about ‘the word spoken’. And technical thought is being referred to in the past tense, telling us that it has being replaced by another form of thought. More literally, the word of angels ‘came into being’ ‘solid enough to walk on’. In other words, the abstract technical thinking of science was followed by the machines and gadgets of modern technology. The technical thinking of science led to conclusions that were ‘solid enough to walk on’. For instance, one could use abstract technical thought to design an aircraft, and then one could build this aircraft, step on this aircraft, and trust that this aircraft would fly through the air without tumbling to the ground. This type of stability that one can depend upon has characterized the entire process of the development of science and technology. Using the language of Hebrews, the word of angels has consistently come into being solid enough to walk on.
This idea of being solid enough to walk on also makes sense if one thinks about the words of literal angels. My general hypothesis is that angels live in a realm of Teacher words which they manipulate through the use of power in Perceiver thought. This is the mirror image of the way that humans live in a realm of Mercy experiences which they manipulate through the use of actions in Server thought. If the word spoken through angels is solid enough to walk on, this means that angel power is producing Perceiver facts that are solid enough to enable human actions.
One can see this principle illustrated in the crossing of the Red Sea, related in Exodus 14. In verses 19-20, the angel of God exhibits power that is solid enough to affect human actions in physical reality: “The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind him; and the pillar of cloud moved from before the men stood behind. So it came between the camp of Egypt in the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus, the one did not come near the other all night.” Notice that the pillar of cloud is not just some nebulous mist but rather solid enough to prevent the Egyptians from moving closer to the Israelites. In verses 21-22, Moses acts as a human messenger—or angel—of God by forming a literal path that is solid enough to walk upon: “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land.”
Continuing with verse 2, the phrase “every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty’ describes the feedback that one receives from natural law. The word translated penalty means ‘compensation corresponding to a particular decision or action’. Using scientific language, this is cause-and-effect. For every decision or action there is a corresponding compensation. Every ‘means all in the sense of each part that applies. The emphasis is on one piece at a time’. This means that cause-and-effect functions at a specific, detailed level. This is true physically of natural law, and it is also true cognitively of Contributor-controlled technical thought, because technical thought is based upon specific, detailed connections between Perceiver facts and Server sequences. With abstract technical thought, these specific connections lead to precise definitions of words, while with concrete technical thought, the specific connections lead to principles of cause-and-effect.
Just means ‘righteous or just’. ‘Righteous’ describes behavior that is guided by Teacher understanding, while ‘just’ means operating according to the law. Natural cause-and-effect is righteous because it behaves in a manner that is consistent with general Teacher laws of the universe, and it is just because it functions strictly according to natural law. Transgression means both ‘a deliberate going over the line’ and ‘a going aside or deviation’. Both of these meanings apply to natural cause-and-effect. For instance, if one steps over the edge of a cliff, then one will experience the precise recompense of falling to the bottom of the cliff. Similarly, if one is driving a car and deviates from the road, then one will experience the precise recompense of ending up in the ditch. Finally, disobedience means ‘disobedience which springs from the refusal to listen properly’. One can learn about the principles of natural cause-and-effect by listening properly to the Teacher words of natural laws and mathematical equations. If one does not listen properly to these words, then one will experience unwanted consequences. Saying this another way, technology works because those who design gadgets are listening properly to the words of math and science. Those who refuse to listen properly will construct gadgets that do not function as desired. Summarizing, verse 2 describes in accurate detail the nature of scientific law and natural cause-and-effect, which provide support for the idea of interpreting angels cognitively as abstract technical thought. Looking at this historically, such an accurate description is rather stunning for a book that was written about 1500 years before the birth of science.
Incarnation also provides feedback, but it is a different kind of feedback. Verse 3 says, “How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” Natural cause-and-effect functions at a detailed, specific level. In contrast, incarnation functions at the more global level of core mental networks. This is brought out by the word escape, which means ‘to flee away’. In other words, one can temporarily ignore incarnation, but one cannot escape incarnation. Natural cause-and-effect functions immediately. For instance, when one steps over a cliff, one immediately starts falling to the bottom. Incarnation, in contrast, functions more like the gravity in a typical roadrunner cartoon, because the characters in these cartoons can step off cliffs and look around for a brief moment before starting to fall. Similarly, incarnation can be ignored for a short period before the inevitable consequence kicks in.
That is why one is warned not to neglect incarnation. Neglect means to ‘view something as being without significance, or without perceived value’. It is typical for technical thought to regard anything that lies outside of the current specialization as if it has no significance and no value. Male Contributor persons have a strong tendency to verbally and non-verbally belittle anyone or anything that lies outside of their current specialization. Incarnation, by its very nature, extends beyond technical thought to include core mental networks. The very fact that incarnation extends beyond technical thought will cause incarnation to be naturally disregarded by a world system that has fixated upon technical thought. But incarnation is pursuing the goal of salvation, which means ‘welfare, prosperity, deliverance, preservation, salvation, safety’. These are all larger, long-term, personal, integrated goals that the specialized bottom-line thinking of technical thought tends either to assume or ignore. But what is the point of getting rich if I lose my physical and mental health? What is the purpose of having the most toys if one cannot take any of this along when one dies? Looking again at personality, it is typical for a ‘successful’ Contributor person to have a midlife crisis of climbing to the top of some ladder of success and then realizing that the wrong ladder has been climbed. Finally, the word so great means ‘vast, coming-of-age, reaching maximum size or potential’. All forms of technical thought pursue some form of salvation by improving and optimizing. But the theoretical return of Jesus will lead to a vast plan of salvation, in which people and society will go through a coming of age that allows them to reach their maximum potential.
Verse 3 continues by summarizing what has happened so far. It started with the theoretical return of Jesus: “After it was at the first spoken through the Lord...” A more literal interpretation would be ‘an initial starting point’ was ‘actively laid hold of to take or receive’, declared by the Lord. This summarizes a theoretical return of Jesus: 1) Something is being declared, which tells us that the source is Teacher thought. 2) This is being declared by ‘the Lord’ and not just by God, implying words that have power. ‘God’ has been used several times so far in Hebrews, but this is only the second occurrence of ‘Lord’. The first time was in 1:10, referring to creation. 3) This is an initial starting point for something new to happen. 4) This verbal declaration works through people and has to be actively taken hold of by people.
This was then verified by people: “...it was confirmed to us by those who heard” (v.3). The word translated confirmed means ‘to walk where it is solid’ and was used in verse 2 to describe the stability of natural law. With natural law, the stability comes from natural processes; one can be certain that the natural world will function in a predictable manner. This describes what is solid when matter is over mind. However, with incarnation the stability comes from ‘those who heard’. People are hearing a message in Teacher thought and this is leading to stability in Server thought. This relationship describes righteousness, and it is the type of relationship that is required for mental stability. Saying this more succinctly, there must always be some source of stability. With natural law the stability comes from how the world behaves, with the mind the stability comes from how the mind functions. We saw this kind of mental stability functioning implicitly when looking at methodology and ‘how things are done’. A new form of Server stability is emerging based in righteousness, and ‘those who heard’ are demonstrating this stability to a larger group of individuals referred to as ‘us’.
It is important to distinguish between a source of stability and recognizing this source of stability. Nature did not suddenly start following the laws of nature when they were discovered 500 years ago. Instead, Nature has always obeyed the laws of nature, whether this was recognized by humans or not. But understanding the laws of nature makes it possible to produce technology that makes physical life much easier by taking advantage of the laws of nature. Similarly, the human mind has always functioned in a similar manner, whether this was recognized by humans or not. For instance, one can recognize in the biblical stories that ancient heroes such as Moses, Abraham, or David were subject to the same cognitive principles that rule people’s minds today. And I suggest that understanding and applying these cognitive principles could affect personal and social life as much as technology has transformed physical existence.
What has been described in verse 3 is purely cognitive. People are acquiring an understanding in Teacher thought, they are applying this understanding in righteousness, and others are noticing that these righteous individuals are behaving consistently in a predictable manner. Verse 4 describes a supernatural element that is being added to the cognitive. Notice that the cognitive comes before the supernatural. If the supernatural comes before the cognitive, then people will lack the internal stability and maturity that is required to handle the supernatural. For instance, a common saying in charismatic Christian circles is that “your anointing can take you to a place where your character cannot sustain you”. Similarly, one can see from technology what happens when a gadget is acquired before one is cognitively ready to handle this gadget. Imagine, for instance, giving the keys of a car to a small child. The end result would probably be chaos and disaster.
Verse 4 begins by saying that the supernatural is consistent with the cognitive: “God also testifying with them”. The word translated also testifying with them occurs once in the New Testament and means ‘to testify or bear witness together with’. This statement is significant, because miracles are often viewed as violations to the universal laws of nature. What is being described here is divine intervention that is consistent with the structure that exists within the minds of people. In other words, God is not violating natural law but rather extending cognitive law. Saying this more generally, making a transition from natural law to supernatural power should not be seen as becoming free of the universal laws of God as revealed through nature, but rather as submitting to the universal laws of God as revealed through the mind.
One gains the impression from this phrase that God is jump-starting something new that is not yet able to stand on its own. It does not say that God is working through people, but rather that God is working with people in a consistent manner. The supernatural nature of this divine assistance can be seen in the next phrase of verse 4: “both by signs and wonders and by various miracles”. A sign is ‘typically miraculous, and is given especially to confirm, corroborate or authenticate’. A wonder is ‘a miraculous wonder, done to elicit a reaction from onlookers’. The word translated miracle means ‘power or marvelous work’ and could refer either to natural or supernatural power. The words signs, wonders, and miracles are all in the plural, telling us that God is intervening in a major way. To some extent, this happened after the resurrection of Jesus as described in the book of Acts, but I suggest that Hebrews 2 is referring to something larger that will happen in the future.
These three words signs, wonders, and miracles are fairly common in the New Testament, but all three of them together are only found in passages that describe periods of major supernatural intervention: 1) In Acts 2:22, Peter reminds his audience in the sermon after the day of Pentecost that the ministry of Jesus was confirmed by miracles, wonders, and signs. 2) In Romans 15:19, Paul says that his ministry was backed up by the power of signs and wonders. 3) 2 Cor. 12:12 says more generically that signs, wonders, and miracles accompany the work of a true apostle. 4) 2 Thess. 2:9 says that the antichrist will also be accompanied by signs, wonders, miracles.
The end of verse 4 says that this divine intervention will happen in a manner that respects human individuality: “...and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will”. The word translated gifts actually means ‘distribution or separation’, and the only other occurrence of this noun is in Hebrews 4:12 where it talks about the word of God dividing soul and spirit. This diversity can also be seen in the previous phrase ‘various miracles’, because various means ‘of various kinds, of different colors, diversified’.
Cognitively speaking, this diversity of gifts from the Holy Spirit would relate to an awareness of the ‘spiritual gifts’ described in Romans 12 which lie at the heart of the theory of mental symmetry. Romans 12 spiritual gifts were first described by Paul in Roman times, but as far as I can tell, they were first interpreted as cognitive styles in the 1970s. Thus, an awareness of Romans 12 spiritual gifts appears to be an important step in both preparing for and implementing the theoretical return of Jesus. Cognitive style is also a matter of the Holy Spirit distributing ‘according to His own will’, because a person does not choose a cognitive style, but is born with it.
However, I suggest that something more than cognitive style is being described, which I refer to as spiritual technology. This concept became apparent to me when studying the end of John 14, which appears to be referring to the same period of time. In brief, spiritual technology would add a spiritual dimension to normal technology. Currently, personal skill and knowledge are required to use technology effectively and productively. For instance, in order to use a car, a person has to have a driver’s license. Spiritual technology would extend this to include God and personal identity. God would open a door to the spiritual realm that would make it possible for people who have become personally transformed to use technology in some superior fashion. Those who were personally transformed would not all have the same spiritual abilities. Instead, there would be many different kinds of gifts, making it possible for individuals to extend technology in different ways.
Would technological skill be a prerequisite for participating in spiritual technology? To some extent, yes. The mind can function in one of three ways, which I refer to as technical thought, normal thought (which uses patterns and analogies), and mental networks (which emphasizes emotions and intuition). Technological skill is based primarily in technical thought. Spiritual technology, in contrast, would require mental wholeness, which would mean integrating all three forms of human thought. Thus, technical thought would be a requirement for spiritual technology, but it would not be the only requirement. In addition, if there are many different kinds of gifts, then it is likely that some spiritual gifts would emphasize technical thought while others would emphasize normal thought or mental networks.
I do not know exactly what this means in practice, because I am trying to extrapolate from the known into the unknown. However, I know from personal experience what this might be like. I can play violin in a way that touches people’s hearts. Every once in a while, it feels as if my playing transcends mere technique and touches the edge of some spiritual dimension. I imagine that spiritual technology would break through to that spiritual dimension.
The discussion of spiritual technology in the Gospel of John was to some extent an extrapolation from the biblical text. Therefore, I was not totally certain that I was interpreting the text accurately. However, Hebrews 2:4 is clearly referring to some form of spiritual technology: 1) Individuals are receiving distinct spiritual gifts. 2) This is not being given to everyone, but rather to those who pay attention to the ‘great salvation’ that begin in Hebrews 1 with Incarnation being lifted up above the angels. 3) This is not a random gifting but instead is consistent with what is happening cognitively within individuals.
Verse 5 supports the idea of connecting ‘spiritual’ with ‘technology’, because the phrase that talks about the gifts of the Holy Spirit is immediately followed by a comparison with angels: “For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking.” ‘Concerning which we are speaking’ tells us that this comparison with angels relates to the previous verses that talk about the gifting that accompanies the theoretical return of Jesus. As with Hebrews 1:6, the word translated world describes ‘the inhabited world’, and not the physical earth. We have interpreted angels from a cognitive perspective as referring to abstract technical thought, which acquires its solid content from an understanding of the natural universe. The current universe is characterized by matter-over-mind. Saying this more technically, technology manipulates matter not by violating laws of nature but rather by understanding the unchangeable laws of the natural universe, and by re-arranging physical matter in order to emphasize desired natural behaviors. Verse 5 is talking about something more, which is subjecting the world to angels. Subject means to ‘place or rank under, to subject, to obey’. When the world is subject to people, then this describes mind-over-matter. The phrase ‘the world to come’ makes it sound as if something in the distant future is being discussed, but word translated to come means ‘at the very point of acting; ready, about to happen’. And the world that is about to happen is an inhabited world, a world in which people and their environment have become interrelated. To some extent, this interrelationship between people and environment already exists, because human society now has the ability to affect the physical environment at a global level. Thus, in the same way that verse 4 talks about God testifying with people, so I suggest that spiritual technology would build upon interrelationships that already exist.
Putting this together, spiritual technology will be the very first step in a long process of creating a new world in which mind is over matter. The mindset of technical scientific thought will be incapable of functioning in this new world, because ‘he did not subject to angels the world to come’. This is because a scientific mindset is deficient in at least six ways: First, it assumes that nothing exists except physical reality. Therefore, it cannot function in a world that goes beyond physical reality. Second, it builds its thinking upon physical, empirical evidence, while the starting point for spiritual technology is internal structure and not external events. Third, it ignores personal identity by remaining objective. In contrast, spiritual technology is only possible for those who transform personal identity. Fourth, it is strongly motivated by inadequate personal desires, while spiritual technology requires submitting in righteousness to a concept of God. Fifth, it focuses upon specific specializations, rather than being guided by an integrated concept of God. Sixth, it regards technical thought as all-important, while spiritual technology would require placing technical thought within a framework of mental networks and normal thought.
Summarizing, in the same way that incarnational thinking went beyond the technical thinking of angels in Hebrews 1, so I suggest that spiritual technology would be a form of incarnational living that would go beyond normal technology. And in the same way that technology has become a practical expression of science, so I suggest that spiritual technology would be a practical expression of incarnational thought.
The emergence of spiritual technology would lead to a reappraisal of technical thought. People would start to think again about humanity: “But one has testified somewhere, saying, ‘What is man, that You remember him? Or the son of man, that You are concerned about him?” (v.6).
The word translated testified is an intensified form of the verb which means to ‘give solemn evidence, testify solemnly’, and the vague reference to someone testifying somewhere reflects the original Greek. The word translated remember ‘means actively remember, not off-handedly or merely incidentally’, and the word man refers generically to mankind. Putting this together, one gains the impression that there will be a grassroots movement which starts taking humanity seriously. This is significant, because today’s world of technical specializations has reduced most humans to the level of replaceable skills. For instance, it does not matter whether I am assisted by the nurse called June or the nurse called John. All that matters is the technical skill practiced by a nurse, and when one nurse fails to function adequately, then a replacement nurse with the appropriate skill can usually be found. Thus, technical specialization deliberately and thoroughly transforms humans into identical, replaceable cogs that are fitted into the machinery of modern society. Spiritual technology would turn this inhumanity on its head, because what would become significant is the specific spiritual gift of an individual based upon the personal transformation and skill of that particular individual. Saying this another way, a world of technicians would turn into a world of artisans. As a result, people would gradually wake up inside and realize that being a human being is important.
The phrase ‘son of man’ was used many times by Jesus to refer to himself. The implication is that this remembering of individual humanity would be followed by a more complete grasp of the nature of incarnation. People would realize that incarnation is not just a theological concept, nor is it merely Jesus-in-your-heart. Instead, incarnation is a son of humanity, and God cares for this son of humanity. The word translated cares for means ‘look upon, visit, select’ and is used to talk about visiting the sick and the imprisoned. Looking at this cognitively, a mechanistic world makes people sick because it leaves no room for humanity, while a world of professional specialization imprisons people because it forces them to spend most of their time within narrow boundaries of existence.
For a while incarnation was regarded as less important than technical thought: “You have made him for a little while lower than the angels” (v.7). The word translated made lower means to ‘make less in rank or influence’. The original quote in Psalm 8:6 says that “You have made him a little lower than God”, which is somewhat different. Thus, verse 7 could be viewed as a misinterpretation of the original, based upon the Greek words of the Septuagint. However, we are seeing that the Greek text makes cognitive sense—exactly as written. Therefore, I will assume that verse 7 says what it is supposed to say, even if it is being ‘misled’ by the Septuagint.
The Greek text refers generically to angels and ‘the’ is not in the original. The commentaries suggest that ‘him’ refers to the Son of Man and not to humanity in general, and the succeeding verses support this interpretation. Looking at this cognitively, incarnation is being regarded as inferior to technical thought, and this accurately describes the mindset that characterizes modern Western society. Saying this more precisely, a concept of incarnation is based upon the combination of abstract and concrete technical thought. But a concept of incarnation extends beyond technical thought to include the TMN of a concept of God, as well as MMNs of personal identity. If incarnation is being regarded as less in rank or influence than angels, then this means that using technical thought by itself is being regarded as more important than using technical thought within the context of mental wholeness. This accurately describes modern thought, which places a high value upon technical thought, but resists any attempt to integrate technical specializations in Teacher thought or include personal identity in Mercy thought. There are many reasons for this, but one of the most basic reasons is that it feels unprofessional when the mind exits the mode of technical thought and starts using the analogical reasoning of normal thought, or the emotional processing of mental networks. (One comes to a similar conclusion if ‘him’ refers to humans rather than Incarnation, because isolated technical thought is also viewed as more important than humanity.) Verse 7 emphasizes that this is a temporary aberration that will exist for a little while. Cognitively speaking, people will always revolt when a system becomes sufficiently inhuman, and I suggest that the inhumanity of current society is only continuing because people are being fooled by a consumer society that pretends to value humans but actually regards them as things and pacifies them with a continual stream of new-and-improved things.
Verse 7 continues by saying that this temporary debasement of incarnation (and humanity) to technical thought has now come to an end: “You have crowned him with glory and honor, and have appointed him over the works of your hands.” One can see a progression in verses 7-8. First, incarnation has been ‘crowned as victor’. There has been a struggle between incarnation and technical thought, and incarnation has achieved the victory. But incarnation has not been crowned over technical thought—the way that technical thought currently views itself as superior to other forms of thought. Instead, incarnation has been crowned with glory and honor. Glory ‘literally means what evokes good opinion that something has inherent, intrinsic worth’. Saying this another way, glory makes it externally apparent that something has internal worth. This would describe spiritual technology, because physical results are being generated based upon internal, inherent, personal qualities. A person would be able to participate in spiritual technology because of being personally transformed. Honor has a similar meaning, describing ‘perceived value, what has value in the eyes of the beholder’. As with glory, inherent value is becoming visibly apparent. Current technological thought is based upon physical value. Therefore, the internal transformation that is produced by incarnation would have to become externalized before technical thinking would recognize incarnation as a superior form of thought. Saying this more generally, humans currently live in a physical universe in which minds are trapped within matter. Scientific thought has become dominant primarily because it leads to technology, in which minds use technical thought to manipulate matter. Personal transformation will only become valued by society at large to the extent that it makes it possible for minds to manipulate matter in a manner that is superior to the technical thinking of technology.
Moving to the second step, appointed means ‘put in charge, which enables someone to rule’. Thus, this crowning is not just a ceremonial reward, but rather the start of the rule of incarnation. A work is ‘a deed or action that carries out an inner desire’, and we saw earlier that hands represent Perceiver and Server thought. Technical thought specializes in acquiring Perceiver facts and observing Server sequences. However, scientific thought currently regards facts and sequences as something that can be divorced from a concept of God. Incarnation does not ignore facts and sequences, but rather regards them as the works of the hands of God—placing them within the larger context of the TMN of a rational concept of God. Appointing incarnation ‘over the works of your hands’ implies cognitively that technical thought will become submitted to a concept of incarnation. And it implies physically that incarnation has become officially placed above the laws of nature.
The third step is mentioned at the beginning of verse 8: “You have put all things in subjection under his feet”. ‘All things’ is a universal statement. The word subjection is mentioned three times in verse 8, and the same verb was used in verse 5. Previously, the text said that the world to come has not been made subject to angels. Here, the text says that all things have been made subject to incarnation. In other words, incarnation will rule over all the future world, including technical thought, society, and religion. The imagery then goes from hands to feet. I suggested earlier that feet represent mental networks that support personal identity. For technical thought, what matters is the ‘hands’ of facts and sequences. Incarnation extends this to include the ‘feet’ of personal and divine existence.
Verse 8 continues by saying that the rule of incarnation will be complete: “For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him”. Teacher thought hates exceptions to the rule. Incarnation is ruled by the TMN of a concept of God the Father. Therefore, when incarnation takes charge, then everything will eventually become submitted to incarnation without exception. One sees this to some extent whenever there is a paradigm shift. First, the new paradigm will replace the old paradigm, and then the new paradigm will remove all vestiges of the old paradigm. For instance, Thomas Kuhn says that textbooks are rewritten in the aftermath of a paradigm shift in order to eliminate previous ways of thinking. A similar rethinking will occur at this stage in history.
Verses 8-9 do not use the same Greek verbs for ‘see’. Verse 8 finishes by saying, “but now we do not yet see all things subjected to him”. And the verb translated see means ‘see, often with metaphorical meaning: to see with the mind’. In other words, people at this initial stage will lack an internal grasp of what it means for incarnation to rule over everything.
Verse 9 says what will be seen: “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor.” The word translated see here means ‘to see something physical, to be observant’. Thus, it will be visibly obvious to people that incarnation has come back from the dead and has been ‘crowned with glory and honor’.
This contrast was literally true when Jesus-the-man rose from the dead. Many people physically saw Jesus alive in a resurrected body. But they did not grasp internally all of the implications of what this meant—they did not have an adequate mental concept of incarnation. Similarly, when spiritual technology first appears, then people will see that following the path of Christianity leads to many wondrous gadgets and powers, but they will not have an internal grasp of what this means or where this is heading.
Something similar happens whenever there is a major shift in political power. One can physically see the new leader, but one does not yet have an internal grasp of what this signifies. For instance, when Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, everyone saw that Trump was president, but very few people had an internal grasp of how Trump would actually behave as a president. Now that Trump has been president for a while, the average person does have an internal concept of what it means for Trump to be president.
If this statement sounds confusing, then I suggest that this is because we do not have an adequate internal concept of what it means for Jesus to rise from the dead. The Gospels tell us that Jesus-the-man rose physically from the grave, and Revelation 19:11, Acts 1:11, and Hebrews 10:19-21 tell us that Jesus-the-man will eventually return physically to earth, but I suggest that there is more to the story, which will become apparent as we work our way through the book of Hebrews.
Revelation 13, 1 John 3, John 15, and 2 Thessalonians 2 all indicate that the theoretical return of Jesus will lead to initial success, but then be followed by a major backlash of hatred and persecution. A similar progression can be seen in Hebrews 2. (Note from 2021. Hebrews 2:10-15 is describing a backlash but I currently think that it is a lesser backlash that happens before the kingdom of the beast. More details of the later backlash can also be found in the essay on Acts.) Verses 1-9 talk about the victory of incarnation over angels. But then verses 10-18 talk about suffering and death, implying that the victory is followed by persecution. Revelation 13 says that authority is being given temporarily to the beast, telling us that this persecution is actually part of God’s plan. I suggest that Hebrews 2 explains why this persecution is part of God’s plan. In brief, merely stating that incarnation rules over the entire inhabited world is not sufficient. Instead, incarnation must rule over all of personal existence in practice, which means putting people into situations where they need incarnation and call upon incarnation.
Verse 9 describes the general perspective. We see “Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone”. This ‘suffering of death’ happened when Jesus died physically in first century Judea. But incarnation is both man and God, and the universal concepts of God and incarnation have also experienced the suffering of death. Matthew 24 says that the theoretical return of Jesus will be preceded by a dismantling of all the ‘stones’ of absolute religious truth, leading to a death of the Christian concepts of God and incarnation. The beginning of Hebrews 2 describes the rebirth of incarnation. Thus, I suggest that ‘being crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death’ applies both to the physical death of Jesus-as-man and to the societal death of Jesus-as-God; death followed by glory and honor is both a specific fact of history and a universal cognitive principle. This universality can be seen in the last phrase, because incarnation is tasting death for everyone by the grace of God. Saying this cognitively, God is turning the physical death of Jesus-the-man into a universal principle that makes it possible for incarnation to identify with the personal experiences of death that everyone encounters.
Verse 10 describes this generalization in more detail: “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.” The word translated fitting actually means ‘stand out, be conspicuous, especially in a way that is suitable’. In other words, the suffering and death of incarnation provides a fitting example for others to follow. It is fitting for incarnation to set the example because everything is going through a process involving incarnation which will lead to everything belonging to incarnation; God is carrying out a plan of personal and societal transformation that requires incarnation, and this plan will lead to a new heaven-and-earth that is held together by incarnation. This dual meaning is brought out by the word translated author, which means ‘a person who is originator or founder of a movement and continues as the leader’. Using modern language, Jesus is both president and founder, a title which the typical male Contributor person loves to acquire—and flaunt. However, Jesus is not the typical egotistical president-and-founder who focuses upon personal wealth and prestige, because his purpose is to ‘bring many sons to glory’.
Verse 10 describes an important cognitive principle, which is that every system must be applied to the founder of that system. I have found in my analyses that a system will usually fall apart when it is applied to itself or applied to its authors. This principle also applies to theology. If God’s principles are truly universal, then they must also apply to the person of God. Verse 11 states this correspondence: “For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one [Father]”. (As the NASB points out, the word ‘father’ is not in the original Greek.) The word translated ‘from’ means ‘out of the depths of the source and extending to its impact on the object’. In other words, both Jesus and his followers are being guided by a single unifying principle. Jesus refers to his followers as brothers because of this underlying unity: “for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (v.11). Ashamed describes the ‘shame that matches the error of wrongly identifying with something’. Summarizing, Jesus can legitimately refer to his followers as brothers because both he and his followers have gone through the same process of salvation through sufferings. Saying this more generally, addressing Jesus as ‘my brother’ is only appropriate if one has gone through a process of personal transformation that is like the process through which Jesus went. As Paul both warns and promises in Romans 8:16-17: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”
The next two verses describe the development of this identification. First, there is a unity in Teacher thought: “I will proclaim your name to my brethren” (v.12). Incarnation is sharing a Teacher understanding of the name of God with his followers. Second, there is a unity in focusing emotionally upon God: “in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise” (v.12). One is not just learning facts and theories about God, but finding emotional pleasure in the TMN of a concept of God. Cognitively speaking, a general theory will naturally turn into a TMN when one continues to think about and/or apply this theory. Third, “I will put my trust in Him” (v.13). More literally, I will be ‘having confidence’ in him. In other words, the TMN of God will become a core mental network upon which the mind is built. Fourth, “Behold, I and the children whom God has given me”. The word translated children means ‘a little child in training’. Cognitively speaking, this means that MMNs of personal identity have become transformed by the TMN of a concept of God, and this new childlike identity is being trained by God. Putting these points together, the text is describing the three stages of personal transformation: 1) A concept of God is constructed in Teacher thought. 2) This concept of God turns into a TMN that emotionally guides thought and behavior, leading to righteousness. 3) MMNs of personal identity become reborn within the internal structure that was formed during the first two stages.
Verses 10-13 describe the unity of the process in Teacher thought. Verses 14-18 describe the extent of the process in Mercy thought. If Jesus and his followers are to become truly united, then the same process must be followed in similar circumstances: “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same” (v.14). Flesh refers to natural human nature, the part of the mind that develops from living in a physical body. Blood represents MMNs of personal identity. The word translated share is in the past tense and means ‘to participate in as an associate’. Summarizing, all humans have grown up in physical bodies. This has developed a mindset of living in a physical body, and experiences of physical pain and pleasure have formed MMNs of personal identity. (Looking briefly at the bigger picture, the mind requires content to function. The physical body provides the initial content for the mind, but this content needs to be transformed because it is incomplete, fragmented, and dependent upon the environment.)
If the plan of incarnation is to apply fully to humans, then incarnation must become a partaker of flesh and blood. Looking at this literally, Jesus had to live a physical life within a physical human body. But I suggest that the same principle applies to a concept of incarnation. If all of human existence is to become subject to incarnation, then incarnation must apply to all of human existence.
Applying this to Hebrews 2, the theoretical return of Jesus will be followed initially by spiritual technology. Using spirituality to come up with better gadgets is a good starting point, but it is not enough. Instead, spiritual technology will have to extend to the core of human physical existence, and that will only happen if the followers of spiritual technology become physically persecuted and have to depend upon spiritual technology for their physical survival.
This is a general principle that has applied throughout the history of Christianity. But it will be especially true when the development of spiritual technology comes into direct conflict with the system of the beast. Similarly, as 2 Thessalonians 2:7 says, the beast already functions implicitly within society and it already persecutes those who follow the path of Christianity, but this implicit mindset will become an explicit system when it is successfully challenged by Incarnation. One can see this transformation in the book of Revelation, because Revelation 12 describes the dragon being cast out of heaven, while Revelation 13 describes the system of the beast that develops in response to being driven out of heaven. The parallel passages that describe this period of time make it clear that there will be persecution, but they also suggest that this persecution will not be successful. (Note from 2021: In Acts 2, existing human structures are reacting against spiritual technology. The persecution of Hebrews 2 will extend spiritual technology beyond the realm of spiritually enhanced gadgets. In contrast, both Revelation 13 and Acts 8 suggest that the kingdom of the beast will itself be wielding substantial spiritual power. Thus, the backlash of Hebrews 2 probably corresponds to an earlier persecution than Revelation 13.)
Hebrews 2:14-15 also refers clearly to a period of unsuccessful persecution: “that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” This happened to some extent when Jesus died and rose again from the dead. The followers of Jesus believed that if Jesus was raised from the dead, then it would also be possible for them to be raised from the dead as followers of Jesus. This freed them from the fear of death that physical authorities use to impose their will upon a population. ‘Do as I say or I will kill you’ loses much of its impact if one believes that death is not the end. Devil means ‘slanderer or false accuser’, which tells us that this persecution is ultimately being motivated by a desire to eliminate an unwanted message.
I suggest that spiritual technology would cause something similar to happen. In a previous essay, I mentioned a number of reasons why objective technical scientific thought would find spiritual technology threatening and offensive. Looking at the Gospel of John, the parable of the vine in John 15:1-11 describes the start of spiritual technology, 15:12-17 talks about this developing into a new economy, 15:18-19 warns that the followers of incarnation will be hated by the world, and 15:20-27 says that this hatred will be followed by open persecution.
Hebrews 2 does not say that death is eliminated, or that the power of death is removed. But it does say that those who wield the power of death are being ‘made completely inoperative’ or ‘put out of use’, which describes something more than merely being delivered from the fear of death.
Personal transformation is a painful process. If personal transformation is the requirement for gaining access to spiritual technology, and if the extent of spiritual technology depends upon how deeply one has gone through the process of personal transformation, then the average follower of incarnation would probably be content with constructing the occasional spiritually empowered gadget. But if the response to spiritual technology becomes increasingly hostile, then the only option will be to turn to spiritual technology for help. As I mentioned in a previous essay, few people will jump off a ship into the water, but many people will jump off a burning ship into the water. If the followers of incarnation discovered that spiritual technology could extend to the level of protecting physical life, then this would mentally free them from the power of the state: First, the threat of physical imprisonment and death would be rendered ineffective, because people would know that spiritual technology was able to protect from even this level of threat. Second, reaching this level of trust would require a deep internal commitment to the rule of incarnation. Therefore, spiritual technology would be viewed primarily as submission to the higher laws of God rather than rebellion from the lesser rules of human society.
This is also a general principle that already applies. But there is a huge difference between becoming mentally and spiritually free of the fear of death, and actually being saved from death. Many heroes of faith throughout history have followed God to the extent of becoming internally free of a fear of death. But most of those heroes of faith were not saved from death but rather were killed. That is what happens when one lives under matter-over-mind. One can—and should—be internally transformed by the renewing of the mind. But one is still subject to the tyranny of physical matter. Hebrews 2 appears to be describing a future time when becoming mentally free of the fear of death will be accompanied by becoming physically free of the threat of death.
More generally, most of the principles that we are mentioning are asserted to be theologically true by Christians. And many Christians have followed these principles to the extent of believing internally that they are true. In addition, one can also point to the occasional incident where these theological statements have also proved to be true in practice. But as was mentioned at the beginning of this essay, we are not looking primarily at the theological curriculum of God’s school. Instead, we are examining how many classes in God’s school have been successfully taken, successfully passed, and then successfully applied to reality. Hebrews 2 appears to be describing principles of personal transformation being successfully applied to reality. That is why I use the term spiritual technology, because technology takes the understanding of science and applies it successfully to reality.
Verse 16 supports this interpretation because it talks about help being given selectively by Incarnation: “For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham.” The same Greek word translated help is used twice, and means to ‘take hold of, seize—sometimes with beneficent, sometimes with hostile, intent’. In other words, Incarnation is not just politely offering some assistance, but rather grabbing people out of situations. This aggressive assistance is not being offered to angels. Interpreting this cognitively, specialized technical thought will not have access to this saving power. This is quite different than the situation today, because those who currently have access to saving power go through intense, specialized, technical training, as illustrated by policemen, firemen, medical staff, and search-and-rescue teams. In contrast, it is the offspring of Abraham who will be aggressively helped by Incarnation.
This comparison is significant because angels will not be mentioned again until Hebrews 12. The implication is that abstract technical specialization will no longer be the driving force of society. Specialized, objective, scientific thought is currently respected because it is the source of knowledge, technology, expertise, and military might. It became overshadowed as the source of knowledge in Hebrews 1, it became outclassed as the source of technology at the beginning of Hebrews 2, and it has just become irrelevant as the source of military might. That is because military might becomes irrelevant if one can no longer use weapons to kill enemies or destroy society. (I do not know if weapons will become totally obsolete or only partially ineffective. But it will become clear that physical weapons are inferior to spiritual power.)
