What's New?


John1 John

Lorin Friesen, December 2016

The Bible contains enough written of John and by John to conclude that the apostle John was a Mercy person. The Mercy person is naturally talented at taking emotional snapshots of people and situations. But the Mercy person finds it much more difficult to work out the steps that lead from one situation to another. This same emphasis can be found in the book of 1 John. On the one hand, John describes people’s emotional states with great accuracy. On the other hand, John does not say much about what leads from one state to another. Therefore, one has to use other passages of Scripture, combined with an understanding of how the mind works, to fill in the gaps.

John is called the apostle of love, and John’s emphasis upon love is a characteristic of the Mercy person. But 1 John is not just a collection of poetic language, but an accurately written description of the process of personal and societal transformation. Even though John’s writing portrays a series of emotional snapshots, these snapshots are all arranged in proper sequence and the entire book of 1 John forms a single connected sequence.

This sequence can be subdivided into three parts: First, John describes the three stages of personal transformation, which are personal honesty, righteousness, and rebirth. Second, John describes the transition from the absolute truth of fundamentalism to the universal truth of rational understanding, and this description corresponds to what Jesus says in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 about the destruction of the Temple. Third, John describes the path of societal transformation that is portrayed in more detail in Revelation 11-19, and there is a detailed correspondence between 1 John and Revelation.

Stating this all in outline form:

  • 1:5-10 Personal honesty

  • 2:1-6 Righteousness

  • 2:7-14 Paradigm shift from absolute to universal truth

  • 2:15-17 A coming societal shift

  • 2:18-24 Antichrists (Matt. 24:10-13)

  • 2:25-29 Time of deception (Matt. 24:14-24)

  • 3:1-3 Theoretical return of Christ (Matt. 24:26-31)

  • 3:4-10 A transformed concept of Christianity (Rev. 12 Satan cast out of heaven)

  • 3:11-24 Backlash from society (Rev. 13 the beast)

  • 4:1-6 Testing the spirits (Rev. 16 the seven bowls)

  • 4:7-14 Applying understanding (Rev. 15; Rev. 18:4 a new economy)

  • 4:15-21 Extending application (Rev. 18 the fall of Babylon)

  • 5:1-5 Celebrating victory (Rev. 19:1-6 fourfold hallelujah)

  • 5:6-12 Mental integration (Rev. 19:7-10 marriage supper of the Lamb)

  • 5:13-21 Concrete return of Christ (Rev. 19:11-21 the great supper of God)

Suggesting that 1 John is a prophetical book does not mean that the verses of 1 John apply only to specific points in history. Prophecy is often regarded as God revealing to man how he will arbitrarily step in to impose himself upon the pages of history. But I suggest that this interpretation reflects the mindset of absolute truth (which we will be discussing later). Instead, I suggest that prophecy describes a series of steps that naturally flow one after another. In other words, prophecy is not based in God’s inscrutable decrees but rather in universal cognitive principles. God does not fight history but rather works with the flow of history, nudging rather than shoving, enabling trends rather than imposing His will. For instance, God intervened in human history in a major way through the life of Jesus, and yet Paul says in Galatians 4 that “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”. Thus, Jesus was born at the appropriate time, in an appropriate fashion, to a prepared group of people. Using theological language, God is righteous, because God behaves in a manner that cooperates with how things work.

Thus, the stages described in 1 John can also be viewed as universal cognitive principles that come into play whenever the appropriate factors are present. For instance, chapter 2 describes a time of societal confusion in which absolute truth is replaced by universal truth. On the one hand, this refers to a specific time in history when fundamentalism will be replaced by rational thought. But on the other hand, it also describes a period of confusion that occurs within the mind of every teenager who is questioning what was learned as a child and learning to think for himself.

A Mercy Viewpoint 1:1-4

John begins 1 John similar to the way that he begins the gospel of John: “What was in the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of life” (1:1). Compare this with John 1: “In the beginning was the Word...”

Mercy thought thinks in terms of people and uses MMNs (Mercy mental networks) to represent people. Each MMN is associated with an emotional label, and MMNs will naturally form an emotional hierarchy, with core mental networks imposing their structure upon lesser mental networks. This means that people who are represented by MMNs with great emotional status will be regarded as sources of truth. This is the mindset behind fundamentalism, which regards some holy book—or textbook—as the source of absolute truth because its authors are mentally represented by MMNs with great emotional status.

John starts with a different approach. He is still using Mercy thought, which focuses upon experiences and emotions: ‘what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands’. And he is still thinking in terms of people and emotional importance, because that is how Mercy thought functions.

But John is focusing upon a different kind of person and a different basis for emotional importance. Incarnation is being personalized as ‘the Word’. In the same way that Mercy thought is based upon experiences, so Teacher thought is based upon words. Personal transformation occurs when the TMN of a general understanding is allowed to transform MMNs of childish identity. Mercy thought will personalize this TMN and view it as ‘the Word’.

Fundamentalism views God as the most important person who is the source of truth. This leads naturally to an attitude of religious self-denial, in which one follows God by focusing fully upon the MMN that represents God while ignoring MMNs of personal identity. John, in contrast, views the Word as the beginning or start, an attitude that reflects the sequential thinking of Teacher thought. This leads to the idea that following God means walking along the path that God has started, and the book of 1 John describes in detail the various steps of this path.

Another distinction can be seen in the way that John treats the concrete world of experiences. People and items with emotional status will normally be treated like museum pieces that are viewed reverently from a distance, protected from normal life by walls and signs that say ‘Do not touch’. John describes his experiences with the Word quite differently. He didn’t just ‘hear and see’, he ‘comprehended by hearing’, and ‘perceived with the mind’. Instead of looking reverently from a distance, he ‘observed intently in order to interpret and grasp the significance’ and ‘felt and groped about’.

When truth is backed up by MMNs of emotional status, then truth will not survive close contact, because bringing MMNs of personal identity into contact with truth will take what is holy and make it common, emotionally eroding the source of absolute truth. However, when truth is based in the TMN of a general understanding, then truth becomes stronger the more one examines it and comes into contact with it, because Teacher emotion comes from order-within-complexity. That is because examining a theory adds new facets to understanding, making this understanding more general, which increases Teacher emotion, making the TMN more potent. Saying this more simply, absolute truth lacks curiosity while understanding drives curiosity.

John explains his approach to experiences in more detail: “The life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us” (1:2). Childish MMNs are acquired from the external environment as embodiment causes experiences of pain and pleasure to form MMNs within Mercy thought. For instance, MMNs that represent mother and father have emotional power because a young child lives within a physical body that is continually being protected, guided, and nurtured by parents.

John reverses the normal direction of physical to mental, going instead from internal to external: ‘the life was manifested or made visible’. Mercy thought with its focus upon experiences is still being used, but instead of viewing experiences as the source of truth, personal experience adds details to the invisible truth that is being made visible: ‘and we have seen and bear witness’. And John emphasizes that the direction is from Teacher thought to visible Mercy experience: ‘which was with the Father and was manifested to us’.

Mercy standards of appropriateness are usually transmitted non-verbally through the giving and withholding of approval. John, in contrast, can verbally ‘proclaim to you’ the truth because it comes from the TMN of a general understanding that uses words.

MMNs that are based in physical experiences have to be preserved with walls of holiness and attitudes of reverence in order to stop them from fading or decaying. In contrast, experiences that come from Teacher understanding do not have to be protected, because they are based in lasting principles. That is why John can ‘proclaim to you the eternal life’. Looking at this cognitively, Teacher thought comes up with general theories that describe the essence of many specific situations, and Teacher thought hates it when order is disturbed by exceptions to the rule, such as machines breaking down, structures crumbling, objects falling apart, or textures becoming warped, wrinkled, or twisted. Mercy thought tries to keep valued objects and people in pristine condition by leaving them in the original package, in order to try to delay the inevitable decaying process. Teacher thought, in contrast, leads naturally to a desire to renew, restore, and perfect objects and people.

Summarizing, Mercy thought has a positive reason to submit to the TMNs of Teacher thought, because Teacher thought can do a much better job of preserving and protecting Mercy experiences than Mercy thought. This is a totally different than the negative reason of religious self-denial that emerges from fundamentalism. Using religious language, John is ‘proclaiming to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us’. Modern technology provides a partial illustration of this principle, because modern factories are capable of mass producing items that are far more perfect than items made by hand in the past.

Love can be defined cognitively as MMNs interacting in a mutually beneficial manner. The Mercy person talks a lot about love, but when MMNs of personal identity come into contact with one another, then they will naturally struggle for dominance, each using emotional pressure to impose its content upon the other. This can be seen in the behavior of the typical Mercy person, who will explicitly say that everyone needs to love one another, while implicitly defining love as acting in a manner that is consistent with the unspoken desires of the Mercy person. And these unspoken desires will be subtly but firmly reinforced by hints of approval and disapproval. Thus, behaving in a loving manner in practice usually means behaving according to the Mercy person’s definition of love. At a more general level, this leads to feelings of cultural superiority, because each group will implicitly assume that acting in a civilized manner means following the cultural MMNs of that group.

Teacher thought, in contrast, feels good when the same rules apply to everyone. Thus, when MMNs of personal identity are submitted to the TMN of a concept of God, it becomes possible for people to have fellowship with one another guided by the rule of law. John describes both the desire for fellowship and the basis for true fellowship: “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1:3). Notice that John is being driven by Teacher emotions to add more individuals to the group, rather than being driven by Mercy feelings to exclude them because they do not act like us. And John clarifies that the fellowship is being guided by the TMN of a concept of God, combined with an incarnation which comes from God that translates the general theories of Teacher thought into the specific experiences of Mercy thought. (The relationship between Jesus-as-man and Jesus-as-God is discussed in other essays.)

Mercy emotions go up and down as Mercy thought encounters experiences that feel good or bad. Teacher understanding, in contrast, leads to a long-term positive feeling of joy that goes beyond specific Mercy feelings of happiness and sadness. John says that “These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete” (1:4). The word translated complete means to ‘be full or fill to individual capacity’. A Teacher theory becomes filled when more specific situations are added to the general rule. Thus, John’s Teacher joy will become filled when more people are guided by a Teacher understanding of God and incarnation. And even though a Mercy person cannot consciously see Teacher theories, a Mercy person can definitely feel and appreciate the positive emotions that result from having a Teacher theory.

God is Light

The next verses describe the attitude that Mercy thought must take in order to experience the fellowship that comes from being guided by Teacher thought.

The Mercy person wants to live in an atmosphere of love. John will start talking about love in chapter 2, but in chapter 1 John talks only about fellowship. I suggest that fellowship lays the foundation for love, because fellowship creates the structure within which love can flourish. If one jumps directly to love without first building a solid foundation of fellowship, then love will turn into implicit domination and submission. That is why John began by emphasizing being guided by a TMN of God and incarnation, because this lays the foundation for the fellowship that makes love possible.

John starts by describing what it feels like in Mercy thought to be guided by the TMN of a concept of God. “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1:5). The Mercy person is conscious in the part of the mind that deals with experiences. When the Mercy person has an unpleasant memory, then conscious thought can be used to choose not to think about this experience. If the Mercy person tries hard enough to forget, then the resulting emotional pressure will overwhelm Perceiver thought, the part of the mind that builds connections between experiences, successfully blocking that memory off from conscious recall. If the Mercy person chooses to block off painful experiences in childhood before the rest of the mind has a chance to develop, then this can lead in the extreme to multiple personalities. (I know that this term has come into disrepute, and it is obvious that suppressed memories should not be regarded as an accurate source of factual information. However, I think that the basic concept of multiple personalities is still valid.)

The Mercy person does not have conscious access to Teacher theories, but the Mercy person will recognize the impact that a theory has upon Mercy thought. When Mercy thought blocks off experiences, then this will lead to walking in mental darkness, because the rest of the mind will not bring related experiences to mind. In contrast, a general Teacher understanding will be experienced as walking in the light, because Perceiver facts and Teacher theories are bringing to mind experiences and Platonic forms that relate to the current situation. This principle of walking in the light versus walking in the darkness applies to all cognitive styles, but the Mercy person consciously experiences the contrast between light and darkness, while this happens under the surface in other cognitive styles.

A mental concept of God emerges when a sufficiently general Teacher theory applies to personal identity in Mercy thought. Teacher thought wants general theories to apply universally without exception. The Mercy person is usually willing to walk in some light, and even to allow the light of a general understanding to shine on most personal experiences. But if the TMN of a concept of God is to transform childish MMNs, then a person must always walk in the light—without exception. That is why John does not just say that ‘God is Light’, but adds that ‘in Him there is no darkness at all’.

This does not mean that one shares every detail of personal life with other people. One is being totally open with the TMN of a mental concept of God and not spilling one’s guts to fellow humans. Obviously, if one is internally allowing a concept of God to shine the light of understanding upon all experiences, then this will lead to an attitude of transparency with others. But I suggest that there is always a place for personal privacy. One can only be an individual if one has some memories that are not shared with others. One can be totally open with Teacher thought internally while remaining an individual because Teacher thought functions in a way that is totally different than Mercy thought, and this fundamental difference maintains individuality.

