The great Jewish philosopher Martin Buber believed that the enemy of true faith in God was not atheism (the claim that there is no God). In fact, he believed the enemy of true faith was two-fold: gnosticism (the claim that God is known); and magic (the claim that we know what God will do). I quote:
The two spiritual powers of gnosis and magic, masquerading under the cloak of religion, threaten more than any other powers the insight into the religious reality... the tribes of Jacob could only become Israel by disentangling themselves from both gnosis and magic.Which reminded me of Simon in Acts 8. It says there that he previously practiced magic. But legend also has it that he was the founder of the gnostic movement, Simon Magus. Interesting that both enemy streams would merge in one person and perhaps one movement. I agree with Buber. I see these two powers, the gnostic spirit and the magic spirit, powerfully at work in the church today. They always have been and always will be. Not necessarily as definable religious movements (although they could be), but definitely as moods or attitudes permeating our cultural milieu. These are the two magnetic poles towards which we are always being pulled. What fascinates me the past couple of days is the paucity of those seriously combatting these two insidious, prevalent and dangerous threats to faith. Check out my tees HERE and my art HERE.