Verse 16 is also the first time that Abraham is mentioned, and Abraham will be discussed in Hebrews 7. Thus, it is important to work out what Abraham represents. Historically speaking, Abraham was the founder of the Jewish race, who left the comforts of Sumerian civilization and followed God into the unknown, motivated by the promise that he would be blessed by God. Paul defines what it means to be a descendant of Abraham in Galatians: “Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham” (Gal. 3:6-7). Thus, a descendent of Abraham represents someone who follows God out of existing culture in order to experience a better culture. This is stated explicitly in Hebrews 11:8-10. “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
Applying this to Hebrews 2, spiritual technology began as an application of the theoretical return of Jesus, and I refer to this as a theoretical return because it is based in a Teacher understanding of God and incarnation. But spiritual technology has now progressed to the point of becoming a new motivation in concrete thought. People are applying spiritual technology in order to live within a new society that is based upon a Teacher understanding of God and incarnation.
A similar progression has happened with the theory of mental symmetry. It began as an understanding of how the mind functions. It then expanded to become also a path of personal transformation. However, I now view it as a description of a transformed society within which I want to live, a society that takes the fragments of goodness that exist within the current world and reassembles them to be compatible with mental wholeness.
This transforming of existing society is described in the final two verses of Hebrews 2: “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (v.17-18). The word translated had to means ‘being morally obligated or legally required to meet an obligation’. Thus, what is being described is a process that has to be followed. Incarnation must become translated into something that is like all human situations. Similarly, most of the work that I have done recently has involved translating the theory of mental symmetry into the languages and situations of various specializations. In like manner, the theoretical return of Jesus would have to be followed by applying this general theory to all kinds of human experiences and technical specializations, which would make it possible to connect all the valid aspects of current society with a concept of God. This may sound like a description of the millennium of Revelation 20:4-6, but I suggest that the millennium happens in Hebrews 11, and it will take many major steps to get from Hebrews 2 to Hebrews 11.
This connecting will be merciful, because it will recognize the unique Mercy feelings of specific people and specific situations. It will be faithful because it will follow methods that have been successfully tested under extreme circumstances. And it will not include every aspect of society indiscriminately, but rather apply to ‘things pertaining to God’.
Jesus is described as a high priest who makes propitiation for the sins of the people. Propitiation is a common theological term used to describe the atonement of Jesus, and it means to appease the wrath of an angry God. I suggest that one can understand what is happening with the help of the school analogy mentioned earlier. In order to set up a school, one must first come up with an effective curriculum. One cannot just teach abstract theory, but must also apply theory to the actual situations being experienced by the students. Hebrews 2:14-17 has described the process of coming up with an effective curriculum. God the Father lives within Teacher thought. Teacher thought loves structure and hates chaos. God responds to the chaos of humanity with anger, especially when humanity misses the mark by twisting the ways of God to satisfy childish whims and destructive goals. A school administrator comes up with an educational program that will transform ignorant children into educated adults. Similarly, Jesus acts as a high priest by coming up with a plan of personal and societal transformation that will eliminate the problem of sin. The anger of God becomes appeased when God sees the order and structure of the plan of incarnation rather than the chaos of human individuals. Using theological language, presenting the plan of salvation to God causes God to respond with justification. Carrying out the plan of salvation with humans causes humans to become sanctified.
Verse 18 adds the element of sanctification: “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” The word translated tempted ‘means either test or tempt’. In simple terms, this means surviving under pressure. (The distinction between tempting and testing will be discussed later in the essay.) And come to the aid means ‘quickly responding to an urgent need’. Thus, acting as a high priest is only one side of the story. In order to effectively appease the wrath of God, incarnation must present a plan that will work—a plan that will really help people to avoid straying from the path of personal transformation. The book of Hebrews appears to be describing such a plan.
We have now crossed the boundary from spiritual technology to atonement with God. Hebrews 3 talks about the religious response to this expansion of spiritual technology. I should point out that atonement is a major topic, and much of the book of Hebrews will deal with various aspects of atonement. Hebrews 3 is only the beginning.
Before we start, we should mention the parallel passages. A similar transition from spiritual technology to religious belief can be seen in the Gospel of John, because John 15:20-27, which talks about being persecuted by the world, is followed by John 16:1-4, which talks about being excommunicated by the church. This transition is also implied by the book of Revelation. Revelation 13:1-10 talks about the beast from the sea, focusing upon war and physical persecution, implying a secular beast. In contrast, Revelation 13:11-15 describes the beast from the earth, using language that sounds more religious, talking about a fatal wound being healed, great signs being performed, and breath being given to an image. (Note from 2021. This distinction is valid. But Acts 4 talks about an overturning of existing religious thought that happens before the kingdom of the beast.)
(If one interprets Revelation 13 symbolically, then one notices a correspondence between the beast from the sea and the militaristic mindset that characterized the first half of the 20th century with its two world wars, and the beast from the earth and the current mindset of talking peace while exerting ever greater economic and technological control over society. If technology extended to the realm of spiritual technology, then one could imagine something similar but more intense happening in the future.)
Looking at this process more generally, the theoretical return of Jesus began as a rational understanding of God and incarnation. Therefore, it first encountered abstract technical thought. This was then applied through signs and wonders and spiritual gifts, leading to an interaction with technology. This application extended to the core of physical identity, entering the realm of Christianity and atonement. This path corresponds to the three stages of personal transformation: Constructing a concept of God, allowing this concept of God to guide personal behavior, and becoming reborn within this new structure.
But in the same way that a rational understanding of God brought Incarnation into a collision with technical specialization, so a transformed view of atonement will bring Incarnation into a collision with fundamentalist Christianity. This will not be a struggle over religious doctrine, because the fundamentalist content of Christianity will not change. Instead, incarnation will be attacked by fundamentalism for saying the right thing for the wrong reasons. For instance, one of the seminars I gave was attended by a Wycliffe Bible translator. Despite agreeing with me on theology, this lady still concluded that I was completely wrong, because I was not basing my theology in the absolute truth of the Bible. I was saying the right thing for the wrong reasons. (Note from 2021: Many fundamentalist Christians have turned anti-vaccine and have embraced conspiracy theories during the covid pandemic, making it apparent that it is the Christian fundamentalist who is making the fundamental error of saying the right things for the wrong reasons.)
Chapter 3 begins by referring to Jesus: “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession” (v.1). This is only the second time that the name Jesus is explicitly mentioned in Hebrews. The first time was in 2:9, which talked about physically seeing Jesus being crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death. The text tells us to consider Jesus, and consider means ‘to think from up to down, to a conclusion, to consider exactly, attentively’. Current Christianity emphasizes Jesus-as-man who lived 2000 years ago while usually declaring that Jesus-as-God is a mystery. (Stating that Jesus now sits in bodily form at the right hand of God the Father does not eliminate this inadequacy because it simply transplants Jesus-as-man into heaven without analyzing how Jesus-as-man relates to Jesus-as-God.) If Jesus is being considered, then this implies rethinking the fundamentalist Christian concept of Jesus.
Verse 1 also describes the context within which one is evaluating a concept of Jesus. The author addresses his instructions to ‘holy brethren’. This is not just a theological label. The previous section described how one becomes ‘brethren’ of Incarnation. And when Incarnation acts as a high priest, then it becomes possible for brethren to become holy, which means set apart by God. Saying this more practically, if spiritual technology reached the level of protecting physical identity, and if those who were using ‘angelic’ technical thought did not have access to this level of divine help, then it would become obvious to everyone that the followers of Incarnation are a group of people who have been set apart by God.
This type of response can be seen in Acts 4-5. Acts 4:32-37 describes Christians forming a new community that provided for each other’s physical needs. Acts 5:1-11 tells the story about Ananias and Sapphira dying because they lied to the Holy Spirit, telling us that spiritual power extends to the level of physical life and death. Verses 11 and 13 describe what people then think about this group: “and great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things… but none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem.” Something similar often happens when a church is persecuted, because this forces Christian faith to extend to the level of physical existence. When Christianity becomes this real, then it becomes obvious to everyone that Christians are a different group of people. This is the first time in Hebrews that the adjective ‘holy’ is being applied to people. Persecution can act like a stick to prod Christians into greater levels of personal faith. But Hebrews 3 goes beyond being separated from the world by persecution to being separated unto God by the growth of understanding and spiritual power. This is a critical distinction, because evil remains the reference point under persecution, and one is being prodded by a stick to move beyond evil. In contrast, the reference point in Hebrews 3 is the kingdom of God.
The next phrase describes the source of this holiness: “partakers of a heavenly calling” (v.1). Partaker means ‘sharer, partner, associate’, which emphasizes that one is not just dealing with theological labels, or with religious adherents, but with individuals who are active partners. Calling is something verbal, which tells us that the source of holiness is in Teacher thought. And heavenly ‘refers to the impact of heaven’s influence on the particular situation or person’, which means that these active partners are being impacted by a supernatural source. Angels have been mentioned many times in the beginning of Hebrews, but this is the first time that finite beings are being associated with heaven. Even though one normally associates angels with heaven, Hebrews 1-3 does not make any connection between angels and heaven, which supports the idea that ‘angels’ refers primarily to an angelic-like form of thought, and not to actual beings who reside within heaven. (The only other previous mention of heaven was in 1:10 where it describes the heavens as the work of the hands of Incarnation.)
Putting this together, it is apparent that the people in this new group are active participants in a relationship with heaven that is based in Teacher thought. This is what Christians claim to possess, but in most cases this verbal claim is not backed up by reality. Instead, it usually takes significant persecution to transform theology into reality—and we have seen that the followers of incarnation have just gone through a period of significant persecution. And this persecution needs to happen within the larger context of a relationship with heaven that is based in Teacher thought, in order to go beyond rescuing a person out of trouble to bringing a person into lasting life. This idea of being active participants in the kingdom of heaven will be developed further at the end of chapter 3 when the author talks about entering God’s rest, and it will become central later on in Hebrews 9-10.
This is followed by the instruction to ‘consider Jesus’. The final phrase of verse 1 tells us what kind of Jesus is being considered: “the Apostle and High Priest of our confession”. An apostle is ‘one commissioned by another to represent them in some way’. Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 9 what it means to be an apostle. In brief, I suggest that an apostle pays the personal price that is required to comprehend, apply, and spread some new facet of God and incarnation. This is consistent with 1 Corinthians 12:27 which explicitly places apostles first in a list of ministries: “God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers...” For instance, Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles, who translated Jewish Christianity into a new theological form that was compatible with the Gentile mindset. Hebrews 2 has just described the process of Incarnation paying the personal price to introduce a new facet of personal salvation. Summarizing, I suggest that apostles are rare, but they can exist in present society.
This is the only time in the New Testament that Jesus is called an apostle. There are many references to the apostles of Jesus, but in Hebrews 3:1, Jesus is described as ‘the apostle’ with the definite article. Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 the difference between what he is doing and what Jesus has done. Paul calls himself a ‘master builder’, and emphasizes that he is building upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. If Jesus is being called ‘the apostle’, then this strongly implies that an extended comprehension of Incarnation is being revealed and spread which builds upon the historical atonement of Jesus, but adds a new dimension. This supports the idea that the traditional concept of Jesus is being re-evaluated.
Skipping ahead briefly, the focus of Hebrews 3-4 will be upon entering God’s rest. I suggest that Revelation 14:1-5 describes a group of people that have succeeded in entering God’s rest. This new group will be the fruit of Jesus the apostle, they will follow the Lamb wherever he goes, and will sing a new song that others are incapable of singing.
I am not suggesting that this transition will lead to a different concept of Jesus, because “no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). Instead, this is a new and expanded concept of the same Jesus. The theological content remains unchanged, but it is being viewed from a new perspective. The fundamentalist view of Jesus-in-your-heart based in the absolute truth of the Bible will be replaced by an incarnational view of Jesus as Savior (the name Jesus mean ‘Savior’) based in the universal truth of experiencing this salvation both personally and societally. This characteristic is brought out in Revelation 14:1, which describes a new group that has the name of the Lamb and the name of his Father written on their foreheads. A name implies Teacher thought, while ‘written on their foreheads’ implies intelligent understanding.
Jesus is also described in Hebrews 3:1 as ‘high priest of our confession’. The word high priest was first mentioned in Hebrews 2:17, and this priesthood became possible when the theoretical return of Jesus extended to the ‘flesh and blood’ of human experience. Confession means ‘to say the same thing about’. This goes beyond verbally calling upon Jesus, to thinking and talking like Jesus. For instance, there is quite a difference between merely claiming to be a Canadian citizen, and thinking, talking—and apologizing like a Canadian, eh?
Verse 2 introduces Moses, who will be mentioned several times in this chapter. The name Moses comes from the Hebrew word for ‘drawing out’, and Exodus 2:10 explains that “Pharaoh’s daughter… named him Moses… because I drew him out of the water.” Water represents the experiential realm of Mercy experiences. Cognitively speaking, a liquid is composed of matter that lacks solid connections. Similarly, Mercy thought remembers experiences, while Perceiver thought builds solid connections between Mercy experiences. Mercy experiences that lack solid Perceiver connections are fluid. Looking at this scripturally, the book of Revelation uses water to represent cultural MMNs: “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues” (Rev. 17:15). Going further, Isaiah uses stormy seas to symbolize the interpersonal conflict that naturally emerges when cultural and personal MMNs rule society: “Alas, the uproar of many peoples who roar like the roaring of the seas, and the rumbling of nations who rush on like the rumbling of mighty waters!” (Isaiah 17:12).
Looking at this historically, the culture of ancient Egypt was strongly connected to concrete, physical experience. Quoting from the linked website: “As it was believed that one’s afterlife would be a continuation of one’s present (only better in that there was no sickness, disappointment or, of course, death), the place in which one spent one’s life would constitute one’s eternal landscape. The yard and tree and stream one saw every day outside one’s window would be replicated in the afterlife exactly. This being so, Egyptians were encouraged to rejoice in and deeply appreciate their immediate surroundings and to live gratefully within their means.”
Therefore, Moses was also ‘drawn from the water’ in the cultural sense of growing up in the household of Pharaoh and then choosing to leave this behind in order to identify with the Jews. This is explicitly stated in Hebrews 11: “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (v.24-25).
Summarizing, I suggest that Moses represents a form of religion that is based upon MMNs of emotional status and religious experience. This would include the absolute truth of fundamentalist Christianity, which believes that the Bible is true because it was written by God, who is regarded as the Most Important Person, and transmitted by apostles and church fathers, who are also regarded as Very Important Persons. Looking at this cognitively, Perceiver thought is knowing that the words of some person are true because Perceiver thought is being overwhelmed by the emotional label given to that person in Mercy thought. This type of thinking emerges naturally in the childish mind. For instance, ‘It must be true because my teacher told me’, ‘It must be true because it was mentioned on television’, or ‘It must be true because it is written in the Bible’. I am not suggesting that the Bible is inaccurate, because I have found it to be a more accurate description of human cognition than any other book that I have read. Instead, we are looking here at why the Bible is believed to be true. Is the Bible being viewed as the sole source of absolute truth in a fundamentalist fashion, or is the Bible being viewed as an accurate description of universal truth? If one experiences spiritual technology to the level being described in Hebrews 2, then one will view the Bible as an accurate description of universal truth, because one will be surrounded by evidence for, and confirmation of, biblical truth.
Going further, I suggest that Moses also refers to the ritualistic truth of the Catholic and Orthodox churches, which believe in the truth of the Bible primarily because fundamental doctrines are being regularly re-enacted by people with religious status within locations that have religious status. Saying this more clearly, the Catholic and Orthodox doctrine of transubstantiation teaches that the Eucharist is a re-enactment of the sacrifice of Jesus in which the bread and wine actually turn into the body and blood of Jesus, and it teaches that this changing of bread and wine into the body and blood can only be carried out by priests who have been officially ordained by church officials, who can trace their lineage back through a chain of official appointments to the original apostles of the Christian church. This is also a form of religious practice that is drawn from the water of Mercy experience. Fundamentalism draws absolute Perceiver truth from Mercy experience, while Catholicism draws absolute Server sequence from Mercy experience, but in both cases the ultimate emotional authority is not the TMN of a rational concept of God, but rather MMNs of religious status and authority.
This does not mean that fundamentalism or Catholicism completely lacks a rational concept of God. Catholicism contains branches that are noted for their extensive intellectual activity. Instead, we are looking here at the ultimate basis for truth and understanding. Looking at this more generally, Piaget’s stages of cognitive development indicate that every childish mind begins life ‘drawn from the water’ of Mercy experience and then (hopefully) makes a transition to being guided by Teacher understanding. Similarly, both fundamentalism and Catholicism provide a starting point for constructing and submitting to a concept of God. But ultimately a transition needs to be made from being ‘drawn from the water’ to being ‘partakers of a heavenly calling’, and I suggest that Hebrews 3 is describing this transition.
Notice the precise transition. Personal experience is not being replaced by abstract theory. That is what happens when abstract scientific thought replaces traditional religious belief. Instead, an old method of starting with emotional experiences and then extending to Teacher understanding is being replaced by a new method of starting with Teacher understanding and then extending to emotional Mercy experiences.
In these next verses, I will use the term absolute truth to refer to the mindset that Moses represents (as opposed to universal truth, which is based in connections that appear repeatedly and consistently).
Verses 2-6 compare Jesus with Moses. The first comparison is in verse 2: “He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house.” People often equate faith with blind faith. If something is believed without being able to rely upon rational thought, then this is regarded as faith, and if one understands, then the assumption is that there is no need for faith. However, this distinction is not reflected by the word faith. Quoting the full definition, this word is “used of persuading oneself (= human believing) and with the sacred significance of being persuaded by the Lord (= faith-believing). Only the context indicates whether 4100 /pisteúō (‘believe’) is self-serving (without sacred meaning), or the believing that leads to/proceeds from God’s inbirthing of faith in the New Testament, the verb for faith does not distinguish between these two meanings.” I include the entire quote from the definition page because it illustrates the typical distinction between rational thought and religious belief, and it also makes it clear this distinction is not found in the original Greek word for faith.
Verse 2 uses the less common adjective faithful, but both faith and faithful have the same root, referring to persuasion. Verse 2 points out that both Jesus and Moses were faithful. In other words, both the old system of absolute truth and the new system of Incarnation require faith. Absolute truth is rooted in blind faith, using Mercy emotions to overwhelm Perceiver thought into knowing absolute truth. But that is only one starting point for faith. True faith is ‘persuaded of what is trustworthy’. What was initially learned through blind faith becomes tested and proven to be reliable. Incarnation starts from Teacher understanding and technical thought. This is also a starting point for faith. What was initially learned as rational theory becomes personally tested and proven to be reliable. This testing process was just described at the end of Hebrews 2.
Looking at a secular example, the aeronautical engineer who is calculating equations about wing shapes, air flow patterns, and material strength is not exhibiting faith. But if these equations are used to build an airplane and the engineer flies in this airplane, then that demonstrates faith, because rational thought is being personally tested and proven to be reliable. Summarizing, faith is not blind, and faith is not rational thought. Instead, faith is being persuaded, and both blind faith and rational thought can be starting points for faith. Using the language of Hebrews, Jesus was faithful and Moses was faithful.
This does not mean that these two methods are equivalent, because the second half of verse 2 mentions a major limitation of absolute truth. Moses was faithful ‘in all his house’. Many of the translations say that Moses is faithful in all of God’s house, but the original Greek says ‘the house of him’ without clarifying whether the ‘him’ refers to Moses or Jesus. In addition, the word translated house has two meanings: ‘a) a house, the material building, b) a household, family, lineage, nation’. The point is that the faithfulness of a mindset of Moses will always be limited to some restricted area. That is because absolute truth is based in MMNs that represent finite people and specific situations. This leads naturally to the tendency to be consciously aware of being faithful in some areas, while not even thinking about what it means to be faithful to God in other areas. Using the language of Hebrews, one will be faithful within some house. Human faithfulness always starts within some limited domain, because humans are finite creatures. However, universal truth will be driven by Teacher emotions of general understanding to extend faithfulness beyond this limited domain, while absolute truth will be driven emotionally by MMNs of culture and personal status not to extend the idea of faithfulness beyond the confines of this culture.
For instance, as I mentioned previously, most of the principles that we are discussing are not new, but rather form part of standard Christian theology. And many Christians over the centuries have applied these theological truths at great personal cost. That is an example of being ‘faithful within the house’. But the average Christian will feel that it does not make sense to apply these theological principles to secular existence, as we are attempting to do in this essay. That is because a mindset of absolute truth naturally limits its faithfulness to some ‘house’. And if one asks whether these theological principles are actually true in real life, then the average Christian will point to a few famous incidents where the principles actually came true. This type of reasoning, which I refer to as ‘proof by example’, is also a natural expression of absolute truth, because absolute truth acquires its Perceiver beliefs from strong emotions in Mercy thought; a sufficiently emotional experience or situation will overwhelm Perceiver thought into ‘knowing’ that a certain belief is true. In contrast, universal truth is driven by Teacher emotions to apply theological principles to an ever-increasing circle of experiences, and it bases Perceiver confidence in repetition rather than emotional significance.
Going further, it will often be unclear whether this house is being defined by God or by the group of people who are being faithful. Stated more bluntly, is one actually following God or is one following a specific church or denomination who claims to speak for God? In most cases, the answer will be some combination.
Finally, it will also be unclear whether this is a house or a household. Is one submitting to a system of morality that is based in Perceiver facts, or one that is based in MMNs of personal status and culture?
It may be that I am reading too much into the Greek text, but I know that these statements describe cognitive principles, and I also suspect that these cognitive principles would have caused these Greek words to acquire ambiguous meanings. The average Roman citizen probably did confuse house with household, and law with personal authority, because such confusion emerges naturally when Perceiver truth is based in MMNs of status and authority.
Verse 3 describes another comparison between Jesus and Moses: “For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house.” The first comparison describes the limited extent of absolute truth. This comparison looks at the source of absolute truth. The word builder means ‘to prepare skillfully using implements according to a tooled-design’. Hebrews compares incarnation with the builder of the house and Moses with the house itself.
This raises the question of what it means to be a source of truth. For instance, suppose that a politician cuts the ribbon at the opening ceremonies for a new bridge and announces that ‘he built this bridge’. From the viewpoint of absolute truth, this is an accurate statement, because the politician is the important person who was the source of the plan to build the bridge. But if one interprets building as ‘preparing skillfully using implements according to a tooled-design’, then the politician had nothing to do with building the bridge. Instead, the bridge was designed by engineers and constructed by skilled workers.
Similarly, absolute truth will naturally focus upon the human authors of the Bible, as well as the church fathers who founded the Christian church. But if one gains a rational understanding of the content of the Bible, then it becomes apparent that it was ‘prepared skillfully using implements according to a tooled-design’. This distinction has become increasingly apparent as I continue to analyze New Testament books (and this essay will be making several forays into the Jewish Torah when looking later at the tabernacle and the heroes of faith). The cognitive structure that one finds in biblical books far exceeds the structure that I have found in any other book on the mind, ancient or modern. When the majority of church fathers declare biblical truth to be incomprehensible mystery, then it becomes obvious that biblical truth did not come from the church fathers. Instead, the entire system of absolute Christian truth is a house that was carefully constructed by a Superhuman Being.
The natural tendency will be for both absolute truth (and ritualistic truth) to view the new system of Incarnation as inherently wrong, because it does not base itself in the MMNs of accepted religious authority. If spiritual technology were to reach the level of ‘high priest’ described at the end of Hebrews 2, then I am sure that some fundamentalists would instinctively reject this as anti-Christian.
When a mindset of absolute truth becomes confused, then the standard reaction is to ‘repent’ back to earlier sources, because this maintains the underlying assumption that truth is revealed by important people. For instance, the doubting religious fundamentalist often tries to resolve questions raised by current church authorities by turning back to the earlier sources of the church fathers, or possibly by embracing the original version of Christianity practiced by the Orthodox Church.
Hebrews addresses this response by pointing out that the original source is not the church fathers or even the human authors of the Bible, but rather God: “For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God” (v.4). The Greek word for ‘built’ as well as the word for ‘builder’ is the same Greek word that was used in verse 3, which is an intensified form of the verb ‘to prepare or make ready’. Using modern language, verse 4 is using the argument of intelligent design: a house implies an intelligent designer, and the ultimate intelligent designer is God.
I suggest that the argument of intelligent design is only effective to the extent that one is aware of the underlying intelligence. For instance, the average layman will think that it makes sense for a politician to claim that ‘I built the bridge’, because the average individual does not know all of the complexities that are involved in designing and constructing a bridge. Similarly, I suggest that the argument of intelligent design tends to fail today because the average scientist does not know the structure of human thought or the corresponding cognitive structure that can be found in the Bible.
I suggest that this same principle applies to those who make the argument of intelligent design. For instance, it is not sufficient to say that a bridge is too complicated to have been built by a politician. Instead, one needs to understand—at least partially—how a bridge can be designed and constructed.
Similarly, Michael Behe presented the argument of irreducible complexity in the book Darwin’s Black Box, suggesting that Darwin was able to believe that life could evolve because Darwin did not know the incredible structure that is found within biological cells. As far as Darwin was concerned, a cell was a black box. Hence the title of the book. But an argument of irreducible complexity destroys existing Teacher understanding without providing Teacher thought with a replacement general theory. As Thomas Kuhn discovered, a scientist will only let go of one theory if provided with an alternative theory.
The end result of merely attacking existing theories is illustrated by the Wikipedia article on Darwin’s Black Box, which is scathingly dismissive. This kind of excessive emotional response occurs when the integrity of a core mental network is being threatened—and no alternative mental network exists.
Saying this more generally, an argument of intelligent design will only be effective if one is thinking in terms of intelligence and design. Absolute truth ignores the concept of intelligence, thinking that it is sufficient to assert in Mercy thought that God is the most important person in the universe. Mysticism ignores the concept of design, thinking that it is sufficient to assert in Teacher thought that God can do anything. Thus, what is called an argument of intelligent design is often an argument of transcendent divine intelligence. It is not enough to say that the human cell must have been made by God because it is too complicated to be designed by human intelligence, because this replaces rational thought with blind faith in God. Instead, one must go further and attempt to understand the intelligence of God, as we are attempting to do in these essays. (Note from 2021: The essay on Acts presents an alternative way of viewing intelligent design.)
The situation would be quite different at the beginning of Hebrews 3, because technical specialization has itself become discredited by spiritual technology by the end of Hebrews 2. Today, everyone is convinced that technical specialization is ultimately the only valid form of thought. A theoretical return of Jesus followed by sufficient spiritual technology would convince everyone that God “does not give help to angels, but he gives help to the seed of Abraham” (2:16).
We will look at Abraham in more detail later on. However, I would like to mention one point now. Abraham’s original name was Abram, which means ‘exalted father’. In Genesis 17:1-6, God tells Abram that he will have many descendants and gives him the new name of Abraham, which means ‘father of a multitude’. The name ‘exalted father’ indicates personal status in Mercy thought, while the name ‘father of a multitude’ is a description of Teacher generality. Moses means ‘drawn from the water’ of Mercy experience, and Moses was never given a new name by God. (As we shall see later, Moses was ultimately unable to make a mental transition from Mercy status to Teacher thought.) Abraham, in contrast, did make at least a partial transition from Mercy status to Teacher generality, as indicated by the new name that he acquired from God.
Applying this principle to mental symmetry, some readers may be wondering why I use the term spiritual technology instead of a religious term such as spiritual gifts. That is because the term ‘gift’ implies some sort of ‘black box’ that God mystically prepares and then magically gives to humans in an arbitrary manner. In contrast, we all know (or at least should know) that technology is based in a rational Teacher understanding of natural law and that science can only be translated into technology by ‘preparing skillfully using implements according to a tooled-design’. Similarly, I suggest that spiritual gifts/technology will also descend from a rational Teacher understanding of the character of God and Incarnation by ‘preparing skillfully using implements according to a tooled-design’. Even though this definition has now been repeated too many times, I know from experience that it still has not been repeated enough times to fully convey the idea that God can be both infinite and rational. It has taken decades of careful research for this concept to gradually sink within my subconscious mind and affect my thinking at the level of core mental networks. But I have now encountered so much structure in studying the mind, as well as so much of the same structure when studying the Bible, that it now feels ludicrous to me not to accept the argument of intelligent design.
Similarly, I suggest that spiritual technology would have to reach the level of physical life and death to convince the average person that God is a rational being and that the process of becoming transformed by God is also a rational process. That is because mental networks of common sense acquire their emotional potency from the threat of physical life and death. For instance, people believe in the law of gravity at a core emotional level because ‘people who walk off precipices die’. If belief in God is to affect human existence at this core emotional level, then it must touch the mind at the core emotional level of mental networks based upon physical existence. Using psychological language, it must descend to the bottom level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Finally, I use the term spiritual technology because I think that the spirituality will first affect physical existence at the more peripheral level of technology before being extended to the deeper level of human existence. At this deeper level, a different term probably needs to be chosen, such as spiritual identity or spiritual reality.
We skipped the first half of verse 3, which says that “he has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses”. In simple terms, when it becomes apparent that absolute biblical truth was ultimately constructed by God—as opposed to being revealed by God in some incomprehensible manner, then it will also become obvious that Incarnation is worthy of more glory. I am not talking about asserting theologically that the Bible was written by God, but rather grasping at the core of one’s being the inherent structure of Christianity, and then observing that this far exceeds anything written by the originators of Christianity when they were guided by normal human intelligence.
The first comparison looked at the limited extent of absolute truth. The second comparison examined the secondary source of absolute truth. The third comparison looks at the limited viewpoint of absolute truth: “Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later” (v.5). The word servant is only used once in the New Testament, and it means ‘a faithful attendant who voluntarily serves another, like a friend serving in a tender, noble way’. This goes beyond obeying a set of rules to having an emotional bond.
Looking at this cognitively, the attitude of absolute truth and the content of the Bible will have opposing effects. On the one hand, absolute truth will only remain solid in Perceiver thought if it is mentally associated with MMNs that have much greater emotional importance than MMNs of personal identity. Stated simply, a person must feel that God is much more important than self in order to continue believing in absolute truth. Thus, the individual who follows absolute truth must approach God as a servant; being a servant of God is an inevitable cognitive byproduct of being ‘drawn from the water’. On the other hand, the content of the Bible teaches how to reach mental wholeness. Therefore, submitting to biblical absolute truth will produce personal benefits, leading to the conclusion that God loves me. These two opposing effects will result in ‘a faithful attendant who voluntarily serves another, like a friend serving in a tender, noble way’. (Note from 2021: This describes a mindset represented by David, which means ‘beloved one’.)
However, as was mentioned previously, this faithful submission to God will be limited to contexts where the Bible obviously applies, and a person following absolute truth will not even think about being a servant of God in other contexts. Therefore, Hebrews adds that ‘Moses was faithful in all his house’. For instance, many Christians in previous centuries thought that they were following God faithfully, while behaving in many areas in a manner that we would now consider heinous, such as owning slaves, submitting to absolute monarchs, practicing warfare, or treating women as second-class humans.
Verse 5 finishes by saying that one should treat this form of Christianity as ‘a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later’. On the one hand, one can learn from the personal struggles of these individuals. They have legitimate testimonies. On the other hand, many more things will be spoken later. Saying this cognitively, when absolute truth that is based in the words of a specific book is replaced by universal truth that looks for principles that apply everywhere, then it becomes possible to say much more. Hebrews says that the personal struggles experienced by sincere followers of absolute truth are consistent with what can only be spoken later when absolute truth is replaced by universal truth. Saying this more simply, one can use rational thought to learn valuable spiritual lessons from the biographies of Christian heroes, even if these same heroes insisted that God transcends rational thought, and even if these heroes had major blind spots where they did not even think of applying the Christian message.
Verse 6 then turns from Moses to Incarnation: “but Christ [was faithful] as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” (As the NASB points out, ‘was faithful’ is not in the original Greek.) This is the first mention of the name ‘Christ’ in the book of Hebrews. Jesus Christ is the Incarnation who is both God and man. Jesus is the name that was given to the human side of incarnation while Christ is a title that describes the divine side of incarnation. Peter describes this relationship in his sermon in Acts 2: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).
This is quite a different viewpoint than that of absolute truth. If one starts with a general understanding in Teacher thought, then adding details to this general understanding will lead to a concept of Christ who is the son of God. One will then see the ‘house’ of Christian belief as the aspect of Incarnation that applies to personal identity. Using the language of Hebrews, one will view Christ as a son over his house. When one starts from this theoretical perspective, then one does not think in terms of being faithful to some collection of revealed truth. (It is interesting that the NASB feels it necessary to add the phrase ‘was faithful’.) Instead, what matters is the relationship between the various aspects: Christ is the son of God; Christ is over the house.
For instance, I used to think that one had to look at what was happening in the church to see what God was doing, because I assumed that God worked primarily through the church. In other words, my thinking about God was limited to the ‘house’ of Christianity. But this changed as the theory of mental symmetry led to a concept of God and Incarnation. I now realize that God is working through all aspects of society and the Christian church is only one facet of divine intervention. Stating this psychologically, when the Christian church faces some social issue, then this issue is seldom unique to the church. Instead, the church is going through a social crisis that is being experienced by all of society. This does not mean that the Christian church is unimportant, because it emphasizes the aspect of incarnation that deals with personal identity, and this is very important because I am a person, and I want the salvation of God to include me as a person and not just my world or my society. Using the language of Hebrews, Christ is a son over his house, and as was pointed out before, house means either the material building or a household. From the viewpoint of Teacher thought, the house of Christianity is only one of many buildings that express God and Incarnation. But from the viewpoint of Mercy thought, the house of Christianity is the household in which people live. And this ‘house of humanity’ needs to be valued and protected, because if it is suppressed in an attitude of religious self-denial, or ignored in an attitude of scientific objectivity, then the end result will be human suffering. God’s universal plan in Teacher thought will continue to function, while humans will be miserable.
Verse 6 finishes by describing this personal perspective: “whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end”. From the Mercy perspective of personal identity, we are the house of Incarnation. Absolute truth cannot go beyond the house defined by absolute revealed truth: Moses was faithful in all his house. That is because absolute truth is based in the MMNs of the important people within the house. It views God as the master of the house, rather than as the creator of everything including the house. Incarnation starts with a general concept of God in Teacher thought and then extends down to the house of personal identity within Mercy thought.
But membership in this house of personal faith does not come automatically. Instead, there are requirements: “if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end” (v.6). It is interesting that both of these requirements are verbal. The word translated confidence means ‘a proverb or statement quoted with resolve’. And boasting means ‘boasting, focusing on the results of exulting/boasting’. Looking at this cognitively, by this point in Hebrews, it has become apparent that a Teacher understanding of Incarnation is superior to both secular specialization and Christianity that is based in absolute truth. That can no longer be denied. But it is still possible to treat the understanding of incarnation as something emotionally insignificant. I know from personal experience what this means. I have now done enough research on the theory of mental symmetry, and have applied this theory for long enough, to know beyond reasonable doubt that it is a valid theory. I cannot deny this theory and I cannot stop working with this theory. But because this theory is still relatively unknown, it is still possible for me to regard this theory emotionally as something that is specific and insignificant. (For instance, the results are currently quite sparse if one googles ‘mental symmetry’.) Therefore, I must choose to treat mental symmetry as a ‘statement quoted with resolve’, focusing upon how much it explains instead of on how many people accept the theory.