John then describes various facets of walking in the light, beginning with the principle that was just discussed: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1:6). Perceiver thought can acquire truth in one of two ways. Perceiver thought can be overwhelmed into accepting a fact as absolute truth if it comes from a source that has sufficient emotional status. For instance, ‘If it is in the Bible then it must be true, because the Bible was written by God, and God is a Very Important Person’. Or ‘If it is in a science textbook then it must be true, because the textbook was written by scientists, and a scientist is a Very Important Person’. Or Perceiver thought can search for universal truth by looking for facts that occur repeatedly. For instance, the law of gravity is universally true because objects always fall to the ground when dropped. Saying this more simply, absolute truth is proclaimed, while universal truth is discovered.

Walking in darkness is compatible with absolute truth, because they both use emotional pressure to overwhelm Perceiver thought. Thus, one can walk in darkness while simultaneously talk about having fellowship with God. In contrast, Perceiver thought only discover universal truth if Perceiver thought is permitted to function, and that will only happen if a person chooses to walk in the light. Going further, Teacher thought will only come up with universal theories if Perceiver thought is permitted to search for universal truth. For instance, the average Christian views 1 John as religious truth associated with church and spirituality, and does not realize that John is describing universal principles that apply to all of life. This is an example of saying that one has fellowship with God while walking in darkness. Saying this more bluntly, when such a person says he believes that ‘God is omniscient’, then he is lying, because his concept of God is not being allowed to know everything. In the words of John, such a person is not ‘practicing the truth’.

Walking in the light is emotionally painful because facts can make me feel bad. John describes the solution in the next verse: “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” (1:7). Translating this into cognitive language, walking in the light does not just mean being emotionally open, but rather thinking and responding in a way that is like the pattern set by God. That is because a general theory has structure, and a TMN generates positive Teacher emotion when encountering behavior that is consistent with the structure of the general theory. That is why John talks about walking in the light as God Himself is in the light. Mysticism uses overgeneralization to come up with the vague concept of a universal God. Mysticism also talks about walking in the light of God, but there is no walking as God is in the light, because the God of mysticism is ultimately a formless blob that ‘transcends rational thought’. For instance, it makes sense to say that an object looks like some block of ice, because ice is a solid and solids have shape. However, it does not make sense to say that an object looks like some bowl of water, because water is a liquid and liquids have no inherent shape, but rather take the shape of their container. Similarly, a God of mysticism has no inherent shape or form.

When one thinks and responds in a way that is consistent with a concept of God, then one discovers that one has fellowship with other people who are also thinking and responding in a way that is like the character of God. This fellowship will occur naturally, because a concept of God is ultimately based in universal truth that applies to all people and all situations.

If one views God as a universal being whose character applies to all people and all situations, and if one believes that Jesus is the incarnation of God, then one will naturally view the death and resurrection of Jesus as a universal principle that applies to all people and all situations, backed up by the universal attributes of God. The end result is that the death and resurrection of Jesus turns from being merely a historical fact that occurred to a specific person to a general principle that applies whenever one is honest with God: Walking in the light leads to personal pain that will cause MMNs of personal identity to fall apart and die, but this personal death will be followed a personal resurrection, because the death and resurrection of Jesus is a universal principle. In the words of John, ‘the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin’. ‘Blood’ symbolically represents MMNs of personal identity. When personal identity is being threatened, then blood will be spilled, and if too much blood is lost, then a person will die. John describes the blood of Jesus as a universal principle that cleanses from all sin. But it will only be viewed as a universal principle if Jesus is regarded as the son of God: ‘the blood of Jesus His Son’.

It is also possible to try to protect personal identity when being accused of sin. This may protect Mercy feelings, but it attacks Perceiver thought and leads to self-deception. In the words of John, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1:8).

Verse 9 goes further than verse 7: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1:9). This verse is often quoted but seldom analyzed. In verse 7 a person is walking in the light; allowing Teacher thought to shine upon Mercy identity. The result is a cleansing from sin, a feeling of being forgiven by God because of the atoning death of Jesus. In verse 9, a person is confessing their sins. To confess means ‘to agree with or speak the same thing’. To confess one’s sins means to verbally agree with the pronouncement of Teacher thought, which implies that Teacher thought is now saying something with which one can agree. In verse 7, one was merely walking in the light of some general Teacher understanding, while in verse 9 the understanding has acquired sufficient content to be able to make specific statements about personal thought and behavior.

For instance, the average Christian today would probably find it difficult to name all of the Ten Commandments, and yet this is one of the most basic statements of moral law. It is possible for a person with this level of ignorance to walk in the light, because that merely requires being honest about personal experiences. But it is not possible for such a person to confess their sins, because there is no understanding of what is and is not sin. One cannot verbally agree with someone who is saying nothing, because there is nothing to agree with. Going further, one cannot confess one’s sins to a God of mysticism, because mysticism insists that God is devoid of rational content.

Walking in the light in verse 7 leads to the result of being cleansed from all sin. The result in verse 9 goes further, because one is cleansed from all unrighteousness and one’s sins are not just cleansed but forgiven. The word translated forgiven means to ‘send away or release’. Forgiving goes beyond cleansing. For instance, if a dirty dish is merely cleansed, then it is possible for that dish to become dirty again.

This lasting cleansing is possible if one addresses the underlying problem of unrighteousness. The Greek word translated righteousness is defined as ‘what is approved in God’s eyes’ or ‘righteousness of which God is the source or author’. Using cognitive language, righteousness is personal behavior that is guided by the TMN of a concept of God. When a mental network is triggered, then it will use emotional pressure to impose its structure upon the mind. For instance, if I think of my mother, then this will bring to mind the MMNs associated with mother, which will create an emotional drive to behave in a manner that is consistent with the expectations of mother. Similarly, if one gains an understanding of God’s character, and if this understanding turns into a TMN, then this will create an emotional drive to behave in a manner that is consistent with the character of God. Such behavior will be ‘approved in God’s eyes’, because it is consistent with the TMN that represents God, and it is ‘a righteousness of which God is the source’ because it is being driven by the TMN of a concept of God and not by MMNs of culture or personal identity.

Obviously, it is only possible to have a concept of righteousness if one has a rational understanding of the character of God. Mental symmetry suggests that the process of personal transformation can be divided into three primary stages. The first stage is one of personal honesty, in which one constructs an accurate mental concept of God by accepting facts about personal identity. The emphasis of John so far has been upon fellowship with God through personal honesty. John is now making a transition to the second stage of personal transformation, which is the stage of righteousness. The first stage constructed a mental concept of God. The second stage allows this mental concept of God to guide personal behavior. John will be emphasizing this second stage of righteousness in the coming verses.

John says that God is ‘faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins’. John has talked about lying, self-deception, not practicing the truth, and the truth not being in us. It is possible to avoid feelings of personal condemnation by suppressing the facts and deceiving oneself, but this will stop Perceiver thought from coming up with solid facts. A concept of God that is not built upon solid facts is not capable of being faithful. Saying this more simply, a concept of God that does not condemn me is also incapable of saving me. In contrast, a mental concept of God that is built upon solid unchanging facts of personal honesty will also be a God that is faithful. Similarly, if one constructs the mental concept of a God of righteousness, then this God will also save a person in a manner that is righteous.

For instance, modern science is guided by an understanding of how the natural universe behaves. Gaining an accurate understanding of how the natural world behaves is only possible if one avoids self-deception. Going further, the natural world behaves in a righteous manner, because it always acts in a way that is consistent with the mathematical Teacher theories of the laws of physics. If one analyzes a physical problem in the light of the laws of physics—if one confesses one’s sins, then it is possible to use the laws of physics to solve this problem in a manner that is both faithful and righteous. The solution will be faithful because the laws of physics can be trusted to remain the same. And the solution will be righteous because it will apply the laws of physics. This combination of faithful and righteous describes technology, because technology constructs gadgets that faithfully apply the laws of physics.

Moving on, the denial of verse 10 also goes beyond the denial of verse 8. In verse 8, specific sins are being denied, while the concept of sin is being denied in verse 10: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1:10). Denying specific problems leads to self-deception. One can refuse to accept specific Perceiver facts and still have a reasonably accurate Teacher understanding. However, in verse 10 the denial is at the general level of Teacher understanding; one is rejecting the concept of sin. This will lead to a twisted concept of God and will prevent a person from gaining an understanding of the character of God. For instance, the average Western individual used to accept the general concept of universal moral law, while insisting that they as individuals were not guilty of breaking this law. This type of individual was usually capable of thinking rationally in areas that did not affect personal identity. In contrast, the average Western individual now insists that there is no such thing as universal moral law and becomes indignant when encountering a person or group who teaches the concept of universal moral law. The result is that today’s individual is losing the ability to think rationally in any area.

Righteousness 2:1-6

Mercy persons are naturally good at sensing a person’s character, because they ‘live’ in the part of the mind that uses mental networks to represent people. However, the Mercy person is not naturally talented at determining the steps that must be taken to eliminate character flaws or improve one’s character. In addition, the Mercy person typically focuses upon the lesser goal of trying to make people feel good rather than pursuing the larger goal of personal character transformation.

John emphasizes that his goal is not just to make people feel good but rather to eliminate character flaws: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin” (2:1). John uses the term ‘little children’, a term that will reoccur several times later in the chapter, and I suggest that this refers to individuals who are starting on the path of personal transformation. Such individuals often think that being a Christian means asking Jesus into your heart in order to experience forgiveness of sins, and they do not realize that this is merely the first step in a long process of character transformation.

John is able to go beyond Mercy feelings to underlying character because he has a concept of incarnation that is able to translate between Mercy experiences and Teacher understanding: “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (2:1). The word translated advocate is the same term used to describe the Holy Spirit in John 14-16, and it means ‘a legal advocate who is close to the situation’. In John 14, the legal advocate is the Holy Spirit who comes to people. Here the legal advocate is Jesus Christ who is with the Father. Jesus Christ is able to be an advocate because Jesus Christ is righteous. Using cognitive language, Mercy thought thinks in terms of experiences and people while Teacher thought thinks in terms of sequences and understanding. Jesus Christ, as incarnation, can translate the experiences of Mercy thought into the words of Teacher thought because Jesus Christ naturally acts in a way that is consistent with the understanding of Teacher thought. For instance, science translates the physical problems of humanity into the language of mathematical theory. Science can do this because it has a righteous understanding of natural processes. Notice that John uses the term Jesus Christ, and not just Jesus or Christ. Jesus refers to the human side of incarnation while Christ describes the divine side. Translating between Mercy experiences and Teacher theories requires an incarnation who is Jesus Christ—both man and God.

The next verse describes one perspective of atonement: “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (2:2). The word translated propitiation means ‘an offering to appease or satisfy an angry, offended party’, and it only occurs twice in the New Testament, both times in 1 John. This accurately describes how Mercy thought feels about Teacher thought. When personal identity behaves in a manner that violates some general theory in Teacher thought, then Mercy thought will feel that ‘God is angry at me, and I need to do something to stop God for being angry at me’. However, I suggest that propitiation is not an adequate interpretation of atonement. Instead, I suggest that verse 1 (‘an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous’) describes more accurately the process of atonement, while the term propitiation describes what this process feels like. And John also emphasizes that propitiation is not just something that involves me and my personal feelings but rather is a universal principle that applies to everyone: ‘not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world’.

The next verses emphasize that interacting with God extends beyond appeasing God’s wrath: “By this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments”. The word translated keep does not mean ‘to do’ but rather means primarily ‘to watch over or guard’. Doing involves Server actions while keeping involves Perceiver facts. John is saying that one has an accurate concept of God if one holds on to facts from God that tell me what to do. For instance, the idea of ‘keeping’ can be seen in the topics that a preacher emphasizes and the topics that a preacher avoids. A person is not ‘keeping his commandments’ if the focus is upon the unconditional love and acceptance of God, or if a salvation message is continually being preached in order to save others, or if one talks in theoretical terms about theology, apologetics, or prophecy. Such mindsets do not ‘keep his commandments’ because they do not discuss what God expects of me.

Expanding upon this, John says that “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (2:4). Using modern language, the person who says that ‘God loves and accepts everyone unconditionally’ is a liar who does not know God. Using cognitive language, a concept of God needs to be based in a general Teacher theory that describes how things work. This is an important point that describes the fundamental difference between analytic philosophy and science, which Thomas Kuhn mentions in his book on paradigm shifts. Philosophy uses words to build logical structures within Teacher thought and philosophy thinks that Server actions are then added to these verbal, logical structures. Science, in contrast, is based primarily in the Server sequences of how the natural world works, which is then analyzed using logical structures in Teacher thought. John is emphasizing that holding on to the commandments of God is a fundamental aspect of knowing God, consistent with the attitude of science. In other words, if one wishes to know God, one needs to learn how God behaves and how this affects my behavior.

Verse 5 goes beyond verse 3. Verse 3 talked about keeping the commandments of God, while verse 5 says, “Whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him” (2:5). Perceiver facts and Server sequences are not emotional, but they provide the foundation for building a general theory in Teacher thought, and theories are emotional. This additional step can be seen in verse 5, because a person is keeping Teacher words and not just holding onto Perceiver facts and Server sequences. This leads to the emotional result of ‘the love of God’, which John emphasizes is the goal. (The word translated perfected means ‘working through the entire process to reach the final phase’). Using cognitive language, God loves a person by helping a person construct a mental concept of God that is based in a general Teacher understanding. But this Teacher understanding is constructed out of the mental bricks of God’s commandments and righteousness. The person who has such a Teacher understanding of God can know that he has a relationship with God: ‘By this we know that we are in Him’.

John then makes the transition from keeping to doing: “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (2:6). Notice that John is not saying that one should follow a list of rules, but rather that one should behave in a way that is similar to the way that God behaves.

John has mentioned several steps. It is important to perform these steps in the right order: 1) Personal honesty, combined with walking in openness before the light of God, will construct a mental concept of God. 2) This verbal concept of God then needs to be transformed into the concept of a God of righteousness who acts. 3) This concept of a God of righteousness will then turn into the emotional structure of a TMN. 4) This TMN of a concept of God will then emotionally drive a person to behave in a way that is similar to the character of God.

A Paradigm Shift 2:7-14

Following these steps will lead to a paradigm shift in one’s concept of God and Christianity, because one will view the same theological facts from a different perspective. I mentioned at the beginning of this essay that absolute truth is based in MMNs of personal status while universal truth is held together by the TMN of a general understanding. A concept of God emerges when a general Teacher understanding applies to personal identity. A Teacher theory is constructed upon Perceiver facts and Server sequences. Personal honesty accepts Perceiver facts about God even if they make personal identity feel bad, while righteousness allows personal Server sequences to be guided by the character of God.

This paradigm shift is based upon what I call an implicit image of God. An explicit concept of God is the God that one talks about. For the Christian, this is usually the theologically correct God of the Bible. However, this verbally-based explicit concept of God usually does not affect personal character or behavior. Instead, what really drives a person is the implicit concept of God that forms as a result of the Perceiver facts in which one believes and the Server skills that one acquires. This paradigm shift from explicit concept of God to implicit concept of God will happen whether one acknowledges it consciously or not. That is why it is imperative to practice personal honesty when acquiring Perceiver facts and to allow Server actions to be guided in a righteous manner by an understanding of God. If one practices self-deception and does not walk in righteousness then one will build a twisted implicit concept of God, and one will feel emotionally driven to worship and obey this twisted concept of God. Saying this another way, when mental networks come into direct contact with one another, then each will attempt to impose its structure upon the other. When the TMN of the concept of God comes into contact with MMNs of personal identity, then either personal identity will be reshaped to become in the image of God or else a person will construct a concept of God in the image of personal identity.

John describes this paradigm shift in the next verses: “Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining” (2:7,8). On the one hand, the biblical content that John is teaching has not changed. It is the ‘old commandment which you had from the beginning… the word which you have heard’. But on the other hand, John is teaching something completely new, because it is now based in the ‘true light’ of a general Teacher understanding that is backed up by personal content ‘in Him and in you’. This leads to a general paradigm of Christianity based in universal truth that is causing ‘the darkness to pass away’.

Similarly, mental symmetry appears to be consistent in detail with the content of the Bible. But it views Christianity and religion from the Teacher perspective of a general theory of cognition, and not from the Mercy perspective of religious authorities and absolute truth.

John then compares walking in the light with hating one’s brother: “The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now” (2:9). The word translated hate means ‘to love someone or something less than someone else’. Absolute truth evaluates facts based upon the emotional status of people: A fact that comes from a person with emotional status will automatically be accepted as true, while a fact that comes from a person who does not have emotional status will be rejected as unreliable. Using the language of John, absolute truth by its very nature ‘hates his brother’. It is willing to accept truth from officially respected experts, but it is not willing to accept truth from fellow individuals because they lack the emotional status that is required to be accepted as sources of truth.

This type of thinking will end up twisting both Perceiver thought and Teacher thought. Perceiver thought evaluates facts by comparing information from various sources and many situations. This type of comparing will not happen if one regards most people and most situations as unreliable sources of truth. Teacher thought uses emotions to evaluate theories, and Mercy emotion feels the same as Teacher emotion. Therefore, if Mercy thought regards some people as more important than others, then this Mercy status will be interpreted by Teacher thought as generality. Saying this another way, even random comments made by important people will regarded as having great significance, while even carefully constructed comments made by insignificant people will be regarded as trivial. For instance, quoting from an article on Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader of North Korea, “The most senior men in his kingdom have power because he wills it, and they smile and bow and scribble notes en masse in little notepads whenever he deigns to speak.” Returning to the words of John, if a person says that he has the light of a Teacher understanding while assigning lesser emotional status to his peers, then he is actually in the dark, and does not have an understanding.

Verse 10 describes the opposite attitude: “The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him” (2:10). The word translated ‘cause for stumbling’ means ‘the trigger of a trap’ or ‘how someone is caught by their own devices, like their personal bias’. Mercy feelings of personal status that suppress facts and warp theory could accurately be described as the trigger of a trap that causes a person to be caught by personal bias. When I am ‘loving my brother’, I am regarding that person as emotionally worthy of attention, which will emotionally counteract the tendency to regard my brother as insignificant.

An attitude that regards fellow individuals as less important than leaders and experts is self-reinforcing. That is because Mercy feelings of status will lead to warped Teacher understanding and this twisted understanding will turn into a TMN that will emotionally drive a person to behave in this twisted manner. In the words of John, “The one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (2:11). Notice how being in darkness turns into walking in the darkness, which ends up as not knowing where one is going because the darkness has blinded one’s eyes. Using cognitive language, focusing upon personal status will lead to a general Teacher understanding based upon personal status that will guide one’s behavior. One will then view reality through the lens of this general Teacher understanding. However, reality is not guided by personal status but rather by universal truth and righteousness. Therefore, when one views reality through the lens of an understanding that is based in personal status then one will not know where one is going, because one is being guided by the wrong kind of theory.

For instance, falling off a cliff can lead to personal injury or death. But suppose that every cliff is blocked off by a fence accompanied by a sign that says ‘Do not cross this fence’. The average person will no longer encounter cliffs of natural cause-and-effect but rather bump into artificial fences imposed by leaders of society. This will lead to a Teacher understanding that views reality as a set of fences imposed by important people. This kind of mindset will walk in darkness, because it lacks a concept of natural cause-and-effect, and its eyes will be blinded to reality because it will see fences and not cliffs. John is describing something similar.

Past and Present

Verses 7 and 8 described a paradigm shift from absolute truth based in MMNs to universal truth held together by a TMN. Verses 12 – 14 make sense if one interprets them as referring to these two different viewpoints, one describing an audience from John’s time who is guided by absolute truth, and the other an audience from some time in John’s future that is looking back with an attitude of universal truth at what John has written: “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (2:12-14). Summarizing, John addresses ‘little children’ who are starting the path of personal transformation, ‘young men’ who are in the middle of following this path, and ‘fathers’ who have reached personal maturity. John compares how these three stages appear under absolute truth with how they appear under universal truth.

Under absolute truth, the starting point is the Mercy feeling of being forgiven, which is followed by the building of an understanding in Teacher thought. In the words of John, ‘your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake’. Notice that the goal is not just to become a Christian so that one’s sins are forgiven, but rather to become a Christian ‘for His name’s sake’, going beyond viewing Jesus as an important person in Mercy thought to learning in Teacher thought about the name and character of Jesus. The starting point is totally different under universal truth: ‘you know the Father’. This tells us that everyone has a general understanding of the character of God in Teacher thought, similar to the way that all students acquire a basic grasp of math and physics in high school.

The challenge under absolute truth is overcoming ‘the evil’. The word translated ‘the evil one’ is actually ‘the evil’ in the original Greek, which means ‘the inevitable agonies and misery that always go with evil’. Using cognitive language, the challenge is to transform childish MMNs that motivate a person to take shortcuts, and to pursue short-term pleasures that lead to long-term pain.

Under universal truth, childish MMNs still need to be transformed, but this process is assisted by the general understanding that everyone already has. In the words of John, ‘because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil [one]’, (As before, ‘one’ is not in the original.) The word translated strong refers to physical strength. The average person may now have a verbal understanding of God and Christianity, but Perceiver facts and Server actions need to be added to this verbal theory. Perceiver facts are added when ‘the word of God abides in you’, and Server actions are added when ‘you are strong’. The need for Perceiver facts was discussed in Chapter 1, while the need for Server actions was mentioned at the beginning of chapter 2.

The end result in both cases is the same, because the fundamental character of God does not change: ‘You know Him who has been from the beginning’.

A Coming Societal Shift 2:15-17

There is only room for one universal theory in Teacher thought. (Theories can only coexist if one is either a translation or a subset of the other.) When Christianity becomes translated into a general Teacher theory, it will then come into conflict with the general theory of natural existence. Because a general theory is emotional, this conflict will be experienced by Mercy thought as a conflict between two loves: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (2:15). The word translated world is kosmos, which means ‘an ordered system like the universe or worldly affairs’. Thus, John is specifically comparing the Teacher structure of current society and physical reality with the Teacher understanding of God the Father. And John is saying that those who love the system of the world do not love the Father.

John then explains what he means by the current world system: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world” (2:16). First, there are the strong feelings and urges of the flesh. Using cognitive language, this describes childish MMNs that come from living in a physical body. Second, there are strong urges that are based in what one sees. This describes goals that are based in visible objects and physical rewards. Third, there is the arrogant boasting of biological life. This describes the materialistic mindset which insists that nothing exists except physical reality. Looking at these three points, physical desire is valid, but it needs to be placed within a framework of long-term understanding. One must pursue physical goals but these need to be guided by the lasting values of Platonic forms. And biological life is a major facet of personal existence, but humans are more than merely biological machines, and human existence will survive the demise of the physical body.

An attitude of religious self-denial will feel that following God implies denying self and suppressing physical desire. But that is not what John says. Instead, he describes two shortcomings of loving the world. The first problem is that the source is wrong: ‘is not from the Father but is from the world’. Using cognitive language, the mind is acquiring its core mental networks from the external environment through embodiment, instead of building upon the TMN of a concept of God. The second problem is that one is building the mind upon what is temporary: “The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” (2:17). Looking at this cognitively, the childish mind is driven by MMNs acquired from the physical body. However, these mental networks will not survive. This becomes obvious when one grows old and is no longer physically capable of doing what one used to be able to do. John’s comment reflects a deep need of the Mercy person. The Mercy person often talks about love being forever, because Mercy thought wants to be guided by core MMNs that last. However, childish MMNs do not last forever, but rather change and fade. Mercy thought thinks in terms of experiences while Teacher thought thinks in terms of sequences. John says that the key is not experiencing God but rather acting in a way that is consistent with the sequences of God: ‘doing the will of God’. And if one behaves in a way that is guided by the TMN of God, then MMNs of personal identity will survive.

The phrase translated ‘lives forever’ is actually ‘abides for the age’. This concept of a coming age can be found in other books such as 1 Corinthians, and John will be discussing it in the next verses. In brief, the current age with its physical bodies and physical environment is designed to force the mind to start functioning. But it also forces the mind to function in an incomplete manner, which John refers to as loving the world. In contrast, the next age will be designed for using the mind and not for programming the mind. This is discussed further in 1 Corinthians 15. Stated more simply, humans currently live in practice bodies in a practice world, which will be followed by permanent bodies in a permanent world. Growing up in the current practice world creates a mindset that loves this world. However, this mindset will come to an end, as shown by the simple fact that everyone physically dies. The Christian path transforms a mindset that loves this world into a mindset that loves the Father. And this transformed mindset will ‘abide for the age’; it will survive the transition into the next age.

In the current age, the external environment functions independently of the mind. For instance, we talk about mind over matter, but a person’s thoughts have no impact upon, for instance, the law of gravity. When I let go of an object, it will fall to the floor, no matter how hard I think about objects floating. In the coming age, there will be a connection between the mental and the physical. For instance, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that the current natural bodies will be replaced by spiritual bodies. Spirit is internal while body is physical. A spiritual body implies that internal and physical are intimately connected. When machinery runs automatically, then there is no need to train people beforehand. But if the machinery depends upon human knowledge and skill to keep functioning, then it is imperative to train people before starting up the machinery.

Matthew 24 describes this preliminary stage of teaching people how to think in a way that is consistent with the coming age. All of the ‘stones’ of religious absolute truth will be dismantled, until not one stone is upon another. This dismantling of absolute truth will culminate in the abomination of desolation, which will blaspheme the core MMNs that are the source of absolute truth. People will then search for the TMN of a general understanding that can replace the destroyed temple of absolute truth. This requires extending a concept of incarnation that is limited to Jesus-as-man to a concept of Jesus Christ who is both man and God. (The Gospels describe the coming of Jesus as a man. The book of Revelation describes the unveiling of Jesus as God.) During this time of transition, there will be many antichrists or false Christs that are inadequate concepts of incarnation-as-God.