Going further, there is also a boasting. Boasting is normally viewed as using words to lift up self and belittle others. But the focus of the boasting in verse 6 is upon results rather than upon people. Instead of saying ‘I am better than you’, one is saying ‘This is what I am looking forward to’. Verse 6 explains that this is a ‘boast of our hope’. Hope is not wishful thinking but rather an ‘expectation of what is sure’, and Romans 8:24 adds that “hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees”. Looking at this cognitively, the Teacher understanding of God and Incarnation is causing Platonic forms to emerge within Mercy thought—internally generated images of a better and more ideal world that is guided by understanding. These internal images form the basis for hope, and one is supposed to boast in these internal images of possibility. Absolute truth also creates Platonic forms, but these internal images portray an ideal world that cannot be realized because these internal images come from the words of a special book that is viewed as totally different than all other books. This explains, for instance, why NT Wright speaks harshly of Platonic forms. Focusing upon the Platonic forms of absolute truth leads to escapism—people who are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.
Looking at this from personal experience, the choice here is between reasonable and possible. Pursuing the theory of mental symmetry has caused many Platonic forms of possibility to form within my mind. These internal images are not reasonable, because they portray a society that is quite different than current society. (Reasonableness is a function of Facilitator thought.) But these images are possible, because they are based in an understanding of how the mind works, and how the mind interacts with physical reality. And I am finding that these internal images of possibility are also consistent with what the Bible says about the mind and society.
Illustrating this distinction with a secular example, the rocket company SpaceX continues to perform tasks that are totally unreasonable, such as landing rocket boosters on barges in the middle of the ocean, or blasting a car into space to the vicinity of Mars. This is all unreasonable because it has never been done before. But it has become possible because rocket scientists are being guided by an understanding of how the natural world works.
At this point in Hebrews, people will be facing a similar choice between reasonable and possible. On the one hand, those who are following Incarnation are starting to act in a way that society finds unreasonable. On the other hand, the rational understanding of God that is being followed will predict that continuing to follow this path will lead to results that are amazing and beneficial. Hebrews instructs those who follow incarnation to boast in their hope.
The final phrase ‘until the end’ is more literally ‘as far as the end goal or purpose’. This makes it clear that it will take some time to reach the destination of a transformed society, and this destination will only be reached if a person continues in confidence and boasting of hope until the end.
The beginning of Hebrews 3 compared following Incarnation with believing in absolute truth. The remainder of chapter 3 describes the response of absolute truth to Incarnation. This can be interpreted either as an external struggle between those who are following Incarnation and fundamentalist Christianity or as an internal struggle between the part of one’s mind that is following incarnation and the part that is still subject to absolute truth. The issues in both cases are the same.
The first danger is to harden one’s heart. Absolute truth is, by definition, a form of hardened heart, because emotional MMNs are freezing Perceiver thought into knowing what is true. However, in the average person this belief is implicit. For instance, the typical American fundamentalist Christian ‘knows’ that America is a special country that has been chosen by God. This is not a belief that was consciously chosen, but rather one that was implicitly acquired from the social environment. This blind faith will remain implicit as long as the belief is not questioned. But if this belief becomes challenged, then a person will have to choose between either letting go of this implicit belief or else using strong Mercy emotions to reinforce this absolute truth. This explicit, emotional reinforcing of absolute truth that is being questioned can be described as hardening one’s heart.
Saying this more bluntly, American conservative Christendom has taken Christian beliefs for granted. These beliefs are now being questioned by a post-Christian society. Fundamentalist Christians face the choice of either basing their beliefs upon a more solid, factual foundation, or else turning to brute force to impose Christian belief upon the population—and upon the world. If American Christendom is reacting so strongly to a secular questioning of absolute Christian truth, one can only imagine how strongly fundamentalist Christendom would react to a supernatural replacing of absolute Christian truth. I should emphasize—again—that we are not looking here at a change in the content of Christian truth. Fundamental Christian theology is not being changed. Instead, what is happening is the demise of the mindset of the absolute truth. In simple terms, will fundamentalist Christians hold on to the content of Christianity or will they cling to the mindset of absolute truth.
Hebrews 3:7-11 describes this conflict.
Verse 7 says what might motivate the fundamentalist Christian to change: “Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says...” I have mentioned that absolute truth can lead to Platonic forms. Saying this more simply, if a fundamentalist Christian reads and thinks about the words of the Bible, this will cause imaginary images about heaven and the kingdom of God to form within Mercy thought, and these images will be more perfect than reality. If the fundamentalist Christian studies the Bible in a systematic manner, then this will lead to an integrated understanding in Teacher thought, which will cause the images of perfection within Mercy thought to coalesce, leading to a concept of the Holy Spirit.
The fundamentalist Christian cannot turn these images of internal perfection into reality, because they come from the words of a Bible that is regarded as totally separate from reality. The path of Incarnation is consistent with biblical content and will lead to similar Platonic forms, but the path of Incarnation is capable of turning these images of internal perfection into reality. Again saying this more simply, for the fundamentalist Christian, heaven is pie-in-the-sky by-and-by.
It is currently possible under matter-over-mind to apply biblical principles mentally, causing heaven to start coming down to earth in the areas of personal character and social interaction. Spiritual technology would go beyond this by taking fragments of real heaven and bringing them down to physical earth. Eventually, there would be enough heavenly fragments on earth to trigger fundamentalist concepts of heavenly perfection, motivating the fundamentalist Christian to learn more about Incarnation. Using the language of Hebrews, the Holy Spirit would start talking internally. I am not suggesting that spiritual technology is required to form a concept of the Holy Spirit, but rather that the spread of spiritual technology would eventually lead to a very potent concept of the Holy Spirit.
I suggest that this cognitive mechanism explains the rise of charismatic Christianity. Modern Pentecostalism came into birth around 1900 in California, about the same time that the consumer revolution started to bring technology into the home and affect daily personal life. In brief, Pentecostalism is a religious extension of the secular consumer society. Christians are concluding at a pattern-matching level that if following a Teacher understanding of the natural world leads to a transformation of physical personal life in Mercy thought, then following the Teacher words of God should lead to a transformation of spiritual personal life in Mercy thought. This is a reasonable conclusion, but what is missing is the integrated rational Teacher understanding of Christianity that emerges in Hebrews 1, which means that charismatic Christianity ends up delivering much less than it promises. The situation in Hebrews 3 would be totally different, because spiritual technology that is based upon an integrated rational Teacher understanding of God and Incarnation would be capable of actually delivering what charismatic Christianity claims to deliver.
Something similar has also happened in current secular society, because the continued application of normal technology to the physical world has created a potent concept of a Gaia-like Spirit of Nature that motivates people to ‘protect the environment’. But because objective science ignores MMNs of personal identity, Gaia tends to be either embraced irrationally in a subjective fashion, or else followed rationally at a group level that ignores the individual.
Verse 7 finishes by telling the fundamentalist Christian to listen to this voice: “Today if you hear his voice”. Because absolute truth creates Platonic forms that cannot be realized, fundamentalist images of heaven become viewed as something that will eventually happen magically in the future when God intervenes, or else magically in the present through some sort of charismatic revival. Spiritual technology would bring this rationally into the present. The fundamentalist believer would be hearing the Holy Spirit today, having to choose in the present whether to follow the curiosity prompted by the Holy Spirit or to emphasize the mindset of absolute truth.
Notice that Teacher interaction is happening indirectly. The theoretical return of Jesus is producing concrete results in Mercy thought, and these experiential results are causing the concept of the Holy Spirit within fundamental Christians to motivate learning in Teacher thought. That is because direct Teacher interaction between Incarnation and absolute truth is difficult. There are several reasons for this: When a specific book such as the Bible is regarded as the source of absolute truth from God, then talking about truth will imply using the vocabulary of the Bible, and there will be no strong desire to translate biblical vocabulary into normal language. Going further, doctrinal purity will be preserved by quoting from religious experts who use the right biblical vocabulary, who place sufficient emotional emphasis upon the unique status of the Bible, and who are regarded as experts by recognized church leaders. The theoretical return of Jesus, in contrast, will be guided by an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural understanding of God and Incarnation which is based in universal Perceiver principles that apply to many contexts. Therefore, the natural tendency will be to use vocabulary that communicates with the most people, include information from a wide variety of experts, and bring thinking up to the level of rigor required by academia. Fundamentalist Christianity will look at this and conclude that the wrong language is being used, the wrong experts are being quoted, and the material is far too complicated to have any relationship with a ‘simple trust in Jesus’. (The Catholic charismatic renewal provides an example of a movement of the Holy Spirit that crossed doctrinal boundaries.)
Tying this final point down with a personal example, I tutor math and physics, and the implicit assumption of students is that they need to acquire the skills to deal with these complicated subjects, because everyone ‘knows’ that math and physics are complicated. One can explain the basic concepts of math and physics in simple terms, but doing math and physics is complicated. However, when I use this same mindset to analyze the Bible and Christianity, the way that we are doing in this essay, then the implicit assumption that I get from most listeners is that I need to stop being complicated, because everyone ‘knows’ that a relationship with God functions at a devotional level which is not intellectually complicated.
Verse 8 warns of the danger of hardening one’s heart: “Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness”. The word harden means ‘obstinately stubborn, literally dried out’. If liquid represents Mercy thought, then hardness gains Perceiver stability by suppressing normal Mercy feelings. What happens is that the Mercy emotions required to support Perceiver truth become all-pervasive, eliminating the ability of Mercy thought to evaluate normal situations. It is as if one voice becomes so loud that it drowns out a person’s abilities to hear normal conversation; normal human emotions become submerged by the overall feeling that ‘we’ are right and good, while ‘they’ are wrong and evil. For instance, this type of hardening of heart can currently be seen in many supporters of Donald Trump.
The word translated provoked means ‘provocation, irritation, rebellion’ as well as ‘embitter’. This word is only used three times in the New Testament, all three times in the second half of Hebrews 3. The Greek phrase is more literally ‘in the provocation’, implying that some sort of crisis is occurring in which people consciously adopt a certain attitude in Mercy thought. My best guess is that this response is being motivated by a mismatch between people’s concept of God and what they are experiencing about God. People are expecting God to behave in a fundamentalist fashion. As I mentioned previously, one can see this explicitly in the case of John Darby, whose doctrine that Jesus will return in a pre-tribulation rapture matches the way that John Darby himself treated those who opposed his Christian teachings. In other words, the behavior and culture of fundamentalism has created a set of core mental networks that form an implicit concept of God, which is instinctively causing fundamentalist Christians to assume that God will treat the world in a fundamentalist manner. I mention John Darby because a theoretical return of Jesus followed by spiritual technology is somewhat different than John Darby’s view of a pre-tribulation rapture.
A provocation suggests that fundamentalist Christians are choosing to embrace the implicit God of fundamentalism, rather than a God of biblical content or a God of personal salvation. At the present, most fundamentalist Christians would see these two as identical, equating fundamentalism with a God of biblical content and personal salvation, similar to the way that most American fundamentalist Christians have viewed the Christian path of personal salvation as essentially identical to the ‘American dream’ of achieving personal prosperity. However, it is now becoming increasingly apparent that these two are not the same. If society progressed to the stage described in Hebrews 3, then a similar, but larger, kind of discrepancy would emerge. And in the same way that many American fundamentalist Christians are currently choosing to go down resolutely with the sinking ship of fundamentalism rather than open their hearts to the understanding of God and the love of the Holy Spirit, so I suggest that many future adherents of fundamentalist Christianity would choose to go down resolutely with the sinking ship of fundamentalism rather than open their hearts to the understanding of God and the love of the Holy Spirit.
There is a cognitive reason for this response. Absolute truth leads naturally to an attitude of self-denial for God, because absolute truth will only survive intact if God is regarded as far more important than personal identity. Therefore, many fundamentalist Christians will feel that it is their duty to God to deny themselves for a God of absolute truth, because spiritual technology is leading to the feeling that God wants to bless people and make them happy. Going further, many fundamentalist Christians will also feel that the path of Incarnation is far too intellectual and complicated to have anything to do with the God of absolute truth. There is also a cognitive reason for this. If one believes that God transcends rational thought, then following God implies turning one’s back upon rational facts, and rational thought will actually be viewed as a temptation from the devil to lead true Christians away from simple trust in Jesus. The underlying cognitive reason for this is that a God who transcends rational thought is really a God of mysticism who is based in Teacher overgeneralization, and overgeneralization cannot survive rational content. I wish that these points were an overstatement, but the irrational support of many American fundamentalist Christians for Donald Trump makes it clear that this type of response would occur if spiritual technology reached the level of touching core Christian doctrine. (I do not want to leave the impression that I am just an American-bashing Canadian. But what is happening currently with Donald Trump is so over-the-top that it needs to be addressed. Canada is currently experiencing something that is also over-the-top with the intolerant tolerance of Justin Trudeau, which is also an expression of Teacher overgeneralization.)
Looking at the other side, some branches of charismatic Christianity attempt to address this attitude by emphasizing that God wants Christians to be happy and prosperous. Unfortunately, Christianity currently lacks the integrated Teacher understanding that is required to provide a foundation for lasting personal well-being. Thus, the tendency in abstract thought is to reduce a rational Teacher understanding of the ways of God to a ‘name it and claim it’ focus upon verbalizing specific verses and phrases in the Bible, while the tendency in concrete thought is to reduce personal well-being and wholeness to material prosperity. (This is described in a later essay.)
Verse 8 said that this provocation happened ‘in the day of trial in the wilderness’. Verses 8-9 use two different Greek words for trial which need to be distinguished. The word trial used in verse 8 and at the beginning of verse 9 means ‘temptation or test – both senses can apply simultaneously depending on the context. The positive sense of test and the negative sense of temptation are functions of the context, not merely the words themselves’. Thus, temptation is a form of test that one can either pass or fail. In contrast, the second half of verse 8 uses the word testing, which means ‘proof of genuine kindness, approval through testing’.
James 1:12-14 clarifies between these two forms of trial: “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial [temptation]; for once he has been approved [tested], he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” (I have added the words [temptation] and [tested] to the NASB to make it clear which of these two Greek words is being used.) Summarizing, temptation can lead to positive results, but what really matters to God is not the temptation but rather the testing. God is not a source of temptation and is not tempted by evil. Instead, temptation comes from inadequate personal desires. James 1:2 reinforces this distinction: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials [temptations], knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance”. (As before, I have added [temptations] to indicate which Greek word is being used.) Notice that one is supposed to respond to the painful Mercy experiences of temptation with the Teacher emotion of joy, focusing upon the positive benefits of faith that has survived testing.
The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness suggests that it may be possible to tempt God. Satan told Jesus to prove that he was a son of God by jumping off the Temple and receiving supernatural assistance. Jesus responded by saying, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Matt. 4:7), and the word translated test is ‘tempt’ in both Mark and Luke. This type of tempting God is different than the tempting of God that is described in James. James 1:13 says that God cannot be tempted by evil, and the word evil describes corrupt MMNs. In Matt. 4:7, God is being asked to behave in a way that violates the general Teacher rule, by acting supernaturally in an environment that is governed by universal natural law. God’s universal rule over humans is currently expressed through the laws of the natural universe. Asking God for physical healing or physical protection is not a blatant contradiction to natural law, because one is asking God to restore or protect the structure of the physical body in order to continue living within natural law. However, basing one’s entire public ministry upon an exception to natural law would classify as tempting God in Teacher thought, and this is what Satan was tempting Jesus to do by jumping off the Temple. In contrast, the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels may have violated natural order, but they expressed the structure of God’s plan of salvation, and they also preserved the order of the current situation. The essay on the Gospel of John examines the miracles of Jesus from this perspective.
Temptation or testing is required because one cannot acquire Perceiver facts and Server skills instantly. Instead, all Perceiver facts and Server sequences are known with a certain level of confidence, which determines the emotional intensity that those facts or sequences can handle. For instance, I may know how to play a piece of music perfectly at home, while falling apart when playing the same piece in public. Confidence grows as a fact or sequence successfully survives emotional pressure. Thus, testing is an essential, unavoidable component of personal growth.
This emotional pressure may come from MMNs of childish identity, MMNs of personal status, or MMNs of physical pleasure acquired from the physical body. For instance, I may be tempted to continue behaving like a child, but may decide to respond in an adult manner. In this case, the emotional pressure contradicts the content that is being tested. As James says, “each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust”. Failing temptation leads a person away from God, because one is choosing to follow childish and chaotic MMNs that contradict the TMN of a concept of God. However, the emotional pressure can also come from the TMN of a concept of God. In this case, the emotional pressure is consistent with the content that is being tested. I am being tested to see if I will rely passively upon God or whether I will be an active partner with God. Failing testing does not lead a person away from God, but rather causes a person to follow God in a more passive manner, and one will eventually encounter another test that makes it possible to follow God more intelligently and independently. This second kind of testing can happen in heaven, because Revelation 4:8-11 describes a group of worshipers passively focusing upon the throne of God, while Revelation 14:1-5 describes a new group with a new song who actively follow Incarnation wherever he goes. I should emphasize that following God actively does not imply following God nervously. A God of righteousness acts. Therefore, one gains peace from God not by sitting still and ‘putting everything in God’s hands’, but rather by behaving restfully in a manner that is consistent with God’s character.
Notice that testing is only possible if one has mentally constructed the TMN of a concept of God. This qualification can be seen in the Lord’s prayer. Jesus first talks about constructing and submitting to a concept of God: “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9-10). And then in Matthew 6:13, Jesus asks not to be led into temptation, but rather to be rescued from the evil: “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (The original Greek refers to ‘the evil’.) In other words, if one has constructed—and is following—the TMN of a concept of God, then one can ask God to be delivered from the method of temptation. And this is something that God wants to do, because Jesus gave this prayer to his disciples as an example when they asked him how one should pray.
For Jesus-the-man living in first century Israel, this was not just a theoretical request. That is because Matthew 4 clearly states that “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt. 4:1). Going further, Jesus responds to the devil’s second temptation by saying “It is written, you shall not put the Lord your God to the test”, and the word translated test is actually temptation. Thus, Jesus is recognizing that temptation must not be associated with God. Finally, Hebrews 4:15 points out that Jesus “has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin”, making it clear that Jesus always responded successfully to temptation. In all these cases, the word that is used is temptation and not testing.
Both testing and temptation often occur in the wilderness. A wilderness is ‘a barren, solitary place that also provides a needed quiet and freedom from disturbance’. Notice that the emphasis is not upon personal discomfort and suffering, but rather upon isolation from the MMNs of personal pressure and culture. A wilderness is an ideal place for testing because personal response will be determined by core mental networks that reside within people’s minds and not by environmental or social influences. Thus, a wilderness is useful for revealing what a person is like inside.
Testing does not just reveal what a person is like inside, but can also determine what a person is like inside. That is because free will becomes maximized when a person is driven by two sets of contradictory mental networks. The mental network that is chosen will then grow in emotional strength while the mental network that is rejected will lose emotional strength. With temptation, the choice is between following God or some force that is opposed to God. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he had to choose between following God and submitting to the devil, and this choice was explicitly presented in the third temptation of Jesus (Matt. 4:8-10). A wilderness helps to clarify the choices that are being faced in temptation, because one comes face-to-face with the mental networks that are conflicting within one’s mind. A wilderness also helps to clarify the choices faced in testing, because one is forced to rely upon internal resources, instead of depending passively upon the environment.
Turning briefly to the theological side of testing, I have come to the conclusion that God has given substantial, actual, free will to humanity (but not libertarian, total, free will). God guides and controls the overall path of society with divine sovereignty, but God also leaves substantial freedom to individual humans to make real choices. Before using an individual or group, God will test that person or group to determine the core mental networks that drive that person or group. God will then use that person or group by appealing to these core mental networks. Saying this more simply, God will determine what type of person you are, and then guide you based upon the type of person that you have become. I know that this interpretation raises many theological questions (which are discussed in previous essays), but I think that it is the only viewpoint that is cognitively and scripturally consistent, and also the interpretation that everyone instinctively follows, whether they officially believe in this interpretation or not.
Summarizing, testing is unavoidable. Temptation is an inferior method of testing that is required when people lack the TMN of a concept of God. Succumbing to temptation leads away from God because temptation is driven by MMNs of immaturity and evil. God may be forced to use temptation, but God is not a source of temptation and God cannot be tempted by evil. The Lord’s prayer specifically instructs people to construct and be guided by the TMN of a concept of God, so that they can ask God to be freed of the inferior method of temptation.
Now that we have examined the distinction between temptation and testing, let us return to Hebrews 3. A mindset of absolute truth acquires its truth from esteemed experts who are regarded in Mercy thought as the sources of truth. Verse 9 turns the attention to the actual behavior of these ‘fathers of faith’. Are they worthy of the esteem that they are being given? Starting with verse 8 in order to get the context, “Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked me, as in the day of trial [tempting] in the wilderness, where your fathers tried [tempted] me by testing me”. (The words translated ‘trial’ and ‘tried’ mean temptation.) In other words, these fathers of faith are not such wonderful examples. Instead, the heroes of faith from the past hardened their hearts just like the typical fundamentalist from the present. Saying this bluntly, these fathers of faith were continually driven by their childish MMNs to demand proof from God so that they would decide to follow God rather than MMNs of culture.
This is described several times in the book of Exodus. For instance, in Exodus 16:2-3, “The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The sons of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’” Notice that the Israelites are comparing the leading of God with the MMNs of Egyptian culture, and they are finding God inferior. God responds by giving them quail and manna. A similar scenario happens in chapter 17: “The people quarreled with Moses and said, give us water that we may drink. And Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?’ But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, ‘Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’” (Exodus 17:2-3). As before, the Israelites complain because God has taken them away from the MMNs of Egypt. And Moses explicitly says that they are testing the Lord.
The NASB translates the first half of verse 9 as ‘your fathers tried Me by testing Me’, but the two ‘me’s are in italics, indicating that they are not in the original Greek. Instead, the text is more literally ‘your fathers tempted by testing’. Notice that the connection between the ancient fathers and the current fundamentalists is being emphasized (‘your fathers’), while there is no connection between these fathers and God (there is no ‘me’). In other words, the Israelites thought that they were tempting God, because in their minds they were choosing between a concept of God and the MMNs of Egypt. But the actual God is above such Mercy-based questioning.
Instead, they were actually testing God, and the divine response to this testing is described in the second half of verse 9: “...and saw My works for forty years”. Here, the ‘my’ is in the original Greek, telling us that there is a connection with God. In other words, God can be tested, and when God is tested one will discover that He behaves in a predictable manner. In fact, the Israelites saw the works of God for forty years. And seeing this predictable divine behavior caused a concept of God to form within their minds, because the word translated saw means to ‘see with the mind’.
But this internal knowledge of God’s behavior had no effect on their personal behavior: “Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart’” (v.10). The word translated go astray means to ‘get off course; to deviate from the correct path’. Thus, instead of being guided by the TMN they acquired from repeatedly observing the consistent behavior of God, they were always misguided by subjective MMNs. Teacher thought hates exceptions to the rule. The personal behavior of these fathers was continually an exception to the general rule of how God behaves. Therefore, God ended up ‘angry with this generation’.
Before we continue, let us illustrate this by looking at current evangelical Christianity. The next few sentences are painted with a broad brush, but I am afraid that this describes many groups and individuals. We live in a technological society, and decades of science and technology have taught us that the laws of nature behave in a predictable manner. The evangelical Christian preaches that God created the universe, and modern technology has taught the evangelical Christian that the God who created the universe behaves in a consistent, predictable manner. But this has not affected personal behavior. Instead, the evangelical Christian is continually tempting God by expecting the Christian church to come up with religious experiences that match the excitement and ‘fun’ of secular entertainment. If the worship service is not exciting enough, then the Christian worshiper will grumble against God and find some other church. Following the ways of God seldom enters into the equation. (Following God may also lead a person to a new church, but the reason for changing churches will be different.)
And that is how verse 10 concludes: “...and they did not know my ways”. The word translated know means ‘to know through personal experience’. In other words, there may be an intellectual knowledge that God behaves in a predictable manner, but there is no personal experiential knowledge of the ways of God.
God responds by making a permanent, universal decision: “As I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest’” (v.11). In verse 10, God made a general statement: ‘they always go astray’. In verse 11, God swears, and the original Greek takes the form of a Hebrew idiom used when making an oath. This oath is that the fathers will not enter into God’s rest.
These verses describe various aspects of Teacher thought. As was mentioned, Teacher thought wants universal laws to apply without exception. Similarly, God wants the Israelites’ knowledge of how God behaves to apply to their personal behavior as well. Teacher thought feels bad when there is an exception to the universal rule. Similarly, God responds with anger to the behavior of the Israelites. Teacher thought makes general statements. Similarly, God concludes that the Israelites always go astray. If Teacher thought concludes that some person is unreliable, then that person will be completely rejected. This is not an emotionless, logical rejection of specific information, but rather an emotional rejection of a source of information. Similarly, God swears in his wrath that the Israelites will not enter his rest. The word translated wrath means ‘settled anger that proceeds from an internal disposition which steadfastly opposes someone or something based on extended personal exposure’. The word ‘wrath’ is used numerous times in the New Testament to describe the emotional response of God. In simple terms, God is a Universal Being, and wrath is a universal emotion of displeasure. It is based upon extended personal exposure, and leads to a settled anger which steadfastly opposes. Saying this cognitively, God’s wrath is an emotional response, but this emotion is consistent with rational truth, and it leads to long-term, lasting consequences. (Note from 2021: Acts 7 describes people following spiritual technology in a limited manner to which God responds by delivering these people over to alien domination. This then grows to become the kingdom of the beast.)
One can understand what it means to be excluded from the rest of God by looking at the cognitive requirements for rest. A person cannot experience rest if mental networks are pulling personal identity simultaneously in various directions. This type of internal conflict is inevitable when the mind is ruled by MMNs of personal status, because such a person will feel that various authority figures are living within his mind, each putting emotional pressure on him to become a particular kind of person. For instance, parents may want their son to become a medical doctor, a teacher may think that her student should pursue music, while friends expect their buddy to hang out with them. Absolute truth cannot eliminate this conflict, because it too is ultimately based in MMNs of personal status.
Absolute truth will also lead to internal conflict because revealed truth is driving identity to behave in one manner, while common sense is driving identity in another direction. The only way to achieve internal rest is to submit the entire mind to the TMN of a concept of God. A concept of God that can bring rest must be consistent with how the world works and how people’s minds function, it must be consistent with the eternal character of God, and it must contain room for individual freedom—so that a person is not driven to try to escape because of feeling either bored or imprisoned. The person who chooses absolute truth with its submission to authority figures over the path of Incarnation is rejecting the one thing that can bring internal peace, in favor of a form of thinking that is incapable of bringing peace to the mind.
Now suppose that I gain a Teacher understanding of how things work, like the Israelites who saw God working in a predictable manner for 40 years. Suppose also that I choose not to allow this Teacher understanding to guide my personal behavior, like the Israelites who always went astray in their heart. Eventually, Teacher thought will come up with the general conclusion that I always go astray in my heart, like the conclusion that God reached with the Israelites. Something similar happens in the mind, for instance, when a person says that he is unlovable, because Teacher thought is coming up with the general theory that Mercy identity is incapable of being loved. If Teacher thought writes off personal identity, then righteousness becomes impossible, because there is no longer any mental connection between personal identity and Teacher understanding. Saying this more simply, personal identity loses access to rational, scientific thought. One can see this happening with current fundamentalist Christianity.
Looking at this biblically, only Joshua and Caleb were allowed to enter ‘the rest’ of the land of Canaan. Instead, every other adult Israelite died in the wilderness. Looking at this more generally, God will choose to bless some other group of people, leaving the fundamentalist Christians behind. Similarly, I suggest that the aspect of fundamentalist Christianity which chooses absolute truth over the new path of Incarnation will become trapped within a Christianity of duty, suffering, self-denial, and struggle.
One final point before we continue. I do not want to leave the impression that fundamentalist Christianity consists of some group of evil people who are ‘out there’. Instead, every human individual grows up with a mind that is based upon absolute truth which has been revealed by adult experts. That is simply the nature of growing up. Thus, anyone who tries to follow Incarnation in an intelligent manner will have to deal internally with the struggles that we have just described. This is true at any time in history. However, I suggest that this struggle to go beyond absolute truth is unusually prevalent in today’s society because the ‘stones’ of absolute religious truth are being systematically dismantled, as described in Matthew 24. And I suggest that this struggle will be even more visible during the future time when spiritual technology reaches the point of starting to transform theological beliefs about atonement and salvation into real experiences.
Verses 7-11 warned against consciously choosing to rebel against God by hardening one’s heart. Verses 12-19 describe something more subtle, in which one falls away from following Incarnation: “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God” (v.12). In verse 8, there was a crisis instigated by a provocation. Using an analogy, the whole cloth is being painted black instead of white. In verse 12, one is instructed to ‘be observant or discern’ that ‘there not be in any one of you’, which is much more specific. Using an analogy, one is supposed to examine the whole cloth to make sure that it is entirely white and does not contain any black spots.
That is because one is following a living God, and the word life refers to ‘both present physical and future spiritual existence’. This is the first time in Hebrews that God is described as living. Cognitively speaking, an emotional threshold has been crossed. A mental network forms when many emotional memories connect together and start functioning as an integrated unit. Applying this to Teacher thought, a Teacher theory turns into a TMN when one continues to work with this theory. Going further, a concept of God emerges when a sufficiently general theory in Teacher thought applies to personal identity in Mercy thought. Spiritual technology began in Hebrews 2 as a collection of spiritual gifts, but by the end of Hebrews 2 it reached the level of dealing with physical matters of life and death, while at the beginning of Hebrews 3 it started to affect core religious doctrines.
Putting this all together, following the new path of incarnation will eventually cross a threshold and create a new concept of a living God. When a concept of a living God forms within the mind, then this changes the nature of the question. Before, the question was whether one would follow God or whether one would follow MMNs of culture and absolute truth. After, the question is whether one will follow God completely or only partially. (Note from 2021: Acts 7 warns about following spiritual technology in a limited manner that kills spiritual life whenever this life develops to the point of threatening to change existing human existence. This is described as a ‘tabernacle of Moloch’.)
Following God completely is a matter of the will, but it goes beyond merely choosing to follow God. Instead, the TMN of a concept of God will use emotional pressure to impose the character of God upon MMNs of personal identity. Again, this description may be technically accurate but it does not convey the feeling. Instead, a living concept of God will feel like a living force that is eating up one’s mind, inexorably reshaping any and every personal mental network that it touches. Saying this another way, we are looking at the emotional difference between temptation and testing. With temptation, one can choose between following or rejecting God, but with testing, the only choice is between following God actively or submitting to God passively. Verses 12-17 describe something between temptation and testing, where one can no longer choose to reject God, but one can still dig in one’s heels and refuse to go any further.
A similar transition to a living concept of God that emotionally eats up opposing mental networks can be seen in Revelation 14:6-11, right after the followers of the Lamb who sing a new song are described in verses 1-5. In verse 9, an angel preaches an eternal gospel and tells everyone to ‘fear God and give Him glory’, while in verse 11, another angel warns that those who worship the beast and his image will ‘have no rest day and night’. (Note from 2021: I think that Revelation 14 comes right after the kingdom of the beast, when its power has been overthrown but it still has many followers.)
Thus, the warning is not against rejecting God but rather against ‘falling away from the living God’. The word translated falling away means ‘take up a position away from, withdraw from, leave, abstain from’. In other words, one is deciding to get off the train of God’s progress and not travel any further. The motivation for this is ‘an evil, unbelieving heart’. Evil means ‘pain-ridden, emphasizing the inevitable agonies and misery that always go with evil’. And unbelieving is ‘the negated form of faithful, without persuasion’. One can understand what is happening cognitively if one knows how mental networks behave. Individual Mercy memories feel good or bad. For instance, eating ice cream feels good while stubbing my toe feels bad. Mental networks also generate emotion, but this emotion does not come from good or bad but rather is based upon familiar and unfamiliar. (In previous essays I have referred to this as hyper-emotion.) For instance, it feels bad to be in an abusive relationship, but for a person who has spent some time in an abusive relationship, it also feels comfortable. Leaving this relationship may generate pleasure, but it will also feel unfamiliar, because it will be inconsistent with the MMNs that have formed as a result of living in the abusive situation.
Similarly, when a living God starts to transform childish MMNs, it will feel uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and strange. The natural tendency will be to cling to the familiar pain rather than embrace the unfamiliar redemptive work of incarnation. That is why a believing heart is required, because one must be convinced that the living God is taking away familiar pain in order to replace it with something much better. A person who has an unbelieving heart will tend to dig in their heels and say to God ‘I will not go any further’. This struggle happens internally whenever one is driven to follow God more completely, and I suggest that it will also happen when spiritual technology creates the concept of a living God who wants to redeem society from evil and suffering. Saying this another way, we often blame God for evil and suffering, but would we actually let go of evil and suffering if God ever were to remove it, or would we cling to our familiar pain rather than follow a living God? Or would we try to straddle the fence emotionally by demanding a physical world free of evil and suffering while keeping mental networks of evil and suffering alive by finding our entertainment in the portrayal of evil and suffering? (Note from 2021: In Acts 7, the struggle is allowing angelic help to save human existence or preserving the existing culture of human materialism against angelic interference.)
Verse 13 says that people can help each other to avoid blind spots: “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Encouraging does not just mean giving emotional support. Encourage has the sense of ‘make a call from being close-up and personal’, but it also ‘refers to believers offering up evidence that stands up in God’s court’. This describes a combined assistance that one does not normally find in Western society. What normally happens today is that friends give emotional support, while colleagues provide professional assistance. ‘Encourage’ includes both of these aspects, because people are coming alongside but they are also offering technical support. This type of combined encouragement would naturally emerge under Incarnation, because incarnation includes technical thought but extends beyond technical thought to include a concept of God in Teacher thought as well as personal identity in Mercy thought.
The purpose of this support is to avoid being ‘hardened by the deceitfulness of sin’. The word hardened was mentioned before and means to ‘become inflexible or dried out, obstinately stubborn’. Deceitfulness means ‘a false impression, made to deceive or cheat’. Looking at this cognitively, when a living God starts to move, then many implicit mental networks will come to light, and it will be easy to become confused and think that one is following God while one is actually clinging to some mental network of culture or childish identity. For instance, I have had the privilege of visiting Christians in many different countries, and I have found that the practice of Christianity is always significantly shaped by mental networks of culture. In Korea, Christianity is combined with Confucianism, in America, it is combined with consumerism, while Russian Christianity contains significant elements of Russian patriotism and stolidity. Following Incarnation would unveil these various cultural elements, making it easy to become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. The solution is a form of peer review, in which people from different backgrounds and cultures help each other to identify cultural blind spots.
The phrase ‘day after day, as long as it is still called today’ implies that there will be many paradigm shifts during this period of cultural questioning, as people will attempt to understand what is happening in a world that is being driven by developing spiritual technology, similar to the way that current society is continually attempting to understand the changes that are being produced by normal technology.
Verse 14 describes the positive side of this journey of transformation: “For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.” A partaker is ‘a sharer, partner, associate’. And Christ refers to the divine side of Incarnation. Hebrews 3:1 talked about being ‘partakers of a heavenly calling’ and instructed to ‘consider Jesus’. The source of the calling in verse 1 came from the heavenly realm of Teacher thought, and one was rethinking Jesus-the-man in the light of this heavenly calling. This rethinking is now finished, making it possible for verse 14 to go beyond being partakers of a heavenly calling to being partakers of Christ. This is something new, because the text says that ‘we have become’ and this word means ‘transitioning from one point or condition to another’.