Antichrists 2:18-24

With this in mind, let us return to 1 John. “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour” (2:18). ‘It is the last hour’ tells us that the existing system is coming to an end. In response, ‘many antichrists have appeared’. Cognitively speaking, a concept of incarnation emerges when concrete technical thought becomes integrated with abstract technical thought. Thus, an antichrist is some form of technical theory that claims to be a universal explanation of human existence. For instance, the theory of evolution would be an antichrist, because it is a universal theory of life that eliminates the need for a personal God. (One can tell that evolution is an inadequate theory, because it continually ascribes godlike attributes to Nature, while verbally denying the existence of God.) Matthew 24:24 also talks about the rise of many antichrists: “For false Christ and false prophets will arise”.

Matthew 24:10 says that this will be a time of falling away: “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another”. Similarly, John says of the antichrists that “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” (2:19). The core mental networks of a person become revealed under stress. That is when one learns what a person really is. It is deeply stressful to go through the dismantling of absolute truth, and this time of transition will reveal the core metal networks of many individuals. During this time of transition, the primary battle will be over the nature of truth, because the stones of absolute religious truth are all being dismantled. This describes the situation of current society. For instance, ‘post-truth’ was named the word of the year in 2016 by Oxford dictionaries.

John describes this key struggle using the Mercy language of mental networks: But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know” (2:20) (more literally, you know all things). The word anointing is only used three times in the New Testament, all occurring at the end of 1 John 2, and it describes an anointing of oil that represents the Holy Spirit. The word holy means ‘separate or different from the world’. Thus, at an emotional level the struggle boils down to how comfortable one feels in the current world system. Those who build their identity emotionally upon the existing world system will ‘go out from us’ because they ‘are not really of us’, while those who recognize at an emotional level that they are committed to something that transcends this physical world will have a mindset that causes them to embrace truth: ‘know all things’. This is because principles of moral cause-and-effect will be painfully obvious to anyone who is not emotionally trapped by society, because everyone will be hanging out their dirty laundry in public for others to see and analyze.

One survives this transition not by discovering new truth but rather by holding on to the truth that one already has. That is because Christianity that is based in absolute truth teaches the right facts for the wrong reason. Therefore, one must hold on to the facts while changing the reason. In the words of John, “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth” (2:21). As the 2016 word of the year implies, the ultimate struggle will not be over specific truths, but rather over the very existence of truth. When the concept of truth becomes outmoded, then lying will become the norm. Thus, John emphasizes that ‘no lie is of the truth’.

John then expands upon what it means to be a liar: “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son” (2:22). John is talking about two levels of error: liar and antichrist. A liar denies the connection between Jesus and Christ. The religious side of this lie focuses upon Jesus-the-man, while ignoring the universal principles that emerge from regarding Jesus as Jesus Christ the God/man. The secular side of this lie focuses upon the universal principles of Christ the incarnation, while ignoring that these universal principles relate to the person of Jesus. An antichrist denies the connection between Father and Son. The religious version of antichrist focuses upon the Father in a mystical manner that ignores the content of the Son. The secular version of antichrist focuses upon some technical specialization of the Son while ignoring that all specializations are held together by a universal Teacher understanding of the Father.

John describes the error of mysticism in the next verse: “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also” (2:23). Mysticism says that the Teacher understanding of God transcends the rational content of the Son. John is saying that mysticism does not have a valid concept of God the Father, because it denies that God the Father is expressed through the rational concept of the Son. Going the other way, if one starts with the technical content of the Son and recognizes that this content is the Son of some Father God, then one will acquire a valid concept of God the Father. (As we saw earlier, the word translated confess means to ‘say along with’, which implies that one is adding Teacher words to the content of incarnation.)

Putting this together, John is describing two problems. The first problem is acquiring a valid concept of incarnation, which is done mentally by integrating the concrete technical thought of Jesus with the abstract technical thought of Christ. (A detailed explanation of what this means can be found in the book Natural Cognitive Theology, as well as other essays.) The second problem is recognizing that incarnation is the expression of a Teacher understanding of God the Father. This will not happen if one starts with a mystical concept of God, because mysticism abhors rational content, but it will happen if one starts with technical thought and recognizes that a Teacher understanding lies behind technical thought.

John finishes by emphasizing that this paradigm shift does not change Christian doctrine: “As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father” (2:24). In other words, even though the stones of absolute truth are being dismantled, the verbal content of the Bible does not change. Instead, one needs to take biblical content that was believed as absolute truth and turn it into an understanding of God and incarnation. For instance, this essay examines the book of 1 John from a new cognitive perspective. But the content of 1 John is surviving unchanged. Looking at this more generally, I have now examined enough biblical theology and books of the New Testament from a cognitive perspective to be able to state with reasonable certainty that the content of the Bible survives intact when one packages Christianity as a general theory of cognition.

Moving on, John talks about the final goal: “This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life” (2:25). Jesus says something similar in Matthew 24:13: “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved”. Cognitively speaking, it makes sense to make such a statement at this point. When people are forsaking truth and antichrists are preaching twisted versions of truth, then it is easy to get sidetracked and focus upon condemning apostates and antichrists. But the focus needs to remain upon saving oneself rather than condemning others. Thus, John focuses upon the promise made to us of eternal life. People at this time will also need such a promise. When life is going fine, then people will not think beyond present existence to eternal life. However, when everything that appeared solid starts to crumble, then people will search for something that is solid and lasting. John has talked about following God the Father. John is now applying this to the personal realm: ‘This is the promise which He Himself made’.

Time of Deception 2:25-29

The next section in Matthew 24 talks about the abomination of desolation. Interpreting this symbolically, Jesus seems to be saying in Matthew 24 that when the emotional core of absolute truth is blasphemed, then one should flee the religious realm of Judea and Jerusalem for the mountains of common sense. (This is discussed in much more detail in the essay on Matthew 24.) Saying this more simply, a time will come when it is no longer possible to follow Christianity as a system of absolute truth, and one will have to find another basis for religious belief. Similarly, John seems to be telling people not to listen to anyone, but to follow their hearts: “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him” (2:27). Jesus also says that one should avoid most of what is being preached at this time: “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him” (Matt. 24:23). Jesus also warns that it will be easy to be deceived: “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (24:24). Similarly, John warns in verse 26, “These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you”. (The Greek word translated deceive is the same in both passages.) Going further, Paul appears to be referring to this same period of confusion in 1 Corinthians 7, when he gives instructions ‘in view of the present distress’.

Moving on, the next verses in Matthew 24 talk about the coming of the Son of Man: “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (24:27). Similarly, John also talks about an appearing: “Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming” (2:28). Those who follow God during this time are being guided by internal mental networks that are quite different than the mental networks of society. When God appears, then these internal mental networks will become apparent to all of society. If one truly has been behaving in a way that is consistent with the character of God, then one will have confidence. But if one has not been ‘abiding’ in the mental networks of God, then one will shrink away in shame when these mental networks become apparent. Jesus gives a similar warning at the end of Matthew 24 in the parable about a master returning to the household and seeing if his slave has been carrying out his instructions faithfully.

John emphasizes that following the mental networks of God means being guided by righteousness: “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him” (2:29).

The Appearing 3:1-3

Matthew 24:29-31 describes the return of the Son of Man. These verses all describe events that are happening in the air, which have an emotional impact upon humans. Therefore, I suggest that Matthew 24 describes a theoretical ‘Second coming of Jesus’, corresponding to the end of Revelation 11, and that the physical return of Jesus occurs in Revelation 19.

Similarly, one can see at the beginning of 1 John 3 that some sort of breakthrough has occurred, but it is also clear that this is a theoretical breakthrough and not a physical appearance: “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be” (3:1,2). The word translated how great means ‘of what kind or from what country’. In other words, a general understanding of God has become unveiled, as indicated by the phrase ‘love the Father has bestowed on us’. It is also apparent that this understanding is being embodied by a group of people, who are being ‘called the children of God’. Society is responding to this unveiling by trying to figure out the nature of this Teacher understanding: ‘Of what country is the love the Father has bestowed on us’. And the practical implications of what this all means are not yet apparent: ‘it has not yet appeared as we at what we will be’.

The path of personal transformation can be divided into the three stages of personal honesty, righteousness, and rebirth. Personal honesty constructs a mental concept of God in Teacher thought. Righteousness allows this understanding to guide Server actions. Rebirth allows MMNs of personal identity to become reborn within the internal structure that was constructed during the first two stages. 1 John 1 focused upon personal honesty. The focus of chapter 2 was upon righteousness. John is now starting to talk about rebirth. A group of people has been internally reborn and this is starting to become apparent to the rest of society.

A transition can also be seen in John’s instructions. In 2:28, John talked about ‘abiding in Him’, suggesting that the choice was between submitting to a TMN of God or to the TMN of ‘the world’. And John talked about ‘His coming’, a ‘technical term with reference to the visit of a king or some other official’. In contrast, 3:2 talks about ‘His appearing’, a different word which means ‘to make plain or become apparent’. And John’s instructions in verse 3 are also different: “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (3:3). At the end of chapter 2, everyone was waiting for the king to show up, and the choice was between following the instructions of the king or ignoring them. At the beginning of chapter 3, the king has showed up, but the practical implications of this are not yet apparent. The question is no longer whether or not one will follow the instructions of the king, but rather how fully one will follow these instructions, motivated by the hope that the arrival of the new king will lead to a transformed environment.

Transformed Concept of Christianity 3:4-10

During the time of confusion in 2:26-27, John’s instructions were to ignore the teachings of others and follow an internal anointing. Now that the king has arrived, this confusion has been replaced by clarity: “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him” (3:4-6). Using cognitive language, when the TMN of a concept of God is unveiled, then this rational understanding should be used as a basis for morality. Originally, morality was based upon the pronouncements of absolute truth. But absolute truth became dismantled and discredited, leading to a period of moral anarchy. A general Teacher understanding based in universal truth has now become unveiled. This new rational understanding should be used as a basis for morality. This is not a trivial point, because Western society assumes that morality implies absolute truth while rational understanding implies objective facts that have nothing to do with morality.

For instance, the theory of mental symmetry is both descriptive and prescriptive. It is not just a descriptive rational analysis of how the mind works, but also a prescriptive guide to how the mind should work. One learns how the mind works in order to use one’s own mind in a manner that is more whole and integrated. In the words of John, ‘you know that he appeared in order to take away sins; and in him there is no sin’.

Childish Mercy thought thinks of sin as avoiding taboos: don’t go there, don’t be associated with those people, don’t be found in such a situation. Using cognitive language, sin is viewed as becoming mentally connected with MMNs that are labeled as bad. That is a negative definition of sin, as illustrated by all the don’ts. John, in contrast, gives a positive definition. One stops sinning not by avoiding forbidden MMNs but rather by remaining connected with the TMN of God: “In Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him” (3:5,6). This is a complete definition without any exceptions, because ‘in Him there is no sin’. Using cognitive language, this is a universal Teacher theory with no exceptions. This is also a sufficient definition, because no one who abides in Him sins. Saying this cognitively, if one remains connected with the TMN of a rational concept of God, then this mental network will emotionally drive a person to avoid all sins. Finally, it is a descriptive definition, since ‘no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him’. In other words, one can tell whether a person is being guided by the TMN of the concept of God by observing the behavior of that person.

A childish mindset will interpret John’s statements as saying that a person who follows God will never be caught in a taboo situation, while a legalistic mindset will interpret these verses to mean that a person who follows God will never violate the rules. However, John indicates in the next verse that the standard is not avoiding taboos or obeying rules but rather righteousness: “Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” (3:7). John’s statement implies that there will be confusion and that it is possible to be deceived. An attitude of absolute truth will naturally divide people into ‘good’ groups that submit to absolute truth, and ‘bad’ groups that reject absolute truth. John is saying that a new standard of righteousness needs to be used. A general understanding of the character of God has been revealed. This is a God of righteousness, as shown by the universal truths of how things work: How the mind works, how the natural world functions, how God guides history, and how God leads individuals. Following God means behaving in a manner that is consistent with the universal character of God: ‘the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous’.

Saying this more bluntly, when the Bible is accepted by society as absolute truth, then it is easy to determine who is a Christian and who is not, because a Christian submits to the absolute truth of the Bible. But how does one define what it means to be a Christian when absolute truth is gone? John is saying that one should define being a Christian as ‘practicing righteousness as God is righteous’. This type of confusion already exists for Christians in the land of Israel. (Judaism is discussed in the essay on Kabbalah.) The Bible says that the Jews are a chosen people, and yet God’s ‘chosen people’ have been persecuted by Christians for centuries. Jews practice religious festivals that are different than what most Christians celebrate, but Jewish festivals are in the Bible while most Christian festivals are not. Thus, when one lives as a Christian in Israel, one is forced to re-think what it means to be a Christian.

John clarifies that this righteous behavior is being guided by the mental network of a concept of God: “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9). This describes the third stage of rebirth, in which MMNs of personal identity become reborn within an internal grid held together by the TMN of a concept of God.