This higher-level partnership has a beginning, which means ‘initial starting point’, and an end, which means ‘end-goal or purpose’. Thus, Incarnation has just started implementing an abstract plan that will lead from the current location to some goal, and this plan involves a partnership with human believers. A concrete plan travels from one location to another, such as traveling from Paris to London. An abstract plan travels from one system to another, such as traveling from communism to capitalism. A ‘partaker of Christ’ is a partner in an abstract plan. If one is to succeed in carrying out a concrete plan, then one must perform a set of Server actions without failing. For instance, traveling from Paris to London requires getting on a train, traveling through northern France, going through the Chunnel, and then finishing the journey through southern England. Carrying out an abstract plan requires holding on to certain Perceiver facts. For instance, traveling from communism to capitalism requires holding on to facts about personal dignity, ownership, and the rule of law. Hebrews says that a ‘partaker of Christ’ must ‘hold fast the beginning of our assurance’. Assurance means ‘standing under a guaranteed agreement or title-deed’. Thus, one is not dealing with a feeling of assurance but rather a legal position of assurance. The plan began with this legal assurance, and one is supposed to hold on to this legal assurance until the end. And one is supposed to hold on fast, which means ‘solid enough to walk on’. A similar partnership can be seen in the general relationship between justification and sanctification, but Hebrews 3 appears to be referring to following a specific plan of Incarnation within human history that is required to enter God’s rest.
Putting this together, many things are going to change during this time of transition, just as many things changed when Eastern Europe made a journey from communism to capitalism in the 1980s. Many of the countries that started this journey did not complete the process because they did not hold fast to the principles that initially guided them. Similarly, surviving this abstract journey will mean holding on to principles in a manner that is ‘solid enough to walk on’. For the journey from communism to capitalism, this meant preserving human dignity, ownership, and individuality, so that people could walk personally from one system to another without falling into personal and societal chaos.
When one is making such a transition, the tendency will be to find personal stability by clinging to culture or looking to some strong leader. Verse 15 warns against that tendency: “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked me”. This is a verbatim repetition of the warning given previously in verses 7-8. The first warning was followed by a description of the Israelites choosing to follow cultural and religious MMNs rather than follow God. This second warning is followed by a description of the Israelites following God part of the way and then giving up.
Verse 16 talks about successfully leaving Egypt: “For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?” Everyone who rebelled against God had successfully followed Moses and left Egypt. Looking at this symbolically, a mindset of Moses can draw people ‘from the water’ of the experiences of Egypt, but Moses cannot lead people into the Promised Land. Looking at this cognitively, absolute truth can start the process of personal transformation but it cannot finish the process. That is because absolute truth requires self-denial; one must feel that the source of truth is much more important than personal identity. Absolute truth will encourage a person to deny childish MMNs, but when a person becomes transformed and starts to experience personal benefits, then this will raise the emotional status of personal identity, causing absolute truth to fall into doubt. This describes a standard cycle of society: hardship breeds character, character leads to success, and success ruins character. Using biblical language, one leaves Egypt but then eventually returns to Egypt rather than continuing on to the Promised Land—something that the Israelites wanted many times to do. The solution is to replace Moses with Joshua, because Joshua is a variant of the name Jesus, which means salvation. Saying this cognitively, absolute truth needs to be replaced with incarnation, because incarnation saves by carrying out plans that lead from the current location to some place better.
Verse 16 warned that everyone who provoked God had already started the journey of transformation. Verse 17 warns about getting stuck in the wilderness and dying. I have mentioned that a mindset of absolute truth can lead a person out of the ‘Egypt’ of worldly pleasure. That is because absolute truth will think that following God means denying self. This same mindset will think that Christianity means denying personal pleasure in the wilderness. For many early Christians, this was literally true. Quoting from the Wikipedia article on Coptic monasticism, “Institutional Christian monasticism seems to have begun in the deserts in AD 4th century Egypt as a kind of living martyrdom. Scholars such as Lester K. Little attribute the rise of monasticism at this time to the immense changes in the church that had been brought about by Constantine’s acceptance of Christianity as the main Roman religion... The end of persecution also meant that martyrdom was no longer an option to prove one’s piety. Instead the long-term ‘martyrdom’ of the ascetic became common. Many Egyptian Christians went to the desert during the 3rd century, and remained there to pray and work and dedicate their lives to seclusion and worship of God.”
Turning now to Hebrews, verse 17 says “And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?” (v.17). The phrasing is quite interesting. It does not say that God led the Israelites for forty years, and that some sinned, causing God to respond in anger by killing them. That would describe the thinking of absolute truth, which feels that following God means staying in the wilderness while trying to avoid doing anything that might anger a God of holiness. Instead it says that God was angry with all of the Israelites for 40 years—while continuing to lead them and provide for their physical needs, and that all of their bodies fell in the wilderness.
This is consistent with the original story in Numbers 13-14. Moses sends twelve men to spy out the land of Canaan. These men come back and say that Canaan is a wonderful place, but ten of them add that “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us” (Num. 13:31). The people respond by weeping all night and then decide to choose a new leader who will take them back to Egypt (14:1,4). This describes an attitude of tempting God: If following God becomes too difficult, then they will abandon God and return to Egypt. Joshua and Caleb try to convince the people to be willing to enter Canaan, but the people get ready to stone Joshua and Caleb (14:7-10). This is when “the glory of the Lord appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel” (14:10). God then says to Moses, “How long will this people spurn me? And how long will they not believe in me, despite all the signs which I performed in their midst? I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they” (14:11-12). God is so angry with the Israelites that he wants to wipe them all out and start again with Moses. Moses pleads with God, who then declares that “Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness” (15:33). God then leads these people through the wilderness for forty years, providing for their needs, until the entire current generation dies off, except for Caleb and Joshua.
Applying this to Hebrews 3, Incarnation has a plan with a beginning and an end, and God needs human partners who will stick with this plan to the end. The Israelites started their journey, believing that God would take them out of Egypt. But only Caleb and Joshua believed that God would take them into Canaan. All the others lived out their lives in the wilderness as shepherds.
Moving on, the final warning is about refusing to be persuaded. Verse 18 says, “and to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient”. The word translated disobedient means ‘literally, refused to be persuaded’. This is not a case of choosing to rebel against God but rather of refusing to be persuaded by God. And verse 19 explains that the problem with the Israelites was a lack of belief: “So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.” More literally, they lacked the power to enter in. And unbelief means ‘the negated form of faithful, without persuasion’.
Putting this all together, the overall theme is entering God’s rest. In verse 11, God swears that those who vacillate between following God and following MMNs of culture will not enter his rest. In verse 18, God swears that those who refuse to be persuaded by God will not enter his rest. Absolute truth naturally leads to both of these deficiencies. Absolute truth focuses upon the MMNs that are the source of truth while suppressing MMNs of personal identity. Because childish MMNs are being suppressed and not transformed, they remain intact under the surface, ready to be triggered. And because most of these childish MMNs formed as a result of growing up in a physical body, these suppressed MMNs will continue to be triggered by physical life. As a result, absolute truth will lead to a natural tension between following God and following self, leading to a mindset of temptation. This means that the only way to stop suppressed childish MMNs from being triggered is to live in a wilderness devoid of physical temptation.
For instance, Mount Athos is a peninsula in northern Greece that is home to twenty Orthodox Christian monasteries. Women, as well as female animals, have been officially banned from Mount Athos since 1046—that is almost one thousand years. The underlying assumption is that one can only follow God fully by suppressing sexual desire, and the only way to do this effectively is by never seeing a woman. If Hebrews 3 describes a general principle, then I suggest that God is angry at this kind of mindset. God does not want people to live a life of hedonism. But God also does not want people to die in the wilderness of self-denial. Instead, God wants to take people out of Egypt and through the wilderness so that they can live a transformed life in Canaan.
Summarizing what we have seen so far in the book of Hebrews, chapter 1 started with the theoretical return of Jesus. The rest of chapter 1 demonstrated that incarnation is superior to the abstract specialization of angels. Chapter 2 began with spiritual technology, which made it physically apparent that incarnation was superior to angels. Spiritual technology was then extended to the realm of physical existence through the pressure of persecution. Chapter 3 began with a transformed concept of Jesus and Christianity, comparing incarnation with absolute truth. This transformed view of incarnation then had to overcome the hardened heart of absolute truth. The end of chapter 3 indicates that a major transition is about to happen, which needs human partners who will follow this transition through to the end without losing faith in the middle. This major transition involves entering God’s rest, which will be the primary theme of Hebrews 4.
The verb rest is used four times in the New Testament, with three of the occurrences in Hebrews 4. The noun rest occurs nine times in the New Testament, and eight of these occurrences are in Hebrews 3-4. All eight of these times combine the word ‘rest’ with the same Greek word ‘enter’. Saying this more clearly, the phrase ‘enter God’s rest’, ‘enter his rest’, or ‘enter that rest’ happens eight times in Hebrews 3-4, and ‘rest’ as a noun occurs only one other time in the New Testament.
This one other occurrence of ‘rest’ as a noun is at the end of Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7, in which he tells the Jewish leadership that their rejection of Jesus is like the Israelites’ rejection of Moses. This is the same comparison that was used in Hebrews 3. Going further, Hebrews 3 began by saying, “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider Jesus”. Stephen does this literally at the end of his sermon, where he says: “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). This statement enrages the Jewish Sanhedrin, who stone Stephen to death. This killing is highly unusual, because in John 18:31, these same Jewish leaders told Pilate that “We are not permitted to put anyone to death”, and the Jewish leadership did not have the right to sentence people to death without Roman permission. (Note from 2021: This connection of Acts 7 with preparing to enter God’s rest is consistent with the analysis of Acts.)
Near the end of his sermon, Stephen says, “The Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says: ‘Heaven is my throne, and earth is the footstool of my feet; what kind of house will you build for me?’ says the Lord, ‘Or what place is there for my repose? Was it not my hand which made all these things?’” (Acts 7:49-50). The word translated ‘repose’ is the same word for ‘rest’ that is used eight times in Hebrews. I mention this because Hebrews 4 appears to be talking about creating a house for God, in which people enter into the rest of God, which then makes it possible for God himself to enter into a rest. Placing this into the larger context, I suggest that the spread of spiritual technology has a larger goal, which is to create a different kind of relationship between God and people, a relationship that leads to rest for both God and people. It is only possible to enter this new relationship of rest if God first sets up the appropriate circumstances, and then humans become ‘partakers of Christ’ by ‘holding fast the beginning of their assurance firm until the end’.
For instance, science did not come to birth at some random time in human history. Instead, various factors worked together in Western Europe during the Renaissance to generate a social atmosphere within which scientific thought naturally emerged. That is an example of God setting up the appropriate circumstances to push human society through to some new level. I suggest that a similar sort of divine arranging happens when God sets up an opportunity to enter his rest.
There is a cognitive rest, in which one enters a state of mental wholeness in which both personal identity and a concept of God function in a condition of rest. That is the goal which everyone should strive to reach. However, I suggest that there is also a cosmic rest, in which both God and people enter a state of mental wholeness characterized by a condition of rest. I suggest that the primary theme of Hebrews 4 is cosmic rest, but these same principles would apply to cognitive rest as well. (Note from 2021: Looking at the big picture, mysticism attempts to go back to the pre-creation state of being ‘one with God’. Therefore, God must continue work to ensure that creation does not revert back to this initial state. God can only rest when mysticism is overthrown and created beings want to continue existing as adults without going back to the ‘womb’ of identifying with God. This ultimately requires dealing with primal beings.)
Hebrews 4 opens with a strong warning: “Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it.” The word coming short means ‘coming up behind and therefore left out’. In other words, there is a window of opportunity during which the possibility of entering God’s rest exists. This window will eventually close, and one should fear missing this window of opportunity, because one will then become excluded.
Verse 2 explains that this is an opportunity to apply a verbal understanding: “For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.” This window of opportunity started with hearing a message of good news. But merely acquiring an understanding in Teacher thought is not enough. Instead, the goal is to benefit personally from this message. And that will only happen if the verbal message is united with faith. The NASB says ‘united by faith’ which implies that faith is integrating various aspects of verbal understanding, but the original Greek seems to say that hearing needs to be united with faith, (and most English translations agree) implying that faith goes beyond verbal understanding. The word united only occurs twice in the New Testament and means to ‘mix together into a superior compound, a unified whole where the parts work together synergistically’. The other occurrence of this word is in 1 Corinthians 12:24, where it talks about God uniting the various parts of the body of Christ to work together in harmony, and that passage appears to be talking explicitly about cognitive styles. (This is discussed in some detail in the essay on 1 Corinthians.) In other words, one is not just bolting faith onto abstract, verbal understanding. Instead, faith and understanding are functioning in a synergistic manner. This interaction can be seen in the word faith itself, which means to ‘be persuaded, come to trust’. One gains a verbal understanding in Teacher thought, and then one applies this understanding, and places personal trust in this understanding. This then makes it possible to gain further verbal understanding. This interrelationship has become clear to me when studying the theory of mental symmetry. On the one hand, mental symmetry is a verbal understanding of how the mind works. On the other hand, mental symmetry is also a path of personal transformation that one follows. These two sides go hand in hand, and one will stop making progress if one separates the one from the other.
Looking at this cognitively, faith is a ‘gift of God’ because one is being persuaded by the TMN of a concept of God, and not struggling to reach some goal. However, faith also requires personal effort and decision, because one must choose to be persuaded and act as if the understanding is true. Looking at this theologically, faith is also a gift of the real God, because God is revealing truth and arranging circumstances. But faith also requires human effort and decision, because one must understand the truth that has been revealed, and one must take advantage of the choices that have been arranged by God.
These choices present themselves primarily as windows of opportunity—finite periods of time during which one has an opportunity to gain and apply understanding. This describes the personal side of entering God’s rest. Free will is not something that exists all the time in all situations. One cannot choose to follow God at any time. Instead, one can only choose—in a major way—to follow God during finite windows of opportunity. If one misses an opportunity, then there might be another opportunity, or the window may close. And choosing to follow God is not a random decision that is made in a vacuum. Instead, it is a choice to understand and apply a message that was acquired through the written or spoken word.
Verse 3 summarizes two possible outcomes to such a window of opportunity: “For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, ‘As I swore in my wrath, they shall not enter My rest.’” One possibility is to be persuaded and enter the rest. Another possibility is for God to respond with wrath and shut the door. This does not mean that God will suddenly get angry and change his mind. Instead, wrath is a ‘settled anger that proceeds from an internal disposition which steadfastly opposes someone or something based on extended personal exposure’. Thus, as was mentioned previously, God is coming to the conclusion that a person or group will not respond and is responding by using Teacher thought to exclude that person or group.
An opportunity to enter God’s rest can be interpreted as a cognitive or spiritual principle that applies to the life of every individual. But I suggest that Hebrews 4 is focusing upon periods of historic opportunity.
The next few verses clarify exactly what kind of rest Hebrews is referring to. This is not God resting from creating the universe. Quoting from verse 3, “‘As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,’ although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.” Notice the comparison. God created the universe. Then after God created the universe he said that ‘they shall not enter My rest’.
Verses 4-5 repeat this comparison: “For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’; and again in this passage, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’” God rested after creation, and then after this God talked about not entering His rest. Therefore, these are two different events.
This is a nice theological argument, but I suggest that one is also dealing with a realization. One can interpret this both theologically and physically. Theologically, Jesus finished God’s plan of salvation when coming to earth 2000 years ago. But if one merely rests in this completed work of salvation, one will come to the practical realization that there must be more, and that one can become excluded from entering God’s rest through lack of faith. Saying this in more detail, the first stage of personal transformation is constructing a concept of God. During this first stage, what is required is personal honesty, and the result will be an understanding of what is: How God has made the world and how God has made the mind. But having an accurate theological understanding is not enough. Instead, this will create a window of opportunity during which one recognizes that there is a discrepancy between the structure of God’s creation and the chaos of personal behavior. If one does not respond to this awareness of discrepancy by allowing understanding to shape personal behavior, then Teacher thought will eventually come to the conclusion that understanding has nothing to do with behavior. Summarizing, when personal blindness is replaced by an accurate understanding of personal identity, then there is only a limited window of opportunity during which understanding can transform behavior through righteousness. If this is not done, then rational thought will be replaced by rationalizing and personal honesty by a cognitive disconnect.
Looking at this physically, a similar window of opportunity can be seen in recent history. The extensive death and destruction of the two world wars made it obvious that gaining an understanding of the physical world is not enough, because the primary outcome was to enable people with childish minds to destroy each other—and the world—more efficiently. This created a window of opportunity during which people could choose to add personal faith to understanding. But society in general chose not to follow this path. Instead, it became generally accepted that professional training could be separated from personal behavior. As long as one could adequately carry out one’s job, then what one thought and did in private was of secondary concern. But this is now changing, because in many areas and professions one is now expected to think in the officially approved manner and not just perform one’s job adequately. This ‘correct’ thinking is generally being imposed not with rational thought, but rather through MMNs of social approval and public shaming. Thus, the window for rational subjective thought that opened at such a great cost in the 20th century is now being slammed shut with great emotional fervor.
If spiritual technology were to emerge and spread, it would then become obvious that a scientific understanding of natural processes is insufficient, because only those who added personal faith to this understanding would be capable of developing spiritual technology. However, this too would be only a finite window of opportunity, because it would take potent mental networks to oppose such an obvious intervention by God, and anyone who developed such strong mental networks would eventually lose the ability to choose.
Verses 6-7 describe a further window of opportunity: “Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day...” ‘Since it remains’ gives the impression that some have entered while some have not, but the Greek appears to say, and many translations agree, that what remains is for some to have entered. In other words, some people need to enter into this rest, but this has not yet happened. Instead, the previous opportunity to enter God’s rest failed because people were unwilling to be persuaded. (The word translated disobedience means ‘not persuaded’.) This interpretation assumes that it is possible for people to temporarily thwart the sovereign will of God. That summarizes my understanding of the relationship between sovereignty of God and the free will of mankind, which is based upon what Scripture says, how the mind works, and how history has progressed. For instance, the Gospel of John strongly supports the hypothesis that Jesus came to a society that should have discovered science but did not.
Therefore, God arranges another window of opportunity to enter his rest: “He again fixes a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, ‘Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’” (v.7). The word translated fixes means to ‘separate, mark off by boundaries’, which describes a finite window of opportunity. ‘After so long a time’ tells us that it takes time for God to set up a window of opportunity. The text does not just say after a time, but rather after so long a time. And the word translated time means ‘a succession of moments; time in duration in the physical-space world’. Thus, this is not just some sort of vague heavenly time. Instead, it is referring to months, years, decades, and centuries, filled with a succession of moments and events. For instance, science could have emerged in Alexandria in around 100-300 BC. When that failed, then creating another window of opportunity meant replacing the Roman civilization with the Western civilization, and science finally emerged over 1500 years later during the Renaissance. In other words, ‘after so long a time’ is not a trivial phrase. Instead, it can mean 1500 years of human suffering, spiritual oppression, and intellectual darkness. Even looking at Hebrews 4 literally, the time of David is being compared with the time of Joshua, two periods of time that were separated by 300-500 years.
Verse 7 says that the new opportunity is ‘just as has been said before’. Just as means ‘according to the manner in which, in the degree that’. In other words, the next opportunity is not exactly the same as the previous one, because each opportunity occurs within a certain social context, but it contains the same essential ingredients. It is like the previous opportunity.
Verse 8 explains that this new opportunity is different than the previous one: “For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken of another day after that.” Hebrews 3 talked about the Israelites refusing to enter the land of Canaan. Eventually they did enter Canaan under the leadership of Joshua. But this did not mean that they entered God’s rest, because the unique set of circumstances that would have propelled them to a new level of interaction with God was no longer present. The quote ‘Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts’ comes from Psalm 95:7-8, and this Psalm was probably written by David. The author of Hebrews is arguing that David must be writing about another opportunity to enter God’s rest, because David lived after the time of Joshua, who brought the Israelites into the land of Canaan.
This makes theological sense, but I suggest that there is also a deeper symbolic meaning that fits into the larger context of Hebrews. There is no difference between the names Jesus and Joshua in Greek. Both of these names are written as Iesous. The only way to distinguish between these two names is context. The context of Hebrews 4 implies that Joshua is the correct translation. The name Jesus occurs 914 times in the New Testament, and it is translated as Joshua in only three cases. Therefore, verse 8 could also be translated “For if Jesus had given them rest, he would not have spoken of another day after that”, and that is what a number of English translations say.
Interpreting the text that way, when Jesus lived in first century Israel, he completed the plan of God from God’s perspective. But he was unable to complete this plan from a human perspective, largely because scientific thought had not emerged. We have seen that entering God’s rest requires both a divine and a human component. On the one hand, God has to manipulate circumstances to open up a window of opportunity. On the other hand, humans have to add faith to a verbal message in order to enter God’s rest. When Jesus came to earth 2000 years ago, God opened up a window of opportunity, but humans could only take partial advantage of this opportunity. Jesus describes this closed window of opportunity and how it will be followed by God’s rejection in Luke 19:41-43: “When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side.’”
Verse 9 concludes that “there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” This is the only time that the word Sabbath rest is used in the New Testament, and it is also the only mention of Sabbath in the book of Hebrews. Sabbath rest means ‘a keeping of the Sabbath’, which describes experiencing the Sabbath, rather than the Sabbath as an abstract concept, or as a day of the week. ‘For the people’ indicates that the author is not referring to individual rest, but rather to a form of rest that is achieved by a group of people. And ‘people of God’ tells us that Hebrews is not talking about becoming a Christian, because the opportunity to enter God’s rest is being given to people who are already following God.
Skipping ahead one verse, Verse 11 concludes, “Let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” Diligent means ‘to move speedily by fully applying oneself’. One must move speedily because the window of opportunity will close, and one must fully apply oneself because total commitment is required to enter God’s rest. This is ‘so that no one will fall’. Even if some group successfully enters God’s rest, every individual within this group has to be diligent to remain part of the group and not get left behind.
For instance, as far as I can tell, all of God’s unconditional biblical promises to the Jews were made to the Jewish people as a group, and most of these promises were made to a believing remnant within the Jewish people. In contrast, biblical promises to Jewish individuals come with conditions attached. Saying this more generally, God does not guarantee personal salvation to individuals just because they are born within a certain tribe. The same principle would apply to members of a Christian denomination.
Moving on, the word example means ‘figure, copy, example’. In other words, what matters is the pattern of disbelief. Christians often feel that they do not deserve God’s wrath because they are not making exactly the same mistakes as the characters mentioned in the Bible. But people who live in a scientific society will naturally act in a more civilized manner than individuals from a tribal, pre-scientific era. What matters is the pattern of disobedience. Is the same kind of flawed thinking being used? Finally, as before, the word translated disobedience actually means ‘unpersuaded’. Thus, what matters is not obeying God with an attitude of absolute truth, but rather being persuaded by God using rational thought. Absolute truth may be the starting point for both religious and secular education, but if one wishes to enter God’s rest, then one major requirement is to make the transition from absolute truth to universal truth, or in educational language, from rote learning to critical thinking.
Putting all of these pieces together, I suggest that Hebrews 4 is talking about a window of opportunity that follows the spread of spiritual technology. The goal of spiritual technology is not just to create better gadgets, but rather to create a window of opportunity for a people of God to break through to a new level of interaction with God, something that God has attempted unsuccessfully to institute in the past. Saying this more clearly, when a Christianity that is based in absolute truth is replaced by a Christianity rooted in a rational understanding of God and incarnation, then this will open up a window of opportunity for Christianity to be transformed into a higher form of religion. Going further, I suggest that this higher form of religion will subsume both Christianity and Judaism. That is the topic of Hebrews 5, which talks about a new eternal priesthood of righteousness. This means that a religion that is firmly rooted in blind faith, such as Islam, is inherently incapable of entering God’s rest.
Turning briefly to the book of Revelation, Revelation 14:13 says that those who follow God will have a new opportunity for rest which did not exist before: “‘Write, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!”’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.’” And consistent with Hebrews 4 which talks about completing a journey in order to enter rest, the word translated rest in Revelation 14 means ‘to give rest after the needed task is completed’. This word ‘rest’ is only used twice in the book of Revelation, and the other occurrence is in Revelation 6:11, where the martyrs are given a white robe and told to rest for a little while longer. Going further, the idea of a window of opportunity can also be seen in Revelation 14:15, because an angel comes out of the Temple and says that “the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe”.
Revelation 14 talks about a specific historical opportunity for reaping ‘the harvest of the earth’ and ‘the vine of the earth’. Similarly, while there is a personal rest that one can enter into by taking personal advantage of the opportunities that God arranges, I suggest that Hebrews 4:9 is clearly talking about something that goes beyond personal rest. When people fail to enter God’s rest, then God has to go back and try again, gradually arranging the strands of society to create another opportunity for entering God’s rest. But if people succeed in entering God’s rest, then God can wrap things up and move on. This wrapping up is described in Revelation 14 as a harvest.
As far as I can tell, God does not continue going back and trying again in the same way. Instead, a second opportunity will always be more forceful and usually more painful than a first opportunity. Generally speaking, people can choose to follow a first opportunity, but when the second opportunity comes around, then God will manipulate historical and social forces to ensure that his plan will succeed, regardless of what people consciously choose. Hebrews 4 is unusual because it describes three opportunities being provided by God, first with the Israelites entering the Promised Land, then with Jesus coming to earth, and finally at some future time triggered by the spread of spiritual technology.
(Note from 2021: I think that these paragraphs are accurate, but I suggest that my analysis of Hebrews in these paragraphs is actually describing the current struggle to enter the partial rest of spiritual technology. In contrast, Hebrews 4 is describing a deeper rest that involves altering what it means to exist as human beings within physical bodies. However, the cognitive principles are the same and in both cases there is a limited window of opportunity. Revelation 14 happens after the kingdom of the beast and appears to describe entering this deeper rest of human existence. Revelation 14 opens with a group of people following incarnation to the extent of singing a new song before the throne, the four living creatures, and the elders, indicating that existing heavenly worship is being superseded at the level of the throne of God. God”s repeated attempts to get people to enter this rest indicate that this is an essential step in leading creation to maturity. And the harvest at the end of Revelation 14 indicates that entering this rest will be followed by a major wrapping up of the existing system. Thus, the kingdom of the beast can be interpreted as the pressure that is required to force some group of people to break through to entering God’ rest.)
Returning to the book of Hebrews, verse 10 describes the nature of this rest more clearly: “For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” The word translated as is an emphatic comparative that means ‘indeed just as, or just exactly like’. In other words, verse 10 is saying that there is a detailed similarity between ‘the people of God entering God’s rest’, and ‘God resting from his works’. This is significant because this kind of detailed similarity or ‘just exactly like’ seems to be the glue that holds together a concept of God. I have mentioned that a concept of incarnation is based in technical thought. Technical thought by its very nature is limited to some restricted context. The limited nature of concrete technical thought is illustrated by games: The rules of a game are carefully defined, and everyone knows what the goal of a game is, and how to keep score. But the rules only apply to the playing field of that game. For instance, the rules of soccer only apply when one is playing a game of soccer on a soccer field. They do not apply to normal life. Similarly, abstract technical thought uses rules of rigorous logic to come up with conclusions that are certain. But this rigorous logic is always based upon a set of assumptions, which limits the playing field of every system of rigorous logic to some subset of human thought. However, God is an infinite being who, by definition, extends beyond any limited playing field.
Thus, I suggest that it is impossible to logically prove that God exists, and that it is technically accurate to say that God transcends rigorous logic. But this does not mean that God is an irrational being who has nothing to do with logic. That is because technical thought is not the only form of human thought, even though modern society has become convinced that technical thought is the only valid form of human thought. Instead, the mind normally uses what I refer to as normal thought, in which Perceiver thought and Server thought use similarities, symmetries, and analogies to build bridges between various technical specializations and mental networks. Normal thought is not rigorous, but it can be made semi-rigorous by looking for detailed similarities. Technical thought, by its very nature, comes up with many details. This means that one can add rigor to normal thought by looking for detailed similarities between one technical specialization and another. This relationship between the technical thinking of incarnation and the analogical thinking of Perceiver thought provides a cognitive explanation for Jesus giving the keys of the church to Peter (which is explored further in the Epistle of Peter). The ‘keys of Peter’ function at many levels, and at the most general level I suggest they play a role in helping to unlock the path to God’s rest.
The theory of mental symmetry uses semi-rigorous normal thought, because I am continually saying that one thing is like another. For instance, this essay is continually switching perspectives, jumping between theology, cognition, prophecy, science, and history. But this jumping is being done in a way that includes details, and not just in a hand-waving manner. This makes the comparison more rigorous by showing how one thing continues to be like another even when one considers the details that technical thought has discovered about these various things.
Applying this to Hebrews 4, an infinite God cannot live in a house that is made by finite creatures. Saying this another way, you cannot put God into a box. But I suggest that it is possible for finite creatures to give rest to God through the use of similarity and analogy. Science provides a partial illustration of this principle, through the use of exemplars, a concept described by Thomas Kuhn. In brief, when one is learning to solve some specific problem in physics, then one is actually learning how to solve many similar problems. For instance, if one learns how to use mathematical equations to predict the path taken by a bullet that is shot through the air from a gun, then one can use the same equations and the same method of problem-solving to predict the path taken by any projectile that travels through the air. Saying this another way, a single Server problem-solving sequence can give rest to an infinity of similar problems, by providing a mental shape that gives structure to all these related problems.
God is a God of universal law and order who hates exceptions to the rule. Therefore, God cannot find rest in the chaotic, fragmented, and destructive thinking of childish identity. Instead, human thought and behavior have to become guided and held together by an integrated concept of God. Breaking through to this level of mental wholeness will provide human rest, because everything that a person thinks, says, and does will be held together by the core mental networks of a Trinitarian concept of God. But I suggest that breaking through to this level of mental wholeness can also provide rest for God, because something that is independent of God is providing stability to the character of God.
This is different than anthropomorphism, which ascribes human attributes to God. Anthropomorphism makes God the servant of humanity, because it views God through the lens of humanity. The process of entering God’s rest, in contrast, is being driven by God. God is manipulating human history to cause certain elements to emerge within human minds and human society. Stated more simply, anthropomorphism forms God in the image of man, while entering God’s rest recognizes that man has been made in the image of God. Looking at this in more detail, as the philosopher Kant originally stated, the human mind interprets everything through the lens of the structure of the mind. This is inescapable. But it is also possible for humans to gain a more accurate concept of God by using a TMN of universal understanding to model God as a universal monotheistic being, rather than using some MMN with great emotional status in Mercy thought to represent God as a superhuman being.
One can clarify what it means to enter God’s rest by looking at the requirements for rest. Suppose that I am holding a heavy bag. I can rest by giving the bag to someone else to hold. But this will only give me rest if several requirements are met: 1) The other person must be capable of holding the bag. I cannot give a bag to someone else if that person lacks the strength to carry the bag. 2) Both I and the person I hand the bag to must be standing on the same solid ground that exists independently of both me and the other person. 3) The bag must remain intact and available. The person must not run away with the bag, drop the bag, or destroy the bag.
I suggest that these same principles apply to God finding rest in people. 1) God needs people with tested faith. People must be supported internally by a solid, transformed mind and not externally by structure that comes from the physical world or from cultural MMNs. 2) God and people must both function within some common solid structure that exists independently of either of them. This is currently provided by the physical universe, which functions independently of human thought, and also appears to function most of the time in a statistical manner that is independent of divine thought. (A statistical manner means that the behavior of a group of items can be predicted with mathematical certainty, while the behavior of individual items within this group cannot be predicted.) The upcoming chapters of Hebrews will describe God instituting a new form of structure that exists independent of both God and divine thought. Saying this more simply, God is the source of universal law, but God can only transfer weight to people if God himself is subject to universal law and these people are also subject to the same universal law. 3) God must be able to trust people. This means that the internal structure of a transformed mind must be consistent with the character of God.
This final requirement can be seen in verse 12: “For the word of God is living and active...” Hebrews 3:12 talked about the living God, which implies that it will become obvious at that stage that God is alive, and not just some distant being who created the universe, who intervenes invisibly in history behind the scenes. In Hebrews 4:12 the word of God becomes not just living but living and active. The word translated active means ‘energized, full of energy, operative’. This is reminiscent of John 1:1, which says that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. But John 1:1 is talking about the past, and the Gospel of John describes the process by which the eternal Word became flesh. Hebrews 4:12, in contrast, talks about the word of God as alive and active in the present, implying that Incarnation has completed a transition that leads back to being the living Word of God. Hebrews 3:14 talked about being partakers of Christ, which meant holding on to the plan of Incarnation from the start to the end. Hebrews 4:12 describes what emerges at the end of this plan, and the rest of chapter 4 elaborates upon the new behavior of Incarnation.
Before we continue, I need to address some theological concerns. One concern is that the idea of God resting in people must be false because ‘God upholds all things by the word of his power’, quoting from Hebrews 1:3. But we saw at the beginning of this essay that this is actually a mis-translation, because the word uphold means to ‘carry along, especially temporarily or to a definite conclusion’, which means that God is carrying out a cosmic plan through his Son. This is consistent with Hebrews 4:14, which talks about Jesus the Son of God carrying out a plan of passing through the heavens. Going further, Colossians 1:17 is also often quoted in this context, because it says that “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” But Colossians 1 is also talking about a cosmic plan being carried out. Verse 16 says that all forms of living beings were initially created by the Son of God, while verse 18 describes Incarnation as the head of the church and the firstborn from the dead. These two verses describe the start and finish of a cosmic plan involving finite creatures. Verse 17 lies in between this start and finish. The word translated before either means ‘in front of’ or ‘earlier than’, telling us that the cosmic plan is being led by Incarnation, which implies that others will be following. And hold together means to ‘unite parts into one whole’, which implies that others are providing parts for Incarnation to hold together. Summarizing, I suggest that there is more to the story than merely asserting in an overgeneralized fashion that ‘God does everything’.
Finally, one might conclude that there is no need for God to create some independent source of universal law because God always behaves in a manner that is consistent with his eternal character. This may provide an adequate basis for universal law, but there is still the matter of existing as a finite creature independent of God. This need is not apparent as long as matter is over mind, because the independent existence of the physical universe buffers finite humans from the infinite God. However, this need for maintaining personal existence independent of God will become of central concern at the end of Hebrews 6, when the implications of mind ruling over matter begin to become apparent.
(Note from 2021: The first stage of mind-over-matter would be the abilility to temporarily override some of the laws of nature in some local area. For instance, central heating and air-conditioning can be used to temporarily override the weather within some local area. Spiritual technology would take this to a new level. 2 Peter 3 appears to describe a later shift to mind-over-matter happening at a more global level. Reaching mind-over-matter is only possibly if people have minds that are transformed to the point of functioning independently of matter. If this is not present, then people will eventually rebel against the transformation of matter in order to preserve existing human culture and identity.)
Tying this in with the Gospel of John, I suggest that the description in Hebrews 4:14 of ‘Jesus the Son of God passing through the heavens’ corresponds to Jesus’ description in John 16 that “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me”.
The beginning of John 1 describes Incarnation as the living and active word of God. Similarly, Hebrews 4:12 talks about a living and active word of God: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (v.12). This is a familiar verse, which is usually applied to reading the Bible. In other words, the Bible is living in the sense that one continually notices new concepts that were previously ignored, and the Bible is also good at uncovering personal motives. This may be a valid partial interpretation, but I suggest that something larger is being described here.