At the end of chapter 2, the world was the dominant system and people had to choose to follow an invisible concept of God rather than submit to the system of the world. The shoe is now on the other foot, because the TMN of a concept of God has now become revealed. This is like a regime change in which the ruling class has become deposed and replaced by another system of government. John describes in the next few verses how the world responds to this regime change: “The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (3:8). The only time that the word ‘devil’ appears in the book of 1 John is in 3:8-10, and this term occurs four times in these 3 verses, telling us that this is a significant factor at this stage. The word devil means ‘accuser or slanderer’. In other words, when the TMN of a concept of God becomes unveiled, then the primary response of the world at large will be verbal slander and accusation. In the same way that following the TMN of a concept of God will lead naturally to righteousness, so those who practice sin will naturally try to rationalize their behavior by verbally attacking the newly revealed understanding of God.

I have suggested that the theoretical return of Jesus is described at the end of Revelation 11. Similarly, I suggest that this passage in 1 John 3 corresponds to Revelation 12, because in both cases there is a struggle with the devil. Looking at this in more detail, the word devil means slander, and Revelation 12:10 says that ‘the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses him before our God day and night’. 1 John 3 says that ‘the devil has sinned from the beginning’. Similarly, Revelation 12 refers to ‘the serpent of old who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world’. 1 John 3:8 says that “the Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil”. Similarly, Revelation 12:5 describes the birth of “a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to his throne”. Using the language of the returning king, a new king has been born, and this new king is pronouncing a new set of moral principles, guided by the TMN of a concept of God. Going further, 1 John 3:10 says that it will become clear who is following God and who is following the devil: “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God”. Similarly, Revelation 12 says that the woman who gave birth to the son escapes the persecution of the dragon by ‘flying to her place’: “The two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent” (Rev. 12:14). Flying implies moving through the air of Teacher thought, and the word translated wilderness means ‘an uncultivated, unpopulated place’.

Putting this together, the new Teacher understanding will lead to the founding of a new culture that is distinct from the culture of the world. This founding of a new culture is implied by a phrase added by John in verse 10: “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.” This is the first time that John talks about love in chapter 3, and the second half of the chapter refers six times to love. It is possible to practice righteousness as an individual, because one is being guided internally by a mental concept of God. However, loving one another implies that a community of people now exists that can be loved. I mentioned earlier in this essay that the Mercy person talks a lot about love, but it is only possible to practice love in a consistent manner when identity and culture are guided by the TMN the concept of God. Similarly, verse 10 indicates that one will be able to recognize those who are born of God by the love they have for one another, while verse 11 says that people have been talking about love for a long time: “For this is the message which you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another”.

The Beast 3:11-24

Until now, society has responded to this new Teacher understanding with devilish slander. However, the devil is not mentioned anymore. Instead, the verbal slander turns into personal hatred. In other words, after failing to suppress the message, people start attacking the messenger. John introduces this hatred by referring to the story of Cain and Abel: “We should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous” (3:11,12). Notice again the underlying character trait of righteousness. Both Cain and Abel offered sacrifices to God. God accepted Abel’s offering of a slain animal, while rejecting Cain’s offering of ‘the fruit of the ground’. And Cain responded to this rejection by killing his younger brother. Similarly, Teacher thought is now being approached in one of two ways. Until now, scientific thought has been serving Teacher thought by growing fruit upon the ground of rational thought. But a new method of combining Teacher understanding with personal rebirth has appeared, and like Cain, the older brother will try to kill younger brother. The requirement for personal rebirth can be seen in Revelation 12:11. “And they overcame him because the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death”.

John then states explicitly that the world will respond to this new message with hatred: “Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you” (3:13). This implies that people will be surprised at the hatred. After all, a rational Teacher understanding of the nature of God had just been revealed to a society that claims to follow the rational theories of science. What could possibly go wrong? What will happen is that the fundamental implicit split between objective and subjective will become explicit. The average person is willing to follow rational thought and build general theory if this understanding remains objective. And most people are willing to worship God as long as God is considered ultimately to be beyond rational thought. But most individuals will instinctively reject a rational theory of God, because everyone ‘knows’ that rational and God do not belong together.

For instance, when I published Natural Cognitive Theology, I thought that people would want a rational theory of Christian doctrine and Christian practice. However, I have discovered that even theologians and apologists lack the curiosity to read such a volume. And the response that I have received leaves me suspicious that most individuals would respond with hatred if this theory were forced upon them. Therefore, I have been careful not to push the theory, but rather to develop it further in order to prepare for God’s appropriate time.

It is easy to respond to such hatred with bitterness and/or vitriol. But John emphasizes that the goal is not to attack one’s opponents but rather to find life: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death” (3:14). Saying this another way, one does not build a rational understanding of God merely to preach it to others. Instead, one gains a rational understanding of God in order to rebuild MMNs of personal identity and pass out of death into life. Speaking again from personal experience, being unable to talk about the theory of mental symmetry forced me to develop the theory further, and a significant part of this further understanding was acquired by analyzing the emotional responses that I received from others, together with my own personal feelings.

One of the key breakthroughs occurred when I realized that hatred ultimately occurs within the mind when one uses conscious thought to suppress or kill other cognitive modules. For instance, it is natural for a Perceiver person to run roughshod over Mercy feelings, or try to limit Exhorter excitement. But all seven cognitive modules within the mind have a right to exist. If I as a Perceiver person suppress Mercy thought within my own mind, then I will treat Mercy persons in a similar fashion, and I will also try to suppress MMNs of culture and identity. John makes a similar connection between internal suppression and external behavior: “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (3:15). Jesus says something similar in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:21-22. Using cognitive language, when a person suppresses unwanted MMNs, then that is mental murder, because the mind uses MMNs to represent people, and if one wants to have a mind that will continue functioning in a whole manner, then all mental networks have to be transformed and not suppressed.

This societal response of hatred and murder is described at the beginning of Revelation 13 in the passage on the dragon and the two beasts. The hatred can be seen in verse 6: “And he opened his mouth and blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven” (Rev. 13:6). Notice the three targets of hatred: first, a Teacher concept of God: ‘to blaspheme His name; second, the idea of living in submission to a concept of God: ‘His tabernacle’; third, those who are being guided by Teacher understanding: ‘those who dwell in heaven’. The murder is described in verse 7: “It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.” This verse says that the first beast is being given temporary permission by God to make war and overcome, which is consistent with the announcement at the end of Revelation 11: “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. And the nations were enraged...” (Rev. 11:17,18). God has begun to reign, and giving temporary power to the beast is a divinely ordained step in the process of establishing the reign of God. Similarly, John talks about voluntarily laying down one’s life: “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (3:16). Notice that the focus is still upon being guided by a general pattern within Teacher thought. One lays down one’s life in order to follow the pattern established by Jesus.

Why would power be given temporarily to the beast? Based in personal experience, I suggest that such a step is essential for turning a verbal understanding of God into an understanding that impacts personal existence. Consistent with this, the next chapter of Revelation 14 introduces a new group ‘who sing a new song before the throne’ and ‘have been purchased from the earth’. Similarly, the second half of John 3 emphasizes loving one another.

Does this mean that millions will be killed? I do not think so. First, Revelation 13 clearly states that only some will be killed: “If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints” (Rev. 13:10). And the phrase translated ‘lay down one’s life for others’ in 1 John 3 is more literally ‘place one’s soul for others’. The same two Greek words are used to describe both Jesus laying his life down for people, and people laying down their lives for others. This gives the impression that the primary goal is not to die for Jesus but rather to live in a substitutionary manner for others. For instance, I personally am not experiencing any physical persecution, but I am putting myself internally in the place of others in order to understand their mindset and analyze their thinking. This is a laying down of one’s life for others in the sense that I am not living my own life but rather trying to understand the souls of others.

Revelation 13 is infamous for its description of the mark of the beast and control of the economy: “And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name” (Rev. 13:16,17). It is interesting that 1 John 3 specifically addresses the topic of meeting the physical needs of fellow believers: “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (3:17,18). If one can only participate in the economy by having the mark of the beast, then those who refuse to sell their soul to the system will need to support each other financially and materially. Consistent with this, John specifically states that verbal theory needs to be translated into practical application.

I know that many books have been written about the mark of the beast, and I have attempted to analyze what this means from a cognitive perspective in the essays on Revelation. In brief, when society focuses upon technical specializations, then objective skill will be accompanied by the ‘implicit spouse’ of some subjective commitment. Saying this more bluntly, in order to participate fully in some professional activity, one must both be officially trained and one must sell one soul in some way to the system. In today’s society, the focus is upon the objective specialization, and the selling of one’s soul usually occurs gradually over a period of years. However, if a rational understanding of God were to become widely known, then this would shed light upon this implicit selling of one soul, causing the implicit to become explicit. This is what is being described in Revelation 13. The economic activity and objective specialization continues as before. But now one is being explicitly required to sell one’s soul to the system in order to participate within the economy. I suggest that the Mark of the Beast describes this explicit selling of one’s soul to the system.

Consistent with this, the group of 144,000 mentioned at the beginning of Revelation 14 are described as “the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste” (Rev. 14:4). The word translated chaste means ‘virgin’, while defiled means ‘smeared with mud’. Looking at this cognitively, male thought emphasizes objective facts and skills, while female thought emphasizes subjective mental networks. The context is a society that is driven by impure mental networks. Therefore, people ‘who have not been defiled with women’ describes those who have not sold their soul to the impure mental networks that drive society, and ‘remaining a virgin’ would mean going through life without ever selling one’s soul. Instead, these individuals have the Lamb’s “name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1). This tells us that they are ruled by a Teacher understanding of God and incarnation.

Turning now to 1 John 3, John specifically says that people will be facing a struggle regarding the commitment of their hearts: “We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight” (3:19-22). When implicit MMNs are made explicit, then one becomes aware of core desires that one did not realize existed. When the system explicitly demands allegiance, then those who are trying to follow an understanding of God will be forced to deal with deep emotional issues of value and personal commitment. In the words of John, their hearts will condemn them, and they will have to persuade their hearts before Him. The solution is to submit these core MMNs of personal commitment to the TMN of a universal concept of God. In the words of John, ‘God is greater than our heart and knows all things’. This will transform these core MMNs and make them consistent with the TMN of a concept of God: ‘If our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God’. The end result is a life that is more completely guided by an understanding of the character of God: ‘We keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight’.

When implicit core MMNs become transformed, then personal desires will naturally express themselves in a manner that is consistent with the character of God. This explains why John can say “Whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight” (3:22). Fundamentalism with its attitude of religious self-denial finds it difficult to interpret a promise such as this because the assumption is that ‘doing the things that are pleasing in his sight’ means suppressing personal desire. Positive thinking, in contrast, treats verses such as these as slogans that can be used to justify asking God to fulfill childish desires. The average person will view John’s statements as an idealistic platitude that does not actually apply in real life. However, I suggest that John’s statement has a valid, logical meaning. Teacher thought deals with process and generality. It is possible to fit many personal Mercy desires into the framework of a general theory, but these personal desires must seek long-term happiness for self and others, preserve order and structure, and be fulfilled in a manner that reflects the righteousness of God.

John describes the commandments that need to be preserved in the next verses: “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us” (3:23,24). What one believes in is a general understanding of incarnation as man and God: ‘the name of His Son Jesus Christ’. This is not a trivial requirement, and the process of revealing incarnation as God is discussed in the essay on Revelation. One can also see this process illustrated in the references to Jesus Christ that occur in the book of 1 John. In 2:1, the direction is from personal identity to God, and Jesus Christ is the advocate who covers the shortcomings of personal identity before God. In 2:22, the struggle is with antichrists, and the goal is to expand a concept of Jesus-the-man into a more general concept of Jesus Christ the God-man. In 3:23, the direction changes, going now from God to personal identity, and the goal becomes believing in the name of Jesus Christ.

When Mercy thought submits to the content of incarnation held together by the Teacher theory of a concept of God, then the Platonic forms of the Spirit will emerge: “The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us” (3:24).

This is the first time that the term ‘spirit’ occurs in 1 John, and spirit will be mentioned several times in the next few verses. Platonic forms are discussed in other essays, and one can illustrate the roles that are played by incarnation and Teacher thought by examining the Platonic form of a circle: 1) A person encounters roundish objects in the external world, which form memories within Mercy thought. 2) Perceiver thought notices the common trait of roundness and places all of these Mercy experiences into the category of ‘ round objects’. 3) Teacher thought comes up with a general theory that summarizes the essence of roundness, a theory such as ‘the set of all points on a plane that are equidistant from a center’. 4) This Teacher theory modifies Perceiver facts about roundness. 5) This leads ultimately to the imaginary picture of a perfectly round object within Mercy thought, which is the Platonic form of a circle. Stated simply, a Platonic form is based in facts about reality but is more perfect than any specific experience of reality. Notice how a Platonic form requires both Teacher thought and incarnation. Teacher thought comes up with the general theory of a circle, while incarnation translates from specific Mercy experiences to Teacher theory and then back to Platonic forms.

Testing the Spirits 4:1-6

Before continuing, let us review. A theoretical return of Jesus occurred at the end of chapter 2 in the form of the unveiling of a rational understanding of God and incarnation. The assumption was that everything would now be wonderful, but that was not the case. Instead, what followed was a backlash that persecuted and ostracized anyone who followed a rational understanding of God. However, this had the positive result of bringing to light the implicit MMNs of society, forcing those who were talking about God to quit talking and allow their verbal understanding to transform personal motivation. The end result is a rational concept of God backed up by the Platonic forms of the Spirit. The core MMNs of culture and society will now be exposed to this expanded light.

John describes this in the beginning of chapter 4: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (4:1). Prophecy applies abstract theory using words and pictures that the average person can grasp. Notice that both Prophecy and Platonic forms of spirit move from Teacher theory to invisible Mercy experience. Prophecy emphasizes the Perceiver facts that come from Teacher theory, while Platonic forms are the invisible Mercy images produced by these Perceiver facts that come from Teacher theory.

The general focus today is upon spirituality without content. Because the mindset of the world is so materialistic, people assume that anything which acknowledges the spiritual realm is good. But not all spirituality is beneficial. Instead, spirits need to be tested to see if they are consistent with a rational concept of God. Obviously, such testing is only possible if a rational concept of God exists and if people have allowed this concept of God to transform core mental networks.

John describes the standard by which one can test spirits: “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God” (4:2,3). In other words, is a concept of God and incarnation being applied in real life? Until now it has not been possible to apply this understanding because those who followed God were systematically excluded from participating in the marketplace of goods and ideas. During this stage, the relationship between concept of God and spirit will be tested. John refers to every spirit that confesses. Confessing means to say along with. In simple language, testing the spirits means checking if one’s ideals and values line up with one’s verbal understanding.

Most science and technology would fail John’s test. Science is from God because it is guided by a rational Teacher understanding of the character of God as revealed in the natural world. Technology confesses Jesus Christ to some extent because it applies the universal laws of nature through the incarnation of technical thought. And science and technology practice the concept of the Word made flesh because they apply the word of mathematical equations to the flesh of natural processes. But if one uses Paul’s definition of ‘the flesh’ as the ‘carnal nature’ that needs to be transformed, then science and technology fail John’s test, because science avoids personal MMNs by remaining objective and science transforms the environment while leaving people personally unchanged. Instead of confessing Jesus Christ, the person who came to save individuals, science and technology confess Nature, the godlike abstraction that is saving humanity as a species but cares nothing for the individual human.

Going further, the name Jesus means salvation. Jesus achieved salvation by going through personal rebirth. A spirit that does not confess Jesus will in some way reject the need for personal rebirth. Most spirits today would fail this test: ‘Every person is inherently good’, ‘You just need to be yourself’, ‘Discover your true potential’, ‘Become educated’, ‘Do not be judgmental’, ‘Accept everyone the way they are’. All of these slogans do not confess Jesus because they assume that personal transformation is not required. Instead, they assume that it is possible to go straight from one’s current state to being a mature individual without having to go through the personal rebirth of rebuilding childish MMNs.

John describes this rejection as being ‘of the antichrist’: “This is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (4:3). Notice John’s exact phrasing. The antichrist is already in the world. As we have just seen, it is possible to find examples of the antichrist in current society. But the antichrist is also coming because what was implicit will be made explicit.

At the end of the previous chapter, those who followed God were hated, persecuted, and some were killed. The results will be different this time: “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (4:4). The internal Holy Spirit that is based in an understanding of God will overcome the spirit of the world that is based in physical experiences.

It will be possible to tell what spirit a person serves internally by their intellectual curiosity. “They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (4:5,6). Those who follow the spirit of this age will listen to words and theories that reflect the spirit of this age. Those that are guided by the Platonic forms of the Holy Spirit will want to learn about a rational understanding of God, while those who follow the spirit of this age will not want to hear about a rational understanding of God. I know from personal experience what this means. The average person does not want to talk about the theory of mental symmetry. For instance, one would think that a researcher would find it interesting if one used the theory of mental symmetry to analyze a book that that researcher himself has written. I have done this several times, and the response has consistently been a total lack of curiosity, which implies that mental symmetry is implicitly violating the spirit that guides these researchers.

I have suggested that 1 John follows the same sequence as the book of Revelation. The testing of spirits is portrayed symbolically by the seven bowls of wrath described in Revelation 16. Summarizing briefly, the first bowl makes people feel bad, the second questions the sea of culture, while the third exposes the streams of society and the springs of motivation. The fourth bowl transforms the Teacher understanding of God into a scorching heat, while the fifth the bowl successfully attacks the core mental networks that drive the world. 1 John says that ‘he who is not from God does not listen to us’. Similarly, the response in Revelation 16 is blasphemy against the name of God. The spirits that drive the world become explicitly exposed during the sixth bowl: “And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs” (Rev. 16:13). Similarly, 1 John also relates this conflict to the unveiling of the spirit of the Antichrist: “This is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming” (4:3).

1 John says that those who follow God will have the victory: “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them” (4:4). Similarly, the end of Revelation 16 describes the shaking and fragmenting of existing worldviews. The battle of Armageddon described in verse 16 (“and they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon”) is typically viewed as a horrific bloodbath. But a different interpretation emerges if one looks at the Hebrew meaning of this term. ‘Har’ means mountain, while Meggido means ‘place of crowds’. A mountain is a high point on the earth of rational thought from which one can gain an ‘overview’ or ‘big picture’. Therefore, a battle at Har-Magedon describes a struggle over the worldview of society. Which spirit will rule the subjective realm of social interaction? Will it be a spirit of the world, or will it be a Spirit of God? Anyone who has tried to become free of the spirit of this world will know that this will be an earth-shaking struggle that will rock the foundations of Western civilization to its very core.

Applying Understanding 4:7-14

The next section of 1 John describes the practical outworking of a transformed spirit. Once the Spirit of God has defeated the spirit of the world, it then becomes possible to transform social interaction to be an expression of the Spirit of God. John describes this next step as loving one another: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (4:7).

Love is typically defined today as accepting a person no matter what they think or do. But I suggest that this kind of love that ignores personal content is actually an expression of the second beast of Revelation 13. 1 John, in contrast, makes it clear that the love of God is based in the content of incarnation: “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (4:9). Looking at this cognitively, the technical thinking of incarnation leads to an economy in which individuals exchange goods and services. Society currently separates between economy and love: the economy is guided by objective standards such as the acquisition of wealth, while ‘love’ ignores economic considerations in order to give unselfishly to the unworthy. But this is actually an artificial distinction because economic choice is ultimately determined by subjective desire, and most products are marketed by manipulating subjective desire. Going the other way, most ‘love’ is now administered through government social programs that are guided by technical thinking with its procedures and measurements. For instance, my sister and I are currently enrolling our aging parents in government administered healthcare, and we are learning through first-hand experience the extent to which government ‘love’ is guided by technical specializations, numbers, and processes.

When economic thought is limited to the objective, then people will know how to calculate the value of peripheral items such as objects and services, but they will not associate value with people and subjective experiences. This leads to the type of whoring economy described in Revelation 17 as the Great Babylon. A whore sells personal identity in order to achieve objective wealth. In Revelation 18, people are told to flee the economy of Babylon in order to participate in a new economy guided by Teacher understanding: “The kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality. I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues’” (Rev. 18:3,4). Notice how the merchants have become rich through an economy that misuses the subjective, and that a voice from the heaven of Teacher thought is calling on people to come out of this economy.

When one is building a new economy, then it is important to get priorities straight: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (4:10). For instance, Anthony Robbins is a well-known motivational speaker who teaches many principles about adding both personal feelings and abstract thought to economic activity. But Robbins presents these principles in a package that starts with me and my personal desires, while Teacher thought is treated as the servant of personal desire. Using the language of John, Robbins’ assumption is that what really matters is that we loved God. Instead, the starting point should be a general understanding of the character of God in Teacher thought that is revealed to people through an incarnational economy that addresses the problem of God’s anger against humanity. Motivational speakers such as Robbins express the spirit of this world, which creates a God in the image of childish humanity. This mindset is typically willing to admit that human desire needs some polishing and that social standards are required, but the idea of an angry God who needs to be appeased will be studiously avoided.

The country of Zimbabwe illustrates why God would be angry at humans. Zimbabwe used to have a prosperous economy, but Robert Mugabe, the dictator of Zimbabwe, has successfully turned the bread basket of Africa into a basket case. As a rational individual who appreciates the conveniences of Western civilization and who hates to see people suffer, it is difficult for me to discuss people like Mugabe without getting furious. If that describes how we feel, one can only imagine how a righteous God would feel about human pigheaded, self-inflicted, self-righteous stupidity.

Propitiation was mentioned back in 1 John 2. There is a cognitive reason why the need for appeasing God’s wrath comes up again in 1 John 4. A general Teacher theory will not be bothered by chaos and stupidity that is disconnected from the Teacher theory. For instance, many African countries are being blatantly mismanaged by despotic dictators, but this does not lead to feelings of anger, because one does not mentally connect African tribal society with Western civilization. Zimbabwe stirs up feelings of anger because Zimbabwe was a successful Western economy; it was a part of Western civilization before being ruined by African tribalism. (I do not think that Africans are inherently inferior, but I am convinced that blame and tribalism are expressions of childish thought that will lead to personal pain and suffering, wherever and however they are practiced.)

This cognitive principle is described in Revelation 16:18-19, when a rational concept of God successfully imposes itself upon subjective thought: “There was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.” When the existing worldview is torn apart, then Babylon is actively remembered by God and becomes the object of God’s wrath. Saying this cognitively, a rational concept of God will not be bothered by subjective insanity if this concept of God is not connected with subjective thought. But once a concept of God extends to include the MMNs of social interaction, then the chaos of social interaction will be ‘remembered’ by God and will attract the wrath of God.

As usual, a concept of God that is based in Teacher understanding should be viewed as a general principle that establishes a pattern to follow: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (4:11).

Verse 12 describes the other half of the equation. On the one hand, one needs to recognize that social and economic interaction need to be guided by Teacher thought, and that the goal is save people from their stupidity and not to worship and serve the infantile wishes of the consumer. On the other hand, one cannot see Teacher thought, and the only way to make an invisible Teacher theory visible is by expressing it in a real economy in a real world. In fact, the goal of a Teacher-based concept of God is to be realized in the Mercy experiences of reality. In the words of John, “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us” (4:12). The word translated perfected means ‘working through the entire process to reach the final phase’.

Summarizing, Teacher theory must be the starting point, but the finishing point must be Mercy experience. This is illustrated by modern science and technology. Science will only be successful if it is rooted in rational Teacher understanding. But the goal of science is not just to talk about how the world works, but rather to use this understanding to develop technological gadgets that make personal life more pleasant.

General Teacher theory and personal Mercy experience come together through the Platonic forms of the Spirit. For Teacher thought, a Platonic form is an idealization of reality, a lens of simplicity and perfection through which Teacher thought can view the messy Mercy experiences of reality. For Mercy thought, a Platonic form is an ideal to look up to, a value to strive towards. In John’s words, “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit”. We abide in God and God abides in us through the common bond of the Platonic forms of the Spirit of God.

The end result is an economy that visibly expresses the concept of God saving the world through incarnation: “We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (4:14). For instance, the order and structure of rational scientific thought is now physically embodied in the physical order and structure of Western civilization. We can now see and bear witness that rational Teacher thought saves the world from physical hardship through the partial incarnation of technology. What 1 John 4 is describing is similar to what technology has done but it is more complete, because it is based upon a more complete concept of God and incarnation.

Extending Incarnational Economy 4:15-21

The first part of this chapter used Teacher understanding to establish a new set of values, represented as Platonic forms of the Spirit within Mercy thought. The second section established a new economy, guided by these values. In the last part of Chapter 4, this new economy will be extended and will replace the old economy. At the beginning of this chapter, the challenge was going from Teacher understanding to concrete experience. Therefore, John said that “every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God” (4:2). John now gives a different set of instructions: “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” (4:15). Jesus refers to the concrete side of incarnation that brings salvation to people and specific situations. This is what the consumer society claims to do, using technology to improve human lives. John is saying that every aspect of the economy needs to become an expression of the incarnation of God.

Current society provides a partial illustration of this, because the production of goods and the delivery of services are submitted to the partial incarnation of science and technology. But instead of transforming individuals, the current economy makes better toys for childish minds. This is not a stable combination, because childish minds will eventually lose the ability to design, build, and use new technology. Saying this another way, political correctness will eventually destroy education, stop progress, and forbid critical thinking. That is why John says that ‘Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God’. Modern society is a partial example of God abiding in us and us in God, because the universal laws of nature are expressed through the technology that pervades modern existence. But this interaction will only remain if people confess that Jesus is the Son of God—if people verbally assert that the economy is an expression of rational Teacher understanding.