I have mentioned several times that incarnation is based in technical thought. There is abstract technical thought and concrete technical thought, and a concept of incarnation emerges when these two halves of technical thought become integrated. The primary building block for abstract technical thought is precise definitions, and part of defining involves determining the precise boundaries between one term and another. The word translated division is the noun form of a verb that means ‘to divide, distribute into parts, to separate or distinguish one part from another’, which describes what abstract technical thought does when defining words and concepts more precisely. Philosophers of science refer to this tightening of definitions as explication.
Science uses abstract technical thought to understand natural processes more precisely. In other words, science applies abstract technical thought to the physical world. In verse 12, abstract technical thought is being applied to the cognitive and spiritual worlds. More precisely, technical thinking is being used to distinguish precisely what is soul and what is spirit.
I have suggested that the current system of matter-over-mind will eventually be replaced by a new heaven and earth guided by mind-over-matter. Technical thought is currently used to understand how the physical world functions, because the present physical universe is ruled inescapably by the technical thinking of incarnation. That is one of the consequences of matter-over-mind. Matter submits to incarnation, and if one wants to understand matter, then one must use the technical thinking of incarnation. By symmetry, the same principle would apply to mind-over-matter. The hidden realms of cognition and spirit would become ruled by the technical thinking of incarnation, and one would need to use technical thinking to understand cognition and spirit. Assigning precise definitions is the first stage of using abstract technical thought. Therefore, if technical thought is being used to distinguish between soul and spirit, then this is the first stage for setting up a new system of mind-over-matter.
Looking at this from a different perspective, one of the first things that a child learns is to distinguish reality from imagination—to separate between soul and body. This is not always that simple. For instance, one may hear a noise in the middle of the night, go to investigate, notice nothing, and conclude, ‘Oh well, I must have been imagining things’. However, the ability to distinguish reality from imagination is basic and critical, because those who lose this skill often end up in mental hospitals. Similarly, one of the first things that a person living in spiritual reality would need to learn is how to distinguish between soul and spirit. This implies that a new connection between mind and spirit will open up when God’s rest is entered, one which is similar to the current connection between mind and body. (I am treating mind as a synonym of soul—the non-material essence of personal being that interacts in detail with the physical brain but is not the same as the brain. When a person dies, the body and brain decay, but the soul/mind survives.)
Paul compares these two kinds of bodies in 1 Corinthians 15, when talking about the resurrection of the body: “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body” (v.44). My guess is that Hebrews 4 is talking about the initial step of something that happens more completely in 1 Corinthians 15. Paul says that we now live in natural bodies, and that we will eventually live in spiritual bodies. Thus, I suggest that it makes sense to compare the current relationship between mind and body with a future relationship between mind and spirit.
This type of connection does not exist today. Instead, it is usually quite difficult to distinguish between soul and spirit, and theologians have argued over the centuries over whether it is even possible to distinguish soul from spirit.
My hypothesis is that the spiritual realm interacts with the mind through mental networks. Thus, a spirit can inhabit a mental network and can also empower a mental network. (The New Testament talks frequently about spirits and demons possessing humans, but it never mentions an angel possessing a human. Thus, I suggest that the spiritual realm is different than the angelic realm.) Turning now to personal experience, working with the theory of mental symmetry has caused mental networks of ‘imaginary persons’ to form within my mind, similar to the way that law is often represented by the imaginary person of Lady Justice. One can explain this cognitively as Platonic forms emerging as a byproduct of Teacher understanding. But I have also found that if I treat these imaginary persons as intelligent beings, then they respond by providing conscious thought with ideas. Again, one can explain this cognitively as a function of mental networks. But is this merely a case of mental networks, or are these mental networks being influenced by the spiritual realm in some manner? I have tried for years to answer this question, and I simply cannot divide between soul and spirit; I do not know if it is all happening in my head or if my head is being influenced by the spiritual realm. Looking at this more generally, is all artistic inspiration merely the result of mental networks, or are mental networks being influenced by the spiritual realm?
A similar principle applies to following God. It is usually difficult to distinguish the internal voice of God from one’s mental concept of God, and it is also difficult to distinguish the external hand of God from circumstances working together in an unusual way. I have come to the conclusion that this ambiguity is mentally healthy, because those who experience the leading of God less ambiguously often seem to lose common sense.
Putting this all together, it is currently very important to separate mind from body. For instance, if I see a car heading for me, I need to know whether this is a real car or whether I am only seeing it in my imagination, because I may die if a real car hits me, while an imaginary car will do no damage. In contrast, those who currently pursue spirit as distinct from mind tend to lose their grip upon rational thought, as illustrated by the typical website about spirits. Going the other way, I have found that it has been mentally healthy to experience what may be the spiritual realm in an ambiguous way. Hebrews 4:12 appears to be describing a transition to a new kind of existence in which it becomes important to learn how to distinguish soul from spirit. (Note from 2021: I have recently become mentally aware of my spirit as an entity that is distinct from my soul. I find that I can set the agenda for my spirit by choosing which mental networks I focus upon. I also sense emotionally when my spirit is feeling good, bad, or troubled. I can develop my spirit by following deep goals with integrity, and I can damage my spirit by pursuing inconsistent goals in a fragmented manner. The interaction between mind and spirit appears to be like the interaction between mind and body. The mind sets the agenda for the body but the body is capable of performing actions in a habitual manner without conscious awareness.)
Returning to Hebrews 4, the second division is “of both joints and marrow” (v.12). This is the only time that either the word joint or marrow is used in the New Testament. One can come up with a possible interpretation by using the same symbolism that has been used in previous essays to analyze other biblical passages. The joints connect the bones of the body. Bones represent personal Perceiver facts. Thus, the joints would represent the connections between personal Perceiver facts. I suggest this interpretation for two reasons: First, Perceiver thought looks for solid facts as well as the connections between solid facts. The bones and joints are the solid facts and connections of the physical body. Second, Perceiver thought in the brain appears to receive kinesthetic feedback from the joints. As a Perceiver person, I am continually aware of the position of my physical body. Marrow lies within the bones and is the source of red blood cells, and blood represents the MMNs of personal identity. (Blood is connected numerous times with personal life in the Bible.)
Turning now to how the mind works, I have mentioned that Perceiver thought and Server thought both acquire confidence through repetition. A Perceiver fact becomes more certain when one observes a specific set of connections being repeated; a Server sequence becomes more certain when one observes this specific sequence being repeated. But Server thought also has an additional way of acquiring confidence which Perceiver thought does not have. A person can build Server confidence merely by repeating some sequence of actions. Because of this, it is very important to distinguish between Server confidence that was acquired because of ‘how things work’ and Server confidence that was acquired because ‘that is how we do things’. For instance, science began as a study of how the natural world behaves, looking for Server sequences that are repeated in nature. Much of science has now turned into methodology, guided by the Server sequences that describe how a group of scientists behave. Looking at this from the viewpoint of Teacher thought, scientific thought is guided by a Teacher understanding of how the natural world behaves, righteousness is guided by a Teacher understanding of how God behaves, while a bureaucracy is guided by a Teacher understanding of how a group of people behave.
Dividing between joints and marrow appears to be describing a Perceiver version of this ambiguity. Joints represent acquiring Perceiver facts about identity through observation: My joints are in a certain position; this defines where I am. Marrow represents using Perceiver thought to manufacture a personal identity: The blood of Mercy identity is being manufactured within the bones of personal Perceiver truth. Similarly, one can currently form a Teacher understanding either by observing Server sequences being repeated, or one can manufacture a Teacher understanding by repeating Server actions. (This type of symmetry between Server and Perceiver, and between Teacher and Mercy, was used to uncover many of the traits of the cognitive styles back in the 1980s, which explains why it is called the theory of mental symmetry.)
Humans have two ways of generating Server confidence because humans live within physical bodies that are capable of performing Server sequences of actions. In contrast, it appears that angels (and UFO aliens) live within ‘bodies’ that have the power to impose Perceiver facts. (This symmetry is explored in previous essays. I am not suggesting that angels are aliens, but rather that both angels and UFO aliens come from the same angelic realm, just as all humans come from the same physical realm.) Among other things, this means that any Perceiver truth that is received from an angel or an alien is inherently suspect, because this truth could describe the facts of reality, or it could also be self-generated by the behavior of that angel or alien. Saying this another way, one must distinguish carefully between joints and marrow when evaluating any truth that supposedly comes from angels or from aliens.
Summarizing, dividing between soul and spirit would become imperative if a door opened between the physical universe and the spiritual realm. Dividing between joints and marrow would become imperative if a door opened between the physical universe and the angelic realm. These principles already apply because they are based in the structure of the mind. But it would become imperative to apply these principles if a door opened to other realms.
One can see why Revelation 14 talks about a time of harvest. If a door were to open between the physical, spiritual, and supernatural realms, then this would unsettle human thought at its very core. Therefore, it would be important to ‘harvest’ human thought and culture before it was fundamentally altered, similar to the way that one takes pictures of an old house before the renovation crew comes in and rips everything apart, or records the behavior of a traditional society before it is disrupted by the invasion of outside civilization. (Note from 2021: This also explains why I am adding notes rather than editing this essay. I want to preserve a record of the way that I thought when writing this essay.)
Returning to Hebrews, verse 12 also describes the basis for clear thinking: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow.” In the same way that a Teacher understanding of universal law provides clear thinking for living within the physical universe, so a Teacher understanding of the character of God would provide clear thinking for living within both the spiritual realm and the angelic realm. I cannot prove this from physical experience, because I have not experienced either the spiritual realm or the angelic realm, but I have found that the theory of mental symmetry provides a rational Teacher understanding for the character of God as described in the Bible, and that it also provides a rational framework for descriptions of both spiritual and supernatural encounters.
An attitude of absolute truth will naturally stifle a living and active word of God. That is because life is not static, but rather grows and develops, while absolute truth is by definition static, because it is based in a specific set of words that were revealed in the past. This conflict can be seen in the charismatic church movement. Charismatic Christianity tries to follow a living word of God through word of prophecy. But it is easy for this prophecy to diverge from the content of Scripture. Traditional evangelical Christianity, in contrast, focuses upon the content of Scripture, but a focus upon doctrine tends to stifle the living Word of God.
The final phrase of verse 12 says that the word of God is “able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart”. Able to judge occurs only once in the Bible, and comes from judge, which means to ‘separate or distinguish’, ‘whether in a law-court or privately’. One sees again the technical trait of separating and distinguishing. But to what is technical thought being applied? First, it is being applied to mental networks. The word translated thoughts means ‘inner passion, the emotional force driving meditation and reflection’, which is an accurate description of how a mental network behaves. Second, it is being applied to rational thought. The word translated intentions means ‘the engaged mind; what a person has in-mind’. Verse 12 describes these two as aspects of personal identity, because heart means ‘the affective center of our being and the capacity of moral preference... The heart is mentioned over 800 times in Scripture, but never referring to the literal physical pump that drives the blood’.
Looking at this cognitively, a living word of God is a rational understanding of the character of God that has turned into a TMN. A mental network uses emotional pressure to impose its structure upon the mind. This will judge MMNs of personal identity, because mental networks form an emotional hierarchy, with core mental networks imposing themselves upon lesser mental networks. This will judge MMNs of personal identity emotionally, because mental networks exert emotional pressure. And it will also judge the content of MMNs of personal identity, because mental networks impose their structure.
If one is to find total rest, then everything must be held together by a single TMN of universal understanding. Using religious language, everything must be seen as an expression of the universal character of God. Using the analogy of the bag, I can only find rest by giving my bag to someone else if 1) All personal behavior is guided by laws that respect private property. Otherwise, some thief may come and steal the bag. And 2) The people who are taking care of the bag live in a manner that respects natural law. Otherwise, some physical disaster may happen that destroys the bag.
Verse 13 describes this total rule of law: “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do”. 1) No creature is hidden from the living word of God. It is interesting that verse 13 does not refer to mankind but rather uses the more generic term of creature. This is the first time that this term is used in Hebrews. Creature means created being, which implies that one is now dealing with not just human beings but also other beings created by God. 2) All things are open and laid bare, telling us that the physical realm is also subject. The word translated open means ‘naked or poorly clothed’, which suggests that the TMN of a living word of God is seeing through MMNs of personal culture, because clothing appears to represent the fabric of social interaction. Laid bare means ‘to take by the throat’, and this is the only time that this word occurs in the New Testament. The throat connects the head to the body, which suggests that the focus at this point is upon the interaction between mind and body, between thoughts and the external expression of thoughts. ‘With whom we have to do’ is a paraphrase, and the Greek literally says ‘all things are uncovered and laid bare to the eyes of him to whom our logos’ (In English, this literal translation is grammatically incorrect). Logos is the same term for ‘word’ that was used in verse 12 to describe the living word of God, and is also used in John 1:1 to describe the Word of God. Eyes represent Perceiver thought, because the mind uses the eyes to identify objects and form a mental map of how objects are connected. If our logos is being seen by the living logos of God, this means that personal interaction with God is now happening at the level of names and abstract thought.
This occurs to some extent in today’s professional world, because one interacts with society not on the basis of who one is as a person but rather on the basis of one’s profession. Instead of being John or Joan, I am John-the-nurse who interacts with the hospital as a registered nurse, or Joan-the-nephrologist, who interacts with the medical system as an expert in kidneys. Perceiver thought is then used to build a structured system by connecting various specialists. I suggest that verse 12 is describing a more complete version of today’s specialization. This may sound inhuman, because today’s specializations are inhuman, and squeezing all of life into some technical specialization is dehumanizing. But one is dealing here with names that apply to all of human personality, an extension beyond technical thought to personal character that started with spiritual technology. Thus, what is being described is not a world of technical specializations, but rather a universe in which everyone interacts with who God really is, on the basis of who they really are.
Revelation 14:19-20 uses symbolic language to describe personal identity being laid bare to a TMN of God: “The angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.” This cannot be a literal description, because wine does not turn into blood when it is placed in a wine press. Wine represents mental networks of culture, while blood represents mental networks of personal identity. Grapes are being pressed into wine, indicating that cultural MMNs are being fragmented, and this is causing personal MMNs to become fragmented, because blood is coming out of the wine press. Horses represent institutional and military might, while bridles would represent ‘the reins of power’. If the blood is reaching the horses’ bridles, then personal MMNs are being fragmented up to the level of questioning the personal MMNs of those who control society. This extensive personal questioning is being driven emotionally by a TMN of God, a process described as ‘the great wine press of the wrath of God’.
The final verses of Hebrews 4 introduce a new form of priesthood: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession” (v.14). In Hebrews 3:1, Jesus was described as ‘high priest of our confession’. In 4:14, he is described as a great high priest, and great means ‘large, great, in the widest sense’. In cognitive language, the Teacher domain of Jesus has increased. This is the third time that Jesus has been mentioned in Hebrews (if one ignores the reference to Joshua). The first time was in 2:9, where Jesus was crowned with glory and honor because of suffering. That was where Jesus triumphed over the angels of technical thought. The second occurrence in 3:1 was where Jesus triumphed over the Christianity of absolute truth. In the third occurrence in 4:14, Jesus has just ‘passed through the heavens’. Jesus refers to the human side of Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God. Christ describes the divine side of Jesus Christ, and Christ resides in the Teacher realm of heaven. In 3:1, we were instructed to consider Jesus. In 3:14, the followers of Incarnation ‘have become partakers of Christ’ who are being told to hold fast the beginning of their assurance until the end. This end has now been reached, because Jesus has passed through the heavens, and this is described in the past tense. Passing through Teacher thought has increased the Teacher generality of Jesus, which explains why he is now described as a great high priest. In 2:6 Jesus was described as ‘the Son of Man’, expressing the extension of incarnation from technical thought to personal identity. Here Jesus is being as the ‘Son of God’, emphasizing that Jesus expresses the Teacher universality of God.
The instructions given to the followers of incarnation are also different. In 3:14, followers were being told to hold fast the beginning of their assurance. The hold fast of 4:14 is a different Greek word, which means ‘to place under one’s grasp, put under control’. The first ‘hold fast’ mainly involved hanging on tight. The second ‘hold fast’ is more a case of mastering and controlling something that one now possesses. In 3:14 one held to an assurance, a ‘title to a promise or property’, holding fast to something that had been promised but had not yet happened. In 4:14, one is gaining mastery of a confession, which means ‘to say the same thing as’. This implies that words have acquired a new power, which requires becoming fluent in the new language of Incarnation.
This new language would probably include what we now call theology, but people would no longer make overgeneralized theological statements, and they would stop claiming promises out of context from random verses in the Bible. Sermons would be carefully researched, remembered, and applied. That is because talk would no longer be cheap. Instead, words would have consequences, and one would not want to say the wrong word. One can see this contrast by comparing normal speech with words spoken in a court of law. Most normal conversation has little value and is quickly forgotten. Words from a lawyer are expensive, and words spoken in a court can have major, lasting consequences.
Verse 15 describes the type of high priest that Jesus has become: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Sympathize means ‘to have a fellow feeling with’, while weakness ‘refers to an ailment that deprives someone of enjoying or accomplishing what they would like to do’. In other words, weakness refers to the inherent limitations of being a finite human living in a physical body. I mentioned in Hebrews 2 that incarnation can only save a person from some area if incarnation extends to that area. For instance, a search and rescue vehicle can only save a person if that vehicle can reach the person. The great high priesthood of Jesus can sympathize with human weaknesses because weak humans were partakers of Christ who by their very participation extended the plan of incarnation to include weak humanity.
This kind of partaking of Christ is described in 2 Corinthians 1: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ” (2 Cor. 1:3-5). Similar to Hebrews 4, people are participating in the sufferings of Christ in order to have abundant comfort through Christ, and all of this is happening within the general structure of God. Suffering comes in many different forms. The suffering endured by Paul and the early Christians was mainly physical persecution. The individuals of Hebrews 4 will probably endure a more cognitive and spiritual form of suffering. What really matters when learning from suffering is the intensity of the feeling, and how one responds to this feeling, and not the original source of this feeling.
We looked previously at the distinction between temptation and testing. Jesus is described in 4:15 as ‘one who has been tempted’. The word that is used is ‘tempt’, but it is also used in the past tense, and ‘tempt’ will not occur again until Hebrews 11, when talking about the heroes of faith. Using the analogy of a school, Jesus, the founder of the school of salvation, had to set up the school without the benefit of having a school. Because of this, Jesus can sympathize with people who do not have access to schools. Saying this another way, entering God’s rest involves stepping into the unknown, which means that one can sympathize with those who do not know. But once one has entered God’s rest, then what was unknown becomes known. (As we saw earlier, the word ‘tempt’ is used to describe the temptations of Jesus by the devil in the wilderness.) Saying this still another way, Jesus did not cheat when becoming a human, but rather lived fully as a human being with human weaknesses and temptations. But now that Jesus has been resurrected, the weakness and temptation has come to an end.
Verse 16 describes a combination of power and sympathy: “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need”. Using the analogy of the rescue vehicle, verse 15 says that the vehicle has traveled everywhere without getting stuck, while verse 16 says that one can now call for help from the vehicle from any location.
Verse 16 is often quoted as a motivation to pray to God for help, but the flavor is quite different if one examines the original Greek and looks at the general context. A priest intercedes for people before God, while a throne of grace helps people from God. Using the analogy of the school, a priest shows parents the curriculum of the school that will educate their children, while a throne of grace helps the students to get through the classes. Jesus was described in verse 14 as a great high priest, implying an expanded curriculum that is capable of transforming students more fully. A throne of grace implies expanded power and authority to be able to help students.
But a throne of grace is also intimidating, especially if the person on the throne is ‘the Son of God’ who has just ‘passed through the heavens’. Whether this throne is real, metaphysical, or some combination of these two, the feeling of intimidation would be the same. This explains the instructions. One is supposed to ‘draw near’, which suggests that the natural response will be to stay distant. And the word translated confidence means ‘a proverb or statement quoted with resolve’. In the present universe, ‘sticks and stones can hurt my bones but words will never hurt me’. That is because the physical body adds emotions to Mercy experiences but does not add emotions to Teacher words. Therefore, speaking confidently is merely a matter of raising one’s voice. But if a door to other realms were to open up, then words would acquire inherent emotions, and speaking confidently would not be so easy. This is already true to some extent because we now have the ability to record words. Therefore, most politicians do not speak off-the-cuff, but rather choose their words carefully.
Moving on, ‘receive mercy’ gives the impression that one is passively accepting a gift that is being given from the throne. But the word translated received means ‘to lay hold by aggressively and actively accepting what is available or offered’ and it ‘emphasizes the volition and assertiveness of the receiver’. This is quite different than the attitude of absolute truth, which naturally concludes that ‘Jesus does everything and I do nothing’, because it feels that I am too insignificant compared to Jesus to be able to do anything. Instead, grace will require verbal confidence and active receiving.
The word translated mercy means ‘pity, mercy, compassion’. This describes the Mercy emotions that a weak human would feel standing before the throne of a Son of God who has passed through the heavens. However, this is the only time that the word ‘mercy’ is used in Hebrews, and the result of this request for mercy is not mercy. Instead, one will ‘find grace to help in time of need’. Grace means ‘leaning towards to share benefit’. A throne of grace suggests that Jesus has the authority to help and wants to help. But what kind of help will be received?
The word translated help is a nautical term that is only used twice in the Bible. It means ‘critical assistance that meets an urgent situation’. The other occurrence of ‘help’ illustrates the nautical definition. Acts 27 describes Paul getting shipwrecked on the way to Rome. When the sailors were losing control of the boat, “they used supporting cables in undergirding the ship” (v.17). The Greek word for ‘supporting cables’ is ‘help’. In other words, ‘help’ holds me together when external pressure threatens to tear me apart. This is critical assistance that is meeting an urgent situation. Using cognitive language, the help is preventing mental networks from falling apart.
Looking at this cognitive mechanism in more detail, when a mental network continues to receive inconsistent input it will eventually fall apart, and a mental network that is being threatened with disintegration will exhibit a form of emotional pain that transcends normal pain. Saying this more simply, people will go to great lengths to avoid falling apart. For instance, when the 911 terrorist attack happened, many Americans felt that the mental networks of ‘the American way of life’ were being threatened, and America responded in a gut fashion by limiting personal freedom through the so-called Patriot act, and by invading countries that were felt to be responsible for this terrorism. Going further, many average Americans currently support Donald Trump because they feel that the American way is crumbling, and Trump is addressing this feeling of cultural angst.
Turning now to Hebrews, if a door were to open to other realms, then many core mental networks of physical existence would feel threatened, and people would need ‘help’. Verse 16 does not say that this help will be provided immediately. Instead it will be provided ‘in time of need’. This word is also used twice in the New Testament, and the other occurrence is in Mark 6, where the daughter of Herodias danced before her father Herod and asked for the head of John the Baptist on a ‘strategic’ day “when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his lords and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee” (v.21). The word translated ‘strategic’ is the same word as ‘in time of need’. Herodias chose the opportune time to get Herod to kill John the Baptist. Similarly, this help will be provided at the opportune time. Finally, the word translated find means ‘find, learn, discover, especially after searching’. In other words, the help will not be simply handed over. Instead, acquiring this help will require learning, discovery, and searching.
That has been my experience with the theory of mental symmetry. Whenever I need to understand some topic, I have found that this understanding eventually comes. But understanding only comes if I really need an answer. Simple curiosity is not sufficient. And this answer seldom comes instantaneously but rather requires learning, discovery, and searching. My experience with the throne of grace is that there is help, and that this help will hold a person together, but it comes at the opportune time, it requires study and searching, and one must actively hold on to this answer. I think that this is largely because the answer is not usually what one expects. Because the answer takes a form that is different than expected, the natural tendency is to remain personally distant and regard it with some suspicion. However, if one needs the answer badly enough, then the need will override the suspicion, especially if one receives the answer at an opportune time.
For instance, if one is seeking academic respectability, then it is not appropriate to post an essay on the book of Hebrews that includes angels, spirits, aliens, and mind-over-matter. But if one really needs supernatural assistance to stay integrated, then this need for personal assistance will become stronger than any desire for academic respectability. Similarly, if Hebrews 4 is talking about the opening of a door to supernatural and spiritual realms, then new experiences involving angels, spirits, and aliens would threaten the mental integrity of people. The ‘ship’ of rational common sense that sufficed for sailing upon the sea of human experience would start to fall apart, and people would have to search for answers and seek actively for grace that could ‘help’ to hold this ‘ship’ together.
Hebrews 4 ended by describing Jesus as a great high priest who has passed through the heavens. This leads in Hebrews 5 to a new concept of high priesthood, and the text compares this new priesthood with the old priesthood. This is traditionally interpreted as a comparison between the Jewish priesthood of the Old Testament and the New Testament priesthood of Jesus. That may be theologically accurate, but what does it mean in practice, what type of thinking is involved, and how does this relate to the context of Hebrews?
Verse 1 explains that the job of a priest is to interact with God on behalf of humans: “For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.” On the one hand, a priest exists ‘on behalf of men’. On behalf of means ‘to extend benefit that reaches beyond the present situation’, and the word translated men is the generic word for mankind. So the goal of a priest is to improve the situation of mankind. On the other hand, a priest functions ‘in things pertaining to God’.
A priest performs this job by offering ‘both gifts and sacrifices for sin’. The word gift ‘focuses upon the free nature of the gift, something uncaused and not coerced’. A sacrifice is ‘an official sacrifice prescribed by God; an offering the Lord accepts because offered on his terms’. Several things can be said about gifts and sacrifices.
First, a sacrifice to God needs to follow the rules established by God. Using cognitive language, a mental network generates positive emotion when it encounters content that is consistent with its structure, and negative emotion when experiencing inconsistent input. Therefore, a gift of God must be consistent with the TMN of God and not be expressions of personal MMNs. For instance, the Mercy person talks a lot about love, but the typical Mercy person implicitly defines love as behaving in a way that is consistent with how that Mercy person perceives love. Love for God needs to be consistent with the character of God.
This interplay can be seen in 2 Samuel 7. In verse 2, King David says “to Nathan the prophet, ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within tent curtains.’” Notice how David is defining love for God in terms of his own personal mental networks. David wants to live in a nice house, so he presumes that God also wants to live in a nice house. God responds by telling David that he has never spoken of living in a permanent house: “Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’” (v.7). Notice that David is thinking in terms of Mercy experiences while God responds in terms of Teacher words and commands. Nathan the prophet is the intermediary who hears the voice of God and tells David that his gift is inappropriate.
Second, what matters when giving or sacrificing to God is compassion. Jesus states this explicitly in Matthew 9. The Pharisees condemn Jesus for eating with tax collectors and sinners, to which Jesus responds “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (v.12-13). The word translated compassion is the same word that is translated ‘mercy’ in Hebrews 4:16. Looking at this cognitively, the Pharisees are technically correct; they are behaving in a manner that uses technical thought to follow the laws of God, and they are sacrificing ‘official sacrifices prescribed by God’. But this technical expertise is being used as a barrier to exclude others. Jesus, in contrast, is meeting people’s emotional needs. However, Jesus is not being controlled by these inadequate MMNs, because he describes the ‘tax collectors and sinners’ as sick who are in need of a physician. When asking for help from God, what matters is an attitude of needing help from God, which means emotionally recognizing that MMNs of personal identity need help from the TMN of God. This same requirement can be seen in the story of David, who relates that “God said to me, ‘You shall not build a house for My name because you are a man of war and have shed blood’” (1 Chronicles 28:3). A man of war does not show compassion but rather uses force to control and/or destroy the personal MMNs of others.
Third, the size of a gift to God is measured by the totality of personal dependence upon God. This can be seen in the story of the widow’s mite. Jesus compares the substantial gifts of the rich with the two small coins donated by a widow, and concludes, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on” (Mark 12:43-44). The rich were giving a minor aspect of personal identity to God, while the widow was giving all aspects of personal identity to God.
Summarizing, a priest needs to be guided by a TMN of God, a priest needs to help personal MMNs that are in need, and all the MMNs of a priest need to be governed by a TMN of God. These three requirements will be mentioned in Hebrews 5.
A human priest has the advantage of being able to identify with people’s personal MMNs: “He can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness” (v.2). The word translated deal gently is only used once in the New Testament and means ‘discriminating feeling or empathy which is not too severe or too tolerant’. This statement makes cognitive sense if one observes the behavior of the typical Teacher person and Mercy person. Both of these cognitive styles function emotionally, but they generate emotion in a completely different manner. Teacher emotion is based upon order-within-complexity; Mercy thought, in contrast, uses emotions to evaluate experiences, situations, and people. When a Teacher person tries to act socially appropriate, the results can often feel wooden, as if a marionette of social interaction is being manipulated from another source. Similarly, when a Mercy person tries to come up with general theories, these theories do not always make sense. In other words, if Mercy emotions are used to evaluate Mercy experiences, then the resulting empathy will not be too severe or too tolerant. In contrast, when Teacher thought is used to evaluate Mercy experiences, then the feelings will often be inappropriate. Therefore, one advantage of a human priest is that such a person will naturally respond to fellow humans with appropriate emotions.
Looking at this in more detail, I have mentioned several times that a TMN of God should be based in ‘how things work’. This describes process or procedure. Human procedures are usually quite specific. For instance, one may be instructed to fill out form 3B and then stand in line 2. God, in contrast, is a universal being, who comes up with general procedures, as illustrated by the general laws of nature. Priestly empathy does not override God’s general procedures. Instead, it uses Mercy emotion to carry out God’s procedures in a manner that involves less Mercy pain and more Mercy pleasure. For instance, when I go to the dentist, I have to go through the procedure of cleaning my teeth. But it is possible to carry out this procedure with empathy by being gentle on my teeth or by providing a TV that I can watch to take my mind off my teeth.
A similar distinction can be seen when comparing a good math teacher with a poor math teacher. Every math teacher has to be fluent in the procedures of math, able to take the steps that are required to solve a mathematical problem. The difference between a good math teacher and a poor math teacher becomes most apparent when a student fails to grasp what the teacher is saying. A good teacher will exhibit empathy by attempting to rephrase the explanation using analogies and illustrations that resonate with the personal knowledge and experiences of the student. A poor teacher, in contrast, will simply restate the original explanation, or provide some standard textbook illustration that does not communicate with the student.
Teacher thought will be most prone to responding inappropriately to human Mercy experiences when people disregard Teacher feelings. This can be seen in the words ‘ignorant and misguided’. Ignorant means ‘ignorant of person, thing, or fact, sometimes with the idea of willful ignorance’, and refers to a lack of ‘knowing through personal experience’. Teacher thought builds theories upon Perceiver facts; facts are the ‘bricks’ out of which the mind constructs Teacher ‘buildings’. If a Teacher person decides that some person is an unreliable source of facts, then the Teacher person will often respond with inappropriate emotional harshness, writing that person off totally. The Teacher person will usually feel that such an individual is emotionally tainted, because their ‘knowing through personal experience’ is being warped by personal Mercy emotions. Going further, misguided means ‘to deviate from the correct path, roaming into error’. We saw when examining righteousness that there is a relationship between Teacher understanding and Server actions. If Teacher understanding does not guide Server actions, then Teacher understanding will be warped by Server actions. Therefore, a Teacher person will naturally apply their own understanding, and will find it very difficult to respect individuals who act in a manner that is inconsistent with Teacher understanding. As far as a Teacher person is concerned, deviating from the correct path is a fatal error.
This description of the Teacher person may sound like a parody, but I have learned from personal experience that a Teacher person really will respond in this fashion. If this describes how a human Teacher person can react, imagine what it would be like to deal with the type of high priest described in Hebrews 4:14, Jesus the Son of God who has passed through the heavens. (Jesus is a Contributor person and not a Teacher person, but the Contributor person who emphasizes abstract technical thought exhibits many traits of the Teacher person and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between these two. In fact, I have found that the primary error with others who teach Romans 12 spiritual gifts is that about ¾ of the personality traits that they ascribe to the Teacher person are actually traits of the intellectual Contributor person.)
This problem is emphasized in the last phrase of verse 2. A human priest can empathize with humans ‘since he himself also is beset with weakness’. This is the second use of the word weakness in Hebrews, and it ‘refers to an ailment that deprives someone of enjoying or accomplishing what they would like to do’. Weakness is different than sin. Sin is a moral problem; weakness results from living in a frail, mortal body. Paul uses this term when talking about the resurrection of the dead, saying that the human body “is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:43-44). Beset means ‘encompassed, surrounded, or clothed with’. In simple terms, when one goes through some physical crisis, the empathy that one receives from those who have gone through a similar crisis is far deeper than the sympathy that one receives from those who have never experienced anything similar. Those who have gone through similar situations only have to speak a word or two and one knows that they know. In contrast, those who lack experience often preach pious platitudes, and one often feels that it would be better for them to keep their mouths shut. The human who lives in a physical body is encompassed with physical weakness, and a non-human priest who descended from the heavens would have no clue about what it really meant to live as a human.
This principle also applies to a mental concept of Jesus. For instance, many churches feel that a traditional church service conveys a concept of Jesus who is distant and inhuman. Thus, many congregations have adopted a seeker friendly approach, in order to present a Jesus who can identify with the experiences of today’s society.
However, a human priest also has a major disadvantage, which is described in verse 3. A human priest is “beset with weakness; and because of that he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.” The NASB translation conveys the impression that both priest and people have to offer sacrifices, but the emphasis of the original Greek is different. Obligated ‘refers to being morally obligated or legally required to meet an obligation’. A more literal rendition of the phrase would be ‘he is obligated even as for the people so also for himself to offer sacrifice for sins’, and the word even as means ‘according to the manner in which, in the degree that’. In other words, a priest has a moral and legal obligation to God to make sure that he applies the same rules to himself as to others.
Looking at this cognitively, a mindset of absolute truth will naturally think that important people are above the law, or apply different sets of rules to people based upon personal MMNs. For instance, one of the tendencies of seeker-friendly churches has been to downplay uncomfortable passages in the Bible. But Teacher thought hates exceptions to the rule. Therefore, a priest has a moral and legal obligation to God to ensure that the rules of God are applied equally to everyone. A similar principle applies to affirmative action. It is compassionate to help the underprivileged, but a profession has a moral and legal obligation to do so in a manner that does not dilute the standards of that profession. For instance, would one really want to be treated by a medical doctor who had been permitted to graduate with less knowledge and skill because of belonging to an underprivileged minority group?
Physical limitation currently trumps everything else. For instance, no one expects a quadriplegic in a wheelchair to run a race. That is because we currently live in a universe of matter-over-mind. No matter how many positive thoughts a person has, or verbal affirmations one pronounces, these will not allow a paralyzed person to walk—let alone run a race. But verse 2 is not talking about sin, but rather about weakness. It is not talking about quadriplegics failing to have the right attitude, but rather about quadriplegics failing to run races. Looking at the big picture, I suggest that it is God’s plan to transform the current regime of matter-over-mind to a new heaven-and-earth guided by mind-over-matter. I suggest that Jesus ‘traveling through the heavens’ will lay the foundation for this transition at a personal level. Spiritual technology added the adjective spiritual to the noun of technology. When this cosmic watershed happens, then spiritual will become the noun and technology the adjective. If this interpretation sounds like a stretch, then please read Hebrews 6:4-5, because those verses clearly describe a new form of existence. The implications of this watershed event will become apparent as we continue to work our way through the book of Hebrews.
A similar transition has occurred with technology. Construction used to require strength and endurance, because everything was performed by muscle power. This became less important as machines were developed, but construction workers still had to be physically strong. However, most heavy lifting and moving is now done by machines. Therefore, what matters more than physical strength is knowledge and skill. A similar transition on a far grander scale would happen if matter-over-mind started to be replaced by mind-over-matter. What had been treated until then as an incurable physical weakness would turn into a moral shortcoming that could be cured through character transformation. (Note from 2021: My hypothesis is that the DNA of biological life was originally designed by primal beings functioning within the heavenly realm outside of human space and time. Acts 9 appears to talk about meeting and interacting with these primal beings. This type of interaction would turn incurable physical weakness into a moral shortcoming. It also would lead to a form of mind-over-matter in the realm of biological existence.)
This does not mean that personal growth would stop, because physical suffering and weakness is only one method of teaching lessons of personal development. For many people today, this is the only method. That is because physical problems cannot be ignored when matter is over mind. However, if mind were to rule over matter, then other forms of learning which can currently be ignored would become inescapable.
A system of mind-over-matter only becomes possible if people enter God’s rest. That is because entering this rest makes the thinking of a group of people function independently of the existence of God. If creation is to continue existing independently of God, then it must rest upon some source of stability that functions independently of God. This independence currently comes from the physical universe, making matter over mind. However, if God can rest in a group of people, then the independence can start to come from minds rather than matter, making it possible for minds to start ruling over matter. People talk about reconciling human suffering with a good God. But that is not the most basic problem. The most basic issue is maintaining the existence of creation independent of the person of God. Existence is more basic than pain or pleasure. Human suffering exists because matter rules over mind; physical matter can currently impose inescapable, painful experiences upon human minds. The solution is for mind to start ruling over matter. Mysticism says that the goal is for minds to stop existing independently of God and return to being unified with God. In contrast, entering God’s rest means following a path that gives stability to human minds, making it possible for God to start resting in this stability. Saying this as simply as possible, if humans wish to escape suffering, then they must stop wishing to return mystically to the emotional comfort of the cosmic womb and grow up and start thinking and acting like mature adults. The theologian who promotes mysticism is like a little child who does not want to grow up. But little children cannot control their lives. Little children who refuse to grow up have no right to complain about being ruled by their parents. Similarly, a society that refuses to let go of mysticism has no right to complain to God about being ruled by the physical universe. (Note from 2021: Interacting with the angelic designers of biological DNA would require some sort of shield to preserve the physical existence of humanity. The story of Saul being blinded on the road to Damascus in Acts 9 appears to symbolize what happens when humanity comes into direct contact with the realm of divine light within which primal beings live. Thus, entering God’s rest can also be interpreted as building a shield for human existence.)
One critical aspect of priesthood is that “No one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was” (v.4). The word translated takes means ‘actively lay hold of to take or receive’. For instance, when Napoleon was crowned in 1804, Pope Pius VII was at the ceremony, but he was not permitted to place the crown on Napoleon’s head. Instead, Napoleon placed the crown upon his own head. Quoting from sparknotes, “By putting the imperial crown on his own head while the Pope stood by, Napoleon made a symbolic gesture stating that he would be subservient to no one on earth, and that Rome would never command him.” Similarly, a person who chooses the honor of priest is coming to God on his own terms and not on God’s terms.
This is not a question of Mercy status but rather of Teacher universality. As was described in verse 3, Teacher thought wants laws to apply universally without any personal exceptions. A person who sets himself up as priest is making himself a personal exception to the universal law of God. A legitimate priest of God must be based in a TMN of God and not in MMNs of personal status. This is a fatal weakness of absolute truth, which believes that truth about God is based in MMNs of personal status and importance. Thus, absolute truth leads naturally to people grabbing the honor of being representatives of God. On the one hand, people already believe that truth is based in MMNs of personal status. It is much easier to exalt some living person than some dead church father. On the other hand, absolute truth that comes from a finite book, such as the Bible, is incapable of addressing all subjects. This will create a vacuum that will be filled by human authorities, who will interpret and extend the finite message of the holy book. For instance, the Hebrew Bible (or Christian Old Testament) has been expanded into a Talmud that is over 6200 pages long.
A legitimate priest is ‘called by God, even as Aaron was’. Literally speaking, this is a reference to the Jewish priesthood, which began with Aaron, the brother of Moses. However, I suggest that there is also a deeper meaning. The word translated even as means ‘according to the manner in which, in the degree that’, which tells us that God does not choose randomly, but rather follows a general pattern. The pattern that God follows can be found in the meaning of the name Aaron, which probably comes from a Hebrew root meaning ‘mountain’. A sun represents the light of a general Teacher understanding that shines upon all of existence. A mountain is a more pragmatic form of general understanding, because one can see the big picture—literally—from the top of a mountain. This implies that God chooses people who think in terms of Teacher understanding rather than in terms of Mercy status.
Verse 5 adds that this same principle applies to the priesthood of Christ: “So also Christ did not glorify himself so as to become a high priest.” The word translated so also means ‘in this manner, in this way’, again indicating that one is dealing with a general pattern. In other words, unlike Napoleon, Jesus did not place the crown upon his own head. I suggest that one is again dealing with a question of universal versus finite. Christ refers to the divine side of incarnation. Christ is God, as the second person of the Trinity. But God the Father uses Teacher thought, which thinks naturally in terms of universality, while Incarnation uses the technical thinking of Contributor thought, which naturally limits itself to some context or specialization. Thus, Jesus had to submit to God the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane in order to transform Judaism into a religion for all humanity. This limitation can be seen in the story of the Syrophoenician woman. When a Canaanite woman asked Jesus to heal her daughter, he initially ignored her and then responded that ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel’, explicitly stating that he was following a plan that was limited to the Jewish context. When the woman replied that Jesus could answer her request without violating the Jewish context, then Jesus praised her for her faith and answered her prayer.
1 Corinthians 15 says that a similar universalizing will happen at “the end, when He [Christ] hands over the kingdom to the God and Father” (v.24). Saying this more generally, “When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all” (v.28).
Verse 5 talks about a new relationship between God the Father and God the Son: “Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, ‘You are my son, today I have begotten you.’” The word translated become means ‘to emerge, become, transitioning from one point or realm to another’. Looking at the details, Jesus is becoming high priest at a certain point in time. This appointment is based in Teacher thought, because God the Father who lives in Teacher thought is making a verbal pronouncement. This verbal statement involves personal relationship: ‘You are my son’. And this statement is not being made in the distant eternal past but rather in the present: ‘Today I have begotten you’. Begotten is often viewed as some vague theological term that describes the special relationship between God the Father and God the Son, but the Greek word simply means to be ‘the father of’: A mother gives birth, a father begets.
The phrase ‘You are my son; today I have begotten you’ comes from Psalm 2:7, and is quoted three times in the New Testament. The original passage describes God starting to reign over the nations in a major new way. Quoting from Psalm 2:2, “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed.” God responds by setting up his own king: “I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain. I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” Notice that this new king is the Son of God who has been ‘begotten today’ (v.6-7). Verse 8 then describes the rule of this king: “Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession.” Summarizing, massive rebellion against God is followed by God setting up his Son as a new king who is ‘begotten today’, who then rules over the nations.
The three New Testament references describe three different aspects of this ‘begetting’ of the Son of God. The first reference is in Acts 13 in a sermon preached by Paul. Paul describes in detail the recent events of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem. In the middle of this account, Paul says that “God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, You are My Son; today I have begotten You’” (Acts 13:33). Thus, the physical resurrection of Jesus-the-man is one aspect of ‘today I have begotten you’. This divine birth led to the religion of Christianity, a new kind of religion rooted in Teacher words of theology rather than Mercy experiences of tribe and ritual. This was followed by the Holy Spirit living within people’s minds and guiding people’s lives.
The second reference is in Hebrews 1:5 where the text compares Incarnation with angels: “For to which of the angels did He ever say, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten You.’” This describes what I call the theoretical return of Jesus, in which God and Incarnation are presented as a universal, rational Teacher understanding. I suggest that this theoretical return will be followed by spiritual technology, in which a spiritual dimension will be added to the objective transformation of science and technology. The third reference is in Hebrews 5:5. I suggest that this describes a cosmic paradigm shift in which God and Incarnation start to rule over all of existence in an integrated manner. (My understanding is that this paradigm shift will sow the seed of what will eventually become the new heaven-and-earth.) Saying this another way, I suggest that this is when the first inkling of mind-over-matter starts to emerge. What comes after this cosmic paradigm shift will be discussed in the coming chapters of Hebrews.
I am not suggesting that Jesus started out as a human being and was then made the Son of God. John 1:1-3 makes it clear that Incarnation always was God and that everything was created by Incarnation: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” But there is a fundamental difference between a general Teacher theory that is based in words and a general Teacher theory that describes reality. Incarnation always was the Word, and the Word of God has divine power that can bring a universe into existence. But if the Word of God wants to live with creation and not just be the source of creation, then the living Word has to become flesh and live within creation in order to become begotten as the Son of God.
A similar distinction exists within the human mind. Theologians, philosophers, and mathematicians may have an accurate understanding in Teacher thought, but this abstract theory is usually not integrated with reality. This integration happens when a person stops talking, applies understanding in righteousness, and then allows personal identity become reborn within an internal structure held together by Teacher understanding. This transforms having an understanding into embodying an understanding. That embodiment is a form of birth, and I suggest that this is a universal principle that also applies to the relationship between God the Father and Incarnation.
Returning to Hebrews, verse 6 describes this new form of existence: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” A priest bridges God in Teacher thought with human experience in Mercy thought. A priest forever tells us that this priesthood is based in the eternal character of God. The word translated order is an ‘orderly array’, which ‘was a military term in ancient Greece’, indicating the presence of Teacher order and structure. The name Melchizedek occurs eight times in the New Testament, and all of these occurrences are in Hebrews 5-7. This is a transliteration of a Hebrew name that means ‘righteous king’. Melchizedek was first mentioned in Genesis 14, where he blesses Abraham, who responds by giving him a tithe.
Putting this together, a new and lasting interaction between God and humanity is starting, based upon Incarnation being a righteous king. Righteousness is Server action that is guided by Teacher understanding. Righteousness goes beyond Teacher words to Teacher words plus Server actions. For instance, mathematics uses Teacher words to construct and manipulate equations. Science combines mathematics with behavior, by using math to describe how the universe behaves, and a student of science learns by going through the steps of solving problems and not just by understanding abstract theory. A king of righteousness implies that righteousness is now the official standard.
Similarly, Revelation 15 describes a group of people in heaven singing a song of righteousness: “Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are your ways, King of the nations!” (v.3-4). Verse 3 adds that they are singing ‘the song of Moses’. We will see later when looking at Hebrews 11 that Moses taking the Israelites out of Egypt represents a group of people being guided directly by God in a righteous manner. Unfortunately, both the Israelites and Moses himself failed to make this transition historically, which explains why they did not enter God’s rest. But the symbolism of Israel leaving Egypt under Moses still remains.
Verses 7-10 describe the process by which Jesus became such a priest. Starting with verse 7, “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.” Flesh refers to the mental content that one acquires from living in a physical body. Thus, ‘in the days of his flesh’ would refer to the earthly existence of Jesus as described in the Gospels. The average human considers physical existence to be normal. In fact, most scientists would insist that nothing exists except physical existence. The human mind that grows up in a physical body will inevitably develop in a childish and immature manner, because such a mind knows nothing other than physical matter and bodily urges.
Jesus, in contrast, found living in a physical body to be torture. The NASB says that ‘He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears’, but this does not convey the strength of the original Greek text. A prayer is a ‘heart-felt attention, arising out of deep personal need’. Thus, Jesus did not consider physical existence as something normal, but rather regarded this as something much less than normal. The word translated supplication is only used once in the New Testament and means ‘an olive branch; figuratively an earnest supplication for peace’. Teacher thought feels good when everything works together smoothly, while a mind that is ruled by MMNs will naturally be driven by competing desires and lead to a society characterized by tribalism, conflict, and hatred. Jesus deeply wanted to be ruled by Teacher thought and not by childish MMNs. Going further, loud crying means ‘clamorous screaming or shrieking that is extremely boisterous, like a wounded person committing unearthly non-human types of sounds’. In other words, Jesus felt threatened at the very core of his being. Living in a mortal body did not just feel uncomfortable; it violated the character of Jesus at the deepest level. Men do not generally cry, and male Contributor persons in particular seldom lose control of their emotions. Jesus, in contrast, shed tears.
This prayer was directed to ‘the One able to save him from death’. The emphasis here is not on praying to God, because the name God is not mentioned, but rather on being saved out from within death. This obviously refers to the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, but that was only one prayer that happened on one day, while verse 7 is talking about prayers and supplications during days of flesh, in order to be saved out from within death. (Note from 2021: Acts 10 provides a solution for the problem of being trapped within an inadequate physical body by getting help from the original heavenly designers of biological DNA.)
I know a little what this means, because for decades I have been internally guided by an understanding of how the mind works while living within a society that—with a few exceptions—rejects the very concept of cognitive styles. Stated simply, I have often felt like a painter in a land of people who are willfully blind—to the point of trying to poke out the eyes of those who can see. Living with this year after year eats at the very core of one’s being, until what is left is a gut level cry of angst to a God who transcends the deification of physical matter and childish appetite.
Verse 7 says that “He was heard because of His piety”. The word translated heard means ‘to listen intently, to grasp a statement extending to its purpose or result’. Thus, God did not just hear Jesus, but listened intently, guided by where the words of Jesus were leading. The word piety ‘is illustrated by a person carrying a priceless Persian vase across the room—which will always be in a devout and respectful fashion’. In other words, this is not merely a somber religious face, but rather a recognition that one is carrying something valuable that needs to be protected. Similarly, I have felt that the theory of mental symmetry is not to be treated lightly, but rather is something valuable that needs to be protected, a feeling that intensified when I realized that mental symmetry could be used to analyze and package Christian doctrine.
The end result is to transform Teacher words into Teacher words plus Server actions: “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (v8). Jesus was the Son of God, who was the living Word. But he learned obedience, which means ‘submission to what is heard’. One can understand this transition by looking at the predicament of a legislator. A legislator is a source of laws; he uses words to pass laws. But how can a person who creates law in Teacher thought become a righteous person who applies law? After all, if the legislator does not like some law, he simply has to pass a new rule that is consistent with his current behavior.
For instance, one sees this illustrated by the Quran. The 114 chapters of the Quran are not arranged either chronologically or thematically. Instead they have been ordered from long to short. This makes it difficult to understand the Quran. However, the Quran makes much more sense if one rearranges the chapters into chronological order, and then compares each chapter with what was happening at that time in the life of Mohammed. This has been done by Bill Warner in An Abridged Koran. It then becomes apparent that Allah is passing laws that are consistent with the current behavior of Mohammed. For instance, when Mohammed found the wife of his adopted son attractive, Allah revealed that it was not a sin for believers to marry the wives of their adopted sons after their adopted sons had divorced these wives.
If a legislator is to become truly righteous, then such a person must apply his own legislation through Server actions under conditions where it is difficult to do so, without being able to change the rules. That describes the situation of Jesus becoming the word-made-flesh. Because Jesus lived in a physical body, Jesus had to do Server actions in order to survive in the physical universe that he had created. And because the people around Jesus were driven by childish mental networks, Jesus had to do in Server thought what he saw the Father doing in Teacher thought, even when this was not popular and even when no one understood. (This is explored in the essay on the Gospel of John.)
Using another analogy, Jesus turned from a mathematician into an engineer. A mathematician lives in the abstract realm of Teacher words and mathematical equations, while an engineer lives within the real world of Mercy experiences guided by the abstract realm of Teacher words and mathematical equations. Mathematicians would make lousy priests because they live within abstract thought and lose the ability to descend to practical reality. Engineers, in contrast, are continually translating between the ideal world of mathematics and the messy world of reality.
Verse 8 adds that Jesus ‘learned obedience from the things which he suffered. Suffering means ‘to feel heavy emotion’. In contrast, learning means ‘gaining fact-knowledge as someone learns from experience, often with the implication of reflection’. Thus, Jesus gained rational knowledge from the emotional experiences of living in the flesh. If a legislator is to coexist with normal people, then it is vital for the legislator to learn how to gain rational knowledge from emotional experiences. That is because a legislator must not become ruled by personal emotions. It is important for a legislator to feel personal Mercy emotions, but a legislator must remain ruled by Teacher emotions of law and order.
One can see this principle in the story of the Golden Calf. Moses had gone to the top of Mount Sinai to receive the law from God. But “when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’” (Exodus 32:1). In other words, the Israelites were mentally incapable of letting go of idols in Mercy thought for even a few days. God the Father responds with anger: “Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation” (v.10). Moses then intercedes for the Israelites. First, Moses reminds God that he is a God of order and not a God of destruction: “Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, ‘With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’?” (v.12). Second, he quotes God’s words back to him: “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever’” (v.13). The end result is that “the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people” (v.14).
I suggest that one can understand God’s emotional response by recognizing that God is a Trinity. God the Father interacts with physical creation through God the Son. But God the Son uses technical thought, and technical thought is always built upon some solid foundation; it always starts with a set of axioms and definitions. Therefore, God the Father had to interact directly with the Israelites in order to create a foundation of Torah that would lead to a structure of Judaism, which would then allow God the Son to become flesh within that structure. When one is dealing directly with God the Father and one chooses to directly disobey God, then one will directly experience the wrath of God.
The need for some sort of intermediary for God the Father can be seen in the next chapter because God says that he will lead the Israelites indirectly through an angel, lest he respond to their disobedience by destroying them: “Depart, go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up from the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ I will send an angel before you and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people, and I might destroy you on the way” (Exodus 33:1-3). Notice that God is being guided by the promise to Abraham that Moses quoted back to God in the previous chapter.
We will look later at the question of God changing his mind. Using the language of Hebrews 5, I suggest that Moses was inadequate as a mediator because he identified too strongly with his people and did not show sufficient respect for God’s righteousness. Thus, I suggest that in the case of Moses, God did not change his mind about starting again with Moses because God was convinced by Moses’ arguments but rather because Moses made it clear to God that Moses was not willing to start again.
Returning to Hebrews, God the Son is learning obedience, not because God the Father is a vindictive tyrant, but rather to take on the role of God the Son with humanity: “And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek” (v.9-10). The verb made perfect means ‘working through the entire process to reach the final conclusion’. What is the final conclusion? To become ‘the source of eternal salvation’. Salvation is a primary character trait of Incarnation: The name Jesus means salvation, and concrete technical thought naturally improves people and things. Verse 6 says that God makes Jesus a priest forever. But God the Father can only do this if God the Son is the source of eternal salvation. Using the analogy of the school, God the Father is like the school administrator who abhors childish stupidity. As it says in Psalm 5, “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with You. The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity. You destroy those who speak falsehood; the Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit” (Psalm 5:4-6). Incarnation comes up with a curriculum that is capable of teaching students and turning them into mature adults. God the Son is not fooling God the Father. Instead, God the Father is finding Teacher pleasure in this plan of education because it will successfully bring salvation to humanity.
Verse 9 describes Jesus as ‘the source of eternal salvation’. Source means ‘the cause of, the originator of’. In verse 8, Jesus learned to ‘obey what is heard’. In verse 9, Jesus is extending salvation to all those who ‘obey what is heard’. Thus, one can legitimately view Jesus as the founder of the school of salvation, and the followers of Jesus as students in this school. Jesus ‘became’ the source of salvation, and became means ‘to emerge, transitioning from one point to another’. Thus, the school of salvation did not exist and now does exist. The extent of this salvation is limited by personal free will, because the salvation is available to ‘all those who obey him’. This school of salvation is open to everyone, but one must choose to enroll and take the classes.
Verse 10 concludes, “being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” The word designated is only used once in the New Testament and means to speak to someone in the assembly. The phrase ‘according to the order of Melchizedek’ is repeated twice, first in verse 6 and then in verse 10. In verse 6, a simple statement from ‘another passage’ is being made by ‘Him’. This implies that a general conclusion is being reached. In verse 10, an official statement is being made by God. This is different than the initial order of creation, because God first spoke creation into existence and then people understood that God is the source of creation. Here, the understanding is being reached first and then God is making an official statement.
That brings us to the big picture. We have examined this passage theologically and cognitively. I suggest that it also has a larger prophetic meaning that fits into God’s grand plan of moving from matter-over-mind to mind-over-matter. If Jesus is to be a priest forever who brings eternal salvation, then incarnation must be capable of solving all problems in a lasting manner. Using the school analogy, if a school is to successfully turn ignorant children into intelligent adults, then this school must teach adult intelligence in all subjects. (One of the main reasons why current education does not transform people is because schools only teach some subjects, and they only teach adult intelligence in some of the subjects that they do teach.)
We currently live in a physical universe where matter trumps mind. For instance, if one does not like the mental content of some person, then one can get rid of that mental content by threatening, imprisoning, damaging, or destroying the physical body of that person. Similarly, a person may become mentally transformed, but then experience sickness, injury, or death that makes it impossible to apply this understanding. Therefore, Incarnation can only make all things right if matter stops ruling over mind. I suggest that Hebrews 5 is describing this cosmic transition from matter-over-mind to mind-over-matter. Like a regime change, the immediate effects will probably be insignificant, but the long-term effects will be profound, because the fundamental basis for existence has changed.
This transition can only be made if an alternative exists. God must rule over creation in some manner. Everything must be ultimately held together by the order and structure of God the Father, because the alternative would be chaos, and history makes it abundantly clear that people cannot exist in an environment of chaos. Therefore, God can only stop ruling over the matter of the physical universe if God can replace this by ruling over the minds of people. God may currently rule to some extent over the minds of some people, but I have traveled to 37 countries, and in every country where I have interacted with the local church, I have discovered that the culture runs deeper than the Christianity, and I notice the same thing when reading the history of the church.
That is why Jesus had to cry so intensely to God for Teacher order when living in the flesh. It is precisely this longing that will ensure that God continues to reign when a transition is made to mind-over-matter. Looking at this in more detail, the mind is ultimately ruled by core mental networks. If minds acquire the ability to alter matter, then core mental networks become more important than anything else. Therefore, God must place someone in charge who has the right core mental networks. Jesus acquired these core mental networks when living in the flesh, because he wanted more than anything else to live in an environment that was guided by God the Father. If Jesus is made high priest, then Jesus will be driven by these core mental networks to create an environment that is ruled by God the Father. Using a simple analogy, if one wants to drive across a desert, then one must have enough fuel to make it to the next gas station. Similarly, the emotional intensity of a mental network provides mental ‘fuel’ for Exhorter thought, which provides the motivation for the mind.
Saying this more carefully, Jesus is the eternal son of God, but Jesus became a human at some point in time. Therefore, Jesus had to build mental networks of longing for the rule of God the Father while continuing to live as a human. God the Father had to pull back from direct involvement and work through an angel when experiencing the direct rebellion of the Israelites. God the Son, in contrast, was capable of handling direct interaction with rebellious humans for a period of time, probably because the technical thinking of incarnation could find some stability in the structure of the physical universe as well as the structure of Jewish life.
Human priests cannot be put in charge because they are ‘beset with weakness’, or more literally surrounded by ‘the handicaps that go with weakness’. Humans may complain about physical suffering, but they cannot fathom any other means of existence. Like the abused spouse, living within a physical reality of constant pain has created a set of core mental networks, and like the abused spouse, leaving this pain would threaten core mental networks, driving human priests to return to the pain and suffering of matter-over-mind.
This longing for a painful past can be seen in Revelation 19. The depravity and judgment of Babylon are described in Revelation 17-18. This is followed by four ‘hallelujahs’ at the beginning of Revelation 19. The word hallelujah is repeated so often these days that it has lost its meaning. It is a Hebrew phrase that is in the imperative, commanding a group of people to praise God. The word hallelujah only occurs four times in the New Testament, and all four of these occurrences are in the first six verses of Revelation 19. In other words, everyone may complain about Babylon, but when Babylon actually falls, then people have to be ordered four times to praise God for getting rid of Babylon and setting up a new kingdom. A similar longing for an evil past can be seen in current Russia. One of the primary reasons why Putin remains in power is because he appeals to the lost glory of the Soviet Empire. (My guess is that Revelation 19 corresponds to Hebrews 9, but the general principle still remains.)
(Note from 2021: Acts 10 provides a possible explanation for this transition. The basic problem is that the primal beings who designed biological DNA feed off of divine energy, because they took the first step of going beyond the divine energy of God the Father to biological life. Mysticism attempts to undo their work by striving to become ‘one with God’. Therefore, humans have to be ruled by their physical bodies in order to prevent them from going back to oneness with God. The solution is for the Platonic form of human existence to be lifted up to the level of God in heaven. This is mentioned in Acts. In other words, Jesus has to live as a man and become a high priest. This changes the fundamental motivation of primal beings from feeding off the divine energy to becoming mentally whole like a human. And this transition also makes it possible to move beyond matter-over-mind to mind-over-matter. Stated as clearly as possible, as long as created beings pursue mysticism, matter must rule over mind. Having a whole mind is mentally compatible with living in a human body. Therefore, it is possible for a person living in a human body to gain mental wholeness. In contrast, angels, spirits, and primal beings appear to live in more primitive ‘bodies’ that allow their minds to remain partially developed. Reaching mental wholeness provides an alternative to mysticism. Instead of trying to return back to the divine energy of God, the goal for all created beings becomes moving forward to mental wholeness expressed by living in a human-like body. That describes the essence of mind-over-matter. It also leads to a new kind of priesthood because humans are dealing with God in a new manner. This looking forward is portrayed in the Peter’s vision of the sheet being let down.)
Verses 11-12 make it clear that Teacher thought is being threatened at a basic level: “Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God.” The words ‘say’, ‘explain’, and ‘hearing’ are all verbal terms that describe Teacher thought. Thus, Teacher thought is experiencing a crisis. On the one hand, there is ‘much to say’. Many details need to be added to the new Teacher understanding. On the other hand, ‘it is hard to explain’. This word only occurs once in the New Testament and means ‘difficult to interpret, hard to be understood’. This type of problem emerges naturally when one is trying to understand a new paradigm. Thomas Kuhn says that when there is a paradigm shift, then words and categories acquire slightly different meanings. Moving from matter-over-mind to mind-over-matter would be a huge paradigm shift. Therefore, all of the existing categories and definitions would have to be re-evaluated in the light of this new existence. I have an idea of what this would entail, for my primary goal during the last few years has been to re-evaluate existing theories in the light of mental symmetry, and then somehow manage to translate this into language that people can understand.
Related to the technical problem of understanding and translating concepts is the emotional difficulty of dismantling existing TMNs of understanding. This results in being ‘dull of hearing’. The word dull means ‘dull because slothful; lazy, inert, resistless and lackadaisical’. This is a matter of motivation rather than understanding. When new knowledge threatens the TMN of an existing paradigm, then people will lack curiosity. Instead of being motivated to learn more, they will be emotionally driven to avoid the subject.
John 16 describes a similar set of responses. Verses 16-22 appear to describe the transition from matter-over-mind to mind-over-matter that we have just been discussing. This is followed by John 16:23-24, which talks about a new, fuller access to God the Father through Incarnation: “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” When the disciples finally understand what is happening in verses 29-30, Jesus then predicts that they will experience a massive case of culture shock: “Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone” (v.31-32).
This major transition will not just result in a paradigm shift, but rather require a relearning of basic principles of acquiring understanding: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God” (v.12).
The first phrase is somewhat different in the original Greek. The word translated ought is not just a suggestion but actually ‘refers to being morally obligated or legally required to meet an obligation’. The word translated time refers to ‘time in duration in the physical-space world’. And the preposition translated though by means ‘on account of, by reason of, for the sake of, because of’. Thus, a more accurate rendition would be ‘and indeed you have a legal obligation to be teachers, because of the current historical time’. (And many of the English translations convey this sense.) In other words, some event has occurred in human history that gives experts the legal and moral obligation to teach.
This is a strange statement, especially in the light of James 3:1: “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment”. However, I suggest that it makes sense in the light of a transition from matter-over-mind to mind-over-matter. When universal physical law rules over people, as is currently the case, then the best way to study natural law is by getting people and personal opinion out of the way. This describes the approach taken by modern objective science, and is one of the fundamental tenets of modern scientific research: Research should not be tainted by personal bias or opinion. However, if a transition to mind-over-matter were to occur, universal law would then start to become an expression of core mental networks. This would not happen immediately, but would become increasingly apparent over time, just as most cultural shifts do not happen overnight. Individuals with strong mental networks would then have a legal and moral obligation to teach, because teaching would make it possible to place mental networks within the framework of a verbal Teacher understanding, and this verbal description would be essential if mind-over-matter is to be ruled by the TMN of a concept of God.
For instance, this principle has been key to my research, because I have spent the last few years analyzing written systems of thought. I have found that these systems can be placed within the theory of mental symmetry. Most of the content in these systems is consistent with the theory of mental symmetry and provides corroborative evidence. However, even when the content is inconsistent, it is still possible to use the theory of mental symmetry to explain why this inconsistent content is being taught. This kind of cognitive analysis would be essential if mind were to start ruling over matter, but such analysis is only possible if experts use words to describe their systems of thought. Using the language of Hebrews, being a teacher would become a legal and moral requirement because of the transition that had just happened within human history.
Verse 12 complains that “you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God”. A more literal rendition of the final phrase would be ‘...the fundamentals or first principles of the starting point of the divine declarations of God’. Notice that this is not talking about how the Bible was written in the past, but rather is referring to the present. And this is not merely a doctrinal statement in which one quotes 2 Timothy 3:16 and asserts that “all Scripture is inspired by God”. Instead, people need to be taught the basics about how one can make statements that reflect the character of God. Learning such principles would be essential if mind started to rule over matter. This is not a fundamental problem today because we are all trapped within a physical universe that is governed inescapably by universal laws that reflect the character of God. This would no longer be the case if mind started to rule over matter. Instead, one would have to learn at a very basic level how to make statements that reflected the character of God. Practicing spiritual technology would have taught these lessons to some extent, but if spiritual became the noun and technology the adjective, then these lessons would have to be relearned at a more basic level.
(Note from 2021: The word translated starting point is the same word used in Acts 10:11 to describe the four corners of the sheet in Peter’s vision. This same word is used in Romans 8:38, 1 Corinthians 15:24, Ephesians 1:21, Ephesians 3:10, Ephesians 6:12, Colossians 2:10, and Colossians 2:15 to refer to heavenly principalities. Thus, Acts 10:11 can be translated as ‘a great sheet let down by four principalities’ and Hebrews 5:12 can be translated as ‘the elementary alphabet of the principality of the divine paradigms of God’. Principalities are being interpreted as primal beings. And the DNA of biological life is literally an elementary alphabet of the divine paradigms of God. Quoting from Wikipedia, “The genetic code is highly similar among all organisms and can be expressed in a simple table with 64 entries... The vast majority of genes are encoded with a single scheme. That scheme is often referred to as the canonical or standard genetic code, or simply the genetic code... The coding mechanism is the same for all organisms: three-base codons, tRNA, ribosomes, single direction reading and translating single codons into single amino acids.”)
I suggest that cognitive style would play a major role in this re-teaching of fundamentals, because the most fundamental internal principle is that people with different cognitive styles have different conscious awareness. A Contributor person, for instance, can internally see Contributor thought in a way that other cognitive styles simply cannot. When I as a Perceiver person describe the traits of the Contributor person, I am actually describing the mental model of the Contributor person that I have built up within my mind using Perceiver thought, backed up by what I have read about Contributor thought and have experienced from Contributor persons. This is reinforced by a vague internal sense of what it feels like when Contributor thought works or does not work. But unlike the Contributor person, I have no conscious internal awareness of Contributor thought. Applying this to Hebrews 5, if mind started to rule over matter, then it would be imperative to construct an integrated package of mental wholeness by learning about Contributor thought from Contributor persons, learning about Perceiver thought from Perceiver persons, and similarly for the other five cognitive styles.
Instead, “you have come to need milk and not solid food” (v.12). The word translated have come is the past tense of ‘transitioning from one point to another’. In other words, experts who thought that they were capable of breaking knowledge into bite-size chunks, chewing on it, and digesting it, would find themselves back at the level of the beginner who needs to be bottle-fed information. The word milk is only used five times in the New Testament, and it never refers to drinking literal milk. Instead, it is used symbolically four times to refer to ‘the less difficult truths of the Christian religion’, and once in 1 Corinthians 9:7 by Paul to illustrate being paid for one’s work. Looking at this more closely, milk is a food that is produced organically by females. Female thought emphasizes mental networks. Therefore, milk would represent knowledge acquired directly as an expression of mental networks. If mind started to rule over matter, then mental networks would become fundamental, and learning would regress to the level of imbibing mental networks from emotional sources of truth. (1 Peter talks about a form of ‘milk’ that is based in mature female thought.)
Verse 13 points out that imbibing knowledge directly through mental networks is actually a sign of childish thought: “For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.” The word infant means ‘an infant, or figuratively a simple-minded or immature person’. Thus, this verse is specifically talking about childish thought. The word ‘only’ is not in the original Greek. Instead the emphasis is upon partaking, which means ‘participate in, share, partake of, am a member of’. This implies that learning through mental networks would be more like participating in a club or a fraternity than attending a school. In other words, the emphasis would be upon imbibing and experiencing truth rather than upon learning it.
The person who uses such an experiential method ‘is not accustomed to the word of righteousness’. More literally, this person ‘lacks adequate skill’ in the word of righteousness. Righteousness describes Server actions that are guided by Teacher understanding. What happens currently is that one gains a Teacher understanding of ‘how things work’ and then chooses to allow this Teacher understanding to guide Server actions. If mind started to rule over matter, then the mental relationship between Teacher words and Server actions would remain, but this would no longer be backed up by how the physical world behaves. Instead, one would have to acquire the Server skill of ensuring that Server actions remained consistent with Teacher understanding. Therefore, following a methodology of righteousness would become all-important.
Technical thought would survive, but it would take on a new role: “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (v.14). Mature means ‘complete in all its parts, full-grown, of full age’. Using cognitive language, this describes mental wholeness. Practice only occurs once in the New Testament and means ‘condition, state, habit, use, especially good condition of the body or soul’. This emphasizes the beneficial aspect of mental wholeness. Senses also occurs only once in the New Testament, and means to ‘discern through the senses, emphasizing the result of sensory experience’. Trained means ‘to train, naked or wearing a loin cloth’. Good means ‘attractively good; good that inspires others to embrace what is lovely or beautiful’, while evil means ‘inwardly foul or rotten, poisoned’. Putting this all together, people currently have to evaluate sensory information to determine what is really there. For instance, is that light the end of the tunnel or is it a train heading towards me? However, if mind started to rule over matter, then people would have to learn how to evaluate sensory information on the basis of internal wholeness and health. Instead of asking what is really there, a more significant question would be ‘How does what I sense affect my mind?’ The purpose of this evaluation would be ‘to discern good and evil’. Discern means ‘a discernment which distinguishes look-alikes, things that appear to be the same’. Thus, the primary purpose of discernment would no longer be to distinguish one object from another, but rather to distinguish good from evil.
Summarizing, if mental networks acquired the power to affect physical reality, then one would have to learn how to evaluate sensory input on the basis of internal health and wholeness. This is a general principle that is already true. But it is currently possible to ignore this principle to a large extent because the physical environment will continue to remain solid and function predictably even when one’s mind is fragmented and chaotic. Similarly, one can usually prevent unpleasant memories from being mentally triggered by changing one’s physical location. These mechanisms would cease to function if mind started to rule over matter, because a fragmented and chaotic mind would create a fragmented and chaotic environment, and internal rottenness would poison one’s physical environment no matter where one went.