When one lives in a society that has been transformed by rational Teacher understanding, then one will finally grasp how a God living in general Teacher thought can love specific humans living in Mercy experiences. In the words of John, “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has [in] us” (4:16). (The NASB points out that the original word is ‘in’ and not ‘for’). Using science and technology as a partial example, the character of God is expressed in the universal laws of physics. Science turns into technology when people gain an internal Teacher understanding of these universal laws and allow this understanding to guide thought and behavior. Technology is used to create gadgets that one can know, and when one is surrounded by technology, than one will start to believe that problems can be solved through scientific research. One will ‘believe the love which God has in us’.

This leads to a society in which love will motivate people to help others by searching for Teacher understanding. As John says, “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (4:16). This verse is often quoted out of context, giving the impression that God dispenses unconditional acceptance, happy with people no matter what they do. But that expresses the love of the second beast, which achieves feelings of love and unity by ignoring content. In contrast, verse 15 defined love as searching for understanding in order to find lasting solutions.

And verse 17 talks about a day of judgment, which contradicts the idea that God dispenses unconditional acceptance: “By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world” (4:17).

This day of judgment is described in Revelation 18: “She says in her heart, ‘I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning.’ For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong… ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come’” (Rev. 18:7-8,10). Revelation says that the whoring economy of Babylon will come to a sudden end in a day of judgment. The great stock market crash of 1929 provides an illustration of what this might look like. Notice also the reason given for this judgment. The end of Revelation 17 describes how a whoring economy will eat itself up from the inside. In brief, investors will try to get rich by bending the rules of the economy. But an economy can only continue to function if the rules remain intact. The end result will be the shell of an economy. People will still think that the economy is functioning wonderfully: ‘I sit as a queen’. They will deny that the basis for the economy has been destroyed: ‘I am not a widow’. And they will think that the economy will never crash: ‘will never see mourning’. The inevitable result will be a day of judgment. Using the language of John, the whore of Babylon is not ‘confessing that Jesus is the Son of God’—not recognizing that the economy can only survive as long as it is held together by the law and order of universal Teacher laws.

In contrast, one extends the economy of incarnation by regarding Teacher understanding as a pattern to follow: “By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world” (4:17). The goal is to build an economy that expresses the TMN of a concept of God: ‘As He is, so also we are in the world’. And one will naturally want to extend this kind of God-centered economy: ‘by this, love is perfected with us’. This type of economy will survive economic crashes: ‘so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment’.

Fear is mentioned four times in verse 18, and this is the only time that fear is mentioned in the book of 1 John: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (4:18). Fear is also mentioned twice in Revelation 18, in the description of the judgment of Babylon. First, Revelation describes “the kings of the earth… standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment” (Rev. 18:9,10). A few verses later, it says that “The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning” (Rev. 18:15). Torment is also mentioned both in 1 John 4 and Revelation 18, though the specific Greek words are different. In Revelation 18, the torment comes from torture, while in 1 John 4, the torment comes from punishment. In both cases, the pain is being administered by some individual and is not the result of violating natural laws of cause-and-effect.

The contrast between love and fear suggests that one is dealing with two different sets of core mental networks. One mindset views the economy as an expression of the TMN of a concept of God, while the other views economic activity as personal MMNs dispensing approval or disapproval. The description of the fall of Babylon in Revelation 18 indicates that the existing whoring economy will come to a dead end. A partial example of this can be found in the collapse of the Russian economy during the fall of communism. If normal economic uncertainty strikes fear in the heart of the investor, one can imagine the fear that would occur if the entire economy came to a grinding halt. However, it will be possible to continue without economic disruption if one moves from the old economy to the new, because both 1 John 4 and Revelation 18 indicate that the economy of Babylon will temporarily coexist with the new incarnational economy that will replace it.

This replacing of the existing economy explains the final verses of 1 John 4. “We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (4:19-21). When the old economy falls apart, then it is important for the fragments of this economy to be incorporated into the new economy. In other words, people should exhibit the same kind of universal love that is practiced by God in Teacher thought: ‘We love, because He first loved us’. People cannot say that they belong to a new economy that is guided by Teacher understanding, while at the same time rejecting people in Mercy thought: ‘If someone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar’. That is because the way that one acts in concrete thought will create an implicit concept of God in Teacher thought. If one hates one’s brother in Mercy thought, then this will create a twisted concept of God in Teacher thought: ‘The one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen’. This should be regarded as a universal principle: ‘This commandment we have from him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also’.

This type of predicament arises whenever there is a regime change. How should those who followed God under persecution treat those who want to join when the government changes and the persecution stops? John seems to be saying that what matters most is preserving a Teacher understanding of God. If one refuses to accept those who want to join, then this attitude of rejection will eventually corrupt the rule of law that is required to maintain the new regime.

Victory 5:1-5

In the previous section, the old incomplete economy was finally replaced by a new economy of incarnation. This is described in detail in Revelation 18 as the fall of Babylon. Revelation 19 begins with what is known as the Fourfold Hallelujah. The word hallelujah is a Hebrew word, which literally means a command given to a group of people to praise God. The first hallelujah celebrates the victory over Babylon, the second emphasizes that this is a lasting victory, the third praises God, and the fourth focuses upon the kingdom of God. Thus, there is a gradual change in focus from old to new. Whenever a regime or culture falls, it is easy to become nostalgic about the past and forget that something new and better has arrived. Thus, people have to be commanded to forget about Babylon and focus upon the new kingdom of God.

A similar transition can be seen in the beginning of 1 John 5: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of him” (5:1). The original Greek shows more clearly the focus upon something new being born of God: ‘Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God and everyone loving the one from whom this was born, loves also the one having been born from him’. The word born occurs three times in this verse, and God is referred to as ‘the one having begotten’, which means ‘the one from whom this was born’. (When a mother has a child, then it is born. When a father has a child, then it is begotten. The word beget has become obsolete but there is no current English term to replace it.) In other words, whoever believes in incarnation as man-and-God has been born of God, and if one loves God as the source of what has been born, then one should also love the new society that has been born by God. Until now, people have been loving God as an abstraction. Now that something new exists, it is time to transfer this love to the new civilization that has been born by God.

Verse 2 adds that this new civilization is emotionally guided by the TMN of a concept of God, and its actions are guided by the universal laws of God: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments” (5:2). (The word translated observe means ‘to do’ and not just ‘to keep’.) Using cognitive language, one loves people in concrete thought by loving the TMN of a concept of God and doing the commandments of God in Server thought. Verse 3 explains what it means to love God: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (5:3). In this verse, the word translated keep means ‘to keep or guard’. Using cognitive language, one loves God in abstract thought by holding on to the commandments of God in Perceiver thought, and these commandments do not oppress or restrict personal identity. The commandments of God are not restrictive because the sovereignty of God is stated in universal language and universal laws can be applied in many specific ways, leaving substantial room for human freedom.

John then refers specifically to the victory of the kingdom of God over the world: “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (5:4). Notice that John refers to ‘the victory that has overcome the world’ in the past tense, telling us that the victory has occurred. John also says that the struggle was between the mental networks of the world and becoming personally reborn within the TMN of a concept of God. Finally, John says that the victory was not achieved through physical force but rather through faith, which means acting as if something is true even when one cannot see the results.

Mental Integration 5:6-12

Before we continue, I should say something briefly about symbology. Biblical passages make sense if one interprets them using what I call cognitively natural symbology, which is explained in this video segment. Stated briefly, a symbol is cognitively natural if the same cognitive module is used to interpret both the symbol and what the symbol represents. For instance, Perceiver thought searches internally for facts by looking for solid, repeatable connections between individual experiences. But Perceiver thought also examines the physical world for objects by looking for physical matter that is connected together in a solid and repeatable manner. Thus, a rock is a cognitively natural symbol for a solid fact, because Perceiver thought recognizes both solid rocks and solid facts. We saw the connection between stones and solid facts when looking at Matthew 24. A cognitively natural symbol will also tend to be part of normal speech. For instance one speaks of life being like shifting sand or of searching for solid ground.

Returning to 1 John 5, verse 1 said “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God”. Cognitively speaking, this means combining concrete technical thought with abstract technical thought as an expression of Teacher understanding. One can find a partial illustration of this in modern research and development, otherwise known as R&D. Both research and development use technical thought, but research moves from concrete to abstract—from Jesus to Christ, while development moves from abstract to concrete—from Christ to Jesus. R&D is cognitively ‘born of God’ because it is something new that emerges when society is guided by the Teacher theories of natural law.

Verse 5 goes one step further: “Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (5:5). This implies a direct connection from the TMN of a concept of God to personal salvation in Mercy thought. R&D is effective but it is also highly technical. Believing that Jesus is the Son of God adds an intuitive emotional side to the technical thinking of R&D. This is illustrated by the intuitive thinking of the expert. I have suggested in other essays that learning can be divided into the three stages of beginner, technician, and expert. (This is related to the three stages of salvation but not exactly the same.) The beginner is guided by untrained mental networks. The technician replaces this emotionally driven ignorance with the skills and procedures of technical thought. The expert uses trained mental networks that express the essence of technical skill and procedure. For instance, the beginning musician plays badly, the intermediate musician plays technically without heart, while the expert musician plays with both heart and technique. Using the language of male and female thought, the beginner uses pure female thought, the technician uses pure female thought, while the expert uses a marriage of male and female thought. Verse 1 describes the thinking of the technician, while verse 5 goes one step further to describe the thinking of the expert.

This concept of male thought becoming married to female thought is significant because Revelation 19:7-10 describes the marriage supper of the Lamb: “The marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). Notice that the emphasis is upon the bride getting ready. Cognitively speaking, this means that female thought is getting ready to be married to male thought.

This same emphasis can be found in 1 John: “This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not in the water only, but in the water and in the blood” (5:6). (As the NASB points out, the original Greeks is ‘in’ and not ‘by’. ‘In’ implies being immersed within some environment.) Liquid symbolizes the experiences of Mercy thought. Water portrays normal experiences while blood symbolizes the MMNs of personal identity. Born of water refers to natural birth and the thinking of natural birth. Literally speaking, birth occurs when the water breaks. Symbolically, the mindset of objective science is based upon the ‘water’ of non-emotional experiences from the environment. These two are related because objective science and technology is the ultimate expression of being born of water into the physical world, and is based upon empirical evidence—the water of physical experience.

John is saying that incarnation did not just come by the water of physical experience but also by the blood of personal identity. A person is naturally born into the physical world when the water of the womb is spilled. Similarly, MMNs of personal identity are cognitively reborn when the ‘blood’ of personal identity is spilled. We currently live in a society in which incarnation has already come through the ‘water’ of objective science and technology, which is why I keep illustrating the biblical text by using examples from science and technology. Science and technology emphasize the technical thinking of male thought. However, incarnation also needs to come through the ‘blood’ of personal transformation, which is the aspect of incarnation that I am attempting to describe using the theory of mental symmetry. Personal transformation focuses upon the transformation of mental networks, the emotional side of the mind that is emphasized by female thought. Female thought needs to be made ready through personal transformation so that it can become married to male thought, which has already been transformed by science and technology.

Similarly, Christianity currently emphasizes the physical birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Using the language of John, Christianity emphasizes a Jesus Christ who came by the water of natural birth. However, the life of Jesus set a precedent that needs to be followed by everyone through the ‘blood’ of personal involvement. As Paul says in Romans 6, “We have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).

When mental networks are transformed by Teacher understanding, then the intuitive thinking of mental networks will be guided by Platonic forms of universal truth. In the words of John, “It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth” (5:6). Notice that the female thinking of mental networks is now bearing witness of truth, which means that the bride of female thought has made herself ready to be married to the Lamb of incarnation.

John says in the next verse that three different kinds of thought are now saying the same thing: “For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement” (5:8). Looking at this cognitively, three different contexts are now generating the same concept of incarnation: 1) Incarnation is expressed through the ‘water’ of objective science and technology. 2) One learns about incarnation through the ‘blood’ of personal transformation. 3) A Teacher understanding of universal principles will cause a concept of incarnation to form through the ‘spirit’ of Platonic forms. Using the language of Revelation 19, the male thought of science and technology is now married to the female thinking of mental networks, and both are consistent with the Spirit of truth that comes from a concept of God.

John also talks about being born of water and the spirit in John 3. Looking at this briefly, John emphasizes that submitting to the Teacher understanding of the kingdom of God requires rebirth: “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). But Nicodemus, the religious expert to which Jesus is talking, can only conceive of concrete thought and physical birth: “Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?’” (John 3:4). Jesus replies that an internal and abstract rebirth of the Spirit is required in addition to the natural birth of water: “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Because Spirit is an expression of Teacher understanding, it can be discussed using the sounds of Teacher words, but it is not something visible that is limited to some specific location in Mercy thought: “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). However, even though Nicodemus is an intellectual expert, he lacks an understanding of concrete thought and physical experience, and is totally incapable of understanding what it means to live within abstract thought: “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:9-12).