Hebrews 6 begins by referring to the elementary teachings of Christ: “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation...” The word translated elementary means ‘the initial starting point, what comes first and therefore is chief’. Thus, people are fixating upon the initial starting point for teaching about Christ. Incarnation is based in technical thought. Christ refers to the abstract side of technical thought that works with God in Teacher thought. Putting this together, people are getting stuck focusing upon teaching the initial starting point for using abstract technical thought.
Looking at the situation cognitively, technical thought requires some solid foundation. Without this foundation, technical thought cannot function. For instance, God the Father had to lay the foundation of Judaism to make it possible for Jesus to live in the flesh. Similarly, every system of logic or math is based upon a set of axioms or postulates that cannot be proven, but rather must be assumed. A transition away from the foundation of natural law has just occurred in Hebrews 5.
Laying again a foundation is not the same as having no foundation. Stated simply, the mind requires a combination of structure and freedom to function. This balance between structure and freedom is sensed most keenly by the Facilitator person, who is conscious in the part of the mind that coordinates the functioning of the various parts of the mind. When mental stability comes from MMNs of personal authority, then there will always be a tension between structure and freedom. During the last half of the 20th century, Western society was driven primarily by a desire to break free of MMNs of authority and absolute truth. Much of the Christian church responded to this by preaching a gospel of divine love and acceptance, leading inexorably to a Christianity with no foundation. But Western society is now experiencing the uncertainty that comes from questioning core MMNs of culture and religion. Therefore, the focus of society has shifted from attacking absolute truth to finding stability, resulting in a desire to lay again a solid foundation. A similar but much greater uncertainty would occur if mind started to rule over matter, leading to a strong drive to build a solid foundation. (Note from 2021: Acts 10 gives the impression that a new form of absolute truth will emerge within society that will teach interaction with primal beings as a form of revealed truth. Similarly, the beginning of Hebrews 6 describes getting stuck at the level of fundamentals. But notice that these are strange fundamentals that deal with being saved out of normal physical existence. Clinging to such fundamentals is consistent with the idea of requiring some sort of mental shield in order to interact with primal beings who are the source of biological DNA.)
One can see how this would affect technical thought by observing how the loss of absolute truth has affected technical thought in current society. In brief, this has caused abstract technical thought in many areas to become reduced to cataloging the thinking of the past, describing the basic requirements for technical thought, and continually attempting to build a more adequate foundation for technical thought. However, very few technical experts are willing to go further and actually build a structure upon this foundation. For instance, in 2015 I presented a paper on the theory of mental symmetry at the Pacific Northwest branch of the American Academy of Religion. Many of the participants used extensive logic and technical language. But the general consensus was that theology does not exist; almost everyone accepted as a starting point that it is impossible to construct an abstract rational system of theology. If this is what happens when absolute truth becomes questioned, then it makes sense that something similar but far deeper would happen if the laws of nature were no longer fundamental. Hebrews 6:1 gives the impression that abstract technical thought is stuck in a kind of endless loop of continually teaching basics and laying down foundations but unable to go further.
Instead, one should ‘press on to maturity’. The word translated maturity is only used twice in the New Testament and means ‘completion in its cumulative sense, built on what has to proceed and also supports the states that must come next’. This describes precisely what we have been discussing in the previous paragraph, which is being willing to build a structure upon the foundation instead of fixating upon making the foundation more rigorous. This is a significant cognitive principle because technical thought is always built upon a foundation that technical thought would regard as insufficiently rigorous.
Looking at this in more detail, what typically happens is that thinking starts off based in common sense, analogies, and personal experience. Abstract technical thought will then tighten up this semi-rigorous thinking by defining terms more carefully, and building logical structures that can be proven with certainty. Eventually, this logical thinking will be used to re-examine the starting point, and experts will discover to their horror that their rigorous edifices are based upon a non-rigorous foundation. At this point, one can either choose to get stuck at the level of basics, or one can choose by faith to rebuild technical thought upon a foundation that one knows is only partially rigorous.
Modern science deals with this problem by demanding empirical evidence, believing that the behavior of the physical universe provides a sufficiently solid foundation for rigorous thought. This works as long as matter rules over mind. But if mind started to rule over matter, then empirical evidence itself would no longer be reliable. This has already happened to some extent with photos and movies. It used to be that a picture or movie of some event provided solid evidence of what happened. But computer technology has now advanced to the point where pictures and movies can be generated that have nothing to do with reality. For instance, some people claim that the moon landings were faked and that nobody physically landed on the moon. But video technology in 1969 was too primitive to be able to fake a moon landing. Therefore, the movies of the moon landing provide solid evidence that such a landing actually occurred. (And a lunar satellite has recently taken pictures of the various landing sites.)
This does not mean that abstract technical thought has no foundation. Instead, verse 1 continues by describing the requirements for ‘teaching about the Christ’: “...a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (v.1). The phrase ‘dead works’ is a strange combination, because dead means ‘lacks life, not able to respond to impulses, or perform functions’, while a work is ‘a deed or action that carries out an inner desire’. How can one be simultaneously unable to perform functions and respond to impulses while at the same time performing actions that carry out an inner desire?
One can see this juxtaposition in both Jewish legalism and objective science. Normal concrete thought combines Server actions with emotional Mercy experiences. For instance, I may perform the Server action of walking to the fridge and opening the door guided by the Mercy experience of feeling hungry. This describes the essence of ‘works’: doing actions to get desired results. Judaism is primarily a religion of doing; Jewish law is referred to as halacha, which means doing or going. But for most Jews, this doing has become mentally disconnected from personal motivation. If a typical Jew is asked why Jewish law is being followed, the most common responses will be ‘It is tradition’, ‘This is part of Jewish culture’, or ‘God revealed Torah to the Jews’. Cognitively speaking, the repeated actions of doing the law have create an implicit TMN of order and structure, which motivates the actions to continue. A similar implicit Teacher motivation drives a bureaucracy to continue, grow, and expand. The result is dead works, actions that perpetuate themselves without carrying out inner desires.
Looking briefly at the bigger picture, God the Father had to create such a structure to ensure that there would be an adequate starting point for the technical thinking of Incarnation, even if the Jews did not understand Jewish law or had no personal reason for doing Jewish law. Paul says this in Galatians 4: “So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:3-5). This does not mean that God deliberately turned Jews into religious zombies. (If one finds one’s personal identity in carrying out nonsensical, tribal, religious rituals, then I suggest that the label ‘religious zombie’ is appropriate.) Instead, I suggest that God’s purpose was for Judaism to discover science in Alexandria before the birth of Christ. Going back further in history, the book of Hebrews makes it clear that what eventually happened when the Israelites entered the promised land of Canaan was less than what God wanted to happen.
One of the goals of Christianity was to become free of dead works by replacing the doing of the law with a personal relationship with Jesus. Thus, one can interpret repentance from dead works as moving beyond Judaism to Christianity, and that is how this phrase is typically interpreted. One can also view this cognitively as moving beyond a mindset of religious legalism with its technical thinking to being guided emotionally by mature mental networks.
But I suggest that there is also a larger meaning related to modern science. Scientific thought also removes Mercy motivation from Server actions, because science will ignore why an action was done, as well as who did the action, and focus instead on comparing one action with another action in order to find general patterns. This is known as scientific reproducibility. Quoting from Wikipedia, “A particular experimentally obtained value is said to be reproducible if there is a high degree of agreement between measurements or observations conducted on replicate specimens in different locations by different people”. Reproducibility works because the behavior of the physical world is both predictable and repeatable. But focusing solely upon reproducibility also leads to dead works, because one is being motivated to carry out actions that have no personal motivation. This type of methodology would stop working if mind started to govern matter, because the behavior of the natural world would stop being reproducible. Instead, one would be forced to analyze both personal motivation and behavior, because mental networks of personal motivation would start to have an effect upon natural behavior.
Personal bias already has an effect upon experimental results. A double-blind experiment attempts to eliminate personal bias by keeping both experimenters and subjects unaware of the choices. For instance, if the experiment is to sample two major brands of cola and determine which one tastes better, then a double-blind experiment will not tell either the person preparing the drinks or the person tasting the drinks which cup contains Pepsi and which cup contains Coke. But a double-blind experiment only works because the physical world currently functions independently of how people think. This would no longer be true if mind ruled over matter.
The other requirement is ‘faith toward God’. Faith means to ‘be persuaded’. The word translated ‘toward’ is epi, and it means ‘direction toward a person or a thing’, when used in the accusative. As far as I can tell, this is the only New Testament occurrence of faith being followed by the preposition ‘epi’. This preposition is consistent with the idea mentioned earlier of being willing intellectually to head in the direction of a general understanding of God. One must become persuaded that this is possible, even when one is not starting from a rigorous logical foundation. This may sound like an obvious statement, but as I mentioned earlier, I discovered when presenting at a religious conference that almost no one could be persuaded to head in the direction of a general understanding of God. A similar statement can be made of secular science, because scientists are willing to head in the direction of a general understanding of Nature, even to the extent of spelling Nature with a capital ‘N’ and talking about Nature ‘designing’ and ‘doing’ things as if Nature is an intelligent agent, but one will experience the wrath of the scientific community if one dares to head in the direction of a general understanding of God. (Note from 2021: I think that this analysis is accurate, but there would be the additional factor of getting stuck at the level of optimizing DNA, similar to the way that the computer geek can get stuck at the level of continually upgrading and benchmarking his computer rather than actually using the computer.)
Verse 2 adds four more foundational concepts: “of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.”
Starting with the first foundational concept, the word washings means ‘submergings, ceremonial washings’, and is found five times in the New Testament: twice in Hebrews, twice in Mark 7, and once in Colossians. Teaching means ‘established teaching, especially a summarized body of respected teaching’. Thus, the focus is not on being baptized once as a Christian, but rather upon the teaching about baptisms, in the plural. And this is not just any teaching, but rather teaching an established body of knowledge regarding baptisms.
One could interpret this as referring to the Jewish focus on ceremonial washings, because that is what is described in Mark 7: “For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands… there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots” (Mark 7:4-5). But Jesus rejects this focus upon washings as ‘teaching as doctrines the precepts of men’ (v.7). If Hebrews 6 is regarding teaching about washings as something good and fundamental that needs to be preserved, while Mark 7 is describing Jewish washings as something which comes from human tradition that needs to be rejected, then Hebrews 6 is probably not talking primarily about Jewish ceremonial washing.
Therefore, I suggest that ‘accepted teaching about washings’ is referring primarily to something in the future, which one can find described in John 13 in the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. If one interprets that story from a cognitive perspective, then it describes a methodology of cleansing abstract thinking from the personal bias of Mercy emotions. Science currently avoids dealing with personal bias by remaining objective, as well as subjecting personal opinion to peer review. But that method stops working when one follows incarnation by going beyond technical thought to include MMNs of personal identity, as described in Hebrews 1. One then has to develop a formalized teaching about washings in order to ensure that technical thought remains rational even when dealing with emotional subjects.
The second foundational concept is ‘laying on of hands’. The word laying on as a noun is used only four times in the New Testament, with all four references referring to the laying on of hands. This ‘is the principal means of ordaining someone to ministry’. One could imagine that laying on of hands might involve an actual transfer of gifting in an environment of spiritual technology. Interpreting this symbolically, hands represent Perceiver and Server thought. Therefore, laying one’s hands on the head of another person would symbolize teaching some other individual how to manipulate facts and sequences. This accurately describes the relationship of a doctoral supervisor to a doctoral student, because a doctoral student learns from a supervisor how to mentally manipulate facts and sequences.
The Catholic and Orthodox claim to legitimacy is largely based on an apostolic succession of clergy who passed their legitimacy on from one generation to another through the laying on of hands. I doubt that Hebrews 6 is referring primarily to apostolic succession. If a laying on of hands represents merely being recognized as an official expert by some human organization, such as a church or university, then the legitimacy of this recognition does not extend beyond that human organization, regardless of what that organization verbally claims. If a laying on of hands has supernatural significance, then it should be accompanied by a supernatural transfer of power, as was the case when Elisha took the mantle of Elijah in 2 Kings 2:13-14. Similarly, if a laying on of hands has cognitive significance, then it needs to be accompanied by a transfer of cognitive ability, which is supposed to happen in the case of a doctoral student.
Putting this together, peer review and publishing papers are a current academic version of instruction about washings, while getting a PhD is a secular form of ‘laying on of hands’. One could imagine that something similar but more personal would emerge in a system of Incarnation and spiritual technology.
When existing knowledge falls into doubt, then what remains is methodology. That is because a person or group can always build Server confidence by choosing to repeat some set of actions. Saying this more bluntly, the primary focus today within much of academia is no longer upon making new scientific discoveries, but rather upon getting a PhD and then publishing a steady stream of papers. If this change has happened today as a result of the discrediting of absolute truth, one can imagine that something similar but even stronger would happen if natural law itself started to shift and empirical truth fell into doubt.
The final two foundational concepts are ‘the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment’. These are not regarded as fundamental topics in current Christianity. Instead, they are typically treated as mysteries in the future about which one can say very little. However, if matter-over-mind started to be replaced by mind-over-matter, then resurrection from the dead would no longer be something mysterious in the future but rather a direct extrapolation of what people would be starting to experience in the present. Similarly, people would start to see and experience what eternal judgment would be like.
My hypothesis is that when a person dies, then the disembodied mind becomes inescapably driven by core mental networks. Swedenborg made this suggestion in the 18th century, and I think that it makes cognitive and scriptural sense. (Most of Swedenborg’s other ideas do not make cognitive or scriptural sense.) One can already see this happening in elderly people, because their personality becomes much more purely an expression of basic character traits. A similar realization would occur if mind started to rule over matter. One could imagine that peoples’ minds might be emotionally blinded by this realization, unable to move further, like a deer caught in the headlights of a car.
Verse 3 describes how one moves past a fixation upon fundamentals: “And this we will do, if God permits.” The word translated do specifically refers to Server actions, and not to any form of abstract thought or belief. Thus, the way out is through physical action, simply choosing to act and do. But this is only possible ‘if God permits’, which means that Server actions need to be guided by the TMN of the concept of God. For instance, I have found that the theory of mental symmetry makes it possible to escape today’s academic fixation upon methodology and fundamental concepts. Instead of endlessly deconstructing the past and attempting to lay a more solid foundation, one can actually move on and build solid structure. The first requirement for moving on is a Teacher understanding. But not any understanding will do. Instead, this understanding must be general enough to create a mental concept of God. One then moves past the basics by pursuing God. The second requirement is to apply Teacher understanding through Server action. Stated simply, how one behaves must be driven by an understanding of God rather than by the established methodology of getting a PhD and publishing papers.
(Note from 2021: If primal beings assisted in altering human DNA, then instruction about washings would become very important. Established teaching would provide a shield between humans and primal beings while learning to live with an altered physical body would result in a form of baptism or submerging into a new realm of Mercy experiences. The topic of laying on of hands relates to delegated spiritual authority which becomes a major source of conflict beginning in Acts 8. Altering human DNA would extend and rejuvenate human life, causing the idea of resurrection of the dead to become a pressing topic. Similarly, manipulating human DNA would lead to deep questions about the nature of eternal judgment. People would wonder whether altering human DNA would cause them to be damned to eternal hell or if this was the first step of God’s eternal redemption. For instance, presenting this as a hypothesis in this note has probably triggered similar emotional responses in the reader. Thus, I should make it clear that I am not advocating human-led DNA manipulation, because I do not trust sinful humans to have sufficient knowledge or wisdom to alter DNA in a manner that would lead to greater human wholeness. Instead, my hypothesis is that the original angelic designers of human DNA would be leading the effort to modify human DNA to be more consistent with the righteousness of God.)
I have suggested that the primary application of this text is to some future time when mind begins to rule over matter. Verses 4-5 make it clear that this is an appropriate interpretation, because the language in these two verses reads initially as pure hyperbole: “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come...” This may not sound that radical from a Christian perspective, because Christians are used to hearing—and then ignoring—religious hyperbole. But if one examines the precise meanings of these words from a scientific, materialistic perspective, then the language is totally over-the-top.
Enlightened means literally ‘light up, illumine, or bring to light’, or ‘figuratively God sharing his life, exposing and overcoming darkness’. Using cognitive symbolism, light represents a general Teacher understanding. This enlightening is in the past tense, and the word once means ‘what is so done as to be of perpetual validity and never need repetition, once for all’. And the word ‘enlightened’ is in the plural. Putting this together, a group of people have experienced a once-for-all enlightenment.
These individuals ‘have tasted of the heavenly gift’. The word tasted is used twice, once in verse 4 and once in verse 5. It means ‘taste or experience’ which describes a form of sensory experience that is more intimate than touch. The word translated of the heavenly ‘refers to the impact of heaven’s influence on the particular situation or person’. Thus, one is not just talking about heaven but rather about heaven impacting people to the level of tasting. And this is not just a passing influence of heaven upon earth, but a gift that has been ‘freely given’, implying that this goes beyond offering a person a ride in a car to handing over the keys to this car. One is not just giving gifts, but also handing over control of these gifts.
Moving further, these individuals ‘have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit’. Having been made is in the past tense and means ‘to emerge, become, transitioning from one point to another’. Again one sees that a recent transition has occurred to a deeper level of involvement. The word partaker is used six times in the New Testament, five of these in Hebrews, and means ‘change due to sharing, from being an active partaker with’.
Looking briefly at the first four occurrences of ‘partaker’, in Hebrews 1:9, Incarnation is being compared with angels, and Incarnation is being lifted up ‘above your companions’, and the word translated companion is ‘partaker’. Interpreted cognitively, Incarnation and angels are both partakers of abstract technical thought, but Incarnation is being lifted up for using abstract technical thought in a more universal and integrated manner. In Hebrews 3:1, the partakers of a heavenly calling are being told to consider Jesus. This refers to using a general understanding of God and Incarnation to rethink Christianity that is based in absolute truth. In Hebrews 3:14, those who are entering God’s rest have become partakers of Christ. This describes being partners with incarnation who is making the initial transition that enables mind-over-matter.
In Hebrews 6:4, a group of people have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit. What began with technical thought and led to a new concept of Christianity has now passed through the heavens and re-entered human existence through the Holy Spirit. In Hebrews 2:4, people were being given gifts of the Holy Spirit to bootstrap the start of spiritual technology. In Hebrews 6:4, people have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, which indicates a much deeper and fuller level of interaction. (The final occurrence is in Hebrews 12:6, which talks about becoming partakers of God’s discipline.)
Verse 5 describes a more personal and experiential form of Teacher understanding, because people ‘have tasted the good word of God’. The word used here for word is not logos, but rather rhema, which means ‘a spoken word, made by the living voice’, and ‘is commonly used in the New Testament for the Lord speaking his dynamic, living word’. In contrast, logos ‘is a broad term meaning reasoning expressed by words’. Thus, one is tasting the goodness of God speaking in a more spontaneous manner. This word of God is related to ‘the powers of the age to come’. The word translated to come means at the very point of acting’, and ‘is used in general of what is sure to happen’. In other words, the coming age is no longer something distant around the corner but rather something that can be seen straight ahead, because the corner has now been turned. And this is not just a passive viewing of the coming age, but a tasting of its power.
I think one can safely say that what is being described transcends any current experience of Christianity. And this description is not referring to experiencing heavenly power as something that will happen in the future, but rather as something that has just started to happen. One can illustrate what this means by looking at the transformation that normal technology has achieved. As a child, I enjoyed reading stories out of a 1910 Book of Knowledge encyclopedia. I remember reading a fable about some religious man visiting a king and miraculously providing the king with fresh strawberries in winter. Today, thanks to technology, one can go down to the local supermarket any month of the year and buy fresh strawberries. As for the fable of the king and the miraculous strawberries, I looked for it on the Internet and could not find it. Saying this more succinctly, the very fact that we regard spiritual and supernatural events as miracles that occasionally disrupt our materialistic existence indicates that current Christianity is at the level of fables about strawberries in winter and not at the level of using technology to import strawberries to the local supermarket. (Note from 2021: This over-the-top language is consistent with the idea of human DNA being altered to make humans physically more aware of the spiritual and supernatural realms. And if this door to the supernatural was opened, then it would not be possible for people or society to return to the current state of living purely within the materialistic realm. And if human physical bodies acquired supernatural powers, then it would be possible for mind to rule over matter to an extent that was previously impossible.)
Verse 6 describes the impossibility of going back. If people who have reached this level of partaking “then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance”. The word translated fallen away is only used once in the New Testament and means to ‘fall away, after being close beside’. In other words, those who have been interacting with God at this new intimate level are attempting to break away and become distant. The verb is in the past tense, telling us that these people have attempted to become distant from God. One can speculate why people would want to go back by looking at the current response to technology. If many people in our day have found technology distasteful and disruptive and have attempted to escape modern civilization by taking refuge in Nature, then I am sure that many would find the new system of mind-over-matter distasteful and disruptive and would attempt to escape by finding refuge in the natural order of the past.
The word translated renew is also used only once in the New Testament and means ‘to restore or bring back by renewing; literally, make qualitatively new’. What these individuals cannot be restored back to is repentance, which means ‘a change of mind’. And they cannot be restored back to repentance again, which implies that they used to be in a state of repentance. Looking at this cognitively, one cannot turn back the clock. These individuals used to be innocent, and their innocence made it possible for them to have a change of mind. But they have experienced God and heavenly power so intensely that they cannot go back to the previous state of deciding whether or not to follow God. Saying this another way, the mental networks that have been acquired are sufficiently intense to overrule free will. Saying this bluntly, they are no longer cosmic virgins, and they cannot do anything to restore their virginity. I know that virginity is an emotionally loaded word, but I choose it deliberately because I think that I think that it accurately describes the emotional state in which people will find themselves. In the NASB, the word impossible comes in the middle of verse 6, but in the original Greek, the word impossible occurs at the beginning of verse 4 and refers to the entire process described in verses 4-6. In other words, it is impossible to break through to this level of intimacy with God and then try to turn back the clock.
Using current technology as a partial example, it was possible for a person living one hundred years ago to choose to ignore modern science and technology, leave the city, move to the country, and live a traditional life like his ancestors—while continuing to follow common sense and rational thought. That is no longer possible. Instead, if one wishes to suppress scientific thought in today’s world, then one has to go to great lengths to shut down rational thought and suppress common sense. Part of the problem is that common sense is no longer common. Technology has altered the physical environment to such an extent that the average person no longer acquires common sense by growing up in Nature. For instance, I recently found a Canadian science textbook from the 1950s written for younger students. The textbook was full of outdoor activities such as gathering different kinds of leaves from various trees, or examining the tracks that wild animals make in the snow. Most of the activities in this book could not be done today, because the trees have been cut down and the wild animals have fled.
The end of verse 6 describes this kind of shutting down of thought: “...since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” The phrase again crucify is a single word that occurs once in the New Testament, which means to ‘crucify again’. Quoting from Wikipedia, “Crucifixion is a method of capital punishment in which the victim is tied, nailed, or otherwise attached to a large wooden beam and left to hang for several days until eventual death from exhaustion and asphyxiation.” The mental equivalent of crucifixion is slowly killing mental networks by refusing to allow them to be expressed until they eventually fragment and die. This re-crucifixion is something that people are doing ‘to themselves’. Thus, ‘again crucified to themselves’ means gradually allowing the new potent mental networks of intimacy with God to fall apart by refusing to allow them to be expressed.
For instance, I have found over the decades that it is quite typical for people to be initially interested in the theory of mental symmetry and then suddenly drop the subject like a hot potato when the implications become apparent. This means that the theory has started to turn into a mental network, and people are trying to get rid of this mental network by crucifying it.
But what is being mentally re-crucified in Hebrews 6 is not just any mental network but rather ‘the Son of God’, a fully developed concept of incarnation based in the TMN of a concept of God. For instance, I would have to go through this kind of process in order to free my mind from the theory of mental symmetry. That is because I have had to go through an extensive process of cognitive rebirth through ‘mental crucifixion’ in order to reach my current understanding. In order to abandon this understanding, I would now have to re-crucify my mental concept of the Son of God.
This process of going back would be physically visible if mind started to rule over matter, because mental structure would influence physical matter. Therefore, such an individual would have to ‘put Him to open shame’. This word is also used only once in the New Testament and means ‘to put to open shame, make a public example of, put to disgrace’. In other words, any mental belittling of a concept of God at this stage would be public, visible, and open. One would not just be able to drop the subject. Instead, one would have to perform public acts of blasphemy against incarnation which would make placing a crucifix in a jar of urine look tame.
(Note from 2021: Altering DNA to achieve new physical powers would initially be exciting but eventually lead to the ultimate form of culture shock. People would then have to choose between allowing these new powers to forever alter what it means to be human or to suppress these new powers in order to maintain existing mental networks of human existence. A similar type of conflict can be seen currently in female circumcision. In the words of one academic paper, “Many practitioners of female genital mutilation believe that the procedure is dictated by tradition and is necessary to ensure marriage because men refuse to marry intact women. It is sometimes stated that the purpose of female genital mutilation is to control women’s sexuality, and, in some settings, intact women are considered dishonorable prostitutes.” Notice how social pressure is being used to physically limit the ability of women to experience pleasure. I suspect that genetic manipulation would lead to a similar cultural backlash. I should emphasize that we are not talking about inadequate genetic manipulation that harms people mentally, spiritually, or physically. Instead, we are looking at the cultural response to genetic manipulation that is genuinely helpful and leads people in the direction of further wholeness and righteousness.
Verses 7-8 describe two forms of thinking in this new existence. Verse 7 describes the positive alternative: “For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God.” The word translated ground means ‘the physical earth; the arena we live in which operates in space and time’. This would refer symbolically to the common sense of Perceiver facts and Server sequences that one acquires from living in space and time. But what would happen to common sense if space and time began to shift?
The verb drink occurs 73 times in the New Testament, and in all of the other occurrences, a person is drinking. Verse 7 is the only occurrence in which an inanimate object is drinking, implying that mental networks of life have become involved. I am not suggesting that the earth is a living being, such as Gaia or Nature. But the emotional experiences of living on the earth can cause a mental network to form that represents the earth, causing a person to feel that the earth is a living being. There is currently no direct connection between a person’s concept of earth and the actual physical earth itself. Instead, people are emotionally driven to use actions to transform the physical earth into something that more closely resembles their mental concepts of earth. But if mind were to start ruling over matter, then there would start to be a direct relationship between mental concepts of earth and the actual physical earth.
Continuing with verse 7, the earth has drunk rain (the original Greek is in the past tense) which comes upon it frequently. One can understand what this means by looking at the relationship between Perceiver thought and Mercy thought. Perceiver thought comes up with solid facts that provide solid ground for the mind. But Perceiver facts do not emerge from a vacuum. Instead, Perceiver thought comes up with solid facts by looking for repeated connections between Mercy experiences, which requires experiencing many Mercy experiences. Using the language of Hebrews, the land needs frequent rain, and the land becomes solid after having drunk frequent rain. (This is not true physically, because physical earth that experiences frequent rain turns into mud and not into solid ground.) Rain is water that falls from heaven. Cognitively speaking, it is Mercy experience that has its origins in the TMN of a general understanding. Thus, random Mercy experiences will not lead to solid ground in Perceiver thought. But experiences that are guided by the TMN of a concept of God will fall into patterns that can be discovered by Perceiver thought.
Today’s society is facing a similar problem, because Perceiver truths that used to be accepted as absolute are no longer solid. As a result, many have concluded that there is no such thing as solid Perceiver truth, and that all apparent truth is merely the opinions of some person or group being imposed upon the rest of the population. In contrast, I have discovered that one can find solid truth in the repeated patterns of human experience, if one believes that these experiences are the expression of a general Teacher understanding of the mind.
Looking at this more personally, I mentioned earlier that I experience internal social interaction which could be interpreted either as mental networks or as spiritual beings. While the precise source of this internal dialogue has remained ambiguous, I have found that there is a consistency and repeatability to this internal interaction, making it possible to build Perceiver facts and learn Server sequences. And I have found that these Perceiver facts and Server sequences are consistent with the theory of mental symmetry. My guess is that verse 7 is describing something similar.
Going further, this ground “brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled” (v.7). The word translated vegetation means ‘fodder or food’ and only occurs once in the New Testament. In the same way that drink represents the liquid realm of Mercy experience, so food represents solid intellectual content—‘food for thought’. Useful means ‘fit because well-adapted, ready for use’. This food is the result of tilling, another word that occurs only once, which means ‘to work the soil, cultivate the earth’. Putting this together, if one examines Mercy experiences carefully for solid patterns, then one will discover meaningful Perceiver truth. But one will not discover any truth, but rather truth that is related to what one is currently studying. This already happens to some extent, because the Perceiver facts that one notices depend upon one’s current paradigm in Teacher thought, and when this paradigm changes, then one will become aware of facts that one previously ignored. For instance, if one is trying to mail a letter, then one suddenly becomes aware of mailboxes. These mailboxes were always physically present, but they were mentally invisible.
Verse 7 finishes by saying that this “receives a blessing from God”. The word translated receives means ‘lay hold of with initiative which prompts a change afterword’. In other words, this is not a passive process. Instead it requires active participation and will lead to personal transformation. The word blessing means ‘to speak well of’. A blessing from God means that God is saying that something is consistent with the character of God in Teacher thought. For instance, the theory of mental symmetry has led to a blessing from God because it leads to theoretical results that are consistent with the character of God as described in the Bible and revealed in the natural world.
Moving on, verse 8 describes a destructive alternative which one can understand by examining current Western society: “But if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.” These same two Greek words translated thorns and thistles can be found in Matthew 7:16. “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?” Notice that grapes are being contrasted with thorns, and figs with thistles. I have suggested in previous essays that grapes represent MMNs of culture. Cognitively speaking, grapes are a liquid with flavor, and one can find a relationship between grapes and culture in many scriptural passages. The fig is the first plant mentioned by name in the Bible, when Adam and Eve sewed together fig leaves in order to cover their nakedness. Thus, figs would represent personal culture, and fig leaves an attempt to hide personal feelings. If thorns are the opposite of grapes and thistles the opposite of figs, then what is being described is a prickly and painful alternative to personal and social culture.
Looking at this cognitively, Exhorter thought is the part of the mind that provides drive and motivation. Mercy thought dislikes pain while Teacher thought hates disorder. But pleasure, pain, order, and disorder all provide motivation for Exhorter thought. Saying this more simply, one can find motivation from either carrots or sticks, but carrots are far more pleasurable than sticks. Mercy thought learns about pain and pleasure from natural feedback; if I stub my toe, then it hurts. Similarly, Teacher thought learns common sense from the order of the natural world. Thus, living in the natural world will give the mind practical reasons to pursue comfort and avoid pain. Saying this simply, when it is cold and rainy, then this motivates a person to come in out of the rain in order to get warm and dry. Now suppose that one lives in an artificial world where everything is constructed by people. People do this mentally when watching movies or playing video games. The natural tendency is to find excitement in violence and destruction. If nothing is real, then what does it matter if one blows up everything or shoots at everything that moves? That is because pain and destruction are easy ways of finding excitement, especially for the male mind which naturally downplays emotions.
If this is true of current society, imagine what would happen if physical reality itself started to become unreal. All of physical life would become virtual reality, as portrayed in the movie Matrix. And like the movie Matrix, the natural tendency would be to find excitement in destruction, violence, and darkness.
I suggest that verse 8 is describing this alternative. In verse 7, there is tilling. The soil is being worked and the earth cultivated. People naturally place value on something that takes time and effort to acquire. There is no tilling in verse 8. Instead plants are simply being carried out or brought forth. Going further, both thorns and thistles are sharp and painful. Similarly, modern action movies are also filled with sharp pains, trying to squeeze many pokes of pain and destruction into every minute of video. The results are worthless, which means ‘failing to pass the test, unapproved, counterfeit’.
For instance, suppose that one actually had to live within some action movie or video game. Experiencing such wanton death and destruction would be hell, which means that these virtual realities fail the test of livability, and people only pretend to live in such artificial environments because they know that they are counterfeit. This may sound like an extreme example, but that is because it is being viewed from the vantage point of matter-over-mind. One can currently choose to find excitement in virtual death and destruction because one knows that one can always retreat back to solid reality. One can always turn off the game and shut down the computer. If physical reality turned into a form of computer game with malleable rules, then one would be tempted to find excitement in destruction because nothing would be ‘real’. However, it would no longer be possible for the mind to escape this virtual reality because reality would become an expression of the mind.
Verse 8 says that such an environment is “close to being cursed”. A curse is a word in Teacher thought that attacks personal identity in Mercy thought. Similarly, virtual reality is based in the Teacher words of mathematical algorithms and computer programs, and a virtual reality of death and destruction is a curse, because one is creating structure in Teacher thought that continually hurts identity in Mercy thought. This cannot continue, which is why “it ends up being burned”. This progression from fruitlessness to being burned is also found in John 15:6, in the parable of the vine. In essence, such a mindset will eventually self-destruct, ending up in frustration.
Summarizing, if reality became an expression of the mind, then value would have to be created and protected. The ultimate principle of sowing and reaping would still remain: one must live with what one creates; if one makes a bed, then one must sleep in it. It is possible to violate this principle temporarily by finding excitement in pain and destruction, and people would naturally be tempted to pursue this option if they realized that they were living in an artificial environment.
Saying this cognitively, concrete technical thought is based upon principles of cause-and-effect, which are currently acquired primarily through physical cause-and-effect. If natural law started to become unreliable, then cause-and-effect would not cease to exist. Instead, the functioning of the physical world would become increasingly subject to principles of mental cause-and-effect, because mind would start to rule over matter, and the mind is governed inescapably by principles of mental cause-and-effect.
(Note from 2021: I think that this analysis is accurate, but what will change is not physical reality itself but rather people’s ability to manipulate and experience physical reality. This would turn personal existence into a form of computer adventure game with quests and enhanced personal abilities, leading to a questioning of many facets of human existence which are currently considered to be unalterable. The solution would be to live within this altered reality rather than merely finding excitement in acquiring new abilities.)
Verse 9 reminds us that the goal is salvation: “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.” This is the only time that the word beloved is used in Hebrews. When structure is artificially constructed by people, then it is essential for people to love one another, because the way that people treat one another will determine whether the environment that is created is paradise or hell.
Paul describes this process in Romans 5:1-5. Verse 1 describes the first stage of enrolling in God’s school and becoming a Christian: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And verse 2 describes this as an ‘introduction by faith’. This is then followed by a process of sanctification, in which tribulation leads to perseverance, perseverance results in proven character, and proven character generates hope. Verse 5 finishes by saying that “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit was given to us.” Notice that the love of God does not happen automatically. Instead, the love is generated through people’s hearts after a process of personal transformation. And the hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within people’s hearts. Applying this to Hebrews 6, mind-over-matter is currently something purely in the future for which one hopes. If this hope turns into reality, then the result will be disappointment, unless there is love within Mercy thought, both at the personal level of the heart and at the universal level of the Holy Spirit. Paul may not be referring in Romans 5 directly to a future world of spiritual technology, but the general principle still remains true.
For instance, most evangelical Christians preach that God will usher in eternal heavenly paradise by raining death and destruction upon the world. I suggest that this is psychologically impossible because the mental networks that one establishes when setting up some kingdom will also be the primary mental networks that guide the behavior of this kingdom. This principle is already true on earth, and would be even more true in heaven, which is outside of the physical universe, or of a future time in which mind ruled over matter. (Similarly, I suggest that it is psychologically impossible to receive 72 virgins in heaven as a reward for blowing up oneself and one’s neighbors.)
After having gone through all of the New Testament prophetic passages in detail, in context, and looking at the original Greek, I have come to the conclusion that Jesus will return soon, as described in Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4. But I do not think that this will be a rapture followed by a “tribulation [that] will be a living hell with a degree of violence that is unparalleled in all of history”. Instead, I suggest that it will be a theoretical return of Jesus, characterized by an understanding in Teacher thought, which will then be followed by spiritual technology. This does not mean that God will not judge evil. Instead, I suggest that God ultimately judges evil by giving evil people good gifts that they cannot handle. Thus, people actually end up judging themselves by grabbing gifts from God before they have the mental maturity that is required to use these gifts in a constructive manner.
The word translated convinced means to ‘be persuaded of what is trustworthy’, and is related to the word ‘faith’. In other words, at this point it is not visibly apparent that good results are possible. Instead, one has to be persuaded by rational Teacher understanding that following the positive path described in verse 7 will lead to good results. For instance, the theory of mental symmetry predicts that following the path of transformation will lead to good results. But if I look at my external environment, I only see some good results. Therefore, I have to be persuaded by my understanding of the mind that following a path of mental wholeness will have personal benefits. I also have to be persuaded by my understanding of Scripture that God really is a God of salvation and not the God of impending global death and destruction that is proclaimed by most Christian fundamentalists.
Similarly, verse 9 describes being persuaded “of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation”. Better means ‘stronger, more excellent’, which are attributes of integrity and value. Similarly, I have found that the theory of mental symmetry holds me together, and gives me an understanding of value and an ability to create and appreciate value. ‘Things that accompany salvation’ is more literally ‘having or holding welfare, prosperity, deliverance, salvation, safety’, which relates to the idea of shalom or wholeness. This phrase conveys the impression that people are not yet experiencing salvation at this initial stage. Instead, the framework that is needed to experience salvation is being set up. Saying this another way, people are building a new economy of love that will result in personal prosperity, safety, and salvation.
At this initial stage, it is important to speak honestly because a direction is being set that will have major repercussions later on: “… though we are speaking in this way” (v.9). In other words, many problems grow into crises because those who have wisdom do not speak up at the beginning, when people are still willing to listen and can be persuaded.
When there is a major paradigm shift, then there is a natural tendency for Teacher thought to forget about anything that was connected with the old understanding. Verse 10 says that God does not function in this manner: “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward his name.” Unjust means lacking justice and righteousness. From the human perspective, righteousness means adding Server actions to a Teacher understanding of God. From the divine perspective, righteousness means declaring in Teacher thought that Server actions are consistent with Teacher understanding. A huge paradigm shift has just occurred from matter-over-mind to mind-over-matter. Verse 10 is saying that God will not forget the work that was done under the old Teacher paradigm. The word translated forget ‘is an intensification’ that ‘focuses on the consequences that build on the forgetting’. In other words, this forgetting is not just a memory slip. Instead, it means no longer officially recognizing what was done in the past, the way that old rules are no longer enforced and old currency becomes worthless when a regime is overthrown and replaced by a new government. This kind of forgetting usually happens when humans replace one Teacher understanding with another.
Moving on to the next phrase in verse 10, when matter rules over mind, then the righteousness of God is most apparent in the universal laws of nature: One acts in a way that is consistent with ‘how things work’, and ‘how things work’ reflects the righteous character of God. If a transition would occur to mind-over-matter, then it would be easy to conclude that God is no longer righteous. Something similar is happening currently as a result of the transition away from absolute truth. Modern society has questioned and rejected most absolute truth, while civilization shields people from natural principles of cause-and-effect. Therefore, many people have concluded that God has nothing to do with righteousness, and that what used to be regarded as absolute truth is merely personal opinion. Similarly, if it became possible for people to use their minds to modify natural laws of cause-and-effect, then many would conclude that natural law does not exist, and that what used to be regarded as natural law is merely personal opinion. (Note from 2021: I suspect that what would change is people’s personal experience of cause-and-effect. Therefore, many people would conclude that cause-and-effect did not apply to them.)
Verse 10 emphasizes that righteousness would still exist, but it would function at a deeper emotional level: “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name”. The word shown means ‘to make fully evident, showing conspicuous proof which demonstrates something as undeniable’. Thus, one is not just lifting one’s hands in the air and saying ‘Praise Jesus’. Instead, one is proving by one’s behavior that one loves the name of God in Teacher thought. In practical terms, one shows love to a name by thinking and behaving in a manner that is consistent with that name. Righteousness describes actions that are guided by a Teacher understanding of God. Proving that one loves the name of God is a deeper form of righteousness, because one is building and following mental networks that express and build up the character of God in Teacher thought. Righteousness recognizes that ‘actions speak louder than words’. This deeper form of righteousness recognizes that being is more fundamental than doing.
For instance, I have mentioned that it is now possible for people to pretend that they are free of natural law when watching movies or playing video games. Many people use this as an opportunity to reject Teacher order and understanding and embrace destruction, chaos, lawlessness, fantasy, and cruelty. This type of behavior proves that one does not love the name of God, because one is expressing mental networks that reject the character of God in Teacher thought when one has the opportunity. As Jesus said in Mark 7:20-21, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries.”
This does not mean that all fiction and fantasy is evil. Instead, movies, video games, and other forms of fantasy can be helpful as simulations of possible reality. Instead of using fantasy to run away from reality, one uses fantasy to mentally explore what it would feel like personally to live within a certain form of alternate reality. For instance, what would it really feel like to live in a Star Trek universe? Such questions are often regarded as insignificant in today’s world of matter-over-mind, but they would become of primary importance if mind started to rule over matter. Even in today’s society, one’s approach to fantasy is an effective means of revealing core mental networks, as well as an opportunity for practicing free will in the arena of personal desire. Stated bluntly, if one runs away from God in the aspect of current existence that is most like eternity, then it is meaningless to say that one has an eternal love for God.
Verse 10 finishes by emphasizing the need to build a new spiritual economy: “...in having administered and in still ministering to the saints”. Minister means ‘serve; wait at table, particularly of a slave who waits on guests’. Notice that the ministry in this verse is being directed to the saints, or holy ones, and not to widows, orphans, prisoners, or the sick. A similar focus of ministry is found in John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” The parable of the vine at the beginning of John 15 describes a new way of interaction based upon spiritual technology. This is then followed in John 15 by a command to love one another, expanding spiritual technology into a new economy. Similarly, Hebrews 6:10 also describes an expansion into a new economy guided by love for the name of God. In both passages, altruism and service are being emphasized. Looking at this cognitively, behavior will only become connected with a TMN of God if it is not being motivated by MMNs of people. The goal in both John 15 and Hebrews 6 is to become personally guided by the new Teacher concept of God that is emerging. This will happen if one serves others without seeking personal reward. But the goal of this service is not to deny self, but rather to gain the ability to participate personally in the new spiritual economy. That is why John 15 says that the greatest love is laying down one’s soul life for one’s brother (the word for life in John 15:13 means soul life and not physical life), and why Hebrews 6 talks about ministering to the saints.
Verse 11 makes it clear that this new spiritual economy will take time to develop: “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end.” The word translated desire is a strong word that means ‘to show focused passion as it aptly builds on what a person truly yearns for’. Thus, people are being motivated by core mental networks that provide an internal vision of how things could be. The verb ‘desire’ is in the plural, which means that a group of people is desiring to live in some sort of new world. But this is followed by ‘each one of you’, and the word translated each means ‘each individual unit viewed distinctly, as opposed to severally as a group’. Thus, there is a strong group desire for each individual person to participate as an individual. A similar combination can be seen in a modern economy, because the whole group is best served if people individually develop expertise in different areas.
The word translated show is the same verb that was used in verse 10, which means ‘showing conspicuous proof which demonstrates something as undeniable’. Thus, a new spiritual economy would require solid individual commitment from many individuals. And there is also a finite window of opportunity, because the word translated diligence means ‘swiftness to show zealous diligence—full effort by making haste’. One can understand the need for diligence by examining current society. The questioning of absolute truth led to a finite window of opportunity, during which people had the freedom to pursue many lifestyles. This window is now starting to close, because openness is now being replaced by a closemindedness that shuts down anything that questions one’s beliefs or lifestyle. Similarly, a transition from matter-over-mind to mind-over-matter would lead to a window of opportunity during which people would still be mentally guided by the memory of unchanging natural law. This memory of a God of natural law and order would provide a temporary foundation for rebuilding the concept of a God of cognitive law and order, just as today’s memory of absolute truth provides a temporary foundation for discovering universal truth. Looking at this more generally, if one wishes to discover universal truth, then one must lay a mental foundation of righteousness by going beyond proclaiming absolute truth to acting as if it is true. And if one wishes to live within righteousness, then one needs to lay a mental foundation by going beyond doing righteousness to being righteous. (Note from 2021: Acts 11 suggests that a new form of religious fundamentalism will emerge that separates clergy from laity and stifles growth.)
This diligence needs to be expressed through assurance, which means ‘fully carry through; bear or wear fully’. In other words, one is not merely pursuing this as a weekend hobby, but rather wearing this fully as a lifestyle. What is being worn is hope, which means ‘expectation of what is sure or certain’. And this hope is being worn “until the end”, and end means ‘the end of goal, purpose’.
Putting this together, there will be a deep group desire for every individual to speedily and convincingly put on a new lifestyle in order to reach the expected end goal. A similar commitment was described in Hebrews 4:14, where people were told to hold fast to the confession of Jesus the Son of God who has passed through the heavens. However, in Hebrews 4, Incarnation was passing through the heavens, while in Hebrews 6 a group of people is making a transition.
Verse 12 adds more details to this path: “so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Sluggish means ‘dull because slothful, lazy, listless’. Looking at this cognitively, Exhorter thought, the part of the mind that provides motivation, must not run out of energy. Exhorter thought acquires its energy from strong mental networks. These strong mental networks can either come from physical reality that is seen, or from internally generated Platonic forms that result from Teacher understanding. Paul talks about the transition to a new physical reality in Romans 8:18-25 and concludes that “hope that is seen is not hope”. Completing the transition to a new spiritual economy will require strong internal mental networks that can provide hope, because mental networks that are based in physical reality will fail.
Looking at this from another perspective, if people could use their minds to alter natural cause-and-effect, then there would no longer be a ‘stick’ of painful physical consequences to motivate growth. This explains, for instance, why family wealth often lasts three generations, and why 70% of rich families lose their wealth by the second generation. The younger generations do not experience the physical need that motivated the first generation to acquire its wealth.
Verse 12 adds that one should be imitators. This is the only time that this word is used in Hebrews, which implies that there is no general Teacher understanding for people to follow. A similar situation exists today for the typical Christian, because much of academia has concluded that there is no such thing as Teacher understanding. When understanding is missing, then all that remains is personal example. That is how most knowledge was transmitted before the scientific revolution. A student would become a disciple or apprentice of some master.
Looking at this more generally, what was a promise of God under matter-over-mind could finally start to turn into reality when mind started to rule over matter. But this would only happen initially with a few people, whose success would need to be imitated by others. These forerunners would achieve success ‘through faith and patience’. Faith means to ‘be persuaded’, while patience means ‘long-passion, waiting sufficient time before expressing anger’.
However, even if understanding is lacking, one can still choose who one will imitate: “… imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (v.12). The word inherit is a present tense participle (‘inheriting’), which means that one should imitate those who are inheriting the promises, telling us that it has started to become possible to turn promise into reality.
If mind were to start ruling over matter, and if mental networks acquired the power to change reality, then there would be a strong temptation to achieve immediate results by expressing mental networks in an uncontrolled fashion. One sees this illustrated by the charismatic Christian practice of being slain in the spirit, because spiritual power (and/or hypnosis combined with a shove of the hand) is being used to achieve the immediate result of causing people to lose conscious control of their bodies. Patience means waiting before one emotes, while faith indicates being persuaded by rational thought. The goal of this faith and patience is not to avoid reality but rather to become the kind of person who can inherit transformed reality. For instance, over the decades I have often wished that I could use emotional force to impose the theory of mental symmetry upon others. But being unable to impose mental symmetry upon others has forced me to embody this theory so that it has become an expression of me and not just my theory. (Note from 2021: A lot of human activity is motivated by a desire to avoid or minimize physical suffering. Altering human DNA would eliminate much of this motivation, forcing people to find new and positive sources of motivation.)
The first three of the seven bowls of wrath described in Revelation 16 appear to describe how those who are not following God would experience this initial spread of mind-over-matter. The first realization would be that mental content has personal consequences, reflected as a ‘malignant sore’ on those who worship the beast. This would be followed by a dying of existing MMNs of culture, as illustrated by the sea being turned into blood like a dead man. This realization would then spread to the more general areas of motivation and the paths of society, as illustrated by the rivers and springs turning into blood.
Something similar is happening today, because the growth of objective science and technology, combined with the questioning of postmodernism, is causing traditional MMNs of authority to be questioned, leading to the death of existing culture. The bowls of wrath appear to be describing something more intense, in which mental networks of materialistic existence are dying as a result of the growth of mind-over-matter. This transformation would be spearheaded by pioneers of faith who would be using their minds to gain control over matter.
Looking at this more generally, the seven trumpets described in Revelation 8 are only partially successful, and they convey the impression that the followers of God are attempting to attack the system of the world from the outside. This describes the situation within current society, because Christians feel like outsiders trying to defend themselves against the world system. This limitation is inherent in the word trumpet, which is ‘properly, a war-trumpet’. The Bible dictionary adds that it ‘boldly announces God’s victory’, but announcing a victory is not the same as achieving a victory, and one can see in Revelation 8 that a victory is not achieved.
Explaining this cognitively, when matter is over mind, then one can become ‘transformed by the renewing of the mind’, but one is still ruled by the ironclad dictates of the laws of nature. Thus, while it is possible for a Christian message to affect human society in a major way, Christianity is ultimately limited to proclaiming the total victory of God and warring against the world system that is based upon rational materialism. This would especially be true for a Christian message based in absolute truth, because absolute truth naturally thinks in terms of us-versus-them and is incapable of building a general Teacher structure within which one can live.
In contrast, the seven bowls described in Revelation 16 are successful. Revelation 15:1 explicitly says that they finish the wrath of God, and the word finish means ‘to complete or consummate’. The word bowl means ‘a shallow and flat bowl’, and is used 12 times in the New Testament, only in the book of Revelation. A bowl is a container that contains liquid, and liquid represents experience. Thus, ‘pouring out a bowl’ probably represents a society going through a set of Mercy experiences, similar to the way that ‘drinking a cup’ represents a person going through a set of Mercy experiences. A bowl is inherently more effective than a trumpet because it extends beyond Teacher words to include Mercy experiences. The seven bowls of Revelation 16 are specifically referred to as ‘the seven bowls of the wrath of God’ (Rev. 16:1), which means that a concept of God in Teacher thought is emotionally imposing itself upon Mercy experiences, because wrath describes Teacher displeasure.
Cognitively speaking, God could only impose his nature completely upon people within mind-over-matter, because then no mountains of independent physical truth would exist within which people could hide themselves from the wrath of God, as described back in Revelation 6:16. Instead, a universal concept of God would ultimately grow to become an inescapable blazing sun, as described in the fourth bowl. This would be experienced as something positive for people with core mental networks that were consistent with the character of God, while being experienced as deeply threatening by those whose core mental networks violated the TMN of the emerging concept of God. Malachi 4:1-2 describes this dual response, using the same imagery of a blazing sun: “‘For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.’”
The next section in Hebrews will describe what it feels like to have the blazing sun of a concept of God. And at this point I suspect that a blazing concept of God might lead to a blazing physical sun, because that is what happens when mind truly starts to rule over matter. (Note from 2021: A blazing sun could be interpreted in two ways. First, any attempt to practice mysticism would bring humans into direct contact with the divine light, similar to the way that Saul was blinded on the road to Damascus. That is because the physical body currently prevents mysticism from succeeding. A human body that was aware of spiritual reality would no longer possess these inherent safeguards. Second, one could no longer escape from conscience by retreating to some secular existence involving the physical body, because the structure of the physical body would also become a moral consequence of one’s interaction with God.)
Verses 13-20 talk about confidence in God. If mind started to rule over matter, then I suggest that this would eventually become the most pressing issue. This is happening to some extent in current society. The end of the 20th century was a time of freedom and questioning. But that led to deep uncertainty, and people are now searching for something solid to hang on to. Most of this searching for stability is not in the direction of rational thought, but rather is a clinging to absolute truth based in deep emotional mental networks such as faith in God, cultural tradition, religious belief, armed force, lifestyle, or sexual orientation. If natural law stopped being solid, then a deep confusion would emerge at the level of general Teacher understanding, and people would respond by clinging to some concept of God that could give them a sense of security and confidence. This would not happen right away, because it takes time for core mental networks to start falling apart, just as today’s search for stability happened after several decades of apparent freedom. A similar delayed response can be seen in culture shock, which usually strikes after a period of initially enjoying the novelties of a foreign culture. (Note from 2021: Similarly, Acts 11-12 appears to describe the rise of a new form of religious fundamentalism.)
Hebrews 6 describes two forms of certainty, one based in swearing and the other in an oath. These are not the same. Omnuo (translated ‘swear’) means ‘to invoke powers greater than oneself to uphold the truth of the declaration, by putting a curse upon oneself if it is false’. Saying this cognitively, swearing is based in Mercy status. When I swear, I am saying that some person or object with great Mercy status will do me personal harm if I am not telling the truth. Thus, swearing accompanies absolute truth, because in both cases some source with great Mercy status is imposing Perceiver truth upon personal identity. This connection between swearing and some higher power can be seen in verse 16: “For men swear by one greater than themselves”. Verse 13 explains that God could not swear by someone bigger because there was no one bigger: “since He could swear by no one greater, he swore by himself”.
Horkos (translated ‘oath’) is ‘akin to erkos’, which means ‘fence or enclosure’. Perceiver thought builds mental fences and enclosures by dividing Mercy experiences into various categories. Thus, the very presence of a fence implies that one is going beyond Mercy experiences to Perceiver facts. Going further, in Greek mythology, the god Horkos personified the curse that would be inflicted on any person who swore a false oath. Personifying words about morality is cognitively different than meeting a real person. When I meet a real person, then the emotional experiences enter Mercy thought directly and form an MMN which then mentally represents that person. Words about morality create a mental concept of a person indirectly through the path of Platonic forms, because words in Teacher thought are being used to describe Perceiver truth. For instance, ‘If you break your oath to me, then Horkos himself will bring vengeance upon you’. Horkos is not just my burly neighbor getting angry at me, but rather the personification of oaths descending from the realm of Teacher words to defend Perceiver truth by visiting judgment upon me in Mercy thought. A similar combination can be seen in the personification of Lady Justice or Uncle Sam, because both of these represent a system of moral law that is based in words which has the power to impose truth upon me. Thus, the ultimate basis for an oath is not Mercy status but rather Perceiver stability. This stability can be seen in verse 17, which says that God “interposed with an oath” in order “to show to the heirs of promise the unchangeableness of His purpose”.
Summarizing, swearing is related to absolute truth because it is based in Mercy status, while an oath is related to universal truth because it is based in Perceiver stability and Teacher generality.
Returning now to Hebrews, verse 13 talks about swearing to Abraham: “For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself.” This promise is described as something that happened in the past: ‘having made his promise’. Similarly, absolute truth is viewed as something that happened in the past: some religious experts in the past received a revelation from God. This promise was made to Abraham. This is the second mention of Abraham in Hebrews, who was first mentioned in 2:16, where it talked about Jesus giving help to the seed of Abraham.
Abraham represents a mindset that leaves MMNs of culture in order to follow God. Such a mindset can begin the path of personal transformation and it can learn that God does not reside in Mercy thought, but it cannot complete this process because it lacks a full understanding of God in Teacher thought. Instead, it thinks in terms of swearing: if God promises something, then it will happen because God is the biggest person who overrules all other authorities. This leads among other things to confusion about the character of God. Can God do and say anything because he is the biggest person, or is the behavior of God limited by the nature of God? Islam teaches that the character of God is utterly inscrutable, and that God can do and say anything he likes, including abrogating what was revealed earlier by God in the Quran.
The point is that one can gain certainty in God because God is bigger than anyone and anything else and has the power to overrule anyone or anything else. This describes the certainty of absolute truth, and it would also become significant if people could use their minds to alter matter, because God as the biggest and the most powerful mind would still be able to impose structure upon the universe.
The type of promise that is made to Abraham is also significant, because it is the only kind of promise that can be made to a mind that is based in absolute truth: “I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you”. The original Greek says ‘surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you. (The literal original Hebrew in Genesis 22:17 says something similar: ‘In blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your offspring’.) A mind that is based in Mercy status has a limited imagination, because Teacher understanding is needed to realize what could be done, and Teacher understanding leads to Platonic forms within Mercy thought that allow a person to visualize internally what could be. When Teacher understanding is lacking, then all one can say is that ‘it will be good’ and ‘you will have much more than you have now’, and one can only emphasize this by repeating it. Using symbolic language, Abraham can move from being Abram, which means ‘exalted father’, to being Abraham, which means ‘father of a multitude’.
When Teacher understanding is limited, then the primary attribute that is required is waiting patiently until the goal is reached: “And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise” (v.15). For instance, suppose that a mother promises her child that ‘We will arrive at grandma’s pretty soon’. The child lacks the understanding that is required to help with the journey. But the child can wait patiently until this promise is obtained.
Verse 16 describes the transition from swearing to oath: “For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute.” The first phrase is more literally, ‘humans swear by one greater’. In ancient Greek culture, the name of the deity by which one swore was either mentioned explicitly or implied by the context or culture. Verse 16, in contrast, explicitly mentions humans doing the swearing while referring to the deity merely as ‘one greater’. In other words, verse 16 recognizes that the real reference point in swearing is not God but rather personal identity. Some person is doing the swearing, and this swearing is based upon some MMN that has great emotional status within the mind of that person.
Jesus points this out when talking about swearing in the Sermon on the Mount: “but I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black” (Matt. 5:34-36). The word translated ‘oath’ in these verses is ‘swearing’. Jesus is saying that swearing violates mental ownership. One should not swear by heaven or earth because these belong to God. Similarly, one should not swear by Jerusalem because it belongs to the king. And one should not swear by one’s head because one is powerless to change anything. Cognitively speaking, when I swear by some exalted source in Mercy thought, then I am actually taking ownership of that exalted MMN, because I am doing the swearing, believing that the exalted MMN will respond in obedience to my wishes. I am the active agent, and the deity by whom I am swearing is merely the passive enforcer.
This explains why Hebrews 6:16 associates swearing with dispute, which means ‘a controversy, taking the opposite side to attack’. Swearing makes God my servant. For instance, how does one respond when some charismatic Christian says that ‘God told me to tell you that...’? This does not lead to stability and confidence but rather to disputes: ‘But God told me something totally different!’ This same problem exists in more general form with the entire concept of absolute truth. For instance, if Christians say that God has spoken through the Bible, then Muslims will respond by saying that God has spoken through the Quran, and other religions will state with equal fervor that God has spoken through their holy book. The end result is not certainty but rather dispute.
Verse 16 says that ‘an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute’, and the word translated oath is horkos. The word translated confirmation means ‘what upholds’ and is related to the adjective that means ‘solid enough to walk on’. Saying this cognitively, stability comes by replacing absolute truth with universal truth. Universal truth is solid enough to walk on because it describes principles that apply everywhere.
Verse 17 says that the same principle applies to God: “In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath.” Desiring ‘is a strong term that underlines the predetermined and determined intention driving the planning’. Thus, the focus is not just upon God’s desire, but rather upon the certainty and stability of his desire. Even more means ‘beyond what is anticipated, exceeding expectation’. The word translated unchangeableness occurs only twice in the New Testament, once in Hebrews 6:17 and once in Hebrews 6:18, and it means ‘no-change-of-position; hence, immutable, unchangeable, unalterable’. Finally, the word purpose is actually the noun form of the word ‘desire’ used earlier in verse 17.
The commentator interprets this as God ‘arranging all the physical scenes of history before creation’, but I suggest that such an interpretation is actually a Teacher overgeneralization that falls apart when one attempts to look at the details. Instead, I suggest that Hebrews 6 is describing the kind of deep certainty in God to which people will be forced to cling to with all of their being when the implications of mind-over-matter start to become apparent. I know a little of what this means, because I have been forced to find mental stability in my concept of God as society swirls around me. When this is asserted as merely a theological concept, then people will state with great fervor that God controls everything, while acting most of the time as if God controls nothing. It is when society shifts and crumbles that one is forced to go beyond theology to practice.
For instance, John Calvin proposed his doctrine of divine sovereignty in a society in which everything was shifting and crumbling. In the words of one author, “Anxiety is a motif that beats through almost everything Calvin wrote. Himself deeply anxious, he described anxiety, analyzed anxiety, and prescribed for its relief. A vocabulary of anxiety fills his writings.”
This certainty is not being acquired by everyone, but rather is being given “to the heirs of the promise” (v.17). These same two words were used earlier in verse 12, where people are told to be “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises”. In other words, God is not promising certainty to everyone, but is promising certainty to those who become the kind of people who are capable of realizing God’s word.
Verse 18 explicitly states—using strong language—what we have been discussing, which is that people are going through a major transition and are finding stability in a God who does not change: “So that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.”
The word ‘unchangeable’ was encountered in verse 17, and this word is only used in these two verses. The word things sounds rather vague in English, but actually means a ‘habit needed to accomplish what is necessary’. Thus, one is dealing again with repeatability and consistency. God is not just unchangeable, but he has two unchangeable habits. The first unchangeable habit is that God swears; he backs up his words with the power of being God. The second unchangeable habit is that God gives an oath; he guarantees his plans with universal truth. Verse 17 continues by saying that it is impossible for God to ‘deceive, lie, or speak falsely’. The word translated impossible can refer either to something that a person is incapable of doing, or to an event that is impossible. It occurs ten times in the New Testament. This is the only time that the New Testament talks about something being impossible for God. In contrast, three of the occurrences of the word ‘impossible’ are in the synoptic Gospels at the end of the story of the rich young ruler, where Jesus says that things are not impossible for God: “And looking at them Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt. 19:26). Notice that God is being associated in Matthew with the opposite of impossible.
Looking at this in terms of swearing and oaths, saying that it is impossible for God to lie is an example of an oath, because it describes a limitation or fence upon the character of God.
Verse 18 continues by saying that “...we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.” The first phrase is a single word that is more literally ‘having fled for refuge’. This word fleeing for refuge is only used twice in the New Testament. The other occurrence is in Acts 14:6, where the Christians in Iconium flee for refuge to the surrounding cities to escape persecution. The word translated encouragement means ‘a personal exhortation that delivers the evidence that stands up in God’s court’. Thus, there is both a personal and a legal side to this word. Take hold means ‘to place under one’s grasp, hold fast’. And what is being held fast is ‘the hope set before us’.
Summarizing, I suggested earlier that these verses are describing a deep certainty in God to which people will be forced to cling with all of their being when the implications of mind-over-matter start to become apparent. Verses 17-18 make it clear that this is not an overstatement. In fact, it would be difficult to find any passage in the Bible that emphasizes more strongly the stability of God as a refuge that does not change.
This emphasis continues in verse 19: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul”. The word anchor is used four times the New Testament, three times literally when describing the voyage of Paul to Rome in Acts 27. This is the only symbolic usage of the word anchor, because verse 19 talks about an anchor of the soul. This means that the stability will come internally. If mind starts to rule over matter, then the only kind of stability that remains is internal stability: an anchor of the soul. Saying this more generally, when one’s external environment falls apart, then one has to search internally for stability. The internal nature of this stability is emphasized by the word hope, because Paul clarifies in Romans 8:24 that “Hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?”
The hope in verse 19 is described as “both sure and steadfast”. Sure means ‘built on what does not totter’, while steadfast means ‘solid enough to walk on’. Using cognitive language, it is both solid in Perceiver thought and reliable in Server thought. (Note from 2021: The beginning of Acts 12 appears to be describing the worst possible human nightmare, which is genetically altered human sons-of-heroes attempting to use their personal status to impose their control over a population that has been genetically modified to be less aggressive. This is followed by Perceiver thought, represented by Peter, breaking free of this prison by finding a supernatural source of confidence and stability.)
This hope is “one which enters within the veil” (v.19). The word veil is used six times in the New Testament. Three of the occurrences are in the synoptic Gospels and describe the veil of the temple being torn when Jesus dies. The other three occurrences are in the book of Hebrews, with the first instance being here in Hebrews 6:19. The veil of the Temple in Jerusalem stood in front of the holy of holies, and the high priest would only enter beyond the veil once a year. If people are entering within the veil, then this indicates a major change in the relationship between God and people. Using the language of mind and matter, the behavior of the physical universe currently expresses the unchanging character of God. That is why matter is over mind, because matter must obey the universal laws of God, while minds can choose whether or not to follow God. At the end of Hebrews 6, people are finding refuge in the unchanging character of God. When human minds have to cling to the universal laws of God for stability, then minds will have no choice but to acknowledge the universal laws of God, similar to the way that matter currently has no choice but to obey the universal laws of God. This also means that human minds will ‘enter within the veil’ and find themselves in a much closer relationship with God.
In essence, one is dealing with a more extensive version of what happened at the end of Hebrews 2. In Hebrews 2, persecution forced spiritual technology to extend to matters of personal life and death. Saying this another way, God used the stick of persecution to push people through the doorway into spiritual technology. And this was not just any stick, but rather the stick of The Beast as described in Revelation 13. In Hebrews 6, God is using the instability of a shifting physical universe as a stick to push people through the doorway into finding internal refuge in the unchangeable character of God.
Looking at this more generally, the spiritual technology of Hebrews 2 would introduce the concept of supernatural power, but this would occur within a general context of solid physical matter. In Hebrews 6, it appears that solid physical matter is itself starting to shift. My guess is that these physical changes would probably be insignificant at this early stage, because it only takes an occasional earthquake to threaten mental networks that assume physical stability. (Note from 2021: I now think that Hebrews 2 describes a lesser stick of persecution that happens before the kingdom of the beast. I also think that physical reality is not shifting in Hebrews 6, but rather the personal bodily experience of physical reality.)
Verse 20 refers again to the priesthood of Jesus that was first described in Hebrews 5: “where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek is mentioned eight times in the book of Hebrews and is not found anywhere else in the New Testament. The first two occurrences were in Hebrews 5, where it talked about “Jesus being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek” (5:10). In chapter 5, people responded with uncertainty and lost the ability to think. At the end of chapter 6, Jesus is being called the forerunner, and people are following Jesus through the veil. The word forerunner is only used once in the New Testament, and describes ‘a person running ahead to reach the destination before others’. Verse 20 explicitly describes Jesus as a forerunner for us, emphasizing that people are following the example set by Incarnation.
In 5:6, Jesus was called “a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek”. In 5:10, Jesus was “being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek”. This was an official pronouncement that goes beyond the verbal statement made earlier. In 6:20, Jesus is described as “having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek”. What was an official pronouncement has now turned into reality. Using the analogy of the school, a new school was described in 5:6, this school was officially established in 5:10, and students started graduating from this new school in 6:20. I suggest that the analogy of a school is appropriate because Melchizedek means righteous king. A school teaches students to think and behave in a manner that is consistent with general Teacher understanding. This describes righteousness. Therefore, a priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek would be something like a school.
Theologically speaking, Jesus did everything that was required from God’s perspective to set up this new school of righteousness when becoming incarnate during the Roman era. Thus, I suggest that it is theologically accurate to connect Hebrews 6 with the transition from Judaism to Christianity. But Jesus was unable to complete God’s plan of salvation from a human perspective because of a lack of scientific understanding. Therefore, from the viewpoint of human history, it appears that this entering within the veil will happen sometime in the future. Saying this another way, it is currently possible to ‘enter within the veil’ cognitively in the relationship that one has internally with a concept of God. But this cognitive and spiritual relationship does currently not extend to physical reality. Hebrews 6 appears to be referring to a future time when this will extend to physical reality.
Turning briefly to Revelation 16, the ‘kingdom of the beast’ is ultimately based upon the split between objective and subjective that naturally emerges within matter-over-mind. The objective realm is ruled by rational thought, guided by an understanding of the universal laws that govern matter. In contrast, God can be approached mystically in subjective thought. Putting these two halves together, one can have a mystical encounter with God by emotionally embracing the Teacher overgeneralization that ‘all is one’, and this mystical encounter will naturally come to an end when the mind re-encounters the solid rational content of physical matter. Saying this more simply, I can close my eyes and pretend that I am one with God, confident that when I re-open my eyes I will remain a finite rational creature who is independent of God.
If mind were to rule over matter at a fundamental level, then there would no longer be an escape from mysticism. Instead, one would open one’s eyes and continue to find identity drawn inexorably to a mystical God like a moth to the flame. Using the language of Hebrews, one would go beyond the veil and there would be no anchor for the soul. Revelation 16:8-9 describes people being scorched with the great heat of the sun, and responding by cursing the name of God. This type of response would occur with unrestricted mysticism, because people would try desperately to emotionally belittle God in Teacher thought in order to prevent themselves from being swallowed up emotionally by God. This would probably feel like the medical condition known as persistent genital arousal disorder, in which a person has endless physical sensations of impending orgasm. The results are described as ‘living hell’.
This interpretation may sound like a stretch, but the next bowl in Revelation 16:10 is specifically poured out “on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened”. Therefore, whatever happens with the blazing sun of the fourth bowl lays the foundation for darkening the kingdom of the beast in the fifth bowl. In some way, people are experiencing the ‘sun’ of God with such heat that they are abandoning the mysticism of the beast.
The blasphemy continues, but its nature changes. With the fourth bowl, the name of God is being blasphemed, while in the fifth bowl, it the God of heaven who is being blasphemed. Thus, a mental transition has occurred from viewing God as merely an overgeneralized name in Teacher thought to viewing God as the ruler of the realm of heaven.
The end result is to integrate objective and subjective, as described by the sixth bowl (16:12), which causes the water of the Euphrates, which symbolically separates rational West from mystical East, to be dried up.
This idea of being judged through uncontrollable naked attraction to God is supported by a bizarre verse that appears to be inserted parenthetically into the description of Armageddon: “Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame” (16:15).
As for the ‘Battle of Armageddon’, I have mentioned in a previous essay that the name Armageddon combines the Hebrew word for ‘mountain’ with a word that means ‘place of crowds’. One of the primary characteristics of the kingdom of the beast is that one is ruled by human authorities who claim to speak for God. Cognitively speaking, everyone claims to worship an overgeneralized theory of God in Teacher thought, but such a concept is incapable of providing any specific content or structure. Therefore, this missing content will be added by human authorities who claim to represent God. This lifting up of culture is represented by the term Armageddon. When the throne of the beast is darkened in Teacher thought, then this subsidiary cultural structure will come to light, and people will feel emotionally driven to protect these core mental networks, as represented by the kings of the whole inhabited earth being gathered together. (Note from 2021: Acts 12 ends with the story of Herod being called a god and being eaten by worms. This story begins with followers gathering together to officially recognize certain heroes as voices of god. These heroes are then ‘eaten by the worms’ of direct contact with the divine realm of primal being because they lack the mental content that is required to handle this contact.)