Evidence strongly suggests that God wanted the Jews to discover science in the city of Alexandria before the time of Christ, but this did not happen. Using the words of John, the teachers of Israel rejected the testimony of empirical knowledge and visual evidence upon which scientific thought is based. God told them earthly things and they did not believe, so he could not share with them the heavenly things of Teacher understanding. As a result, Jesus was forced to use the ‘serpent’ of mysticism combined with the ‘wilderness’ of religious self-denial: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14). However, salvation comes from a concept of incarnation that is based in a Teacher understanding of the nature of God: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). But many people do not want such a Teacher understanding because it shines light on their childish MMNs: “The Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).

Returning now to 1 John, when one becomes guided by mental networks, then it is important to place these mental networks in the right order, because mental networks will always form an emotional hierarchy with greater mental networks imposing their structure upon lesser ones. MMNs of personal authority may now be consistent with the TMN of a concept of God, but one must still recognize that it is the TMN of God that is foundational: “If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son” (5:9). It is foundational because incarnation is ultimately based in the TMN of a concept of God. If one recognizes that incarnation is rooted in the TMN of God, then other mental networks can be trusted: “The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself” (5:10). But if one does not start with the TMN of a concept of God, then other mental networks will create an implicit concept of God that will ultimately replace the legitimate concept of God. (The idea of an implicit concept of God overriding an explicit concept of God is discussed in other essays.) In John’s words, “The one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son” (5:10).

The next verse describes the content of this testimony: “And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (5:11,12). John began his letter by proclaiming to his readers the eternal life (1:2), he talked about God making a promise to us of eternal life (2:25), he said that we have passed out of death into life (3:14), and that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (3:15), but this is the first time that he actually mentions having eternal life and he repeats this two verses later (5:13).

Eternal life is more than just continuing to exist forever, because the inhabitants of hell also continue to exist forever. Instead, eternal life requires a mind that is whole and remains mentally whole without destroying itself or the environment. Cognitively speaking, this goal has been reached because male thought has become integrated with female thought, and both have become reborn within the structure of a general Teacher understanding of God. John says that ‘the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life’, which means that people are now experiencing what it means to experience long-term mental and physical wholeness. John adds that the key factor to this life is having the Son of God, which could be interpreted cognitively as having a mental concept of incarnation that is represented by mental networks held together by the TMN of a concept of God.

Concrete Return of Christ 5:13-21

The next verse describes a further transition: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (5:13). What has been added in this verse is ‘knowing’ and ‘believing in the name’. A name refers to a verbal label within Teacher thought. Thus, something is about to happen that will interrupt the experiencing of eternal life and require belief in an understanding of eternal life. Verse 14 backs this up because it talks about approaching God through the words of abstract thought: “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (5:14). This is a strange verse because it implies that people are not certain if God is listening to what they are saying. Normally, the doubt involves wondering whether God exists or whether God will answer prayer, but here people are wondering whether God will listen.

The next verses are even stranger because they talk about a ‘sin unto death’, and academic papers have been written attempting to decipher what this means. However, I suggest that the meaning becomes apparent when one turns to Revelation 19 and looks at the passage that follows the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Revelation 19:11 describes the physical return of incarnation: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.” Incarnation is using words as a weapon: “From his mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it may strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron” (19:15). If Christ returns in some sort of physical fashion, then the existence of God stops being a question. And if the word of incarnation acquires power, then one will no longer have any doubts about prayers being answered. As John says, “If we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him” (5:15). Instead, the focus will be upon ensuring that incarnation listens, and if incarnation is being revealed as a powerful being, then making a verbal request will require confidence.

The return of Christ is followed by ‘the great supper of God’: “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, ‘Come, assemble for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great’” (Rev. 19:17,18). This is typically interpreted as real birds ripping real flash off real humans, but verse 11 said that “in righteousness he judges and wages war”, while verse 15 says that he strikes down the nations with a sharp sword from his mouth. Thus, I suggest that one is looking at a symbolic feast, in which natural human knowledge and skill is being metaphorically torn apart by the intellectual birds of the air of academia in the light of the sun of a universal Teacher understanding of God.

Paul uses the word ‘flesh’ to represent the childish nature that develops as a result of growing up in a physical body. The third stage of personal transformation replaces childish MMNs with reborn mental networks of personal identity. The final aspect of this third stage is to dissect all remaining fragments of childish thought, rescue what is compatible with mental wholeness and allow the rest to fall apart and die. The great supper of God describes this type of analysis occurring on a global level. One of the basic principles of personal transformation is that mental networks can only be torn apart if an alternative set of mental networks exists. In personal transformation, the TMN of a concept of God makes it possible to question MMNs a personal identity. A person who lacks this understanding is incapable of questioning his own core mental networks, just as someone is incapable of doing open-heart surgery on himself. Thus, 1 John 5 talks about people doing ‘open-heart surgery’ on others, attempting to analyze core mental networks in the light of a Teacher understanding of God.

Revelation 19 describes the extent of this analysis. It includes mental networks of authority and power: ‘the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders’, principles of success: ‘ the flesh of mighty men’, power structures and the mindsets of those who work within power structures: ‘ the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them’, mental networks of intelligent thought: ‘the flesh of all men’, independent thought as well as chains of authority: ‘both free men and slaves’, examining both the powerful and the ordinary person: ‘small and great’. During the marriage supper of the Lamb, the bride, representing female thought with its mental networks, made herself ready. This general process of transforming mental networks is now being completed during the ‘great supper of God’.

Righteousness and Life

1 John 5 says that this analyzing is being guided by a two-step process: “All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death” (5:17). The first stage involves righteousness. Righteousness is Server action that is guided by a Teacher understanding of the character of God. John says that ‘all unrighteousness is sin’ and that people are asking God on behalf of others who are sinning. Using cognitive language, all activity is being examined in the light of a Teacher understanding of God; everything is being translated into the language of righteousness.

The second stage of analysis involves life. Righteousness connects human behavior with a Teacher understanding of God. Life then uses Teacher understanding to determine whether this behavior leads to life or death. This two stage analysis occurs in many areas. For instance, suppose that I go to a medical doctor with a problem. The first stage is for the doctor to try to understand the symptoms: what am I doing? What is my body doing? How does this fit into a Teacher understanding of how the human body functions? The second stage is to evaluate the long-term impact of this behavior. Am I behaving acting in a way that will damage my body? Is my body behaving in such a way that will lead to physical death?

Notice the precise relationship between these two stages. The actual standard of judgment is life and death. But in order to determine long-term life and death, one must first examine the topic from the viewpoint of righteousness and unrighteousness. This two-stage analysis can be seen in 1 John 5: “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death” (5:16). What is happening on the surface is an analysis of righteousness, because people are connecting Teacher thought with Server actions by asking God on behalf of sins being committed. But the actual judgment is based upon life and death. God is giving life if the sin is not to death.

This two-stage judgment can be seen in Revelation 19. As was mentioned, verse 11 says that “in righteousness he judges and wages war”. Verse 15 describes what it means to judge and wage war in righteousness: “From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron.” A verbal understanding is cutting existing behavior into fragments and then reorganizing these fragments to be consistent with Teacher understanding; the sword that strikes down the nations is followed by rule with a rod of iron.

The final judgment, though, is one of life and death: “And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with a sword which came from the mouth of him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Rev. 19:20,21). When Teacher understanding is used to analyze personal behavior, then some behavior will remain intact, while other behavior will be torn apart. The end of Revelation 19 describes what happens when the behavior of those who sold their soul to the system is examined. For the average person, mental networks of personal identity will die: ‘the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth’, and the fragments of behavior that remain will be integrated into the righteousness of God: ‘all the birds were filled with their flesh’. For instance, industries such as entertainment, law, and advertising have become so corrupt that it is difficult to work in these industries without selling one’s soul. Similarly, other industries such as the military, or arms manufacturing, are by their very nature damaging to the soul. However, all of these fields contain many fragments of righteousness that need to be integrated into a Teacher understanding of God. Revelation says that the beast and false prophet are ‘thrown alive into the lake of fire’, which suggests that nothing can be redeemed from these general mindsets but rather that they must be rejected wholesale. (My hypothesis is that the first beast refers to the division between objective and subjective, while the second beast describes the attitude of unconditional love that ignores content.)

This same two-stage process of judging is described more clearly in Revelation 20 in the description of the Great White Throne: “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds… And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:12,15). A book is a physical expression of a general Teacher theory, because a book uses words in a structured way to present a unified message. Books are being opened, which means that general Teacher theories are being consulted. People are then being judged ‘according to their deeds’, ‘from the things which were written in the books’, which means that a mindset of righteousness is being used to compare Teacher theories with Server actions. This first stage of analyzing righteousness is followed by a second stage based upon life: ‘another book was opened, which is the book of life’. People are then being judged according to the book of life and ‘if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire’.

Returning now to 1 John 5, John also moves from thinking in terms of righteousness to thinking in terms of life: “All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death. We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him” (5:17,18). John starts by equating unrighteousness with sin. But John then redefines sin in terms of life: ‘no one who is born of God sins’. And John also redefines incarnation in terms of life: ‘He who was born of God keeps him’. Looking at this cognitively, I suggest that John is describing moving from the second stage of salvation to the third stage. The second stage is characterized by righteousness: doing Server actions that are guided by the TMN of a concept of God. The third stage is one of rebirth in which personal MMNs become reborn within a mental structure held together by the TMN of a concept of God. During the second stage, a person chooses to follow God rather than man, to be guided by the TMN of God rather than by MMNs of culture and personal approval. In the third stage, a person simply behaves naturally, and this behavior will naturally be consistent with the character of God because MMNs of culture and identity are now consistent with the TMN of God. That is why John talked earlier about the three witnesses being in agreement. The person was reached this third stage of rebirth will still be a finite individual with limited knowledge who makes mistakes. But the fundamental movement of such a person will be in the direction of growing mental and societal wholeness, because such a person is emotionally driven by core mental networks that are consistent with mental and societal wholeness. That is why John can say that the evil does not ‘touch a person in a way that alters them’.

A similar principle operates in reverse today. I have found over several decades that nothing I do or say will touch the average person in any way that fundamentally alters them, because any influence that I have will be negated by the core mental networks of the spirit of this age. But I have also discovered that everything that the world says or does ends up reinforcing the core mental networks that guide my mind. Therefore, I currently find myself mentally in the situation of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. I am being driven internally by an irresistible force while living in a society composed primarily of immovable objects.

That is precisely what John describes in the next verse: “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (5:19). A polarization has occurred. On the one hand, those who follow God are driven to do so by core mental networks of righteousness and rebirth. On the other hand, the world is driven by core mental networks of evil. Revelation 19 describes the same polarization: “And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army” (19:19).

The next verse describes the mindset of being reborn within an internal grid held together by the concept of God and incarnation: “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ” (5:20). Incarnation is mentally represented as a mental network: ‘the Son of God has come’. This leads to the TMN of a larger understanding: ‘and has given us understanding”. These mental networks make truth intuitively obvious: ‘so that we may know Him who is true’. Personal identity lives within this grid of truth: ‘we are in him who is true’. And this internal grid is a concept of Jesus as God-and-man held together by the TMN of a concept of God: ‘in His Son Jesus Christ’.

This type of transformed mindset has an accurate concept of God and will continue functioning over the long-term: “This is the true God and eternal life” (5:20).

Today’s technological society provides a partial illustration of what this means. We know that technology has come, and that technology is an expression of the universal laws of science. Living within technology provides a reasonableness that makes it possible to evaluate what is scientifically possible. We live in the facts of technology, and technology is a partial expression of incarnation guided by Teacher understanding.

But here too a polarization is occurring. Because modern technology satisfies all of our physical needs, it is possible to live within the modern technological world and remain an idiot driven by childish MMNs, without skill or knowledge.

That may explain John’s final words: “Little children, guard yourselves from idols” (5:21). An idol is an external image that takes the place of God. When the environment has been transformed, the next generation that grows up in this transformed environment will be tempted to idolize the transformed environment instead of being ruled by an internal concept of God. It is interesting that John addresses his warning to ‘little children’, implying that people who grow up in such an environment will be tempted by idols. American society provides a vivid illustration of this principle. No country has experienced such a paradise on earth as the United States. But many who have grown up in this paradise worship the idols of consumerism and lack even a basic understanding of the science and technology that is required to build such a paradise.


I have suspected for a while that the book of 1 John describes a sequence, but I did not know precisely what this sequence was. Therefore, I am actually stunned to see that 1 John matches the sequence of Revelation so closely. This correspondence is significant, because it provides confirming evidence that supports a cognitive interpretation of the book of Revelation, as well as suggesting that the same person wrote both the book of 1 John and the book of Revelation.

The style of 1 John throws some light on what it means for Scripture to be divinely inspired. On the one hand, the cognitive accuracy of 1 John is uncanny, strongly implying that the ultimate author was God and not John. But on the other hand, the book of 1 John also reflects the cognitive strengths and weaknesses of the Mercy person, because it is composed of a series of cognitive snapshots without describing the process that leads from one snapshot to another.

Finally, I suggest that 1 John should not be regarded as a simplistic book of poetical exhortations, because the terminology that John uses is very precise and makes sense when interpreted cognitively.